The Tale of Amber Creek

Title: The Tale of Amber Creek

Author: Susan Proto

Rating: PG 13

Category: A little bit o’ angst, and believing the

unbelievable

Disclaimer: Special engagement for IMTP VS10,

Halloween special event. Sorry, CC, but we couldn’t

leave well enough alone, ya know? No profit is made from

this posting.

Thanks Vickie for the beta.

Feedback to: STPteach@aol.com

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

En route to Amber Creek, WV

October 30th

1:20 p.m.

“I should be at the supermarket doing my last minute

Halloween candy shopping, Mulder.”

“Yeah, and I should be getting my Spidey costume out of the

dry cleaners,” he responded dryly, “but Skinner didn’t give

us much of a choice, now did he?”

Scully knew Mulder wanted no part of this case any more

than she did, but the modus operandi fell directly in their

jurisdiction.

“How much further?” he asked.

She pulled the map out and said it looked like the cross

street they were looking for was coming up shortly.

“Mulder, watch out!” cried out Scully.

He deftly pulled the car to the right and stopped quickly.

He then consciously made an effort to unclench his hands

from the steering wheel and to start breathing again.

“Geeze, where the hell did they come out from?” asked

Mulder.

The pair stared out at the two small children, the older

girl no more than ten years clutching the hand of the

younger boy, who couldn’t have been a day over four.

“What are they doing out here by themselves, Mulder,

especially given all of the crap that’s been going on here

the last week or so.”

“I don’t understand it either. They seem to be a day

early, too, don’t they?” he remarked as he noted the

costumes they both wore. Next, Mulder took note of the

dinginess of the youngsters’ costumes and the chalky pallor

of their faces. “Do you think they’re ill? Why else

wouldn’t the girl be in school?”

“Test run?” she responded. “They’re not carrying their

goodies bags, though.”

Scully felt something wasn’t quite right, but she had no

idea as to what was wrong. She almost mentioned her

concerns aloud, but instead shrugged as she watched the

small pair disappear down the street. “Where’d they go?”

she asked.

Now it was Mulder’s turn to shrug in confusion. “Maybe we

should get going,” he said more to himself than to his

partner. “We’ll mention them to the sheriff.” He put the

car back into reverse, backed out onto the street, and then

shifted back into drive to head down the street.

“Here’s the sheriff’s office,” Scully pointed out. Mulder

held the door open for his partner, and placed a comforting

palm on the small of her back as he followed her into the

small, West Virginian office.

“Excuse me.” Scully spoke to an older, man who wore a too-

small uniform and was seated at an old, wooden desk. “I’m

Special Agent Dana Scully; this is my partner Agent Mulder,

and we’re looking for Sheriff Daly?”

“You’re looking at him.”

“Oh.” Scully waited for a moment or two when she realized

the slightly disheveled man wasn’t going to offer anymore

sage words. “Sheriff, we were asked to come here to check

out some suspicious kidnappings that occurred over the last

week.”

“Yup.”

Scully wasn’t amused. She didn’t want to be there; she

wanted to be home, watching over the front of her first

floor window to be sure that the goblins of her

neighborhood didn’t attack it with eggs and toilet paper

during the infamous ‘Mischief Night’. “Sir, if we’re not

needed here, you might tell us now so we don’t waste

anymore of your or our time.”

“Didn’t say that, missy, now did I?”

“Now see here -”

“-Sheriff Daly,” Mulder cut in before Scully jumped over

the small gate that separated the inner from outer office

spaces, hauled off, and punched the old man’s lights out.

“Our superior, Assistant Director Walter Skinner,

instructed us to meet with you this afternoon. Now, if you

have any new information about this case that would

indicate our services are no longer needed, we’d appreciate

it if you told us now so we could all go home.”

“Sit.”

“Excuse me?” Now it was Mulder’s turn to be a bit peeved.

“Sit. You got your orders from your boss, and now that

you’re in my jurisdiction, you get your orders from me.

Sit.”

