TITLE: Love Letters
CLASSIFICATION: X, Angst
KEYWORDS: MSR, Case File
DISCLAIMER: 1013 and FOX own all of the X-
No money changes hands.
ARCHIVE: As you wish.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: “Love Letters” was written for the IMTP
Virtual Season 11—with pleasure and gratitude.
To my sister Vanessa, for her journalistic expertise.
To Laura S: My friend and favorite first reader.
To Mori: Beta extraordinaire. Patient, kind and smart.
And a special thanks to KEstabrook: Comma queen
and insightful reader and beta. Karen makes me feel
like I can really do this.
Thank you, Little Sis, Laura, Mori and KEss.
SUMMARY: Some things are supposed to happen.
Xxxxxxx Teaser xxxxxxX
Leola moved her pen across the paper, scratching out the
six most important words she would ever write.
Her hands shook more with each passing year, and her eyesight
all but failed after the sun set, but Leola finished writing, patted
the stray wisps of gray back behind her ear, and opened a fresh
She underlined one word, just to make sure, then placed her
neatly folded note alongside a tattered, yellowed newspaper
article. This would be the final one. The tears pooling in her
eyes finally fell, trickling down the deep lines of her sunken
She looked skyward, and smiled; then touched her index finger
to her forehead, chest, left shoulder, and right.
After taping the envelope closed, she turned it over and wrote
the last words:
To Agent Fox Mulder
Xxxxxxx ACT ONE xxxxxxX
Hoover Building Basement
Monday Morning, 5:00 am; the 8th of the month
Mulder unlocked his office door. He didn’t need to see the key
to know that it would fit, or check his watch; he knew it was
Slamming the door harder than he needed to, he walked to his
desk, threw his coat over the back of the chair, and set the
Starbucks cup down. He rubbed his eyes and looked over the
debris covering his desk. On the top of an open magazine was a
crisp, white envelope. Written across the front, in shaky blue
cursive letters, were the words:
To Agent Fox Mulder
He flipped it over and peeled back the tape. After a couple of
minutes, he picked up the phone.
“Hey, Scully?” He spoke to her answering machine. “I know it’s
early, but can you get into the office?”
“Mulder?” Scully’s sleepy voice came through the handset.
“What time is it? Why are you at the office already?”
“I’m at the office, because I can’t sleep well when I’m all alone.”
He tried to sound playful, but the caffeine hadn’t kicked in yet.
Through the receiver, he heard Scully’s deep sigh.
“Sorry,” he said. “Look, can you come in early this morning?”
A pause, then a yawn. “Mmm Hmm. Is everything okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, but there’s something I need you to take a look at,
and the earlier the better.”
“I’ll be right there. Make sure you caffeinate me.”
They’d had a fight—well, not exactly. Last night, passionate
words had been exchanged regarding their separate living
arrangements. It was more accurate to say that Mulder had
thrown some words. To say that they had exchanged words
suggested that he and Scully had actually had a conversation.
The crux of the matter was: Mulder became lonelier and lonelier
on the nights he spent away from her. But Scully liked looking
forward to their nights together. She enjoyed waiting for him.
The anticipation made her feel like a teen-ager. “Well, like an
old teen-ager,” she’d smiled and said.
In a bit of a huff, he’d left her early. Unfortunately, his dramatic
exit had left him pissed off, aroused and unsatisfied. Even
after using time-honored techniques, he remained pissed off and
unsatisfied. And now, on top of it all, he was exhausted.
“What is wrong with me?” he asked the poster hanging behind
his chair. “How can I possibly miss her so much after all these
years?” It was his turn to sigh. “And, doesn’t she miss me, too?”
A little after six, Scully opened the door.
“Hey.” Her eyes sparkled as she walked in.
“Hey. Sorry about the early hour. Sorry about everything.” He
pointed to a fresh Starbucks cup.
She smiled and sipped. “Mmm. Starbucks French Roast,
Grande. You’re forgiven.” She sipped again and sat. “What
have I just forgiven you for?”
He hiked his hip up onto the corner of his desk, and looked at
“You’ve just forgiven me for being an ass last night, and for the
ass I’ll make of myself tonight.”
“Oh, okay,” she said, agreeably, then looked up. “I’m looking
forward to that ass tonight.” She sipped again. “I thought you
were apologizing for getting me in here at six in the morning.”
“That too. You know, we could save gas if we car pool.” He
winked at her.
She shook her head good-naturedly. “I think there are rules
“Just say the word, and I’ll break ’em.” God, he hoped that
hadn’t come out sounding pathetic. He continued quickly,
“Actually, other than wanting to see you first thing in the
morning, the reason I called is this.”
He handed her the envelope. “What do you think?”
“When did you get this?” Scully put her coffee down, read the
front, and carefully lifted the back flap.
“It was on the desk this morning. Nothing else was touched, as
far as I could tell. But…” He gestured at the mess on his desk.
She took out the first enclosure, and unfolded a white piece of
“The handwriting on the envelope and on the note look the
same,” Scully said, and then read aloud: ‘This was supposed to
happen.'” She looked up at Mulder. “What was supposed to
She picked up the other item.
“That,” he said, “is a newspaper article cut from the Washington
Post Review. But it’s dated the ninth.”
“Today’s the eighth.”
“I know. And look at the condition of the article. The paper’s
yellow and crumbling.”
“Yeah, it is.” Scully cocked her head, and read aloud, “Interstate
Closed for Ice Cream Cleanup
LAUREL, Md–A tanker truck hauling 8,500 gallons of specialty
ice cream overturned on southbound I 95 during the morning
rush hour yesterday.
A Toyota Celica, driven by Richard Marino, 24, veered in front
of the tanker, two miles past exit 33, south of Laurel, forcing it
off the road, where it overturned. No one was hurt.
Six thousand gallons of Dippin’ Dots ice cream dislodged from
the cargo and coated the roadway, closing the interstate and
halting traffic for several hours.
The remaining 2,500 gallons melted inside the damaged tanker,
spilling around the accident site and making removal of the
It is not known what caused Marino to suddenly cut in front of
the driver of the tanker, Donald Hudson, 56. The accident is
She paused. “Dippin’ Dots?”
“Yeah, it’s that pelleted ice cream they sell at stadiums and
“Oh, right. The kind that looks like colored beads.” She briefly
re-read the article, and handed it back. “Why would someone
send you this?”
Mulder shrugged, and clicked on an old transistor radio. He
fiddled with the knobs until WBAL hissed through the small
“So, Scully, when would you say the morning rush hour starts?”
“Well, the Metro charges rush hour rates from 5:30 to 9:30 on
weekday mornings. So I guess…” She looked at her watch.
“…that the morning rush is going on right now.”
“Well then, let’s settle down by the radio and wait for the news.”
He turned down the volume. “In the meantime, what does this
letter say to you?”
She looked at it, held it up to the light, and sniffed it. “The ink
looks like a gel pen or roller ball, and not faded or smudged. It
was written recently. The writer must not want us looking for
DNA evidence, hence, the tape on the back. The handwriting is
careful and deliberate, but a little shaky. Maybe the writer is
nervous or has an intention tremor. The writer is right handed.”
“And a woman,” Mulder added.
“Yes, probably,” she agreed.
“A woman who didn’t put an address on the front of the
envelope, but got it to me anyway.”
“Maybe she works here? Night cleaning crew?”
He shrugged again. “Maybe.”
“Or possibly a friend or relative of someone who works here.
Someone who has access to your office.”
He took the article. “Possibly.”
