The Autumn People

THE AUTUMN PEOPLE

TITLE: The Autumn People

AUTHOR: Traveler

Feedback:: iluvxf@hotmail.com

RATING: PG-13 for a few nasty words

CONTENT: X-File, Angst, MSR and a little MT

SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully encounter a touch of evil and do a little soul searching in the heartland of America.

FEEDBACK: Always welcomed.

DISCLAIMER: 1013 and FOX own these characters.

DISTRIBUTION: Exclusive to VS!2 for two weeks. Please send me an email if you would like to archive elsewhere.

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INDIANA STATE ROUTE 45, 4:38PM

The constant droning of the tires had lulled her to sleep

miles ago. She wasn’t sure what had possessed Mulder to

leave the interstate for these quiet Indiana back roads but

she could only look at so many miles of open farmland

before boredom overtook her and she drifted off. She knew

he was upset, choosing the constant noise of the classic

rock station that he’d selected on the radio instead of

conversation.

They’d come out here by invitation from a support group for

abductees, ‘alien abductees’ for whom Mulder had become

somewhat of an idol. When he couldn’t give them an answer

as to what he or the government were doing to stop the

invasion threat they all believed existed his golden imaged

had been forever tarnished.

Since the events of the last month they had tried to make a

life for themselves outside the X-Files. The fight still

raged on Capital Hill over the governments’ complicity in a

growing list of cover-ups but the policy of denial was

still in full force despite the equally growing number of

groups involved in blowing the whistle. The can of worms

Mulder had opened all those months ago was yet to make

anyone uncomfortable. Mulder’s credibility was beginning

to suffer, so much for public awareness.

And now these people who had experienced some of the same

frightening things she had, who only wanted someone to give

them faith that their voices would be heard had felt they’d

been let down by the very person they believed understood.

The Mulder she knew today was not that same impulsive,

driven, loner she had met all those years ago, demanding

answers by waving a gun and a badge. Dedicated as it were

to an endless search of truths he’d yet to find. He’d

grown up to face the stark reality that you didn’t always

get what you wanted and quite often it cost you more than

you gained. He’d come to realize that it wasn’t worth the

price. The heartache of the last ten years had brought

them together. They had each other but not much else and

somehow that seemed a hollow reward for all they had been

through.

The decisions they’d made in the past few months had left

him in a melancholy mood. She knew he enjoyed spending

time with her and her family but she could always sense his

loss of self-direction. The idea of leaving the Bureau had

given him cause for thought. Torn between wanting to head

his career in another direction and finding a purpose for

continuing their work she knew he found it hard to get

motivated these days. He told everyone he was between

careers. The one he spent living off his inheritance and

the one where he actually did something for a living. She

knew how he felt; her emotions were spent. The sudden

cessation of motion brought her awake.

Opening her eyes to the late afternoon sunshine she looked

first at why they had come to a stop and then at Mulder who

seemed to be engrossed in the scene spread out before them.

He had pulled the car of on the shoulder of a two-lane

road. Perched as they were on the top of a slight rise the

field below them was filled with wilted vines and hundreds

of golden pumpkins. The sun made the cloud filled fall sky

dark and foreboding despite the warm hues of the turning

foliage.

He sensed her awakening and tilted his head towards the

scene before them. “Will you look at that?”

“It’s a field of pumpkins Mulder,” she stated somewhat

annoyed, stretching to get the kinks out of her shoulders.

“Why have we stopped?”

Trying to lighten her mood he smiled slightly, “That’s got

to be the most sincere pumpkin patch I’ve ever seen.”

What did sincerity have to do with a field of pumpkins? It

was late afternoon, they were in the middle of nowhere USA

and she ached from having fallen asleep buckled into the

seat of yet another in a never ending supply of Ford

Taurus’. Is that all rental agencies furnished these days?

Angrily she let him have it. “What the hell are you

talking about?” It made him flinch.

“Geez, Scully, you’ve never seen THE GREAT PUMPKIN?”

Oh, please, she thought, some people never grow up. But

she decided to play along. “Please don’t tell me we’re

going to spend the night in that pumpkin patch waiting for

the Great Pumpkin?”

“I saw a sign for a Bed and Breakfast a few yards back,

it’s your choice.” He put the car in drive but didn’t take

his foot off the brake.

Some choice she thought to herself, but a bed and hot water

sounded much more appealing. Mulder could sleep in the

pumpkin patch if he wanted to. They do have hot water out

here don’t they? “Where are we?”

“Needmore.”

“You’re kidding right?”

“Come on, Scully, this is the heartland of America, the

stuff you miss flying by at 70 miles per hour on the

Interstate or soaring over at thirty-five thousand feet.”

“And we need to stop here because? If we’d stayed on the

Interstate we’d be in Indianapolis by now. Don’t we have a

flight to catch?” Even to her own ears she sounded bitchy.

“I cancelled our flight,” he stated too matter-of-factly

turning the wheel and giving the car a little gas. Damn,

how long had she been asleep? As he eased the car back

onto the road she took in the dreamy look he still seemed

to have. Almost like he’d been asleep too, or lost in his

own thoughts for all these miles.

“Mulder, what’s wrong?”

He turned, almost too suddenly, a defensive motion.

“Nothing!” he bit his lip when she flinched. “Not a damn

thing.” Then he reached over to pull her left hand into

his and let out a long sigh of frustration, then a gentle

smile curved his lip. “I seem to remember a conversation

in a car with you once before…something about stopping the

car. I thought we should stop.” Despite the caress he

placed on the back of her hand, he turned back to the road

just as quickly.

“If I remember correctly, that didn’t turn out too well.”

“Yeah, well, maybe it just wasn’t the right place or the

right time,” he said, pulling his hand away and gripping

the wheel a little too tightly. Time, something they never

seem to have enough of just for themselves. Giving the car

a little gas he eased it back onto the road, Scully settled

into her seat her gaze coming to rest on her partner. They

were still partners weren’t they? Their relationship had

grown so much over the past couple years but to define what

they now were to each other was almost impossible to

categorize.

Less than a mile down the road a small sigh appeared

welcoming them to Needmore, Indiana. There was obviously

something needful in Mulder’s desire for them to stop here.

Whether it was fatigue, the futility of their situation or

a need for some personal redemption she wasn’t sure. What

she was sure of however, as the sun disappeared behind the

fall clouds was the sudden chill she felt as they headed

into town.

DOWNTOWN NEEDMORE

It occurred to them as they drove through the center of

town that they had driven though some sort of time warp and

ended up in the 1940’s. Needmore, Indiana had a small

village square surrounded on three sides by dated

brownstone store fronts. On the forth side sat a town hall

and what appeared to be a library. A couple of older

vehicles sat in front of a diner on the corner across from

the town hall. The cloudy evening made it all look that

much more depressing. “You said you saw a sign for a bed

and breakfast?”

“Yeah.” What he hadn’t told her was that the sign had been

so weathered it was hardly readable. “Right before I

pulled off the road, it said Main Street.”

“Well, there are no other streets Mulder. This has got to

be Main Street.”

Despite the well-kept appearance of the square, dry leaves

scurried down the street in bunches, gathering in empty

doorways, there were very few shoppers. Scully rolled down

her window at the site of a couple of gentlemen who had

emerged from the barber shop, complete with turning barber

pole as they came to an intersection. A blast of frigid

fall air gusted into the window surprising her. “Excuse

me,” the three men turned at the sound of her voice. “Can

you tell us where the…” she turned to Mulder. “What was

the name of the place, anyway?”

“Need More Rest, I think it said.”

She stared at him a moment in disbelief, should she scream

now and scare these poor gentlemen to death or do it in the

privacy of the car after she rolled the window back up?

Turning back to the gentlemen she casually asked, “Can you

tell us where the Need More Rest Bed and Breakfast is?”

Deciding she’d kill Mulder for this later.

“That’s Alice’s place,” the one man dressed in coveralls

and a barn jacket and leaning on a cane replied. Another

man in their party, an older gentlemen, stepped up to the

window of the car. He wore a three piece suit and as he

leaned into the window pulled a pocket watch from his vest

and popped it open. “It’s almost five, you’ll have to

hurry. She doesn’t take any guests after five o’clock.

The house is two blocks down on the right.”

“Thank you,” they both said in unison.

Mulder pulled away from the curb as Scully pushed the

button for the window enclosing them both in the warm of

the car. Two blocks from the square they came to a sign in

front of a huge gray Victorian home covered in white

gingerbread trim. The yard was full of whimsical yard art

and whirligigs. They pulled into the driveway and Mulder

cut the engine, leaning into Scully’s space as she turned

to take in the house before them. “Welcome to Wonderland,

Scully.”

“If the Queen of Hearts comes out that door Mulder, we’re

leaving.” He chuckled and popped the door. The wind

swirled and lifted his overcoat before he could wrap it

snugly around himself. He buttoned it quickly and came

around the car to accompany Scully up the stairs of the big

house. The huge porch looked much the same as the yard

did; filled with baskets of waning flowers and knick-

knacks. A swing at the end swayed with the stiff breeze.

Scully wrapped on the door as Mulder turned the knob to

find it unlocked. Bells jingled from the top of the door

as they both stepped into the foyer. “Hello,” Scully

called out.

The foyer extended into a hallway that appeared to reach

all the way to the back of the house. To their right was a

beautiful ornate staircase leading to the second floor. On

their left were French doors that led to a sitting room.

“Hello”, they both called this time but there was still no

reply. Mulder was about to make his way down the hallway

when they heard the jingle of a bell and someone stomping

their feet. An elderly woman’s voice echoed from the back

of the house. “Just a moment, I’ll be right in.”

