TITLE: ‘Eye Of The Beholder’
SPOILERS: Oh, everything up to Je Souhaite and all the way thru to
the middle of VS12 is up for targeting 😉
RATING: R (Strong violence, gory scenes and occasional language.)
CATEGORY: X, S, MSR, A, ST, MT
SUMMARY: Do you see it or don’t you? Reality or hallucination?
Is a middle-aged, disabled man or an unknown creature committing
sporadic murders in a small Illinois town? Mulder and Scully
arrive to find the answers, but will they be able to wrap up the
case before they’re next on the menu?
FEEDBACK: It would make me the happiest person in the whole world!!!
DISCLAIMER: *sigh* Still not mine, which I guess means everything
you recognise from the show belongs to CC, 1013, Fox, yadda yadda
yadda – no copyright infringement intended. Kenny Andrews belongs
to the talented duo of Susan Proto & Vickie Moseley, and is being
given an airing here with their permission because at least they
know how to share their toys!!! 🙂
ARCHIVE: Two weeks exclusive to IMTP, and then I’d be honored for
you to archive it as long as you let me know 🙂
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Written for the Virtual Season 12. Biggest thanks and
hugs to Vickie and Lisa for looking this over, checking it and
encouraging me – if it hadn’t been for the poking, this would probably
be sitting on my computer only half done! LOL
DEDICATION: In fond memory of my dear friend Karin Crabb – this was
out of your area of interest, but you were always supportive.
You’ll be missed.
APRIL 17th, 2005
Everybody thought the guy was crazy, and they always questioned Pitt
as to why he was still friends with the loony. But as high up in
the social ladder Greg Pitt might be, he wasn’t that small-minded
and he certainly didn’t listen to what the folks had to say in this
neighborhood (at least, not for several years now), so whether his
friend was shouting a load of mumbo-jumbo or not all the time was
none of their business. Besides, it wasn’t right to pick on a
Greg Pitt and Bobby Randolf had grown up together as the bestest of
friends, with similar interests and hobbies – they’d even wound up
working at the same digital graphic designs company twelve years
ago. But since the car accident that had killed his wife last
Christmas Eve, Bobby had drastically begun to lose his sight. He
still had some peripheral vision, but only to a very limited extent.
That wasn’t why everybody thought he was crazy, though.
*Don’t you see it?*
Despite his disability, Randolf…saw things that weren’t actually
there. No matter how much the members of the small community told
him he was mistaken, he would swear blue murder that there was a
big vase of flowers, or a fruit bowl or something of the like there.
*Ooh, maybe the ghost of the fruit bowl is coming to haunt
yooooooooooouuu!* Jerry Richter at the local gas station had teased.
Greg wasn’t sure to be more annoyed at their rudeness or saddened
by the state his friend’s mind had deteriorated to to bring on such
“I saw it again this morning,” Bobby suddenly called out.
Snapping out of his own deep thoughts, Pitt looked up from the two
cups of coffee he was making out in Randolf’s kitchen. “Say again?”
“I saw it again!”
Just recently, claims of non-existent, inanimate objects had moved
on to a large, black, panther-like creature stalking the streets of
Solus. Of course, nobody had seen it and no-one believed him, but
he continued to warn them of its threatening presence nevertheless.
“Ah,” Greg sighed, carrying the drinks into the living room and
putting his down on the table before carefully handing the other to
his friend. “You got it? There. Well, you sure it wasn’t just a
shadow? Maybe a trick of the light…Even your doc said that
sometimes your brain fills in for what your peepers don’t see, so
maybe your imagination–”
“I know what I *saw*, Greg. It was there…slowly, *slowly*
walking up the sidewalk right outside my window there, fixing its
eyes on anybody that passed. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s planning
“‘Planning something’, Bob? Come on, even if it were real, no
creature or whatever it is you think you’re seeing has some…uh…
calculated plan laid out.” Pitt paused and finally sat down,
briefly glancing out at the street through the window on his left.
“Now, how about we forget about it and get on with our game…”
His voice trailed off into a sigh as Bobby shook his head
dismissively. “Bob, look, I know you’re still mourning after what
happened to Jess, and losing your sight must really be the final
blow, but this ain’t healthy. Do you like hearing ev’rybody call
you crazy? I mean, you go ’round telling these stories, and how
the hell you expect people to ever listen to you I don’t know!”
Randolf frowned and found it hard to keep control of the anger
boiling within him. For thirty-seven years – and, more
importantly, over the past five months – Greg Pitt had been the
only person he could really trust and depend upon. And now, with
the whole village literally turning against him, he had hoped that
to still be the case. Maybe it truly wasn’t, though, after all…
He shook his head to try shake that thought process away – this was
his best friend for god’s sake! – but it refused to budge, and as
tears stung at his eyes, he turned his head away to face the large
window to his right.
And there it was, stalking the street as always. But this time, it
actually stopped and looked directly back at him.
“Are you listenin’ to me, Bo–”
“Shhh.” Fear pulsing through his veins; sweat beading his skin;
terror widening his almost-sightless eyes that refused to turn
away, Randolf shot out a hand to his side to touch his friend’s
forearm. “I-It’s b-b-back…”
There had always been doubt and disbelief, and even as Greg shot a
brief, almost dismissive look out the window only to see – as
always – nothing, he had no reason to listen to what his friend
said. And yet the pale face on the quivering figure beside him
that had uttered such fear-laced words seemed so genuine, he had to
“Where? I don’t see it? Are you *really*–”
“I…I’m n-not imagining it, Greg – Jesus Christ in H-Heaven I-I-I
wish I w-were…But…”
The shadowy figure outside took a step closer with its head lowered
– preparing to pounce.
“I get that, Bobby, but maybe you just need some rest-”
Four feet breaking into a run as an almost hidden force bursts
through the fence around Randolf’s front yard.
“-and forget what the others say. Maybe you just need a vacation.”
…Teeth baring, sleek body propelling itself into the air…
Frozen, all Randolf could do was cry out his friend’s name as the
window imploded and both of them were thrown to the floor along
with the shattered glass.
“GREG! LOOK OUT!”
Pitt looked up in time to get a quick look at the long-thought
imaginary panther-esque creature looming above him before its jaw
lowered to tear out his throat.
Mulder looked up from the piece of paper he was scrawling a note on
at his desk in the X-Files office to see a flustered Scully
standing in the doorway – a mixture of relief and annoyance pasted
on her face. Clearly she had been trying to find him since waking
up alone in the bed earlier this morning.
“Oh, hey…uh…yeah, sorry if I made you worry…” He nervously
glanced around the office, searching for anything to look at but
her until he’d cleared his name of the criminal charge of
‘ditching’. Admittedly, acting guilty wasn’t exactly helping his
He began rifling several papers on his desk – trying and hoping to
be able to hide the note he had started writing to her within the
blur. But his slight of hand was rusty, and certainly no match for
the ever-observant Doctor Dana Scully.
“What you writing?” She stopped in front of his desk and folded
her arms across her chest as the too-familiar brow-raise showed
up. “If it’s a grocery list, don’t forget beer. It was your idea
to let the guys come over later, so you can deal with the
responsibilities.” Of course, she knew full well it wasn’t any
such thing, but it helped calm her before she yet again had to
breach the subject of his unannounced disappearances.
The past year had certainly been…challenging. Then again, when
wasn’t anything in their lives like that? Permanently moving in
together in their own home had certainly been one of (if not) the
best decisions they’d made since their relationship had stepped up
a level – leaving behind her apartment and the ashes of his that
had both only haunted them with bad, painful memories over the
years. The fact remained, however, that her older brother was
dead, her youngest brother was one of Them, Mulder had almost been
taken away from her again due to another piece of alien artifact
turning up, and she still wasn’t one hundred percent convinced
either of them were happy with their decision to return to the
His behavior this morning was not something Dana’d seen for quite
some time, and it worried her.
“No, I…uhh…” Mulder paused and shook his head – lifting out
the sheet of paper he’d been trying to conceal. He couldn’t
explain why he felt so guilty – he’d left her this morning for good
reason, and all he’d been doing upon her arrival was writing a note
to let her know he had to see somebody before they met up for lunch
– but it just refused to let him be. “I was just writing you a
note,” he continued, sitting down in his chair. “I got a call from
Kenny earlier asking if we could meet up to discuss a possible
X-File. I figured I could see him, and then meet you in the park
The raised brow quickly lowered into a frown. “Kenny? Mulder,
“Yes, *that* Kenny – Spooky Jr.”
“I thought we’d discussed–”
“It’s not like that. C’mon, he knows as well as you, me and
Skinner how I get on those cases. I promise, this is different. I
don’t know the specifics, but it sounds like some kind of animal
attack,” he shrugged, silently pleading for her to bear with him.
Doubtful, she ignored the puppy-dog look and backtracked slightly.
“‘An animal attack’, Mulder? Side-stepping the fact that whenever
there’s an animal attack somewhere, somebody for some reason thinks
we should be called in, how did Kenny come across it?”
“I guess I’m never gonna be able to shift the title of ‘Monster
Boy’ after all, am I?” Mulder quipped, leaning back in his chair
and fiddling with the pencil he’d been using to write the note.