“Stop that. Or it could be that someone is just yanking your
“Could be.” He nodded, crumbling a corner of the newspaper
between his thumb and forefinger. “My chain’s been yanked
He held his thumb up with the powdered newspaper clinging to
it. “How long does it take for newsprint to disintegrate?”
She paused to think. “Well, it depends, I guess. On whether it
was out in the sun, or if it had gotten wet, and how acidic the
paper was to begin with. It’s very easy to distress newsprint, and
that can be done relatively quickly.”
“I wonder if carbon dating would tell us anything.” He pondered
the newspaper dust on his finger.
“I don’t think carbon dating would work on something this
current, due to the amount of Carbon-14 and fossil fuel residue
in the air. Besides, it’s a trick, Mulder. Some woman wanted
your attention, and what better way to get it, than by placing a
mysterious envelope on your desk?”
He looked at her, and grinned mischievously. “A mystery
women, huh? Now that sounds interesting…” His voice faded,
and he raised his head. He got up, and turned the radio’s knob to
“…closed southbound. Traffic is being re-routed to Route 1
south, or I 295 south. It’s a mess out there, so stay away from I
95 both directions.
“Again, this just in: I 95 is closed just south of Laurel. A tractor-
trailer overturned, spilling its cargo all over the roadway. I’m
not sure what it was hauling—-hold on. What? Really? Well,
we’ve just got word that this stretch of I 95 is covered with
thousands and thousands of miniature ice cream balls…”
Mulder snapped it off, looked over his shoulder at Scully and
said softly, “Dippin’ Dots.”
“Dippin’ Dots,” she agreed. “Wow! I wonder how she
orchestrated it.” Scully picked up the fading newspaper article.
“Her timing was perfect.”
“Orchestrated it? You think the mystery woman had something
to do with the ice cream truck?”
“Well, maybe not the accident itself, but she obviously knew
about it before it happened.” She pointed to the newspaper
article. “I’m not accusing her of anything criminal; I’m saying
she might have heard somebody say something about causing an
accident. But it must have been planned in advance, otherwise,
how she could have gotten this newspaper article made up so
quickly? You’ve got to hand it to her.”
He stared at her.
“What Mulder? What’s your explanation?”
“I don’t have one yet. But, yes, she obviously did know
something in advance. What I don’t know is why would anyone
go to the trouble of making a newspaper article look like it’s at
least forty years old, and then sneak it onto my desk? If she
were trying to get my attention, why?” He tapped his chest.
“Why would she tell me?”
“It’s not always about you, Mulder.”
He raised his hands “Oh, here we go.” He stood looking down
at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know what I’m talking about,” she answered evenly. “Not
everything is a deep conspiracy revolving around you. This is
just a prank, a ploy to suck you into something. Let it go for
“You’re actually considering that this newspaper article, and this
cryptic note…” He picked up the paper and read: “‘This was
supposed to happen.’ is just a practical joke
invented by a woman who wants to get my attention? Well,
guess what? She’s got it.”
“I still haven’t heard any of your theories,” she said stonily. “But
I have heard a little of your paranoia.”
“Maybe, then, we should investigate this, Agent Scully.” He
gritted his teeth. “After all, this is a federal agent’s office, and
someone broke into it, leaving information about a crash on an
interstate highway that turned out to be accurate.”
“Fine. Fine.” She stood. “You want to play it like this? I’ll
investigate. I’ll go and get some in-depth information on this
“Good. I’ll talk to the cleaning crew.” He took the handwritten
note, and stuffed it into the envelope. Then he held out his hand.
As Scully handed him the article, he said, “I’m spending the
night here. I will start a profile on her, and maybe ask the night
cleaning crew a few questions.”
“You don’t have to spend the night here.”
“Yes, I think I do.” He shrugged and turned away from her,
pretending to be engrossed in the newspaper article. Finally the
door opened and closed behind him, leaving him alone.
Hoover Building Basement
Wednesday Afternoon, 4:30pm; the 10th of the month
He was tired. With two nights of almost no sleep, and two days of
almost no Scully, he was truly exhausted. Polite, stilted phone calls
between partners reporting no progress were all the contact he’d
had with her.
He’d gotten no information from the cleaning crews, nor formed
any insights about the author of the note. All that Scully had
discovered was that, in fact, thousands of gallons of Dippin’ Dots
ice cream had melted all over the highway. And over the phone,
she certainly hadn’t sounded like a sex-starved, teen-aged she-
devil, aching in anticipation for him.
Of course, he hadn’t exactly come across as the suave G-man
who couldn’t wait to make his redheaded lover wail in ecstasy
with a well-placed wave of his hand.
Mulder spun his chair around. “What is wrong with me?” he
asked the poster on the wall again. “I’m gonna call her, and I’m
gonna be nice this time.”
He swiveled back, picked up the Dippin’ Dots article, and
shoved it in the top drawer, along with the envelope it came in.
He folded his arms across the top of the desk, and dropped his
head down on them.
‘A shower would be nice, too,’ he thought, as his eyes drifted
shut. ‘I’ll go home, take a shower, buy some coffee, call Scully—
gonna be nice this time…’
Something tickled his cheek. He opened his eyes and focused
on the watch strapped to the wrist beneath his chin.
A little after five o’clock. He registered that he’d napped for
about a half an hour.
Scratching his cheek, he discovered the tip of an envelope
brushing against it. Blinking blearily, he sat up and read:
To Agent Fox Mulder.
“A half an hour, Scully. That’s all.” He looked sheepish, then
said, “I wanted to get the gloves on and dust it before I opened it,
but I was still waking up.” He shrugged. “We can let the
fingerprint guys go over it, but I probably smeared mine all over
“That’s okay, Mulder,” she said, gently. “I guess you haven’t
been sleeping well. Neither have I.” Scully smiled softly, and
reached her hand out.
He took it, and brushed his lips over her knuckles. “Are there
rules against this, too?”
“Probably. I’ll look it up…later.” She whispered.
He gazed tiredly into her eyes.
“I’ll look this up, too,” she said, as she leaned in and kissed him.
“Now, let’s see what your mystery lady has to say.”
“My mystery lady?” He grinned, liking the sound of it.
Like the first arrival, there were two enclosures. One had the
words: “This was supposed to happen.” Written in the same
shaky letters as before. The second enclosure was another
crumbling, yellowed news article.
“This article was cut from The New Post-Standard Review
newspaper of Syracuse, New York,” Mulder said. “And the
article is dated the 12th. Today is Wednesday the 10th. This is
from next Friday’s newspaper.”
Scully read aloud:
“‘Teen Mauled by Black Bears’
Doctors unable to save boy’s leg
By LeeAnne Matthews
Standard Review Staff Writer
A 19-year-old man is in critical condition after being mauled by
black bears early Thursday morning, after he jumped the fence,
breaking into the Max Hanson-Louise Griffin-Hanson
Zoological Park in Syracuse.
Daniel Purdy of Syracuse, suffered head injuries and multiple
bite injuries to the torso and both legs, inflicted by two black
bears housed in the bear pit exhibit.
A zoo security guard, Edward Levin, 56, was alerted to the
attack when he heard screams coming from inside the bear pit.
Levin fired his service revolver into the air, keeping the bears
away from Purdy until the paramedics arrived.
Doctors at North University Hospital, where Purdy was taken for
treatment, said that the injuries to his left leg were so severe that
it had to be amputated above the knee.
