Of Mothmen and Moonshine

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Title: Of Moth Men and Moonshine

Authors: Britt Mulder, Girlie_girl7

EM: XfilesNTN@aol.com, Girlie_girl74@yahoo.com

Date: November 21, 2003

Category: XF, M&S

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Detour, WOTC, Bad Blood, HAD, PMP, Quagmire

Archive: VS 11 for two weeks then anywhere.

Disclaimer: Fox owns ’em

Summary: One would think Mulder and Scully had learned

their lesson about going into the forest but noooo, only

this time Mulder took along some help.

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~ Of Moth Men and Moonshine ~

Teaser

The Great Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg, TN

The Smokies were really quite beautiful. The hazy mountains

were full of lush green growth and active wildlife.

Families vacationed in the Smokies year round, going

camping or picnicking in the national park, where kids took

tubes and would ride the water rapids while couples hiked

through the mountains and visited the old schoolhouses and

churches along the Appalachian Trail.

Deep in the mountains, two hippie teenagers hiked, one a

girl with curly, red hair, dressed in a tank top and

shorts, and the other, a boy in a black Metallica T-shirt

and jeans with dyed, blonde hair that looked as if he had

stuck his finger in a light socket.

“This isn’t like that cockroach thing is it, AJ?” the red

head asked.

The boy gave her a sleepy-eyed look. “No, I told you we’re

here for the weed! It’s better to roll some, then lick a

toad. That sucked.”

AJ gripped a camcorder in one hand and smoked the Jimson

Weed with the other. They had found some growing when they

first started their hike.

Sharon sighed, “So we found it, AJ, can’t we just go back

now? My feet hurt and I could use a beer.”

“Sharon, we’re looking for moth men. They’ve been seen in

this area. Just last week our dude, Curt, from Lauderdale,

was out here.” AJ took a long drag on the weed and exhaled,

sending swirls of smoke in to the air before he continued,

“Dude went behind

a tree to take a dump, and saw this gray thing with glowing

eyes and wings! It scared the crap out of him.” AJ finished

with a grin.

“What makes you think we’re going to see one?” Sharon

asked, as she took a hit of the Jimson weed from AJ.

“First, there was that cockroach thing in Massachusetts,

then there was that lake monster in Georgia; we got a nose

for freaky shit,” AJ explained. “If we catch a real moth

man on camera, we could be famous!”

Sharon sighed and took in her surroundings, “So where are

they, we’ve been out here all day.”

“Dunno man,” AJ mumbled, as he stopped walking and thought

for a moment, “maybe they’re sleeping.”

Sharon rolled her eyes at him as she walked ahead to sit on

a log. “Let’s take a break a minute, I’m tired,” she

grumbled.

AJ sat down beside her, and placed the camcorder on the

ground. They sat in silence for a long moment and just

smoked Jimson weed while the birds chirped and the crickets

screeched. Suddenly, in the bushes, there was a sound of

something moving.

“Did you hear that?” AJ whispered to Sharon.

“Moth men?” she whispered back.

AJ nodded eagerly in reply and with a grin on his face,

reached down for his camcorder and turned it on. He stood

up and slowly started to walk into the thick patch of

bushes. Sharon followed behind him with a large stick in

her hand. AJ looked back at her as an unusual expression

covered his face.

“Just in case,” Sharon said, with a shrug of her shoulders.

They continued to walk toward the bushes, when a gray

creature with glowing eyes and wings emerged from the

shrubs with a growl. AJ and Sharon screamed in surprise.

The creature ran into AJ and knocked him down, sending the

camcorder flying through the air to land a few feet away.

“Oh crap!” AJ yelled, as he scrambled across the ground for

the camcorder. The creature knocked the camcorder further

out of his reach.

Sharon clutched the stick in her hands and came up behind

the creature, hitting it over the head. Maybe it was the

Jimson weed going to her head, but Sharon swore she heard

the creature grumble the word, “Shit.”

Sharon grabbed AJ by the shirt and pulled him off the

ground. “Let’s get out of here!” she yelled. They started

off through the woods and never looked back. The creature

watched, as the two disappeared from sight, then with a

chuckle it picked up the abandoned camcorder.

Act I

Dana Scully rolled over to find her bed empty, and that was

not normal. She had to smile; it had only been in the past

two years that this had been the case. She stretched and

rolled back over to capture the smell of Fox Mulder that

lingered on his pillow. Her thoughts drifted back to the

night before. They had eaten a pizza in front of the TV,

where some movie she couldn’t remember droned on, and the

two of them had made out on the couch like a couple of

teenagers. They ended up in the bedroom sometime after

midnight.

She finally dragged herself out of bed, remembering the

night before with a smile and began to get ready for

another day in the basement with her crackpot, albeit

brilliant, partner.

Fox Mulder had been at his desk since early that morning.

He’d made coffee and pulled up his E-mail, then checked the

various conspiracy and paranormal sites. A small article

caught his eye and he began to read it.

The door opened and Scully walked in. She placed her

briefcase on the floor, next to the desk, and took off her

dark jacket. “Morning, Mulder,” Scully said as she leaned

in near his ear, “I missed you.”

“Uh hum,” Mulder hummed with his chin resting on his fist,

his mind on what he was reading.

Scully poured herself a cup of coffee, and sat down to look

over the inter-departmental memos.

Mulder sat back in his chair, satisfied with what he’d

read. “Scully, you up for some mutant chasing?”

Scully looked up from her coffee mug and dropped her

shoulders with a sigh, “Okay Mulder, what’s up?”

“Moth men.”

Scully’s head snapped up. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Mulder got up from his chair, and moved over to perch on

the edge of her desk. “No, Scully. There have been recent

sightings all along the Appalachian Trail. It just came

across my desk that two kids hunting for Datura Stramonium

spotted glowing-eyed moth men in the Great Smoky Mountains

National Park within the last two days.”

“Two kids looking for Jimsom Weed, which is a

hallucinogenic.”

“It didn’t say they found the Jimson Weed, just that they

were looking for it.”

“And just where did you glean this little fact?”

“At an on-line site called Department Of Paranormal

Experiences.”

“DOPE?”

So, the anagram doesn’t work, but Scully this is a legit

site.”

“No, Mulder, no,” Scully said dropping her head.

Mulder was getting frustrated. “Scully I’ve got X Files on

moth men that go back to 1952, not to mention our run in a

few years back in Florida. This could be a break. We both

know there was another one out there.”

“Mulder, we are up to our elbows in semi-annual reports,

due in ten days I might add.”

Mulder turned on the charm. “Scully we can slip in and out

and be back it a couple of days.”

“No,” Scully said holding her ground.

“No?” Mulder replied incredulously.

“Mulder, there is not enough evidence to merit an

investigation.”

“Enough evidence?” Now, Mulder was getting pissed. “Scully

have you even read the file from ’52?”

“I’ve glanced at it.”

“So you’re saying you won’t go with me to investigate this

reported sighting?”

Scully shook her head, “Mulder, I. . .”

“Fine, I know someone who will.” Mulder said angrily. He

flipped through his Rolodex, found the number he needed,

and dialed the phone.

“Doctor Berenbaum, please.” Mulder didn’t look at Scully,

he didn’t need to see her. He could feel the heat radiating

off his partner like a wood stove gone out of control.

Scully recovered from her initial shock and closed her

mouth. She gathered up her briefcase and jacket, and with a

turn on her heels, said in a clipped voice, “I am going

home to pack. I suggest you do the same.” With that, she

slammed the door.

Just then a weak ‘hello’ was emitted from the phone. Mulder

was snapped back to reality, “Hello, Doctor Berenbaum.”

The flight to Knoxville was a quiet one, but that was

nothing new. What was new was the reason for it. Scully was

not reading the case file, or an X file. In fact, she

wasn’t reading any file at all. She was engrossed in a copy

of Cosmo and one particular article entitled, ‘Fifty ways

to leave your lover’. That was not giving Mulder a warm

fuzzy feeling.

They made their way through the airport and finally rented

the standard-bureau-expense-account-acceptable Ford Taurus.

The two agents wound their way through the foothills of the

Smoky Mountains that lead out of Knoxville on U.S. 441.

Finally, Scully spoke up. “So where is the good doctor?”

“Doctor Berenbaum is meeting us at the motel.”

Scully turned her head to look out the side window and

mumbled. “I’ll bet her specialty is bedbugs.”

They arrived at the Rocky Waters Motor Lodge, on the edge

of Gatlinburg. Sure enough, Doctor Berenbaum was waiting in

the glass-fronted lobby. Mulder pulled up to the door and

shut off the Taurus. He had no sooner opened the front door

to the lobby than Bambi was all over him, hugging him for

dear life, or so it seemed to Scully. She watched Bambi

work her feminine wiles on her partner.

Mulder was smiling and putting his hand on the small of

Bambi’s back. Scully sat up a little straighter in the

front seat of the Taurus, her eyes narrowed to little

slits. She finally sighed, and resigned herself to a week

in hell.

Mulder walked over to the car and opened the door. He

handed Scully a keycard. “We’re on the second floor.”

Scully stared at her partner. “Mulder, we can’t share a

room with her around.”

“I know that. You’re sharing with Doctor Berenbaum.” He

started the car to drive closer to the entrance, and once

again felt the heat that radiated off Scully.

Scully lugged her bags and notebook case to the second

floor, room number 214, while Mulder trudged down to room

220. “Just great,” she mumbled as she inserted her keycard.

She chose the bed nearest the door. If the ‘Deer Doctor’

was going out for a midnight rendezvous, Scully wanted to

know about it.

Bambi walked through the open door, out of breath. “That

man at the desk talked my leg off.” Then she

unceremoniously plopped down on Scully’s bed.

Scully sighed, and picked up all her gear, and dumped it

onto the other bed.