A few moments later they were greeted by a collie mix dog

followed closely by a tall elderly woman in a long denim

dress. “Maggie, sit!” she commanded to the dog.

“Goodness, I was out in the yard and noticed your car in

the drive,” she apologized pushing up the sleeves of her

dark green sweater. “What can I do for you folks?”

“We’d like a room, actually, Mulder said. My name is Fox

Mulder; this is my–friend Dana Scully. I saw your sign

down the road.”

Alice’s hand flew to her chest, she seemed a little

flustered. “Oh, my, yes, I haven’t had any quests it quite

some time.”

“If this in inconvenient for you,” Scully said. “We can be

on our way.”

The woman seemed to hesitate for a moment. Taking in their

smart attire, she was sure this couple was not just out for

a weekend drive. She had heard Mulder hesitate when he

mentioned his lady friend, like he wasn’t sure what to call

her and yet there was something in his voice, in the

hopeful way he had asked about the accommodations and

besides, Maggie seemed to sense this tired looking

gentleman was asking for more than a room for the night.

“Oh, no, no, I’m sorry, my name is Alice Halloway; you’re

very welcome to stay. Please, just give me a few minutes

to get a room ready.”

As she started up the stairs she turned to them once more.

“Will you want one or two rooms?”

“One will be fine,” Scully replied and Alice disappeared up

the stairs with Maggie close on her heels.

Scully stepped into the large sitting room as Mulder went

out to the car to get their bags. Glancing about the room

she decided they were definitely stuck in the forties. The

furnishings in the room were just as Victorian as the house

itself. Mulder wouldn’t be spending any time punching a TV

remote tonight, there was none. Everything in the room

looked perfect, like no one had used it for a very long

time. There wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. Suddenly she

heard someone calling her name and walked back to the

hallway. “Miss Scully?” Alice called from the top of the

stairs. Scully approached the bottom of the beautiful

staircase and looked up. “I’m sorry; I was just admiring

your sitting room.”

“The room is ready if you’ll come up I’ll show you around.”

Mulder pulled their garment bags from the trunk of the car

and turned to go back into the house. He stopped abruptly

when he found himself face to face with a tall dark skinned

man with a neatly trimmed beard and sporting a black

waistcoat and tall hat. He had dark eyes and a mystical

quality to his voice when he spoke. “Mr. Mulder, my name

is Alvin Dark,” he said, extending his hand for Mulder to

shake. Mulder hesitated a moment as he felt the hairs on

his neck raise but put down his bag and shook Dark’s hand.

“I don’t believe we’ve met before Mr. Dark, how do you know

my name?” The handshake and the fact this man knew who he

was already made him feeling uneasy.

“I know everyone whose soul searches for redemption Mr.

Mulder.”

Mulder hesitated before replying. “I’m not sure I know

what you mean?”

“Yes you do, you’ve been thinking about it all the way

here,” he handed Mulder a flyer; it was a small poster for

a carnival. “You’ve been thinking about all the choices

you’ve made that have brought you here. All your failures,

the hurt you have caused, the people you’ve lost; but most

of all you think of the things you wish could change if you

could. I see the desire in you Mr. Mulder, the desire for

a life free from these burdens. Remove the darkness from

your soul and free those around you. Come and be amazed.”

Mulder took the flyer from Dark’s hand, DARK’S PANDEMONIUM

FAIR. Welcome to my hell, he thought to himself. “You

have no idea what I’ve been thinking Mr. Dark,” his tone

aggravated by the audacity of the man’s words. Stuffing

the paper into his pocket, he bent down to pick up his bag.

When he straightened up again, Dark had disappeared.

Alice had given them the first room at the top of the

stairs. She had shown Scully the bath across the hall.

Since there were no other guests at the moment they had it

all to themselves. She heard the door jingle again

downstairs. “Scully?”

“We’re up here, Mulder.”

As she heard him climb the stairs she stepped out of the

room to take her bag from him. He looked weary but he

smiled when she greeted him and followed her back into

their room. He set his bag on the floor. “Maybe we should

have asked for two rooms.”

The room was no larger than your average bedroom. There

was a large bay window in the front filled with what

appeared to be yards of lacey curtains that draped onto a

window seat. A Queen Anne chair upholstered in some dark

green fabric sat to its right in front of a dark mahogany

wardrobe. There was a small dresser with a mirror and a

four poster double bed that Mulder imagined he would

probably hang off of by at least a foot.

“The bathroom is down the hall,” Scully replied

“Look, maybe this really was a bad idea, we should just

go.”

“Mulder, we can’t, Alice has been so accommodating. She

asked what you liked for breakfast.”

“Breakfast is a long way off, I don’t think I can wait that

long.” Mulder looked away from her and began to rummage

through his bag.

Scully came over to touch his arm. “Find something casual

to wear. Alice said that little diner we passed is open

until nine we can walk back and get something for dinner.

Just give me a minute in the bathroom.”

He reached up and brushed the hair back from her face.

“It’s cold out there. Are you sure you want to walk.”

Kissing his palm she pulled away. “We’re getting out of

the car, remember?”

Fifteen minutes later they had been ushered out the door

with a key and Alice’s instructions to tell Mil at the

diner that they were staying with her. The brisk wind made

them walk fast and in a few short minutes they were outside

the diner. Mulder paused for a moment when another of

Dark’s carnival posters pasted to a light pole caught his

eye. ‘Change all the things you could change if you

could…’ Dark’s eerie voice coming back to him. Yes, he’d

change a lot.

Scully had stopped a few yards up the sidewalk when she

realized she was walking alone. Turning around, he seemed

to be gazing into space. “You coming?”

“Um…what?”

“I thought we came here to eat?”

“Yeah,” Mulder answered distractedly. “I’m coming.”

Another poster appeared pasted to the back of the cash

register on the counter as they entered the diner. Inside

the tiny restaurant time seemed to stop. A few patrons who

were seated at the counter turned as they came in. Those

who were seated in the booths at the windows all looked

their way. They both felt very self-conscious.

“Mil, these folks are stayin with Alice, you fix them up

something nice,” a voice boomed from behind them and they

both turned to see one of the gentlemen they had asked

directions from earlier. Mulder nodded a thanks.

“Oh, yes, of course,” the busty woman from behind the

counter grabbed two menus out of the pocket by the register

and tugged Scully with Mulder following to an empty booth.

Small town grapevine, news evidently had traveled fast.

“It’s kinda late, but you folks pick out whatever you’d

like, it’s no trouble.”

Mulder looked up at the list of specials scrawled in chalk

on the board over the counter. “You still have some of the

meatloaf special?”

“Oh, yes, town favorite,” Mil replied with a grin.

He glanced at Scully, “We’ll have two of those and some

coffee.” He handed her back the menus.

“That’ll just take a few minutes; I’ll get you some

coffee.”

The coffee came, warm and rich. Scully decided that if the

meatloaf tasted half as good as the coffee, she wouldn’t

mind eating it. Mulder was quite, deep lines under his

eyes told here how weary he was. At the moment he seemed

to be engrossed in something over her left shoulder. She

glanced in the direction he was looking but saw nothing

that would appear to have earned so much attention.

“Where are you, Mulder?”

His eyes came back to hers. “You like carnivals Scully?”

He gestured with his chin to whatever he’d been looking at

over her shoulder. When she turned again she saw the

poster he’d been studying. “What do you say we hang around

for a day?”

“Dr. Blockhead, Jim Jim the Dogfaced Boy, we went to a

carnival once Mulder.”

“No, actually we INVESTIGATED a carnival; we’ve never been

to one.” Their dinner appeared in front of them, two

heaping plates of meat and potatoes. Evidently Mil thought

they needed to be fattened up. Scully reflected back to

‘The Enigma’ and decided she wasn’t so sure she wanted to

know why. The meatloaf was delicious.

Mulder had cleaned both their plates and partaken in the

free pumpkin pie for desert as Scully sipped on another cup

of coffee. She hadn’t really thought about it but neither

of them had eaten since the continental breakfast at their

hotel that morning. At least traveling on their own dime

had meant better accommodations. Leaving the diner the

wind was at their back as they headed back to Alice’s.

They passed an antique store that Scully decided she

wouldn’t mind investigating in the morning, a dry goods

store and the barber shop. It was as if this little town

had been lost in time several decades ago. It was quaint

but it gave her the chills.

Other than complimenting Mil on the meatloaf and inquiring

about the pie Mulder hadn’t said much over dinner. He

still had that ‘lost in thought’ look she’d seen on him

when she’d awakened in the car that afternoon. She wished

he’d talk to her about what was on his mind. They walked

along in silence until she felt his fingers curl around

hers. “A real step back in time isn’t it?”

“It’s very quaint Mulder, but I think I like living in the

present myself.”

There was another carnival poster in the barber shop

window. Mulder stopped in front of it dropping her hand.

“What has you so obsessed with these carnival posters?”

“I don’t know just a feeling that it’s something more than

just fun and games.”

“A feeling?”

He pulled the copy of the poster Dark had given him from

his pocket handing it to Scully.

She took if from him and read the bold print, DARK’S

PANDEMONIUM FAIR. “Where did you get this?”

“Dark gave it to me.”

“This Dark, of Dark’s Pandemonium Fair?” She asked pointing

to the name in bold print.

Mulder stuffed his hands back into his pockets, kicked at

some leaves that had gathered at their feet. “Yeah, you

know, disorder, chaos, the land of demons. He handed it to

me outside Alice’s when I went out to get the bags.” He

was facing the wind and squinted when it bit into his

flesh. His hair blew it all directions. Scully, sensing

his discomfort, slid her arm through his and turned him

around back in the direction of Alice’s and began to walk.