Purdy’s Blood Alcohol Level was .18, indicating that he had
been drinking heavily before managing to scale two security
fences, gaining entry to the black bear exhibit a little after
‘The boy must have sneaked into the bear exhibit after the
night security guard made his rounds,’ said Raymond
O’Malley, the zoo’s director. [See Bear Attack, 5A]”
Scully stopped reading and looked up.
“He’s going to scale the walls tonight,” Mulder said. “And lose his leg
“Mulder, we don’t know that.”
“No, but my mystery woman does. She says it’s supposed to happen,
but I think we should try to stop him.”
“Mulder, no. Have you thought this through?”
“Yes. Maybe if we stop him, it won’t happen.” It made sense in Mulder’s
“Stop him? How? By flying up to Syracuse and telling Daniel Purdy what
will happen if he leaves to go out drinking tonight? Or better yet, let’s
barricade him in his house until tomorrow morning. That’ll go over real
Mulder raised his voice, “So we should stand by and do nothing?”
“It’s a hoax! Someone had prior knowledge about a truck accident,
and now you think you have gospel proof that another accident will happen
tonight to some kid who breaks into a zoo? In Syracuse! Do you know
how crazy that sounds?”
“Why does it always come down to me sounding crazy?” He turned away.
“I’m not crazy. I’m trying to save a boy’s life—er—limb. How does that
make me crazy?” He was defensive and sounded irrational, even to himself.
“You’re tired. Things take on a different significance when you’re
“I’m crazy and tired? What other diagnoses have you come up with for me,
“Go home, Mulder.” She grabbed her coat. “Go home, take a shower, and
get some sleep.”
She slammed the door.
Mulder stalked back and forth in front of the office door for a few minutes.
He stopped and threw himself into his chair.
“Shit. And I was gonna be nice this time.”
Hoover Building Basement
Wednesday Night, 10:30pm; the 10th of the month
“Hey Langly, it’s Mulder. Turn off the tape.”
After a few clicks: “It’s off, man. How’s it hangin’, dude?”
“To the left and down. Why, is your mother asking about me again?”
“Yeah, she thinks you’re a hottie. What’s up? Hold on…” After a couple of
clicks, Langly said, “You’re on speaker, man.”
“Okay guys, maybe nothing, maybe something. Is there a zoo in Syracuse,
called the Max Hanson–Louise Griffin-Hanson Zoological Park?” he asked,
reading from the newspaper article.
“Zoo animals, Mulder? You and Scully have a fight?” Frohike asked.
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Hold on, Mulder,” Frohike interrupted. “Ready? Set. Go!”
“Look up Daniel Purdy, nineteen years old, also from Syracuse, while
you’re at it.”
“Got it!” Byers shouted.
“Damn! I want a photo finish; I got it, too,” Langly said in the background.
“Too bad. That’s your three to my three. We’re even.” Byers raised his
voice. “What do you want to know about the zoo, Mulder?”
“Does it have a black bear exhibit?” Although by now, Mulder knew the
“Yes, with two black bears.”
Langly’s voice chimed in. “I have Daniel Purdy. He’s only a teenager, but
already he’s got a record of drunk driving.”
“Ok, fellas, thanks.” He hung up without good-byes.
Hoover Building Basement
Friday afternoon, 3:30 pm; the 12th of the month
Scully sat silently. But at least she had come into the office
when he’d called her. Her “errands” regarding this case had kept
her away from the basement.
Errands, and the fact that she seemed too angry to even look at
him at the moment might have caused her to stay away.
Mulder was hot and cold at the same time, but determined to be
professional, understanding, compromising, or whatever she
wanted him to be. He just hoped to be able to figure it out. His
eyes blurred with fatigue, and choosing the right word
sometimes took him a moment.
“I had FedEx send this, same day air.” Mulder handed Scully a newspaper
and held up the original article. “And here is the one we got on Tuesday.
Scully scanned the front page of the newspaper FedExed from Syracuse.
“Teen Mauled by Black Bears” was right below the fold.
“Down to the font, Scully. These articles are the same. And so are these.”
He spread the Washington Post Review’s Dippin’ Dots ice cream mishap out on
desk, placed the yellowed article next to it, and ran a tired hand through his
She looked from one to the other. “Have you considered that maybe she saw
the copy before it was printed?” Her pale skin looked white under the
florescent lights, and vague purple half-moons appeared beneath her eyes.
Mulder squeezed his eyes shut, and shook his head. “Are you tired of me?
Of what we do?” He opened his eyes. “Are you tired of us?”
She stared at him. “Why? Because I question you? Because I don’t know
where you’re going with this? Because I doubt that some woman has the
unearthly ability to send newspaper articles from the future?”
“No, because you doubt me. You’re not questioning me, Scully. You’re
Scully pressed her lips together and looked at the wall over his shoulder.
“I’m not…” She cleared her throat. “I’m not mocking you. I don’t mean to
stomp on your theories, but you haven’t exactly been open to my ideas,
either. You’ve made up your mind and ignored everything I’ve suggested.”
She turned away. “And you’re not listening to me anymore. You haven’t been
for some time. I’m trying—-I’m trying to figure out why you stopped.”
Mulder opened his mouth, but no sound came.
She straightened. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, and I’m tired.” She tried to smile.
“At least you have a mystery woman keeping you company.”
He sighed. “I listen, Scully. I always listen. You can believe any crazy
thing you want about me, but don’t ever doubt that. Don’t ever doubt how
important you are to me: personally, professionally, in every way
imaginable. I told you once that I couldn’t do this alone. I know that more
than ever, now.” He walked around the desk and stood in front of her. “I’m
tired, too. And I’m sorry.”
He hesitated, and then gingerly cupped her cheek in his palm. She closed
her eyes and leaned into it. They were at work, and he knew without
looking it up, that this was already breaking the rules, so what the hell. He
gathered her into his arms.
“I’ve missed you.” He kissed the top of her head and tucked
it under his chin.
She wound her arms around his waist. “Me too.”
“And don’t worry. Dottie hasn’t been keeping me company. In all the nights
I’ve camped out here, I haven’t even caught a glimpse of her.”
Busted. His chest muffled her voice, but he’d heard her. Mulder bit his lip
“I call the mystery woman Dottie, because of the Dippin’ Dots thing.”
She nodded, and he felt her smile. “Dottie the mystery lady.”
When she pulled back, Mulder noted her drooping eyelids and the slight
tremor to her fingers. She wasn’t kidding when she said she was tired.
Sitting in her usual chair, Scully said, “Okay, I’ll go along with this: A
woman, whom you call Dottie, has prior knowledge of an incident. She
somehow gets newspaper clippings before the incident occurs, and secretly
delivers them to your office. And while some lab work needs to be done on
them, the newspaper articles appear to match.” She trailed off. “I wonder
how she’s doing it.”
“You and me both.” He sat heavily on his side of the desk.
“So,” she continued, “if we suppose that Dottie does know that something is
going to happen, there’s a question we haven’t asked.”
“Why does she carefully write: ‘This was supposed to happen.’? If the
event chronicled by the newspaper article is supposed to happen, then
there’s nothing we can do about it. And if there’s nothing we can do about
it, why does she tell us in the first place?”
“I’ll ask her when I see her tonight.” He stifled a yawn.
“You’re staying here again? But…”
“The only way we’ll get any answers is by asking the lady who has the
He tapped his pencil on a yellow legal pad lying on the desk. “I’m creating
a profile, and I want to see if I have her right. She’s young, probably of a
first or second-generation ethnic culture. Latina, African-American, or possibly
middle-eastern, but I’m leaning more towards Puerto Rican. She shakes
either because she’s nervous, or writing quickly, or both. Dottie’s either
involved in, or knows about something dangerous, and she’s trying to get
out of it. Or at least to get our attention so we can help her do something
“How do you know she’s young?” Scully asked.