When no positive reaction sparked from where she stood, he knew
there was no wriggling away with lame jokes. “I told you,” he
sighed, serious, “I don’t know any details. Kenny said he had
something he wanted to talk over, so I left, got earlier-mentioned
beer from the store, and then came here. I guess, now you’re here,
though, we can go see him together!” He smiled, but she shook her
“Oh, how kind of you!” She let out a deep sigh and sat down on the
corner of the desk. “I’m just so tired of it all sometimes.”
He considered her words for a minute. “Do you regret coming back?”
“No…No, you know it’s not that – we still have answers to
uncover, lies to expose and mysteries to unravel – but…I don’t
know…Maybe I’m just having one of those mornings.”
With an understanding nod, Mulder slowly raised to his feet and
cupped her face in his hands. “I know – we’re damned if we do and
damned if we don’t,” he smiled as she looked up into his eyes. A
brief, silent pause followed as they both ran the past months over
in their minds. “Look, if you’d rather I cancelled the meeting, we
could skip straight to lunch in the park…”
“And have you go on for the rest of eternity about how you wonder
what that case you passed up on was about? No way, mister!” Her
arms snaked around his waist and pulled him forward to close the
gap separating them. “I’ll go with you, but please, Mulder, can we
talk it through before you jump into a decision if it is a
He moved back a fraction so that he could lower his forehead
against hers – never letting her face fall from the cradle of his
warm palms as he gently rubbed both thumbs back and forth across
her skin. Once, he’d been a creature of habit, but, if he hadn’t
known already, the past year had certainly brought it home that he
wasn’t the only one he had to think about now; every decision had
to be made with her in mind. If the hypothesized consequences of
that decision didn’t look one hundred percent positive, it was
definitely not the path to follow. That didn’t necessarily stop
him from being a forgetful, selfish fool now and then, but he was
trying to make amends in his own clumsy way.
“I promise you that with all I am,” Mulder whispered, silently
praying it was a promise he would manage to keep for once.
With a final kiss, they collected their stuff and then made their
way to meet Agent Kenny Andrews from Violent Crimes.
The crime scene photos in their full Technicolor goriness were
nowhere near as contradictive as the theories and accusations
flying round about the murder – it was obvious something had burst
through Robert Randolf’s window thus supporting the now-
incarcerated Randolf’s statement. But, as Andrews pointed out,
nothing – no human, let alone creature – was witnessed entering
the house after the deceased Pitt’s arrival, nothing was seen
leaving, nothing was found inside the house, and none of the blood
sampled so far showed traces of foreign DNA, which remained the
local law’s basis for arresting Randolf.
Mulder’s mind, of course, was in overdrive, and his curiosity was
in its element. Even with her eyes trained on the photographs in
her hands, Scully could sense his child-like excitement emanating
from his body beside her.
“So, what d’ya think?” Kenny asked, leaning forward on the edge of
Dana had a lot of questions regarding evidence etcetera, but she
knew her partner would explode if he didn’t ask something as soon
as humanly possible, so she let him go first.
It was an opportunity he snatched up within a heartbeat, but he
surprised her when he asked with a slight chuckle, “If the cops are
so certain it’s a simple murder, but all the signs point to an
animal attack, how the hell did you get hold of this? Surely the
VCS doesn’t follow up on this kind of stuff now?”
Andrews let out a loud chuckle and slapped a hand down on his
knee. “No, far from! I actually have a cousin who’s the deputy
there, and …Well, let’s say he’s about as paranoid and hell-bent
on conspiracy theories as you, Mulder!”
There was no holding back the snort of laughter that escaped Scully
– making both men turn to look in her direction – but she said
nothing more as she continued to focus on the crime-scene photos.
“Never mind her – she’s having ‘one of those mornings’,” Mulder
teased, playfully nudging his partner’s arm. “So, your cousin
called you? He thinks it’s an animal?”
“You know that as an officer of the law you’re supposed to take all
the evidence into account. As far as I, and my cousin, figure, the
Douglas County sheriff and the rest of the guys there are ignoring
the hard facts and only paying attention to the circumstantial
“Surely they have more than Randolf’s presence in the room to go
on?” Dana asked, sitting up and handing the photos back to Kenny.
“Neighbors say that–…Oh, no, give ’em to Mulder to put in the
file, and keep it… Apparently, neighbors reported hearing raised
voices, and Randolf’s guide stick was covered with blood – as well
as dented from where it had obviously impacted something.”
“But his throat’s been eaten away!” Mulder exclaimed.
“You don’t need to tell me that. Look, I don’t know if you’re
interested or if you can get the green light on this, but I bet
they could really do with your help there to find the truth.”
Kenny stared at them both with a smile and then slowly stood up.
“I’ll leave it with you – I gotta get back…Real nut-jobs to
profile and track down, you know… I mean, we can’t all be
geniuses, have beautiful partners and our own office in the
basement of the FBI now, can we?”
Scully shot a impish grin in her partner’s direction, and then
turned back to the profiler, quickly replying, “Why thank you,
Kenny – it’s a position I’ve worked hard to reach, though.”
With a warm smile, Mulder gave a nod of his head and ran a finger
across the back of her hand – acknowledging that she’d deserved
that. “We’ll see what we can do, but no promises,” he sighed,
standing also, as did Scully a second later. “It’s good to see you
again, kid. Jeez, it’s been too long! Hey, Scully and I now have
a place over on N – you and Kerry should stop by some time so we
can catch up.”
“Yeah, sure. Keep in touch and keep me up to date on how this
goes, if it goes at all.” Kenny shook the two FBI agents’ hands,
turned, and was just beginning to walk away when Mulder’s voice
made him pause momentarily in his tracks.
Mulder faltered for a second as he eyed his partner, and then, with
a slow nod of his head and small lift of the case file in his hand,
he finished, seriously “Thanks for this.”
The two sat back down and watched their friend walk away until he
was completely gone from view, but even then they remained still
and silent for several minutes.
A crowd of cheering children ran past, playing ‘Tag’.
An elderly couple followed the path across the horizon, arm in arm,
and then entered the small library hidden in the eastern corner of
Somewhere to their right a dog playfully barked.
These moments when they could watch and listen to others blissfully
living their purportedly ‘normal’ lives in ignorance while they
fought so painfully hard for the future somehow made it all
Finally, Mulder started, “So, what do you think?”
“Well, it’s not a profiling case–”
“–it’s not in Florida; by the looks of it there are no woods to
trawl through; no ghosts; no mutants…It would be completely
different from what we’re used to if it weren’t for the possibility
of pissing off the local law.”
Beside her, Mulder sat staring at her with bated breath – a smile
tugging at the corners of his mouth as she reeled off the list.
“It’s perfect!” she beamed playfully, reaching out to take the file
from his grasp. “I’ll go submit the 302 to Skinner and then come
collect you. You can call the guys to let them know they can’t
come over tonight, check we’ve got everything in the overnight
bag… Oh, and can you get the flights or shall I?”
“I got it,” came his reply as he immediately reached for his cell
phone. “Anything else?”
“No. I’ll see you back home – I’ll call when I’m on my way.”
He bent to kiss her on the forehead, but she quickly grabbed his
arm before he could pull away.
“This doesn’t mean I think this is an x-file in any way, of course
– I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.”
“Oh, of course!”
2427 SYCAMORE STREET
As anticipated, Skinner had signed off on the case, in fact, happy
they were taking an ‘easy’ case so they could wind down a little,
but the Sheriff’s Department had been barely a couple degrees above
freezing with their welcome. The fact that the two interlopers
were from the Bureau spelled trouble enough, but even worse was
their interruption with a case that was almost wrapped up.
Here they were though, beyond the yellow tape and conducting their
own thorough survey of the scene. Scully had managed to carry out
an inspection of all the evidence still present on site after ten
minutes, but Mulder seemed more interested in the shattered glass
on the floor and the window from where it had come. Scully hadn’t
questioned him about it for a couple of minutes as she knew his
mind was probably working a hundred miles a minute to come up with
some theories, but now it was worrying her.
Pulling off her latex gloves, she approached – being careful not to
tread on anything of importance.
“Mulder? What you got?”
He glanced up, finally acknowledging her presence, but just as
quickly turned his attention back down to the floor.
“*Something* burst through the window from outside…” His head
raised and he pointed at the overturned table and chairs. “Pitt
and Randolf were sitting at the table at the time, and Randolf must
have…stood up to step away. He put his mug down on the
table…” Mulder paused for a thoughtful second as he moved his
hands around to kind of re-enact the last seconds of Greg Pitt’s
life, before motioning towards the still intact mug that lay close
to the toppled table.
Nodding her head at every observation he made, Scully smiled and
watched her partner do what he did best: piece the puzzle together
and hunt down the missing parts until it was complete. It was what
they were trained to do as investigators, but she found herself
staring in awe at his ability to literally recreate a scene in his
head as if he were there at the time nevertheless.
Her only concern was that he was starting to show the
characteristic habits he took on when he got deeply into a
Several frowning officers silently stood in the corner with their
arms folded across their chests and watched.