“What did he say to you?”

He looked away from her, up the street in front of them,

“He just invited me to hell.”

THE NEED MORE REST, 10:13 P.M.

By ten o’clock Mulder had paced for at least two miles back

and forth across their room. A man without a remote was a

restless thing. There wasn’t even anything he could get

comfortable sitting in and he obviously was no longer

tired. Visions of some things Scully could think of that

would tire him out came into her mind but neither of them

felt comfortable engaging in anything but a kiss within

Alice’s house. She tried desperately to read as he paced

but it was too distracting.

“Go for a run Mulder.” He stopped dead. Salvation.

She knew he had his sneaks, he’d worn them up to the diner

and she was sure there were some sweats in that bag of his

somewhere.

He stopped, his face brightening. “You don’t mind?”

“Change your clothes, take the key and just be careful of

the dark.”

His dress shirt flew off over his head. “I don’t think I

need to worry about traffic Scully.”

“Probably not, I just don’t want you to get side swiped by

a deer.”

Properly attired in his sweats he grabbed the key off the

dresser and sat down on the bed to tie it into the laces of

his right shoe. He leaned over and kissed her gently. “I

love you.”

“I love you too, now go and close the door.”

When he got to the bottom of the stairs Alice was seated in

the sitting room working on something on her lap. He was

surprised to find her still up.

“Anything I can get for you Mr. Mulder?” She started to

put her lap work to the side.

Mulder came to stand in the archway of the room. “I’m just

going out for a run. Scully-Dana’s upstairs reading.”

“So late you go for a run?”

Mulder chuckled, yeah, sounds nuts doesn’t it he thought to

himself. Alice got up and followed him to the door. “Do

you suppose Dana would like a cup of tea? I don’t get much

chance to chat with anyone.”

Mulder thought for a moment, glanced to the top of the

stairs and dumbly mumbled, “Yeah, I suppose you could ask

her.”

Alice touched his arm, sensing there was something that was

preoccupying his thoughts. “You be careful, it’s dark out

there.” He smiled a thanks, turned and opened the door,

pulling it closed as he stepped onto the porch. He heard

her lock the door behind him.

Mulder stood at the top of the porch steps thinking only

what a fool he was standing out here in the cold and not up

snuggled with Scully in that tiny bed. Heavy clouds

covered the sky illuminated only slightly by distant

flashes of lightening. It seemed to have gotten colder or

maybe that was because he was out here alone.

He made his way down the steps, stretching when he hit the

walk and started off at a slow pace heading away from the

center of town. There were a few more blocks of houses

similar to Alice’s and then they started to thin out. As

he approached his jogging speed the homes had become larger

farm houses, the road lined with fences, the cold air made

his lungs burn. Off in the distance, across a field he

noticed a glow. It seemed to come from behind a line of

trees at the back of the field. Jumping the ditch along

the edge of the road he started to jog across the field,

oblivious to the darkness and the irregular footing he

stumbled several times. Scully would have his head if he

twisted an ankle or worse.

As he made his way closer to the tree line the faint sound

of what he swore was carrousel music made him slow to a

walk. He stopped at the tree line, trying to see through

them to what lay beyond in the adjacent field. His breath

came in frosty pants, the music grew louder. He could see

lights that appeared to outline an archway, maybe a Ferris

wheel and the tops of other attractions. He remembered

Dark, suddenly appearing behind him in Alice’s driveway

telling him to come and be amazed.

“Dana,” Scully heard her name followed by a light rapping

on the door to their room. “Dana, its Alice, would you

like some tea?” Scully closed her book; she hadn’t really

been able to concentrate on it since Mulder left. She’d

changed into some fleece herself and had dug the romance

novel Mulder had bought for her at the airport out of her

bag. Did he really think she read these things? Truth was

she did on occasion and he knew it. “Just a minute,” she

called, sliding off the high bed and padding across the

room to the door. She opened it to find Alice, dressed in

a flowery robe standing in the hallway.

“I hope I didn’t wake you.” Scully shook her head and

Alice smiled. “Your friend said you might like some tea.

I was wondering if you’d like to come down to the kitchen.”

Leave it Mulder to make her plans for her. Some things,

she had come to realize, would never change. “Yes, Mulder

always assumes I need tea before bed, that would be nice.”

“I’ll go down and put the kettle on, you come down when

you’re ready,” Alice said, reaching to pat her on the

shoulder in an understanding but not condescending way.

A few minutes later Scully wandered in to the large

kitchen. The kettle was already whistling and she could

smell baked apples. “I made some cobbler earlier, would

you like some?” Alice looked up from the pan she was

slicing into.

“Smells wonderful.”

“You just have a seat dear,” Alice replied as she busied

herself with cutting the cobbler. “I don’t get much chance

to visit with outside folk. Maybe you can tell me what

it’s like in the real world.”

Scully sat down at the big oak table and soon found herself

digging into a slice of Alice’s cobbler. Alice didn’t want

to know about the real world. From Scully’s vantage point

over the past several years it had been a frightening place

full of secrets and lies that most people would find to

impossible to believe. What was real were people like

Alice, going about their everyday lives; sometimes she felt

as if she and Mulder were the ones not living in the real

world.

“You two seem very professional. Where are you folks from

if you don’t mind me asking?”

Alice’s voice startled her from her thoughts. Scully

looked up and watched Alice as she poured their tea. She

looked like a woman who had spent her whole life in this

small town and it seemed to suit her just fine. “D.C.,

actually.”

“My, you’re a long way from home. I can’t imagine you had

this in mind as your destination when you came out here.

We don’t get many tourists as you probably guessed. Alice

smiled gently at Scully and set the tea on the table.

“Cream and sugar?”

Scully stirred the condiments into her tea. “We came out

here through an invitation from a support group for

abductees. I’m a doctor, Mulder’s field is Psychology. We

um, sort of have this standing joke about being in the car

all the time and I think he sort of fell for your small

town on our way through and we decided to stop and get out

of the car.”

“Abductees? Oh my,” Alice made a motion with her hand and

chuckled. “For a moment there I thought you were talking

about those silly alien abduction stories you see on TV all

the time.”

Scully looked across her tea cup at Alice. No, she would

not admit that was the reason they were here. She smiled,

“um no, not that type of abductee.”

“You two have been together a long time haven’t you?

You’re obviously very close but you’re not married?”

Scully smiled at the woman’s intuition. Not surprised by

the question. “No, we’re not married.” How do you explain

who you are to this gentle woman without giving away your

life story? “We’ve been through a lot. Life has a way of

eating you up if you try and take on more than your share

of the burden. I think we’re both ready to slow down a

little, maybe get a taste of this simpler life.”

Alice’s expression darkened a bit. “You know, most folks

who come through here think this is such a quaint place.

Like we’re all so much better off living a quiet life away

from the hectic world; like we’ve escaped into the past and

are content to stay there. This town has its secrets too

Dana. Would you like more tea?”

Before Scully could answer Alice had gotten up to retrieve

the kettle. “I’ve been the town librarian for almost

twenty-five years; seen a lot of things you wouldn’t think

happened in a place like this. As Alice poured more tea

she continued. “Most folks in a town like this spend their

whole life wishing they could be you.”

Scully looked a little surprised, if they knew, no one

would want to be her and Mulder. “What do you mean?”

“You know, thinking they could be better than they are.

Nellis Walker for instance, he walks around town in his

three-piece suit, owns the Dry Goods Store, always bragging

about how he’s gonna make all these investments. Don’t

know where the hell he thinks he gonna spend these riches

in a town like this. Big Jim Carter, he was going to play

for Notre Dame until an accident crippled him. He can

barely walk now but still talks about what a great player

he would have been. Then there’s Mil, the gal at the diner,

she was a gorgeous gal. Married Ron, always thought he was

God’s gift to women. I don’t know what made him buy that

damn diner. Mil’s spent her whole life on her feet waiting

on other folk, never had any family of her own.” Everybody

here wants to be something they’re not Miss Scully.”

“Do you have family Ms. Halloway?” Certainly this woman

hadn’t spent her whole life alone in this huge home.

Alice sighed, “Oh, my, Louis and I had four children. My

eldest died in Vietnam. The others have all gone out into

that hectic world of yours, I don’t hear from them much.”

“What about Louis?”

“Louis built me this beautiful home and gave me four

beautiful children but he always thought he hadn’t done

right by me for some reason. He was a dreamer, always

talking to me about the wonderful places he was going to

take me. He just never understood that I was happy right

hear with him. I lost him almost ten years ago-in an

accident.”

Scully reached over and patted Alice’s arm. “I’m sorry.”

A distant rumble of thunder shook the house and she looked

up at the kitchen clock. It was well after eleven. She

felt Alice take her hand. “You take care of that man of

yours. Don’t let the darkness take him from you.”

DARK’S PANDEMONIUM FAIR

Mulder was amazed when he cleared the trees and saw what

was before him. A huge Ferris wheel lit up the night sky.

A banner welcoming him to DARK’S PANDEMONIUM FAIR was

stretched between two towers advertising attractions like

the Maze of Mirrors and the Temple of Temptation. The

carrousel music continued to play, drawing him towards it

in an almost hypnotic manner. The wind picked up as he

entered the grounds, the sound intensifying like the

wailing of a thousand souls, it gave him the chills and he

wished not for the first time that he was back in that bed

with Scully.