“She’s gotta be spry to get in and out of here—-while I’m here-—without me
“And Puerto Rican?”
“Possibly,” he said. “Or another culture closely tied with religion. I’m
basing the nationality on the night staff I know we have working here, and
Dottie’s religious leanings, due to her desire to alert us to something bad.
She wants us to be aware that a wrong is about to take place, and while we
can’t stop the things that are supposed to happen, she feels that it’s her
mission to tell us about them anyway.”
He leaned on his elbows and stared at Scully across his desk. “Dottie said that
something was supposed to happen. Something that is supposed to happen
is something that is preordained. Only God can preordain events that hurt,
maim, and kill.”
“As well as save, heal, and cure,” she pointed out.
“True, but Dottie hasn’t mentioned any healing. Yet.”
Scully stood and sighed. “Try and stay awake tonight so you can ask
her, okay? Then you can come home to bed.”
“You can stay here with me if you want.” As he winked at her, the pencil
he’d been tapping the desktop with slipped out of his hand and fell to the floor.
“If you’re lonely I can make room for the both of us down here.” When he
leaned over to pick up the pencil, something under his desk caught his eye.
“Shit.” He sat up and dropped an envelope on the desk.
Scully spun around and walked past his desk to the counter. Mulder put on
a pair of latex gloves, reached inside the desk drawer for a letter opener, and
carefully teased the envelope open.
Scully placed two brushes and a bottle of fingerprint powder on the desk.
Just before she dotted powder on the fiber brush, Mulder carefully unfolded
the pieces of paper. “Another: ‘This was supposed to happen.’ And another
article.” He read:
“In the Nation
From the Boulder Times and World News:
Flash Flood Kills Two
Mago Vista National Park, Colorado
Two experienced hikers were killed sometime Saturday, when a
flash flood, caused by a remote thunderstorm, sent a 9-foot wall
of water careening through a narrow ravine, ultimately filling it
with 30 feet of water, at Mago Vista National Park, Colorado.
Park authorities recovered the bodies of Emmanuel Harris, 29,
and Domingo Hayes, 28, both instructors at The Climbing
Academy in Boulder, from the murky water of El Quinto Lake,
in the far northern section of the park.
David Wright, of the National Park Service, was quoted as
saying: “The hikers were probably taken by surprise, as the
weather was sunny and dry at El Quinto Lake.”
Scully was silent.
“This is Friday afternoon. Two men are going to die sometime
She looked from the envelope she’d begun dusting, to Mulder’s
eyes. “Then you’d better book us a flight.”
Xxxxxx ACT TWO xxxxxX
The Climbing Academy
Saturday Afternoon, 4:55 pm; the 13th of the month
Mulder knocked hard on the door to the Climbing Academy.
“We’re closing!” A male voice inside shouted. “Come back
“FBI! Open up!”
“Mulder…” Scully warned.
“I bet it’ll work,” he said, frowning, as he pounded the glass door
with an open palm. “Invoking the sacred FBI acronym opens
doors all over the country.”
A young, muscular, blond man opened the door. He narrowed
his eyes at Mulder and asked, “FBI? Really?”
“Really,” Scully said, showing her identification. “I’m Agent
Scully; this is Agent Mulder. We’re looking for Emmanuel
Harris or Domingo Hayes.”
“They’re gone.” The man stepped aside, and the agents entered
The Climbing Academy. “They’ve been gone.”
Hung on the front walls, near the counter were boulderpads,
hammers, harnesses, and rope. Sunglasses, chalk bags, pitons,
helmets, carabiners, and various other forms of climbing gear
were in the display cases in the front of the store and lining the
A schedule of rock climbing classes was posted with the dates,
times, and instructors. The classes looked evenly divided
between instructors Emmanuel Harris and Domingo Hayes.
The young man turned toward an open cash register.
Apparently, he had been counting and stacking bills, closing out
for the weekend. “Manny and Domingo left early. You won’t
find ’em, either.”
“Why won’t we find them? Where are they?” Mulder felt a
sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Do you have any way
of reaching them?”
“It’s very important that we speak to them; their lives may be in
danger, Mr…?” Scully said.
“Oh, sorry, Harris. Eli Harris. I’m Manny’s brother, and that’s
how I know you won’t find him.” He slammed the cash register
closed. “Domingo and big bro’ like to go out to those hard to
find cracks in the Earth and climb up ’em. They’re excellent
climbers, so I doubt that their lives are in danger.”
“If we told you that they’re climbing somewhere near El Quinto
lake, what would be the best ravine up there to explore?”
Mulder kept his voice professional and tried not to sweat.
Eli Harris wrote in a ledger as he spoke. “El Quinto is a huge
lake, and there’s a lot of good rock up there. I don’t know about
the best, but Raven’s Wing Pass and Milagro Azul are both good
climbs, and both in the northern part of the park near El Quinto.”
He looked up. “Oh, and Athapaskans Way is in that area, and
that one gives you a real nice workout. But, really, don’t worry
about them; they know what they’re doing. Look, FBI people,
I’ve got a date with Tandy O’Shea in ten minutes, so I’m
“One more thing,” Mulder said. “How would we get up to El
Harris snorted. “Hey, man. There’s only one way to get up to El
Quinto.” He looked from Mulder to Scully, and smiled. “You
“A helicopter, Scully. That’s what we need.” Mulder jogged
nervously down the main street, looking in the windows of the
“Mulder,” she trailed behind him, “we can’t just rent a helicopter
and hire a pilot. We don’t even know where the climbers are.”
“Then give me an alternative.” Mulder stopped. He was tense.
“We only have a few hours of sunlight left. That ravine may
have already flooded, and those two men are in trouble.”
“It’s Saturday evening. Where are we going to find…?”
“Than give me an alternative!” He turned to her. “Stop telling
me what I can’t do, and tell me how to save them!”
She was silent for a moment. “You certainly are putting a lot of
faith in Dottie and her ability to predict the future.”
“That newspaper article is real, Scully, and you know it.”
“Do I? When I try to figure out a rational way that a woman
could get ahold of newspaper articles a day before they’re
published, you say I don’t have faith in you. You say you listen
to me, but your faith is so firmly bound up in the mystery
cleaning woman that you don’t want to hear what I’m saying.”
“This is not the time, Scully. After we save those hikers, maybe,
but not now.”
“And maybe we can’t save them. Maybe it *is* supposed to
happen. Just like Dottie said.”
“So you feel comfortable giving up on these young men, then?
Well, why don’t you just save yourself some time, and take a pen
and sign their names on their death certificates right now?” He
pointed his finger at her. “We’re as good as murderers if we
don’t try to save them. We both know they’re going to die if we
don’t find them.”
“If indeed the ravine does flood, I will not be responsible for
their deaths. And neither will you. You’re not God, Mulder;
you’re not even close. In fact, if the articles are true, you’re
putting us in the impossible position of trying to prevent the
“But you’re not trying! And because of that, neither one of them
will live to see thirty. How does that make you feel? It makes
me sick. So, go ahead, sit back and watch them drown.” He
whirled around, and stalked away. He was tired, angry, and
He opened the door to their parked rental car, got in, and waited
for Scully to follow him. And waited.
Mulder opened his eyes. He was sprawled over the front seat of
the car. His sticky eyes and dry tongue told him he’d been
asleep for a long time. The tickets under the windshield wiper
told him exactly how long.
