All the King’s Men

Title: All the King’s Men

Author: Vickie Moseley

Written for Virtual Season 11 Halloween Special

Rating: G

Category: V, X, MSR

Archive: Two weeks exclusive property of VS 11, then

anywhere.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully are the property of

1013 Productions and 20th Century FOX. Fort de

Chartres is the property of the state of Illinois,

managed by the Historical Preservation Agency.

Prairie du Rocher is a real town along the

Mississippi River in Illinois.

Please see notes at end.

Merci beaucoup to all the dear readers who have stuck

by us these past three years. We hope to dish up a

great season for you this year.

Feedback to vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com.

All the King’s Men

by Vickie Moseley

Prairie du Rocher, Illinois

October 31, 2003

11:21 pm

The dark blue Ford Taurus pulled down the gravel

road, coming to a stop at the edge of a field of

corn. The moon shone brightly over the field, until

a cloud covered it for the length of a breath, only

to scuttle away.

“Mulder, is _this_ what you meant by ‘let’s go check

out the sights’?” Scully asked with more than a

little annoyance in her voice. They had just

finished up a particularly dissatisfying team

building conference in St. Louis, just across the

river. Since their plane didn’t leave from Lambert

International Airport until the next day, Scully had

envisioned a night on Laclades Landing by the river,

sampling some of St. Louis’ finer restaurants, maybe

even catching the Blues play hockey at the Savvis

Center. Much to her dismay, Mulder took the rental

car out of the hotel parking lot away from Downtown

St. Louis and across the mighty Mississippi and

south, into the boonies.

“Mulder, is this private property?” she asked,

glancing around the deserted landscape. A stand of

trees bordered the field directly to the north, the

gravel road bordered it to the west. To their backs,

Scully could almost hear the rush of water that was

the longest river in North America. If she

concentrated, she could smell the moisture coming on

the autumn wind.

Mulder was sucking on a sunflower seed, which he

absently spit out the open car window. “County road,

Scully. Albeit slightly less developed than we’re

used to back east, but pretty pragmatic when you

figure the only vehicles to travel this way are

combines and equipped with tractor tires.”

“OK, so you’ve now shown me that you have at least a

passing knowledge of agricultural implements.

Mulder, what the hell are we doing here?” she asked

crossly.

He smiled at her, his expression just visible in the

light of the dashboard. “A picnic?” he offered and

jumped out of the car, striding purposefully to the

trunk where he withdrew a hamper, a camp light and an

old blanket.

She got out of the car slowly, closing the door

against a gust of wind. Leaves from trees she

couldn’t even see in the dark skittered over the hood

of the car and danced near her face before chasing

each other through the skeletal stalks of corn.

Mulder was walking away from the car, next to the

field. He finally settled not far from the trees,

which, in the light of Mulder’s lamp, Scully could

now see were a mixture of maple and oak. She watched

him spread the blanket out on the dry grass, brushing

off a couple of leaves that clung stubbornly to the

fabric. He settled down on the blanket on his knees,

opened up the picnic hamper and started taking out an

assortment of containers.

“Where did you . . .”

“The hotel offers ‘tailgate packages’,” he announced

proudly as he fished around and pulled out a bottle

of wine and couple of plastic glasses. “You’ll have

to excuse the screw cap on the wine. I thought about

getting something more expensive, but figured a

corkscrew would be too cumbersome out here.”

Scully shook her head and after a few minutes sat

down on the blanket next to him. She picked up a

container and opened it, discovering chicken salad on

a tomato. A second container held a roast beef

sandwich on marble rye bread. Mulder elbowed her arm

and she looked up to find him handing her a glass of

wine. “Eat up, Scully. The show should start soon.”

He handed her a fork and she balanced the wine glass

on a level spot near her foot. Taking a bite of the

chicken salad she smiled. It was quite good, with

walnuts and grapes, an indulgence she rarely got for

herself, but one her partner of 10 years knew was a

secret craving. “This is really good,” she told him,

just to let him know he was at least partially

forgiven. They ate in silence for a few minutes,

Mulder polishing off the roast beef in his usual ‘eat

it before it eats you’ manner. He was sipping his

wine when she put her fork inside the Styrofoam

container and placed both in the hamper. “So, what’s

for dessert?” she asked.

In the glow of the camp light, he leaned forward and

captured her lips in a sweet, heady kiss. Not one to

let him get the upper hand, Scully ardently returned

the kiss. A gust of wind came up again and caused

her to shiver, breaking the spell.

“Here, bundle up. It shouldn’t be long now,” Mulder

told her, taking off his jacket and wrapping it

around her shoulders. The day had been warm, but the

temperature had dropped and she wasn’t prepared for a

picnic in the moonlight.

“You keep talking about this ‘show’, Mulder. What,

exactly, are we here to see? Isn’t this the part in

the movie where the children of the corn come out

carrying scythes and kill the two young lovers?”

“I don’t think I saw that one, Scully. Was that

Children of the Corn III or IV?” he shot back, but

finally set down his glass, a sure sign that he was

about to embark on a Mulder story. “Do you know that

we’re sitting on a part of history here, Scully?”

“Do tell? Of course, find me a square inch of land

in this country that isn’t a part of history, Mulder,

but please, go on with your story.”

He shook his head and muttered something that sounded

amazingly like ‘damned skeptic’, but flashed her a

smile and continued. “Right down this road,” he

said, pointing south along the line of corn, “is Fort

de Chartres. It was one of the first forts along the

Mississippi. King Louis the XV built it in 1756,

back when this land was held by the French. Did you

know that many of the names of the towns and streets

in St. Louis come from the French, Scully?”