“But Pitt didn’t believe his friend…he didn’t expect anything…”
Mulder continued, standing up.
“Bobby’s crazy is why,” one cop piped up, clearly disgruntled. “He
believes in ghosts, you know? Thinks there’s some phantom creature
on the prowl!”
“He was thrown to the floor by whatever it was…” Trailing off,
Mulder looked around the room thoughtfully, and then looked up at
the group of uniformed men. “The report said something about the
accused’s white stick. Where is it?”
There was silence before, a minute later, “In evidence back at the
Scully stepped up beside him and lightly touched his forearm. He
automatically looked down at her, and to her surprise he actually
had an apologetic expression on his face.
“What are you thinking?” she asked quietly.
“I’m…not sure yet…” Just the look in his eyes and the
hesitation let her know otherwise, but he inclined his head
slightly towards the officers to emphasize his point, and then
snapped his own latex gloves off before resting his hand at its
home on her lower back. “We’ll know more after you’ve examined the
victim. Come on.”
“She–…You’re examining the body?”
Both agents looked at the man that had suddenly stepped forward
with both hands on his hips. It was an attitude and reaction they
were used to having to deal with, but they still wondered when
everybody would catch up with the twentieth century, let alone join
“Agent Scully is a medical doctor and we are here to find the truth
about what happened. Just, exactly, what problem do you have with
that?” Mulder snapped, stepping in front of his partner.
At only five foot seven, the officer found himself staring up at
the FBI agent, and he stuttered as he looked for a good enough
answer. Not that he had one, of course, but that was beside the
point… “W-well, uh…n–…”
When no intelligible reply came, Mulder gave a nod of his head and
turned away to lead Scully out. “We’ll be on our way and get back
to you later, then.”
“What was with the alpha male act back there?” Dana chuckled as
they got into their parked sedan.
Mulder fastened his seatbelt and started up the engine. “Small-
town, wanna-be cops always piss me off,” he grumbled, glancing out
at the group leaving the house. “Nobody had even bothered to
examine or consider anything we just worked out in…what? Fifteen
minutes of our arrival?”
“It’s not exactly something we’re unfamiliar with,” she pointed
out. “So, what was your mind working overtime on in there?”
“I’m not saying it’s out of the realms of possibility, but these
guys were sitting having coffee together…Pitt was probably the
only person that had anything to do with Randolf – everybody else
in the town thought he was crazy because of his ravings about
seeing stuff. Why kill the only person that wouldn’t ignore him in
the street, let alone sit down with him in his home?”
“We-ll, that I don’t know…” She shifted in her seat and glanced
out of her own window before shooting him an evil grin. “Maybe if
it were the other way around…”
Wide-eyed, he stared at her, and then slapped a hand against his
chest in mock hurt. “Wow, Sadistic Scully! Have I forgotten
something you’re trying to hint at?”
Chuckling, she shook her head. “At any rate, I think you’re
right. Everything in the house points to somebody–”
“Yes, even *something*, else. We might, hopefully, be able to
settle that one after I’ve done the autopsy. Are you gonna
question Mr. Randolf while I do that?”
“Actually,” Mulder started, putting the vehicle into gear and
pulling away from the curb, “I thought I’d stick with you for a
while, if that’s okay.”
Now she was confused! “You want to come with me to the morgue?
I’m definitely worried!”
“I’m curious about what could have done this.”
That was his only answer and she silently accepted.
It had silently watched through slit eyes as solid pad had followed
solid pad along the damp, asphalt road, but as they had sat in
their car, Its teeth had bared – saliva dripping from Its hungry
jaws as It felt the desperate need to dispose of these threatening
beings course through its veins.
It could almost smell and taste their blood.
It would get them later.
…Make the hunt a little more interesting…
It watched their car pull away, and then turned a thoughtful eye on
the departing police officers before continuing on its way.
It still had some leftovers from its newest victim to eat…
DOUGLAS COUNTY MORGUE
“Oh, my God!”
The photos Kenny had shown them had been gory in their detail, but
they certainly had not done enough justice to capture the full
extent of wounds on the victim, and even Scully found herself
having to look away briefly as she pulled the cover back.
Mulder immediately covered his mouth and stepped away.
The throat was practically non-existent – even the neck was nothing
but a collection of bone fragments. At least a dozen long slashes
down and across the face had ripped it to near unidentifiability.
Further down the body was no better…
Ravished skin hung loosely from the left shoulder and arm, exposing
the torn and dead muscle tissue inside; lacerations marred the
torso, but not as badly as the large rip leading all the way down
from the decimated throat to the just-as-mutilated groin, and
without even having to look too closely it was easy to see through
the wound that all vital organs had been nibbled at…some were
“They think a human did this?” Scully croaked, examining the whole
body with wide-eyed horror.
“No, they think a middle-aged, weak, lonely, blind guy did it,”
Mulder tried to joke with little success.
He stepped around the metal gurney until he was opposite her, and
frowned as he stole a glance at the torso – hand still firmly
covering mouth. Scully watched the curiosity grow on his face as
he leaned in closer, and asked what it was, but he didn’t reply
until his face was merely centimeters from the victims chest.
“Hey, Scully, you got a razor there?” his muffled voice queried
from behind his sweaty palm.
She quickly turned to pull the utensils tray over and picked up the
electrical razor – handing it over to Mulder, who then immediately
shaved away the fair chest hair that covered the area he was
“What is it?”
He took several steps away and gestured toward the body. “Tell me
what that looks like to you.”
Scully eyed him curiously, pulled a magnifying glass from the tray
and then moved to stand beside him. She was about to question
further until she noticed what he had found: a faint, purple bruise
in the shape of a–
“It’s a paw print,” she coughed, sharply looking up.
A moment of silence as they both weighed up the facts.
“Scully, can you do a full autopsy of this body?” Mulder suddenly
started, planting both hands on Dana’s shoulders and surprising
her. “Document every wound…maybe run a tox screen to see if he
was under the influence in any way…See if you can find out the
size of what we’re dealing with?”
“Well, of course, b-but…” The frown creasing her brow deepened.
“You don’t think it’s obvious already?”
“I know and you know, but something tells me the Douglas County law
won’t be ready to accept our complete overhaul of their work. We
need as much evidence as possible more than ever.”
With a nod of her head, Scully’s hands raised to pull the green
mask up over her mouth, but he quickly stopped her by grabbing her
“Don’t I get a kiss before I go?” he asked, bending slightly and
puckering his lips in expectation.
She stared at him for a while, smiling – he was so beautiful when
he acted so sappy. Of course, they shouldn’t be being so openly
affectionate towards each other – particularly while on the job –
but there was no one around, and hey, she’d pretty much stopped
caring about it since they’d moved in together. So, she eventually
reached up on tiptoe to share a passionate kiss with him that
became very difficult to leave.
“You just didn’t want to stay for the autopsy,” she laughed,
finally pulling the face mask up.
“Well, there is that, but I figured I’d go return the favor and
piss the local law off a little more by questioning Robert Randolf.”
“That’s my g-man. I’ll call you if I come up with anything. You
Cupping her cheek in the palm of his hand, he smiled at her and
then walked out.
Scully turned back to the corpse and let out a deep sigh.
“Oh, hey! You!”
Mulder sharply turned at the sound of the calling voice to see a
uniformed man quickly pacing down the corridor toward him with a
waving hand in the air.
“Yeah, you. Can you wait a moment?”
Nodding, the FBI agent sighed and cast a brief glance at the room
“Hey! You Ken’s guy? From the Bureau?” the stranger panted once
he’d finally caught up.
Mulder smiled and pulled out his ID wallet. “Hi, yeah – Special
Agent Fox Mulder. Are you his…uh…cousin?” He hesitated,
holding out his free hand to shake the stranger’s. If this guy was
the deputy, he was the most unlikely one Mulder’d ever come across:
Short-cropped blonde hair topped the slim-built man that likely
only just reached the height of five foot one because he was
“Deputy Michael Grovener – you can just call me Mike. I’m so glad
you made it…Ken’s mentioned a lot about you – about the work you
do; sounds like fun.”
“I wouldn’t call it that as such…” The agent shifted
uncomfortably from one foot to the other as he continued to study
the man he towered above. “Uh…maybe more ‘interesting’. Anyway,
Kenny said you didn’t agree with how this is being conducted?” He
had hoped to question Randolf before confronting the sheriff or
even the deputy, but that idea was clearly out the window now.
Fingers were suddenly more tightly crossed that Scully would be
able to turn up the answers and proof they needed.
Grovener shook his head, quickly glanced around to check no one was
within earshot, and then whispered, “You’ve seen the scene, right?
The file? There’s no way the case holds. I mean, have you spoke
to Bill yet?”
“Bill Dench – the sheriff?”
“Uh…no,” Mulder shrugged, becoming more uneasy. “We met a couple
of officers at Randolf’s home, but that was–”
“Me and my partner, Agent Scully.” At the deputy’s frown he
quickly added, “She’s at the county morgue examining the victim.”