Mulder wasn’t sure if he felt more amused over the

assumptions the old guy was making or pissed off – over the

assumptions the old guy was making. He glanced at Scully

and the expression on her face left no doubt as to how she

was feeling.

“Thank you, Sheriff,” he quickly said and prodded his

partner a little more forcefully than he would have thought

necessary toward the man’s desk. Scully took the seat that

sat beside the sheriff’s desk, while Mulder carried over an

additional chair. He sat and both agents waited in

anticipation of their counterpart’s next words.

They waited for what seemed an interminable amount of time.

Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer, so Scully

demanded, “Sheriff, what are we doing here?”

“I’m not sure, missy.”

“Sheriff, I am Special Agent Dana Scully. I would

appreciate it if you would refer to me as Special Agent or

Agent Scully.” She paused, stared him right in the eyes,

and added, “I am neither your ‘missy’, nor do I plan on

ever being anybody’s ‘missy’. Do I make myself clear,

Sheriff Daly?”

He returned her stare, never once flinching at the venomous

tone she’d used. “Yup. Loud and clear – missy.” He never

hesitated and continued, “Now, you want to know why you’ve

been hogtied to Amber Creek, West Virginia, or are we gonna

sit and debate titles and whatnot? By the way, the name’s

Henry. Sheriff Henry Daly, but nobody hardly ever calls me

Sheriff; don’t believe in high falutin’ titles ’round these

parts. Just Henry.”

“Well, then, just Mulder will do fine by me, Henry.”

Mulder stuck his hand out in order to try and make peace

with the man who was obviously used to doing things his way

and his way only. Henry took it and shook it with a firm

grip.

Both men turned to Scully in anticipation. She sighed; if

there was one thing she’d learned over the last ten years

it was that if you can’t beat the boys in their own club,

you’d better not be afraid to jump right in and join ’em.

“Call be Scully, Henry. That’s what he calls me,” she said

with a quick thumb point in her partner’s direction.

“Is that a fact?” asked Henry with a bemused expression.

“It is indeed,” responded Mulder. “Okay, Henry, what have

you got for us?”

“Well, it’s the damnedest thing. We’ve had five children

over the last week and a half go missing. Now, four of the

children were returned without so much as a scratch. They

were found sleeping soundly on their family’s front porch

in the early morning, twenty-four hours later.”

“And the other one?” interjected Scully. When it came to

abducted children, neither she nor Mulder had much

patience.

“Well, that’s the thing. She reappeared a little over

forty-eight hours later, but in bad shape.”

“How so?” asked Mulder, though he was pretty sure he

already knew the answer.

“She was unconscious. Matter of fact, she’s still

comatose. Trouble is the docs don’t seem to have a clue as

to why.”

“I’d like to examine her; actually, I’d like to examine all

of the children – would you be able to arrange it?” asked

Scully of the sheriff.

“Examine?”

“I’m not only an FBI agent, Henry, but I’m a medical

doctor, too.”

“Well, I’ll be damned.” He shook his head, muttered

something to the effect of what was the world coming to,

and said he’d make a phone call.

“We’re going to check into the motel while you make the

arrangements, if that’s all right with you,” said Mulder.

Upon seeing the old man nod in agreement, Mulder then said,

“Oh, by the way, Henry? There were a couple of kids that

were wandering around the streets in their Halloween

costumes just before we got here. Given the events of the

last week and a half, I really think they should be home

with their parents.”

“Names?”

“Sorry,” he apologized for the lack of information, “but

the girl was between eight and ten years, while the boy was

younger, closer to four years old. Strange though…”

“Strange?”

“Yeah, well, when was the last time you saw a kid wear a

costume for the Flying Nun or a Pikachu?”

“I get the Flying Nun, but the hell is a Pikachu?” asked

the sheriff.

“Pokemon character, Henry. C’mon, you don’t have any

grandkids that were into those cards a few years back?”

Henry grumbled, “Ain’t got no grandkids,” and waved the duo

off. Mulder shrugged and placed his hand in its usual spot

on the small of his partner’s back.

