Title: Down in the Underground
Authors: Theresa Jahn (+ Jesse Jahn, creative
Summary: Do Mole People actually exist? Mulder
and Scully go to NYC to investigate.
Disclaimer: The X-files, Mulder and Scully
belong to Chris Carter and TenThirteen
Productions. I don’t own them, I’m just using
them for this story.
Archiving: VS11 has exclusive posting rights for
two weeks. After that, archive anywhere. Just
ask me first please. Thanks!
Author’s note: I’ve done a little online
research for this story, but am no means an
expert on MTA tunnels and such. Creative license
was taken to the extreme. I don’t know if these
places actually exist, or the ones that do exist
are being used in such ways. Just go with it!
Thanks: To Jesse for supporting me in my crazy
writing excursions. To Sally for the quick beta.
Also thanks to the ladies at the VS for posting
it. Thanks for the fun!
Feedback: Please, and thank you!
Fun House Arcade
“Attention all patrons, the Fun House will be
closing in fifteen minutes. Please redeem all
tickets at the front desk. Attention all
The voice over the loud speaker could barely be
heard among the beeping and blinking of arcade
video games, the shuddering of pinball machines,
and the crass jokes some teenagers were yelling
at each other so they were sure the cute chicks
by the snack bar could hear them.
In a shadowy corner of the room, near the back
entrance, Sean plunked another quarter into the
machine, hoping his dad wouldn’t come searching
for him yet. Angry words echoed inside his head,
louder than the symphonic music of the arcade,
the memory of his father’s red twisted face
forcing itself before his eyes.
Bright yellow lights began to flash, and again,
he saw the game before him. He grabbed the giant
padded mallet and held it over his head like a
mad woodsman would a hatchet. He listened for
the shifting of gears, the tiny whir that came
just before the first head would pop out of the
empty holes in a field of painted green
A loud buzz sounded and he was whacking. He
whacked at the poor plastic creatures, not
seeing them as moles, but as the heads of his
classmates from school. He beat them with the
mallet like he’d wanted to on the playground,
but could not. He’d been taken away by a
teacher’s aid before he could hardly do any
damage. They’d started it, after all, with their
antics. He was NOT a geek!
Then all the moles’ faces transformed into that
of his father’s. Scornful red cheeks were shiny
on the plastic heads. He hit harder.
Sean was so absorbed in his game that he didn’t
notice all the other lights were going out. One
by one, the games were being shut down, until he
was nearly left in the dimness of the emergency
“Closin’ up, kid! Wrap it up!” The manager of
the arcade called from the front of the room.
Sean threw the mallet at the game, and it
bounced off the side, dangling by its rubber
cord. He pushed his way violently through the
back door and out into the alley.
It was close to the ocean in this part of
Brooklyn. One would never know it in an alley
like this. Dark, musty wet bricks and the smell
of rotting garbage snaked its way up to Sean’s
nose, blocking out any hint of salty seashore
air. He kicked at a shallow puddle, spraying a
pile of newspapers with droplets.
He didn’t want to go home yet. Out from the
pocket of his oversized hoody sweatshirt, he
pulled out his cell phone, noticing that he
didn’t have any messages. It depressed him a
little to know that his father hadn’t even
bothered to find him after being out way past
curfew. He shoved the phone back into his shirt
and prepared to walk to the nearest subway
He started in one direction, but immediately saw
that it was a dead end. Funny, he’d never
noticed that before. He doubled back to walk in
the opposite direction, toward the mouth of the
alleyway, carefully stepping around stinking
bags of garbage. As he got nearer to the street,
the smell began to increase.
“Man, gotta be some bad-ass garbage from this
place. Somebody probably puked!” He knocked his
foot against a bag accidentally, and noticed
that it was not as soft as the garbage he would
have expected — and it was vaguely shaped like
a person rolled up into the fetal position.
A chill ran down his spine. The dimness of the
alley light had to be playing tricks on him.
Sean, although he’d never admit it, was also not
quite old enough to feel completely comfortable
out alone at night. His anger earlier seemed to
make him forget that. Intending now to get the
heck out of there, Sean stepped quickly, but
watched the ground more carefully for bags
leaking unsavory liquids that might contaminate
his designer sneakers.
He could see the sidewalk now, even one or two
people pass by the mouth of the alley. But as in
a dream, he felt that his destination was
getting further away as he was fighting to reach
it. His feet stopped moving. He felt dizzy. The
stench of the alley was overpowering. He heard
trickles from sludgy puddles behind him, coming
regularly, as if in footsteps. They got louder
and closer, and the smell nearly knocked him
out. Maybe *he* was the one who was going to
He forced his legs to move — make himself turn
around. The streetlights from the sidewalk
wavered and blurred as he turned, as if he’d
been on one of those Wipe-Out rides over at
Before he could do or say anything, a clawed
hand swiped up in front of him, and knocked him
backwards, his head hitting the pavement hard. A
small shadow sped away down towards the dead end
of the alley, the sound of rustling plastic
accompanying the sploosh of every wet step, and
disappeared like a rabbit down its hole.
Before he slipped into unconsciousness, Sean’s
last thought was, ‘I can’t believe I was killed
by a garbage bag!’
April 16, 2004
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
“If it was what you say it was, how did it get
all the way over here?”
The spoon dipped into the onions, sprinkled its
contents over the foot-long, and was followed by
the mustard, then the relish. Masterpiece
completed, the hot dog quickly found its way
into Mulder’s hungry mouth.
“E’en ‘ole puppo cake a fubbay,” her partner
said through the mouthful.
Scully rolled her eyes in disgust. “I’ll wait
until you’re finished.” Then to the hot dog
vendor, “You don’t happen to have any turkey
dogs in there, do you?”
“What do you think I am, lady? The freakin’ Tofu
Palace? I got what I got.”
“Fine. I’ll take a hot pretzel and a diet Coke.”
They walked over to the railing by the East
River, a beautiful view of Manhattan stretched
across the horizon, the choppy waters between
them and the island glistening in the bright
April morning sunshine.
Mulder swallowed the last of his hot dog. “Even
Mole People take the subway, Scully. And there’s
always the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, sewage
“Okay, Mulder,” Scully continued as her partner
stole a sip from her can, “even if this so-
called Mole Person took the subway across to
Brooklyn, what was he doing here? Almost all the
abandoned underground stations and tunnels are
“Maybe he’s trying to escape something? Or maybe
he’s trying to adapt? Living underground your
whole life can really put a limit on your
“You want to know what I think?”
Mulder sighed, anticipating the wrath of
Scully’s logic squashing his theory out of
“Don’t look at me that way, Mulder. You know I
only want to help solve this too. A boy was
attacked — and he wasn’t the only one. I think
this is a string of random attacks by some of
New York’s poor desperate homeless. One can get
to that point where violence seems like it’s the
“But what about the claw marks, Scully? What
about the reports of animal-like creatures
lurking in the shadows? What about the legends
of these creatures going all the way back to
when the tunnels were first being built during
Scully broke off a piece of pretzel and gnawed
on it thoughtfully. The wind off the river was
strong, and it blew her hair so that it was
almost horizontal off the back of her head. The
gusts soon subsided, and the strands of copper
settled again to rest just above her shoulders.
“Maybe he *was* desperate,” Mulder commented so
quietly Scully almost didn’t hear him. “Things
have changed a lot in New York lately.”
“What, and he decided to take it out an a kid
playing Whack-A-Mole? Be reasonable, Mulder. The
kid had a cell phone in his sweatshirt, alone in
a dark alley. He was a perfect target.”
“Hey, if someone was going around whacking
little Mulder Voo-Doo dolls, wouldn’t you be
Mulder stepped back a pace, looking abashed.
“I don’t believe in Voo-Doo,” Scully replied
Mulder huffed out a chuckle. “Well, belief or
not, Voodoo still exists, and thousands of its
followers can attest to that.”
“So, these sightings confirm, without hard
evidence, mind you, that Mole People exist.
Because a few people have up-started an old
urban legend, we get to go down into the sewers
and subways of New York City… for what? Mulder
I don’t even know why we’re going on this hunt!”
“Because a boy was attacked. And we have to
prove or disprove that it was the fault of
someone. And that includes Mole People.”