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The music seemed to be coming from an enclosed tent just to

his left. As he parted the canvas he could see the

brightly lit carrousel. Four rows of exquisitely carved

horses continued all the way around and the whole carrousel

was trimmed in ornate brass. Dark stood at the controls in

the center and a man Mulder recognized from the diner, a

heavy set man who walked with a cane sat on one of the

outside horses. “Are you ready?” he heard Dark ask. The

man only nodded. Mulder watch in fascination as the

carrousel began to turn and then with puzzlement as he

realized it was turning counter-clockwise, backwards at an

increasingly more rapid speed. He continued to watch as

the horses, the man and Dark himself blurred into a sea of

color and noise. It made him dizzy and he clutched the

canvas of the tent to keep himself upright.

As the carrousel began to slow he found himself watching in

horror as the image of the man became clearer. He was no

longer the aged, crippled man that Mulder has seen sitting

there earlier. In his place was a small boy, dressed in

similar clothing.

When the horses came to a stop Dark approached the boy,

lifting him from the horse and placing him on the ground.

“There you are Jim. Did you enjoy the ride? I’m sure you

feel like you never have before.” He ruffled the boy’s

hair, looking up he stared straight at Mulder and they both

watched the boy run off into the carnival grounds.

Mulder’s instinct was to walk away but he found Dark’s

intense gaze held him in place until the man was once again

right in front of him. “I told you you would be amazed,

Mr. Mulder. Do you see what it can be like to be given a

second chance? You can have a whole new life Mr. Mulder,

free to make different choices than the ones which have

brought you here.”

“I don’t need another life Mr. Dark. I’m happy with the

one I have.” Mulder turned to leave but Dark grabbed his

arm and turned his hand over to place a ticket into his

palm.

“You say that Mr. Mulder but it is not what your heart

desires. You can ride whenever you like.”

Mulder pulled his arm away angrily. “Go to hell,” and

continued to walk away. As he neared the edge of the

carnival grounds he stopped, looking down at the ticket he

still clutched in his hand. He crushed it tightly but

couldn’t bring himself to toss it away. He finally stuffed

it into the pocket of this sweatshirt and began to run.

NEEDMORE BED AND BREAKFAST

Scully lay awake, listening to the distant rumbles of

thunder. Midnight had passed and still no Mulder. Certain

there were no dark conspiracies in this small town she was

beginning to wonder what ditch he had fallen into when she

heard the door jingle downstairs. The stairs creaked as he

climbed them quietly and shortly thereafter the water came

on and went off in the bathroom across the hall. The door

clicked open when he entered their room. She heard him pad

across the floor in his socks and then watched as he

stripped off his sweats in the dim light from the window.

He eased himself slowly down onto the bed and sat for a

minute collecting his thoughts. He sighed, “You’re awake,

aren’t you?”

Scully pulled the covers back motioning for him to join her

in the small bed. “Mulder, it’s after midnight, where were

you?”

“Running…”

“All this time?”

“Yeah, I guess–maybe trying to outrun my past.”

His answer startled her. He didn’t talk much about his

past anymore. Seeming to have come to terms with what had

happened to his family and himself some time ago he had

been focused on their future very much lately. Scully

pulled herself up, adjusting the thick pillow behind her.

“Mulder, something’s been bothering you since we got here,

talk to me.” He turned to her, lying himself down beside

her, fluffing the pillow behind his head and crossing his

arms behind it to raise himself up a bit.

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“I don’t know,” he said bitterly shaking his head. “I just

keep thinking we’ve never finished what we started. All

these years of searching and gathering what evidence we

could have really amounted to nothing. Nobody cares.”

“There are people who care, Mulder.”

“No they don’t,” he said with disgust. “Truth is, people

don’t want to know the truth, they don’t want to know what

the government is capable of behind their backs, or what

could threaten their lives from,” he tipped his chin up,

“Elsewhere. They’re much happier living in complete

oblivion like these people here. I can’t think like that

Scully.” She lay down next to him, propping her head up

with her left hand. “Mulder, oblivion is not what it’s

cracked up to be. Small towns have problems too.”

He turned to look her straight in the eye. “Not global

ones Scully; not ones that can change the course of the

world. What are we supposed to do, just pretend we don’t

know what we know; do nothing about it?”

She’d seen this coming. This storm she’d seen brewing deep

inside him, a raging flood of emotions that needed to be

released. You might change the course of a river but you

can’t take away the force behind it. She could see the

conflicting forces gathering right behind his eyes and it

was beginning to frighten her. “Mulder, what do you

propose to do? I will not let you become an army of one.”

“I didn’t say that! I-I don’t know what I want to do.”

Enraged one minute and subdued the next he closed his eyes,

“I know what this has all cost us. I think about it all

the time and I know…” He turned to face her again, “I know

you do too. I’m tired of the fight but I can’t bring

myself to walk away from it.”

“It’ not just our fight…” speaking softly, trying to calm

him she reached out and touched his arm.

“Then find me someone else who gives a damn, Scully! He

was angry again suddenly. She pulled her hand from his

arm. “There is so much going on out there in the world.

So much we know will continue to go on without any way of

stopping it. I’m just having a really hard time wrapping

myself around the fact that we don’t seem to be in any

position to do anything about it.”

“Mulder, why do you insist on making this hell for

yourself? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you’re

not the ONE who’s supposed to do something.”

He sighed, turning to face her. “You know me better than

that Scully, I never stop to think.” He turned back to

look up at the ceiling. “I am what I am, Scully. And if

there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live

in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

“Is that what our lives have become for you, purgatory?”

Realizing what she thought he’d implied he turned to her

suddenly, a look of astonishment on his face. “No! God, no

Scully, that’s not what I mean.” He pulled his hand from

behind his head, reaching over to caress her cheek. “Right

now I just have no sense of direction. I used to know

where I was headed, now, now-I have nothing to focus on.

It’s taken me years to make this hell, I’m just so very

thankful that you’re here to keep me from being lost to

it.”

She leaned over and kissed his forehead, that beautiful

mind, “maybe you weren’t running from your past, Mulder.

You were running towards our future.” He reached out to

her then with both arms, turning onto his side and wrapping

them around her as she turned to spoon against his chest,

his warmth enveloping her. Pulling her hands into his he

kissed the crown of her head, her temple, the side of her

cheek. “This is heaven here with you,” he whispered into

her ear. She turned her head, their mouths meeting in a

soft kiss.

8:06 A.M.

She woke to the sound of the door opening again. Mulder

stepped into the room, his hair wet, clothed in a tee shirt

and jeans. “I think Alice is making a buffet just for the

two of us, you better get moving before I eat it all.”

His somber mood from the night before seemed to have

improved. She watched him walk over to the window and

appraise the sky. It was still overcast from last night.

“How about we hang around, go check out that carnival?”

“You’re serious?” she said, unwinding herself from the

covers and dropping from the high bed onto the cold floor.

“You went out there last night didn’t you?”

He looked at her in surprise; maybe he should be

investigating her and not the eerie Mr. Dark. He shrugged

but wouldn’t deny it. “Looked like it might be fun, get

dressed,” he mumbled though the sweater he had pulled over

his head. “I’m going for coffee.” He kissed her and

headed out the door for the stairs and the unmistakable

smell of coffee brewing from the kitchen below.

Scully arrived in the kitchen to find Mulder helping

himself to a rather hefty stack of pancakes. There was a

big plate of sausages and a basket of muffins in the center

of the table. How many people did Alice think she was

feeding? “Coffee, Dana?” Alice turned from the stove when

she saw Scully enter the room. “You better make another

pot; she’s not coherent until she’s had at least two cups.

OW!”

Mulder’s comment had gotten his stocking clad toes crushed

under Scully’s shoe as she seated herself across from him.

“Guess you haven’t had enough to wake up either.”

“More coffee, Fox?” He nodded and presented his half full

cup for a refill. Scully noted not for the first time how

Mulder had just sort of made himself at home here. She

still felt as if she were staying in someone’s home she

didn’t know. She wondered if it was the faint resemblance

that Alice had to Teena Mulder and that his subconscious

had found itself back in a home he hadn’t had for almost

thirty years.

“Will you two be heading for home today?” Alice sat down

and passed the bowl of eggs she’d just finished.

Mulder caught Scully’s eye before he replied. “Um, we were

hoping you wouldn’t mind guests for another night. We’d

kind of like to roam though town, maybe take in that

carnival.”

Alice seemed surprised. “Well there isn’t much of a town

to roam through, but you’re certainly welcome to stay.

Those carnivals are too shady for me, just a bunch of

gypsies out to take your money.”

Mulder chuckled between bites. He felt a lot more relaxed

than he had last night. The kitchen was warm and full of

wonderful breakfast smells. Maggie’s head had taken up

residence on his lap, her big brown eyes pleading for a

missed directed bite of sausage. He used his stocking clad

toes to tickle Scully’s calf. When she looked up at him he

winked at her. She was glad to see his mood from last

night had changed. “Seems like an odd time of year for a

carnival. Do they come here often this time of year?”

Alice dropped her fork; it clattered from the plate to the

floor. Flustered, she bent to pick it up but Mulder and

pushed his chair out and had already gotten to his feet,

bending down to pick it up. He touched her shoulder as she

waved her hands about. “My, I can be so clumsy sometimes.

They’re in the drawer to the right of the sink.”

Outfitted with a new utensil she looked from Mulder to

Scully. “There’s something very strange about the carnival

that comes here. I’ve kept track. They only come here

every twenty-five years and I swear it’s the same people.

It’s like they never age. But that couldn’t be could it?”

Mulder’s eyes flashed in Scully’s direction and she knew

the hunt was on. “You mean they always look the same each

visit?”

“Well I certainly think so. Strange things happen when

they visit here. I don’t want you not to have fun, just be

careful.” She reached across her plate to pat Mulder’s

forearm.

While Scully helped Alice clean up the kitchen Mulder went

off to find his shoes. He met her at the bottom of the

stairs with their jackets. “You want to walk or drive?”