Bambi jumped up. “How rude of me,” she said, sticking out

her hand. “Nice to see you again, Agent Scully. I am so

happy to be helping you and Fox on this case.”

Scully shoved a stray, strand of hair back, and shook

Bambi’s hand. “Nice to see you, too.”

Just then, there was a knock on the doorframe. A pimply-

faced teenage boy was standing there with Bambi’s various

bags and cases in his hands and hung around his neck. “I

brung up yer stuff Doctor Berenbaum,” he said, grinning at

Bambi.

“Why, thank you, Jeffery.”

“Not a problem ma’am,” Jeffery said, as he carefully placed

each piece of luggage on what used to be Scully’s bed. He

put the last case on the desk and just stood there.

Scully finally put her hands on the lovesick kid’s back and

pushed him through the door. “Thank you, Jeffery, that will

be all.”

Jeffery tried to turn and look at Bambi, while Scully was

giving him the bums rush. “If ya need anything, anything at

all, ya jus’ call meeeeee.”

Mulder walked into the room. “Is this great or what? We’re

here in the Smoky Mountains and look at this, a balcony

over the stream.” Scully followed Mulder out onto the

balcony and rested her elbows on the railing. “This is a

romantic spot,” she said, looking back over her shoulder at

Doctor Berenbaum, “or it could be.”

Mulder grinned down at her. “That’s the spirit! Now let’s

go rent some camping gear.”

Mulder pulled up to Mountain Top Archery, a camping supply

house that was recommended by the desk clerk. Scully got

out of the front passenger side door; she wasn’t about to

let Bambi take over her usual spot. The three entered the

small establishment, where they were outfitted for their

trek into the forest.

They loaded the trunk up with the camping supplies and

headed back to the Rocky Waters. They carried all their

gear into Scully’s room and started to pack, while Mulder

headed to Pardon’s Deli, across the street from the motel.

By the time he had returned with lunch and their

provisions, Scully had packed up his backpack as well as

her own, while Bambi was just finishing hers.

Mulder pulled out a map and spread it on Bambi’s bed. He

looked it over, while consuming his second chili cheese

dog. “According to the map, the Appalachian Trail runs

across the spine of the Smokies then turns back toward

Fontana Lake.”

Scully sat down next to Mulder, munching on her turkey

sandwich, while she looked down at the map and frowned.

“That’s an awful lot of territory to cover.”

“Ah, but the last sighting was near Cable Mill,” Mulder

said, fingering the map.

“Well, that does narrow it down a bit.”

Bambi came in from the balcony where she’d been sitting.

“Did you know that the park was established in 1934, to

protect the last remnant of the southern Appalachian

forest?”

Scully looked back over her shoulder at the doe-eyed

doctor. “Really, I didn’t know that.”

Bambi sat down in one of the motel chairs, with a small

book in her hand. “Yes, it’s all in this guidebook I bought

at the camping center. It says the park has been designated

as an International Biosphere Reserve.”

“How interesting,” Scully said, but not really caring.

Mulder finished pouring over the map, and tossed the

sandwich wrappers into the trash. “I’m going back to my

room. Let’s be ready to leave in twenty minutes.”

“Fine with me,” Scully said.

“Me too,” Bambi agreed.

Twenty minutes later the car was loaded with their

backpacks and provisions and they were off to the National

Park.

Mulder stopped in at the Sugarlands Visitor’s Center, to

inform the Park Rangers that they would be backpacking near

Cable Mill. The man at Mountain Top Archery had suggested

they do this because their cell phones wouldn’t work in

some areas of the park.

They drove to Cable Mill and left the car at the trailhead

parking lot. Mulder slung his pack onto his back and

cinched it up, then helped Scully and Bambi into theirs.

The trailhead began just a few feet from where their car

was parked, and soon they were deep into the woods. The day

was warm and the trees were vibrant with fall colors.

“Scully, look at this as a visit to one of our most

precious possessions, Mother Nature herself,” Mulder said,

while gesturing with his hand.

“Did you know the Smoky Mountains National Park covers over

500,000 acres of land,” Bambi said.

“Really,” Mulder turned to look back at Bambi. Scully, who

was bringing up the rear, didn’t respond.

“So Fox, what exactly are we looking for?” Bambi asked as

she jogged up to Mulder.

“Moth men.”

“Moth men?” Bambi parroted.

“It’s been documented,” Mulder glanced back at Scully,

“that these creatures do exist. I have files that go back

to 1952, and there have been sightings since then.”

“So now they’re in these woods?” Bambi questioned.

“My sources . . .” Mulder began.

“The dopes,” Scully chimed in.

“Department of Paranormal Experiences,” Mulder frowned,

“received reports that moth men have been spotted here.”

Bambi stepped over a fallen tree and steadied herself by

holding on to a rock. Scully walked a few paces behind.

“So Fox, what do these moth men look like?”

“The reports of these sightings state that they have

piercing, glowing eyes, and it’s been reported that they

have large wings that fold over their backs. Even the two

kids that spotted them reported seeing the wings.”

“Why don’t we see them flying, if they have wings?” Scully

sniped.

“The wings are just a vestigial growth, they can’t support

the weight of the creatures,” Mulder huffed.

“Where’d you hear that, the dopes?” Scully exclaimed.

“Scully, it’s the Department of Paranormal Experiences!”

“Sorry,” Scully mumbled.

Just then a scream was heard and the agents realized Bambi

was missing. Mulder looked toward the sound of the scream

and found Doctor Berenbaum at the bottom of a shallow

gully.

“Fox, I think I broke my ankle,” Bambi whined.

Mulder eased down the gully, followed by Scully. He helped

Bambi sit on a fallen tree while Scully examined her foot.

“It appears to be a sprain. Can you stand on it?” Scully

asked.

Mulder helped Bambi to her feet. “It’s tender, but I think

I’ll be okay.”

Scully shimmied out of her backpack. “Just in case, I

better wrap it. The added support will help you walk and

keep it from swelling as much.” Scully pulled out an Ace

bandage and wrapped Bambi’s ankle; she then helped her put

her boot back on and laced it up tight. Mulder helped Bambi

back up the hill with Scully following behind.

“Thanks Fox, I think I can make it on my own,” Bambi said,

as Mulder released her. They continued along the small

trail with Mulder in the lead and Bambi limping in the

middle. After another forty-five minutes, Mulder decided

they needed to stop for a rest. They found a group of large

boulders to sit on. “How’s the foot, Dr. Berenbaum?” Mulder

asked.

“Not too bad, Fox.”

Scully opened her water bottle and took a healthy drink.

“Mulder, just how did you justify the 302 on this one?”

Mulder finished his own drink. “I never closed the case in

Florida, so technically we’re doing a follow-up

investigation.”

“From the dopes?”

“Scully, I know you don’t. . .,” Mulder was just getting

wound up when they heard Bambi yell, “Ouch!”

They both turned to see her holding her neck. “I think I

was just bitten.”

Scully approached the doctor and removed her hand from the

nasty looking welt. “Are you allergic to any insects?”

“No, not that I know of. It looked like a Tabanus

Americanus.”

Mulder looked at Bambi with a frown of concern on his face.

“A Horse Fly,” Scully said.

“So that’s not serious then?” Mulder asked.

“No, not generally. Just uncomfortable,” Scully said,

getting out her medical bag once more. She pulled out a

small tube of ointment and smeared it on the bite. She then

took out a couple of tablets and handed them to Bambi.

“Here take these, they’ll help with the pain.”

Bambi took the pills and downed them with her water.

“Thanks Agent Scully, I appreciate it.”

“That’s okay,” Scully replied, replacing her backpack.

Mulder scanned the skies and looked at his watch. “Let’s

keep going. We can stop in another hour to set up camp for

the night. Can you make it that far, Bambi?”

“Sure Fox, I think the pills helped.”

They headed out, hoping to put a few more miles behind

them. The forest canopy got higher and denser the farther

into the woods they went. Soon they were running parallel

to a mountain stream.

“Fox, can I ask you why you called me in on this case?”

Bambi said while she walked with a noticeable limp and a

large red welt on her neck.

“Yes,” Scully spoke up, “why don’t you tell us!”

“Well,” Mulder began, “moths are insects, and we are

looking for moth men.” Mulder felt a little sense of

triumph, that he’d gotten this far. “So I thought your

expertise might come in handy.”

“If we ever find one,” Scully mumbled.

“There are more than 1,500 species of flowering plants,

including 125 species of trees in the park,” Bambi said, as

she stepped through the vines covering the ground.

“Is that so, how interesting,” Mulder replied.

Scully just rolled her eyes.

They walked down the trail to a clearing with a fire pit

off to one side, near the stream. Mulder stopped to survey

the area. “What do you say we stop here for the night?”

“That’s fine with me,” Scully said.

“Me too,” Bambi chimed in.

“Let’s pitch the tents near the fire pit, we can get water

from the stream.”

“At least we can wash up,” Scully said, peeling the pack

off her tired shoulders, while Mulder and Bambi did the

same.

“I’ll gather up some firewood,” Bambi offered, and took off

into the woods.

Mulder helped Scully to pitch her tent, then grabbed her

around the waist. “Mulder!” Scully huffed out as he pulled

her close and began to nuzzle her neck. “Bambi will be back

soon.”

“I’ll tell her I’m checking you for ticks.”

Scully softly giggled, enjoying Mulder’s examination. “I do

not have ticks.”

“No, but she doesn’t know that,” Mulder hummed against her

neck.

Just then the bushes rattled, and Bambi appeared with her

arms loaded with deadwood. “I was checking her for ticks!”

Mulder blurted out.

Bambi disregarded Mulder. “Did you know there are more that

200 species of birds in the park?”

Scully pulled free from Mulder and muttered, “A proverbial

walking encyclopedia.”

Mulder grinned at Scully and began to set up his own tent.