“Well, then, let me grab my mining cap,” she
answered, searching her back molar for a piece
of pretzel crust, which seemed much more of an
“Really? You’ll be glad you brought it!” Mulder
exclaimed cheerfully as he dug into his pocket
for another $1.00 for a second hot dog. When she
began to protest even owning such an object, he
brushed her off with a confirming nod.
“Anyway,” he continued, walking toward the red
and blue Hebrew National umbrella, “we’ve got a
date with some experts in about half an hour. We
can catch the train a few blocks over. Just let
me grab one for the ride.”
Scully followed her partner away from the brick
lined Promenade and into the streets of
Brooklyn, tossing her half-eaten pretzel into an
overflowing decorative metal garbage can. As
they crossed the street, they didn’t notice a
child-sized shape spring quickly from behind the
garbage can and into some nearby bushes, a trail
of kosher salt sprinkled in its wake from the
redhead’s wastefulness of perfectly good food.
Grand Central Terminal
They were to meet the “experts” Mulder had
spoken of down near track 11 on the upper level.
As they emerged from the subway, they were met
by the polished floors and bustling activity of
a recently remodeled Grand Central Station.
Gilded metal grating framed each ticket window,
the celestial green painted ceiling was as big
as the sky, and the Grand Central Market’s
grocery wafted delicious smells through the air,
just as the trains added the subtle smoky odor
of diesel fuel. The click of their shoes on the
shiny floor were lost in the expansive space,
muffled both by the amount of people littering
the concourse as well as the sheer size of the
They passed the South entrance to 42nd Street
where a gigantic American flag hung from the
ceiling between the digital train schedules for
the New Haven and Harlem lines. As they neared
the other end of the station, they noticed
several men dressed in camouflage fatigues, guns
strapped to their shoulders, casually leaning
against a wall or an unused ticket window. In
true New York fashion, their presence was for
the most part ignored, but somehow completely
acknowledged by those that passed them by.
Following the numbered portals to each track,
Mulder and Scully walked the long distance to
track 11. They stood by the dark marquis below
the track number, where it would show stops a
train would be making, had it been scheduled for
a departure. No train was here at this time.
No people fitting the description of
‘underground tunnel experts’ were hanging about
“Maybe they’re not meeting us out here. Let’s go
check down on the platform,” Mulder suggested.
The floor was rough concrete here, much more
utilitarian than the showpiece of the Grand
Concourse. The track was empty except for some
puddles and remnants of dusty candy wrappers.
The thundering of heavy trains lumbering into
the station echoed from their left. They were
able to see several tracks over in that
direction between the thick steel supports.
Track 11 seemed to be one of the very last
public platforms on the upper level — or the
very first depending how you looked at it. As
they made their way further down, they could a
see only a few more platforms on their right,
filled with train equipment, orange cones, and
extra newspaper recycling bins that looked more
like cages for wild animals than for paper.
As they walked even further, they began to feel
more alone. Passing the staircase to the North
passageway that exited to street level, the end
of the track became dimmer and the smell of
diesel exhaust was stronger. Not many people
walked this far down the platform.
“I don’t see anyone, Mulder,” Scully commented
Mulder turned in place, searching his
surroundings. He stepped close to the edge of
the platform and looked down each way, hoping to
see something. And he did.
“Look there,” he said, pointing toward the dark
end, even further down than they had come. There
was a yellow painted emergency ladder that led
down to the track-level. On the handles a light,
as if from a moving flashlight, reflected off
the yellow paint. Mulder looked at his partner
in triumph, and began walking quickly toward the
source of light, Scully following close behind,
trying to keep up with him. As they moved
closer, they could hear two male voices —
“… can’t take them there. It’s too dangerous.”
“Don’t be such a wuss. I know these tunnels like
that back of my hand.”
“Don’t be so cliche.”
“Greenwich Village know-it-all yuppie fag!”
“Greenwich Village is hardly Up-town, you slimy,
dirty, blue-collar street urchin! Why I ever
decided to team up with such a–”
The ‘slimy street urchin’ noticed them first,
and shone his flashlight over his partner’s
shoulder — straight into Mulder’s eyes. The
other man stopped his insults abruptly and swung
around to glare at their intruders.
‘Greenwich Village yuppie’ hastily pulled out a
clip-on ID tag from behind the lapel of his
leather jacket. He also held a clipboard a
little higher up to his chest, so he was sure
the two people squinting down at him through the
glare of flashlight would see it.
“This is a restricted area,” he began
authoritatively, twitching his mustache, as he
spoke. “You should not be here.”
Mulder shielded the light with one hand, and
with the other pulled out a folded sheet of
“We’re also here on official business,
gentlemen. My name is Mulder, and this is Dana
“Mulder?” the yuppie exclaimed and immediately
turned to slap the flashlight from his friend’s
grip. Then apologetically, “Did you say Mulder?”
“Yes,” he replied, blinking to expel the dots
floating before his eyes, and proceeded to
unfold the paper. It was an email he had printed
out early this morning before he and Scully had
left. He fought to focus on the small printed
text. “Are you ‘firstname.lastname@example.org?'”
“I am. Michael Massing — you can call me
Michael. And this is my associate, Joseph
Rihnald. And had you come here a little earlier,
I may have been able to help you out further,
Mr. Mulder, but as it is I have a very tight
“But, you’d specifically said 12:30. It’s only
“Exactly so. I must be going.”
“I can meet you again at another location
tomorrow… perhaps some of the tunnels further
downtown. I doubt highly that any of this area
will help you in your investigation.”
Here, Scully broke in, “I think you ought to let
us decide the importance of locations for our
investigation. How can you–”
Michael climbed up the emergency ladder and
pushed his way past the two agents. “I’m truly
very sorry,” he pleaded, looking over their
shoulders nervously to the dark tunnel beyond
the edge of the platform. “I can’t help you here
today. Tomorrow, 2 p.m. at the South 4th Street
station.” And he sped off down the platform.
Mulder and Scully stood there dumbfounded,
staring after him. Then they turned to Joseph,
who still stood below on track-level, fumbling
the flashlight into his work belt.
“He’s afraid of this area, you know.”
“But he agreed to meet with us here. I don’t
understand,” Mulder commented, glancing over the
email correspondence, to make sure he hadn’t
“Yeah. Said he’d meet ya here. Didn’t realize I
was going to lead you into the tunnels.”
“But he’s a tunnel expert, isn’t he?”
Joseph puffed up his cheeks and blew the air out
slowly, weighing his thoughts carefully before
he spoke. “I’m the tunnel expert. He’s the
history buff and the map-reader. Ask him
anything on the transit system, the new, old,
and abandoned stations, how much money was spent
building the tunnels from here to Bowling Green
— but ask him to set foot in any of them
outside of a train car…”
“Chlostrophobic?” Scully offered.
“Nah. Just not a people-person, if ya get me.
Don’t like the homeless.”
“I get by easy enough with ’em. They know me. I
patrol these tunnels a lot. Keep the green
berets outta here, mostly. It was too bad when
they were scanning the place for terrorists two
years back. Flushed the whole town out. MTA lets
me keep track of things now, mostly. The folks
down there don’t trust me as much, though,” he
said, gesturing toward the tunnel behind him.
“The folks down there…?”
“Yeah. So, you two comin’ down here or what? We
don’t want to be hangin’ around during rush
hour. Makes it harder to move around to where we
want to be.”
Mulder, excited to be underway so quickly when
he thought he’d missed his chance with Michael’s
disappearance, stuffed the email back into his
pocket, and stepped down the ladder to meet
“Mulder, what are you doing?” Scully reproved.
“What’s it look like, Scully? We need
information on our suspect. What better way than
to question people from the society in which he
“I…” Scully searched the empty platform for a
confidant, anyone who would back up her better
sense of judgement. Maybe she would have been
better off racing after Michael, coward though
he was, in a nice quiet, clean library with flat
files of maps and microfiche.
“What have you gotten us into,” she grumbled as
she followed him down the ladder.
“Follow me.” Simply said, Joseph began to lead
the two agents down a boardwalk made of extra
wooden slats between two railway tracks. “You
won’t need your flashlights until we reach the
“The Waldorf? Guess the homeless are living in a
higher class style than we thought,” Scully
In any case, she felt inside her jacket, and
sighed in relief when she found the pen-sized
metal cylinder that was her pocket-flashlight.
