Poison Arrow

cover

Title: Poison Arrow

Author: Theresa Filardo

Classification: X-file

Archiving permission: Written for I-Made-This Productions’

Virtual Season 9. First two weeks exclusively on VS9, after

that, anywhere. Please drop me a line if you do, so I can

come to visit!

Feedback: theresa@xf-mindseye.com

Summary: The major theme to this story has to do with the

Chinese art of Feng Shui (pronounced “fong-shway”) and the

ancient fortune-telling science of I’Ching (pronounced “yee-

ching”). The theories of these two aspects will play a

significant role in the case presented to Mulder and Scully.

Extra notes appear at the end.

Time Period: Mid April, 2002

Spoilers: For VS8 and 9 and X-files’ “All Things”

Thanks: To Mori for her always excellent beta job and

friendship. Thanks also for the wonderful group of talented

people that make up the IMTP Core group. You’re the best! *****

Hartsdale, N.Y.

125 Columbia Rd.

5:05 p.m.

The day was sharply bright. Pale yellow rays pierced through

glass like shears through fine silk. Old, wrinkled hands

reached up to the light, a light that enhanced the ridges and

valleys of loose skin, rivers of veins, and small brown spots

where the sun had been too generous. They had seen

younger, softer days once, but now showed the ravages of

almost sixty-eight years.

Lili studied her fingers, woven with a bright red silk string.

At the end of the string, past some decorative knots and

tassels, hung an octagonal-shaped medallion with a circular

mirror at the center. As she shaded the angled brightness of

the afternoon sun from her eyes, she gazed upon the Ba-Gua

approvingly. It was a token from her homeland, China, that

had survived tradition, added spiritual comfort to millions of

souls, through thousands of years. Now, it was settled in the

palm of her hand, like a small, sleeping turtle.

About to hang the Ba-Gua medallion in its most useful and

protective location, the front door of her daughter’s new

home, she heard the sound of an impatient shuffle behind her.

It was not an unfamiliar sound, but the noise of the quick,

scratching footfalls invoked a tiny creeping fear at the nape

of her neck, as if she’d been caught doing something

shameful.

“Ma,” a female voice shot against the back of Lili’s head.

To the untrained ear, the hatchet-like interjection would have

sounded harsh and scolding. To Lili, it was just a part of her

daughter’s accent. The bold syllables melded with a subtle lilt

to her words added a certain octave to Hannah’s Chinese-

American speech. She should have tried harder to believe the tone

was not intended to intimidate her, but the tingles insisted on

crawling up her neck.

The shuffle of her daughter’s slippered feet drew nearer and

more determined as their owner realized that her mother was

not going to turn around. Lili frowned. She knew her

daughter did not believe in devices such as the Ba-Gua

medallion to ward off evil spirits, but she needed it — now

more than ever. Lili was convinced the things that were

happening were the fault of bad Chi, or negative energy,

coming into the house, and she knew exactly where it was

coming from.

Lili finally turned and looked up at her only daughter. Her

face was framed by straight-cut horizontal bangs and her

long, jet-black hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Hannah

was the picture of youth, clean-cut, healthy, so sure of

herself, staring down at her mother with the glimmer of pity

in her beautifully slanted eyes. Oh, if she could only

understand.

Lili held out the Ba-Gua. The tiny glimmer of pity in

Hannah’s dark brown irises grew into a fire of contemptuous

disgust. Still, Lili tried.

“This can help,” the older woman implored.

“It WON’T help,” Hannah finalized, in an icy tone.

Lili inhaled slowly, her patience waning just a little more

each time this conversation was doomed to repeat itself.

“It can’t cause more harm than has already been done,” Lili

muttered.

Hannah bit her bottom lip as she raised her eyes to heaven.

The light reflecting off the Ba-Gua medallion shone across

the smooth contours of her face. So perfect in appearance

was she, her mother thought, and so imperfect in her

thoughts.

A small dusting of particles blew into the beam of sunlight,

momentarily disturbing the shine off her daughter’s cheek.

Suddenly, a loud noise crackled through the air as a very

large cloud of white dust blew into the entrance hallway

where they stood.

Hannah snapped her eyes to the right where a workman had

been repairing the ceiling, only to have caused more damage

instead. The young woman blushed bright red in frustration,

took a darting glance down at her mother and hissed through

her teeth before waddling her pregnant belly ahead of her

into the living room to survey the damage. As she watched

the girl retreat, Lili felt a small bit of triumph, and her neck

didn’t feel quite so tingly anymore.

It was a difficult thing, to try and protect someone from

forces they themselves did not believe in. If Hannah had

learned to see things, not only from a practical sense, but also

from a more spiritual, perhaps even mystical viewpoint, she

would have realized much more happiness in her life. It was

all Lili ever wanted, for her daughter to be happy and

prosperous. The way she shut her eyes to the most obvious

solutions just made things difficult.

Lili again turned toward the glass storm door, observing the

purples and greens of sunset. The house was on a nice tree-

lined street. All in all, she agreed her daughter had good taste

in location. The house even sat on a small hill, above street

level, although the neighborhood was quite congested with

residences. There was only about twenty to fifty feet between

each house. In fact, the houses were so close in some places,

one could have passed a cup of sugar out the window to his

neighbor while both were still standing in their own kitchens.

Hannah had chosen well with her house–in theory. There

was plenty of room, beautiful yard, all except for the three-

story apartment building that sat heavily, like a giant red

elephant, across the street. It was, in Lili’s opinion, a source

of bad Chi. Lili lifted the Ba-Gua again to hang it in the glass

window of the door.

She stepped back to admire the object and smiled.

Unfortunately, she could hear unhappy mutterings coming

from the living room as her daughter reprimanded the

workman. The house was falling apart. Hannah had called it

a “fixer-upper.” But how much more damage was supposed

to come after the new owners had moved in? There were at

least six incidents that had occurred, since the young couple

had moved in, that made for even more “fixing-up.”

“It’s an old house,” her daughter had said. “It should be

expected.” Lili simply accounted it to bad luck.

She creaked the storm door open to step outside, away from

the uncomfortable aura that was forming like a thick mist

from Hannah’s argument. The metal door slammed behind

her, and all was quiet for a moment. The argument had

ceased, the wind blew softly, and there weren’t even any cars

buzzing past on the street below.

Lili looked at the apartment building across the street. Empty

windows stared back at her like ugly, gaping mouths. The

dark interiors allowed the outside to reflect on the glass.

The emptiness somehow added to her silent moment, until

she saw a faint pinpoint of light in the central second-floor

window. It was quick and dim in the interior, and the

reflection of her daughter’s white house, ghostly in the

darkness, made it almost impossible to notice. But she did

notice.

She stared harder at the window, as if trying to invoke its

presence again, to confirm, at least to herself, that she had

indeed seen something. Again, all was quiet.

The deafening slam of the storm door behind her shattered

her concentration, and nearly made her lose her balance as

well. A large, hulking figure dressed in white-splattered

clothing breezed by her and stomped down the stone stairway

to the street. He swung a heavy plastic bucket and metal box

into the back of his rusty white van and kicked the rear doors

shut. Before stomping around to the driver’s side of the

vehicle, he glared up toward Lili, who stood unmoving

during his display.

“You can tell that–” he pointed with an angry finger to the

house behind her, “–that–daughter of yours, that she can find

another contractor! I freakin’ quit!”

He then climbed into the van, which rocked under the heavy

weight of its driver and grumbled down the street with a

black cloud of exhaust in its wake. A knot was slowly

beginning to form in the pit of Lili’s stomach.

She went back into the house, and carefully held the door so

that it wouldn’t slam again. A light coating of white dust

blanketed the dark wood floor of the hallway. A single set of

footprints trailed down the hall to the staircase leading to the

second floor. On the bottom step, Hannah sat, tracing her toes

around on the floor, leaving a pattern in the film of dust.

In the living room, Lili saw a pile of broken plaster strewn

across the carpet, and the gaping hole in the ceiling that it had

fallen from.

She heard her daughter sigh.

“It’s not his fault, you know,” Lili said, in a quiet, even tone.

“He’s a professional. He should know why these things

happen, Ma.”

Hannah sat with her hands cradling the round abdomen that

sat heavily between her thighs. Her eyes were closed, holding

back tears of frustration, exhaustion, and fluctuating

hormones.

“Well,” Lili said gently, “He’s not your professional anymore.

He’s not coming back.”

The young woman opened her red-rimmed lids halfway, too

tired to continue the battle with her mother. She just didn’t

have the strength to argue anymore today. Lazily, Hannah

dragged her fingers over her tummy, quietly meditating, as

her mother watched.

“It’s just not fair,” Hannah whispered.

This time, pity shone in the old woman’s eyes, but it was dull

and full of sadness for her daughter’s misfortune. The

shadows of evening grew longer and the sky now filled with

a beautiful orange light. Lili looked out at the sunset, severed

by the dark square form of the apartment building.

And she saw it. The quick glimmer in the same window as

before. Her heart leapt in her chest.

“Ma…”

The voice was wavering, weak and full of fear this time; not

the crisp succinct tone Hannah had used before. And it

instantly gave Lili a greater chill up her spine than any of her

daughter’s exasperations had ever done.

“Ma, something’s wrong.”

When Lili turned to look at her daughter, she was clutching

her abdomen, leaning forward, as if she were trying to protect

the child inside of her. Lili heard the crack of something

breaking.

“What…” The world darkened further as Lili realized what

was happening.

“I have to go to the hospital,” Hannah whimpered.

Everything was moving in slow motion. Lili’s feet felt glued

to the floor.

“Please, Ma–call 911.”

Lili did as she was told. When the ambulance arrived, she

followed her daughter, lying strapped securely to a gurney,

out the front door.

It was not until she was about to lock up the house that Lili

noticed the Ba-Gua medallion lying on the floor, broken into

pieces, the mirror shattered like confetti. The red string

dangled from the bolt she had tied it to earlier, a piece of the

medallion still attached to the end. It had not merely fallen

off because of her carelessness. It was broken deliberately.

Her eyes squinted to small slits, and she muttered angrily

under her breath, “I will stop you.”

In the dark of evening, with red and blue lights flashing,

sirens blaring all around her, Lili climbed into the back of the

ambulance with her daughter.

No one else noticed the steady glow in the central second-

floor window of the apartment building across the street, not

even the old Chinese woman.

ACT 1

Westchester Airport

One week later, 12:45 p.m.

He sat quietly in the terminal reading the fifty-cent local

newspaper, pulled from the mouth of a blue metal vending

machine. His right leg rested casually on his left knee; the

cuff of the neatly pressed pants revealing too-short dress

socks and a small patch of hairy skin. Mulder didn’t care. He

was too engrossed in the local police reports listed at the

middle of section B.

It was amazing how suburbia could claim only half a page of

significant police reports in one day — and the most

interesting seemed to be the one about Mrs. Fagella’s missing

toy poodle, found inexplicably up a neighbor’s tree. He tried

to imagine the tiny white legs of the dog scratching and

scrambling up a narrow tree trunk.

It was encouraging, yet at the same time for someone like

Mulder, it seemed disturbingly boring — too “normal.” It was

something he was afraid of: a normal town, with normal

people, doing normal things; especially when he was going

out on a limb with a case. Scully wouldn’t like it if he

dragged her up here on the first available commuter flight for

nothing.

He folded the paper up and placed it on the light-blue plastic

seat beside him. The airport was small by most standards,

and peppered with few customers in-between flights. Scully

wasn’t hard to spot when she walked across the wide, highly

polished gray floor. She stopped about halfway between the

gate and the waiting area where he sat, slowly scanning the

terminal for him.

Normally, Mulder would have gotten up to greet her right

away, but he was enjoying the view from afar. Several male

flight attendants passed by her and hesitated in their stride

to look back, in the hopes of offering some assistance to the

lovely red-head in the light tan suit. But Scully managed every

time to avoid eye-contact, and stiffened her posture in such a

way to deter any chivalrous act.

At one point, she was fishing through her overnight bag when

a young man in a baseball cap approached her. She smiled up

at him politely, but concealed the expression quickly, so as

not to lead him on or let him get too close. Mulder had seen

her use the tactic often. The smile put people at ease, but then

she subtly constructed her “FBI” mask that said she meant

business. The young man, however, pursued his unwanted

kindness too aggressively. She backed up a step, clicking her

heel hard as she did so. A short statement was made by

Scully, and the man tipped the bill of his hat and made an

extravagant turn on his heel to leave her.

Mulder chuckled at the sight. That young man never even

had a chance. He watched Scully resume the search through

her bag. She pulled a small black object out of one of the side

pockets. She swung her head around once again to survey her

surroundings, then flipped open the cell phone and punched

at the small buttons. A puff of air blew out between her lips,

fluttering the once carefully combed bangs that now hung

loosely in her face. As she held the phone to her ear, Mulder

heard the soft purring sound of his own cell-phone ringing in

his breast pocket.

“Yeah.”

“Mulder, I’m at the airport.”

“I see you.”

“What?” Scully ran her fingers through the rebel strands of

hair as if they had previously been blocking her view. She

slowly turned in place, and nearly made a complete 180

degree turn before she spotted Mulder sitting in the row of

blue plastic chairs at the end of the terminal, chuckling in her

ear. She snapped the phone shut and began walking toward

him, heavy high-heeled clicks echoing across the floor. Even

in her straight and narrow path with her focus on a set

destination, eyes followed her, especially Mulder’s.

He couldn’t break his gaze away from her. She moved like a

tigress on the hunt, smooth, yet deadly when she wanted to

be. His chest constricted at the thought of such an image.

Yeah, he could be hunted by her anytime. Then he saw the

expression on her face. Well, maybe not this time.

Scully took the last few steps between them and stood in

front of her partner’s crossed legs. She shook her head as if

disappointed in him, then curled up one corner of her mouth.