“C’mon, Scully, the Amber Creek Motel is calling our

names.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amber Creek Motel

October 30th

2:50 p.m.

They rented the two rooms, but dropped their suitcases into

just the one. “Okay, Mulder,” said Scully as she unpacked

her make-up case, “what’s your theory, as if I didn’t

know.”

“The first four kids are nice normal kids. The last child

is an abductee.”

Scully looked up at him and considered his words. Then,

without any hesitation, said, “I agree.”

Mulder looked at her with his jaw practically touching the

floor. “You’re kidding, right? This is some kind of

‘trick’ in honor of the holiday tomorrow?”

Scully smiled in response. “No, Mulder, I just happen to

agree with you. That’s why I want to examine the

hospitalized child and see what x-rays were taken. I can’t

imagine not finding a chip or two in them somewhere.”

Mulder nodded and said, “Why do you suppose the other kids

were returned unharmed?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll want to examine them as well. But

I figure we can save that for tomorrow.”

Once again Mulder nodded in agreement. The phone rang and

Mulder picked it up. “Thanks, Henry. We’ll meet you at

the hospital.” He hung up the phone and said, “The good

sheriff has arranged it with the hospital for us to speak

with the kid’s parents. He also said the hospital will

release her medical records, though he’s not sure about

whether you’ll actually be allowed to examine her.”

“I understand that; as long as we have access to her x-rays

and ability to take more pictures if necessary. We’ll see

about checking the other children’s records afterwards.”

She picked up her toiletry bag, and as she headed toward

the bathroom said, “I’m just going to freshen up. I’ll be

out in a few minutes.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Mulder called out as he stepped up

and pulled her toward him. “You look fresh as a daisy to

me, Scully.” He leaned down and they both enjoyed the

tender kiss. Moments later, she pulled out of the embrace.

“Thank you, Mulder, but not everyone is nearly as blinded

by love as you are. Be out in a few.”

Mulder shrugged and decided to take advantage of the

available facilities in the vacant room next door. He

could use some ‘freshening up’ too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mountain View Hospital

October 30th

4:10 p.m.

Mr. and Mrs. Widgett were more than willing to cooperate if

it would give their little girl a better chance to recover.

They sat in the uncomfortable blue plastic hospital chairs,

and tried to answer the agents’ questions, but they seemed

to be coming up blank. Nothing unusual happened in the

last week that would warrant their child being taken.

After several more questions that seemed to lead nowhere,

Eileen Widgett tearfully blurted, “My god, Jacob, it’s just

like last time!”

“Last time?” echoed both Mulder and Scully in unison.

“Why, yes. Annie was missing for a day or so about six

months ago, but she wasn’t sick like she is now. I don’t

understand it. I just don’t understand it at all.” Eileen

broke down and began crying in earnest.

“Please, Mr. and Mrs. Widgett, I know this is difficult,

but you have to give us as much information as you can

remember about the last time. It may prove very

important.”

“Henry, you remember last time, don’t you?” asked Jacob

Widgett of the sheriff. “Hell, we had the hounds out

looking for her all over the town, and then the woods.”

Henry nodded in remembrance. “Yeah, I remember. She was

found a little over twenty-four hours later, under a tree,

sound asleep – a little cold maybe – but fine all the

same.”

“From where exactly did she go missing, Mrs. Widgett?”

asked Scully.

“Doc Harrison’s office.”

“Six months ago or this week?” asked Scully.

“Well, we’d just finished getting her booster shot. The

day care center said she couldn’t come back until she was

up to date, so the doc squeezed us in for the last

appointment.”

“That was this week,” Scully confirmed.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And what about six months ago?”

“Well, it was from the doc’s office then, too. Annie had

stepped on a piece of glass. She needed it cleaned out and

some stitches.”

“What about the other children that were missing this week,

Henry?”

“What about ’em?”

“Where were they last seen before they’d disappeared?”

“Well, now that I think of it, I think they may have all

been at the doc’s office, too.”

“I think we’d better follow up on this, don’t you think?”

asked Mulder. Scully immediately nodded in agreement.