Thank goodness she kept it handy as a general
rule. Mulder glanced over his shoulder at her,
his eyes bright enough with enthusiasm to light
their way into even the deepest cavern. ‘Well,’
she thought, ‘it can’t be any worse than the
“Tickets please. Thank You.”
“Tickets? Thank you. Thank you. Thanks.”
It was the rhythm of the ticket taker. At each
seat he said the same thing. Each ticket was
punched with a double hole, just to ensure that
it was destroyed enough to be invalid for
another ride. He stuck marker cards into the
little pockets at the back of each seat so he
didn’t forget his place, or charge someone twice
for a fare they’d already paid.
Fourteen years as a Metro North conductor, and
days like this just seemed to never end.
Everything was the same–
The train slowed to a crawl, then halted not
halfway up the tunnel from the platform they’d
just left at Grand Central. It could be
anything; another train that had been delayed
may be up on the track ahead. They could have
had a temporary electrical failure. Everything
normal. Nothing to worry about. They’d be back
running again in a minute or two. Even so, he
thought he’d get over on the 2-way just in case
he was needed.
He made his way to the small control closet at
the end of the car, picked up the receiver, and
hit channel 4. “Everything okay, Jim?”
The receiver beeped, and Jim answered. “Ah, you
know, Leo. ‘Signal problems.'”
Leo chuckled to himself. After all these years,
‘signal problems’ could mean anything too.
“What’s it this time?” he asked.
Oh, man. He could only hope there wasn’t some
kind of altercation happening down there. He
closed the door to the control closet so that
the passengers couldn’t hear his conversation.
“Looks like he’s around track 11. Going East, so
it’ll be short. I’ll make the announcement.”
Leo hung up the receiver and unlatched the
window next to him. He stuck his head out and
peered into the dark tunnel, a hundred service-
lights like stars glimmering down each track. He
saw the distant glow of red signals down several
tracks to the right. Patiently he waited,
scratching the stubble on his chin, listening to
Jim’s garbled voice over the intercom, “Ladies
and gentlemen, we’re experiencing some signal
problems. We should be moving shortly. We’re
sorry for the inconvenience, and we thank you
for your patience.”
Then he saw it: The tiny flicker of a flashlight
— no wait, three flashlights. He had an
entourage with him today, eh? They weren’t
visible for very long, as the supports for the
underground caverns were denser here, like a
deep forest of metal and concrete rafters.
One last flicker of light, and they were out of
It was a moment longer before the red glow from
the tunnel signals turned to green, one after
the other, until the chain reaction reached his
track. The brakes on the train released with a
hiss and he felt the train slowly beginning to
move forward again. It was over.
Leo didn’t bother closing the window again.
There really wasn’t anything to be worried
about. He left the closet and his speculations
to return to his duties.
Mulder heard a succession of clicks after Joseph
threw the manual override switch back to its
normal position. The signals to each track
turned green again, their previous state having
allowed the three explorers to cross otherwise
active, and quite dangerous tracks, to reach
their destination. They ducked through little
cutouts in the high, concrete support walls,
stepped over the rails — careful not to touch
any of them, just to be safe — and finally
arrived at the service tracks on the Easternmost
end of the underground world.
“So, Joseph, when you say the ‘Waldorf,’ what do
you mean? Is that a nick-name for the area we’re
going to?” Mulder asked as they turned down a
path that was much like a narrow boardwalk,
littered with old dusty newspapers and obsolete
“No, Mr. Mulder, that’s where we’re going. The
Waldorf Astoria Hotel.”
The two agents glanced at each other. Joseph
peeked back with a wry grin on his face,
enjoying the shock value of his statement. Then
“Back in the early part of the 20th Century, the
rich had private train cars. Michael could
probably give ya better information than I
could, ya know. But the way it went was, a whole
slew of tracks was built right under the Waldorf
Astoria, so that the rich bitches and their
husbands could go straight to their fancy hotel,
up through an elevator, so they wouldn’t have to
go through the Grand Central mess. Avoid the
‘commoners,’ if ya get me.”
“Those tracks ain’t used for nothin’ anymore.
Just storage. We’ll have to climb through some
of the old cars and around a lot of abandoned
equipment before the town actually starts.
That’s when we’ll really need the flashlights.
We’re almost there.”
“A shanty town?” Scully asked a little uneasily.
“Something like that, Miss Scully. You’ll see.”
The tunnels were becoming darker now, the
emergency lights were fewer and further between.
It wasn’t long before they were pulling out
their flashlights again. They followed Joseph up
and down more service ladders, through old train
cars that had the seats stripped out of them,
windows painted over with graffiti, and over
platforms that had such narrow walkways it
sometimes felt like they were scaling the side
of a mountain.
Mulder held out his hand to help Scully jump
over a small break in the platform, pulling her
close when she almost lost her balance. A few
crumbled pieces of concrete fell from the edge
and tapped their way down six feet to the bare
earth floor, disturbing some small shapes that
scurried away into the darkness. Anxious to
disregard what those small shapes might be,
Scully took the chance to quickly speak with her
“Mulder, I find it very hard to believe that a
society of homeless has flourished down here.
How could they have escaped unnoticed after 9-
11? The military is rampant throughout the
systems. You saw those men in the Grand
Concourse. They must have had to sweep through
here and get rid of all signs of human
settlement, just to appease the standards of the
War on Terror.”
“I can’t believe you’re standing this close to
me in the pitch blackness and not getting turned
on,” he grumbled into her ear, and pulled her a
little more firmly against him.
“This is NOT the time for romance. Be serious
for minute, please.”
His attempt at distracting her having failed, he
switched gears immediately. “Scully, I don’t
think it’s all that unreasonable. Most New
Yorkers can’t even conceive that something like
this would exist.” They began to move ahead
after Joseph again, so they didn’t lose sight of
“Why would they fear something they never
thought would have existed in the first place?”
“But people like Joseph know about it. Why
wouldn’t the MTA? Why wouldn’t the military?
You’d think they would have been more thorough.”
“They had the quarantine through here about a
month after,” Joseph interrupted in a whisper,
his face lit from beneath like a troop leader
telling a ghost story to his scouts around a
campfire. “You’d never seen the Waldorf so
abandoned. Probably the way everyone thinks it
should have looked anyway. There was nothing. I
don’t even know where they all went. Some of
them still haven’t come back.” He motioned for
them to follow him again, but not before he
added, “You might want to keep your voices down
for a while. We’re here.”
They stepped carefully through another abandoned
train car, this one seemed very old. Had it not
been so rusted through, one would have thought
it was a perfect display for a museum. Small
details, as they passed through the long body,
which was big enough to be considered ample
space for a New York City studio apartment, were
touched with art deco designs. The older
architecture of machinery had always seemed to
carry just that slight bit of extra attention to
beauty, something that was a work of art, as
well as something functional.
Upon emerging, they were presented with a view
of about ten to fifteen avenues, of what were
originally private tracks, all connected by a
common walkway at the end. It looked very much
like the setup of Grand Central Station, but on
a smaller scale, and what were now utilitarian
concrete floors at the end of each track in
Grand Central, here they were of a mosaic tile.
Of course, the tiles were worn down to the point
where the colors were mere shadows of
themselves, and the decades of dust upon them
had condensed into a film of grime. But the
shapes of the tiles were still visible.
Each track was filled with a menagerie of
different cars, styles from several eras, and
all seemed to be occupied. The smell of garbage
fires was apparent, just as a cloud of smoke
filled the vaulted ceilings. Between the
rafters, from the dim glow of the ‘town’ below,
one could just make out some more tile work, but
much of it had fallen from age, leaving large
exposed patches of grout that ate away at
mosaics of checkerboard and fancy raised edge
Everything was dirty. As they continued on
toward a particular platform that Joseph had his
sights set for, the smell was beginning to
invade their nostrils — human waste and sweat
and garbage and diesel fuel and rusting metal.
Smells that were so uncommon to the cosmopolitan
city above had remained here in this primitive
society of outcasts. Those that could not
survive against the modern demands of the city
had accepted the life of inconvenience here. To
an outsider it was disgusting, pitiful. To them,
it must have seemed like a safe haven —
something for free, that was the result of being
free: one had to accept it for what it was, and
not expect anything more than what a man or
woman with nothing could contribute to it.