“You know, I could have used your help back there. I assume

you saw the whole thing.” She raised an eyebrow in wait.

Mulder tucked his cell-phone carefully back into his pocket.

“Ah, Scully, you can handle yourself, can’t you?” He stood

up to his full height, crowding her personal space so that she

had to lift her chin to look at his face. She crossed her arms.

“Yeah. Thanks…” She started to walk away when Mulder

gently touched her arm.

“Don’t I get a ‘hello?'” Mulder asked, his lips pursing in a

distinctly fish-like way.

Scully considered a moment. Behind Mulder, the young man

in the baseball cap looked on. Mulder followed her attention,

and noticed him too. Hmm. Perhaps he should have stepped

in and helped her after all. Then he felt small fingers entwine

themselves within his own, and pull down, ever so slightly.

Mulder smiled.

When he turned, Scully pressed her lips to his, quickly,

lightly, but enough to make a certain baseball cap hurry down

the hall with its owner.

“Thanks,” she said, before releasing his hand.

Mulder cleared his throat. “My pleasure.”

They walked out across the parking lot to the rental car

Mulder picked up yesterday. Scully threw her bag into the

trunk and then joined her partner in the front seat.

“So you couldn’t have waited until I finished the seminar to

come up here? This must be some case, Mulder.”

Scully had been invited to speak the night before to some first-

year students at a local medical college. Lately, Scully seemed

to have an unsatisfied air about her. Mulder guessed she just

needed a change of pace. But when she told him about the

seminar, he realized that maybe Scully just needed to validate

herself. She was a wonderfully, exceptionally intelligent

woman. Many times he had felt guilty for trapping her in

something as obscure as the X-files. Perhaps getting back to

teaching for a little while was something that made her feel

she had a purpose, or at least, that all her medical knowledge

wasn’t being wasted.

Nope. Scully was not going to like this one.

“Mmm, hmm.” Mulder pulled the car out toward the main

road and headed south. He didn’t elaborate any further on the

case, which was unusual — quite unusual. Scully picked up

on it right away.

“You do have the proper authorization for this case, don’t

you, Mulder?”

“Mmm…” he vaguely answered.

“You *don’t* have it,” Scully prodded, a squinting eye

sliding over to study her partner.

“Mmm-mm,” Mulder hummed as if he were trying to place

the first two notes to a song.

“Holy rusting shovels, Batman! Who are we going to save

this time?”

“Scully…?” Mulder’s eyes left the road and tried to focus on

this aberration that called herself his partner.

“Oh, he speaks too!” she muttered, sarcastically noting the

inarticulate conversation they’d been having thus far.

“Holy what…?”

“Rusting shovels. It’s what you’ll be using, Mulder, to shovel

yourself out of the ton of you-know-what when *you*

explain this crusade to A.D. Skinner.”

“I’ll tell him…” Mulder groaned at length.

“Mmm hmm.” Scully rested her forehead on the passenger

side window as the blurry greens and browns of vegetation

that lined the streets passed by. The cool pane of glass did

little to ease the dull throb of a headache coming on.

“I take it you didn’t read my notes on the flight,” Mulder

spoke hesitantly. These were always rough waters with

Scully, when he dumped a case with too many loose ends

into her lap. At least he’d let her sleep in her own bed last

night, and hadn’t dragged her up to New York in the middle

of the night. This was a good case, but it was no alien

conspiracy. And besides, he had been feeling a little under-

appreciated himself lately. Wasn’t he allowed to get excited

about anything anymore?

Scully sighed audibly and turned to watch Mulder’s stoic

profile as he drove. She couldn’t conceal a small grin. Good.

He knew he was in the doghouse.

“It’s just that you may as well be some Adam West-type

vigilante with me as your sidekick in tights.”

“Adam West? I thought I’d be at least a Val Kilmer, myself.

Don’t you think…” his voice broke off when he saw his

partner staring at him with darts practically shooting from her

tiny black pupils. He clenched his jaw and stared at the road

ahead.

Scully began again, “Sometimes, I just wish I had more

control over things; a little more say in what we do and don’t

investigate.”

Lead weights filled Mulder’s stomach, heavy with guilt that

threatened to make its way deeper into his abdomen had not

Scully known exactly how he took criticism from her.

“It’s O.K., Mulder.” She reached across to his hand resting on

the transmission grip, and gently caressed his knuckles with

her thumb. “I guess it was nice to be rescued from an

auditorium full of lazy-eyed freshmen. It’s amazing how

‘unexplained death’ doesn’t spark any interest for their post-

mortem examinations. I guess they like boring, run of the

mill…” She stole a glance at him, noting the slight slump

to his shoulders and hollow, unseeing eyes.

She sighed again, as if dissatisfied with the tedious

presentation. What she was really thinking was that she was

being forced to stroke Mulder’s ego again.

“They did, however, perk up quite a bit when I showed them

our slides of the Alien autopsy. Found it *quite* interesting.”

At the lower section of his right cheek, Scully could see

Mulder’s tongue pressing along the inside of his mouth. Then

his lips began slowly to bend upwards, and a shine came

back into his eyes.

“Aw, Scully. You’re just trying to make me feel better.”

“You get us out of this one with minimal flak from Skinner

and I may just slip a couple of those slides in next time.” She

grinned widely.

“I’ll hold you to that.”

“I know you will.”

Mulder stepped on the gas, speeding up a little in his

improved mood. Scully released his hand, slightly nervous

about his one-handed driving.

“Oh, and Mulder…”

“Yeah?”

“Michael Keaton.”

Mulder looked over at his partner, and began singing —

“Nana-nana-nana-nana…”

*****

The Olient Gift Shop

Hartsdale, NY

1:00 p.m.

The dim light of a paper lantern swayed back and forth over

the open box of earthenware teapots like a searchlight in a

prison. Dr. Jonathan Yin reached down, hovered his palm

over one pot, then another and finally picked up the most

beautiful of them to admire. The teapot was a dull tan color

with tiny black speckles and dark blue painted

chrysanthemums grouped on one side. He lifted his glasses

from the bridge of his nose to take a closer look.

“The boy has talent, Lili.”

“Too much, I sometimes think.”

Jonathan replaced his glasses and peered through the empty

shelves to where Lili was stocking some newly arrived

‘Hello-Kitty’ pencils in the next aisle.

“Too much?”

“I don’t trust him, Jonathan.” She pushed a full box of pencils

to the back of the shelf, blocking half his view of her. “I feel

as if I’m paying for my own daughter’s destruction if I

continue to sell his pottery.”

Jonathan looked at the exquisite teapot he held in his hands,

and then down at the box where the matching saucers sat in a

nest of bubble-wrap.

“Better to keep things in the status-quo rather than anger him,

I say. If you really think he is a threat, that is.”

He could hear the tearing of a perforated cardboard box in the

next aisle where Lili crouched to open her inventory. Then

her head popped up again in the empty shelf space, and she

poked her nose forward to see through to her friend.

“Don’t test me, Jonathan,” she said, and blocked his view

completely with a box of pink and red erasers.

Jonathan placed the teapot gingerly back into its box and

wove himself through the red paper lanterns that hung from

the ceiling. He was unusually tall for a Chinese man of his

age. He kept his dark hair combed back and a very neatly

trimmed, although sparse, mustache below his nose. From a

distance, some might say he looked like an Asian version of

Mister Rogers.

As he turned the corner of the aisle to meet Lili on the other

side, he hid his hands deep within the pockets of his tan

cardigan sweater. He did not speak until he was sure Lili was

able to see him in her peripheral vision.

“So when is this agent supposed to arrive?”

“Sometime today.”

Jonathan turned to look at the collection of brightly colored

accessories in the aisle. He picked up a small purse sporting a

green frog with large round eyes. He smiled. His

granddaughter loved things like this. Perhaps he would buy

one from Lili later and take it over to his son’s house this

weekend.

“What did you say his name was again?”

Lili stood up, her knees crackling with the effort. “Agent

Mulder.”

Jonathan nodded. Lili stepped carefully around the large box

of inventory on the floor and looked him straight in the eye.

“Agent *Fox* Mulder.”

Jonathan’s eyebrows shot up far into his hairline. “Fox?”

Lili nodded slowly.

Jonathan looked up toward the ceiling and moved his lips in a

quick mathematical calculation. “Hmm–” he said, nodding in

approval. “That is a very lucky name, now, isn’t it?”

Lili’s eyes sparkled with pride. Not only did Fox Mulder have

a certain knack for solving unusual cases, as she had read in

one of her novelty magazines, but he had a very lucky name

according to the ancient calculations of the I’Ching.

“Hmm–” Jonathan said again, and he replaced the frog purse

onto its hook. “I’ll be in my office. Let me know when he

gets here.”

He moved to walk toward the back of the store.

When Lili had first taken over the Olient Gift Shop after her

husband’s death, she could not afford it alone. Jonathan Yin

had offered to help her, on the condition that he keep a

secondary office in the store to run his Feng Shui

consultations. Lili happily agreed and they had shared the

store ever since. She was extremely thankful to have him as a

friend, and even more so that he was willing to back her up in

explaining Hannah’s situation.

Jonathan stopped about halfway down the aisle and turned.

“Mul-der?”

“Yes,” Lili answered, “and he has a partner, Agent Scully.”

“What is his first name?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Hmm. We shall have to find out when they arrive. I’ll leave

my door open.”

*****

The Olient Gift Shop

1:32 p.m.

The tinkle of tiny brass bells hitting the back of the entrance

door welcomed the two agents as they entered the shop. The

sounds of the busy sidewalk were filtered out as the door

closed slowly behind them. So too was the high afternoon

sun filtered by colorful, translucent plastic beaded curtains

that hung in the windows. They refracted the light in a

hundred points all over the industrial carpeting.

Beyond the entrance was little space before rows of shelving

took up the rest of the gift shop. To the left they could see

shelves filled with various New York memorabilia and rows

of candy. Scully imagined swarms of pre-teen boys hitting

the store after school to squander their allowances on

Pokemon cards and Jolly Ranchers.

She moved her gaze over to the right, scanning the aisles.

The next contained what looked like a combination of books,

magazines, posters and various other literary items. At the

back of that aisle she could also make out a small refrigerator

with a big Pepsi sticker on the glass sliding door.

Mulder, she had noticed, was fumbling with the small

chachka littering the front counter. During his exploration he

found some business cards in a dragon-shaped holder. He

picked one out, ran the pad of his thumb over its embossed

letters, and stuffed it into his breast pocket.

She wandered over to him, watching his movements. He

picked up a small wooden statue that sat next to the register.

“Hey, look, Scully,” he spun around to face her and presented

the miniature representation of Buddha sitting primly in the

palm of his hand.

“I have one just like this!”

“I know. It’s right beneath your fish tank.”

Surprised, he looked down at the statue and then back up at

Scully. “I didn’t think y…”

“Agent Fox Mulder?”

A short old woman with black closely-curled hair and

walking with a timid, slightly bent-over posture approached

them from within one of the heavily stocked aisles.

“Yes, that’s right,” Mulder answered. He placed the statue

carefully back onto the glass counter and then pulled out his

ID badge. Scully followed suit as he continued to speak.

“This is my partner, Agent Dana Scully. You must be Lili

Wong?”

The old woman nodded once, so slowly it almost seemed like

a bow. She studied Scully a moment, as if appraising her,

moving her eyes from the top of Scully’s red head to the tips

of her not-so-sensible shoes. Scully felt her spine go rigid at

the attention. After a few awkward seconds, Lili finally

turned away to speak to Mulder, but the awareness she held

for his partner hung in the air like the heavy scent of incense.

“I am so glad you are here, Mr. Fox Mulder. I was afraid of

getting the wrong kind of attention for my, ah — situation.”

Lili’s words were syrupy-sweet, and she regarded Mulder as

if he were her savior from heaven. Mulder blushed and

pressed his thumbs together in a nervous gesture.

“Agent Scully and I have handled many cases such as yours.

You won’t receive any undue criticism from us.” Hazel eyes

met blue in confirmation. Lili did not acknowledge the

exchange between the two agents. She continued to admire

Mulder quietly.

A single customer came up to them and stood in front of the

register with a clear plastic package that held a pair of

Chinese slippers.

“Excuse me please,” Lili said to Mulder with a quick smile,

and brushed past the agents to help the woman.

When the sale was complete and the brass bells tinkled a

farewell, Lili pushed the door shut securely, turned the lock

and hung a sign in the window that read “out to lunch.”

“Please, Mr. Fox Mulder, I would like you to hear my case in

the presence of a trusted friend, Dr. Jonathan Yin.”

“I have no problem with that. Scully?”

But before Scully could even nod her head in answer, Lili

was already on her way down the center aisle to the back of

the store. The old woman turned once, motioning with her

hand to follow. “Please,” she invited, and continued to the

rear of the aisle.

Scully didn’t quite know what to make of this small Chinese

woman. She wasn’t sure if she should be insulted by the

scrutiny, dismissal and then pure lack of acknowledgement of

her presence as Lili ogled over her partner.

Mulder had at least explained on the car ride over the way

Lili had contacted him: through a written letter addressed

simply to Agent Fox Mulder, FBI, Washington, DC. It was

amazing the letter had found its way to the basement office

with such little information.

As they approached the back of the store, a male tenor voice

called out in Cantonese, followed by a short laugh after it had

finished its undecipherable sentence.

Lili glanced up at Mulder apologetically. “Excuse me,

please…” and then disappeared into the open doorway. On

the wall beside it was a nameplate that read “Dr. Jonathan

Yin, Feng Shui Master” in English, and repeated right

beneath it in Chinese characters.

Lili’s high-pitched voice joined the male tenor, but at a

significantly lower volume. Each syllable between them was

short and clipped, all except the last few vowels from Lili,

which were elongated and seemed to sing downscale. The

whole tone sounded very angry and quite condescending.