Bambi piled the wood up in the fire pit, and pulled out a

lighter. What she did next stunned even Mulder. She opened

the pocket on her flannel shirt, and pulled out a hard pack

of Morley Lites. She slapped the box against one hand and

pulled out a cigarette. Next she placed it between her

lips, lit it, then took a long drag and released it. “I’ve

been dying for a smoke all day.”

Scully looked at Mulder in wonderment. He just shrugged his

shoulders.

Soon Bambi had the fire going, and Scully had a large pot

of beans and weenies cooking. She also started a kettle of

coffee; what smoking was to Dr. Berenbaum, coffee was to

Agent Scully.

Mulder was wandering around their campsite, looking for

clues that could have been left by the moth men. Scully was

dishing up supper, with help from Bambi. She noticed Bambi

was scratching the exposed skin on her wrists. Scully had

the sinking feeling that she was going to need her medical

bag again. “Dr. Berenbaum, have you had that itch long?”

Scully asked.

Bambi stopped digging at her red wrist. “No, it just

started.”

By now Mulder had moved in to look at Bambi’s wrist, “Looks

like a rash.”

Scully took Bambi’s arm and peeled back her sleeve, “Looks

like poison ivy to me.”

“Oh no,” Bambi sighed.

Scully retrieved her medical bag and applied a cream to

Bambi’s red wrist. She opened a foil packet of Benadryl

tablets and offered them to the doctor.

Bambi looked over at Scully. “You certainly carry a lot of

medical supplies, Agent Scully.”

“Fox gets hurt a lot,” Scully flatly replied.

They finally settled down to eat. Mulder sat near Scully,

but not as near as she would have liked.

“So Mulder, what’s next?” Scully said, taking the last

drink of her coffee.

Mulder stood and stretched. “In the morning, we fan out and

look for evidence of moth men activity.”

Scully looked at Mulder with a frown. “And just what

constitutes moth men activity? Giant holes eaten into our

blankets?”

Mulder glared at her. “No, the shedding of wings.”

“Four foot long wings? Mulder, why haven’t those been found

yet?”

“Maybe they have been found, but no one knows what they

are.” Mulder was getting steamed.

Bambi saw the conversation was nearing an argument. “Well,

I think I’ll do the dishes.”

“I’ll help,” Mulder snapped, not taking his eyes off his

partner.

Scully shook her head and marched off toward her tent. She

laid out her sleeping bag and grabbed her toothbrush. Just

then she heard Bambi scream. Scully dropped her head, “Oh,

what now.”

Mulder pulled a soaking, wet Bambi over to the fire. She

was shivering uncontrollably, and shoving the wet hair out

of her eyes. Scully came out of her tent, “Let me guess,

you fell into the stream.”

“Yeeessss,” Bambi said through chattering teeth.

Mulder handed her a cup of coffee. “Here take this, it will

warm you up.”

“They sayyyy the wattter in the streammmm neverrrr gettts

above fifty-five degreeeeees.”

Scully stood with her arms crossed, and a sour look on her

face. “I think you should get out of those wet clothes, so

we can try to dry them.”

Bambi crawled into the tent and removed her clothing, and

handed all of it to Scully.

Scully placed Bambi’s clothing over the tree branches and

inwardly grinned. Bambi was two sizes larger than she.

Mulder sat down on a log near the crackling fire and played

in it with a stick. Scully sat next to him. “Mulder, I’m

sorry I’ve snapped at you all day, but it’s hard to take

this investigation seriously.”

Mulder tossed the stick into the fire, sat back on the log,

and looked up at the sky. “Scully, you remember when we

were chasing Big Blue?”

“Yes.”

“You didn’t believe me then, but it turned out I was

right.”

“Well Mulder, it was just an alligator.”

“Not just an alligator, or at least not until I killed it.

Before that, it was a whale, or a sea serpent, or a

monster. I guess I’m just saying, I gotta know what’s out

there.”

Scully rubbed his arm and smiled up at him, “Mulder, are

you sure you’re not just nosey?”

Suddenly, Bambi yelled, “Oh shit!” Behind them a large, red

glow appeared, with heat emanating off it. They both turned

around to see Scully and Bambi’s tent on fire.

“Shit!” Scully yelled. “All my clothes are in that tent!”

“What happened?” Mulder asked Bambi, while he helped her

out of the tent.

“I don’t know, I had just lit a cigarette and was reading

my guidebook, when the whole tent burst into flames.”

“Just burst into flames,” Scully fumed.

“I’m so sorry Agent Scully, but it looks like we’ve lost

everything.”

The fire had burned out quickly. Mulder took their cooking

pan down to the stream and brought back water, to douse the

last of the hot embers.

“This is just great!” Scully complained, as she slapped her

arms on her sides.

Mulder scratched the back of his head. “We’ll all just have

to sleep in my tent and hike out in the morning.”

“And what do you propose we sleep on, Mulder?” Scully said,

while nearly popping a vein as she said her partner’s name.

“I can unzip my sleeping bag so we can lay on it, with our

emergency thermal blankets over us.”

Scully just shook her head at the thought of the mess they

were in. “Fine, but I get the middle.”

“We better try and get some sleep,” Mulder said, while

putting more wood on the fire. “It’s a long hike out

tomorrow.”

Bambi looked around the campsite. “Okay, but I umm, need to

relieve myself.”

“Second tree to the right,” Mulder smiled, “you can’t miss

it.”

Bambi blushed and took off for the woods.

Scully turned to her partner. “Mulder, remember back there

when I apologized?”

“Yes.”

“I take it back.”

An ear-piercing scream was heard coming from the direction

of Bambi. “Oh hell, what now?” Scully whined.

Both agents looked at one another then drew their weapons.

They took off into the woods to search for Dr. Berenbaum

and found her cowering behind a tree. “I saw it, Fox!”

“Saw what?”

“A moth man.”

“Are you sure?”

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“Fox, I saw glowing eyes.”

Scully looked around. “Well I don’t see anything.”

“I know what I saw, Agent Scully.”

“Seeing is not believing in Agent Scully’s case.” Mulder

snarled.

“I think we need to get some sleep, then get the hell out

of here,” Scully huffed, as she walked past Bambi and

Mulder, clicking her gun back into the holster.

They walked back to camp. Scully looked around and noticed

something was different. “Mulder, where is our food?”

Mulder looked around, and sure enough all their food was

gone. “Better see what else might be gone.”

Scully checked what little she had left after the fire.

“None of my stuff is missing.”

“My cell phone is gone though,” Mulder replied.

Bambi rifled through her bag. “Dammit, they took my

cigarettes, but I did find my guidebook,” she beamed.

“Oh goodie,” Scully sarcastically sighed, while Mulder

frowned at her.

“So we’re missing our food, some cigarettes, and my cell

phone. You know what this means, Scully?”

“That we’re looking for a hungry, nicotine addicted,

teenager?”

“Noooo,” Mulder replied, “it means, we are not alone.”

“Well, alone or not, we can’t do anything until daybreak,

so I’m going to bed. Good night.”

Bambi looked at Mulder. “I’m really sorry about the tent,

Fox.”

“These things happen,” Mulder shrugged.

“But they always happen to me,” she sighed.

“Do they?” Mulder questioned.

“Why do you think I’ve been working in Miller’s Grove all

by myself.” Bambi sighed and ran her hands over her crossed

arms. “The last place I worked had two fires, one

evacuation, and a suicide attempt, all because of me.”

Mulder contemplated what Dr. Berenbaum had just revealed.

“I don’t think I would mention any of this to Agent

Scully.”

Bambi crawled into the tent and found Scully already there.

She laid down on the left side of her, while Mulder climbed

in on the right. Mulder looked over at Scully with a frown

on his face. “Scully, where did you get that pillow?”

“It’s not a pillow,” Scully mumbled, “it’s your jacket.”

“Ohhhh,” Mulder mouthed but didn’t say a word. He lay down

next to his rigid little partner and tried to get some

sleep. They hadn’t been in the tent fifteen minutes when

Bambi spoke. “Did you hear that?”

“What?” Mulder asked, lifting up his head.

“I don’t know, Fox, but I definitely heard something.”

Mulder turned his head to listen. “I hear it too,” he

whispered.

“What do you think it is, Fox?”

“I’m not sure, but I heard something.”

Suddenly, Scully grumbled, “Will you keep it down, there is

nothing out there and I’d like to get some sleep.”

At that moment a large crack was heard, causing all three

occupants of the tent to sit up. Mulder scrambled out first

and grabbed his gun. Scully did the same, while Bambi

trailed behind. Mulder ran to take cover behind a tree and

Scully crouched near a log. Bambi stood near the slowly

dying fire, just as a short man came racing out of the

woods, screaming at the top of his lungs. He didn’t see

Bambi standing there and bowled her over.

Mulder jumped out from behind the tree with his gun drawn,

and yelled, “Stop right there, I’m a federal agent, put

your hands in the air.” Scully also scrambled out from

behind the fallen log with her gun drawn.

“Don’t shoot,” the little man said.

Mulder grabbed him by the shirt collar and pulled him off

Bambi, training his flashlight on him. Both agents stared

at the little man with their mouths agape. Finally, Scully

said, “Frohike?”

The little man turned to look at Scully. His eyes grew

soft, while a smile graced his stubbled face. “What’s a

Frohike?” he asked.

Act II

“Who are you?” Mulder yelled, while helping Bambi up.

“Ah’d gladly tell ya, if’n ya’d put down dat piece,” the

little man said, dusting off his overalls.

Scully crossed her arms and diligently plowed ahead, “So

who are you?”

“Ah’m Stumpy Ogle ma’am, an’ who might you be?” Stumpy

sweetly said to her.

“I’m Agent Dana Scully, with the FBI.”

“Well mizz FBI, ya sure got purdy hair.” Stumpy winked at

Scully. She wasn’t sure if it was the uncanny likeness to

Melvin Frohike that she finds unsettling, or the large,

gold, front tooth he was sporting.