Empty windows to the train car ‘apartments’
revealed piles of cans, magazines, newspapers,
found furniture with torn edges, mattresses on
the floor — some five or six to a car. Attempts
at decoration with old hubcaps and discarded
bedspreads hung from walls and ceilings. Much of
it was clutter, but all of it was theirs.
Eyes followed them the whole way, but none were
adventurous enough to move from their places.
Each sad iris gleamed with possessiveness. They
feared being removed from their homes again,
humble though they were. Nothing could have been
worse for the poor souls behind those eyes.
The last platform was cleaner than the rest.
Cleaner meaning less dust and grime, but not the
absence of it. They walked toward an archway cut
out of a curved wall, which soared as one plane
up toward the ceiling. Inside the arch was a
staircase that led up half a level, wooden and
brass railings polished decades ago were still
shiny, as if preserved from disuse. Tile floors
were complete, and when they emerged from the
stairwell, they entered into a circular lobby,
rotunda above, with an iron wagon-wheel styled
chandelier. A hundred bare bulbs shone down on
them, electricity harsh and too bright for their
eyes, as they had adjusted to the dimness of
An elegantly styled wooden bench sat in the
direct center of the floor. Beyond that, on the
opposite end of the space, between two bricked-
up doorways that must have been elevator shafts
at one point — twin rising-sun dials above each
marked off floor numbers above them — was
another staircase leading up. It had been walled
off after the twentieth or so step. Here was a
man sitting upon them, surrounded by several
people, as if subjects to a king. He did not pay
attention to them, but stared directly at his
three new arrivals. He was waiting for them.
“Alright, you two,” Joseph addressed the two
agents. “This is Damien. I had to bring you here
first. If there’s somethin’ goin’ on in
underground NYC, he’ll know about it. If there
was anyone who could be the mayor of a place
like this, well… you talkin’ to anyone, you
talkin’ to him.”
Mulder sensed Scully going rigid beside him. He
wasn’t feeling so free and easy himself. All of
a sudden their guide seemed to have ulterior
motives, and neither she nor he was comfortable
with that. As he scanned their surroundings for
a quick escape, should they need it, Damien was
walking toward them. How much would they be able
to trust this man’s opinion if they’d been led
straight into his lair? But perhaps, Mulder
reasoned to himself, this was the best person in
which to derive such information. A leader was a
leader. Conspiratorial motives weren’t
necessarily a mandatory trait.
Damien wore a tattered wool coat, several
flannel and t-shirts beneath that, jeans and
mismatched sneakers. He could have been as
pitiful-looking as the rest of the homeless
here, but instead he held a command about him.
“You want to know about it? About all of them?”
His eyes were wide and crazy, so that all the
whites could be seen, and he bared his teeth in
a greasy smile. His greatest asset was
intimidation, and he knew how to use it well. He
took fast, long strides up to Joseph, stared him
down so hard that Mulder wouldn’t have been
surprised if he’d shrunken a few inches right
there. Without warning, Damien snapped his wild
gaze at Mulder, and ran to stand before him,
inches away from his face.
Mulder kept his composure, pulled his shoulders
back, and inhaled deeply. That was a mistake. He
eyes nearly watered with the rotten egg smell of
“What do you know?” he asked, trying not to
The leathery skin of the homeless man’s temples
crinkled, softening the insanity of his eyes for
a split second before he whipped away and began
circling the two agents while telling his tale.
“They exist, you see! *We*,” he gestured with
his arms held dramatically wide to encompass the
expanse of the community, “are the rightful
dwellers here. *I* am the Lord of the
Scully coughed lightly under her breath. At
least she could maintain her air of skepticism,
even through this.
“Some may call us ‘moles’ because we live
underground. But they are the *real* Mole
People. Oh, yes! Your Mole-boy there, yes-yes I
know all about that, he’s the enemy! Yes. Don’t
believe anything you hear from him. Not from any
of them! They are extinct! They are the ones who
should go. We are here to stay!”
“The one who attacked Sean Colby? What have you
heard? Where has he gone?”
A shooting pain in Mulder’s side was the result
of his partner jabbing him with her elbow. He
was jumping to conclusions, leading the
questions to where he wanted them to go, and she
was determined to call him out on it. But Mulder
continued, caught up in the momentum of this
crazy man, enthralled with his mystery.
“How did you find out this information?”
Damien ran back toward Mulder, and grabbed him
by the lapel of his trench coat. Scully moved
reflexively to grab her Sig, but a hand from
Mulder stilled her defense.
“He’s a bad name for us, you know,” Damien
growled in a low, menacing tone. He switched his
gaze from one of Mulder’s eyes to the other, as
if he could see something in one that he was
afraid to miss in the other. “He’s the last of
his kind, and he’s fighting back! You’ve got to
stop him. We’ve taken over here, and damned if
I’ll let one little mole cretin jeopardize my
“What do you mean? Does he, uh… answer to
you?” Mulder asked, careful not to offend.
“Ha! If it were that easy, he’d not be running
around like a mass-murderer. He thinks he can
destroy me. Me!”
Damien let go of Mulder and paced the floor, all
the time muttering. “Should have walled up all
the passages when we’d had the chance. Never
should have requested refuge from them. Never.
“Excuse me,” Mulder interrupted. The pacing
continued. “Where is he? And how does attacking
innocent people — innocent people that are not
“We have a home!” Damien shouted back, his voice
booming off the curved walls of the rotunda,
quaking with the volume of it.
“All right,” Mulder carefully brought his tone
down a few notches, “he attacked those that live
above-ground. What’s he doing out there? Who is
he? Where is he?”
“That,” Damien pointed an angry finger at
Mulder, stopping in his tracks, “is the trick,
now, isn’t it?” He laughed heartily. “He’s a
crafty little devil. They used to be everywhere,
the Mole-People. Disgusting to look at, really.
He knows the tunnels and sewage systems better
than any of us. We found a few secrets when we
had to hide, after the Towers fell. We found
“They still exist?”
“They were not there any longer. We found the
secret places — found them like caves the
animals had abandoned. You think the majesty of
the Waldorf is something? You haven’t seen the
network that lies beneath us even now. But don’t
ask me to go down there. If it was theirs, it is
putrid! I’m the Lord of the Underworld, not of
Pacing back toward his visitors, Damien
scratched at his scrabbly shave, most probably
done with a very old razor. He appraised them
for a long while before continuing, first
studying the two agents, then an intense gaze at
Joseph, a silent statement Joseph knew all too
well it seemed.
“Oh, they exist all right. How much longer,
well… Your Mole-boy may be the test of that.”
He whirled around to return to his subjects at
the opposite end of the lobby. Throwing his hand
up in a gesture of dismissal, he allowed the
echo off the walls do the work of directing his
voice instead of turning around.
“I will keep Joseph informed if I hear anything
of his whereabouts. But you should know,” he
resumed his seat at the top of the walled-off
staircase, “he is a menace, and needs to be
At that point, Joseph placed himself between
Damien’s court and the two agents, and ushered
On their way back through the dusty tunnels,
away from the Waldorf, Mulder and Scully were
left wondering just what kind of information
they’d been given.
Three pairs of feet walked past the low, rough
alcove that led back toward the main tracks to
Grand Central. From behind tinted plastic
goggles, beady eyes watched small furry shadows
scatter to avoid the larger intruders. What were
they here for? Would they really be coming after
him? He ran a long-clawed finger over the smooth
plastic shape that glowed blue in his pocket.
When the footsteps could no longer be heard, he
dashed off into the darkness, out of sight.
Comfort Inn JFK Airport
The subway ride all the way back to Queens was
filled with silence. Silence, that is, between
Mulder and Scully. Rush hour from Grand Central
back to the hotel in which they were forced to
stay by Accounting was anything but quiet. The
travel expenses were really being scrutinized
lately, and the Bureau accounting department had
them staying closer to the airport, rather than
in the city, because Manhattan hotels were
anything but thrifty.
Scully was lucky to find a seat, and even she
had to squeeze herself between two other
passengers. Mulder was content to stand,
strategically so that he could protect Scully’s
little feet from being trampled, but also
secretly because it allowed him to look out the
window, into the dark tunnels, and imagine that
there might be passageways no one knew of, just
waiting to be explored. Somewhere out there,
their suspect was hiding.