“Has any of them gone missing in the past like little

Annie?”

The sheriff stood with his hand under his chin, obviously

attempting to remember details that may have been

temporarily shelved to the recesses of his memory banks.

“No, Mulder, can’t recall any of them ever gone missing.

Jacob, do you remember if any of those other kids were

missing?”

“Nope. Nope, this must have been their first time,”

responded Jacob.

Scully flinched a bit; something bothered her about Jacob’s

last statement, but she wasn’t sure exactly what it was.

“Well, I’d like to check Annie’s medical records and any x-

rays the hospital may have taken.” Then, as an

afterthought, Scully added, “And I’d like access to any

medical records and x-rays available on the other children

who had been missing recently.”

“Sure thing – Scully,” replied Henry with a bit of a

twinkle in his eye. “I’ll clear it with the Doc.”

Scully smiled. “Thanks, Henry.”

Henry saluted all that were present and then went to see

about making the arrangements for the medical records.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

En route to Amber Creek Motel

October 30th

6:00 p.m.

“I know we should go check out that doctor, but you think

we can hold off until tomorrow? I’m starved. Ready to

grab a bite to eat?” asked Mulder.

“Mmmhmmm.”

“Yeah, me too – SHIT!”

“What’s wrong?” asked Scully.

“Look! Don’t you see them? Shit! What the hell are they

still doing out here all by themselves?”

Both agents were exasperated at seeing the two children

they’d nearly run over earlier in the day, once again out

alone and unsupervised.

“I don’t know, but it’s really starting to piss me off.

What’s the matter with their parents?”

“Maybe we should stop and drive them – Hey, where’d they

go?”

“They were just here, Scully.”

“I know that, Mulder.” They both craned their necks in an

attempt to locate the two children, but it was obviously to

no avail. “They just vanished.”

“Well, I find that hard to believe. We just lost them in

the bushes along side the road, that’s all.”

“Maybe.” Scully was beginning to feel some doubt.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amber Creek Motel

October 30th

7:10 p.m.

Mulder stripped down to his boxers, griping about whether

he’d ever be able to get the ketchup stain out of his tie.

“It’s your fault, Scully. I don’t even like ketchup. I

put the ketchup on the French fries that you refuse to

order for yourself but think nothing of helping yourself to

when they’re in *my* plate.”

“Oh, stop complaining! You ate just as many fries as I

did, and with ketchup I might add.”

“Yeah, well I can live without ketchup, and if it weren’t

for you, I wouldn’t be facing a ten dollar dry cleaners

bill for a lousy silk -.”

The ringing phone cut off any further tirade of Mulder’s.

He picked it up and told Henry to hold on. “Scully, Henry

wants to talk to you.”

She walked over, took the phone, and said, “Hello.”

Mulder heard her monosyllabic responses and tried to guess

what was being said at the other end. When he heard his

partner end the conversation with Scully saying, “I’ll meet

you over at the hospital, Henry,” he figured Henry got her

access to the medical records of the other kids.

She hung up the phone and said, “Yes, I’m going to look at

the medical records, Karnack the Magnificent.” With that

she smiled and presented Mulder with a quick buss on the

lips. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“You don’t want company?”

“Not particularly, I think I’ll get through them faster on

my own. Why don’t you go for a run or something?”

“Gee, Scully, if I didn’t know any better I’d swear you

were trying to get rid of me,” he said with a forced pout

that fooled no one.

“Um, and given that you do know better, you know that’s

exactly what I’m doing!” She smiled. “So, are you going

for that run?”

“Yeah, I gotta get some of the kinks out from driving today

anyway.”

“Okay,” she responded, “now let’s try that farewell again,

and then I’m going, so I can get back here. Now, get come

here, partner.” Much to Mulder’s delight, Scully was a lot

more attentive this time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amber Creek Motel

October 30th

7:55 p.m.

Mulder changed into his sweats and running shoes, grabbed

his keycard, and set off for his run. It was dark, but he

knew if he stuck to the main road, the street lights would

garnish enough light for him to see and be seen. He also

figured it would be that much easier for him to find his

way back to the motel.