“What are you doing out here?” Scully asked.

Stumpy cocked one eyebrow at her. “Ya ain’t revenuers, are

ya?”

“No,” Scully replied.

“Nor ATF?”

“No.”

“How ’bout DEA?”

“No, we’re from the FBI, now what’s going on here?” Mulder

demanded, more than a little agitated.

Stumpy grinned at Mulder. “Well sir, Ah’m a opportunistic

b’ness man.”

Mulder frowned at the little man. “Come clean.”

“Ah got me a couple a stills up in them woods,” Stumpy

motioned with his hand.

“Stills?” Scully questioned. “You mean you brew alcohol.”

“No, ma’am.” Stumpy smiled at Scully. “Ah brew ‘shine.”

Mulder grabbed the little man by the arm and sat him on a

log. “Shine, alcohol, it’s all the same. What in hell were

you doing running through our camp, screaming?”

Stumpy turned serious and leaned in to look up at Mulder.

“Ah saw’d it.”

“Saw what?”

“Ah ain’t sure, but it had glowin’ eyes.”

“I saw it, too!” Bambi gasped.

“Naw,” Stumpy replied, with a grin on his face, “dat t’were

me.”

“What!” Scully exclaimed.

“Yes ma’am,” the little man said, enjoying the attention he

was receiving from Scully. “Ah was tryin’ to keep people

‘way from ma pro-duction line.”

“Just how many do you employ, Mr. Ogle?” Scully asked.

“Jes’ me, but Ah kep havin’ ta stop ma brewin’ ta chase off

interlopers, so’s Ah jes put out some glowin’ lights ta

scare ’em off.” The little man grew quiet. “Cept tonight,

Ah saw da eyes an’ heer’d da noise too, an’ it tweren’t

me!”

Mulder now had his interest peaked. “So it took our

possessions?”

“Naw, dat was me,” Stumpy laughed and added, “but whatev’r

dat was took’d ’em from me!”

Mulder looked up at Scully as she rubbed her forehead. “So

what now?” She asked.

He looked down at Stumpy. “Where is your campsite?”

“Or’ in da next valley. Ah got a little shack ther’, tain’t

much but it’s home,” Stumpy said as he eyed Scully.

“Do you have food there?” Mulder asked.

“Sure do, an’ Ah got drink too!”

“I’ll bet you do,” Scully sighed.

“I think we better sleep on it, and go with Stumpy tomorrow

to his shack. We can eat and check out the area from

there.”

Bambi finally spoke up. “I think that’s a good idea Fox,

maybe we can catch some fish for our breakfast. The park is

home to over fifty species of fish.”

Scully turned her head to stare at the woman. Mulder

intervened, “Come on, let’s get to bed.”

Bambi crawled into the tent, while Scully pulled her

partner aside. “Mulder, you don’t possibly expect us to

sleep with Frohike’s evil twin do you?”

clip_image004

“What do you suggest?”

“I’m not sure,” Scully huffed, “but it was your idea that

got us into this mess.”

Just then soft snoring was heard. The agents looked down to

see Stumpy curled up like a dog, next to the fire.

“I guess that settles that,” Mulder said.

“Works for me,” Scully replied.

The next morning, everyone was up early. Mulder folded up

the tent and packed away what supplies they had left, while

Scully tended to Bambi’s various cuts, scrapes, sprains,

bites, and rashes. Stumpy watched Scully with a glint in

his eye; he was obviously smitten by the redheaded agent

With their packs on their backs, they headed into the

woods, with Stumpy in the lead and Scully second, followed

by Bambi and Mulder. Stumpy slowed down just enough so that

Scully caught up with him. Soon they were side by side. The

little man pulled back the branches so Scully could pass,

but each time he did they came back to whack Bambi in the

face.

“Mind if Ah ask ya what yer doin’ so fer from home, mizz

FBI?”

“No,” Scully smiled at the man, making his heart race. “My

partner and I are looking for a creature, much like the one

you described last night.”

“What fer?” Stumpy asked.

“I’ve been asking myself that same question, Mr. Ogle.”

Stumpy smiled at Scully, while the sun glinted off his gold

tooth. “Y’all can call me Stumpy.”

Scully had finally relaxed a little. “You can call me

Dana.”

“Dana,” Stumpy said, “Dana, that’s a rite purdy name,

Dana.”

“Thanks,” Scully replied.

“So who’s yer partner?” Scully looked surprised by the

question.

“Da feller or da lady?”

“Oh, the man. Agent Mulder is my partner.”

“He treat ya good, do he?”

Scully blushed, “Yes, I guess so.”

“‘Cause if he ain’t, I kin whup him fer ya.”

“No, no Stumpy. We get along just fine,” Scully quickly

added.

“Who’s dat woman wiff all da injories?”

“That’s Dr. Bambi Berenbaum.”

“Damn hell, ya say! Her name is Bambi, like da lil’ deer in

da story,” Stumpy laughed.

“That’s right.”

Stumpy nudged Scully with his shoulder, “She ain’t purdy

like you is.”

Scully blushed and ran her tongue over her upper lip,

“Thanks.”

“Ya got da purdiest hair Ah ev’r did see!” The little man

laughed.

“Scully,” Mulder called out, “how much farther?”

Scully asked Stumpy. “Just over the hill, Mulder.”

Within fifteen minutes, the group broke out of the woods

and into a little clearing. Straight ahead sat a small

shack next to a stream.

“Dis is ma home, Dana,” Stumpy said, with a touch of pride

in his voice. “Ah built it all ma self.”

“It’s very nice,” Scully responded, smiling at him.

Bambi and Mulder walked into the clearing. Bambi dropped

her pack at her feet. “I’m exhausted. Did you know that the

highest point in the park is over 6,600 feet in elevation?”

Scully looked at Bambi, but chose not to respond.

Mulder grabbed Bambi’s pack and carried it to Stumpy’s

porch. “You’ve been through a lot Dr. Berenbaum, better

rest.”

“Thanks Fox,” Bambi sighed and pushed back a mat of hair.

Scully stood on the porch while Stumpy looked admiringly at

her.

“Got any food in there, Stumpy?” Mulder asked as he

surveyed the little hovel.

“Sure do, y’all like grits an’ salt-pork?”

Scully looked at Stumpy with her arms crossed over her

chest. “Do you have coffee?”

“Sure do, Dana,” Stumpy grinned. “Lemme rustle it up fer

ya.”

Mulder leaned into Scully, as he carried the two backpacks

into the shack. “Scully, what is it about you that

attracts fidgety, dumpy little men.”

“Shut up, Mulder,” Scully frowned as she entered the shack,

with Mulder chuckling at her.

The room was dark, while the smell of burnt wood permeated

the air. It wasn’t much more shelter than the tent had

been, but it was a bit roomier. Stumpy had a rickety bed,

with bedding that hadn’t seen a washer in years, and a

small table in front of a crude fireplace. He brushed past

Scully. “I gotta git water fer yer coffee, Dana.”

“Thank you,” Scully said.

Bambi looked around the mess that was this man’s home,

while Mulder pawed through his belongings. He did find an

expensive looking camcorder, being used as a doorstop. They

heard Stumpy approaching, so Mulder returned everything to

its place. “Well he looks harmless.”

Scully walked out onto the porch as Stumpy was bringing up

a bucket of water from the stream. He straightened his back

as he noticed her watching him. “Ah’ll git yer coffee in no

time, Dana.”

“Thanks, Stumpy.”

Mulder walked outside and stretched, “I wish I had my couch

here.”

“For once I have to agree with you,” Scully softly said.

Bambi stepped out of the shack just as Mulder yawned and

spread his arms.

“Turn your head to the left,” Scully directed.

“I swear, I never saw Fox standing there.”

Scully handed Bambi a wet cloth for the huge purple bruise

that encircled her eye. “I’m sure you didn’t, just hold

this to your eye.”

Stumpy looked intently at Bambi’s injured eye. “Ya sure is

gonna have a shiner der, ma’am.”

“I’m sorry Bambi, I didn’t see you standing there,” Mulder

said with concern.

Suddenly, Stumpy yelled, “Let’s eat!”

Breakfast wasn’t bad. They had some sort of bird eggs that

Scully couldn’t identify, and salt pork that was more salt

than pork, plus a surprisingly delicious pan of fried

bread.

Scully sat with her elbows on the rickety table, drinking

her deep, rich, coffee and decided that the man did know

how to make a pot of coffee.

Mulder burst through the door. “Scully come quick.”

“Let me guess: Bambi,” Scully sighed.

Bambi sat on the edge of the porch, covered in little red

dots. Scully had to admit they contrasted nicely with the

poison ivy rash on her arms. She took one look at Bambi and

turned her head toward Stumpy. “What kind of eggs were

those?”

“Goose eggs,” Stumpy replied.

Bambi sighed. “I’m allergic to pate.”

Scully retrieved her medical bag and pulled out two more

tablets. “I’m running out of Benadryl, so watch what you

brush up against, step in, or eat.”

“Thanks, Agent Scully,” the itching Bambi said.

“I think we better leave these two here while we comb the

woods, Scully.”

“I think you’re right, Mulder.”

“No!” Stumpy protested, “Ah was fixin’ ta go wiff Dana.”

Mulder frowned at the little man. “Don’t you have a still

to tend to?”

“Shit!” Stumpy mumbled and took off up the hill.

“I think I made your boyfriend mad,” Mulder teased.

“Can we just get on with it,” Scully snapped.

Both agents walked into the woods, never losing sight of

one another or the stream. After several hours of looking

around, they followed the stream back to Stumpy’s place.

They found him sitting on the edge of the porch, knife

drawn, whittling on a stick. He jumped up when he saw

Scully coming up the path.

“How’s Bambi?” she asked.