In his sleepy haze, he reasoned that Scully must have gone home
without him. He let himself out of the car, and stiffly walked a few
blocks to the newsstand. The headlines of the afternoon
edition of the Sunday Boulder Times and World News read:
Flash Flood Kills Two
Baltimore Sun Times
Driver of stolen SUV plows into lunch crowd
at Fells Point
__ __ __
Catonsville man steals neighbor’s vehicle,
kills three, critically injures four at a sidewalk cafe
__ __ __
By Paul Arnett
sun times staff
Three people were killed and four were injured, including a four-
year-old boy, when a man
crashed a stolen SUV into a crowded outdoor restaurant
Ellen Peterson, 27, Harmon Lyle, 68, and his wife
Mary Lyle, 69, all of Baltimore, were
killed when Jason Miller, 31,
lost control of the 2001 Cadillac Escalade
he had stolen from his neighbor and drove it into a
group of diners at Le Cafe Rouge, on Thames Street in
Jason Miller was arrested and taken into custody when the SUV
ran out of gas on Boston Street in Canton.
According to police, Miller had an argument
with his Catonsville neighbor, Bryan Bates, over a table saw
that Bates had allegedly failed to return. Miller reportedly
pushed Bates down, took his keys and drove off in the SUV.
The Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles has no record that
Miller ever obtained a driver’s license.
At a quarter to noon, Mulder left his car parked in an outdoor
metered lot and ran two blocks to Thames Street in Fells Point.
The newspaper said that the accident would happen during lunch,
so he wanted to be standing on the sidewalk in front of the bistro
waiting for the SUV to appear. He had planned on ordering all the
patrons to stay inside, safely away from the street. However, a
jackknifed tractor-trailer on the Baltimore beltway had screwed
up his plans to be there early.
He was checking his watch when
squealing tires, burning rubber, and terrified screams ripped
through the air.
Mulder drew his weapon and ran to the northeast
corner of South Ann and Thames Street. Across the intersection,
the car thief plowed his stolen, black SUV up onto the crowded
sidewalk. Midday shoppers and workers on their lunch break,
enjoying the unusually mild weathe,r were all caught off guard.
“Move!” he screamed from the curb. “Everybody get back!”
The heavy vehicle jumped the curb, and its front bumper
snagged a young woman by her red hooded sweater.
‘Oh, God. That must be Ellen Peterson,’ he thought in horror.
He watched her arms fly up as the tires dragged her under. Her
long black hair caught so quickly in the front wheels, that she
was mangled before she could scream.
Mulder wiped the sweat from his eyes, brought his gun up, and
assumed a wide, two-fisted stance. But the SUV was moving
too fast to target.
The driver cut the wheel to his right, accelerated, and slammed
into a bewildered elderly couple sitting at a little outdoor table.
The impact threw them into the air, and they flopped to the
ground a half a block away from each other.
Harmon Lyle’s body landed and rolled, stopping six inches from
The vehicle skidded into the crowd once more before driving
away. In the eerie silence, Mulder stood gripping his weapon,
looking at the devastation.
Blood stained the sidewalks, dripped down the gutters, and ran
into the sewers. Body parts and human splatters covered the
storefront windows, and a piece of a red sweater clung to an
overturned bistro table. A little boy moaned.
Mulder wrapped his arms around his stomach, lowered his head,
He knocked politely. He was bone-tired, shell-shocked, and
depressed, but damn it, he was going to be nice this time. He
blinked, and realized that he had no idea what time it was.
Scully opened the door a crack. “Mulder, I don’t want…oh,
Calmly taking his arm, she led him inside. “What’s happened?
Are you all right?” She brushed his face with her cool hands, and
sifted her fingers through his hair.
‘I must look like death,’ he thought. ‘I’ve seen enough of it today.’
“Mulder, talk to me.”
“I couldn’t stop it, Scully.” He forced his mouth to move. “It
happened right in front of me, and there was nothing I could do.”
He tugged her hands away, and laced his fingers gently with
hers. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for the things I said in Colorado.
I’m sorry for the way I’ve been treating you since the first letter
arrived. I was wrong. I know now that there was never anything
we could have done to save the hikers or that boy’s leg. And
there was nothing I could have done to save those people today.”
He didn’t hear her. “The little boy died, too. The four year old.
But the article didn’t say that, because this was sent to press
before…” His voice caught. He reached into his jacket pocket
and handed her the envelope with the article from the Baltimore
“Oh, Mulder,” she said softly, after reading the headlines. Her
white, silk nightgown swished against her ankles as she walked
him across the room. They sat together on the sofa.
“Don’t do this to yourself.” She touched his forehead with the
backs of her fingers.
“Am I crazy?” He closed his eyes and leaned his head back.
“Have I gone off the deep end this time thinking I’m so
important, and so powerful, that I can stop the unstoppable?” He
opened his eyes. “Are there some things that are just supposed
to happen no matter what?”
“You said it earlier, about things being preordained.” Scully
unbuttoned his top buttons and took off his tie. “Yes, I believe
we have free will, but I also believe that some things are meant
to be. I don’t know why you were told about these tragedies and
what the horrible reasoning was behind them. I know it’s not fair
“Or to you. To us. God, I’m tired. I just want to sleep and
make it all go away.” He turned to her, blinking her into focus.
“Do you forgive me? Have I ruined it between us? God, I can be
such an ass…”
“Yes, you can be an ass, but it would take more than a few tense,
exhausted words to ruin things. We’ve been together a long
time, and I know you. I accept you.” She shrugged. “I love
He relaxed and whispered. “I love you, too.”
“But there are things we need to discuss. Things you need to
know.” She took his hand. The lights in the room were dim, but
she was clear, shining brightly in his tired eyes.
“I may doubt you from time to time, but I’ll never leave you on
your own. I believe that we can always work things out, so
never doubt where I’ll be in the end. I admire you for your
strengths and accept you with all your faults, just as you accept
me.” She kissed his cheek. “Some things are meant to be.”
He swallowed and held her hand to his chest. “There may be
times when I might not listen to you like I should, but I’ll always
need you with me, helping me.” He smiled shyly. “Even if I
don’t know it at the time.”
His voice dropped to a whisper. “Every day, I am grateful that
you accept me as I am.” He kissed her cheek. “Every day, I’m
grateful that you are in my life.”
She scooted down, nuzzled her head against his chest, and
hugged her arms around his waist. His heartbeat slowed as he
relaxed into her embrace.
“But Scully, it’s not over yet.”
“Yes, it is. Throw them away, Mulder. If another envelope
comes, just toss it out.”
“Yes, you can.”
“Scully, I don’t think we were ever meant to do anything about
those events. I think we were just supposed to believe that they
were going to happen.”
“Ignore them, Mulder. Let what’s supposed to happen, happen
He sighed, and straightened up. “Could you ignore this?”
He reached into his shirt pocket and unfolded a single, yellow,
newspaper clipping. “Maybe this one is for you, Scully; so that
you’ll believe. Maybe the letters won’t stop until we both do.”
He handed her the article. “I hope I’m wrong.”
__ __ __
The Capital-Gazette Newspaper
Mother arrested for drowning
3 year-old in family bathtub
__ __ __
By Luz Rodriguez, Staff Writer
__ __ __
A 3 year-old Annapolis girl was killed Friday when her mother
held her underwater in a bathtub filled with hot water.