It was this line of thinking that Scully could
decipher by the far-off look in her partner’s
eyes as he savored a bite from the turkey dinner
platter in the hotel restaurant. She’d been
determined to change their diet lately from
pizza and take-out to something a little easier
on the arteries. She’d even limited his gravy
use, which explained the reason he’d gone
through at least four glasses of water already.
“So you’re convinced that Mole-boy is your prime
His eyes cleared from his contemplation and
focused upon her. “Give me a little credit,
Scully. There’s a lot more going on here than a
few random assaults. There’s motive here. Just
have to figure out whose motive.”
“I don’t trust this Damien character one bit.
Gives me the creeps.”
“But there’s no reason yet that we can’t trust
him. I’m taking his statements at face value.”
“They’re not even official statements, Mulder!
We weren’t in an interrogation room. We were on
‘his’ turf, and if we’d made any kind of false
move… I don’t even know what would have
happened. We were being led around like monkeys
on a leash and expected to behave when spoken to
in ‘his majesty’s’ court. I thought we were the
ones looking for evidence, not having it force-
fed to us.”
“You’re right, Scully. But we’ve gotta play a
little Columbo on them. If we accept the bull
they’re feeding us, we’ll get more information
than they realize they’re giving.”
She considered this, sucking on an ice cube, and
shook her head warily. “I don’t know, Mulder.
I’d like to at least explore other avenues.
These people, I don’t know how they know about
you — how many emails they exchanged with you –
– but they’re playing into your fantasy. Are you
sure you’re not trying to look for something
just because you *want* it to be there?”
“Meaning?” he replied shortly.
“Meaning,” Scully continued, coating her voice
with honey, “are you sure you’re not so in love
with the romance of a Mole Society thriving
beneath the streets of New York, that you’re not
missing a more obvious, logical explanation?”
“Are you sure you’re not so unwilling to believe
in something a little fantastic that you’re not
seeing the obvious, even though it may defy
Scully swallowed her ice cube, and smiled at the
naked innocence in her partner’s face. “Touche.”
Mulder grinned widely back at her, and gobbled
up the rest of his meal. Between bites, he
added, “You’ll be proud of me, Scully. Our next
stop is Coney Island Hospital to visit Sean
Colby, our victim.”
“A nice reality-based field trip? And no sewer
rats? Mulder, you shouldn’t have!”
“I know what my lady likes,” he said, winking.
Then, flagged the waiter down for their check.
Coney Island Hospital
“We mainly just want to keep him here for
observation, Dr. Scully. He suffered a pretty
serious concussion and has been having
hallucinations ever since. He we go, room 310.
If you need me again, just stop by the nurse’s
station up the hall there.”
“Thank you, doctor.”
“Uh, doctor, hold on a minute,” Mulder navigated
his way around Scully to catch the doctor before
he had a chance to leave. “Exactly what kind of
“Well,” the doctor folded his arms over his
chest and lowered his voice slightly, “since he
was attacked in the dark, it’s mostly at night.
He won’t let us turn the lights off. He says he
sees dogs, or other amorphous small animals with
claws. We assume that it was an animal that had
attacked him, but as of yet, we can’t identify
exactly what it might have been. We assume a
dog, even a cat — it would be the most logical
for the area, but it just doesn’t seem to match
“Match up with what?”
“With what we extracted from the gashes in his
face.” The doctor pulled a folder from the
inside wall of Sean’s hospital room and handed
it to Scully. “You’re the investigators. I’d
appreciate it if we had some answers for this
poor boy. Then maybe we could combat the
psychological, now that the physical has nearly
Scully began leafing through the files while
Mulder continued further into the room to see if
Sean was up for conversation. The boy was in his
early teens, but gray circles around his eyes
from lack of sleep made him look ancient. He
watched Mulder as he pulled up a chair to sit
beside the bed, following his movements one by
“Hi, Sean. My name is Mulder. How you feeling
The boy shrugged.
“How’d you get those battle scars, buddy?” he
asked, pointing his chin in the general
direction of Sean’s upper left temple and down
the side of his face.
He shrugged again.
“Are you having a hard time trying to remember?”
he asked gently, wary that he might be dragging
out a memory that in all likelihood was the
cause of the boy’s dreadful hallucinations.
The boy’s eyes ceased being wearily observant,
and froze, as if he was envisioning something
terrible, just over Mulder’s right shoulder.
“They’re telling you I’m seeing things, aren’t
they? They think I’m crazy,” Sean said hollowly,
neither to Mulder, nor to Scully who now stood
on the opposite side if the bed.
“What kinds of things are you seeing, Sean?”
“Not what I *am* seeing,” he then focused his
eyes onto Mulder, “what I *did* see. They don’t
believe me. You won’t either.”
When the boy saw how patiently, and intently
Mulder was willing to listen, he felt a little
more at ease.
“I saw a… creature. An animal. But it had
hands with long claws that hit me. At first I
thought the garbage had come alive, but it ran
away so fast — like a dog or a rabbit, or a…”
“Mulder, take a look at this,” Scully
interrupted, and passed the opened folder over
to him. She pointed at a photograph within the
folder, of the material that had been extracted
from Sean’s wounds. “It did have claws, but this
was no dog.”
Sean became excited and attempted to sit up
straight, but his eyes rolled back from the
dizziness, and he plopped back onto the pillow
supporting him. He took a few deep breaths and a
cup of water offered by Scully, then settled
down enough to speak again.
“You really think I’m right? You know what it
was?” Sean asked, hopeful.
Mulder turned to his partner, searching her face
for an answer.
“I can’t be sure until I make some comparisons,
Mulder. It’s difficult to tell from the photo. I
wonder if they kept a sample or turned it over
to the police?”
Sean plucked at Mulder’s sleeve to get his
attention. Then he pointed over to a small gym
bag on another guest chair. “They gave me a
souvenir,” he said, and cracked as close to a
smile as they’d seen since entering the room.
“Kinda like having my appendix out, but no jar.”
Mulder reached over to the canvas bag, and
sifted through some clean folded clothes and
comic books. There was a plain white paper bag
at the very bottom with Sean’s last name on it.
Mulder pulled it out, and removed the contents.
It was a Ziploc bag, and what was inside looked
like part of a thick yellowish fingernail — too
big to be human, but not the right shape at all
to have been from a dog.
“Sean, do you think we can borrow this?”
“You’ll give it back?”
“Absolutely. This may be your ticket out of
Sean closed his eyes and sighed deeply, a wash
of solemnity softened his face. “Cool, man. I
just want to go home.”
Comfort Inn JFK Airport
Scully tapped her fingernails on the laminate
table. She’d exhausted all resources on the Net
for information on animal anatomy, from rats to
dogs, and even disfiguring human nail diseases.
She’d been putting it off all evening, but knew
she had to check it out.
Gritting her teeth, she clicked the link for
genus Talpinae on the University of Michigan’s
Animal Diversity web site. She scrolled down the
list, clicking on the first species that
provided picture references. When she saw the
picture at the top of the page, her heart beat a
little slower. It was just her luck. She sat
back in her chair, rubbed her eyes and wondered
if the sneakers she had packed were going to
serve her well enough through another trip
underground. At least she’d be prepared this
time, not like their first experience yesterday.
She picked up the Ziploc bag, fingered the shape
inside through the plastic, and checked it
against the claws of the animal in the jpeg. It
was the closest match she’d found so far.
“You all right, Scully?” Mulder asked from where
he sat on the bed.
“You know, I can take over the research for a
while if you like. You don’t have to curse about
She swiveled away from the laptop to face him.
“Condylura Cristata. That’s the star-nosed mole,
and the closest match to this,” she explained,
holding up the Ziploc so that he could see it.
Mulder sprang from the bed, snapped his glance
toward the web page, then the specimen his
“‘The star-nosed mole is often found in colonies
that live in damp or muddy soil in which a
network of tunnels is constructed,'” he read
aloud. He pressed the Page Down button and
scrolled down. “Look at this, Scully. Unique
appendages, tentacles around the nose, that were
believed to be used as electroreceptors to sense
electric fields of prey.”