As he ran, he tried to clear his mind and just enjoy the

run. He would have succeeded, too, if it weren’t for the

fact that he saw the very same pair of children that had

been appearing and disappearing all day long.

“Hey! Hey, kids! Are you okay?” he called out.

Though he didn’t want to frighten them, he decided that

enough was enough, and Mulder was determined to talk to

them and find out where they lived. If for no other

reason, he wanted to find out what the hell their parents

were thinking by allowing them to move about by themselves

at all hours of the day and night.

He picked up his speed to keep up with the children who

seemed to be running unusually fast. Mulder wasn’t even

aware that he was no longer traveling on the main road.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mountain View Hospital

October 30th

8:10 p.m.

Scully had the file of all five children that had been

abducted and returned that week. She noted the x-rays of

the children’s skulls, but did not observe any foreign

objects embedded in their skulls.

She checked out the medical reports for each of the

children, noting that a Dr. Harrison signed off on each of

the reports. His observations included nothing unusual in

the physical appearance of any of the children with the

exception of a slightly raised, swollen area on the back of

the neck, but stated there was no evidence of infection or

anything serious that needed to be followed up on.

“Sonofabitch!” she cried out.

“Now, Scully, does your mama know you use words like that?”

asked Henry as he walked into the small, borrowed office.

“Who do you think taught me them?” retorted the agent with

a wry grin.

“I can only imagine,” he said with a smirk. “Well, I’m not

here on a social call.”

Scully put the file down and looked at him, her expression

full of questions.

“Another one is missing.”

“Oh, no. Who?”

“Patty Ann Clarkson, six years old. Missing since around

six-thirty this evening.”

“Who reported her missing?” asked Scully.

“Her mama. Why?”

“They weren’t by some chance at Dr. Harrison’s office, were

they?”

“As a matter of fact, they were. Her mama had brought

Patty Ann in for a check up and went to use the privy.

When MaryBeth came to fetch the child from the waiting

room, the child was gone.”

“Gone,” Scully echoed.

“Yup. Gone.”

Scully closed the file and lay it down on the table. “I

don’t think Dr. Harrison can wait till tomorrow, Henry.”

“Aw, you can’t be thinking that Doc Harrison’s had anything

to do with this, can you?”

“Henry, how can he not be a suspect?”

“Well, for one, he’d never put these parents through this.

He’s lived through it – twice!”

Scully’s expression was of sheer confusion. “How?”

“He lost his own little boy ’bout a year ago.”

“He was killed?”

“No, no. Kidnapped, but there was never no ransom, and we

never did find the body.”

“Oh, God. But you said he’s lived through it twice. What

did you mean?”

“He had a sister.”

Scully looked at the sheriff with her mouth slightly agape.

“Let’s go. Now.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 30th

8:15 p.m.

Mulder arrived at the front of the large, old Victorian

home and questioned momentarily where the hell he was. He

noted the paint peeling off of the gabled roof. The

floorboards on the wrap around porch were splintering and

in poor condition. It was probably once a showcase, but

now showed signs of true neglect. Moments went by before

he remembered that he’d found the place by following the

two children and wondered if the pair had entered the old,

rundown home.

He pushed at the entrance and felt it give way easily. He

came into the small entrance hall and was immediately

assaulted by the amount of clutter he saw all around him.

A large grandfather’s clock, showing the incorrect time of

course, stood on the wall directly opposite the front door.

He took a step and almost found himself on the floor, as he

tripped on one of several scatter rugs strewn about the

hardwood floors. Once he regained his balance, Mulder set

out to search for the children.

“Kids? Hey kids, are you here?”

He peeked into what was most likely the front parlor. The

plump, full pieces of furniture were almost inviting as

they contrasted well with the rich, dark colors of the

walls. Suddenly he saw a flash of white fabric poke out of

another entrance that led to another room.

He walked into the living room and almost whistled out loud

at the sight of the ornately decorated fireplace. Not

exactly his taste; he couldn’t help but wonder if it was

Scully’s.