Surprisingly, when the two emerged from the office, they

were all smiles. Dr. Yin held out both his arms in welcome

and immediately grasped Mulder’s right hand with both of his

own.

“So nice to meet you, Agent Fox Mulder,” he said, nodding

his head to emphasize his happiness. Dr. Yin then turned

toward Scully, just as enthusiastically, but shook her hand

with a gentler touch. “And *Miss* Scully. A pleasure.” When

he released her hand he stared at her a moment longer, and

Scully thought she could see a smirk threatening to curl the

corner of the good doctor’s mouth.

Scully stiffened again, if not for the fact that these two people

had succeeded in making her feel utterly uncomfortable, then

for putting up her hardest exterior. She was determined to

hold her own no matter how trivial a female law enforcement

officer seemed to them. Of course, that’s what she assumed

their reaction was to her.

“Would you both come into my office? I have chairs inside

and it is much more comfortable than standing among the

paper kites.” Dr. Yin swung his arm in front of himself

dramatically toward a bin that held a bouquet of thin, wooden

sticks and rolled paper.

They followed Yin into his office, and Lili followed them,

walking around the large rectangular desk where her friend

sat, only after Mulder and Scully took their seats opposite. It

was a small space. One could tell it had been sectioned off

from the rest of the supply room next door when it was first

built. Although the office had no windows, there was plenty

of light from the table lamps Yin had situated on the desk and

filing cabinets. He even kept some beautifully flourishing

houseplants. And despite the shameless inspection she had

just undergone, Scully immediately became at ease in the

pleasant surroundings.

“Well,” Dr. Yin began, as he closed a large red bible-sized

book with many ribbons marking its pages, “shall we begin at

the beginning?”

“Uh, yes, please Dr. Yin. I’d like to refresh my memory and

Scully hasn’t had the opportunity to review my notes,”

Mulder offered.

Both pairs of eyes flicked over to look at Scully not more

than a split second, but just enough so that she knew it. She

smiled politely, but swore internally to smack Mulder up the

side of his head once they were alone. It was as if he were

oblivious to Lili’s and Dr. Yin’s attitudes toward her. And

now they thought of her as being unprepared.

“Well then, I shall tell you the background of Hannah’s, ah —

plight,” Yin graciously continued. Lili remained silent.

“You see, this is not the first time Hannah has suffered from

bad luck. It all began again when she returned from college,

with a new education, a new job, and a new boyfriend.”

“Simon. He is now her husband,” Lili broke in. Dr. Yin

looked up at her passively, undisturbed by the interruption. In

fact, he looked almost thankful when he turned back toward

the two agents, as if he might have forgotten the detail.

“Yes, Simon. A wonderful boy. Now, this bad luck we speak

of, it is not at all Hannah’s fault. She is a very intelligent girl,

and she had no problems when she was growing up in

Chinatown or when she was away at school.”

“So, you think that the problem is localized?” Mulder asked.

“Yes, exactly. You see Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, Lili and

I believe that we are all affected by our surroundings, natural

influences that will determine our fates in life. That is not to

say that a person cannot forge his own path in the world, but

there are mystical forces at work that lead us in the right

direction.

“We believe that Hannah has been subjected to some bad

influences, particularly targeted to bring her bad luck. The

reason we have become concerned now, is that it is affecting

lives. You do know that Hannah went into the hospital last

week due to complications with her pregnancy?”

Mulder crossed his arms and looked up at Lili surprised, “No,

I didn’t know that.”

The old woman moved nothing, but her eyelids blinked once

to confirm.

“Hannah is not destined to have a difficult life, Agent

Mulder. And I can assure you that her mother has done

everything in her power to surround Hannah with an

auspicious household when she was growing up. It is Hannah

who has chosen to make some unfortunate decisions.”

“If all of this is based on your understanding of fate, and how

Hannah has unfortunately taken the wrong path, I can’t see

how this is something to investigate for you,” Scully

remarked. She was not seeing the point of being here.

“I must agree with you there, Agent Scully,” Dr. Yin replied,

“I had thought the same thing upon hearing the story for the

first time myself. Are you familiar with the principles of

Feng Shui?”

“No, I can’t say that I am.”

“That may be to your advantage. It may be a good thing to

have an unbiased opinion to view the situation.” He folded

his hands, and pressed his two index fingers against his lips.

His eyes looked far away briefly, and then he refocused them

on Scully.

“But I digress. Feng Shui is the theory that the world is filled

with forces of positive and negative energy. For my purposes,

as a Feng Shui Master, I can consult with people on how

positive energy enters and flows through their homes. A good

flow of energy can lead to a prosperous and comfortable

household.

“Hannah has just recently moved into a new house with

Simon. Lili, in her concern for her daughter’s well being,

requested that I come to help Hannah set up her house

according to the principles of Feng Shui. Hannah flatly

refused.”

“She called it old-fashioned,” Lili said, disappointment heavy

in her voice.

“I almost think that Hannah deliberately chose her house to

rebel against our beliefs,” Yin added. “Have you seen the

house yet?”

Both agents shook their heads.

“When you meet with Hannah, which I’m sure you will soon,

she may take you on a tour of the house. There are many

things wrong with it according to the principles: a long

central hallway, a staircase facing the front door, not to

mention the chaos of renovation construction going on

presently. But the first thing I noticed, even before entering

the dwelling, was its location.”

It was then that Dr. Yin pulled out a blank sheet of paper and

a pencil. On the paper he drew a shape like a camel’s hump, a

house, and a large square object, lined up from right to left.

“In Feng Shui it is good to have a hill at the back of the house

as protection, an anchor if you will. Hannah’s house is on a

hill, the highest point of it being behind the house. Very

good.” He drew a happy face inside the house shape. Next,

his pencil pointed to the large square object.

“This, unfortunately for Hannah and Simon, is a large, four-

story apartment building which sits directly across the street

from their new home. It blocks their view from anything out

the front door, and all the windows of the building face their

house.”

“And this is bad?” Scully asked.

“In a matter of speaking, yes. There are ways to rectify the

problem, but Hannah would have none of it. I only

emphasize the exterior surroundings more because the energy

inside of a house is always easier to control. The landscape,

however, can have a very strong affect on one’s house no

matter how well one protects it from the inside. The

apartment building, in my opinion, has two problems: it

blocks the only chance sunlight has to hit the front of the

house all day and it is a source of ‘shar chi.'”

“Bad energy,” Lili defined.

“Specifically, in straight paths, directed toward Hannah’s

house. They are usually caused by the sharp angles in a modern

structure, and are also known as ‘poison arrows.'”

“And this is what you think has caused problems for your

daughter, Mrs. Wong?” Mulder asked.

Lili hesitated. “For the house, yes. For Hannah…”

Yin looked up at Lili whose forehead had become

increasingly wrinkled throughout the conversation. He

decided to continue for her. “For Hannah, we have another

theory.”

He took his friend’s hand as she stilled herself to explain the

events of last Friday evening. Her explanation was slow,

deliberate, as if she did not want to forget a single detail, a

single feeling that she had during the whole experience. Most

of all, she had a deep concern for all the things Hannah did,

why she argued with the workman, why she was angry, and

then she told them her explanation for Hannah’s abdominal

pains.

“Before we left for the hospital, I noticed the broken Ba-Gua

lying on the floor, shattered. This would really not be much

of a concern under normal circumstances.” She glanced over

to Yin who nodded his approval. “But I had seen the light in

the window, that flash, right before Hannah was in pain. Now

that I think of it, I also remember hearing the Ba-Gua crack.

“What I believe, Agent Mulder, is that someone in the

building across the street has somehow figured out a way to

direct bad energy toward Hannah, to control her. And…” Lili

swallowed hard. “I have a good idea of who might wish to

cause her harm.”

Mulder waited silently for her to continue. Scully pulled out

her notepad and poised her ballpoint pen above a blank page.

Lili inhaled deeply, doubt washing over her face. “His name

is Henry Chin. He is a sculptor; the son of a family friend. He

makes pottery. As a favor to his family, I sell his work to the

public here in the store.” She scrunched her mouth up as if

she had tasted something bitter. “And what do I get in

return?”

Scully leaned slightly to the side, so that Mulder could see

her notepad. On it she scribbled, “PROOF?”

Mulder sat forward in his chair and folded his hands between

his knees. “Mrs. Wong, how can you be sure it’s Henry?”

“This is not the first time Hannah has suffered from bad luck,

as Jonathan had said before. I call it more than coincidence

that Henry has been present for the most tragic occurrences.”

“Would you mind describing some of these occurrences?”

Mulder inquired carefully. The subject was apparently

difficult for Lili to discuss. Either she was afraid of what

Henry would do next, or more likely, she was afraid of

Mulder and Scully discounting her claims.

“Henry has known Hannah for most of her life. Many of the

Chinese-American children around here have. Ever since we

moved here from Chinatown, Henry has had an infatuation

with my Hannah.”

“A crush?” Scully said, fighting to keep the condescension

out of her voice.

“More than that,” Lili continued. “He–how can I say it? He

feels he has a right to her.”

“I don’t understand,” Mulder questioned.

“Let me explain. One of the first incidents that relates to the

current situation is when the two children were still taking

Saturday Chinese school classes. Hannah had made many

friends and Henry was just not getting along well at all, both

in grades and in popularity. For an upcoming dance, Hannah

was going with a boy from the school, and not with Henry,

although he had asked her.

“Now although many teenagers are awkward dancers at first,

Hannah and this other boy were having particular trouble.

They stepped on each other’s feet, Hannah’s dress got torn,

spilled juice on–the important part is that their clumsiness

got so bad, they finally tripped over one another, and the boy

fell right into a glass punch bowl, pulling Hannah down with

him. The bowl broke, and both children had to go to the

emergency room to get stitches. Henry witnessed the whole

thing. Bad luck situation number one.”

Mulder sat back in his chair, committing the little history

lesson to memory. Scully scribbled casual notes on her pad,

still not convinced entirely that this was worth their time. Lili

continued.

“Through her junior and high school years, Hannah suffered

at least three more incidents like this, involving other boys,

and ending with some kind of trip to the hospital.

“By the time she went off to college the bad luck had worn

off some. She met Simon. They fell in love and nothing went

wrong, because of course, Henry did not go to the same

college.”

“Of course,” Scully added.

Lili ignored her. “When the two came home to announce

their engagement, I began preparations immediately. I was so

happy to see Hannah in her bliss. But when Henry got wind

of the coming wedding, he made his presence known once

again. This is when his father asked me to sell his pottery. I

was happy to do it. After all, I was thrilled with my

daughter’s wedding, and was too busy to think anything else

of it.

“Two days before the wedding, Hannah’s father, my husband,

died of a heart attack. Hannah and Simon decided to put the

wedding off, too upset at the tragedy to go on with it. They

would simply reschedule.

“They rescheduled *four* times before they were able to get

married. All due to other tragic events that I will not go into

at this time. Bad luck situation number two.

“Finally, and with a new baby on the way, the newly married

couple decided to buy their own home. Henry, who had been

living with his family all this time, decided to move out and

live on his own. He heard about Hannah and Simon finding a

new house while he was looking for an apartment.

“Now, you must understand, Henry and Hannah have

remained friends throughout their lives, only Hannah is too

blind to see Henry’s intentions. Henry was helping the couple

move some furniture in when he saw the vacancy sign across

the street in the apartment building. And he said to Hannah,

‘Wouldn’t it be so nice to be neighbors again? I will apply for

that apartment this afternoon!'”

“Did Henry get the apartment?” Scully asked.

“What do you think?” Lili spat out, the corners of her mouth

reaching far down the sides of her chin.

“Bad luck situation number three.” Mulder stated.

Yin leaned across his desk toward the two agents. “Of course,

the local police believe none of this. We had hoped, Mr. Fox

Mulder, that you would find some way to prove that Henry is

harassing our Hannah. Her life is in danger, along with her

unborn child’s. And from the stories Lili has just told, we can

only assume that Simon’s life may be in danger as well,” Dr.

Yin summed up.

“Well, that just leaves one thing,” Scully sighed, sounding a

little bored.

“What’s that, Scully?” Mulder inquired curiously.

“How he does it.”

Lili dropped her gaze to the floor. “That I cannot tell you. I

understand that this may be difficult to believe.”

Mulder nodded slowly. “I think we have enough to start with.

It won’t be easy, though.”

“Please, Agent Fox…”

Mulder jerked at the use of his first name. “It’s just Mulder,

please.”

“Pity,” Dr. Yin said, at an almost inaudible volume.

“Agent Mulder,” Lili continued, “I *know* she is in danger.

Please help her.”

Mulder looked at the two older people on the other side of

the desk, Lili still standing, Dr. Yin still clutching her hand in

his own. “We’ll do our best.”

“Thank you,” Lili said to him. Then to Scully, “You are very

fortunate to be working with such a great man, Miss Scully.

I’m sure you will learn much from him.”

Scully opened her mouth to protest — her own intelligence

well-established; but she heard Mulder’s voice answer before

her vocal chords even got a sliver of air into them.

“Scully has handled herself just fine with me for eight years,

Mrs. Wong. You can count on both of us to work very hard

on this case for you.”

As he got up to shake hands with Mrs. Wong and Dr. Yin,

Scully’s mouth still hung slightly open. She pulled herself

together for a proper farewell, and then followed Lili and

Mulder out to the front of the store, not saying a single word

until they exited the shop.

*****

Lili peered through the beaded curtains at the two agents

walking to their car. She heard carpet-softened footfalls

approaching behind her.

“You shouldn’t have called out to me like that. How do you

know neither of them speak Cantonese?”

Jonathan stopped walking.

“All I said was that it was a pity these two were not a couple.

It *is* one of the things I do, Lili — consult with married

couples on their relationships. I had assumed Agent Scully

would be a man as well.”