“I thought we were getting out of the car?” she replied

smiling up at him. He opened the door, waving her through

but before he could follow her Alice stopped him with a

hand on his arm. “You keep your eye on that pretty thing,”

she nodded towards Scully. “You don’t want to loose her.”

Mulder smiled in acknowledgement but something about

Alice’s manner made him realize she was very serious.

After walking around the square and finding almost every

establishment closed for the day they ended up in front of

the antique store, “I had no idea something like a carnival

could shut down an entire town for a day,” Scully sounded

disappointed. Mulder slung his arm over her shoulder.

“Well everyone here obviously finds something about it

enticing; I suggest we go take a look.”

“You obviously find something about it enticing. Do I have

a choice?”

There was something about Dark’s carnival that had

attracted his attention. Something that played on his

thoughts since last evening and he definitely needed a

second look. This time however, he would have her there to

back him up. He reached for her hand and clasped it

tightly in his own. “No, you don’t.”

They stayed on the road instead of cutting across the field

as Mulder had done last night. A dirt lane appeared on the

left and they followed some other town folk down the lane

and then a short walk across the field brought them to the

carnival entrance.

As soon as they entered the carnival grounds Scully felt

uneasy. There was definitely something very strange about

this place. She could tell Mulder had sensed it too. He

had taken her hand as if to anchor himself to something

real, she squeezed his tightly indicting she too felt

apprehensive. They wandered through the crowd recognizing

several people from the diner the night before. Children

were playing games, several carried around oversized

stuffed animals they had won. A sudden commotion to their

right drew their attention to a booth with a money wheel.

The gentleman from the square, Mr. Walker was waving a

ticket with glee announcing himself the winner of the one-

thousand dollar prize. Mulder made a motion towards a ball

toss game but Scully stopped him. “I don’t need any

evidence of your youthful agility Mulder.”

“You spoil all my fun, you know that.” He looked

disappointed.

“It’s better to spoil the fun before it turns into

something I have to treat when you strain your arm.”

“I played right field Scully, there’s nothing wrong with my

arm.”

“Three decades ago.”

“You really know how to hurt a guy, don’t you?”

“Me and the beast woman,” she smirked back at him.

His gaze then wandered to a large tent with a banner strung

across its entrance proclaiming it the home of “THE TEMPLE

OF TEMPTATION”. A dwarf stood outside accompanied by a

scantly clad young woman, performing some interesting

gyrations with her hips and bellybutton to the beat of some

mystical tune. “Bet you can’t you do that.” Mulder teased.

“Bet you I can’t either.”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, come see the most beautiful women in

the world! Our Harem of Happiness dances for your

pleasure,” the dwarf chanted. Mulder and Scully watched

several men hover about the entrance looking suspiciously

like they didn’t want to be seen entering. Scully

recognized Ray from the diner as he brushed past the other

men and disappeared into the tent. Mulder caught him too.

“Should I follow him?”

“In your dreams,” Scully said, pulling him away from the

temple.

Mulder looked up; the Ferris wheel had come to a stop.

“How about a ride?” Scully followed his gaze, Mr. Walker,

now waving a hefty cigar was stepping onto the Ferris wheel

to share a car with a woman in a veiled hat. Mulder was

pulling her towards the Ferris wheel and she soon found

herself seated next to him in a car only a few sections

behind Mr. Walker and his friend. Scully was never a big

fan of Ferris wheels and she braced herself as the wheel

turned and they climbed higher. It was a beautiful view

from the top. Even in the gray afternoon the countryside

was ablaze in fall color. The fields around the town had

all been harvested leaving a patchwork of browns and

greens. Below them on the midway the town’s people milled

about; many of them lingering near one of the larger

attractions that she could not make out from this height.

Mulder took her hand again, “Relax,” he whispered gently as

the wheel turned, sending them up and then back down over

and over again Lightening flashed off in the distance. It

seems to be coming from the same direction as it had just

yesterday; a storm that forever seemed to linger on the

horizon. The top of this wheel was not where she wished to

be if that storm decided to come this way.

The wheel began to slow, coming to a stop as each car was

opened for the passengers to get off. Scully looked down,

watching as the riders jumped off and ran for another

attraction. The woman in the veiled hat that had been

riding with Mr. Walker stepped off alone. “Mulder,” Scully

pulled his attention to what she was seeing. “Where’s Mr.

Walker? I’m sure he got on with that woman.” They both

watched as she lifted Mr. Walker’s hat from the seat,

smiled and handed it to the ride attendant who acknowledged

her with a sadistic grin.

“Well if he got on, he had to have gotten off Scully,”

Mulder smirked at her. She didn’t think it was funny.

As they got off the ride Scully pulled Mulder aside.

“Mulder, I have a very bad feeling about this place.”

“What?” Mulder chuckled, more to ease his own suspicions

than hers. He took her hand again. “It’s a carnival Scully;

they’re supposed to be a little creepy. Come on, I think I

know a way to make you taller.”

The large attraction Scully had seen from the Ferris wheel

was the “MAGICAL MAZE OF MIRRORS.” They both stood for a

moment and watched people mimicking in front of the wavy

mirrors outside. Mulder stepped up to the shorter one and

had his image reflected back to him as wide as he was tall.

“Hey Scully, see what I’d look like if I was your size?”

She gave him a gentle shove and he pulled her in front of

the tall skinny mirror. Suddenly they were both the same

height. “See, now you’re more my type.” That got him a

punch in the shoulder, “I don’t type.”

Scully’s gaze drifted to the exit of the attraction. Mil,

the woman from the diner stood pale and dazed at the top of

the stairs. Stepping away from Mulder, Scully approached

the woman. “Mil? Mil, are you alright?” The woman looked

down at Scully when she heard her name, reaching up to

touch her face with a wistful look and then started down

the stairs. When she reached the bottom she smiled gently

and walked away.

Scully turned to look for Mulder; he was talking to a tall

man, dressed in a black waistcoat. He was almost Mulder’s

height with thick dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard. It

did not look like a pleasant conversation. As she started

back to where they were standing her reflection in one of

the mirrors caught her attention. She turned and gasped.

Her own reflection gazed back at her surrounded by her

sister, Melissa and both her brothers, Bill and Charlie;

smiling in a family portrait that would never be.

Mulder heard her and turned from his conversation,

“Scully?” She was white as a sheet, reaching out

hesitantly to the mirror, caressing the face of someone

only she could see. He turned his attention back to Dark.

“Damn you.”

Dark followed Mulder to Scully’s side. “This must be

Dana,” Dark said admiringly, reaching to caress her cheek.

Mulder bristled. “My, you are strikingly beautiful,” he

reached to take her hand, kissing the back of it gently.

“My name is Alvin Dark. I certainly hope you’re enjoying

my fair. You never know what mysteries of the heart you

may uncover here.” Scully shook his hand listlessly, still

in a daze from what she had seen in the mirror. Mulder

grabbed her shoulder to steady her. “Are you okay?” She

nodded slightly.

“No, she’s not okay,” Dark corrected. “She’s seen a

reflection of what could have been. Perhaps Miss Dana

would also like a ticket for the carrousel,” Dark

continued, pulling a ticket from his coat pocket and

offering it to Scully. “It can change your life.”

Mulder intercepted the ticket before Scully could take it,

snatching it from Dark’s hand angrily. “She doesn’t need

one of your damn tickets. Now leave her alone!” Grabbing

Scully’s hand he pulled her away from Dark, heading back

towards the entrance and away from the pandemonium. “She

is alone, Mr. Mulder!” Dark yelled after them.

As they reached the open field Scully grew tired of being

dragged and snatched at Mulder’s arm. “Mulder, stop!

What’s wrong with you?” She pried his fingers from her

wrist. “Let go of me!”

He whirled on her, spinning her around to face him and

planting is hands on her upper arms. “I don’t know! But

you were right; there is something very bad about this

place, Scully. Last night, I did come out here. He’s right

about the carrousel, it does change you. The crippled man

from town, I saw him get on the ride last night, it went

backwards, backwards in time, and when it was over, he was

a child again Scully; a healthy child.”

“Mulder, that’s crazy, it’s not possible!”

“Forget about the possibilities for once, Scully. I know

what I saw. Dark, I don’t know-he plays on the fearful

needs of the human heart, your heart’s desires. What did

you see in that mirror?” When she just starred at him he

shook her. “Tell me what you saw!” Snatching his hands

from her shoulders, she stepped away from him. Not wanting

to think about what she saw. “Who did you see-Bill? Who

else? Melissa? A family you won’t see again because of

your relationship with me.”

“Mulder, please.”

“Somehow he’s able to give people the life they thought

they wanted. Take you back, let you start over. That’s why

he gave you the ticket Scully, a ticket to a new life.”

When they got back to Alice’s’ they found Maggie lying on

the front porch. Her tail thumped against the aged wood as

they approached; a quick search of the house revealed that

Alice was no where in sight. “You don’t suppose she…”

Scully looked apprehensively at Mulder.

Mulder stopped to look at a photo of Alice and Louis

proudly displayed on the corner of the mantle. “What

happened to her husband? You said you two talked last

night.”

“She said he had an accident.”

“I’ll bet there have been a lot of ‘accidents’ in this

town,” he countered, opening the door. “Come on, there has

to be some town records somewhere.”

“Alice-Alice said she was the town librarian, maybe that’s

where she is.”

Their first stop had been the diner. A “CLOSED” sign hung

on the door. Scully tapped Mulder’s shoulder “Isn’t that

Mil?” she said pointing across to the square to where a

beautiful dark haired woman was leading a toe haired boy by

the hand.