“Oh…uh…” The frown creasing Grovener’s brow deepened and he
shook his head. He didn’t have a problem with what he’d just been
told, but Bill certainly would, and he’d not worked alongside the
sheriff for two years to not learn that it was best to never get on
his bad side. “Oh-kay…uh…Ken never mentioned you had a
“You have a problem with that?” Mulder’s arms folded across his
chest. “We got the same kind of reception from a group of your
“Believe me, I don’t think that way, but Bill…Well, he’s old-
fashioned – lived here his whole life and, well, he’s lived it
pretty sheltered, like. You know what I mean? That’s why nobody
in this building, ‘cept his assistant, is female.”
This could get interesting once Scully returned from the morgue!
Smiling, Mulder couldn’t help but envision one of the possible
disagreements his fiery partner and the sheriff would get into on
their encounter. It wasn’t the others undermining her he liked –
far from, and he would happily throw a fist or two in her defense
if allowed – but her kick-ass reactions and retorts made it
“We can worry about that later, though,” Grovener’s voice droned
on. “So, have you found any answers yet?”
Answers? They’d only been in town an hour, if that! Admittedly,
they had come to a better conclusion than the sheriff, but that
didn’t mean to say they had concrete answers (at least, not ones
they wanted to share just yet). He had to wonder what the kid had
been saying to his cousin…
“Not yet – I was just about to go question Mr. Randolf,” Mulder
replied, gesturing toward the door behind him.
“Oh, sorry! Hey, mind if I come in and watch?”
Did Mulder even have a choice in the matter? This wasn’t his
territory – he didn’t exactly have the right to say ‘no’ to the
“Uh…no, of course not…”
Step. Step. Step.
The green linoleum flooring slipped easily beneath Its paws – the
pads leaving prints of condensation in the wake of each that slowly
faded away just as the lives of these strangers would soon
enough… Them and anybody else that crossed Its path.
Its lithe body moved along the corridor, and It desperately tried
to ignore the foul smell of disinfectant that polluted every
molecule in the air and filled Its nostrils. It couldn’t
understand how a species that depended on blood as its life source,
could be so desperate to clean the stuff away.
“…Organs to note that are missing include–”
Ears pricked up, body pressed to the ground and eyes contracted to
slits. The voice of the woman echoed against the walls, and It
slinked along until It crouched outside the double doors.
“I believe you didn’t do it, but your defense is far from
conceivable, so why don’t you just explain it to me? Forget Deputy
Grovener – just me. Tell me about this creature you swear killed
“I don’t even understand it!” Randolf whined, shaking his lowered
head. “I just see it – most of the time it just walks along the
street, but sometimes…” Gulp. “Sometimes It stops and…and
w-w-watches people…J-just *stares*, like Its planning
Mulder – one hand flat down on the table Bob sat at while the other
quickly reached up to wipe some sweat from his brow – glanced round
at the deputy, who continued to stand silently in the corner of the
“I tried to help Greg…I-I used my stick, but…b-but…” The
seated man’s tears overwhelmed him, and he broke down – resting his
forehead against the edge of the table.
“Why can’t anybody but you see it, Bob?” Mulder continued, quietly,
moving to crouch beside Randolf. “What does it even look like?”
His voice dropped to a near whisper. “I can help you stop It –
make sure It doesn’t hurt anybody else, if you just trust me and
tell all you can.”
Bob’s head lifted a fraction, and Mulder prayed he’d made the
connection necessary to gain the key information to stop the
“It’s like a panther – black and slim…” came the choked response
after several tense minutes. “Its teeth…It–…I don’t know if
It can be stopped…”
“Just help me find It.”
The door swung open and a tall, broad man stood with hands on hips
casting a puzzled look around the room before focusing on
Grovener. “Deputy, I been looking for you everywhere! Come on, we
got another one.”
Randolf sat upright with wide eyes, Mulder sharply turned and
raised to his full height, and Grovener quickly moved to the exit.
Sheriff Bill Dench snapped around to frown at the stranger who had
called out the question, as if only just noticing his presence.
“This is Agent Mulder from the FBI,” the deputy piped up before
Mulder had chance to reply.
“FBI?” The frown deepened, and then realization dawned. “Oh,
*you* – the guy here to screw up our hard work? Well, looks like
there’s a new twist without you having done a thing,” Dench sniped,
bitterly. “Heard you had a partner with you. Where is he?”
Mulder’s mouth opened to respond, but once again Grovener jumped in
with “At the morgue – examining Pitt. Who’s the new victim?”
before any sound managed to pass his lips.
“Unidentified female in her late twenties/early thirties found
behind the post office just two blocks away from this guy’s
place.” A large, gloved hand pointed in Randolf’s direction before
Dench turned steely eyes back on the FBI agent. “And yes, the
body’s in the same condition as Pitt’s. Come on, Deputy, let’s
go.” With one last disgusted glance at Mulder, the sheriff stalked
out with Grovener slowly following.
Waiting a beat after the door had slammed shut, Mulder crouched
back down beside Bob. “I’m gonna go now…My partner and I are
working our own investigation, and we knew you hadn’t done this
even before the newest victim, but you gotta promise me something:
as soon as you get out of here, you’ll help us find this and stop
It. Do you think you can do that?”
Randolf lifted his head to stare at the blurred shape of the figure
beside him, and gave an unsteady nod. In honesty, he didn’t think
he could stop the creature, but he’d lost everybody that meant
anything to him. So very little mattered to him, except killing
the creature that had murdered his best friend. He had to try, and
at least this guy seemed to care and believe him.
Mulder left the room, nodded his thanks to the police officer
outside the door, and then pulled out his cell phone as he headed
for the car park – hitting the well-used speed-dial button.
His eyebrows raised sharply at the sound of his partner’s response
over the line, but then a mischievous grin begun to lift his
cheeks. “Wow! What a coincidence – my name’s Mulder, too!” he
teased. “I’m sorry, though – I must have the wrong number…I’m
trying to get hold of my doubting, forever-questioning-every-theory
little partner whose name is only Mulder in my fantasies.”
There was an unsettled pause from the other end, and his smile
broadened at the thought that he’d succeeded with his aim.
“Had you big time, Scully!” he chuckled – shaking his head as he
heard her large release of breath. “How’s it going on your end?”
“This is a case for Animal Control, Mulder, without question, but I
don’t see what we can do.” It was obvious she was tired and
frustrated. The sigh punctuating her sentence only confirmed that,
but he had to know…
“What’ve you got?”
“There’s a similar bruise to the one you found on the opposite side
of Mr. Pitt’s chest; a lung, the heart and liver have been ripped
out as if It knew distinctly what It was after – I mean, other than
from the deep lacerations, there is no damage to any of the other
body tissue. There’s signs Pitt struggled right until It bit
through the aorta and superior vena cava.”
“Ouch.” He irritably wiped a hand down his face before reaching to
put the key in the ignition. “I just spoke to Bob Randolf, before
the high-and-mighty Sheriff Dench intervened–”
“We-ell, let’s say–” He cut himself off abruptly – he’d almost
made a crack about another Bill hating his guts, but that was still
a little too inappropriate, so he quickly considered his next
words. “…uh…he’s not exactly separate from everybody else
we’ve received a cold reception from. Anyway, Randolf’s probably
about as clueless as we are right about now.”
Pacing the room, Scully shook her head and quirked an eyebrow. It
actually sounded as if…
“So, what theory have you subscribed to? Phantom beast? Invoked
spirit summoned to protect Randolf? Some kind of psychic ability
on Randolf’s or an outside source’s part? Lycanthrope?–”
“‘Lycanthrope’? Scully! Dear diary…”
“*What’s your theory*?”
His hand withdrew from the key. She knew already, so why she had
to have so much fun rubbing it in his face still puzzled him.
“Actually…I’m not–…I don’t have one.”
There it was!
“You, without a theory? Maybe I should be the one saying ‘Dear
Diary…’,” she scoffed, pausing in her tracks near the double-door
entrance to the room.
“Whatever,” he chuckled, clearing his throat, before turning
serious again. “This thing is hungry, Scully, and It’s found Its
next victim already – they’ve disc…….”
Her partner’s voice drained out as Scully frowned and stared at the
double doors. She didn’t know why, but she felt inexplicably
unsettled – almost as if she was being watched. The phone lowered
away from her ear, but it didn’t really matter as she’d already
stopped registering what Mulder was saying, anyway, or if he was
even saying anything at all anymore.
*It’s just your imagination running away,* the voice in her head
The dark, gripping sensation refused to go though, and the tiny
hairs on the back of her neck stood up in terror. …Just that
irrational feeling of eyes following her every move…
A small, latex-encased hand raised shakily to press against one of
the metal double-doors.
“Scully? Scully, are you there?!”
Mulder’s worry heightened.
Scully stepped out into the hallway…
…And then the phone line disconnected.
Memories of blood-spatter on walls, ripped skin, and a gouged
throat hounded Mulder as he slammed on the brake, exited the car as
quickly as possible, and then ran down the long corridor of the
morgue to the room he’d left his partner in earlier. Any number of
things could have been the reason for her hanging up, but the only
ones he could think of as cold sweat bathed his body filled his
heart with dread.
He burst through the double doors – eyes darting around the area as
he searched for her.
‘Please, God, let her be okay.’