“So did I,” Lili said, curiously.

Outside, Mulder and Scully stopped by the passenger side

door of their Intrigue. Scully stood with her arms crossed and

her chin pointing out toward her partner’s chest. She said

something to him that made him shrink back and hide his

hands inside his pockets.

Lili slid her hands between two strands of beads for a better

view of the pair.

clip_image001

“I was as surprised as you were that Agent Scully was a

woman.” She glanced back at her friend standing just at the

head of the center aisle, as if he were afraid to cross the floor

to meet her. “Do you think this will affect the way they

handle Henry for us?” she asked, still valuing his opinion

despite his carelessness.

“I will have to refer to the I’Ching again. I didn’t have time to

find a reading for a business partnership before they

arrived…”

Lili looked back out at the FBI agents on the sidewalk. The

conversation had turned into a heated argument. Mulder

reached out to Scully’s shoulder, attempting to calm her. She

lowered her head to look at the concrete as her partner

continued to speak, his own head lowered so that he could do

so at a softer volume. Subtly, he tried to move her closer to

him, but he froze half-way. The hand Mulder rested on her

shoulder, Scully covered with her own. Perhaps this was the

end of the argument, Lili thought.

She continued to watch as Scully pulled Mulder’s hand off

her shoulder and held it out between them. Then, staring him

straight in the eyes, she released it, and it dropped limply to

his side like a wet rope. Scully straightened her posture and

walked forcefully around to the driver’s side door.

“As I said before, it’s too bad…”

“I wouldn’t be so sure they are not a couple, Jonathan.”

Lili released the strands of beads she held aside and allowed

them to sway back into place. When she turned to walk

toward the back of the store, Jonathan was standing there

with an impish grin.

“You think…?”

“Let’s take a look at those readings, shall we?”

ACT 2

128 Columbia Rd.

Apt. 2C

3:30 p.m.

Henry inhaled the ironically dry, salty smell of wet clay as he

ran his fingers over the gray lump spinning before him. He

reached down to grab a soaking sponge and then squeezed it

over the clay, the water running down its sides, making it

supple to his touch.

He applied gentle pressure to the form, pushing upward so

that as it spun, the clay grew taller in his hands. Where the

clay was too wet, it ran through his fingers and down his arm

in thin, meandering rivers. He loved to see the clay take

shape. It obeyed his every movement, followed his caresses

and became beautiful because of him.

Hovering his fingers over the spinning object, drips of gray

liquid fell onto it and disappeared on the surface, becoming

one with the mass. At just the right moment, he plunged his

fingers down into the center of the clay. His hand, now

engulfed by the object, moved subtly to the right and left,

cradling the edge into his palm. He manipulated and

massaged the inside and it became slick and smooth, it took

on a form, a life of its own. He had done that. He had made it

what it was.

Henry slowly took his foot off the electronic pedal, and the

wheel slowed. A cool breeze blew from the window he faced

and a chill shot across his forehead. He had been

concentrating so intently on his work that he had begun to

sweat. Absently, he smeared the back of his hand on his face

to mop up the perspiration, leaving a trail of gray behind that

was reminiscent of war paint.

He admired his perfect vase as it sat, still wet, but spots of

white began to appear randomly as the air touched its surface.

His eyes fluttered with the breeze, and followed its path to

the window, then past the window to the small white house

across the street. Inside the top floor window of the house, he

could see a woman reclined on her bed, and if he didn’t know

there was a TV right below the sill, he would have thought

she was looking back at him.

“Oh, Hannah,” he sighed.

It was good to see her at home, especially in her pregnant

condition. That burden was something she should never have

had to bear. Hannah was much better off staying home while

she had a child on the way. He still could not believe she and

Simon were both planning to work after the birth. What kind

of a family was that? Henry could most assuredly provide a

better household than Simon ever could.

He got up and stood by the window’s left edge, careful not to

give himself away through the glass’s reflection of the house

outside. He knew it protected him from her sight. It should

have been *his* child inside of her. He should have been the

one she married. His stomach began to turn as he thought of

Simon becoming intimate with Hannah. Her husband would

touch her in places meant only for himself, not this stuck up

businessman who worked fifteen hours a day.

He leaned on the window with his forearm and slid it closed

as he gazed at Hannah. The afternoon was becoming chilly.

After a while, she rose to turn off the TV. Henry was

instantly enthralled, held his breath and became still, so as

not to disturb the moment.

She walked carefully back to the bed and began to write

something in a small, black daily-planner. God, but she was

beautiful. His heart constricted as he thought of the years of

unrequited love he had felt for this woman. It just wasn’t right

that she belonged to someone else. Friendship just wasn’t

enough anymore.

He spun around violently and stormed toward the back of the

room, where he kept his personal sculptures. Here, he

experimented with several different materials: wood, metal,

glass, ceramic. On a large wooden worktable lay his latest

group of pottery, all unfinished, waiting to be glazed and

baked in the kiln.

They were all shapely vases, some tall, some short, but they

all had the same characteristics of the one he had just

finished. They sat in a neat row, like eight bottom-heavy old

biddies waiting for their tea. They were the types of women

that mocked him as a child, who “encouraged” him to grow

up and become a respected businessman — the type of man

Simon had become.

Henry stood silently, but his eyes nearly glowed with the

fiery anger building up inside him. He didn’t deserve to be

treated like that! Not from anyone–not even Lili–especially

not Lili. Why should he be denied?

In one fell swoop, Henry crashed his arm through all eight

vases like a baseball bat, knocking them to the floor. They

clanked and shattered against the linoleum and left white skid

marks of dust on impact. It looked as if there had been a

million tiny landmines set off at his feet, and the explosion of

noise would have suggested nothing less.

He kicked at the larger pieces of fallen pottery and proceeded

to search through a scattering of tools on the table, tossing

those he didn’t want carelessly aside to join the dusty

fragments on the floor. Finally, he picked up the tool he was

looking for. It was a woodworker’s awl. He used it mostly to

etch details into the clay–not its intended use, but it worked

for him. He admired its sharp point.

He held the tool in front of him, bobbing it gently in his hand,

keeping in rhythm with his heavy breathing. The adrenaline

had consumed his thoughts and all he knew now was that he

could hear his heart pounding — the very heart that was not

allowed to feel love.

The more he toyed with the awl, the more his bobbing hand

inched closer and closer to his chest. The pain of the tool

plunging through his ribcage to the soft organ beneath would

at least match the terrible anger coursing through him at this

very moment.

“Hannah–” he whispered,”–you will be mine someday.”

He lifted his hand up, clutching the sharp tool above his head,

directing the point straight for his heart. Yes, he could do

this…

He lifted the awl higher and screamed out his rage,

“Noooooooooo!” He brought it down fast and hard, missing

his chest by millimeters, swung himself around and released

the tool so that it went flying across the room–straight into

the round base of the still drying vase on his pottery wheel. It

stuck into the clay like a dagger in soft flesh, yet there was a

strange sound as it hit–like the pop one hears from a dropped

light bulb.

Beyond the vase he saw Hannah stumble by her bedroom

window, as if she’d snagged her foot on a throw rug. She was

oblivious of the tortured soul across the street, nor did she

hear him scream. Her window was closed. So was Henry’s.

The breeze blew in and whistled into Henry’s apartment,

through a tiny hole in the window pane, exactly the same

diameter as a 4″ woodworker’s awl.

*****

Hartsdale, N.Y.

125 Columbia Rd.

3:50 p.m.

Mulder unfolded himself from the passenger side of the

Intrigue and closed the door with his backside. He leaned

against the car and loosened his tie, breathing in the crisp

spring air. He heard, or rather, felt Scully slam the driver’s

side door. A lump sprang up from his stomach in reaction to

the jerking motion of the car. Had he known that Scully was

going to be in such an irate mood after lunch, and then take

her frustrations out in her driving, he would never have

ordered fajitas from the Mont Parnasse Diner.

A chili pepper-scented burp escaped through his lips. He

rubbed his stomach with care, as if to soothe it back into

submission. Scully came around the car to face him, her

eyebrow raised in question.

“You okay, Mulder?”

“Mmm. Fine.” He burped again. “Pardon me.”

Scully suppressed a grin with her fist and turned to look up at

Hannah’s house, hiding the humor in her eyes from him.

After a moment she returned her gaze. “Well…”

“After you.” Mulder waved his hand toward the rocky

staircase leading up the hill to the modest white house. The

ascent was quite treacherous, like a dried up riverbed

someone had decided to build a staircase out of. Mulder tried

to imagine the EMS workers trying to carry Hannah down in

a stretcher. That must have been no easy task.

It took a while before anyone responded to the doorbell.

After all, Hannah had been ordered to bed-rest since her little

incident. Someone was definitely home, though. The locked

metal storm door was the only thing keeping visitors outside.

Through the glass, they could see a heavier red-painted door

swung open against the wall and a long hallway that

stretched back to the staircase leading to the second floor.

Mulder wondered why that was bad in terms of Feng Shui.

He would have to hit the library later tonight.

Mulder took the opportunity to look around. Across the street

he saw the infamous apartment building where Lili and Dr.

Yin believed some of Hannah’s bad luck had been generating.

It looked friendly enough to him: a Tudor-style structure with

a tiled roof and only about four floors to it. It was pretty dark,

though, he had to admit. The sun was situated in such a way

that if he squinted his eyes the building was no more than a

silhouette against the blue sky.

He felt a plucking at his elbow, Scully’s attempt to focus his

attention. Hannah was coming to the door. The first thing

they saw was her pink slippered feet carefully stepping down

from the second floor. She made her journey slowly,

balancing on each step before venturing to the next.

Whatever happened to her last week must have taken a

serious toll on her.

When she arrived at the door she had a pleasant smile on her

lips, but one could notice a tiny crease in her forehead that

eluded to an emotion other than welcome. She knew who

they were, why they were here, and who had sent them. Let’s

say she wasn’t entirely pleased to have visitors, especially

those flashing badges.

“Welcome agents,” Hannah greeted, pushing the squeaky

door out to them.

“Hello, Mrs. Park. I’m Agent Scully and this is Agent

Mulder.”

Hannah nodded curtly. “I’ve been expecting you. My mother

told me you’d be coming.” Hannah motioned her head toward

a doorway off the main hall and led them into the living

room. As she hobbled ahead, she held her back with one hand

and stretched the other out to balance herself against any

obstacles — obstacles of which there were many to watch out

for.

Mulder and Scully stepped around some paint cans by the

front door, two-by-fours leaning against the doorjamb of the

living room and a pile of rubble unexpectedly making its

home on the oriental rug next to the couch.

“I must apologize for the mess. We’ve been re-modeling and

my contractor quit last week right before my…” Hannah

lowered herself onto a plush mint-green couch, her weight

denting the cushions. “Well, I’m sure you know the whole

story. What can I help you with?”

Scully began the interview. “As you know, Hannah, your

mother believes your life to be in danger. Can you tell us

anything about that?”

The pregnant woman leaned back in her seat and sighed

heavily. “Unfortunate things happen, Agent Scully. My

mother just blows things out of proportion.”

Mulder wandered around the living room while Scully

continued to question Hannah.

“So you don’t believe that you are in danger?”

“Not in the slightest, Agent Scully,” she answered, apparently

becoming bored with the same question.

Scully inhaled and took notes on her pad. “And your

pregnancy… We heard you suffered from complications last

week. Have you had a difficult pregnancy up until now?”

Scully tried to be delicate in asking the question. Mulder

heard her voice soften, as if she were asking Hannah if a

loved one had passed away.

It brought back memories, the thought of having difficulty

conceiving a child. Old, not quite forgotten guilt tickled the

top of his stomach. All of a sudden his lunch didn’t feel so

loose anymore, but more like a solid brick.

Damn it. How did he always manage to put Scully in

torturous situations like these? Not only had their interview

with Lili and Dr. Yin gone badly, but now, when he had

offered to let her take the lead with Hannah, yet another

pitfall opened up beneath him. He felt like protecting her, yet

he wanted to allow her the professional courtesy of not

second guessing her actions. Either way, he felt like it was all

going to end badly for him.

Was he really that blind as to be unaware of Scully’s needs?

What happened at the airport made him feel like he wasn’t

doing enough for her. What happened at the gift shop made

him feel like he was covering for her too much. She certainly

didn’t like that. So what was he supposed to do, and was it his

place to decide? Maybe he was too self-centered. Or maybe

he was suffering from some bad luck of his own.

Mulder paced the living room as Hannah replied, “It wasn’t

easy getting pregnant.” She paused and lowered her eyes to

the floor. “I almost expected the complications.”

“What do you mean?”

“My mother had several miscarriages before I was born. I

have no other siblings because of her difficulty conceiving. I

could only assume it was hereditary…” She pulled at a loose

string on her dress. “… I guess I assumed right.”

Mulder stopped and craned his head upward to look at the

gaping hole in the ceiling where a large amount of plaster had

fallen. He found it strange that there were no other cracks in

the plaster leading to the hole, nor were there any signs of

water damage.

“What can you tell us about bad luck, Hannah?” Mulder

interrupted, as he still scanned his surroundings.

Both women turned to look at him, Scully knitting her

eyebrows and Hannah with a surprised, dumfounded

expression.

“Oh, no,” Hannah chuckled under her breath, but with no

humor lightening it. “You *have* been talking to my mother

too much.”

“Well, it seems you’ve had a long history of personal injury

and unfortunate circumstances. From what your mother and

Dr. Yin have said…”

“Dr. Yin! My God, she *is* serious this time!” she

exclaimed. Then softly to herself, “I can’t believe it. She’s

gone too far.” She shifted her weight again, seemingly

uncomfortable whichever way she sat.