“Mil!” Mulder called out. The woman turned abruptly at the

sound of her name. Even from this distance they could both

see the change. She had to be 30 years younger in

appearance. The boy she was leading turned also. Mulder

recognized him as the boy he had seen step from the

carrousel the previous evening; the boy who had once been a

crippled man.

“Mulder, what’s going on?”

“Something wicked, Scully, come on!” He grabbed her hand

and they headed for the library.

NEEDMORE TOWN LIBRARY

The building had been open and dimly lit when they arrived

but there was no sign of anyone within its walls. Large

wooden tables with reading lamps filled the main aisle. A

set of stairs ascended to the second floor. They walked

slowing through the first floor shelves filled with neatly

filed fiction and children’s stories. Mulder’s eyes

searched frantically for any type of reference material.

Scully wished Alice had been here to help them. Without

her it had taken some time to find what they were looking

for on the upstairs level.

After an hour of searching the town records neither of them

had come up with a solid lead as to what they had

witnessed. Mulder could tell Scully was still shaken by

what had transpired at the carnival. The sight of Mil and

the boy on the square had only added to her apprehension.

He could tell her mind was miles away. Dark had touched

her deeply with his deception. He had no idea she ached

this way. He pulled another book from the shelves, a hand

written journal. Returning to the table where Scully sat,

he began to read. “Listen to this,” he said aloud, drawing

her attention. “1928, There has been more ill fortune

since the autumn people have arrived, these traveling

people who come to destroy others by granting their heart’s

desires as has been the cause of the devil since God

created the world. Old folks talk of such a carnival

visiting many years past when they themselves were young.

Each visit is followed by a most unusual storm and a

promise of their return again another autumn”

A sudden burst of wind whipped the pages from Mulder’s

fingertips startling them both. Looking up, Dark stood in

the doorway of the library. “I knew I’d find you here,

reading of other men’s dreams,” he said as he carefully

climbed the stairs to where he and Scully sat.

“Scully, run,” Mulder whispered to her. When she didn’t

move he grabbed her arm tightly, “Damn it, hide!”

Scully pulled away from him, saw his wordless plea and

disappeared behind the library shelves.

The door blew shut behind him as he reached the top of the

stairs. “That’s all you have isn’t it, Mr. Mulder, your

dreams.” He came to stand next to Mulder who still sat

holding the journal in front of him. “She has dreams too

you know. Dreams you’ve taken from her. Dreams of a happy

family life, of children and nieces and nephews, I can give

you your dreams Dana, I know you’re here.” Dark surveyed

the shelves with is eyes trying to determine where Scully

had hidden herself. He was certain he could draw her out

with his words. “You still dream to experience motherhood;

of times spent with your brothers and sister. Quiet times

with family and friends away from this life you’ve chosen

to live. I can give you that other life Dana; I can give

you that child and more.” He turned back to Mulder.

Mulder stood up, face to face with Dark, still holding the

journal he’d been reading. “I know who you are. You’re

these autumn people; you feed off the misfortune of

others.”

“Yes, and we are hungry again and the torments of men call

us to feed on the pain and

despair in men’s hearts.” Dark began to circle the table,

his eyes canvassing the rows of books, looking for Scully.

“I see it in yours as I’ve already told you. I hear

middle-aged men like you groan with the despair of what

they cannot accomplish. We suck the misery from them,

always looking for more.” He came to stand before Mulder

again, snatching the book from his grasp. “This book won’t

help you, tell me where she is and I can turn the years

back for you. Take you back to that moment when your life

changed forever; make it so it never happened.”

Mulder stared defiantly at Dark but said nothing. Dark

accepted the challenge.

“Twelve,” Dark ripped a page from the journal, crumpling it

and tossing it to the floor. “You sit there frozen in fear

as your own sister is taken away. It destroyed the family;

none of you were ever the same.”

Dark began to stalk the library aisle. “Twenty-eight,”

Dark ripped another page from the book, again crumpling it

as trash and throwing it to the floor. “As a young agent

you make a serious miscalculation regarding your suspect.

Another agent dies. He had a family Mr. Mulder, a wife and

two boys.”

Scully watched from her hiding place as Mulder’s face

flinched with each page Dark ripped from the journal;

baring his life before him in a wicked game of ‘This Is

Your Life’. He was not responsible for this and she was

about to put a stop to it.

“Mulder! Don’t listen to this!”

Dark turned, hardly surprised to have flushed her out. He

walked behind the shelves and grabbed her arm, dragging her

to where Mulder could see her. “And this, perhaps your

deepest regret, what you have taken from her. Thirty-

three,” rip, Dark tossed another page away. “Your

obsession with a lunatic leads to Dana’s abduction. She’s

gone for three months. It’s changed her life forever, Mr.

Mulder. Your father, Dana’s sister…

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Scully seethed

at him. Mulder never moved.

“I most certainly do, and so do you. Look at him, a

middle-aged man who cowers in his past. He has no future

for you. Thirty-four,” Dark ripped another page, “Lucy

Householder. Rip, “Thirty-five, Melissa Ephesian, Max

Fenig.” Rip, Dark stood before Mulder. “Thirty-six, Ester

Nairn, Emily Sim.”

Scully stood horrified behind Dark. “Stop this now,” she

pleaded.

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Rip, “Thirty-six, Patrick Crump, Jeffrey Spender, Karen

Berquist, a young woman named Pam; shall I go on? How many

others did you enlist in this cause of yours? All

causalities of war Mr. Mulder, your war, were the answers

really that important to you?”

Mulder stood facing Dark, unable to speak. to the truth of

Dark’s words. Dark continued to taunt him. “Thirty-eight;

a woman you once loved, Diana Fowley; Amber Lynn LaPierre,

your own mother; she called you didn’t she? You never

called her back. And now Dana’s brother.” Dark threw the

book on the floor, “You fool, you see now what drew me to

you? You heart is full of despair,” Dark then reached to

place his palm against Mulder’s chest. “You couldn’t save

any of them could you? I feel your heart beat while theirs

does not. Do you want to know what it feels like to die?

Feel your heart slow, your breath still?”

Mulder’s face grew ashen, sweat broke out across his

forehead, he stumbled back and slid down the shelf behind

him until he was slumped on the floor. Dark turned to

Scully handing her a ticket, like the one he had tried to

give her earlier. When she resisted he forced it into her

hand, grabbing her wrist. “You can have a life Dana, the

life you dream of. Join me. I can give you what he can

not.”

Scully tried to pull away but Dark turned them around to

face a woman she hadn’t noticed standing in the shadows.

Scully recognized her as the woman from the Ferris wheel

only now she was dressed in black, her face covered lightly

with a black veil. “Give him a taste of his future so he

will remember it when it comes.”

Scully watched the woman approach Mulder. There was a

scent of smoke and she could see Mulder begin to perspire

again, his breath grew rapid and he began to grimace in

pain. Clutching his left arm, he slid down on to the

floor. The woman stooped before him, her hand caressing

his chest. He gasped for breath, his breathing growing

shallow and then stilled, his face frozen in a deathly

expression, his eyes lifeless. A heart attack, she

recognized the symptoms.

“Stop this!” She tried again to wrestle herself from

Dark’s grip.

Dark pulled her too him, “Come with me,” he whispered in

her ear.

4:04P.M.

Mulder felt himself being shaken gently. The pain had

subsided but he lay exhausted on the floor of the library.

When he opened his eyes, Alice was kneeling at his side.

“Oh thank God, I thought the darkness had taken you.” She

helped him to a sitting position against the shelf behind

him, he breathed deeply trying to catch his breath, he felt

light headed. He had never felt pain like that before.

“Where-where’s Scully?”

“Dark took her Mr. Mulder, she’s not here,” Alice replied

worriedly.

Mulder crawled onto his knees and struggled to stand with

the help of the library table where he and Scully had been

seated. Alice grabbed his arm to steady him. “Don’t let

the darkness take your life from you Fox. They feed on the

darkness; you must not let them see it in you. Dana loves

you very much, that’s all you need.”

He stood for several minutes just testing his lungs waiting

for the dizziness to go away, his strength to come back.

When he felt like he could walk he headed for the door,

Dark had taken Scully and he knew where they were headed.

He stopped and turned to Alice, “Thank you.”

By the time he reached the other side of the square he’d

managed a brisk walk. When he hit the road that passed

Alice’s house he was at a steady jog. The wind whipped his

hair. A sudden burst of lightening streaked across the sky

followed by an ominous rumble of thunder. The clouds

billowed angrily above him. Mulder broke into a dead run.

He took the route he’d used the first night, cutting across

the field, his chest burning from the cold air. On the

other side of the woods the carnival came into view.

Lightening flashed again illuminating the field

momentarily; a light rain had begun to fall. Mulder came

to a halt when he reached the entrance. The carnival now

seemed deserted except for the midway lights which still

blazed a welcome that seemed only for him.

The dwarf Mulder had seen hacking for the harem girls stood

at the entrance to the maze of mirrors. At Mulder’s

cautious approach he waved his hand as if beckoning Mulder

to enter. “Where’s Dark?” he demanded. The dwarf only

motioned again for him to enter.

Mulder walked cautiously into the maze, his palms extended

in front of him as he headed down the corridor.

Reflections of himself looked back at him at every turn.

He heard Scully cry out, “Mulder!” her cry echoing off into

nothing. He quickened his pace and soon found himself in a

room full of mirrors, Dark’s liquid voice startling him.

“Looking in my mirrors for another chance Mr. Mulder? Would

you know it if you found it?”

“Is that what people find in here, second chances? You know

what I’m looking for Dark! Where is she?” He could hear

the wind outside as it battered the tent around him.

Thunder continued to roll. The storm was getting closer.