Stumpy frowned, “Next time, she’s goin’ wiff y’all. Dat

woman yammers on somepin’ fierce. Told me der was 27

diff’ent sally-manders in dis here park.”

“The woman knows her National Park,” Scully said, as she

brushed past Stumpy.

Mulder and Scully stopped just outside the shack. “So, what

do we know now?” he asked her.

“Not much,” Scully squinted in the noonday sun.

“We have a sighting by two kids.”

“Looking to get high.”

Mulder frowned down at Scully. “Bambi saw something.”

“She saw Stumpy.”

“That’s possible, but what did Stumpy see then?”

“I don’t know,” Scully sighed. “Maybe swamp gas, maybe

nothing!”

“Or, just maybe a moth man.”

“Mulder, remember when I said you were a member of the

Manson family? Well I take that back. You’re a member of

the Osbournes!”

“Scully, something is out there.”

Scully dropped her head. “So what do you suggest we do

now?”

Mulder just stared into the deep woods.

Scully flung out her arms. “Mulder, we have got a woman

here who is in need of proper medical attention and quite

frankly, I’m running low on medical supplies.”

“You’re right Scully, you and Bambi need to have Stumpy

take you out of the woods.”

“Bambi and me! Mulder, just what do you think you’re going

to do?”

“I’m going to hang around here and look for the moth men.

I’ll only be a few days, what can it hurt?”

“Oh no! You’re not ditching me, not with her, not alone.”

Scully was really riled up now.

“Scully, I’ll be okay,” Mulder whispered.

“It’s not you I’m worried about, Mulder,” Scully said

through clenched teeth. “I’d be safer out here than with

that woman,” Scully glared at her partner.

Mulder looked up to see Stumpy bringing in a load of

firewood. “Hey, Stumpy, come here.”

The little man dropped the wood and approached Mulder.

“Stumpy, would you lead Agent Scully and Doctor Berenbaum

back to the Cable Mill trailhead?”

Scully frowned, crossed her arms, and shifted her weight to

one rigid leg.

Stumpy looked at Scully then motioned for Mulder to follow

him. Both men walked to within a few feet of the forest

edge. “Ag’nt Mulder, Ah’d really like ta hep ya out but Ah

ain’t a gonna do it.”

Mulder looked down at the small man, with an incredulous

look on his face. Stumpy put his arm around Mulder’s back,

drawing him down. “Ag’nt Mulder, we’s boff men of da world.

Ah got ma eye on dat feisty lil’ red head or’ der. Ah’m

plyin’ her wiff ma manly ways, an’ ah think she’s comin’

’round. Ah ain’t ’bout ta give up now.” Stumpy laughed

while Mulder was speechless. “So ya see ifn’ Ah took ‘er

otta here she cain’t git ta know da real Stumpy. Ah got

things ta offer ‘er.” Stumpy smiled and showed his gold

tooth.

Mulder stood up and walked past Scully. “You win, he won’t

take you two out of here.”

“Why not?” Scully questioned.

Mulder spun around. “Apparently, he wants to get you into

the sack.”

“What?” Scully exclaimed, with her eyes now wide. She

turned to see Stumpy smiling at her, while the sunlight

glinted off his gold tooth.

Mulder stalked up the steps to the shack. Scully followed

him, with Stumpy hot on her heels.

Bambi was sitting in a chair, holding a wet cloth to her

black eye. “Did you see anything, Fox?”

“No,” Mulder muttered, “we didn’t.”

Stumpy tossed a few more pieces of kindling on the fire.

“So, what now?” Bambi asked, removing the cloth.

“We leave,” Mulder huffed.

“No!” Stumpy yelled.

“No!” Bambi screamed.

Mulder and Scully both looked at the naysayers.

Bambi spoke up. “Look Fox, if there really is a giant moth,

or a half-moth half-man insect out there, I want to find

it. This could do a lot to validate my career and get me

back on the fast track in entomology.”

Scully huffed, “Entomology has a fast track?”

Bambi looked at Scully with one wide-eye. “Agent Scully,

you have no idea the amount of grant money there is out

there. One doctor I know investigated the life cycle of the

dung beetle, and now he’s driving a Beammer.”

Scully was now the wide-eyed one.

“So,” Mulder spoke up, “we’re staying?”

“I guess,” Scully muttered, walking out of the shack.

Mulder followed her down to the stream. Scully sat on a

rock and Mulder sat down next to her. “Okay Scully, what

gives, and don’t say ‘I’m fine’.”

Scully looked up at her partner, let out a little laugh,

then looked down. “Mulder, how long have we been in a more

personal relationship?”

“Long enough.”

Scully looked at her hands. “I guess I thought things would

change.”

“What kind of things?”

“I don’t know. Mulder, answer me one question; did you call

Bambi to just get under my skin, or was there more to it?”

“Scully, I didn’t do either. She is a qualified

entomologist and remember, you pretty much cut my legs out

from under me back in the office.” Mulder draped his arm

over her shoulder. “You know how I am, I’m a man on a

mission, and I know at times I bowl over you.”

“At times?” Scully smiled.

Mulder nuzzled her hair, “But, there is no one I’d rather

have covering my back,” he laughed, “or my front.”

They both grinned. “Are we okay?”

“Yeah, we are,” Scully said, as Mulder held her close.

They walked back to the shack and found Stumpy gone, with

Bambi changed into the clothes Scully had dried the night

before.

“Just my luck,” Scully said motioning to Bambi. “She burns

down the tent and I’m the one with no clothes.”

“I do have a couple of spare T-shirts you’re welcome to.”

“I’ll swim in those things Mulder, but I guess it’s better

than walking around ripe all day. Thanks.”

Mulder climbed up the porch to retrieve the T-shirt. Scully

walked over to where Bambi was leaning against the porch

railing. “I could use a smoke.” Bambi caught the frown

Scully gave her. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay. How are you feeling?”

“Okay. I only hope we get to see the moth men.” Bambi

turned to Scully. “I envy you, Agent Scully.”

“Envy. Me?” Scully asked, incredulously.

“Yes. You lead this exciting life, never knowing where you

are going to be from one moment to the next, with a partner

who cares about you. Meanwhile, I sit behind a microscope

and look at bugs.” Bambi let out a sigh and crossed her

arms over her chest as she looked out over the mountains.

Scully looked at the woman standing before her. She was

battered and bruised, but still refused to give up. Scully

was reminded of someone else she knew and had to smile. “My

life isn’t so exciting,” Scully said, while she shuffled

her feet and stared down at the ground. “There’s lots of

dead ends, endless stakeouts, and reams of paper work.”

Scully looked up at Bambi. “Doctor Berenbaum are you

serious about wanting a job like mine?”

“I am, but I could never be half the agent you or Fox are.”

Scully smiled at the other woman. “Thanks, but there are

other jobs at the Bureau that are just as exciting without

the danger.”

“Really? You think I could work for the FBI?”

“Of course. You’re in a field that is just opening up in

law enforcement. I know of a case that was solved by

finding a rare bug lodged in the grillwork of the suspect’s

car.”

Bambi smiled at Scully. “Thanks, Agent Scully. I’ll

consider that.”

Mulder came out of the shack and tossed a T-shirt at

Scully. “Go change. Stumpy and I have a plan.”

Scully came out of the bushes tucking the heather gray T-

shirt into her jeans. Mulder looked her over. “Well, that

fits rather nicely, Agent Scully.”

“It did when I cut off two feet of it,” Scully said,

tossing the bottom half of his T-shirt at him. Mulder was

speechless.

They all gathered around the porch. Bambi stood to the left

of Mulder while Scully was on his right, and Stumpy was

tight against Scully.

Mulder began, “Stumpy and I have come up with a plan.”

“Yup,” Stumpy agreed, and nodded his head, “we got us a

plan.”

Mulder looked at Stumpy and continued. “He says the only

time he has seen the moth man was last night at our

campsite.”

Stumpy smiled at Scully, “Dat twern’t me.”

“So my suggestion is Scully, Stumpy and I hike back to our

campsite and stake out the place. Bambi can stay here.”

“No,” Scully shook her head. “If one of us goes, we all

go.”

Bambi’s face lit up as Scully glanced at her. Mulder looked

at Bambi then back at Scully. “Okay, then, we all go. Let’s

get packed.”

Bambi whispered, “Thanks, Agent Scully.” Scully nodded

back to Doctor Berenbaum.

They gathered up what supplies they had left, plus what

Stumpy could scrounge up, and headed out to their former

campsite. Bambi was walking next to Mulder, while Stumpy

was walking next to and eyeing Scully.

“Did you know that this national park is home to more

varieties of snakes than any other federal park,” Bambi

rambled.

Stumpy visibly shuttered, “Ah hates snakes!”

“Really,” Scully replied, “I would think living up here,

like you do, you would be used to them.”

“Dana, Ah live wiff da park rangers but dat don’t mean Ah

has ta like ’em.”

Mulder smiled at that one.

Stumpy continued on. “Ah nev’r trusts no thing wiff out

legs nor arms. Dat’s jus’ evil. ‘Member it twas a snake

what made ol’ Adam eat da apple.”

Scully was surprised by Stumpy’s twisted version of

biblical history.

“Der ain’t much ol’ Stumpy heer’s askeered of, but

revenuers, rangers and snakes is two of ’em.

Mulder frowned at Stumpy’s math but decided to let it pass.

“Did you know there are over sixty different mammals in the

park, Mr. Ogle?” Bambi asked.

“Bet ah done et mos’ of ’em, too,” Stumpy laughed.

Mulder chuckled while Scully smiled.

Finally the quartet broke through to their original meeting

place.

“Home sweet home,” Scully muttered.

“Let’s set up camp again and eat. Then we need to put our

plan into action,” Mulder said, removing his pack.

“Just what is this plan you and Stumpy have cooked up,

Mulder?” Scully asked, removing her own pack.