Scully! Scully was going to kill him if he didn’t let her

know where he was. He pulled out his cell phone, but

Mulder wasn’t able to get through. He looked around with

the hope of finding a phone in the house.

“Hello? Hello, is anybody home?”

When he entered the dining room area, he stopped short.

The two children stood there, holding hands, and were

apparently waiting.

“Who are you? Are you in trouble? If you need help, I can

help you.”

They turned, took a couple of steps away from him, and then

turned around.

“You want me to follow you, don’t you?” he asked

rhetorically. “Okay. Where you lead, I’ll follow.”

The children turned around again and walked quickly toward

the majestic wood staircase. Mulder followed, quickly

picking his hands up from the dust-laden banister. The

house was neglected both inside and out, and for some

reason that disturbed Mulder. He didn’t understand how a

regal house such as this could fall into such disarray.

The children stopped in front of a large wooden door that

was surrounded by pealing, floral wallpaper. They waited,

without moving, until Mulder stepped closer. Quickly they

stepped to the side, never breaking their clasped hands.

“Okay, I guess this is my stop, huh?” He looked at the

children for another second or two and then said, “Don’t

talk much, do you?” They remained quiet, which didn’t

surprise the agent. “Okay, I take it you want me to go on

in there, huh?”

The children merely waited, and Mulder took that as his cue

that he was to enter the room. He pushed the door open to

find a room decorated in a style so lush that even he was a

bit overwhelmed. The fireplace was white marble, which

stood out all the more against the heavy, brocade burgundy

colored draperies and matching bedspread.

It was what was on the bed that truly had Mulder

flabbergasted.

A small child, a little girl around the age of six, lay on

the bed either asleep or unconscious. Her ankles and

wrists were bound with heavy chord, like those used as

drapery ties.

He turned around to speak with the children who led him

here, to see if they knew who she was, and how she got

there. But the pair was gone, as quickly as they’d appeared

they disappeared into the recesses of the large house.

Mulder walked up to small child, placed his fingers on her

neck, and quickly ascertained that the child was alive. He

looked around and wondered how she’d come to be here, but

soon decided it didn’t really matter at that point. Her

bound hands and feet left little doubt that she’d been

placed in harm’s way. His immediate task was to get the

child to safety, so he scooped her up in his arms and

proceeded to the door.

Little did he know his every move was being observed from

just outside of the door, so when Mulder took his first

step outside of the room, his head met with a very large,

and very heavy, iron fireplace shovel. The agent went down

in a heap, though he still clutched the small child in a

protective grasp.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 30th

8:47 p.m.

Scully and Henry appeared outside of the large house at the

edge of town and rang the doorbell in the hope of finding

Dr. Harrison at home. As they waited outside, Scully

asked, “How long has the doctor owned this house?”

“He inherited it. It was his parents’ and his

grandparents’ before that. The house has been in the

family for almost a hundred years.”

“Pretty amazing for a small town like this, wouldn’t you

say?” remarked Scully.

“The Harrison family always had money. I think the

grandfather was a doctor. Think he was involved in some

kind of government research, as a matter of fact. I know

the father was. Doc Harrison’s done some work for them,

too, from what I understand. He don’t talk much about it,

though. Specially since his son went missing and his wife –

.”

“His wife?”

“She took her own life about six months after the child

went missing. I guess she just couldn’t deal with the

loss.”

Scully nodded. She was now putting two and two together

and becoming more impatient as each second ticked away.

She had a bad feeling and knew the sooner she got inside,

the better.

“Sheriff, we need to get inside,” Scully declared. There

was no mistaking Scully’s tone; she was going inside

whether or not the sheriff agreed.

Apparently Henry wasn’t about to argue with the determined

agent, and was able to push open the front door with

relative ease. “Well, I guess we’ve just been invited in,

Scully.” The two quickly entered.

“Doc? Doc, you here?” called out Henry. He didn’t have a

search warrant, and didn’t want to appear to be crossing

any lines between legal and illegal. He justified his

entering the house in his own mind, but wondered if the

courts would agree. That was all the more reason he’d

hoped Dr. Harrison was inside to take him off the hook.