He stood up straight, finger to his lips. Then
he pointed toward the folder on the bed, a copy
of Sean’s medical information as well as the
initial police report, which contained a printed
copy of Sean’s initial statements. He thumbed
through them quickly, then pulled out the sheet
he was looking for.
“Sean said that before he was attacked, there
was an incredibly bad smell. What if Mole-boy
and his kind have adapted to use their unique
physiology, what a normal mole like this would
use, into something as a defense mechanism?”
“But this mole uses those appendages to
*identify* prey using receptors, not send out
signals in order to incapacitate it.”
“Yeah, but it sends out signals nonetheless.
Like I said, what if it adapted, learned how to
use that talent further than its natural
capacity. I mean, this isn’t just a mole,
Scully. It’s a mole *person*. If humans have
extra sensory capabilities, why not him? And he
has an advantage over us already, being a hybrid
“We don’t know that he has any such appendages,
Mulder. All we have is part of a claw.”
“When did we say we were meeting Michael
“Hope you brought your sneakers, Scully. ‘Cause
we’re going in.”
South 4th Street Station
April 17, 2 p.m.
“I don’t know, Mulder. Michael seemed to be
pretty quick about suggesting this particular
station yesterday. Who’s to say he’s not going
to lead us into another Damien-trap like Joseph
“Because Michael likes to research the history
of the tunnels, not explore them. I have a
feeling, if Michael knows what he’s talking
about, that we’ll be able to call the shots
“Call the shots? Sounds like we’re going into
Alice’s rabbit hole without a safety rope.”
Mulder sucked in his cheeks, and tried not to
confirm her suspicions. Without uttering a
syllable, Scully already knew that they were.
Michael stood waiting for them at one end of the
platform, shuffling several sheets of paper on
his clipboard, and checking his pockets as if
looking for his keys. The time it took the two
agents to walk the length of the platform to
meet him, he’d repeated this process at least
three more times.
The nervous yuppie noticed them only as they
were five paces away, and smiled timidly,
standing up straighter to hide his excitement.
“Mr. Mulder and Miss Scully. It is good to see
you again. I uh … must apologize for running
out on you yesterday. If it were up to me…”
“Don’t worry Michael. We had quite an
experience, but we’re fine and in one piece
“So far…” Scully murmured under her breath.
“That’s good to hear.” Michael took a deep
breath and let it out slowly. When he was
finished it seemed that he was much more
relaxed. “Well, you do know that this station is
where we’ve had the most sightings. After this,
some went up as far as 54th street, but most
recent sightings have been downtown and in
Brooklyn. Can’t imagine why they’d be travelling
“Across a body of water. That’s quite a move
I’ll agree. Any reason you should think there
would be a migration out of the city?”
“I really couldn’t say, Mr. Mulder. But, I have
compiled a good amount of research on this area,
branching out from this station. There are
plenty of places in this general area where an
underground dweller might hide out.”
“Really? And what type of person, would you say,
is the ideal type to be an underground dweller?”
Michael’s eyes bulged ever so slightly. “You
mean… but I had thought that… Aren’t you
“Yes, we are here to investigate them,” Mulder
replied, laying a hand onto Michael’s shoulder.
“I just wanted to be sure we were on the same
A local train could be heard far down the track.
It wasn’t long before it was racing into the
station, forcing a current of hot tunnel air
past them, and screeching to a halt. The doors
opened with a “bing-bong” and just as quickly,
swallowed up its passengers, and hurried on it’s
The three remained on the platform, watching the
brown G symbol on the back of the subway car get
smaller and smaller until it finally disappeared
in the distance.
“Now that we have some time to ourselves,”
Michael began, “I’ll give you some history on
this station, and why I think Mole-boy may be
using it as a hub.”
He led them to the very end of the station, past
the stairs that led up to street level, the
ticket booths and even the emergency exit. They
walked all the way to the very end, where the
platform ended in a white tiled wall. Here,
Michael stopped, and pointed across the way.
“If you notice, there’s an extra platform on
either side of the station. These are generally
unused, unless there’s congestion or a broken-
down train or what have you. The two center
tracks are really what’s used daily. When the
city was still attempting to build a secondary
railway system, the IND, this station was
intended to be much bigger — a total of 6
tracks was proposed, and had begun construction.
But as you see, that never came to fruition.
Hence, the remaining four tracks. But…”
Michael faced his two companions with a leering
grin, “the other two tracks still exist. They’re
just hidden behind these walls.”
Mulder became excited. “How do we get to them?”
“Uh,” Michael shifted his feet and his face
turned a bright red. “Well, that is, you — you
can’t. They’ve been sealed off. See there?” He
pointed to the platform opposite the track
behind them. “See that railing randomly
sectioning off a section of the platform? It’s
nothing but a slab of concrete. That’s the old
stairway that was meant to go under the tracks
and come up in the center, here, to transfer
“Sealed off like a tomb,” Mulder commented
dejectedly. He stared at it hard, wondering if
there was any other way. If Mole-boy could do
“How can he use this place, then?” Mulder asked,
not to anyone in particular.
“Uck! Look at the size of that thing!” Scully
Just to the left of the railing a huge sewer rat
walked, yes walked, for it was too big to scurry
anywhere like a normal sized rat, sniffing at
one spot or another on the concrete floor. When
it had no reason to explore the area any longer,
it began to make its way toward the edge, ready
to jump. Scully clung to Mulder’s elbow, fearing
that it was attempting to launch it self across
the valley that was the subway tracks. Instead,
it tested the edge with its front paw, then
gingerly, climbed down to the dusty floor below.
It was then that it happened. The rat
“Where did it go?” Scully asked a little too
desperately than she’d hoped.
“It went there! Do you see that seam in the
“Mr. Mulder, it’s a rat. A rat can go any number
of places that we could not. I wouldn’t bother
with — what are you doing?!”
“You said this track was rarely used, didn’t
Before anyone could stop him, Mulder hopped down
off the edge of the platform, and into the
valley between the two platforms. He made a bee-
line for the seam in the wall beside the tracks.
When he got close enough, so that he was
standing beneath the overhang, he looked to his
right and exclaimed, “Well, call me squeaky!”
“Mulder, what are you doing?” Scully yelled,
glancing up and down the track to be absolutely
sure no train was coming. Her ears were tuned
for any remotely train-like sound. “There’s
nothing there! What are you looking at? Muld–”
Mulder took a step forward, and disappeared.
About two hundred feet further down the
platform, a shadowy figure peeked around a
thick, white-tiled pillar. Leathery skin
crinkled to slits around sharp, observant eyes.
It wouldn’t be long now. Not long at all.
Can *NOT* believe I’m doing this! Cannot believe
I’m doing this. Cannot believe I’m doing this.
“I’m doing this.”
Scully jumped down to track level against the
protest of their paranoid, although quite
sensible guide at the moment. It was a little
bit of a further jump for Scully, since she
didn’t have Mulder’s height advantage. She
landed hard, but stabilized quickly. Stepping
carefully over each track, she followed in her
partner’s footsteps, close up to the opposite
platform. When she arrived at the exact same
location, she saw it immediately.
It wasn’t visible at all from where they’d stood
before, just a seam in the concrete. But
standing here, she could see perfectly that it
was an impressive trick of perspective. There
before her was a passage that ran parallel to
the tracks, right beneath the lip of the
platform above. It was only about two feet wide,
but certainly big enough for an average person
to fit through. What seemed like a seam in the
concrete support of the platform was actually
the edge of the entrance. And Michael wouldn’t
see it because it was perpendicular from where
he stood, like a pocket in the wall. Only
standing in this exact spot was it visible.
She removed the pen light from her jacket
pocket, and went in.
Mulder hadn’t gone too far ahead. He was
slightly slumped over, since they were actually
below the platform now. “Scully, there’s an exit
over on that side.”
They both shone their flashlights in the
direction he pointed. As they navigated around
support beams, Scully trained her light on the
floor for other less obvious obstacles —
intending particularly to avoid those that
They squeezed through what Mulder had identified
as their exit, a portion of the wall that looked
like it was eaten away, re-bar and bricks jagged
on the edges, and came out into a cavern. It was
long and about large enough to contain a set of
tracks, but it was clearly unfinished. Roughly
cut, the bare bedrock of Manhattan was it’s
walls, and the ground was damp and sludgy. They
kept to the edge of the space, where it was
dryer, but this was naked earth down here, and
unpredictable at least.