“I think names of towns like Creve Coeur, Frontenac

and St. Louis itself that sort of gave it away,

Mulder. But don’t let me stop the story,” she

encouraged with a wave of her hand.

“Show off,” he muttered. “Anyway, as I was saying,

Louis the XV commissioned the fort. It was essential

to the fur trade that came down the Missouri to St.

Louis and down the Ohio to the Mississippi, then

further down the river to New Orleans, another major

French holding, and eventually, the civilized world,

which was considerably east of this river,” he

explained.

“Some might be so bold as to say it still is,” she

interjected.

He faked a silent laugh.

“Mulder, the show?” she prodded.

“I’m getting to that,” he told her patiently. “So,

the French had this fort. And one day, one of the

king’s emissaries turned up dead, murdered,

presumably by a disgruntled resident of the fort.

The murderer was never apprehended, but the

townspeople were more concerned about what to do with

the body of a prominent person so far away from the

Court in Paris. A delegation made the trek to

Kaskaskia, the site of the regional government, later

to become Illinois’ first capitol, to determine what

they should do.”

“I’m definitely getting the ‘historic’ part of this

story, Mulder, but it still doesn’t answer my

question. Why are _we_ here?”

“So, it’s said that every year that Halloween falls

on a Friday, and there’s a full moon, you can see . .

.”

At that very moment, a dark cloud obliterated the

moon and a strong gust of wind blew up and knocked

the camp light over, causing it to turn off, plunging

them both in darkness. Mulder instinctively reached

for his gun, Scully coming up with hers almost at the

same time. Both agents peered anxiously into the

near pitch-black darkness.

As suddenly as the moon had vanished, it reappeared.

Scully blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light.

Then, off in the distance, coming down the far side

of the gravel road, she saw them. Horses, at least

two dozen of them. The riders were in tandem, as if

on parade. But no sound came from the hoofs, only

the sound of the wind and the unsettling brush of

leaves on the tall grasses. As the horsemen drew

closer, they turned and headed into the cornfield

across the road, but the corn didn’t part in their

passing.

Soon, wagons came into view, and the two agents sat

in stunned silence. Then Mulder began a whispered

count. “Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two . .

.” Scully thought her heart could be heard a mile

away when the last wagon came into sight and she

heard him breathlessly murmur “Forty!”

And then they were alone. The horsemen, the wagons,

all disappeared into the corn. The wind howled

through the trees and rattled the stalks like bones

as the chill and something else tore at their veins.

Scully shivered, as much from what she’d seen as from

the sudden drop to near freezing temperatures.

Mulder was scrambling to toss objects in the hamper,

tugging at the blanket before she’d come back to

herself enough to rise. He hooked the hamper on his

arm, grabbed the light with one hand and her arm with

the other and hurried back up the road to the waiting

rental car. Tossing the hamper and light haphazardly

in the backseat, Mulder tore open the door and Scully

crawled through to the passenger side, too shaken to

walk around the car to her own door. Mulder crawled

in after her, jammed the key in the ignition and to a

peel of gravel, they sped off down the road.

The lights of Prairie du Rocher were fading behind

them, and the Mississippi River Bridge was coming

into view before Scully found her voice. “Mulder,

what the hell did we just see back there?” she

demanded.

“I didn’t think we’d see it, Scully. Honest, it’s

been years, several years, since the last reported

sighting. I figured it would just make a really cool

spooky way to spend Halloween,” he panted.

“Was that what I think it was?” she asked, shaking

her head in disbelief.

“That was the King’s emissary’s funeral procession,

Scully,” Mulder said firmly. “It’s been viewed in

the past, as I said, but mostly in the late 1800s.

It was seen a couple of times in the 20th Century,

but just once in the past 20 years.” He pulled the

car onto the bridge and Scully was relieved to see

that even at that late hour, there was traffic

crossing the river.

“So, if you didn’t think we’d see it, why on earth

did you drag me all the way out there?” she asked,

struggling to get the muscles in her back to relax.

After being tense for so long, they were screaming

for relief.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 11 years,

Scully, it’s that when I’m with you, spooky shit

happens.” He gave her a grin in the dim light of the

dashboard.

“Actually, Mulder, I think _you’re_ the spooky

magnet,” she said with a sigh, forcing herself to

relax into her seat. For a while they just drove,

the sound of the tires on the bridge reassuring them

that they were safely in the 21st Century. Scully

thought back to the cornfield and the funeral

procession and shivered again, but this time, it

carried a delicious tingle.

Reaching over, she clutched his hand where it picked

at the fabric of his pants. Slowly, she rubbed her

thumb across his knuckles, eliciting a smile from his

lips.

“What?” he asked, glancing over at her before turning

his attention back to the road.

“Where are you taking me next Halloween?” she asked

coyly.

His smile grew brighter. “Have you ever heard of the

ghost woman of Paris, Missouri, Scully?”

the end

Author’s notes: Inspiration for this story was found

in the book _Haunted Heartland_ by Beth Scott and

Michael Norman, Published by Barnes and Nobles Books.

It is based on real sightings of the funeral

procession near Fort de Chartres along the

Mississippi River in Illinois. The actual

processional is seen at midnight on July 4 in years

where the 4th falls on a Friday and there is a full

moon. I moved the date to Halloween because it just

seemed more suited there. The last acknowledged

sighting (and the one recorded) of the funeral

procession was in 1986. The town of Prairie du

Rocher almost joined the provincial capitol of

Kaskaskia at the bottom of the Mississippi River

during the 500-year flood in 1993. The townspeople

and a lot of sandbags saved the town. Fortunately,

the cool heads at the Illinois Historical

Preservation Agency saved the Fort and its contents

from destruction by the floodwaters.

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