Police discovered Raven Thomas’s body at the bottom of the tub
when they arrived at the Annapolis apartment where T’avian
Randolph, 22, lived with her daughter Raven, 3, and son Jaquon
Brooks, 6 months. A neighbor heard screaming from Randolph’s
apartment and called the police to investigate.
According to the police report, after the officers discovered
Raven’s body, Ms. Randolph admitted that she had held her
daughter under the water, stating, “[Raven] don’t listen, and has
a real bad sass mouth-—she needed a real good lesson…”
Ms. Randolph was arrested and has submitted to drug testing.
Jaquon has been placed in protective custody. Charges are
pending against Ms. Randolph until the investigation is
__ __ __
“Oh God, no.” Scully’s hands shook as she finished reading.
“I can’t pretend I didn’t read it,” Mulder said softly.
“And if this happens, and I believe, then what?” Scully’s eyes
“I don’t know.” He stood. “But I do know that a little girl is
going to die tomorrow, and we won’t be able to save her.” He
handed her another piece of paper.
This was supposed to happen.
“We have to try,” she looked up.
He nodded and stepped away.
He turned his head.
“Stay with me?” Now she was focused on him. “Please?”
“Tonight, and for however long you want me. Don’t ever doubt
Annapolis Public Housing
333 Admiral Halsey Court
Friday Morning, 1:30 AM
Mulder was determined to arrive at T’avian Randolph’s
apartment complex before sunrise, so they left Scully’s
Georgetown apartment right before midnight.
“The article said that the neighbor called the police after hearing
screaming coming from Randolph’s apartment,” Mulder said
from the passenger’s seat.
Scully took the East exit onto Route 50 and headed towards
Annapolis. She glanced over at him. “We’ll wait out in front
of the apartment, and at the first peep, we’ll go in. Maybe we
can stop this.”
In the early morning hours, there was little traffic. Annapolis is
only a little over thirty miles from Georgetown, as the crow flies,
so they made it to T’avian Randolph’s apartment in good time.
But what Mulder had failed to consider was that once the clock struck
twelve midnight, the day changed from Thursday to Friday.
The police car flashed bright blue and red in the early morning
darkness, and T’avian Randolph’s apartment was ablaze with
every light turned on inside.
Scully sat on the wet floor and sobbed silently as the coroner
removed Raven Thomas’s lifeless little body.
The little girl was fully clothed, and her thin, bare arms stuck out
from her oversized blue bib overalls. She was soaking wet, and
the sodden denim made her tiny body heavy. It was had been
difficult lifting her out of the bathtub.
The warm bath water had made the child’s body warm as Scully
tried vainly to breathe life back into her.
The girl’s mother staggered down the hall. Her arms were wet to
the shoulders, and her tattered gray sweatshirt dripped with each
step. She stomped on a coloring book left in the middle of the
floor and kicked the crayons. Little purple houses were drawn,
childlike, on the walls in crayon, and lopsided purple flowers
trailed up one of the doorframes.
“What did I tell you, Raven! You leave yo’ stuff out, you gonna
get it! You draw on the walls again, you gonna get it even
T’avian Randolph whirled around, “And you keep messin’ up the
whole goddam house!” She swayed when her bare foot kicked
at another crayon, and her cuffed wrists clinked as she bumped
against the wall. Two Annapolis police officers straightened the
impaired woman up, and walked her to the front door.
“And clean yo’ fuckin’ room!” T’avian stopped, and yelled into
the bathroom. “Jesus, Raven! Why do I have ta keep tellin’ you
that? I’m gonna hafta show you how to clean up again, ain’t I?
First yo’ room, then the walls. You little shit!”
The officers removed the woman, who was screaming at her
dead daughter. The coroner took the little body out.
Mulder pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes and rubbed.
Blinking to clear his vision, he slowly walked over to the
bathtub, where Scully stood staring down. Through the dusty
water, he saw a purple crayon lying on the bottom of the tub.
Xxxxxx ACT THREE xxxxxX
6:00 am; the 25th of the month
“It’s been seven days since the last letter.”
“Seven or eight? What day is it, anyway?”
“It’s Thursday, Mulder.”
“So seven days since the last letter, and six days since the last
“Yes, the letter came last Thursday, the eighteenth, and Raven
died early Friday morning, on the nineteenth. I thought you said
that you slept better over here.”
“You still sound pretty exhausted.”
“And you’re still pretty.” Mulder raised his face from Scully’s
chest, and looked up at her. “Do you think the letters have
“No.” She stretched her arms high over her head, and yawned.
“I don’t believe that a complicated system, created to send letters
and newspaper articles before the event occurs, was designed
merely to prove that it can be done.”
“Sometimes people climb mountains just because they’re there,”
Mulder mumbled, sinking his head back onto her chest.
“So?” she asked. “Do *you* think it’s over?”
He shook his head. “Nope.”
He pulled her head down for a quick kiss, and then pushed
himself up. Sitting on the edge of the heavily-quilted bed, he let
his bare legs hang down. “No, I don’t think it’s over. But what
you said about the complicated messaging system-—I don’t think
it was the messaging that they wanted us to be interested in.”
“What then?” Scully asked. “And who’s ‘they’?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t know.” He dry-washed his face. “The
only thing the events had in common was that they all
happened.” He looked over his shoulder at her. “Maybe that’s all
we’re supposed to know for now. We’ll have to wait for more
clues and see.”
“I hate waiting for clues,” she said. “Especially since the ones
we’ve been receiving are horrifying.”
He half turned on the bed. “You know what? I think they had to
be horrifying in order to attract our attention. After all, how
much effort would we have put into this if the news stories were all
as benign as the ice cream truck? The question is: why do we
even have to pay attention?”
Mulder tapped his fingers on the sheet. “Why does the sender
want us to believe that the events will happen?”
“And why does Dottie use the past tense: ‘This was supposed to
happen’ instead of ‘This is supposed to happen.’?” Scully shook
her head, and her hair fell away from her eyes. “A puzzle within
a puzzle. I just hope it’s over soon.”
“So do I,” he agreed.
“Well,” she stood, and stepped away from the bed, “I’m going to
shower, eat breakfast, and see if I can find somebody to car pool
with to work.”
“Wait.” Mulder hopped off the bed and rushed into the
“Mulder,” she said, exasperated.
A minute later, the shower came on. He opened the door, and
scented steam billowed out behind him.
“Ladies first.” Mulder gestured politely toward the open door.
“Oh, okay.” Scully smiled, and moved past him. “Thank you.”
“FBI guys, next,” he said softly. Smiling to himself, he stepped
out of his boxers, tossed them against the wall, and followed her
into the bathroom.
“This time,” Mulder said looking down at his desk “we were
both right. It’s not over.” He picked up the envelope and handed
it to her, not bothering with gloves this time. The prints they had
lifted didn’t match any on file.
“You want me to do the honors?” Scully asked.
She paused, and took a breath.
“Hmm. The writing on the front seems shakier on this one than
the others.” She peeled the tape off the back, and pulled out the
“Do you think that means something?” he asked, as she began
Scully’s eyebrows arched, and she pressed her lips together.
“What? What does it say?”
She handed him the article and the letter.
__ __ __
From the Washington Post Review
Gunman kills four students, hostage negotiator
__ __ __
Officer slain while negotiating release of students
__ __ __
Gunman commits suicide in gun battle with police
__ __ __
By Louis Malcolm Kane
washington post-review staff writer
__ __ __
A gunman opened fire and killed four children as they attended
morning mass in the chapel at the St. Francis Day Academy in
Northwest DC yesterday.
A hostage negotiator, sent in by DC police to secure the release
of the students, was also killed. His name has not been released.