“Scully, the moth men stole our cell phone, our food, and

Bambi’s cigarettes. I think we should set a trap.”

Scully looked up at Mulder. “And just what kind of trap do

you suggest?”

Mulder walked over to his pack and pulled out his

binoculars, some sunflower seeds, and a can of beans. “Our

offering.”

“So you think we just set this stuff out there and wait for

the giant-winged, glowing-eyed, moth men to show up.”

Mulder nudged Scully’s shoulder. “It worked for the Great

Mutato.”

“I’m setting up the tent,” Scully glared at him and walked

away.

“You really think we’ll see it, Fox?” Bambi asked

innocently.

“We’ve got nothing to lose trying,” Mulder shrugged.

They shared some fried bread Stumpy brought along, and

mixed up a few eggs and potatoes, with Bambi refraining

from eating the eggs.

The cookware was gathered up and washed, this time without

incident, while Bambi packed away the food and straightened

up the tent.

Stumpy helped Scully gather up firewood. Even though she

could do it quicker alone, he wanted to be helpful. He

demanded she let him carry the wood back to the campsite,

always insisting he could carry more. Scully had to smile

at the effort he was putting into wooing her.

By late afternoon, all the chores had been done and the

trap set, but Scully was still not convinced it would work.

“Stumpy,” Mulder called the little man over.

“Yes sir.” Stumpy stood at attention, after all it was his

and Mulder’s plan.

“You stay here with Dr. Berenbaum, while Agent Scully and I

examine the perimeter.”

“Yes sir, will do, Ag’nt Mulder.” Stumpy saluted, proudly

taking his work seriously.

Mulder grinned down at the small man and pulled out his ID.

Handing it to Stumpy he said, “Here take this, just in case

someone shows up while we’re gone.”

Stumpy looked down at the gold and silver badge in the soft

leather case with the letters FBI emblazoned across it. He

held it with great reverence. “Thank ya, Ag’nt Mulder, ah

won’t let ya down.” He began to patrol the campsite while

Mulder smiled to himself.

“Come on Scully, and bring your weapon,” Mulder told her as

he checked his own clip.

The two agents walked into the woods, careful once again to

keep the mountain stream within their sight. Scully slowly

walked to the right side of Mulder but suddenly stopped.

“Mulder look,” she said, pointing down to the ground.

Mulder walked over to see the empty containers that once

held their food, littering the ground, and his cell phone

busted into little, tiny pieces.

Scully stooped down and pulled an evidence bag out of her

jacket while Mulder put on a latex glove. He carefully

placed the bits of phone in one bag and the trash into the

other.

“We might get prints off these,” Scully said, as she got up

and zipped the bag shut.

“Or we might not,” Mulder responded. “Come on, let’s get

back and see what Bambi has injured this time.”

Scully smiled at her partner as they made their way back to

the camp. She parted the bushes and stopped dead in her

tracks, “What the hell!”

Bambi and Stumpy were sitting on a log, sharing the largest

joint Scully had ever seen. Her mouth dropped open as she

looked back at her partner.

“Well, that explains a lot,” he wisecracked.

Bambi waved at the two approaching agents. “Fox, Stumpy had

some tobacco on him, so we rolled our own.”

“I can see that,” Mulder said, walking up to the duo.

Bambi puffed out a blue smoke ring. “It’s actually not too

bad.”

Scully ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “Just try not to

burn down the forest.”

Bambi passed the huge, hand-rolled cigarette to Stumpy. He

took a drag and passed it back to her. She licked her

fingers then brought them together on the end of the

cigarette, snuffing out the stogie, before she pocketed the

remainder. Scully was speechless.

Mulder began, “We found our food, or what’s left of it.” He

held up one of the evidence bags. “And my cell phone,” he

said, holding up the other bag.

“So who, or what did that?” Bambi asked.

“We’re not sure, but tonight I think we’ll catch our

perpetrator”

Stumpy spoke up, “Ah thought we wuz lookin’ fer da moth

men?”

“We are,” Mulder assured him, “just wait until dark.”

Scully mixed up some presentable mushroom soup, made from

the sponges Stumpy had found, along with the few canned

goods they had brought from his place.

Mulder had a good-sized fire going, while Bambi had her

nose stuck in her guidebook. “It says here that over two

thousands species of mushrooms grow in the park.”

Scully chose to ignore that little bit of trivia. She was

finding it hard to pick on a woman who was swathed in

bandages.

They sat down to eat, with Mulder sitting on a large

boulder and Bambi near the fire, while Scully and Stumpy

shared a log.

“So Stumpy, whatever possessed you to brew ‘shine, way up

here in the woods?” Mulder asked the little man, who was

sopping up the last of his soup with a piece of fried

bread.

“Well sir, Ah done inherited it from ma pa. See he got it

from his pa, what brewed ‘shine a fore dis here park were a

park. Ma fambily been in diss-tillin’ fer or’ a huner’d

years, kinda like dem Busch boys in Saint Louie, ‘cept Ah

only got one still, an’ no big purdy horses like day does.”

“I see,” Mulder said, finishing up his soup. “So you never

wanted to do anything but brew alcohol?”

Stumpy thought, “Der is one thing Ah drempt o’ bein’, but

nev’r got ta do.”

“What was that?” Scully asked.

“Ah al’ays wanted ta be a elf.” Stumpy grinned at Scully.

“An elf?” Scully repeated.

“Ya know Dana, one a dose tiny lil’ men what works fer

Santee. Ah could make da toys. Ah’s real good at

whittlin'”. The little man grinned at her.

Scully looked at Stumpy, not quite knowing what to say.

Mulder just nodded his head and changed the subject. “It’s

nearly sundown, let’s get ready to put our plan into

action.”

Scully and Stumpy did the dishes in the stream, while Bambi

and Mulder set out the moth men bait.

“Okay Mulder, what’s next?” Scully asked as she put away

their cooking pot.

“Make sure your gun is loaded and keep it handy. You, Bambi

and I will go into the tent just like before, then Stumpy

will disappear into the woods. You and I slip out the back.

From there, each of us will take up a position surrounding

the campsite. Bambi will be at 12 o’clock, with you at 3,

Stumpy at 6 and me at 9. One of us is bound to see

something, if it shows up.”

“Sounds good to me, Fox,” Bambi said.

“I guess it could work,” Scully reluctantly agreed.

“That’s the spirit,” Mulder said as he nudged her shoulder.

They sat around the fire until the moon was high.

“Stumpy, you ready?” Mulder asked.

Stumpy nodded in the affirmative.

“Okay, let’s go,” Mulder got up from the fire and

stretched, being careful to make sure Bambi was at arms

length.

Bambi crawled into the tent first, then Scully and Mulder.

“Bambi, you just yell, Scully and I will be just outside,”

Mulder reminded her.

“Okay, Fox,” Bambi nodded with apprehension in her voice.

Mulder held up the back of the tent, so Scully could crawl

out. Then he followed her. The agents unsnapped their guns

from the holsters. “You okay, Scully?”

“Yeah,” Scully responded.

Mulder put his hand on her shoulder and with a gentle

squeeze, he nodded his head for her to go to the right.

Scully smiled at him and nodded in return, then she took

off into the darkness. Mulder turned the opposite

direction, and disappeared into the night.

Stumpy squatted down in the bushes across from the

campsite. He could see the tent outlined against the fire.

The bushes to either side of the tent moved, as Mulder and

Scully took their places.

Bambi huddled alone in the tent. She absent-mindedly pulled

the large cigarette out of her pocket, then thought better

of it and returned it.

Scully took her place behind a tree, both the tent and the

bait were within her line of sight. She heard the bushes

next to her crackle and jumped, not from fear but from

nerves.

Mulder crouched down behind a large boulder. He scanned the

campsite, with his eyes always returning to the bait. He

tensely fingered the gun he held in his hand.

Stumpy felt something brush against his ankle. He swatted

at it but the sensation did not go away. He swatted at it

again. A strange look crossed his face. He lifted his hand,

to find it holding a snake! His eyes bulged out, he began

to shake, and he dropped the creature to the ground. His

screams could be heard over all 500,000 acres of parkland.

Bambi screamed in reaction to Stumpy’s scream. She tried to

get out of the tent but it collapsed around her.

Scully heard Stumpy and Bambi’s screams. She looked to her

left to see many glowing eyes. The eyes stared at her,

unblinking and unmoving. She raised her gun and yelled,

“Federal agent, freeze!” But the eyes only continued to

stare. She backed off, firing a couple of rounds into the

air, but the eyes never flinched.

Mulder heard Stumpy and Bambi’s screams, and the gunshots,

along with miscellaneous noises. He took off toward the

sound of the gun fire yelling, “Scully!” He too saw

numerous glowing eyes that never blinked or moved. He

yelled, “I’m a federal agent, come out.” The eyes appeared

to all leave, or dim at once. He ran toward them.

Stumpy raced through the campsite, screaming at the top of

his lungs, “Snnnnaaaaaakkkkkkkeeeeeee!”

Bambi finally managed to crawl out of the tent while Scully

passed Stumpy from the opposite direction. Bambi stepped

into Scully, they crashed together with Scully’s gun flying

into the air. They saw it silhouetted against the fire just

before it landed in the middle of the burning logs. Scully

grabbed Bambi by the hand and dragged her behind a large

rock. “Get down!” Scully yelled, as the ammo in her gun

began to cook off. They hid behind the rock until the sound

of the rounds going off ceased.

“That was close,” Bambi said.

“Too close,” Scully replied, then frowned and looked

around. “Where is Mulder?”

Bambi also looked around, “I don’t know. I thought he was

with you.”

Scully was suddenly aware that her partner was missing and

sighed. “Oh hell, where is he?”

Bambi and Scully began to call out for Mulder. “Shhh,”

Scully said, “let me call, and we’ll both listen.” She

called out for him but received no answering call. She

continued calling as they ventured into the woods. A soft

moan was heard. Scully called Mulder’s name once more.