When he saw her smashed cellphone on the floor, all hope he’d been
harboring was snatched away.
Mulder stepped cautiously toward the gurney he’d stood beside
earlier; where Greg Pitt’s body had been but now wasn’t. Gone,
Defying whiplash, his head snapped around at maximum speed to stare
at the mauled utility closet door. The knob turned, but the wood
had been bent in its frame and wouldn’t budge.
“Mulder, are you there?”
The breath he’d been holding quickly left his lungs in a relieved
sigh as he ran to the door holding his partner captive. He didn’t
think he’d ever been so glad to hear her voice – no matter how
“I’m here, Scully! Are you okay? What happened?”
She said nothing more, and there was no doubting she was far from.
Mulder tried to open the door from his side, but had as little luck
as she’d had.
“Stand back, I’m gonna kick the door in,” he told her gently,
briefly resting his forehead against the scratched wood panel in a
silent prayer that she wasn’t too badly injured. “Okay?”
One hearty kick freed her from the prison she’d originally used as
a refuge, and she rushed into his open arms – quietly sobbing. He
held her close for a moment, before stepping back to examine her.
The four long, parallel gouges on her right arm told him more than
he wanted to know.
“I was talking to you and…I can’t explain it – I just got this
feeling that somebody was watching me and…” Her voice trailed
off momentarily as she shook her head dismissively, the scientist
in her trying to push away all the other explanations she’d been
pondering over for the last ten minutes, but her better judgment
knowing otherwise. “I couldn’t see anything…There was
nothing–” Shakily, she lifted the injured arm and studied it.
“The next thing I knew, something slashed my arm… But still I
couldn’t see anything else in the room…”
Mulder tentatively ran his fingertips over the scratches – wiping
away the blood pooling from them. They’d faced so many dangerous
beasts, creatures and mutants over the years, but the only time he
was sure he’d seen her this shaken was after her encounters with
Donnie Pfaster. Of course, this was a completely different
scenario, but he’d come so close to losing her… His eyes slipped
shut and it was difficult to push away the memories of the scene at
“We need to get you to the hospital,” he finally started, opening
his eyes to stare at her.
“I’m fine – I’ll go to the hospital later, but it’s nothing,
really.” Once again, Scully paused, but this time her jaw set and
her shoulders squared as she continued to stare at him for a long
while before continuing, in a serious tone, “I was lucky – every
cell of logic in me said it wasn’t possible, but I got to the
closet before any real damage could be done. This…*thing* –
whatever It is – is still out there and we have to find a way to
stop it before somebody else isn’t as lucky.”
“It’s killed two people already…You could have been the third…”
“But I *wasn’t*,” she assured him, lifting her left hand to cup his
cheek and prove she was really there. “Randolf must know more than
he’s letting on – why is he the only one that can see this thing?”
“Maybe I can help a little with that.”
Both agents turned towards the double doors to see a tall, gray-
haired, bespectacled man.
“It’s okay. My name’s Doctor Tom David – I’m Mister Randolf’s
local physician. I just received a distraught phone call from him
asking that I come speak with you – I take it you’re the agents
from the FBI?” the stranger explained, wearily glancing at the
destroyed closet door in the far corner of the room, and the
congealed globs of blood on the floor by one of the gurneys.
Mulder gave a last lingering ‘Are you sure you’re okay?’ look to
his partner as he carefully let go of her arm, waited for her nod
and tiny smile that anybody but him would have missed, and then
stepped toward the intruder. “Doctor David?” he frowned, searching
his memory cabinet for the name. “Oh! You were questioned by the
sheriff right after the murder of Greg Pitt. You’re on file saying
David gave a nervous chuckle and shrug of his shoulders as, yet
again, he cast a surveying eye around the room. “‘Delusional’ is
maybe a little over-exaggeration concocted by Sheriff Dench to make
his report look more aesthetically pleasing to his own ego. My
point I came here to talk with you about is that Bob suffers from
something called Macular Degeneration…It’s a condition that
usually affects people as they get older, but I believe the trauma
of the car crash he was in and the resulting death of his wife
caused a great surge of pressure on all his functions, leading to
the bursting of vessels in his eyes.”
A befuddled Mulder turned back to Scully – silently asking for
“That would be a fair enough assessment,” she finally piped up,
clearing her throat and quickly shifting into Doctor mode.
“But…” Suddenly, a look of confusion creased her features also,
and she rested her left hand against her hip. “That doesn’t
explain what Randolf has been reporting, or – more to the point –
why you’re here.”
Tom David had lived in Douglas County all his life – in Solus for
the largest part of that – and had practiced medicine for almost
thirty years, but despite the many people he’d met, he didn’t think
he’d ever come across anybody like these two federal agents. He
couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was an electricity or
unseeable force of some kind in this room, and the inability to
explain it scared him. Admittedly, he was more concerned about the
broken door, blood splatters and broken cellphone on the floor, but
he couldn’t let them know that – after all, he had a job to do.
“The degeneration has been causing Bob to hallucinate. His brain
fills in the holes that his eyes cannot, and, as a result, his
imagination presents him with mostly mundane objects…except for a
dark beast that, I believe, represents his anger at his whole
situation. He’s become fixated, though, his grief has been
deepening, and everybody in the town mocks. In my medical opinion,
I believe the stress became too much and he finally snapped – using
this manifestation as an excuse.”
“That sounds more like a psychologist’s opinion to me,” Mulder
grunted, folding both arms across his chest. “A psychiatrist’s
assessment. I thought you said you were his physician?” They’d
been faced by so much contempt so far for reasons they’d put down
to just their presence, but he was beginning to wonder if there was
something else going on. Even Scully looked doubtful.
The doctor shifted from one foot to the other, refusing to say
“Who asked you to speak with us, again?”
“I told you, Mr. Randolf phoned me.”
“He asked you to tell us he’s guilty of murdering his only friend,
despite swearing to me half-hour ago that it was a panther-like
creature? Fascinating!” the tall agent snapped sarcastically.
“Who sent you, Doctor David, and how did you know I was here?”
There was a moment of tense silence, before the older man finally
closed his eyes and conceded, “Sheriff Dench gave me a call… He
said your partner was examining the body, and asked me to come and
speak with…’him’.” He fixed his gaze on Scully briefly before
turning back to Mulder and shrugging his shoulders. “He’s just
trying to tie up loose ends without it all having to be dredged up
again. I am Bob’s doctor, but I confess to listening a bit too
much to the rumors and things people say about him.”
Wincing when she took a step forward and accidentally brushed her
injured arm against Mulder’s jacket, Scully queried, “Why weren’t
any of your medical observations noted on record? If Dench is so
adamant on essentially solving this with Occam’s Razor, why not
include what you just theorized to us on file?”
“Because nobody else reading it would have believed it.
Hallucinations seen by a sane, visually handicapped man? That,
alone, would have been cause for further investigation.”
“Actually, no,” she replied. “It’s known as Charles Bonnet
Syndrome to specialists…I heard somebody once mention it in
passing while I was at Quantico, but didn’t know anything until I
read a paper on it a year or so ago. It’s a fairly common
condition, and some people have actually been recorded as seeing
figures and monsters. What Bob is seeing though, isn’t a
hallucination…” She raised her right arm and felt a wave of
nausea and giddiness overtake her senses momentarily.
“Oh my God!” David exclaimed, examining the deep, bleeding
slashes. “What the hell did this? You should be at a hospital.”
“That’s what I said,” Mulder scolded, staring at his partner.
“This is what Randolf’s imagination did. If he’s delusional,
Delusion must have its own body.”
“Whatever Randolf’s seeing, it attacked Agent Scully–”
“I’m fine,” she insisted, trying to calm Mulder’s heightening
temper and voice. “It’s just a couple of scratches…”
Her voice trailed off as a larger wave of light-headedness claimed
her, and just as the looks of concern on the two men’s faces
registered in her brain, everything faded to black. There was the
distant sound of Mulder calling her name as he rushed to catch her,
and then nothing.
As the doors on the back of the coroner’s van slammed shut, Deputy
Mike Grovener turned with a hung head, wiped a hand down his weaty
face and sighed, “This is the fourth known attack! God, what the
hell’s doin’ this?”
“And why is it they’re all only turning up after these two FBI
agents arrive in town?” a frustrated sheriff growled, briskly
approaching with a small evidence bag tightly gripped in one hand.
“I had it all wrapped up, and then they had to come in snoopin’
around for some goddamned reason!”
“It’s not their fault,” Grovener defended. He knew he’d done the
right thing by getting an outside source involved to find the
truth, but he couldn’t believe how out-of-hand this had gotten in
just a few short days. “That body looked like it’d been there for
a good couple months. Nobody’s to blame ‘cept whatever’s doin’
“The hell it ain’t! How the hell did they even know to come here
in the first place?”
A broad, spectacled figure dressed in a dark suit and trenchcoat
stepped up behind them and attempted to intercept the conversation,
but was quickly shot down by the infuriated sheriff. “They were–”
“Can you shut up a second – I’m talkin’ to my Deputy! Now, you
tell me, Grovener: if they ain’t responsible in any way for any of
this, how the hell did they find out about this case?”