“Agent Mulder, I have sustained personal injuries, but they

were all minor. Some stitches here, a broken leg there–and

all so long ago. What can you expect from a clumsy

teenager?” She paused and appraised his stance. “Tell me,

Agent Mulder, you being in law enforcement and all, how

many times have you been in the hospital?”

Scully’s eyes widened and she scrunched up her lips

suppressing a snort. Mulder shifted from foot to foot,

Hannah’s squinting eyes scrutinizing him mercilessly.

“Uh–more times than I can count. But that’s part of my job,

Mrs. Park. You seem to be a magnet for a considerable

amount of bad luck without looking for it.”

“Coincidence with ancient mumbo-jumbo. I don’t believe in

fate and rivers of positive and negative energies determining

it for me. I can handle myself Agent *Fox* Mulder. My

mother just hasn’t learned to accept that yet.”

Mulder winced at his own name for the second time that day.

Only this time he had good reason; Hannah had said it as if it

were a curse. “Why this obsession with my first name, Mrs.

Park? I noticed your mother tried to address me by it earlier

today.”

“Hmm.” Hannah licked her lips, as if considering whether or

not she wanted to say anything. “I suppose there’s really no

harm in telling you. It’s another of her ‘divine theories,'” she

said, with a sneer. “In the I’Ching, or the ‘Book of Changes,’

every letter of the alphabet is designated a mystical number.

When you add the numbers in your name, take into account

your age and sex, you come up with a calculation

determining your basic path in life. Your name Agent

Mulder, Fox, adds up to nine. It is the luckiest of all

solutions. Your path is deemed as extremely auspicious. It is

no accident that my mother requested your assistance.”

Mulder stopped pacing. Had Lili called him in especially

because he validated her beliefs? Was he merely a pawn to

convince Hannah that her mother was right? He glanced over

to Scully. Now he knew what it was like to feel helpless

against unfounded prejudice. And he knew he was back in

the dog house again.

“So you don’t believe in any of these claims your mother has

made backed up by Feng Shui or this I’Ching you speak of?”

“If I were to base my life on the sayings in an ancient mess of

fortunes you’re likely to find on a slip of paper inside a

cookie, I would have been rich and famous by now.”

“Could bad influences have changed that?”

“No,” Hannah said with punctuation. “The readings are

simply wrong. I don’t believe in them and I shouldn’t be

forced to just because my mother does.”

“Do you despise her so much because of these beliefs? Why

make your home so close to her then? Why choose a house

that is the direct opposite of what she thinks is ideal?”

Hannah became still. She folded her hands over her bulbous

abdomen. Her words were hushed. “I never said I despised

her, Agent Mulder. She is the only family I have. Just

because someone has different beliefs, even if you know it

will hurt them if you deny them to their face, doesn’t mean

you can’t love them all the same.”

Mulder instantly felt like a heel, but a tiny glimmer at the

back of his brain told him he had discovered something

interesting about Hannah.

“I’m sorry, I…”

“Simon and I live here because it is convenient to the train

station. He works late hours for his office in Manhattan. I like

this neighborhood because I know it. I grew up here. My

friends are here. In fact, my friend Henry lives right across

the street there.” She pointed out the picture window to the

apartment building across the street.

“About Henry–How good a friend is he?” Mulder tested,

sitting on an ottoman next to the chair where Scully had

remained after he so rudely stole the interview from her.

“Does this have any bias linked with it caused by my

mother?” Hannah huffed out, blowing her straight-cut black

bangs from her face.

“I’m asking *you* the question, Hannah.”

She turned her eyes away from him and began playing with

the string again. “I’ve known him all my life. He is a very

close friend and a wonderful craftsman. He–he has always

helped me through the most difficult times of my life–” She

looked up at Scully this time. “–the times my mother and

some others would account for bad luck. At least he lived in

the real world and tried to ease the pain instead of blaming

spirits.”

Scully closed her notebook and looked at Mulder as if to say

“Can we go now?”

Mulder stood up. “Thank you for your time, Mrs. Park. I

wish you all the best of…” he paused and second-guessed his

statement, “Uh, I hope your pregnancy comes to term with no

further difficulties.”

Hannah made some shifting movements so that she could see

her guests to the door.

“No, no, please don’t get up, Mrs. Park,” Scully scolded her

gently. She shook the woman’s hand in farewell. “We can

show ourselves out. Thank you again.”

The storm door slammed behind them as the two agents left

the small white house.

“So, Mr. Fox Mulder, how do you propose to continue this

case if the victim doesn’t even believe there is a case to begin

with? And I have to admit, the argument to the contrary lacks

conviction.” She crossed her arms and followed her partner’s

stare across to the dark Tudor apartment building.

Mulder bit at his thumbnail. “There’s something here, Scully.

I don’t know how to explain it to you right now. Call it a

lucky hunch–a little queasy feeling I have in my stomach.”

He rubbed his gurgling belly, suddenly reminded of his

volatile lunch.

“That’s not luck, Mulder. That’s revenge.”

“Oh, you’re a regular comedian, Scully. I’m sure you’re

having quite a laugh at my expense about now.”

Scully slid her tongue on the inside of her cheek. She said

nothing.

Mulder cleared his throat and fumbled for his notepad. “So,

what do you say we get our last interview over with?” He

flipped to a page with an address and apartment number

scribbled on it. “We’re here already. Might as well.”

“Fine.” She started down toward the street. “But if there’s

nothing to go on here, Mulder, I’m calling Professor Jenkins

and telling him I’ll be in tomorrow for that Saturday evening

seminar.”

Mulder double-checked his notepad. “Apartment 2C,” it read.

He studied the windows on the second floor of the building

across the street.

“Fine,” he said, then followed his partner.

*****

He had watched them; watched them get out of their shiny

red car, enter Hannah’s house and exit a short time later. He

watched these neatly-dressed people, probably cops or

something to that effect, step down from the height of the

small white house and down the rocky staircase. He watched

the tall man in his dark g-man suit stare directly at him, yet

not knowing that he actually did so.

They passed by their car. They weren’t leaving yet. They

were coming this way.

Henry’s eyes flitted wildly around his studio, to the fragments

of broken pottery all over the floor, his ruined vase on the

wheel, the gray streaks all over his t-shirt and face.

“Ah, hell.” That’s exactly what it looked like.

The buzzer from the intercom zipped through the air, and

shuttered up his spine. He had expected the sound, but the

anticipation of it made it seem all that much louder. He

helplessly took a last look at his studio, and then pressed the

“speak” button.

“Hello?”

“Henry Chin?” A muffled female voice asked through the

grating of the speaker. The system was so old, he thought it

might be working on a string and two cans hidden inside the

wall.

“Yes? Who is this?” For a split second, he almost convinced

himself they were just salespeople. Salespeople wore suits

like that too, didn’t they? Maybe they were just making their

rounds, and he was the next lucky customer to view some

rubber nipples or something. He made a mental note to stop

watching Ren and Stimpy.

“My name is Agent Dana Scully and I’m with my partner,

Agent Mulder, from the FBI. Would you mind giving us a

moment of your time?”

Damn. Maybe he could stall them. “You got ID?”

“Yes, sir. If you let — up — show — you.” The audio was

breaking up.

“All right, all right. Come on up.” He held the buzzer down

for five seconds, then ran to the bathroom to wipe a damp

towel over his face. His cheeks were nicely pink after the

quick scrub, and had barely enough time to cool to his

normal skin tone by the time the doorbell rang.

He slid the chain lock out of its slot, and then replaced it. He

wasn’t ready yet. What was he getting so nervous about? The

police didn’t believe in this stuff. He was golden. He just had

to blow it off.

He thought of Lili and her smirking little grin, waiting to see

him caught at last. She was the only one who believed. Even

Yin simply humored her. She acted like Henry was her child,

as if she had a right to tell him what he should and should not

do. She told him to stay away from her daughter, but he just

couldn’t. He loved her too much. The only way he’d be able

to have Hannah was to take things into his own hands,

slowly, over time, subtly. Lili saw through it. She knew his

plan. And now she was using the government to stop him! He

was appalled! Despite his need to stay calm in front of the

two agents out in the hall, his heart began doing jumping

jacks — on double-time, no less.

He took a deep breath, unlatched the chain again and opened

the door.

They walked into his apartment and stood in the middle of

his studio space. Henry silently wished he had an entrance

hallway or at least a living room so guests didn’t have to walk

straight into his work area. Scully stepped carefully around

some stray bits of broken vase. Smaller fragments crackled

under her high-heeled shoes.

Scully flashed her badge. “I believe you wanted to see this.”

Henry nodded, struggling to keep his demeanor casual.

“My partner would like to ask you a few questions,” she

glanced around at the mayhem, “if you’re not too busy.”

Her partner flinched strangely at his introduction. What was

it that skimmed across his face? Guilt? Dread? Or was he

simply caught off guard? It disappeared quickly, and the way

Mulder began his interview caused Henry to forget the

instance almost immediately.

“What do you know about Feng Shui, Henry?”

“What?” Henry stepped back and bumped into his worktable.

He tried to cover up his clumsiness by resting his left buttock

on the edge of the table and crossing his arms.

He was completely taken back by this man’s forward

question. He didn’t beat around the bush did he? But did he

know where he was going with this? Henry hoped to count

on the agent’s ignorance of the subject.

“Feng Shui,” Mulder repeated, “Do you know of it?”

“Yes, but I can’t tell you much about it, really.” Henry

shrugged his shoulders.

“What can you tell us?”

Henry was starting to get nervous. Who would have thought

the conversation would have started this way? Who was this

guy?

“Nothing. I really don’t know anything.”

“I see.”

Scully walked behind her partner and admired a large metal

sculpture Henry had started working on last week. It was no

more than a sheet of bent aluminum now, but he was

planning a large work, a great one, something he could show

off, maybe even get into a gallery. Mulder followed Henry’s

attention.

“You’re an artist, Henry?” Mulder asked.

“Yes.”

“Hannah Park seems to think you’re quite talented.”

“What do you know about Hannah?” Henry shot out. That

was it. He was convinced now that this was all Lili’s work.

Scully remained silent, although Henry couldn’t ignore her.

Her red hair was momentarily disturbed by a light draft. She

turned toward the source and wandered over to the far

window. She dragged her fingers along the base of the sill, as

if to check the integrity of the sealed window. It was still

closed. Then she touched the pane, running her finger over

one spot several times — *the* spot.

Henry could feel a tiny trickle of sweat running down his

back. This was all too much. How could they prove it? How

could they even suspect such a stupid, superstitious lead such

as Shar Chi? They couldn’t possibly believe Lili — could

they? Did they know what he was capable of? He watched

Scully scratch her nail along the edge of the small round hole

in the glass.

“We’re following a case for Hannah and her mother, Lili

Wong. Since you are both a friend of Hannah’s and an

employee, so to speak, of Lili’s, we thought you might have

some insight on the case at hand.”

Henry attempted to look concerned. “What’s happened? Is

everything all right?” he said with some urgency.

“Well,” Mulder side-glanced at his partner, “We’re still trying

to determine that. Lili seems to think that Hannah’s life is in

danger. And, according to Lili, her daughter seems to be in

denial of it.”

“Hannah’s in no danger.”

“Oh?”

“If this has to do with what I think this has to do with, Lili is

dragging you along for a ride. I’ve seen her use the argument

of her ‘bad energy’ attacking Hannah before, Agent Mulder.”

Yes, that was it, debunk Lili and all would be fine. He let out

a loud, fake-sounding laugh. “Can you believe that she’s even

tried to blame *me* for some of Hannah’s bad luck?

Amazing, really.”

“Yes, amazing.” Mulder stuffed his hands into his pockets

and nibbled at his bottom lip.

Henry was gaining momentum in his white lies. “I’ve actually

been the one to support Hannah against her mother. Yes!

She’s been trying to convert us for years. When she’s going to

start living out of her mystical dream world… Well, we can

only hope it’s not part of the aging process, if you know what

I mean.”

Mulder rubbed his chin and studied Henry for a moment, as

if trying to read his mind. He pursed his lips. “It is interesting

that Simon has remained quite silent about the whole

situation, don’t you think? Her own husband.”

A heat rose in the young Chinese man’s cheeks, and they

became pink as if he had rubbed the towel over his face

again. His hatred of Simon, that thief, was not easy to hide.

Through gritted teeth, he commented, “I’m sure Simon

supports his wife in anything she does or believes. That’s

what a husband is for, isn’t he?”

“One would hope,” Mulder answered.

Scully moved away from the window, noticed the impaled

vase on the potter’s wheel, dismissed it with a raised

eyebrow, and then came to stand beside her partner. Such a

strange pair. It was as if they had split up their observational

skills between them in order to achieve a short and efficient

interview. The psychological and visual scrutiny was

beginning to bug him. He had to get rid of these two before

he slipped up.

“So what do you want from me, Agent Mulder?”

“Well, as a friend of Hannah’s, I would ask that you keep an

eye out for her. If anything comes to you, anything you can

think of that might help us protect Hannah from getting into

trouble, we’d appreciate it.”

“No problem.” Henry stretched out his hand to Mulder.

The tall agent hesitated, then placed his hands back into his

pockets. “Thank you for your time, Mr. Chin.” Mulder

walked past Henry and left the small stuffy studio, followed

closely by his partner.

Only when they had climbed into their car on the opposite

side of the street did Henry let out the breath he held. What a

situation! That was too close for him. He violently pulled the

awl from it’s stuck position in the drying clay and tossed it

onto his work table.

He stared out the window at the white house on the hill, it’s

shingles brightly lit by the late afternoon sun — the only sun

the front of the house would receive all day.

His eyes blurred with gathering wetness, and his throat felt

hot and constricted. It just was not fair. He had to change his

life. He had to make things right, be the master of his own

fate. He dragged himself over to the unmade bed in the

corner of the room and buried his face in the soft sheets. All

he wanted to do was sleep. He wanted to sleep until all his

reality melted away into darkness.