Russell Ames, 42, of Rosslyn, VA, used a Glock .40-caliber
pistol to kill Sharon Fields, 7, Anthony Garelli, 9, Sean Murry,
11, and Vincent Russo, 11. Ames later turned the weapon on
himself after firing at police officers.
Ames was a custodian at the St. Francis Day Academy until last
week, when he was fired for too many work absences.
__ __ __
This was not supposed to happen.
__ __ __
Mulder was silent for a moment. “When is this going to
“Today,” Scully whispered. “During morning chapel.”
Grabbing his jacket and looking at his watch, he said, “Let’s
St. Francis Day Academy
“If it’s not supposed to happen, it won’t,” she said from the
“Scully, the only way it won’t happen is if we stop it. We’re
supposed to stop it from happening. This event—-the one that is
about to unfold—-is the whole point of all the letters—-of all the
newspaper articles. I’m right, I feel it.”
“The hostage negotiator gets killed,” Scully said, not looking at
him. “Is that part of the plan?”
Police cars circled the area.
“I don’t know.” He looked at her steadily. “But you know I
have to do this.”
“Mulder, it’s out of control.”
“It’s not,” he assured her. “We’re finally in control.”
“You don’t know that!”
“No,” he agreed. “I don’t know that, but I believe it.”
She finally looked at him. “I’m afraid for you.”
He nodded. “But this is what we’re supposed to do. You have to
guide me. You know how I think. You know what I need.”
“This time you have faith. You believe and I don’t.” She
smiled a watery smile. “That scares me, too.”
He smiled back, touching her cheek. He blinked, and then
reached into his pocket. “I just thought of a way to increase the
He punched the speed dial and spoke into the handset, “Turn off
the tape, guys.”
Gunshots rang out from inside the chapel; Mulder thrust the cell
phone into Scully’s hand and bolted from the car. He held his
badge up as he ran to the sheriff’s vehicle. The policeman held
up his hand, acknowledging him as he approached.
“Sir, this isn’t an FBI matter…”
“It’s okay, officer. You have a hostage situation in there, don’t you?”
He pointed at the chapel.
“Yes, sir, but we have it under control. The negotiator is in
transit, and will arrive shortly.”
“Listen, officer. We don’t have time. The gunman’s already
beginning to unravel.”
Two more shots ricocheted within the building.
“I’m an experienced hostage negotiator. I need some ears so I
can get information from my partner…” He looked over at
Scully, who was standing next to the car, speaking frantically
into the cell phone. “We can’t wait for your guy; I gotta get in
“He’s right. Let him go.” A husky officer arrived with an
earpiece and a wire, and handed them to Mulder.
He nodded his thanks, placed the earpiece receiver deep into his
ear, and slipped the thin transmitter into his breast pocket.
Scully touched his arm.
He turned to her. “I have to go in.”
“I know.” She clasped his fingers lightly. “I told you I accepted
your faults and admired your strengths. This-—what you’re
about to do–is one of your strengths.”
“I can’t do this without you.”
“You won’t. I’ll be here, and the guys are working on it right
The officer handed Scully the transmitter/receiver. She let go
Mulder’s fingers and stepped back, never breaking eye contact.
He swallowed and said, “I’m coming back, Scully.”
“I know you are.” She tried to smile. As she whispered into the
transmitter, her voice caught. “You damn well better because I’m
not done with you yet. Do you hear me?”
“Loud and clear.” He turned to the officers. “Let’s do this.”
“I’ll kill them! I swear to God, I will!”
The masked man grabbed the child’s hair and yanked the boy’s head
back. He pressed the muzzle of his gun into the child’s thin neck.
“Back off, man! Everybody, back off, or he dies! They all die!”
“Nobody has to die, Russell.” Mulder stepped out from the
shadows in the chapel, both hands raised and empty.
<“Keep him talking, Mulder. The guys have information
coming in for you.”>
“You’re in control of this, Ames,” he soothed. “I’m just here to
help you get out of here.”
“You know there’s no way out of this for me, don’t you?
As soon as I popped off that first round, it was over.”
“It’s not over, there’s always a way out. Let’s find the right way
out of this.”
“I didn’t mean to shoot! I didn’t! And now-—now look at it.”
Ames pulled the child around so Mulder could look into the
boy’s frightened eyes.
“Let him go. Let them all go.” Mulder’s hands stayed high, and
in plain sight. “Let them go home. Their moms and dads are
waiting for them.”
<“Mulder, he doesn’t care about the kids. He was abandoned by
his parents at a McDonald’s when he was five. Now listen to
me. He doesn’t care about the kids or their parents.”>
“I’m not going down for this, I’m not!” He swung the gun away
from the terrified child and waved it toward the other children
cowering in the front pew. “I didn’t do anything!” He tore off the
mask and fired a shot at the altar.
“Give me the gun, and we’ll talk! That’s all we’ll do, Russell.
Let them go, and we’ll talk.” Mulder took a shaky step forward.
“What do *you* know? You got a job, you got a life, I got
<“Things, Mulder. He only cares about things, not people.
Frohike said Ames is into a lot of debt from buying salvaged,
used, and vintage items.”
“That can’t be all.” Mulder raised his voice at Ames, but he
meant the words for Scully.
<“Trust me. The only thing he cares about is whatever he’s
restoring. Something antique. That’s what he’s spent all his
money on. Maybe all this time, too. Maybe that’s why he was
The little boy whimpered.
“Shut up!” Ames bore the barrel of the gun deep into the boy’s
chest and pushed his finger all the way into the trigger guard. “I
said shut the fuck up!”
<“A car! Mulder, he’s spent his life savings on a car!”>
“These kids are so young,” Mulder said quickly “And you want
to kill them before they even get to go to their first dance, their
first football game, before they get a chance to drive.”
<“A 1968 Nova. That’s what he’s been working on.”>
Mulder saw Ames soften.
“None of these kids are near old enough to take the wheel for the
first time. I mean, I learned to drive when I was fifteen.”
Mulder fumbled for a model of another muscle car. “On my
dad’s 1969 Pontiac GTO. You remember what that was like,
Ames let up on the trigger. The terrified child’s eyes were wide,
and staring at Mulder.
“Shit. Your dad let a kid drive a car like that?”
“Hell, my dad didn’t know.” Mulder’s mind raced, looking for
the right things to say to the hostage taker. “If he ever found out,
I’d have felt the business end of his belt—-didn’t matter if I was
five or fifteen.”
Mulder lowered his arms. “The old shit wouldn’t let me near his
car. I had to sneak it out of the garage when he wasn’t home.
Which was okay, since he wasn’t home for most of my life. My
mother was too drunk to care.”
“Hey, don’t talk about your parents that way,” Ames squinted at
Mulder, letting go of the boy’s hair without looking at him.
“They’re still your parents, and you don’t talk about them that
The little boy crawled into a pew.
<“Get him talking about his car, Mulder. He’s disintegrating.”>
“At least you fucking had parents, you fuck. What did you come
in here for? To be my friend? To talk about kids and cars, like I
don’t know what you’re doing?”
The gunman pulled the slide back and fed another round from
the magazine into the chamber of his Glock .40. He aimed
at the head of the hostage negotiator two feet away.
“Did you think I was crazy and stupid? You
“Russell, you don’t want to kill me. You don’t want to kill
“Like hell I don’t! I got nothing to lose! Don’t you fucking tell
me what I want! You don’t know! You don’t know shit!” He
pulled the trigger.
“Fuck! Jammed! Fuck!”