He circled the room but soon found there was no way out.

“These are the mirrors of darkness, Mr. Mulder. They lead

men to ruin. I’m sure I can find one for you.”

In the mirror in front of him Mulder saw the image of Ray

from the diner surrounded by the dancing girls, laughing as

they lavished him with touches. Suddenly Dark’s voice

haunted him from beyond. “This is the mirror of incredible

loves never to be found.”

In the next mirror Mulder saw Mr. Walker, still dressed in

his three piece suit, waving the money he’d won in the

game. “This is the mirror of riches beyond wishes, never

to be spent.”

The image changed again. This time the image of Jim Carter

appeared. A football tucked under his arm, leaning on a

cane. “This is the mirror of greatness and fame,” the

image changed to the small boy Mulder had seen Dark lift

from the back of the carrousel horse. “A game hero no

more.”

“And this,” Mulder turned to another mirror. “This is the

mirror of pride and vanity where the war of time is fought

and lost.” An elder Mil, laughing with customers at the

diner appeared before him changing suddenly to a beautiful

but terribly frightened young woman.

“Ah, and the mirror of regret,” Mulder watched as his own

image appear in the mirror before him. “I believe this one

suits you Mr. Mulder.”

“Fox! Fox!” Mulder turned around; in the mirror behind

him he saw a reflection of himself, thirty years ago.

Samantha was there reaching out to him in desperation.

“NO!” With one swift movement Mulder thrust his fist

through the glass, shattering it and the images into

hundreds of tiny shards.

“Mulder! I need your help!” Mulder turned again, seeing

his reflection as a much younger man. Scully, her hand

outstretched to him. “NO!” Again he thrust his fist

through the glass shattering the images. Blood dripped

from his clenched fist. As he uncurled his fingers he

could see the splinters of glass imbedded in them.

“Fox, call me when you get back.” His mother’s voice came

from behind him. He turned reluctantly to find himself

face to face with himself, his mother’s image speaking to

him on the phone. He froze.

“You’re a failure of a man Mr. Mulder. The answers have

always been there for you. You just never took the time to

listen to what those around you were trying to tell you.

You never gave them a chance. Let me give Dana another

chance. I’m going to give her the life she wants, a life

with her family around her, the life you’ve taken from

her.”

“NO!” Mulder reached through his mother’s image in the

glass before him once again sending shards of glass flying

in all directions. His hand grasped that of another and he

pulled hard; pulling Alice through the glass and into his

arms.

“Fox! Oh thank God, you’re all right.” Mulder stood for a

moment in utter confusion. “You’re hurt.” Looking down,

his right hand was now covered in blood. Alice had begun

to fuss over it with her apron; there was no time to attend

to it now. He grabbed Alice by the shoulders. “Where did

he take her?” The poor woman was shaking. “I don’t know.”

The melodic rhythm of carrousel music filled the silence.

“The carrousel!” Mulder was gone in an instant. Fighting

his way out of the mirror maze he was hit by the tremendous

force of the wind which had gained in intensity. Rain

pelted him as he made his way across the midway to the tent

that held the carrousel. Lightening arched across the sky.

Inside he found Scully perched on one of the magnificent

horses, Dark at the controls, the carrousel beginning its

movement back into time. Lightening flashed again, closer

this time, sending a loud burst of thunder that shook

everything about him.

“Scully! No!” Mulder ran around the platform of the ride

as she spun away from him. Suddenly there was a tremendous

flash; arcs of electricity flew down from the center of the

tent and across the brass poles that held each of the

horses. Mulder could see Scully’s whole body lurch and

then she fell from the horse to the platform to the ground.

The carrousel itself lurched grinding to a stop and then

suddenly changing direction, beginning to spin in a

clockwise direction. Another bolt of lightening arced its

way down through the tent. Dark had attempted to cross the

platform but the second bolt had dropped him. He fought

desperately to crawl from beneath the hooves of the horses

as the carrousel spun faster.

“No! God, No!” Mulder had reached Scully. She lay

lifeless. He dropped to her side, scooped her up into his

arms, brushing her hair from her face with his bloody hand.

“Scully, Scully-come on”, he urged tapping her cheek

softly. “Come on, I need you.” When he got no response he

turned angrily towards the carrousel, “Damn you Dark! You

can’t have her!” Angry tears brimmed in his eyes.

Suddenly someone was trying to pry her from his grasp.

Gentle hands pulled his away from her. “No, Fox, you must

not let them feed on the darkness. Be happy!”

Mulder looked up, shocked by the idea. “I can’t. Not

without her-never without her.” The same gentle hands that

had taken Scully from him were wiping his tears from his

face, twisting his cheeks into some resemblance of a smile.

“Don’t let them take her, son.” Alice was pulling him to

his feet, taking his hands and pulling him along in some

sort of macabre dance. “Rejoice in your love, there is so

much more you need to do with your life. Your goodness

will prevail. Laugh with me Fox!”

Behind them the carrousel continued to spin, arcs of

electricity jumped from one horse to another lighting up

the tent in an eerie blue light. Dark, aged and motionless

lay under the horses. Mulder looked at Alice, her eyes

pleading with him to join her. “Dance, Fox, laugh with

me!”

Mulder stumbled along with her, her light heartedness

beginning to pull him away from the sorrow he had felt.

They danced about as the wind tore at the tent, laughing at

each other and how ridiculous they must appear. A movement

at his feet brought Mulder to a stop. Scully had rolled

onto her side and was attempting to sit up. Mulder dropped

to her side to help her, glancing up at Alice with a look

of utter amazement. He pulled Scully too him, wrapping her

in a fierce embrace. “Come on, we have to get out of

here!” Alice was pulling them both to their feet. The

wind had become a steady roar, ripping the tent and

whipping their clothes.

Outside the tent the carnival was being torn a part by the

wind. A huge funnel cloud had appeared and was now bearing

down on them. Glass shattered, wood splintered and canvas

was ripped to shreds. They bolted for the exit, stopping

momentarily to view the chaos. When the huge banner over

the entrance began to give way Alice yelled for them to

run. Mulder grabbed Scully’s hand pulling her along as he

followed Alice across the field. Bits of debris flew about

them. Mulder could swear it wasn’t the wind he heard but

the hideous moaning of the souls Dark had taken with him.

When they reached the tree line the three of them turned as

the remains of the carnival were sucked up into the vortex

of the funnel. It spun in place for several minutes and

then it too was sucked back up into the cloud from which it

had come. A peaceful silence fell over the empty field.

NEEDMORE BED & BREAKFAST 6:17 P.M.

None of them said a word as they made their way back to

the bed & breakfast. The late afternoon sun had broken

though the clouds sending its warm rays down from the

heavens and bathing the town in a glow of new found hope.

Standing in the yard they all let it warm them. Coming

back to herself Scully realized she still clutched Mulder’s

hand tightly, a very sticky hand. Looking down she gasped

when she saw the cuts and drying blood that coated his hand

and wrist. “Oh, Mulder, what have you done to yourself

now?”

He looked down as he felt her drawing his hand up to

examine the damage. He winced as she began to poke about

at the cuts. “I think I shattered a few images of myself

I’d like to forget.”

“This looks like glass, this has to be cleaned up,” she

wouldn’t look at him.

Alice stepped up and patted her shoulder, “Bring him in the

house; I’m sure I have what you need.”

They followed Alice up the steps but Mulder stopped her

before she got to the door, “Scully wait.” Alice went on

ahead inside.

“Mulder you’re hurt.” Still not looking at him she grabbed

the handle to the screen door pulling it open until

Mulder’s left hand slammed against it above her head. “So

are you.”

“I’m fine.”

“Neither of us if fine, Scully,” he touched her chin,

raising it to make her look at him. Her lip trembled but

she stood her ground. “Okay, we’re not fine, but can we

please have this conversation after I’ve stopped you from

bleeding all over this poor woman’s porch!”

She was right, his hand throbbed. He pulled the screen

door open and followed her into the house.

In the kitchen they found Alice, laying out some first aid

supplies on the table. She looked up as they walked in.

“I’ve patched up a few boys in my day,” she said smiling

gently at Mulder and patting him on the arm. “But I think

you’re better off in her hands.” Winking at Scully before

she quietly left them alone.

Mulder watched as Scully transformed into doctor mode,

pulling his jacket from his shoulders and pushing the

sleeve of his sweater up past his elbow. He followed her

to the sink where she gently began to wash the blood away;

gritting his teeth as she examined the cuts again under the

light over the sink. “You still have glass in some of

these Mulder, some of these should be stitched,” she

observed in a very clinical tone.

“I doubt Alice has any cat-gut Scully, just butterfly

them.”

“That will leave scars, Mulder.”

“It’s not like I don’t already have some of those.”

Her eyes flashed to meet his but she said nothing, patting

his hand dry, she motioned to the table, “Sit!”

As Mulder sat down Scully opened a bottle of peroxide,

moistening a cotton ball she began to dab at the cuts.

“Geez,” Mulder hissed.

“Mulder I’m sorry, these have to be cleaned. I have to get

the glass out.”

“Yeah-yeah, I know, ow!”

The doctor mode was keeping her mind from what had happened

over the past few days. Mulder could see she was

struggling to keep working; her mind reeling with the

implications of what Dark had said to him, what he had

implied about Scully. She finally spoke. “What happened

out there Mulder?

“I don’t know. A visit from the devil’s own, sent to tempt

the souls of men?”

“But you stopped them, Mulder.”

No he hadn’t. What had happened out there had nothing to

do with his intervention as far as he could see. Something

else and driven the devil away. Something he refused to

believe in and only others had faith in. “I didn’t stop

them, Scully,” he whispered softly.