The setting sun changed the color of the room from orange to

purple to gray, and finally, to black. Henry slept soundly,

dreamlessly, but contentedly aware that his two visitors did

not have a ‘smidgen’ of a case against him.

ACT 3

Comfort Inn

Route 9

5:30 p.m.

“Where’s the closest library um–Marie?” Mulder asked,

squinting his eyes to read the receptionist’s name tag, as

Scully signed for her room.

“Only about ten minutes down the road from here. I think

they’re open until nine,” the heavy-set, middle-aged woman

informed him.

“I can’t believe you’re asking me to stay the night here,

Mulder. Why can’t we just go back tonight?” She handed the

woman the completed forms, and took the set of keys

dangling from her pudgy, though extravagantly, manicured

fingers.

“What I can’t believe, Scully is how you could have missed

everything we saw today.”

“And what did we see, Mulder? As far as I’m concerned,

there is no case here.”

“What?” He stood in front of her, blocking the path to the car

where she was heading to retrieve her bag. “At least two of

the people we saw today are in denial of the facts, Scully.

There is something here. Unfortunately, Lili is the only one

willing to admit it.”

Scully stepped to the left. Mulder blocked her way. She

stepped to the right. Again, Mulder’s towering body was a

wall to her. Ugh! She hated these power games he played

with her. “Mulder, get out of my way.”

“Not until you hear me out, Scully. We have proof that

Hannah has been, and is in trouble, right? If you take a look

at my notes, you’ll find her medical history–not the most

recent of course. Lili sent them to me last week…”

Scully stared at him, the pinpoints of her pupils sharp with

annoyance.

“All right, I should have prepared you for that before meeting

with Lili. But Scully, we have to put the pieces together.

Something is causing this. Nobody is that unlucky. Do you

really believe the things Henry told you? He was sweating

like a pig the whole time we were in his studio. He knows

something, Scully. I know it.”

“Since when does overactive perspiration automatically make

someone guilty?”

“It’s suspicious, Scully.”

“Mulder,” she sighed, weary of her fight. “All the things that

happened to Hannah have completely sound and logical

explanations. She was a clumsy child. She was unlucky in

love. She bought a house that was a fixer-upper. She’s had a

difficult pregnancy. These things happen, Mulder. They

happen to ‘normal’ people.

“All I can see here are three people who are just very

unhappy. They’re worrying about one another’s lives instead

of focusing on their own. No one can control another person.

It just doesn’t work that way. It’s no use blaming ‘bad vibes’

either. I tend to agree with Hannah. This is all blown out of

proportion, and I can’t believe you were dragged into it–and

me with you.”

She pushed past him to open the trunk of the car. “I’m tired,

Mulder. I’m going to use this time to prepare for my next

seminar with Professor Jenkins.” She walked toward room

eight, but turned back before unlocking the door. “I’m going

to give you until tomorrow morning.”

Mulder guffawed. “Is that an ultimatum?”

She closed her eyes, and squeezed her key so hard that when

she opened her palm, a neat little impression had been left in

her skin. “I hate doing this, Mulder, but I’m not going to

chase around weak hunches just because you have a ‘feeling’

about this case. I have things that I want to do too — that are

important to me. I hope you can understand that.”

“This is work, Scully, not personal free-time.”

“Whatever you say. You’re the senior agent.”

Mulder threw himself into the car and made a dramatic show

of pushing the seat back to make room for his long legs. “I’ll

be at the library.”

“Fine.”

He slammed the door and rolled down the window.

“Tomorrow morning,” he called out to her.

“That’s right,” she said bluntly and entered her motel room.

Before she had closed the door all the way, she heard the

engine of the Intrigue revving wildly as Mulder backed out of

the parking space.

If Mulder came back tomorrow having made no headway,

she would go to Lili and drop the case herself, no matter how

badly she felt about his ego. This was work, as he had said,

not personal.

So why did she feel like she was breaking his heart?

*****

Room 8

Comfort Inn

7:35 p.m.

An hour later, Scully was still staring blankly at her laptop.

She had hoped to prepare a short summary of her

presentation for tomorrow night, but had only gotten as far as

naming the file and placing a heading at the top of the page.

She was thinking about Mulder.

It shouldn’t surprise her that he was willing to throw himself

whole-heartedly into the case. It just felt like a defiance this

time, and it turned her off to the investigation completely.

Was she really the one making this a personal battle?

She glanced down at her watch and tapped the crystal

absently. “Tomorrow morning… tomorrow morning…” she

whispered. She really didn’t know anything about the case

herself. Maybe she was being unfair to him. She was pretty

convinced the facts were leading nowhere, but was that

enough for Mulder? No. Was it enough for her?

She opened her e-mail program, sighed heavily, and began to

type. Mulder deserved as much proof from her, on the

contrary, as she needed from him to confirm Lili’s case. She

grumbled and typed simultaneously. When she was finished,

she read over the e-mail before sending it.

::

::Professor Jenkins,

::

::I regret to inform you that I will not be able to attend

::the seminar tomorrow night. I have been called in on a case

::that requires some special investigation on my part.

::I apologize for the short notice, and hope to assist you

::in further seminars.

::

::Sincerely,

::Dana Scully, MD

::

“Damn it, Mulder,” she cursed, then hit send.

She flipped open the manila envelope with Mulder’s notes,

and found Dr. Jonathan Yin’s office phone number. She

waited for several rings before a heavily accented voice

answered.

“Hello?”

“Dr. Yin? This is Agent Dana Scully.”

“Miss Scully! How wonderful of you to call! How is your

investigation going?”

“That’s what I called to ask you about, Dr. Yin. I’m not sure

I’m entirely convinced of the validity of Lili’s case.”

“Oh. That is unfortunate.” He sounded very quiet, saddened

by the news.

“I think I need some more information. I need to understand

more about this Feng Shui. My partner seems to have gone

off on a theory and left me somewhat in the dark. I need

some help.”

“Oh, are you alone? You two would usually work so well

together.”

“Yes, but…” Scully stopped in mid-sentence. “You only met

us today, Dr. Yin. How could you know how we work

together?”

“It is written in the book of I’Ching.”

Scully shook her head. “I don’t need my fortune told right

now.”

“Ha, ha! Where did you hear that?”

“From Hannah. I’m leaning toward her side of the case–

unless you can convince me otherwise.” God, she couldn’t

believe she was doing this. Why, Mulder, why?

“Why don’t you come down to my office, Agent Scully? I can

clarify things for you about my profession, and I can provide

you with some reference books.”

Finally, some sensibility! “That would be very helpful. Thank

you. I’ll have to take a cab.”

“I await your arrival.”

“Uh, one last thing. Will Lili be there? I would appreciate it if

she weren’t. I’d like to keep this meeting as unbiased as

possible.”

“As you wish. Lili will be leaving at eight as usual. I will not

alert her to your visit.”

“Thank you. I’ll see you shortly.”

She hung up the phone, then called the front desk for cab

service.

***

When she arrived, the store was dimly lit. She thought for a

moment that Dr. Yin had forgotten and left, until she saw him

crouched on a short stool by the register reading a joke book.

She tapped on the glass door and he leapt to answer it for her.

“Welcome, Agent Scully,” he exclaimed, his enthusiasm not

an ounce less than when they had first met. She followed him

to his office where she took the same seat that she had earlier

in the day.

She adjusted herself several times, fidgeting with her jacket

or pushing her hair behind one ear. All of a sudden, Scully

didn’t know what her purpose was in visiting the doctor. It

felt as if wads of cotton grew inside her throat, and prevented

her from uttering a single sentence. She made a small

grunting noise to test her vocal chords. They were still intact.

“I…” Her voice was more than willing to make sounds for

her, yet the thoughts were still not gathering. I may as well be

honest, she thought. “I really don’t know where to begin, Dr.

Yin. I don’t understand any of what you and Lili claim.”

Yin folded his hands and pressed his index fingers to his lips.

It seemed to be a subconscious reaction while he was in deep

thought. His narrow eyes twinkled with something

mysterious, something that made Scully shiver right between

her shoulder blades. It wasn’t quite creepy, but she felt

somewhat exposed. She looked away from him.

“It is a shame. Agent Mulder believes so strongly…”

She shot her glance back to Yin’s face. “I didn’t mean to say

that I don’t want to understand…”

Yin blinked once, causing Scully’s voice to trail off. “It is

only too bad that he went off on his own.”

“Yes, I suppose?”

“You need each other. You have gotten through many

difficult cases before, but only together.”

She heard a subtle throbbing, like waves crashing against her

eardrums — she was beginning to panic. It was as if she were

in some sort of trance, not because there were puffs of

incense smoke hovering about the room — there weren’t any–

nor because Yin had waved his hands in a funny manner

before her eyes. It was that exposed feeling again, as if he

had opened her up and began fishing through her darkened,

suppressed little memory files. “How do you know this?”

“It’s written right here.” He placed his hand gently on the

large, red leather book with ribbons marking the pages. It sat

on his desk like an entity unto itself. He giggled softly,

awakening her from her trance. Despite herself, she felt the

skin of her cheeks becoming quite warm. Yin graciously

ignored it.

“The translation might be slightly different in English, but it

simply describes your nature. I’ll read you an excerpt that I

translated earlier.”

Scully raised an eyebrow.

“Lili had me check,” he said in response to her silent

question. “She believes in her methods, and mine, but she

needed to be sure Hannah would realize her danger from

someone *Hannah* could believe. Mulder was the ideal

candidate, since he has a history of researching the

unexplained and such, but he is also a government official —

someone Hannah could trust.”

“I’m not sure Mulder would be the most obvious choice, now

that we’ve met with Hannah,” Scully admitted.

“Oh, no. I realized that right away. It is quite obvious that no

matter how lucky Agent Fox Mulder is, he would have gotten

nowhere without his soul mate by his side.”

Scully huffed a nervous laugh. “I’m not…”

“Please, just listen.”

Resignedly, she sighed, “All right.”

“I will say first, I found it interesting when analyzing your

names, that you and Agent Mulder shared a common path.

You two are so closely bound together, you don’t know

where one life ends and the other begins. Here, let me read

you something I found in the book.”

He unfolded the large book near to the front and found in the

pages a few small scraps of white paper, stuck exactly where

he had left them. It was like he had discovered some old

photos long forgotten and his lips quirked upward as he

admired them and rubbed the corners of the sheets with his

thumb.

He adjusted his glasses and began to read, “‘It is the way of

the Earth…’ — that is you and Mulder. You both share the

Earth sign — ‘…to provide a path, complete with twists and

turns, forks, obstacles, and diversions, through even the

wilderness. So, too, your path takes you continually forward,

continuously onward down the road–beyond the last fork–

beyond the next bend. The path you are on is endless and

eternal–marked by turning points, and fraught with choices.

Yet nothing stands in your way for long. There is nothing

you cannot get over. There is nothing you cannot get around.

There is nothing you cannot get through. And so, your

progress is assured.”

“How does that ‘assure’ that Mulder could not have gotten

this case done without me?”

“Because you are his path. Where this reading only works

half-way with Mulder, you have the Earth in you through and

through. It is quite unfortunate that Agent Mulder does not

allow people to refer to him by his first name. His nature is

most influenced by how he is known. If more people called

him Fox, there’s no telling how his luck might change– for

the better.” Yin flipped through some more pages. “I also

found something else–as to your relationship.”

Scully once again averted her eyes.

“‘You are bound by your mutual experience and your

collective self-interest.’ Tell me, Agent Scully, has your work

with Agent Mulder led you to your present romantic

relationship with him?”

A somewhat recent memory crept into the back of her mind.

A visit with a woman who enlightened her to the possibility

that all the things she experienced in her life were meant to

lead her to one moment in time. She had begun to merely

scratch the surface of this logic, to find a new way of viewing

herself and what she wanted. It was a mystical experience for

her then; something she didn’t quite understand or want to

acknowledge until she was able to speak to Mulder about it.

Slowly, she became aware that Dr. Yin was waiting for her

response.

“I… Is this pertinent to the case, Dr. Yin?” Scully quickly

swiped her eye with the back of her hand, catching some

wetness that had inexplicably begun to gather.

“No matter how much you try to avoid the subject, Dana, it

was meant to be between the two of you. You have a purpose

together.”

“The readings are all very general, Dr. Yin.”

“But is it accurate?”

She paused. What could she say? Did she dare admit

anything to this man? How much did he know about them?

Or was this his way of convincing her that these theories

were real — that they did work, and Hannah truly was in

danger because of them. Finally, she concluded, “If

interpreted the right way, they could be.”

“Mmm.” Yin closed the book and pinched the end of his

chin. “You see, Agent Scully, I had hoped to show you

through your reading, that the Book of Changes can be

accurate. I had hoped that, if you could identify with

something in these mysteries we are putting our faith in, your

understanding of our situation might come more easily.”

She was hating this immensely, having this man tell her what

her life was. But at the same time, she was uncontrollably

intrigued. He had not merely made these things up. He could

not have pulled these readings out of the sky. They were

written thousands of years ago somewhere in China. Was

destiny so strong as to predetermine someone’s life so far into

the future? Was one’s path set in stone? Couldn’t it be

changed?

Clearing her throat, Scully tentatively asked, “My, uh,

reading in particular speaks of a path in life. I suppose

Hannah has strayed from such a path?”

“The ‘path’ is whatever situation you come across. It is not

necessarily defined as one’s destiny, but how one will

approach a problem or activity or occurrence. You will

approach a situation and keep working at it and working at it

until it makes perfect sense to you. Agent Mulder will

approach things similarly, but to a point. He will most likely

depend on his hunches because he is used to being lucky.”

“And Hannah?”

“Hannah’s path is deemed very lucky as well, although not as

much as Fox Mulder’s. You see, one can determine the

outcome of a situation, or at least the direction in which one

is going, if you use some methods of chance. The book of

I’Ching isn’t called the Book of Changes for nothing.