“Agent Scully!” Bambi yelled, “I’ve found him!”

Scully raced to where Bambi was standing and pointing over

the edge of an overhang. “Look, there he is.”

Scully looked over the edge. About 15 feet below, she

spotted him. “Mulder,” she gasped.

Act III

Mulder was lying on his back with his arms spread out. At

first, Scully was certain he had at the least done some

tendon and ligament damage to his back. The image that

haunted her most was the sight of his head lying against

the rocks, while blood trickled down his right eyebrow.

Scully scanned the cliff and finally discovered a safe path

to take her down to him. She tucked her flashlight into her

waistband and turned to Bambi. “You stay here.”

“No,” Bambi said, “you’ll need me to help move him.”

Scully stopped her descent. “Not likely. I need you to stay

here until I check him out.” Then she added, “If I fall,

you’ll have to go get help.”

“Right,” Bambi firmly said.

Scully shinnied down the steep cliff, hanging on to the

exposed tree roots to slow her descent. She finally made it

down to her injured partner. She gently ran her fingers

over his cheek. “Mulder, it’s

me. Hey, partner, can you hear me?”

Mulder didn’t respond or move. Scully switched into doctor

mode and began to check her partner’s injuries. His legs

and arms didn’t appear to be broken she was relieved to

note. She checked his ribs and abdomen. His ribs were

probably badly bruised but didn’t appear to be broken,

either. She slapped his cheek, trying to rouse him.

“Mulder, Mulder, it’s me.”

Mulder finally moaned, “Mom?”

Scully was shocked then she saw the small smile that

crossed his face. “Mulder! You shit!” She smiled, as a

sense of relief fell over her.

Scully yelled up to Bambi, “He’s coming around.”

Bambi started down, but Scully yelled up to her, “No Bambi,

I need you to grab the sleeping bag, and the thermal

blankets, then get my medical bag and canteen.” Bambi did

as she was asked.

Mulder moaned. “Steady Mulder, I’m here,” Scully softly

said.

“What happened?” Mulder asked as he tried to touch the

nasty bump that was forming on his head.

“You fell over a cliff.”

Mulder opened his eyes. “Is it bad?”

Scully ran her fingers through his hair and softly said. “I

don’t think so. Can you move your arms and legs?”

Mulder tried to move, letting out a soft moan, “Yeah, but

my ass is killing me.” He shifted and removed a jagged rock

the size of a baseball from under his left hip. “Ahh,

that’s better, but now my head is killing me.”

“That’s better than usual.” Then Scully smiled, “it’s good

you can move, but not good that it hurts.”

“Where’s everyone?” Mulder asked.

“Bambi is here, but Stumpy was scared off by a snake.”

“Oh, I remember now.” He winced, as he touched his brow.

Just then Bambi appeared in the moonlight. “I’ve got what

you asked for, Agent Scully.”

“Good. Toss the sleeping bag and blankets down, then you

climb down.”

“Gotcha.”

Bambi made her way down the cliff, just as Scully had

earlier. “How is he?” She quietly asked.

“I’m fine.” Mulder replied.

“Isn’t that my line, partner,” Scully quietly said. “He can

move and so far, nothing appears broken,” she told Bambi.

“But he tends to go into shock easily. We need to keep him

warm.”

Mulder glared at her but kept his thoughts to himself.

Scully ran her hand over Mulder’s cheek. “You just hang in

there. I need to take care of that cut on your forehead.”

She took her medical bag and began to care for Mulder.

“Bambi, can you cover him with the sleeping bag.”

Bambi placed the flashlight under her arm, and grabbed the

sleeping bag. “Where do you think Stumpy got to?”

“I have no idea. As scared as he was, he’s probably still

running.”

Bambi tucked the sleeping bag around Mulder, while Scully

had him track her finger and answer some routine questions.

Satisfied, that he didn’t have a concussion, she set to

dressing the wound.

“Scully, we can’t stay here. Let me try to get up.”

She let go of his arm and he started to get up but sat down

again abruptly. “Ow! Everything hurts!”

“Stay put for a while, you took quite a tumble,” she told

him, stroking his forehead.

Mulder sighed. “You’re probably right.”

“Here, drink this Fox,” Bambi said, offering the canteen to

him. “Easy, easy.”

“Thanks,” Mulder replied, glad to have the liquid.

“I think we better settle in here for the night,” Scully

said, looking down the steep cliff.

Mulder huddled under the sleeping bag. “Are you cold?”

Scully asked with concern in her voice.

“I’ll be okay.” Mulder slowly closed his eyes then asked,

“Scully?”

“Yeah, Mulder.”

“You did see them, didn’t you?”

“I’m not sure what I saw.” Sensing Mulder’s frustration at

her words, she added, “But I did see something. You need to

get some sleep.”

“What about you and Bambi?”

“We’ll be fine. We’ll take turns sleeping,” Scully said

looking around at the pitch-blackness that surrounded them.

“Mulder, where is your weapon?”

“I lost it during my fall. Where’s yours?”

Scully sighed, “It’s a long story.”

Bambi had been unfolding the thermal blanket, but stopped

and began to search the cliff with the beam of her

flashlight. “Agent Scully, I found Fox’s gun.”

Scully’s eyes followed the beam to a spot just below them.

Mulder’s weapon was caught up in the thicket.

“I think I can just reach it,” Bambi said, as she began to

slide down the side of the cliff.

“Bambi, don’t!” Scully suddenly grew concerned.

Bambi looked up at Scully. “It’s okay, I can get it.”

She eased her way down the side of the cliff and was within

inches of grabbing the gun, when the gravel above started

to slide. She covered her head while Scully held her

breath. With one last lunge, Bambi managed to snag Mulder’s

weapon. She dug her heels into the loose soil and pushed

herself back up to Mulder and Scully. She handed the gun to

Scully, who blanched when she realized the safety was off.

“Thanks, Bambi.”

Scully was holding Mulder’s head on her lap while he dozed.

She checked his pulse again, and found it, strong and

steady.

Bambi spoke up, “Did you know over nine million people

visit the park each year?”

Scully looked around into the darkness, “Yeah, well, where

are they when we need them.”

Bambi passed one of the thermal blankets to Scully and

covered herself with the other. “What do you think is out

there, Agent Scully?”

“I don’t know, but at least we have some protection now.”

Bambi smiled, glad for once she could be of some help.

“Bambi, you should get some sleep. I need to watch Mulder

for a little while longer.”

“Okay, but in a few hours, I’ll relieve you and stand

guard.”

Scully had to smile at that thought. “Sure.” She snuggled

into Mulder, just a little tighter and placed her own

blanket over him. She threaded her fingers through his

soft, sable brown hair and waited for daylight to break,

and hopefully, for help to come.

The sun was starting to peek over the edge of the trees.

“Agent Scully, Agent Scully!” Scully was jolted awake by

Bambi’s soft but frantic calling of her name. “I heard

something.”

Scully slid out from under her sleeping partner’s head and

stood up, raising the gun. The noise grew closer to the

edge of the cliff when suddenly two eyes appeared. “What

cha doin’ down der?”

“Stumpy,” Scully sighed and dropped her shoulders. Then she

regained her composure. “Agent Mulder is hurt! We need

help!”

“Ah done brung it,” Stumpy smiled down at them.

Another face appeared over the edge, it seemed familiar,

but Scully couldn’t place it. Then it hit her! “Sheriff

Hartwell?”

Mulder looked up at the dreamy-eyed, arguably, large-

toothed man staring down at them and let out an audible

groan.

Scully turned her concern to Mulder, unaware of the actual

cause of his groan. “It’s okay, you’ll be out of here

soon.”

The man above them removed his hat. “Ma’am, and it’s not

Sheriff Hartwell, it’s Ranger Hartwell. I work for the

Federal Forestry Service now.”

clip_image005

Scully smiled up at Ranger Hartwell as he said, “We got

help on the way.”

Scully turned to Bambi. “You stay here with Mulder, while I

talk to the officer.” She worked her way up the cliff, with

Ranger Hartwell and Stumpy giving her a hand at the top.

“Agent Scully,” Ranger Hartwell smiled. “I figured it had

to be you.”

“But how did you know?” Scully asked, with a puzzled look

on her face.

“Well, I wasn’t too set on believin’ your friend here,” he

nodded toward Stumpy, “until he produced Agent Mulder’s

badge and ID, then I knew he wasn’t pullin’ my leg.”

“We need a backboard and some medical supplies.”

“They’re on the way,” Ranger Hartwell replied as he pointed

to a tiny dot on the horizon, that Scully came to recognize

as a rescue helicopter. She heaved a sigh of relief.

Ranger Hartwell’s radio suddenly came to life and he began

to give directions to the chopper pilot.

“He gonna be okay?” Stumpy asked Scully.

“He’ll be fine, thanks to you, Stumpy.” She leaned over and

hugged the little man, then placed a quick peck on his

dirty cheek.

“Aww,” Stumpy chuckled and shuffled his feet. Scully

thought she could see him blush under all the grime.

The park rescue team members recoiled down ropes, that were

dropped from the chopper, and begin to work on getting

Mulder back up the side of the cliff.

Scully started to climb back over the cliff, when a hand

stopped her. It was one of the team members, she couldn’t

hear him due to the noise of the chopper rotors, but she

assumed he didn’t want her going over the cliff. She stayed

put, leaning over so she could see the activity below. They

might be able to stop her from reaching her partner, but

they sure as hell couldn’t keep her from watching their

every move.

Soon, they had Mulder loaded into a wire mesh basket, over

his strenuous objection. As the basket was being pulled up,

Mulder gave Scully a glare as he passed her, and a look

that told her he thought she was overreacting again. She

shot him a huge grin and a wave.