With his hand splayed out on a towel she had picked up a

pair of tweezers, her hand shaking above his. He reached

out with his left to still it. “Scully,” she froze in his

grasp. “Scully, I’m okay,” he said softly. Her eyes

finally came up to meet his quickly filling with tears.

She dropped the tweezers and wrapped her arms around his

neck, her head against his shoulder. “Oh, Mulder, none of

those things Dark said to you were true,” she lifted her

head to look him in the eye. “You know that, don’t you?

You’re not responsible for any of those lives.”

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions?”

“Mulder, don’t.”

His arms came around her, rubbing her back with his good

hand. He whispered into her ear, “I am responsible for

yours. I know how I’ve hurt you.”

She pulled back suddenly at his reply. “No, Mulder, we’ve

had this conversation before but you don’t seem to listen.

When I met you all those years ago I knew I was in trouble.

The good looks, that cocky attitude…”

“You thought I was good looking?”

His comment brought a welcome gentle smile back to her

face. “Will you just listen-that propensity you had for

always being one step ahead of me, it was so aggravating at

times I wanted nothing more than to prove you wrong. But

then I started to see the man behind those hazel eyes, his

pain and his passion, his incredible mind. You’ve taught

me so much Mulder, you let me do the investigating even

though you knew what I’d find-and then somewhere along the

line I fell in love with you and this search of yours and

now nothing can change how I feel. The X-Files are my job

too. The decision to stay with them-and you has always

been mine.”

Mulder huffed, “I seem to remember a moment in my apartment

when I practically begged you not to quit and you begged me

not to make you stay. You’ve lost so much Scully; you

can’t tell me you haven’t thought about what Dark offered

you.”

She hesitated a moment, “I don’t think about it, Mulder it

hurts too much. I know how it feels Mulder, I miss my

sister dearly and now Bill-and I don’t understand Charlie.”

“The truth, Scully,” he pleaded.

She knew what he wanted and after all these years, how

could she give him anything but? She picked up a cotton

ball and began to dab at his hand again. He flinched.

“Scully, please don’t do that,” he winced as she continued.

Finally grabbing her hand again, ‘It hurts like hell. If I

didn’t know you better I’d think you were trying to hurt me

back.”

She threw the cotton ball on the table. “Okay, I DO think

about it. I used to dream about it. After I lost Emily I

used to think about what was taken from me and what I could

never have again. I think about it every time you make love

to me, about what I can never give you.”

“All I need is you Scully,” Mulder tried to comfort her.

“This isn’t about what you need Mulder. Don’t you see?

Dark, the autumn people, they fed off our individual pain.

What we want but will never have. He gave you a ticket too

didn’t he?” Mulder nodded.

“Why didn’t you use it, ride that carrousel back to your

childhood and live your life over again? I know you’ve come

to terms with your loses but you can’t tell me you weren’t

tempted by the offer. What kept you from escaping this

purgatory you think you’ve made for yourself?”

“You,” he said simply. She saw the sincerity in his eyes.

“I didn’t want too,” was all he could let escape his dry

throat.

“You didn’t want to forget that you’ve lost your family?”

“NO!” Mulder shouted at her angrily, how dare she suggest

that. “I mean, yes, I’d give anything to forget what’s

happened to me, to my family to you. But I don’t want to

forget them and I can’t forget you.” He laced his fingers

though hers, his eyes tired and regretful.

“Then you’ve answered your own question, Mulder. Don’t you

see? Even if Dark could have given me my heart’s desire, I

wouldn’t want it. Not without you.”

He acted as if he was about to say something but she

silenced him with a finger to his lips. “Can you imagine

us, the happy family, 2.5 kids, the dog, and the mini van?

The holiday picnic with your family and mine, lots of

nieces and nephews, Bill actually liking you?” She’s

smiled as she’d said it but he saw the truth in her words,

it wasn’t them. He whispered an honest “no”.

“These past ten years, everything we’ve been though

together, as hard and as frightening as it’s been, we’ve

been there for each other. All the pain and the hurt; it’s

bonded us together with a strength only others can imagine.

It’s made us who we are, brought us here to this place in

our lives. These people, Mil, Mr. Walker, Jim Carter, all

the others Dark gave a second chance too. They haven’t

gained anything. Like you say, what they’ve given up is so

much more important.”

Mulder shook his head slowly, “I don’t follow you.”

“All their memories, all their life experiences, everything

they’ve ever done and everyone they’ve ever loved.

Everything that made them who there were, is gone.

Mulder,” she reached over, running her fingers across his

scalp. “You have the most amazing mind.”

He shook her off. “It’s a curse, Scully.”

“No Mulder, it isn’t. That memory of yours, to be able to

call up all those moments that are important to you, live

them again in your mind. If you didn’t want to keep those

memories, you would have used your ticket, erased them from

your life and began a new one. All those people, they’re

starting over but they’re not the same person they were

before. I don’t want to loose myself; I didn’t want to

loose you. That’s what frightened me more than anything.”

“We are but the sum of our memories,” Mulder said with a

sad smile. “The good ones and the bad.”

“But I wouldn’t change any of them, I told you that a long

time ago,” Scully replied smiling back to him.

“Even that fluke man thing?”

She didn’t answer, picking up the tweezers again and

spreading his fingers so she could pull the glass shards

from his hand. Mulder gritted his teeth turning serious

again. “Don’t give up on your dreams, Scully.”

What was he trying to say to her? There was no answer to

that one dream and the pain of trying to find one was not

something she chose to pursue. They had each other and a

future-somewhere. She looked up to find his gaze fixed on

hers a question in his eyes. “This is our life Mulder. I

won’t give up not as long as you don’t. That expression of

yours, a dream is an answer to a question we haven’t

learned how to ask, if we stop dreaming, then who will ask

the questions?”

He knew exactly where she was taking this. Asking him for

a commitment about their future; about whether they’d spend

the rest of their careers or perhaps their lives in this

endless pursuit of the truth. He sighed, “It’s not worth

it, Scully.”

“The truth, Mulder.”

He clenched the side of the table with his other hand as

she went back to her impromptu surgery. “I’m just so damn

tired of loosing Scully.”

“Maybe it’s not about winning or loosing, Mulder, it’s how

you play the game.”

“You can’t play the game when the rules keep changing all

the time, when you don’t have enough pieces. This is so

much bigger than just us, Scully.”

“Maybe that’s the problem, we just need more pieces.”

What was she telling him?

“Don’t give up on your dreams either, Mulder. You will

find a way.”

They sat in silence as she dabbed at the cuts again and

then spread some antibiotic ointment over them; butter-

flying a couple of the deeper ones and then wrapping his

hand in several layers of gauze. She patted his hand when

she’d finished and started to get up from the table.

Mulder stopped her, “Where do we go from here, Scully?”

She looked down into his questioning eyes. “Back on the

road and home.”

8:10 A.M.

The following morning Alice made them breakfast again.

Mulder had called and gotten them a flight back to D.C. for

late that afternoon. Sitting around the breakfast table in

the warm kitchen had brought back good memories for him.

Back to a time when life was easy and free of the threats

that surrounded them today. They were times worth

remembering, memories that gave him cause to look toward

the future with a new determination to find that other way.

By ten they had the car packed. Scully had cleaned and

rebandaged Mulder’s hand and now they stood on the porch to

say their goodbyes. Alice handed Scully a paper sack.

“It’s the rest of the cobbler from the other night, thought

you might like it for a snack along the way.” Scully gave

her a gentle hug. “Thank you so much, take care of

yourself.” She broke the embrace and stepped away, down

the stairs and towards the car.

Mulder stood for a moment, “I don’t know what to say to

thank you.” Alice smiled, “Life is a long journey, Fox,

full of rights and wrongs. I sense that in your mind you

think you’ve made a lot of wrong choices but in your heart

you’ve always done the right thing. It has never failed

you. You are a good man.” He wrapped his arms around her,

giving her a gentle hug and kissing her lightly on the

cheek. She pulled back and patted his arm. “Next time you

get tired and need another rest, you just come back here to

Needmore.” Mulder chucked and stepped away, heading down

the steps and joining Scully in the car.

They headed back through town. Both the diner and the dry

goods store were closed but the square was filled with

people enjoying the autumn sun. Scully turned to Mulder.

He sat in the passenger seat gazing out through the

windshield, his mind somewhere else. They had talked into

the night, coming to some sort of conclusions about their

life back in D.C., about juggling work and taking time for

themselves. In some sense they had been given a second

chance themselves only they still had all their memories to

take with them. Scully smiled to herself, whether it was

fate, destiny or just bad luck here they were back in the

car again; where this journey would lead them, only time

would tell.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Thanks to Ray Bradbury whose story

Something Wicked This Way Comes gave me the idea for this

piece. Special thanks to my beta and best ebuddie, Chris

whose home is back in Indiana. This story is dedicated to

her as a special thank you for being my only friend who

understands the addiction. You Milton fans will remember

Pandemonium as Milton’s name for the capitol of hell in

PARADISE LOST. A little note on my spelling of the word

“carrousel”, Webster only spells it with one “r”, I’ve

given it two in remembrance of the wonderful carrousel

which stood in EUCLID BEACH PARK on the east side of

Cleveland, Ohio until 1969. For what ever reason, the

owners of the park, the Humphrey’s, chose to use two “r’s”.

When the park closed the ride was sold at auction and

disappeared from Cleveland. Over the past several years a

group of enthusiastic citizens located and purchased most

of the horses and are currently working to restore the ride

itself and bring it back to Cleveland. There really is a

Needmore, Indiana though I’m sure it is nothing like my

fictional rendition. There’s a quote from STAR TREK in

here somewhere.

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