“Every time I have posed the question of Hannah’s fate, I get

the same reading, which is very unusual, since it is always

done randomly.”

“How do you get your readings?”

Yin reached into his pocket and pulled out three shiny

pennies, and sprinkled them onto the desk before her.

“That’s it? How?”

“Each aspect is represented by a trigram symbol, made up of

three lines. Each toss of the coins can determine if any of the

lines are changing.” Scully knitted her eyebrows in

confusion. “It may be a bit much for you to understand right

now. I will give you a book to take with you, so that you may

learn at your own pace. For now, I will tell you that I have

always come to this reading for Hannah…”

He flipped quickly through the book, to a page marked by a

faded orange ribbon. “‘The path you are on grows suddenly

cloudy, and the way indiscernible, as a thick fog rolls into

your life. This situation envelopes you, clouds your senses

and interferes with your perspective.'”

He leaned his forearms over the pages and spoke in an

extremely serious tone of voice, “I have reason to believe,

Agent Scully, that Henry has clouded Hannah’s mind with

lies, so that she has become unaware of his intentions. Yes,

our claims are difficult to prove. We need someone with an

open mind to help us. Everything has come to a head, a

crossroads, so to speak. I can certainly feel the tension

building in the atmosphere. Something will happen. Only

how it comes to be depends on who gets involved.”

Comfort Inn

11:23 p.m.

Room 8

He tapped shave-and-a-haircut against the number eight of

Scully’s door. He didn’t care how corny it was, Mulder was

elated. He couldn’t wait to tell Scully his theory.

As she opened the door, Mulder sailed past her, waving his

arms slowly about him, his hands making a flat chopping

motion through the air.

“Hooooooooh-waaaaaaaahhh…” he wailed out.

Scully closed and leaned against the door. She glanced at her

watch. “Where’ve you been? I thought the library closed at

nine?”

He walked quickly toward her, fluid in his motions, like he

was floating on air. He crouched slightly so that his eyes

were level with hers and then adjusted his hands so that he

was looking at his partner through a box-shaped space

between them.

“I’ve got a way to convince you that this case is worth it,

Scully,” he whispered. Then, suddenly, he whipped around

and jumped up onto her bed, and began flailing his judo-

karate-tae-kwon-whatever moves again. It wasn’t until he

heard the crunching and rustling of paper beneath his feet

that he realized he had completely disturbed Scully in the

midst of a research session.

“Hey, what’s all this?” He stood up quickly in surprise and

smacked his head against the ceiling. “Ow!” He rubbed his

head and climbed down to sit on the edge of the bed. “Guess

I gotta cut down on the milk.”

“I don’t think you could get any taller,” she said, as she

hurried over to examine his head. “And I’m sure it’s been a

while since anyone referred to you as a ‘growing boy.'”

“Ah, don’t remind me.” He picked up one of the books from

the crumpled mess strewn across Scully’s bed: “The

Complete Guide to Feng Shui.” Then he looked down at the

rest of the pile: “The Portable Dragon – A Western Man’s

Guide to I’Ching,” and several other articles and booklets

with the same theme.

He beamed at her. “Scully! Does this mean I’m pardoned?” A

warm fuzzy feeling began to expand in his chest, not only

because she was giving the case a chance, but more because

he had caught her in the act.

“Not quite, Mulder. However, I don’t think you’re going to

tell me anything more convincing than what I’ve already

learned today.”

Mulder dropped his head in disappointment. The fuzziness

seemed to crystallize and shatter inside his chest. He shied

away from his partner’s fingers trying to wind their way

around his forearm, but she caught it anyway.

“No, Mulder. I mean, I’m willing to try.”

“What have you found?” Excitement and confusion were

spinning like a hurricane in his head. He watched her pale

cheeks gain color, but just as quickly fade as she did one

of her famous half-second composure checks.

“Uh, let’s talk about that a little later. I want to know

what your groundbreaking discovery is.”

“You know Bruce Lee?”

“You mean…” she mimicked his previous crazed movements,

only more subtly and still sitting.

“Yeah, the Kung-Fu guy. You know, he died at the height of

his career.”

“Although I’m not a B-movie buff like yourself, yes, I do

know that he died young.”

“Well, there’s a theory, or more like a legend, that his death

was Feng-Shui related.”

Scully wiped at her face. “Go on,” she said sleepily, and

moved some papers to lie on her side while Mulder told his

bed-time story.

“From what I found today, it seems that Bruce Lee, or ‘Siau-

Loong’ got a little cocky in his fame. When he had gathered

some wealth he, like most of us probably would, decided to

buy himself a house. Only thing is, he bought it in a town

called Kowloon, better known to the Chinese as the place of

the nine dragons.”

“So what?”

“So, his name, Siau-Loong, means ‘little dragon.’ What the

Chinese believed is that if he decided to live in that town, he

would anger his elder spirits. To avoid any problems, he

placed a Ba-Gua medallion — just like the one Lili tried to

use — above his front door. This worked for a while, but one

night a typhoon hit the town and the medallion was knocked

off and broken, leaving Lee’s house open to attack by the

dragon spirits. He died soon afterward.”

“And this story is supposed to convince me?”

Mulder’s jaw dropped into his lap. “Scully, can’t you see the

parallels? This event can be directly related to our case!

Listen, Scully, what if Henry found some way of harnessing

bad energy like Lili said? And what if he were able to direct

it in a Poison Arrow, like Dr. Yin was describing, so strongly

that it was powerful enough to shatter Lili’s Ba-Gua?”

“And how would that harm Hannah? Sounds like a

destructive temper-tantrum to me. If he wants to break stuff,

he should make some more vases. Those obviously break

well for him,” she said, referring to the mess in Henry’s

studio.

“I don’t think Henry knows what he’s harnessed, Scully. I

think you’re right. This started out as a ‘temper-tantrum,’ as a

jealous reaction against a girlfriend he couldn’t have. I think

in breaking that Ba-Gua he opened up a path for all the evil,

all the hate he was feeling, to channel itself even more

powerfully against Hannah. My guess is, he doesn’t even

know the current hardships Hannah has been through in the

past week. All he knows is that she’s hanging around more,

which is all he wanted in the first place.”

Scully rolled from her side and onto her back. She pulled her

fingers through her thick red hair and yawned.

“You’re still not getting it,” Mulder pouted softly. He got up,

peeled his jacket off and threw it over the back of a chair. He

kept his back to her, unable to face the stubbornness she

persisted in holding against him. He heard papers shuffling as

she sat up on the bed.

“On the contrary, Mulder, I think I do ‘get it.'”

He turned to face her, so utterly confused it was beginning to

hurt his head. “Well, hopefully you can clue me in, Scully,

because I just don’t get it. One minute you’re adamantly

refusing to believe in this stuff, and the next… what? Now

you’re agreeing with me?” He threw himself into the chair,

and crossed his arms. “Okay, it’s your turn now. What have

you got that I ain’t got?”

“If what you’re saying is right, that Henry has opened up a

way for Shar Chi to invade Hannah’s domain more easily,

then I think there might actually be some logic in all the bad

luck that’s been happening to her.”

“All right…”

“I met with Dr. Yin this evening. He gave me some books

and reference materials that explained a little more about

Feng Shui. I found out that spirits, any kind of spirits, will

travel in straight lines. That’s why Yin mentioned the central

long hallway in Hannah’s house being a bad thing; there is

easy access for bad energy, and it will disrupt a household.

When Hannah experienced complications with the baby, she

was sitting in the hallway.”

“But normally the Ba-Gua would have deterred an outside

influence. At least, that’s what I’ve gathered. So the bad

influence must have come from outside somewhere,” Mulder

added, excited now that the pieces were coming together. He

stared at the door to Scully’s room intently, trying to visualize

the outside view of Hannah’s front door.

“There’s something else I didn’t tell you, Mulder.”

“What’s that?”

“When we were in Henry’s apartment, I noticed a small hole

in his windowpane.”

Mulder sat silently, trying to follow where Scully was

leading him.

“Henry’s window has a direct view onto Hannah’s house. He

has a clear view into her front door, or more accurately–a

clear shot.”

“You think he did a Lee Harvey? But a gunshot couldn’t

leave a small hole in glass at such a close range. It would

have shattered it or at least left cracks.”

“But we’re not talking guns, are we Mulder?” She stilled

herself and took a deep breath. Her cheeks paled noticeably.

“I also noticed a sharp instrument stuck into the clay pot

sitting on Henry’s pottery wheel – like it was stabbed at. I

was thinking, if one were to line up the angle of the tool with

a straight line, it would have been directed perfectly toward

that hole in the window. and then straight into Hannah’s

front door. If we had a source for a Poison Arrow, Mulder,

that would certainly be one.”

“So you *do* think it’s Henry. And you do think this is Feng-

Shui related.”

“I’m still not sure how Henry could have the power to control

such passive energies to his benefit, but… According to the

information I’ve gathered today, I’d have to say yes.”

“Then we have a case!”

“Then, Mulder, we don’t have evidence for our case. The

evidence we have can be discounted very easily. Who is

going to believe that a mystical Poison Arrow is Henry’s

weapon of choice?”

“So what’s our next step, Watson?”

“We’ve got to convince Hannah.”

ACT 4

125 Columbia Rd.

Upstairs bedroom

3:14 a.m.

Simon’s body rolled over next to her for what seemed like the

thousandth time that night. He had not liked the news that the

FBI had come to visit her that afternoon, and it was affecting

his sleep patterns. Hannah sighed to herself as she stared at

the long shadows stretching across the ceiling of the

bedroom. When Simon didn’t sleep well, she didn’t sleep at

all.

Her husband’s heavy weight bounced the mattress as he

turned over again, sending waves of springs undulating to her

side of the bed. Hannah had to get up. It was no use staying

here when she couldn’t sleep. Besides, she was supposed to

be resting in a ‘calm’ environment.

She felt her way to the bathroom down the hall. She poured

herself a paper cup full of water and drank it to the light of a

plug-in night light next to the mirror. She thought about

where she might be able to sleep. The guest room they had

here on the second floor only had a dismantled bed and a

mattress propped up against the wall. Maybe she could flop

the mattress onto the floor. Or would that be too much

activity for her in this delicate state? Perhaps she could just

wait until Simon settled down.

She hated feeling helpless, but she wanted this baby even

more. Everything seemed to be working out for her and

Simon lately. Well, all up until last week. They’d finally

saved enough to buy this house. And after trying for so long,

they were pregnant. She couldn’t wait to see her new baby in

two months. Maybe even earlier than that if it were

premature… She shook her head. No. She didn’t want to think

about such things.

Hannah crumpled up the paper cup and threw it into the

wastebasket. She tiptoed back to the bedroom to check on

Simon. When she peeked around the corner of the doorway,

she saw her husband sitting up and bent over, clutching his

head.

“Simon? Are you okay, honey?”

He grumbled and rubbed his temples. “Damn headache. I just

got it. Must be why I can’t get to sleep.”

“Maybe it’s too stuffy in here? It was pretty warm today, and

you’re probably not used to it after such a cold winter. Let me

open the window a little.”

“Mmm. Yeah, that might help. Thanks.”

Hannah shuffled over to the window, pulled up the shade,

and opened the window about half-way. Outside, she could

hear a banging sound, like someone was hammering

something with a wooden mallet. It sounded far away, but it

was still strange, as it was nearly 3:30 in the morning.

“Why don’t you lie back, Simon, and I’ll get you some

aspirin.”

He followed her instructions and lay down, still holding his

head, breathing heavily in a pattern like they did in their

Lamaze classes.

As she started to move across the room she began to feel a

little light-headed herself. Weird. She must have been having

sympathy pains or something.

Before she could take another step, the shade behind her

flipped up suddenly and whapped against the top of the

window. Hannah jumped at the sound. Simon got up to fix it,

but didn’t get very far. He dropped to his knees almost as

soon as he stood up.

“Simon!” Hannah shuffled as quickly as she could to her

husband’s side. The sound of the banging outside became

louder, but Hannah accounted it to her heightened senses

during her panic and dismissed it quickly.

“This is bad, Hannah. I’ve never had a headache so bad in my

life.” He leaned his elbows on the mattress. It looked like he

was saying his bed-time prayers. He bobbed his head slightly

with the throbs of pain. It was so strange. He nodded and whimpered

in a rhythm, almost as if he were following a beat, to the drumming

in a rock song– or to the rhythm of that hammering outside. It got

faster as Simon’s pain became greater.

All of a sudden Simon started to shake. He could barely keep

himself up on his knees anymore. He huffed and grunted, and

it was horrible to watch his contorted face. Hannah was

helpless to do anything. She didn’t know what to do. What

could she do?

Then Simon collapsed to the floor. He didn’t move. Hannah

shook his shoulder. He didn’t respond. She held her finger

close to his nose. He was still breathing, but he was

obviously unconscious. She had to get help.

She got up quickly to call an ambulance — a little too quickly,

for the room began to wobble around her; another dizzy spell.

She grabbed onto the bedpost for balance. As she stood there trying

to gather herself, she began to feel a throbbing in her own head.

Waves of dizziness made her sick to her stomach.

Hannah couldn’t wait any longer. She had to help Simon. She

forced herself to walk around the bed to reach the phone on

the opposite bedside table. However in doing so, she smashed

her foot into the wooden bedpost that had so recently been a

crutch for her. She cried out, tears springing up to pinch her

eyes.

She held onto the bed, trying to catch her breath, trying to

breathe away the pain. The waves of dizziness subsided, but

she became aware of something from the corner of her eye.

A harsh light illuminated a window in the apartment building

across the street, as if it were from a bare bulb, blueish-white

and cold. Upon closer inspection, she realized that the

window belonged to Henry’s apartment. ‘He’s up late,’ she

thought curiously.