Mike shot a nervous glance over at the federal agent behind Dench,
before finally and tentatively replying, “I called them in.”
“I have a cousin in D.C who’d spoken a lot about two agents he knew
that dealt with…unusual cases. I thought they’d be the best to
help solve this,” the deputy explained, regaining some confidence.
“‘Solve this’? We had it solved!”
“Oh, come on, Bill! You know as well as me that there’s no way
Bobby could have killed Greg at all, let alone done what we saw at
that house…or even what we’ve seen here!” Irritably, Grovener
gestured toward where the last few police officers were still
standing with shocked expressions on their faces. “We’ve got three
people dead, one in hospital, and for some reason Randolf is still
Dench felt the energy drain out of him, and his shoulders sagged as
his head shook in defeat. So, maybe Mike was right, but at the
time it had seemed so simple…what else was he supposed to have
thought? And now, as the afternoon light was beginning to fade and
the cloud cover threatened to bring weather that would wash any
other possible evidence away, he didn’t know what to do – he just
felt as if his ability to do his job had been ripped away like the
lives of these victims.
“I’m gonna go speak to Randolf – that Agent M–…uh…whatever his
“Mulder,” Grovener provided.
“Whatever…I got the impression he thought Bob was connected to
whatever this is somehow, and those stupid rumors in town imply the
same. Deputy, maybe it’s time we called in Animal Control after
all – if the FBI can’t crack this, we’ll have to take a different
“Yes, sir.” With a small, acknowledging nod to both men, Grovener
turned and walked away to make a call on the car radio.
“We are doing all we can, Sheriff, I assure you. Those two are our
best, and this won’t stop them from finding the truth,” the third
man assured, staring at Dench’s back.
“Ian was sixteen years old – his life hadn’t even started yet. I
just want this thing captured before it kills anybody else –
especially a small child.”
Pushing his glasses up to rest properly on the bridge of his nose,
Assistant Director Walter Skinner watched as the Douglas County
sheriff shook his head and left also.
So much for letting Mulder and Scully work on an ‘easy case’.
JARMAN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
APRIL 19th, 2005
Sounds of people milling about and occasional cries of pain.
The familiar smell of–…
As senses kicked in, both eyes slowly opened and Dana Scully turned
her head until she noticed Mulder’s tired form slumped in the chair
to her left.
“Scully!” he exclaimed with relief – leaning forward and kissing
her forehead, his hand never releasing its death grip on hers.
She frowned, confused. She remembered performing the autopsy on
the victim’s body and speaking to Mulder on the phone, but after
that was a complete blank.
“Mulder, where am I? What’s happened?”
“You don’t remember?” It was his turn to frown, but he was just
grateful she was okay.
When she shook her head, he explained what had happened over the
past twenty-four hours: how she’d been attacked by the invisible
entity; how they’d spoken with Doctor David and she had then
passed out; how she’d been brought here and stitched up.
“But, I don’t understand… Why can’t I remember anything after
going to open the doors?” Scully asked.
He wished he could give her the answers, but he didn’t even know
them himself. So much of the last day was a blur, he even had
trouble describing it to her. The only thing barely coherent in
his memory was the call he’d made to Skinner at 2:37 this morning
begging the assistant director to fly to Illinois and help in their
hunt for the answers.
‘Mulder, you know I’ll help as much as I can, but I can’t just leave
what I’m working on to assist with what was originally a simple
homicide!’ the man at the end of the line had exclaimed, rubbing a
hand across his chest and then reaching for his glasses on the
nightstand. ‘I’m Assistant Director of the FBI – things are a
little busier than they are down in the basement.’
‘I know, but I need you here,’ had been Mulder’s insistant reply as
he’d paced back and forth outside Scully’s hospital room. ‘I can’t
leave her – not until she’s woken up. But I need to chase down
some possible leads and come up with a solid theory. Please.’
“Skinner’s here?” Dana coughed at the end of her partner’s
narrative – eyeing him suspiciously. “He ditched all his
appointments because you said ‘please’?”
Grinning at the skepticism he’d missed not being able to throw wild
theories at last night, Mulder shrugged his shoulders and joked,
“What? You don’t think Skinner’s susceptible to my charms as
well? How’d you think we got away with my ‘losing’ the expense
report last week?”
“Okay, okay, so he’s here – although I hasten to correct that it’s
Accounting’s responsibility to ream you a new ass for that, not
Skinner’s,” she chided with a shake of her head.
“But I still don’t understand why I don’t remember anything or why
I’m still here?”
He nodded his head in agreement. “That I’m still trying to figure,
as well as a hundred other things. I got Grovener to bring me some
reference books, and have been looking some stuff up whilst waiting
for you to come to. The one thing that keeps coming up is the myth
of the black, unknown creature that has been spotted primarily in
farm lands across the world…Central and southern Illinois even
have their own claims to the myth.”
“You can’t be serious?” came her familiar, cautionary tone.
“Actually, no. Those have, for the most past, all been proven to
be either large domesticated cats or creatures that have escaped
captivity and adapted to live in the wild – all only feeding on
cattle and other livestock to help survival. This…this is
different to anything I’m finding in the literature.” He could see
from the dubious frown creasing her features that she disliked the
sound of that even more than the idea that this was something out
of local folklore, but he stuck with the train of thought
nevertheless. “This thing has thought – it even came back for
Pitt’s body. Why, when there’s plenty of others in the town to
hunt down if It’s hungry? And then there’s that important aspect:
why can no one but Randolf see It? It attacked you but you still
didn’t see it…”
“At the moment, I don’t even remember it,” Scully groaned.
“I know, and we’ll figure that out, but I’ve been thinking about
something Randolf said, you said, Doc David said and I said, and it
occurred to me: what if all of Randolf’s emotions became so great
and overwhelming that they broke free and manifested themselves
into a violent spirit intent on protecting Randolf as best it can –
it would explain the connection between them. And he suffers from
MD – blocking out parts of his vision…What if his having that
disability is what gives him the ability to see this thing when
everybody else can’t?”
Scully stared at her partner, waiting for him to say ‘gotcha’ or
anything of the like. But when he finished and took a deep breath,
she knew he was serious. She took a deep breath also, and then
glanced down at the four hands tightly linked together and resting
in her lap. If only she could remember what had happened at the
“Maybe I should have stayed asleep a little longer,” she sighed,
half-heartedly. “Mulder, something invisible cannot scratch me,
let alone kill somebody, it’s impossible. You know we’ve come far
enough along for me to not so readily push your theories aside, but
you have to admit this is asking me to believe in a lot! There’s
nothing in what you just said that I can scientifically prove or
disprove. And…Who’s ‘Doc David’?”
“You wanted a theory yesterday, and this is the best I got,” came
his hurt reply, shortly followed by a large, uncontrollable yawn.
“For all I know it could be Randolf’s wife reincarnated! I know it
sounds crazy, but when hasn’t the craziest possible scenario been
the right one? Bob has a connection to this thing he likely
doesn’t know about, and It’s killing anybody that has questioned
anything he says. And I know you can’t remember (for reasons as
questionable as this case, I hasten to remind), but yesterday you
said that Charles Bonnet Syndrome caused visually impaired people
to see hallucinations – often times actual moving figures.
Finding it hard not to cower away from his growing temper and the
crushing hold he now had on her hands, she gave a silent nod. Of
course, he was right – in fact, his theory held a logical
believability no matter how far out there it was.
But something didn’t *feel* right.
He’d been acting…odd…since they’d arrived yesterday. Even she
hadn’t exactly been acting her normal self.
It wasn’t right. Something just–…It all felt too orchestrated.
Her eyes slipped shut, but they flung back open again straight
after as all she saw behind her eyelids were those cold, piercing
yellow eyes staring back at her from that black snarling, hungry
“Scully?” Mulder quickly asked in concern – realizing the death
grip he had on her hands and immediately letting them go. “I’m
sorry…I didn’t mean–…I’m petrified by what could happen.”
“It doesn’t like strangers,” she whispered.
“Uh…Last I heard he was trying to convince Animal Control that
this isn’t their standard coyote or coydog to exterminate, with
little luck. Why?”
She fixed her gaze on him – eyes filled with terror. For some
reason there were thoughts in her head she knew didn’t belong there
– explanations for what was going on in Solus – but the words were
jumbled and she couldn’t seem to speak them out loud. She didn’t
need to, though: Mulder could see at least some of it through her
eyes and quickly left the hospital room, placing a lingering kiss
on her lips before he did.
Meat tore away from bone.
Blood-soaked teeth tore ferociously once more at the throat until
the head completely disconnected, and then the silhouetted figure
“They’ll learn,” a voice whispered, before the hand lowered to pick
up the discarded cranium. “I’ll show them what they refuse to see.”
A tearful Randolf moved to put his find in a paper bag, and then
left Sheriff Dench’s home – forgetting to wash up the bloodied saw in
“Sir, it’s Mulder.”
“How is she?”
Mulder smiled as he pulled the car up alongside where the assistant
director stood, hung up the phone and called out the open window,
“I thought yours and Agent Scully’s relationship gave you no need
to follow that form of recreation,” Skinner frowned, turning at the
sound of his agent’s voice and pocketing the cellphone. “Besides,
I asked you a question first.”