At that very moment they heard a loud thump, as if a heavy

object had fallen. Scully looked immediately toward the

stairs where she saw the mysterious pair of children

waiting at the bottom. Their eyes met and the children

immediately started ascending the stairs.

“Henry, upstairs!” Scully shouted as she drew her weapon.

“Easy there,” Henry warned. “It could have just been a box

falling.”

“I don’t think so, Henry. Not according to those two.”

“Who?” he asked, obviously confused.

“The two children Mulder and I told you about. They were

right over there and ran up the stairs. I’m telling you,

Henry, something is terribly wrong!”

She ran to the staircase ending any further conversation.

Henry was right behind her, though he kept his gun

holstered.

Upon reaching the top of the stairs, Scully saw Mulder

lying unconscious on the floor with blood pooling by his

head. “Mulder!” she cried out and knelt down to check his

pulse. It was strong, she thought with relief. Scully

patted his cheek gently in an attempt to rouse him.

“The girl…give me the girl…” he muttered as he came out

of his stupor.

“What girl, Mulder?”

“Scully?” he asked, as he realized it was his partner that

leaned over him and not his attacker.

“There was a little girl, tied up on the bed,” he said as

he pushed himself up in a sitting position. His head

pounded, but he became more alert.

“The little girl we saw earlier today – the one with the

boy?” she asked, confused.

“No, no, they’re the ones who led me here. No, this was

another little girl. Younger. Six years old, maybe?”

“Patty Anne!” shouted Henry. “Where is she now, Mulder?”

“I don’t know. I had her in my arms to get out of here; I

don’t know how she got here in the first place but I

figured it wasn’t because she wanted to be here. As I was

leaving the bedroom, I got clunked on the head with

something.” He looked around him and saw the brass

fireplace shovel lying nearby. “Most likely with that,” he

said as he pointed to the weapon. Better get prints.”

Scully nodded. Given that it was most likely Dr. Harrison

who took her, the question was where was Patty Ann now?

“Henry, where was the Widgett child found the first time

she was abducted?”

“In the forest, under a tree. Why?”

“That’s where he took Patty Ann,” she determined without

doubt. “He’s brought her as an offering.”

Mulder looked up at her quickly, too quickly. He winced

with the sudden movement, but he was definitely on her

wavelength. He just wasn’t sure why.

“Scully, care to share with the class in twenty words or

less?”

“Henry told me that Dr. Harrison’s son was kidnapped a

couple of years ago and never found.” Mulder shrugged. He

wasn’t sure why she’d conclude that the child was being

offered in a trade with alien abductors, though she never

said those exact words for Henry’s benefit.

Understanding his skepticism, she elaborated. “Henry told

me his grandfather and father both worked as scientists for

the government, Mulder. So did the doctor, as a matter of

fact. Oh, and there’s one other piece to the puzzle.”

Mulder looked at her in anticipation. He had a feeling he

wasn’t going to like what she had to add.

“Apparently this isn’t the first abduction the doctor has

experienced. His sister was taken when she was eight years

old.”

“Shit.” Mulder closed his eyes momentarily in sympathy for

the man’s plight, but he got over it quickly. Hardships

aside, there was no excuse to put other families through

the horror of losing a child.

“Let’s go find our perpetrator, kids,” he said, cringing a

bit as he stood.

“Mulder, you’re in no shape to go anywhere. You are most

definitely concussed,” warned Scully but knowing there was

no way Mulder was going to allow him self to remain behind.

“And I promise to have my head checked as soon as we find

the child and bring Dr. Harrison to justice, Scully.”

Scully agreed begrudgingly and led her partner toward the

staircase. Mulder stopped suddenly.

“What about the kids?” he asked.

“What kids?” asked Henry with frustration. The two agents

kept talking about a pair of kids but he didn’t have any

clue as to whom they were referring.

“Mulder, I don’t think we have to worry about the children

anymore,” said Scully softly.

“Why do you say that?”