Mulder lunged, but the terrified man swung the gun around, and
slammed Mulder’s temple with the butt end.
His head smacked the hardwood floor. His vision blurred. The
earpiece and lifeline to Scully popped out and rolled out of
Ames brought the gun up, snapped the slide, and checked the
“You think you’re so goddammed smart!”
A child began crying.
“Shut up! SHUT UP!” Ames fired straight up. The bullet
lodged in the chapel’s old oaken beams.
“You think you can stop this! You think you have any idea…”
He stood over Mulder and aimed down.
‘No Kevlar today,’ Mulder thought surreally as he scrunched his
eyes shut, waiting for the impact.
With the barrel of his gun pointed dead on Mulder’s chest,
Russell Ames pulled the trigger,
“Scully, I’m so sorry,” Mulder whispered into the transmitter in
Another child cried. The Glock made soft clicking sounds, but
nothing else happened.
Ames slapped the slide back two more times, and dropped the
unspent rounds to the floor. Mulder placed his hand on the back
of the pew and slowly stood. The world spun for a moment.
Something warm and sticky dripped down the side of his neck, but he
made no move toward the gunman.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” Ames chanted as he fed new rounds into
the magazine and let old ones fall out. Finally, he aimed the
gun at his own temple.
“Russell, it’s over,” Mulder said softly, holding his hand out.
“It’s not over until I say it is.” Ames placed the muzzle at the
side of his head.
“Listen to me, Russell.” Mulder walked slowly to the distraught
“I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” Ames sobbed, his quivering finger firmly
on the trigger. He turned and looked at the burning candles on
the altar. “God, please help me do it.”
“Give me the gun so you can go home and rebuild your car.
That’s what you want, isn’t it? To get that Nova running? Not
doing this.” Mulder gestured widely with his arm.
Ames hiccoughed a sob. “They fired me, and I couldn’t afford it
any more. Nobody would help me fix her.”
He looked up at Mulder with tear-filled eyes. “I just wanted my
job back so I could fix the car. This is all wrong. I never meant
to take that first shot. I just wanted them to listen to me, and
give me my job back.” He dropped the gun. “This wasn’t
supposed to happen.”
The doors burst open, and the chapel filled with uniforms.
Children were whisked out to the waiting arms of their parents,
Russell Ames was escorted out in handcuffs, and Mulder’s back
was sore from so much patting.
When he emerged into the midmorning sunshine, Scully
wrapped her arms around him. “Thank God,” she
whispered. “Thank God.”
Swallowing hard, he said, “I’m going to have to break another rule.”
She touched the dried blood crusting on the side of his head, and
then reached up, cupping his face with her palms. “You’d better.”
He took her into his arms, tilted her head up, and kissed her
soundly. As he did, he could have sworn that he felt his back
being patted again.
“I was scared at first,” he whispered into her ear. “But then, I
wasn’t. Does that make sense?”
Scully nodded against him, then slipped her hand into his
jacket pocket and removed the receiver. “I heard it all.”
“What do you think?” he asked carefully.
She looked up with misty eyes. “Glocks don’t jam,” she said
simply. “And certainly not twice.”
Mulder nodded and smiled softly. “I can’t explain it, Scully.
Except to agree when they said, ‘This wasn’t supposed to
He hugged her close and tucked her head under his chin as she
trembled. Kissing the top of her head, he looked at the scene
Parents and children were tearfully reunited, while reporters
swarmed, asking questions. Police officers lit up victory
cigarettes, and newspaper photographers clicked away, taking
pictures of the chapel, the children, and the gunman. Yet they
mysteriously ignored the FBI partners embracing intimately.
Far across the street, a lone mother hugged her son. She was
crying; kissing his face and hair. The boy was Ames’s
frightened young hostage.
The young mother stood and smiled. Looking skyward, she
touched her forehead, her chest, her left shoulder, then her right.
And finally, she looked over at Mulder. “This was supposed to
happen,” she said, ruffling her son’s hair.
She was a block and a half away, but Mulder clearly heard what
the dark-haired, tear-stained, young woman had said.
“What do you think that was all about? I mean, in the realm of
the universe, what was the significance of saving those
children?” Scully stroked Mulder’s hair, carefully avoiding the
three little stitches on the side of his head.
“I don’t think it was for all those children, Scully.” He looked up
at her. “I think it was for just one.”
“What?” She was baffled.
“I don’t know why I think this, but I know I’m right.” He sat up
to face her. One of the quilts slipped to the floor. “I was wrong
about some of the things in Dottie’s profile.”
“Tell me,” she said. Her eyes glittered in the early morning light.
“I said that Dottie was young. I was wrong. She was, in fact, a
very, very old woman. Old enough to have saved those
newspaper clippings so long that they yellowed and turned
almost to dust.”
Scully shook her head, “Mulder, that’s imposs-—”
Mulder gently placed his finger on her lips. “Just listen, please.
It gets better.”
She smiled softly, and spoke around it, “Okay.”
“When she was a young woman, the worse thing that could
happen to anyone, happened to her. Her young son was
killed during morning mass, in a senseless shootout with a
Scully’s eyes widened, but she didn’t speak.
“I was right when I said that she was religious. Dottie was more
than religious. She was a truly pious woman who, even though her
only child was slain when he was eleven, remained faithful to
God throughout her long lifetime. As her life was ending, God
must have said something like, ‘You are my beloved daughter,
and I have found favor in you because of your unwavering faith
in me. I will give back what you have loved most and lost.'”
Scully blinked before whispering, “You’re describing a miracle,
“Yes, I know. One that included you and me.” He paused to
smile. “And the Lone Gunmen.”
“How…” She took a halting breath. “How did you come up with
He looked into her eyes, kissed her cheek softly, and whispered,
“I’ve come to realize that there are more worlds than the one you
can hold in your hand.”
She gasped, and her eyes filled.
“See?” he said. “I’m learning.”
She swallowed a few times to get her tongue working.
“Are you all right?” he asked with a grin.
“Fine.” She brushed her eyes with her fingertips and put her
arms around his neck. “I’m fine.”
And to Mulder’s surprise and delight, she leaned into him and
kissed him with teen-aged passion.
Xxxxxx EPILOGUE xxxxxX
Leola closed the cover of the old scrapbook where several
yellowing newspaper articles remained stuck under the
clear, brittle sheets. She lovingly rubbed her fingers across the
raised letters on the front.
A Scrapbook of Current Events From Around the Country
Social Studies Project
Fall Semester, 2003
Sister Mary Elizabeth Malone’s
Fifth Grade Class
She glanced at the wall in front of her. Below a crucifix of the
Risen Lord hung another newspaper article. Yellowed as the
ones in the scrap book, but carefully matted and framed, placed
so that Christ looked down upon it with outstretched hands.
From the Washington Post Review—-Saturday edition:
__ __ __
Standoff with gunman at school ends peacefully
__ __ __
Hostage negotiator persuades gunman to surrender
__ __ __
Four children safely reunited with waiting parents
__ __ __
By Louis Malcolm Kane
washington Post-Review staff writer
On her desk, among stacks of paper and white envelopes, sat a framed
portrait of Vincent at his college graduation. Various pictures of
Vincent, his wife and children, and Leola’s great-grandchildren
graced the walls and shelves.
The sun had set, and she knew she had seen her last twilight. It
was dark now, but that was okay. She would awaken to a bright,
She took a last look around, patted the scrapbook cover, and
whispered to the pictures of her family surrounding her, “It’s all
right. Some things are supposed to happen.”
END of Love Letters