Their small beams of light caught glimpses of
rock, scattered pieces of metal, and small piles
of wooden beams. They found a set of footprints
going in a general northward direction. It was
an extremely regular path, one that had been
traveled quite often and had worn a groove in
the dirt. Suddenly it ended and their
flashlights lost all detail in the ground…
particularly because it wasn’t there.
“It leads down,” Mulder observed.
Carefully, they tested their footing, and found
that the floor of this new passage was solid
enough, though slightly slippery with mud. It
was however shorter, and Mulder was bent over
quite a bit before it opened up to a comfortable
height again. They traveled around corners, and
noticed more exits that branched off the path
they followed, but they decided not to stray for
fear of getting lost.
Soon, it appeared that they could distinguish
more detail in their surroundings. It was
getting brighter. Above them, they noticed a
long network of extension chords linked end to
end. There were hundreds of them. And at each
juncture between the chords, a caged service
light was attached, which made the tunnel glow
dimly with a yellowish light.
“Somebody’s been busy,” Mulder commented.
It was difficult to describe at first, but as
they progressed further, there was evidence of
habitation. The surroundings were not so
unfinished, and they didn’t completely notice
the change until they passed through a sort of
At first, it looked like stucco, but upon closer
inspection it could be seen that it was
something else entirely. Advertisements
plastered the tunnel walls, but they were
painted over with some sort of whitewash. One
could still make out glimpses of what the
posters used to be, but they were nonetheless
hidden. And what was painted yet on top of the
whitewash base was something they’d never
expected to see.
Primitive drawings, a whole story it seemed,
beginning from the ceiling and cascading down
toward the floor. Shapes of human-like creatures
with long claws and abnormally lengthened noses
filled curved lines that connected like a maze.
It almost looked decorative, but they noticed
the shapes and scenes change continuously
including modern, recognizable shapes like
buildings and cars and trains.
“What do you think this is, Mulder,” Scully
prompted as she ran her fingers over the uneven
surface. “Is this history, or does this still
“If this still exists, then we’re on a much more
complicated hunt than we thought.”
The walls ceased being painted after several
meters, and they came upon a cot, somewhat
randomly placed along one side of the tunnel.
Beside it, a box of single gloves, shoes and
hats, newspapers, a radio and any number of
other collected items. Among the folds of a
well-loved bedspread was something that made the
fabric glow a pale blue color. When Mulder
lifted the cloth away, they found that it was a
Picking it up, Mulder read aloud, “Sean.” The
teenager had tagged the back of his cell phone
with his name in a fancy stylized script with
paint marker. “This has got to be our man.”
Scully raised an eyebrow at that.
“You know what I mean. But what is all this?
It’s almost like this is some sort of an
outpost. If he’s the last of his kind, like
Damien suggests, what’s he protecting?”
They decided to explore the space a little more.
On the opposite wall were stacks of newspapers
and magazines that stood taller than Scully. She
picked up one that had fallen to the floor, and
noticed that any pages that contained pictures
of faces had the bottom halves removed.
“Isn’t that strange?” she commented.
“He’s removing the parts of humans that don’t
resemble himself,” Mulder’s psychoanalytical
side explained. “He’s trying to make the world
we live in something that he can be accepted in.
Those drawings on the wall, they must depict at
least his profile, if not more. Our differences
don’t have to be emphasized if he doesn’t have
to look at them.”
Mulder was about to take the magazine from
Scully for closer inspection when he heard a
scratching from somewhere close by.
“Shh. You hear that?”
They stood as still as carved marble, straining
their ears to hear it again. It was faint, but
it was there again, and this time it was
accompanied by a creaking sound. It was almost
too late before they noticed the creaking was
from the shifting weight of paper and the tall
stacks of magazines were leaning forward.
Mulder was able to leap out of the way in time,
but Scully was not so lucky. At once a pile of
glossy paper tumbled down to bury her. Mulder
scrambled forward to help dig her out when a
shape jumped out at him, like it emerged from
the wall itself, sprang over the pile and sped
down the tunnel.
“Stop!” he called after it.
His partner forgotten, Mulder dashed after the
creature. With each pass beneath another service
light in the long chain of chords, he could
still see it, and follow fairly easily — but it
was fast. As he ran, he vaguely noticed that all
the walls were of intricate brickwork. Mere
animals did not live here. When the passage
curved around and he was met with a choice
between two ways, on faith he took the right.
Mulder jogged a good distance hoping that he was
travelling in the right direction. When he
didn’t see any sign of movement for a while, he
stopped. The air was dense here and he had to
breathe more heavily than when he went out for
his regular runs. When he’d caught his breath,
he suddenly remembered Scully beneath the pile
He immediately turned around and started back,
but was unexpectedly blocked by the very
creature he sought.
It was much shorter than him and wore a dark
green plastic suit that looked like it may have
been constructed with lawn bags. No wonder Sean
had thought he was attacked by garbage. Large
goggles covered its eyes, strapped too tight
because the ears were abnormally small, and its
nose — or in this case, snout — was too big to
be comfortable in the human-constructed piece of
It was pasty-white and it smelled of mildew and
garbage and something animal-like altogether.
Mulder twitched his nose at the offensive odor,
and noticed that Mole-boy mimicked his gesture.
Only when Mole-boy twitched his snout, it
disturbed some tiny nodules surrounding it, just
on the edges of his cheekbones, and below, above
the upper lip. Mulder thought of Scully’s
description of the animal on the web, and
deduced that these might be evolutionary
modifications to the human-mole hybrid
It began to breathe heavily, with an undertone
of a low growl. It was almost like a cat’s
purring, but Mulder recognized it as more of a
defense mechanism and forewarning than any
expression of friendliness. It was a stand off.
Mulder slowly raised his hands in surrender,
trying to show the creature that he meant no
harm. The gravelly breaths slowed, and
eventually ceased altogether so that the two
adversaries stood silent. Drops of water plinked
into puddles. Gasps of air breezed through the
long passageways, whistling like specters.
Mulder was almost sure at some point he could
actually hear his watch ticking, but then the
silence was broken.
“Why have you followed me here,” Mole-boy began.
His voice was like old sandpaper, dry and
powdery from disuse.
“I’m…” Mulder was sure he was here for more
than discovering that Mole People actually
existed. Standing before him was living proof!
He lifted his shoulder in a half-shrug, and felt
the weight of an extra cell phone in his pocket.
He must have shoved it in there before the
“…I’m here because I have to help protect a
boy. Someone attacked him. I think it was you.”
Mole-boy snuffled his wrist against his snout,
careful to keep claws away from his delicate
skin. “Don’t know what you mean. Don’t know no
boy.” He emphasized ‘boy’ with a sneering tone.
“Then where did you get this?” Mulder reached
for his pocket containing Sean’s cell phone.
The creature twitched at his sudden movement,
but remained to study this stranger’s
“I think differently,” Mulder accused.
Mole-boy grunted. “So? Just a thing. What is it
to the ‘boy,’ this thing?”
“You attacked him to get it.”
“What *is* the truth?”
The creature jerked his head around, looking in
all corners of the tunnel they stood in. It
seemed like he was afraid to say something, as
if others could hear him.
“Been looking for new home. Was going to meet
someone. An…” he glanced quickly around again,
“… an up-worlder. Like you. Someone above-
ground. Boy attacked me first.”
“He tripped over you,” Mulder informed.
“Never trust up-worlders! Never!” He beat the
palm of his hand against his bald forehead.
Mole-boy slumped to the floor, as if weary from
a long couple of days. He sat with his legs
sprawled forward, and clawed hands between them
on the floor. His head lifted, and Mulder could
see his own reflection distort in the dark
“They all must go. We don’t want to leave. Been
here longer. Our land. Our home. Why come to
underground? Why up-worlders want our home?”
Mulder’s shoulders relaxed, less defensive than
before. This creature was not out to harm him
intentionally. He was working in self-defense.
And although he wanted to find the assailant in
the crime, maybe simply leaving Mole-boy alone
would solve any further attacks.
“Look, I’ll leave quietly, and make sure nobody
ever comes down here. Will that help?”
“Why?” Mole-boy asked full of distrust.