“I think they’ve finally gone home.” His expression was

one big question mark until it suddenly dawned on him what

she meant.

“You mean -?”

“-Yes,” she said cryptically. “They did what they had to

do, and now they’ve been called home.”

“Damn, I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before,”

muttered Mulder.

“I wish to hell I knew what you two are talking about,”

said a very frustrated sheriff.

“Don’t worry about it, Henry. Let’s go find Patty Ann,”

placated Scully.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 30th

9:28 p.m.

He was right where they expected to find him. He’d laid

the child out on the ground, just beneath the very tree

little Annie Widgett had been found.

Mulder had visions of déjà vu, as he’d watched the doctor

begging the stars and the moon to take the child and return

his son. Mulder wasn’t sure how to react; he alternately

wanted to beat the pulp out of the man for willingly

placing a small child in danger while at the same time,

feeling the man’s pain, he wanted to offer words of

comfort.

He didn’t do either. He merely walked up to the now

distraught, defeated man, announced that he was with the

FBI, and read him his Miranda rights as he cuffed him.

Scully had immediately knelt down to check on the child,

who was apparently heavily drugged, but none the worse for

the wear.

Henry picked the child up and led everyone back to the car.

Scully sat up front with the child on her lap, while Mulder

sat in the back with the doctor. He mumbled incoherently,

over and over, alternately apologizing to Brian and to

Theresa. Mulder assumed the doc’s apologies were directed

toward his son and sister’s memories.

Mulder allowed himself to feel a modicum of sympathy for

the guy. After all, he could remember a day when he

considered, though it was only for a split second, trading

someone for his own sister.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 30th

10:25 p.m.

True to Mulder’s promise, he went to the hospital to have

his head checked out. He did indeed suffer from a mild

concussion, but given that Scully was well-versed on the

symptoms of concussions, the ER doctor on duty decided she

was just as capable of administering head checks as the

hospital staff.

Patty Anne checked out fine, too, though it was decided

that she would stay overnight for observation. They wanted

to be sure there were no side effects from the drug Dr.

Harrison had administered.

Henry drove the agents back to the motel.

“Thanks for the lift, Henry,” said Mulder.

“Thanks for solving the case,” replied Henry. “Still can’t

believe it was Doc Harrison.” The older man shook his head

in disbelief.

“I guess grief makes some people do crazy things,” Mulder

commented.

“Yes, not all people, right, Mulder?” asked Scully. She

smiled, as she knew Mulder would know immediately what she

was getting at.

“No, Scully, not all people. Some of us have partners that

help keep the crazies at bay.” He returned her smile.

Henry, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue as to what

they meant, so he decided to bid his good night. “If you

just stop by in the morning to sign off on the report,

you’ll still be able to make it home for Halloween tomorrow

night.”

“That’s right,” murmured Scully and then added, “I still

have to buy candy, or there’s going to be a whole lot of

tricks going on outside my door.”

“We’ll make that our first stop before we get home, okay?”

asked Mulder.

“Okay.”

Henry looked at the two, wondered if there was something

more going on than he’d first assumed, and then decided it

didn’t make a whole lot of difference if there were. They

solved his case, and it was time to go home. Besides, he’d

already bought his candy for tomorrow night, and there was

a milky way just calling his name.

“See you in the morning, folks. Good night.”

Mulder and Scully walked into the room. When Mulder sat on

the bed, Scully reminded him that she was going to have to

do neuro checks every couple of hours or so.

“Oh joy,” he replied dryly. Then a sudden gleam came to

his eyes.

“What?” she asked in response to his sudden mood change.

“Scully, remember what tonight is?”

“The night before Halloween.”

“Yes, and the other name for it is…?” he probed.

“Mischief Night,” she responded, and immediately caught the

reason behind his more upbeat mood. “Mulder, you have a

concussion!”

“Yeah, can you think of a better way to check my reactions?

C’mon, Scully, let’s be mischievous!”

And so they did. And Mulder’s reactions were just fine,

thank you very much.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The End

Happy Halloween

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