Then she noticed he was working on something. In one

sickening moment, she realized that he was hammering a

large piece of metal. The shine of its surface flashed every

time he hit it. Every time he hit it, she heard the ping of the

hammer. It was like a shout to her, a sound that jabbed at her

brain. She looked down at her fallen husband, then back at

Henry; she lifted her hand to steady herself, the dizziness still

coming in waves, then back at Henry.

“It can’t be,” she whispered in disbelief. She struggled to

attempt at least a limp toward the telephone, but she stumbled

over her own two feet. Her hands smacked the floor hard as

she fell, trying not to land on her stomach. This was a

nightmare! She couldn’t get anywhere this way — not if

Henry was, dare she say it, tripping her up with bad luck

every step she took.

Her gaze darted around the room frantically, looking for

something to protect herself and Simon from this onslaught.

For the first time, Hannah noticed just how cluttered and

unfinished the bedroom, like the rest of the house, was. How

could she have let things slide so much?

She did, however, have her dressing table set with all her

things. A large mirror was attached to the top of the dresser,

but there was no way she could move that heavy thing

herself. A mirror would deflect Henry’s attack, but… Then

she saw, among her make-up, a small bottle of perfume, half

full, but the glass of the bottle had many facets, like a crystal.

It might work.

She crawled over to the dresser, which was out of view of the

window, and grabbed the small bottle. She hoped, since a

crystal would usually refract light and good Chi into a house,

that it would at least split up the Shar Chi Henry was

shooting towards her, so that it was not so intense.

On her hands and knees, she crouched behind the TV set

below the window sill. She timidly placed the bottle on top of

it, between the rabbit-ears antenna. The hammering

continued.

“Damn it. I knew this wouldn’t…” she cursed, but stopped in

mid-sentence when the sound of the hammering changed. It

became a thunking sound. It wasn’t nearly as loud as before,

and it was staggered.

Hannah saw her chance, and flew for the phone. Her fingers

worked at the buttons of their own accord, and she was

almost surprised when the paramedics answered so quickly.

“125 Columbia Road. My husband’s had a stroke. Please

hurry!”

She hung up, and sat on the floor next to the table. She could

still see Henry fussing about his sculpture. Why was he doing

this? Did he know that he was? She had trusted him for so

long. They grew up together, for heaven’s sake! Her mother

had tried to warn her so many times, but she never listened.

She had to find out the truth now.

She dialed the phone once more. “Ma, please come over.

Simon’s been…” she peeked under the bed and saw her

husband’s dark profile slumped on the floor. “…he’s been

hurt. I need you here, Ma. I’m so sorry. You were right.”

She hung up. She stood and looked out to the bright rectangle

of light outside. Henry stood, framed in the window, with a

terrified look on his face. As much as she could manage,

Hannah stomped downstairs, her destination one that had

been a long time coming. She only wished she had realized it

needed to be made much sooner.

*****

“Henry!” He watched Hannah walk slowly, so slowly down

her front steps. “Henry! You get out here!”

What was wrong with her? He had seen Simon fall; he’d been

happy about that — the clumsy fool. It wasn’t until his

hammer began pounding in directions he never intended, that

he realized something was going on.

After this afternoon, he had been certain Lili brought in the

Feds to check up on him. When he awoke from his nap, the

anger still lingered. His hands felt itchy to do something. He

needed to release his frustrations. It was such an opportunity

to tackle his big metal sculpture.

He torched it, he pounded it, threw all his strength and hatred

into the huge object. He molded it until it was as sharp and

angular as his emotions. It cut into the air with its shapes like

knives and sickles. When it became too hot and stuffy in the

studio, he opened his window. That’s when he noticed that

beyond, in the darkness, Hannah’s and Simon’s bedroom

window was closed off from him, the shades drawn so that he

could not see inside.

It made him angry. He pounded his sculpture vehemently,

directing the sharpest points of the sculpture toward the

darkened bedroom. The arms of the metal beast shuddered

and flashed a reflection of his angry, tortured face every time

he hit it. Downstairs and upstairs neighbors shouted through

the walls, but he didn’t care. Hannah could not keep him out.

She would know that he needed her. She wouldn’t need

Simon as long as she had him. Simon had to go.

Now Hannah was coming to him. She finally reached street

level. He ran down to meet her, excited that he had finally

gotten Hannah alone to explain himself, but terrified that she

would reject him even after all his trouble. He couldn’t back

down now. He had to see her, hold her, tell her everything

was going to be all right now. She would never have to suffer

from bad luck again as long as Simon was finally out of the

way.

He swung open the entrance door to his building and met her

in the middle of the barren street. But in the moonlight,

instead of the warm, loving expression on her face he had

always expected, her features were drawn, sad, and most of

all, her eyes were on fire with rage.

“Henry, what’s all this about? What are you doing to us?”

To us? This was preposterous. “Hannah, my darling, what do

you mean?”

“Darling?! Henry what’s wrong with you? Don’t you know

what you’ve done to Simon?”

She was so angry, she threw a punch at him, but he caught

her arm before she made contact. “What’s wrong with you,

Hannah? Can’t you see how terrible your life has been with

Simon? You’ve suffered nothing but trouble since you moved

into this house, since you married that stuck-up stiff!”

“Henry, let go of me,” she begged, and clutched at her

stomach. “Henry, you can’t do this to me! Let go! My baby…

you’re going to make me lose it this time!”

Henry released her, but too harshly. She fell onto her

backside scraping her elbows in the process. “This time?” he

whispered.

“She said it was you that day. I didn’t believe her. I almost

lost this baby last week, Henry. Did you even bother to find

out why I’d been staying home all of a sudden? How could

you jeopardize my family for your own benefit? I can see it

all now! You never let me fulfill my own decisions! The only

reason I even got to marry Simon was because YOU weren’t

in the way!”

“But Hannah…”

“No, Henry. You CAN’T have me. I don’t WANT you.” The

words hit him hard, like pummeling dodge-balls to his face,

only he couldn’t dodge them this time.

The faint sound of sirens whined from a few streets away.

Hannah sat on the concrete, nursing her scraped elbows,

dabbing the blood with her nightgown. Henry stared at her

helplessly.

“You called the cops on me?”

Hannah scowled, but didn’t give her friend the grace of eye

contact. “That’s the paramedics for Simon. You forced him

into a stroke with your stinking Shar Chi.”

Henry stared down at his own hands, pink even in the

moonlight from the furious work he’d accomplished that

night. A large vehicle flashing red and white lights came

driving down the street at an insane pace, and screeched to a

stop not eight feet from where he stood in the center. He

could feel the heat of the engine and smell the diesel fumes

like a breath of doom.

A stocky man in white came rushing over to her. “Ma’am?”

He crouched down next to Hannah. “My God, it’s you

again?” He shot a look toward Henry, disgust creasing his

mouth into a deep frown. Then he busied himself again with

Hannah. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.”

“My husband. He’s upstairs. He needs help more than I do.

You have to get him to the hospital!”

“All right,” the man assured her, and waved two other

workers toward the house to see about Simon.

Another car pulled up to the scene. Mulder, Scully and Lili

emerged and ran toward the three in the center of the street.

Lili was immediately at her daughter’s side, crying at the

sight of her scarred and humiliated child. She removed her

sweater and draped it over Hannah’s shoulders despite the

arguments of the paramedic.

Mulder carefully approached Henry, who had no plans of

running anywhere. It was over. He just didn’t have a reason

to deny himself the punishment he deserved. Obviously, he

was not meant to be Hannah’s guiding light as he had

thought. He would never find anyone like her again, and now

he knew he’d cut himself off from her completely. She would

never trust him–ever.

White Plains Hospital

8:00 a.m.

Saturday Morning

He sat in a row of blue plastic seats and watched her gently

close the door at the far end of the hall. She walked toward

him, her heels clicking down another sterile, glossy linoleum

floor, like she had done so many times before. Once again, he

was in awe of her.

“I have to hand it to you, Scully. You were right this time.”

She closed the distance between them and stood in front of

him. “We were both right, Mulder. We figured this one out

together.”

It was an alien thing to him, this compromise with Scully. He

was so used to being challenged by her. He was still unsure

why he even fathomed the thought of her accepting his

theories earlier. Perhaps he had always kept himself separate

from her, even in their new relationship, because he feared

what that compromise would do to them. He realized now

that it only made them better.

“How’s Hannah?” he asked her.

“She’s fine. The baby’s fine, and Simon regained

consciousness about an hour ago. Both OB and neurology

want to keep them the rest of the day for observation.”

She sat down next to him, slumping in the chair so that her

head could lean against the wall behind her. “What about

Henry?” she asked, at the tail-end of a yawn, so that her voice

sounded high and squeaky.

“The police are not detaining him because of the ‘minor’ first-

time offense.”

“What?” She sat up ramrod straight. “This is prolonged

harassment, Mulder! How could they…?”

Mulder scratched his head and threw his hands out before

him. “Evidence. Not everyone is as open-minded as we are.

And remember, they’ve heard this before. They’re not ready

to re-think a decision that’s already been discounted.”

“As usual.” She sat back again, but this time she rested her

head on his shoulder. “They’re letting him go home?”

“Under observation until this is brought to court.”

“I should have expected nothing less,” a voice came from

beside them. Both agents stood quickly, embarrassed to be

caught in an unofficially casual position. Lili gazed at them,

her face drawn with the creases of age and fatigue. “You did

well, but not enough I suppose.”

Mulder, although he was a good two feet taller than the old

Chinese woman, felt smaller than a mouse, scurrying to sniff

at her feet. She had idolized him, put her trust in him. He felt

like he had failed her.

“Lili, your daughter and son-in-law will be quite safe. He will

be under observation to be sure he doesn’t do anything

again.”

“Have you learned nothing, Agent Fox Mulder?” She studied

his hand resting on his partner’s shoulder. “I should have had

this taken care of long ago. But I do thank you for bringing

my daughter back to me. We have a new–understanding.”

“We will be sure to give you any statements you require

when you bring Henry to court. We are still willing to help

you. Our work isn’t quite finished.”

“Neither is mine,” she whispered as she turned down the hall

to leave them.

She disappeared into the crowd of pastel-colored uniforms

filling the hallway by the nurse’s station, and her path was

soon covered by the padding of white sneakered feet.

Both Mulder and Scully were left feeling hollow in a

suddenly congested atmosphere, but were powerless to free

themselves from it. It seemed Lili needed an answer, but was

unlikely to get it in a world that swallowed beliefs like hers,

only to conveniently forget as soon as they had been

ingested. They could relate, they could understand, but they

could not fix it, and they hated it.

“Well, we can probably still catch a flight back to D.C. today

if you want to get back for that seminar, Scully.”

“It can be rescheduled. I think I need the rest of this weekend

to slow down a little, finish things up before starting

something new.”

“You sure? I know you were looking forward to it.”

“Yeah. I’m sure of it,” she concluded, and took his hand

gently into hers.

EPILOGUE

Henry was escorted to his apartment by a big burly officer

dressed in undercover civilian clothing, but he was not

unnoticed. As he walked to his front door, he heard several

other doors creaking open, or the scratch of metal peep-hole

covers being lifted in his wake.

When he was finally left alone in his studio, he observed the

chaos he’d left behind. Everything was scattered, damaged,

painful to look at. He rubbed his pink, irritated wrists as he

stepped around the room. Everything in the room was

completely disordered, all except his finished masterpiece.

The large metal object stood in the center of the room, as if it

had used its sharp edges and sickle-like arms to slash at his

whole life. The broken remains of his spirit crunched beneath

his feet. The wooden mallet, his instrument of creation, still

lay at the foot of the beast. How could he have created

something so angry looking?

As he viewed his work, the taste of bile filled his mouth. He

spat at the metal object, and kicked it over. It fell like a heavy

body, but landed awkwardly, its spikyness preventing it from

collapsing completely to the floor.

Behind him, he found his forgotten pottery wheel. It had

always given him so much joy, relaxation, peace. The solid,

curving objects he created were always pleasing to him. He

dragged his fingertips over the rough, dirty surface.

Outside, the small white house lay in shadow. All the rooms

were dark and empty. He’d probably never be allowed to see

life pass through them again–at least, not the life he could

ever share. It would always be hers, and hers with her

husband. She’d be able to live it now, without him getting in

the way.

He was about to start cleaning up the mess, when he noticed

a tiny sparkle of light coming from Hannah’s bedroom

window. She wasn’t supposed to be home yet, was she?

He decided to ignore it, and made his way toward the kitchen

to get a broom. He automatically walked his normal path, a

subconscious way he moved through the space due to

everyday habits. Suddenly, his foot became snagged on

something that would not normally have been left on the

floor.

The wooden mallet tangled up his ankles, and before he

could do anything to stop himself, he lost his balance and

tripped. His scream was cut off quickly as he landed.

The sharp edges of his sculpture gleamed with a spot of

reflected light from outside. As it passed over one of the

longer arms of the metal sculpture, it caught a stain of red,

then scurried away, as if fleeing the scene of the crime.

Downstairs, across the street, an old Chinese woman opened

the front door to her daughter’s house and hung a small

medallion in the entrance. She adjusted the red silk strings so

that they hung neatly from the bottom of the piece. She

smiled at it, then closed the door behind her.

*****

Author’s notes:

I don’t claim to know everything about Feng Shui or I’Ching.

This story uses a few elements very loosely in order to tell a

tale. I highly suggest going out and reading up on the

subjects if you found them interesting.

These are the reference books I used while writing Poison

Arrow:

“The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui” by Lilian Too

Element Books Limited 1996, Copyright Lilian Too 1996

“I’Ching in Ten Minutes” by R.T. Kaser

Avon Books, Copyright 1994 by Richard T. Kaser

“The Portable Dragon – The Western Man’s Guide to

I’Ching” by RGH Sui

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