“Well, let’s just say I’ve always wanted to meet
you.” Mulder lowered his hands, but held them
palm-up so that Mole-boy was sure he wasn’t
going to try anything as he sidled by. As
careful as he was, the creature still scurried
as close to the wall as possible, giving this
stranger ample room to pass.
As Mulder began the trek back the way he came,
satisfied that all had been solved, he heard the
scratchy voice behind him.
Mulder turned to listen.
“No up-worlders here anymore? Sure?”
Mulder nodded. “Promise.”
Mulder jerked in surprise. “What about him?” His
stomach was all of a sudden solidifying
“Damien takes all our land. This place,” he
gestured upward with his snout, “the only one
left. Please. No Damien. Don’t let him take our
home again. They all tried to hide with us.
After the ‘big boom.’ We got rid of them. They
can’t stay! Don’t want to leave home.”
So that was it. He and Scully *had* been led
into Damien’s lair for a reason. They were meant
to believe that the Mole-People were dangerous –
– a threat to all human life. Mulder was
beginning to see a clear picture now. There was
a feud going on here. He hoped he was making the
“I’ll make sure,” he promised.
Mole-boy stood for a moment longer, unmoving.
Hesitantly, then more confidently, he nodded in
acceptance. A warm feeling came over Mulder. He
could save these creatures from extinction. The
tunnel even felt like it was getting warmer and
brighter. He turned to continue back to Scully,
but before he rounded the corner back into the
main tunnel, he stole one last quick glance at
Mole-boy for remembrance sake.
Mole-boy was surrounded by a brighter, pale
yellow glow. Behind him, several timid shadows
emerged from the exits off the tunnel. Beady
eyes shone in the darkness, watching him. Mole-
boy got up from his seated position, and
disappeared into one of the portals. Then the
lights got dimmer again, and they all
“Mulder?” Scully’s voice echoed from a distance.
Mulder followed the sound of his partner’s voice
to find his way back. Strangely, the way back
was much easier than he’d thought. The tunnel
was a straight-away, when he was sure he’d gone
around several corners chasing after the Mole-
boy. When he finally arrived, she’d just
finished digging herself out of the pile. He was
so glad to see her, bursting at the seams with
glee over his encounter.
“Scully! Scully, are you… did you…”
“I’m fine. No, I didn’t see it. And I don’t know
— correction,” she held up one finger, “I don’t
*want* to know.”
“Wow, I think that’s the first time I’ve heard
your stock answer to everything. I assume you
want to get the heck out of here.”
“I’d say that’s a safe assumption,” she said,
rolling her eyes and stretching the aches in her
back. He grabbed her elbow for support and led
her through the long, dark, damp way back.
South 4th Street Station
“Thank God you’re all right! No, no, there’s a
ladder down that way. Why you ever wanted to
jump down there in the first place…”
Mulder and Scully emerged from the darkness to
find Michael pacing up and down the goose-
pimpled yellow edging of the platform. He was
ecstatic to see them safe, and for the most part
unharmed though quite soiled from their
adventure. He pulled them each up to safety, and
when they’d seemed more or less ready, he
swallowed stiffly and asked, “What did you see?”
“They saw that there’s more space being taken up
by those devilish creatures! I knew it was
there! I’ve been searching for it for quite some
The three of them whipped around. First, they
saw the tattered mismatched sneakers, then the
long wool coat, and finally those crazy eyes
shining from behind a gleefully crinkled face
emerge from behind a white tiled pillar a few
“Preserving the rights of the Homeless again, I
suppose?” Michael spat out, surprising himself
with the forcefulness of his own voice.
“Exactly right! The extermination must continue!
We’re not safe until *they* are all gone! Tell
me, did you kill him right away, or did you hurt
him and watch the slime suffer before he died?”
Damien nearly salivated at the prospect of
seeing such a gruesome act.
“Nothing of the sort. He’s still alive,” Mulder
“WHAT! You let him — Let me in there! I’ll
destroy them all!”
Mulder moved quickly, and before anyone could
discern what was happening, he had Damien on the
floor with his arms pinned behind his back. With
the click of his handcuffs, Mulder said, “You’re
not going anywhere. And you’re not ever going to
set foot in that tunnel. How does a few nights
in custody sound to you? Should give us enough
time to have that passage walled up nice and
“You can’t do that! We have no place else to go.
The number of my subjects is growing larger
every day. There’s no room anymore!”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Really, I am.
Homelessness is not fun. But there are ways,
Damien. We’re going to help your ‘subjects’ see
the light again. They don’t deserve to live
under your reign. And taking from others what
was never yours is wrong.
“People’s sense of recognition gets a little dim
when they’re attacked in a dark alley or subway
station, you know. I can place you at any of
those sightings or assaults, and it wouldn’t be
too far off from the truth. You’ve managed to
falsely accuse all of those underground
dwellers, driven them to the point where they
don’t trust any human anymore. Wiping out a
culture that supposedly doesn’t exist isn’t a
crime that we can lock you up for, but it’s
“Who all? Culture? Mulder–”
“I’ll explain later. Grab his arm.”
With Scully’s help, Mulder hauled Damien up and
out to the turnstiles of the station, kicking
and screaming. They were met there by several
police officers, who had been called on by a
pedestrian who had witnessed the skirmish a few
minutes ago and reported it to the ticket
“Officers,” Mulder addressed the two men in blue
uniform. They apprehended the homeless man, and
scowled at the three others until Mulder and
Scully pulled out their badges. “We found this
one among the inactive South-bound tracks. Put
up quite a fight, but he was nearly the victim
of a cave-in down there. Seems there’s a crawl
space beneath the platform. I suggest you have
Public Works wall it up before there are some
“Thank you, sir. Uh, would you mind coming in
with us to make a statement?”
Damien growled at that, but hung his head low in
Enjoying the sway of his federal status just a
little too much, Mulder smirked at Scully and
said, “Not at all, officers. Not at all.”
MTA Archive Room
April 18, 2004
“Mulder, you’re just not going to find it. We’ve
been here for hours. Would you just let it go?”
“It’s got to be here, Scully. A network of
tunnels that huge could not be completely
uncharted. It’s impossible.”
Michael came over with another stack he’d
retrieved from a flat file, and laid the
blueprints on the light table.
“I’m afraid she may be correct, Mr.– I mean,
Agent Mulder. I know these maps better than
anyone here does. I’ve studied them a hundred
times. What was not charted just did not matter
to the construction of the transit system, nor
the sewage systems of New York. I am sorry.”
“It didn’t matter to them, but that doesn’t mean
they weren’t there.”
“Well, we can’t have a team of archaeologists
come in and study the area, Mulder. New York
City is too heavily constructed to attempt such
a study. And besides,” Scully moved closer to
him and rubbed his back, “do you really want
anyone going down there again?”
He fingered his upper lip in thought, then
flipped the switch to the light table, leaving
them all in semi-darkness. Michael sat across
from them, hovering above a second light table,
watching them for an answer.
“You’re right, Scully. I made a promise. I’m
going to keep it.” He took her hand and squeezed
it tightly. Then he turned to the man across
from them. “Thank you for all your help,
Michael. You’ve been an unexpected ally in all
“You’re welcome, agents. Do keep in touch. If
there’s anything else I can ever help you with.
Well, you have my e-mail.”
They shook hands firmly, chuckling in
understanding, and the two agents left Michael
among his precious maps and flat files. He
gathered up, organized, and placed all the
blueprints carefully back into their respective
Before he turned off the rest of the lights,
Michael pulled out a dark yellow envelope from
beneath all the papers on his clip board. He
sighed heavily, studying the plain unmarked
envelope, thankful that he didn’t have to use
this to deter any further exploration of the
He went over to the light tables and switched
one on again. He pulled out two sheets of
acetate material, smoky gray images burned into
them, and laid them out onto the lit surface.
The x-rays were old. He hadn’t really looked at
them in years.
To the left, he placed the first one, a negative
depicting the profile of a deformed skull, the
bridge of the nose protruding further than
normal, making the whole shape of it look
oblong, more animal-like. Teeth were also extra
long, and fewer than what a normal human would
have. To the right, he laid a second negative.
This one showed a normal profile of a skull, all
aspects just as one would have expected.
In the upper right corner of each x-ray, there
was a label identifying the patient to which
they belonged. On both negatives it read,