“She’s awake. Hop in, sir – I’m heading over to Greg Pitt’s place
to do some sniffing around.”
Skinner eyed his friend suspiciously. At half-three this morning
Eastern time, Mulder had been seemingly lost and completely
clueless when he’d spoken to him over the phone. Six hours later
he’d been pretty much the same. Skinner’d known there would be
some level of regained energy upon Scully’s awakening, but the
gleam he saw in Mulder’s eyes now was…
Well, it was just spooky.
“How’d it go with Animal Control?”
“Not very well. They’ve sent out a special team to hunt It down,
but they’re still under the impression they’re searching for a
coyote, not a black, phantom cat. Deputy Grovener tried to help
explain, but it was useless,” the A.D sighed, settling into the
passenger seat. “Anyway, why you off to Pitt’s place?”
Mulder diverted his eyes off the road long enough to throw an
enigmatic glance in his boss’s direction, and then replied – more
serious, “Playing a hunch. Scully doesn’t remember anything after
when we spoke on the phone, and I think she may be questioning my
sanity right around now, but when I looked in her eyes…” He
paused. What was he’d seen? How could he explain it? When he’d
looked into the depths of her blue eyes, it had been like there
something was missing – or, even, that something else had been
He’d caught a fleeting image of the beast reflected in her eyes.
“I can’t explain it,” he continued after attempting,
unsuccessfully, to explain to himself how the new theory eating
away at him had come to mind. “But so many dead-end thoughts have
been swimming about in my head since yesterday, I figured it might
be best to try chase down the unconsidered option that would
normally have probably been my initial gut instinct upon reading
the case file.”
All Skinner could do was sit and stare in unresolved bewilderment.
“If I tell you, you’ll laugh.”
“Mulder, I may not agree with some–…Well, a *majority* of your
ideas…and I may question your sanity even moreso than Agent
Scully, but I don’t ‘laugh’ at any of your theories.”
Awkward, hesitant silence lasted for long minutes. It wasn’t until
the rental car had pulled up on Mekke Avenue in Solus, and the two
men had gotten out, that Mulder started, “When I looked in Scully’s
eyes at the hospital, I saw this thing – this black cat – and I
realized Pitt saw it too right before it killed him.”
*Pitt didn’t believe his friend…he didn’t expect anything.*
“He looked around – his chair was slightly pushed away from the
table as well. Scully said at the morgue that he’d fought against
It until It gutted him, but there was no sign that he was making a
mad, frantic struggle against something invisible; it was a
controlled fight against something he could see – something that
left paw prints on his chest.” The younger agent frowned and then
moved toward the front entrance of Pitt’s home. “Maybe he did
believe his friend after all…or maybe he knew something…”
“And you thought I’d laugh at you because…?”
“You’re not amused or disturbed by the concept that I came up with
these thoughts just by looking into Scully’s eyes? This is stuff –
crazy stuff at that – that I should have come up with before we
even reached the airport!”
Skinner shook his head and chuckled, “Believe me, I’ve seen a lot
weirder things happen between you two. Maybe you tried thinking so
much about the case, too much of a pressure to find all the answers
clouded your mind and it was up to Scully to use her magic whatever-
it-is-she-has-over-you to clear it.” Shrug. “Maybe you did see
something she saw in her eyes, and it’ll all come clear soon.”
A shy, agreeing nod from Mulder was shortly followed by the deep,
groaning creak of the front door opening.
As the wind picked up and a storm looked imminent, Bill Dench
removed his hat and entered the house.
Shrugging off his coat he mentally evaluated the last few days in a
desperate bid to seek the answers that nobody else seemed fit to
find. Unsurprisingly, though, nothing came to mind, so he shook
his head and paced out into the kitchen. He had a few minutes
before he should probably get back out on the road and question
some of the locals in Solus, but he wanted to take this opportunity
to take a long swig of cold beer and speak with Randolf – who’d
been driven here a little earlier for safety.
When silence was the only answer his empty home delivered, broken
only a second later by the distant roll of thunder, the sheriff
quickly paced into the living room…
Only to see, lying in a large pool of blood in the center of the
room, the mutilated, beheaded corpse of his beloved pet Alsatian.
A hand shot up to cover his mouth before the vomit spewed
everywhere, and then he ran as fast as he could back out to his car.
The animal supposedly loose in the area could easily be blamed for
the torn and bloodied torso of his dog, but he knew full well who
was responsible for the saw he’d also seen on the living room floor.
Ears lifted to attention.
Cold tongue swept over the tops of sharp, blood-stained teeth.
It paced along the road, effortlessly missing the cars passing
hurriedly by, and watched Bob Randolf yelling out at the top of his
voice and waving a blood-drenched grocery bag above his head.
People stopped to stare in shock.
But they didn’t see.
As the distant voice struck into the creature’s brain like the
coming lightning, It lowered Its body nearer to the ground and
speeded up Its gait toward Randolf.
1766 MEKKE AVENUE
Aside from the pentagrams painted in dark red on every door in the
house, Skinner and Mulder found little in their brief search of the
late Greg Pitt’s residence to implicate that he had anything to do
with the phantom beast’s existence…
…Until they entered his bedroom.
“What the hell is all this?” the assistant director croaked,
glancing at the candles and altar on the bedside cabinet before
turning in a circle to look at all four walls, which were
completely covered in poorly-painted pentagrams, foreign,
unintelligible verses and crude pencil drawings of black cats.
Taking it all in as well, Mulder looked down at the unusual diagram
painted on the floorboards and felt the breath catch momentarily in
his lungs. “‘The Triangle of the Art’…” he whispered, almost to
himself. “He really did know something.” There was a thoughtful
pause, but then he shook his head and moved to pick up the large
book from beside the small altar. “Pentagrams are traditionally
used to attract good spirits – to protect its bearer…”
Stale air filled with dubious silence as Skinner frowned and looked
once again at all four walls.
“Protect him from what?” he finally asked, shooting another brief
glance at the drawings before turning his attention back on Mulder
– who was now reading the hand-written passages in the book.
“‘It wasn’t meant to happened this way. All I wanted to do was
make things better for Bob – try bring back Jessica. I know I
don’t know about this stuff and I shouldn’t have tried it, but
Tommy assured me it was easy and would be the best solution… No
idea what I’ve brought back, but it ain’t Jess, for sure.'”
Skinner approached as he silently, intently watched Mulder skim
through several pages and then continue,
“‘Bob saw It today – for real. He told me about It, and I tried to
laugh like everyone else, but I know he’s not lying. In a way he’s
lucky though – I might not be able to see It, but I can sense It,
and at least It doesn’t haunt his dreams.'” More pages were turned
over, but Mulder found himself pausing to soak in what he saw
before reading out loud. “‘I tried to reverse what I’d done but
that failed. Then I tried to control it for good…but now I think
somebody else controls It, or It even controls Itself. I saw It
kill someone today, and I never wanted that! Never. What am I
“Somebody’s intervening?” Skinner piped up, staring at the open
book resting in the younger man’s hands.
“He tried to play God for his best friend, but somebody with more
power wanted to play God for their own purposes.”
Closing the book and shaking his head as the storm outside begun to
gain momentum, Mulder looked up with uncertainty creasing his brow,
and both men stared at each other in silence.
“Ah, Dana! I heard you were awake! How are you feeling?”
It took several long moments for Scully to break free of her
thoughtful trance and register the voice, let alone realize that
there was somebody hovering beside her hospital bed. Still the
image of those piercing eyes and blood-stained teeth ingrained on
the insides of her eyelids refused to let her be, and now she had
the added worry as to what Mulder was up to. A clap of lightning
brought reality back into focus, and she shook her head as she
looked up at the dark haired woman.
“I’m…uh…fine,” she started, a little hesitantly. “Sore and
very foggy on the events after the attack, but considering what the
alternative could have been, I’m very well, Doctor…?”
The tall, neatly-dressed woman smiled, stowed the clipboard she’d
lifted from the end of the bed under her arm, and then offered her
hand to shake Dana’s. “I’m Doctor Sowlitzer, I was here when you
were brought in,” she declared, lowering her eyes to the charts
attached to the board she’d pulled back out from under her arm.
“Considering the excessively high level of amino acids found in
your bloodstream – in turn, overproducing serotonin – the extended
sleep pattern is to be expected, but–”
“Amino acids?” Scully frowned. She’d been attacked, not ingested
something to knock her body’s levels off-balance…
Thunder echoed in the room as heavy rain attacked the building, and
Sowlitzer frowned herself. She’d been told her patient was a
medical doctor, so surely the woman knew what Amino acids were?
“Ye-es,” she awkwardly replied. “When you were admitted, we
stitched the four deep scratches on your right forearm and took a
blood sample, which showed extremely unbalanced levels.
Fortunately – if not surprisingly – they seem to have sorted
themselves out, but we’re still waiting on some other test results
to see if they explain your amnesia.”