He was loaded in the chopper to be taken to Baptist

Hospital in Knoxville. Scully continued to stare at the

helicopter as it disappeared over the horizon.

Ranger Hartwell approached Scully. “Ma’am, if you’re ready,

we can. . .” Suddenly, he stopped and looked past Scully.

“Who is that?” he asked, as he spotted the doe-eyed doctor

crawling over the edge of the cliff.

Scully turned to look over her shoulder. “That is Dr.

Berenbaum, she’s an entomol. . .” Before Scully could

finish, the ex-sheriff blew past her and was helping Bambi

up.

He tipped his hat, “Howdy ma’am. You look like you could

use a little medical attention of yer own.”

Bambi pushed a lock of matted hair away from her dirty face

and sighed. “It’s been a long trip.”

The ex-sheriff offered Bambi his arm. “I’m Ranger Lucius

Hartwell but you can just call me Luke.” He walked Bambi to

his waiting Jeep.

Scully was watching the mating ritual unfolding before her

with a raised eyebrow. As the new couple walked past her

she could hear Bambi say, “Luke, did you know that the

Armillaria mellea or honey mushroom that grows in the park,

gives off light at night.”

“No, I didn’t, that’s interesting,” the ex-sheriff said

with a goofy grin on his face.

Just then it hit Scully! “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” She walked

over to Bambi and glared at her. “They glow!”

“That’s right,” Bambi replied, still looking at Ranger

Hartwell.

“Like eyes?” Scully spit out.

“I guess so,” Bambi absent-mindedly responded as she hung

on to Luke’s arm.

Scully stood with her arms crossed over her chest, “And

just when did you discover this little nugget of

information?”

Bambi had to stop and think. “It was between spraining my

ankle and setting the tent on fire.”

“And you never thought to tell us!”

“Bambi shrugged her shoulders. “I didn’t think you would

find it interesting.”

Scully was steaming. “Find it interesting! Did it ever

occur to you, that what we might be seeing was not moth

men’s glowing-eyes, but glowing fungi!”

Bambi was looking deep into the Ranger’s eyes. “You know,

Agent Scully, you might be right.” She and Ranger Hartwell

started walking toward the jeep. Scully could hear Bambi

say, “Did I tell you I might be joining the FBI. Oh, and

Luke, you can call me Bambi.”

Scully was standing in the middle of their campsite, her

hair full of twigs and dirt, her clothing torn and ratty,

and her partner on his way to the hospital. She turned to

see Stumpy lovingly admiring her, and sighed, “Come on

Stumpy, let’s go.” She bent over to grab her jacket and

noticed something strange. She walked to the stump where

the moth men bait had been sitting and ran her finger over

the now bare stump. She glanced around before putting on

her jacket. Then she caught up with Stumpy at the Jeep.

Epilogue

6 hours later ~

Dana Scully’s heels gave off a staccato click on the tile

at Knoxville’s Baptist Hospital as she pushed open the door

to her partner’s room. Mulder had on a full pout as she

laid a bouquet of flowers on his bedside table.

“Don’t get all misty-eyed,” Scully joked, “I got orders

from my mom to pick these up for you.”

“You’re trying to make up for my spending the next 18 hours

being poked and prodded,” Mulder replied, in a raspy voice.

Scully pulled up a chair, “How’s the butt?” Then she

motioned with her finger, “and the ribs and the head?”

Mulder couldn’t stay mad, not after what he’d put her

through over the last few days. “Pretty good.” He dropped

his eyes, and fingered the thin hospital blanket.

Scully sensed he was feeling a little low about the case.

“What’s wrong? They’ll cut you loose by noon tomorrow?”

He gave no reply, just continued to fiddle with the loose

weave of the blanket.

“Mulder, we still solved the case. What people were seeing

were just the mushrooms glowing.”

“I guess, but I had hoped for more.”

Scully looked at him, sat back in the chair, and shook her

head.

“What?” Mulder questioned.

“Nothing,” Scully smiled at him. Silence filled the room

for a few moments then Scully began, “You never cease to

amaze me. You are bruised, battered and yet you still want

to believe.”

Mulder smiled, “That’s what I am Scully, you should know

that by now.”

Scully lowered the bed rail and leaned over the edge,

sitting on her hip.

Mulder laughed, “If you weren’t so damn short Scully, you

could crawl up here and make me very happy.”

Scully grabbed him gently by the head. “Mulder, my stature

has nothing to do with my ability to make you happy.” She

planted a soft, wet, kiss on Mulder’s lips.

Just then the door slowly opened, and in walked Stumpy. He

looked around like this was his first time in a hospital,

or a big city, which it probably was. “Hey der, Ag’nt

Mulder, I brung ya yer badge,” Stumpy quietly said, as he

pulled Mulder’s badge out of his overalls pocket. He

breathed on it and polished it on his sleeve before

solemnly handing it to Mulder.

“Thanks, Stumpy,” Mulder said as Scully moved off the bed

to stand next to him.

Stumpy headed for the door when Scully called him back. “If

you ever need anything Stumpy, you call us.”

Stumpy grinned at Scully. “Thank ya Dana, Ah will.” Then he

shuffled his feet and looked down at the floor. “Well, Ah

best be gittin’ back.” With that he left the room.

The door opened once more and Dr. Berenbaum and Ranger

Hartwell entered. “Agent Mulder, how are you feeling?”

Bambi questioned as she walked toward the bed.

Scully stood her ground, near the head of Mulder’s bed and

didn’t budge.

“Much better. How about you?” Mulder asked.

Bambi looked down at all her injuries. “It takes more than

this to get me down.”

Ranger Hartwell snickered, like it was the funniest thing

he had ever heard. Bambi smiled coyly at him.

“Thanks for all your help,” Mulder said, then glanced at

Scully, who finally got his drift.

“Oh yes, thanks for all your help.” Scully said it more for

Mulder’s benefit than Bambi’s.

“Agent Scully,” Bambi began, “I’ve decided I won’t be

seeking employment with the FBI.”

“Oh really,” Scully replied, trying not to sound so happy.

“That’s right,” Bambi said, reaching out and grabbing

Ranger Hartwell’s hand. She looked longingly into his eyes

as he returned the stare. “I’m staying here with Luke to

become a park ranger, so I won’t be needing that job.”

Ranger Hartwell grinned at Mulder and Scully then tipped

his hat. “Agents, nice to see you’re both fine.” He turned

to Bambi, “Come on, my little Vampira.”

Bambi giggled, “I think that is so cute.” They walked out

the door, hand-in-hand.

Scully stood next to Mulder’s bed with her mouth open then

regained her composure, “Mulder do you think we should

warn. . .”

“Nope.”

“But Mul. . .”

“No. That’s a woman who obviously knows what she wants.”

Scully ruffled Mulder’s hair. “And so am I.”

Mulder chuckled at Scully’s remark, then she softly added,

“And you’re right, he does have big, buck teeth.”

Kroner, Kansas

Two weeks later. . .

It’s was pink, cotton-candy-sky evening when their rinky-

dinky van, covered in an array of bumper stickers ranging

from ‘Proud people don’t pollute’ to ‘Got weed?’, pulled

into the small town of Kroner. After their grisly

experience in the Smoky Mountains, these two had hit the

road and never looked back.

“Why are we here, AJ?” Sharon asked, with her feet propped

up on the dashboard and a can of beer in her hand.

AJ looked over at her with dopey eyes. “There is some

freaky weather around here. Remember, when our friend Curt

was out here with his girlfriend while that high school

reunion was on going, and that flying cow crashed into the

hotel room next to his,” he said with a laugh.

Sharon furrowed her brow. “A flying cow?”

“Yeah, well a twister picked it up,” he explained before

sticking a cigarette in his mouth and lighting it. “But you

got to admit, it would be pretty cool to see a cow fly,” he

mumbled between drags on his cigarette.

“Uh huh,” Sharon said eyeing AJ, as he puffed away.

“There’s been more freaky stuff than that Curt told me,” he

continued, as swirls of smoke coil from his mouth. “He

heard one time it rained rose petals here for nearly an

hour. Freaking rose petals, Sharon!” AJ exclaimed, before a

cough overtook him.

As they drove through the small town, Sharon noticed a sign

in big green letters that read, ‘Kroner Farmers Festival’.

Crowds of people occupied both sides of the street where

tables held boxes of vegetables for sale, while kid’s

swarmed around the face painting booth and the candy

stands.

As they cruised through the festival, Sharon sighed, “So

far I don’t see anything freaky. Seems like Dullsville to

me.”

AJ stopped at a crosswalk to let a tall, thin man, dressed

in a sport coat, with a blonde woman in a paisley dress at

his side, pass in front of them. A young boy with curly

hair shuffled along between them, with his little arms

crossed and his bottom lip stuck out in a pout.

“I want candy!” the little boy cried out as his parents

pull him along. They didn’t notice the dark clouds

gathering across the sky. A sudden strike of lightning

flashed, with a roar of thunder rumbling behind it.

“Whoa, dude!” AJ said in wonder. “Looks like a storm coming

up.”

The little boy paused in the middle of the street and

uncrossed his arms. Suddenly a fierce wind blew down the

row of booths. The little boy’s mother grabbed him by the

hand and dragged him across the street. Just as they

stepped onto the curb, a truck came around the corner, and

the high wind caught it. It ran amuck and hit one of the

candy stands. M&M’s, Hershey bars, and Gummy Bears, rained

down upon the crowd. The little boy held out his hands and

gleefully gathered in the candy by the fist full.

The blonde woman rolled her eyes and yelled at her

companion. “Holman! Have you been teaching your son how to

control the weather?” The tall, thin, man just gave the

woman a sheepish smile and shrugged.

AJ had been watching the entire episode unfolding before

him. “Sharon! Did you hear that? That kid’s mom said he can

control the weather!”

Sharon sighed, “Oh no, here we go again.”

~ The End ~

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