Still frowning, Dana looked down at her bandaged arm. She was
still trying to understand what she had meant by ‘It doesn’t like
strangers’ and why she had said it to her partner earlier before
his quick departure, and make sense of the jumbled thoughts tearing
her mind in all directions. But…very unstable Amino levels
balancing themselves out without any kind of medical therapy? It
was the scientific side of the case she really had no hold over…
…Or maybe it was the scientific fact necessary to tie some of the
extraordinary scenarios together…
Her frown deepened as her legs swung out of the bed. “Can I look
at that chart quickly, please?”
Sowlitzer shrugged her shoulders and handed the clipboard over –
looking up at the window as the thunder and lightning outside grew
louder and more frequent. “As I explained to your…uh…partner?
Your case is odd, but not unheard of. We had a young boy in at the
start of the new year with similar symptoms who’d been attacked by
a rabid dog.”
Scully looked down the list of numbers and other statistics –
barely registering the female doctor’s voice. “A rabid dog?” she
“Yes. I don’t know the ins and outs of his case as he was mainly
dealt with by his doctor in Solus – Doctor David – but the boy’s
condition worsened shortly after the levels in his system rectified
themselves, and the authorities brought him here.” Sowlitzer
paused and shook her head as she added in disgust, “That was also
when they found out about how medicine wasn’t the only thing that
guy was practicing.”
*And…Who’s ‘Doc David’?*
The FBI agent’s head snapped up to stare at the doctor, and flashes
of what had happened during and after the attack at the morgue
returned to her memory with each beat of rain against the windows.
*What Bob is seeing though, isn’t an hallucination, though…*
*It’s okay. My name’s Doctor Tom David – I’m Mister Randolf’s
*’Delusional’ is maybe a little over-exaggeration concocted by
Sheriff Dench to make his report look more aesthetically pleasing
to his own ego*
*That doesn’t explain what Randolf has been reporting, or – more to
the point – why you’re here…*
“What do you mean?” she queried, passing the medical notes back.
“You mean you don’t know – never heard – about him?” At the blank
expression on Scully’s face, Sowlitzer suddenly became nervous and
closed off – quickly looking away at anything to break eye contact,
and giving an awkward shrug of her shoulders. “It must just be
local lore then.”
Scully wasn’t ready to be deterred from finding out the facts so
easily. “What did you mean by that?”
Lightning struck, accompanied by a ear-deafening crack of thunder
as the female doctor once again gave a dismissive shrug of her
“It’s not really my place to discuss something that’s not common
knowledge, but Doctor David had his medical license revoked two
months ago ‘cos they found out that he’d been dabbling pretty
heavily in Black Magic or something like that. There was no proof
that he’d been using it to make people ill, but the board
definitely couldn’t take the risk of having him handling people’s
lives so freely. Personally, I never understood what good that
would do – I mean, if he was experimenting with that rubbish, what
good would taking away a bit of paper do? It’s not even as if they
got him to leave the area. I didn’t know him too well – he didn’t
come into Tuscola all that often – but when I did see him, he came
over as a very strange guy…bad attitude towards new people.”
*It doesn’t like strangers*
Eyes widened as far as they could, and Scully focused her complete
attention on the doctor. Finally things were beginning to make
more sense than they had twenty-four hours ago. There was an
unavoidable paranormal element that Mulder would have to unravel,
but at least she had a possible direction to point accusations in.
“Did you tell any of this to Agent Mulder – my partner?”
“He didn’t ask…It didn’t seem relevant. Besides, he was clearly
too distracted. Anyway, I have other patients to see. I just
stopped by to let you know that when you’re feeling up to it,
you’re free to go. There’s nothing else we can do for you, and
unless the extra test results come back saying something to the
contrary, you’re going to be fine in a couple of weeks. Is there
anything else you’d like to ask?”
Before a couple of seconds had even passed for the federal agent to
consider her answer the doctor rudely gave a nod of her head and
quickly left the room – leaving Scully alone, still gently rubbing
at the bandage on her forearm and mouth hanging agape in shock.
As the violent storm continued its attack on the northern towns of
Douglas County, Deputy Michael Grovener – who’d received a call
from the sheriff five minutes ago ordering him to find Bob Randolf
– edged cautiously down Main Street toward the visually impaired
man. He hadn’t understood the urgency of Dench’s direction, but as
he eyed the bag soaked so heavily with blood that it was a wonder
the contents hadn’t broken free yet being waved ceremoniously in
the air, he had every reason to be comforted by the feel of his
hand resting on his holstered gun.
“It’s here!” Randolf’s trembling voice cried out as loud as it
could. “You wouldn’t believe me, but It’s here!”
As per human nature, Curiosity was too strong for the townsfolk of
Solus to ignore, and they all gathered to stare in disgust at the
man causing such a ruckus.
Grovener approached, drawing his weapon – his cold, stinging eyes
too set straight ahead to notice the black beast stalking Its way
up behind him, or the man shrouded in shadows to his right.
“Mulder, it’s me.”
With a lazy smile lifting his features, Mulder rested his head
against the back in the passenger seat as Skinner drove them to
Main Street. He’d only been away from the hospital for a couple
hours, but having spent the whole night before at her bedside, it
felt like he’d abandoned her for a lifetime, the overwhelming
regret he felt at his raised temper shortly before his departure
making the distance between them seem greater.
“Hey, Me,” he teased, combing a hand through his drenched hair.
“I’ve been released from the hospital and just getting a cab to
come find you. I just found something out that might help us with
this case.” Scully paused and watched as the taxi she’d called for
pulled up outside the hospital.
“Ditto. Skinner and I just checked out Greg Pitt’s home and it
turns out he inadvertently summoned this thing instead of his
friend’s wife using black magic he learnt from somebody we only
know as ‘Tommy’–”
“Tom David,” she cut in before quickly asking the driver to take
her to Solus. “Doctor Tom David.”
“*What*?” The exclamation – almost washed out by the accompanying
crack of thunder – was filled with a mixture of confusion,
disbelief and surprise. Mulder sat upright in his seat as all
senses went on alert, and Skinner turned his attention away from
the treacherous road ahead just long enough to shoot a slightly
worried glance of his own at the younger man. “The guy we met at
“My doctor told me David’s practice was stopped because it was
revealed he was heavily playing with Black Magic. I called the
guys to ask them to dig up anything they could on him, but think
about it: who showed up at the morgue not long after I was
“Apparently a boy displaying similar symptoms to those which I’ve
been suffering from since the incident at the morgue was under
David’s care until his condition worsened to the point his parents
took him to the hospital.”
“Jesus Christ, he…he touched you! I…” Mulder’s voice trailed
off briefly as he cursed himself yet again, before whispering, “I
let him examine your arm and that was when you collapsed… Scu–”
“It’s okay,” she assured from the other end of the line – keeping
her voice low so that the cab driver didn’t overhear her side of
the conversation too much. “Honestly, I’m going to be fine.
Besides, I think his touching me and my unconsciousness were purely
Mulder frowned and shifted uncomfortably. “What do you mean?”
“This is gonna sound strange coming from me, but… *Something*
undoubtedly attacked me, and to have caused the damage it did on my
arm, it has to be something solid–”
“What if this creature–…What if it’s becoming real – changing
from a spirit to something a lot more violent and permanent?”
Long seconds of uneasy silence ensued as Mulder’s jaw fell open in
shock. It wasn’t that he thought she was crazy, but…God, Scully
pitching a paranormal theory he should have done ages ago? Scully
even making a passing glance at something as far out of the reach
of the laws of Science as *that*?
“Are you sure you’re okay, Scully?”
“I told you after we accepted the case that there was more than
likely a perfectly reasonable explanation for the murders…I still
think there is, but that it has to go hand-in-hand with the good
ol’ x-files explanation. You’re the expert when it comes to
knowing the possibility or regularity of this kind of phenomena,
but…” Yet again Scully’s hesitant voice stops as she tried –
desperately – to iron out the knot of theories in her head. “The
organs missing from Pitt are ones we know are often used in ritual
sacrifice. My doctor says my Amino acid levels were severely
imbalanced when I was admitted to the hospital, and that can only
have happened if I’d eaten something to boost my energy, but the
last time I’d eaten before the attack was on the way to the airport
in D.C!…Maybe contaminated blood was absorbed into my system from
this creature’s claws when it scratched me…” A deep breath
followed by a sweaty palm wiping down the front of her face, and
then, “Look, none of this fits into conventional lines of thought,
and I really can’t believe I’m saying any of this, but if there’s
anything I’ve learnt from being with you for over a decade it’s
that sometimes it’s wise not to turn a blind eye to the fantastic,
and I think that’s what we’re purposely being made to do here. Is
it at all possible David is dealing with enough black magic to
control this thing?”
The rental car slowed to a stop, and Mulder looked up to just see
the red light through the heavy rain attacking the windshield. He
bit down on his lower lip and gave a agreeing nod of his head.
“Pitt raises this thing, but he was inexperienced so he has no
control over it,” he replied, plotting out the new theory. “I
think It feeds off Randolf’s emotions, and those were enough to
help it exist on this plane, but then David – who suggested the
invocation in the first place – took his chance and now has
possession of the spirit.”
“But why a black panther?”
“That one I still don’t know…I mean, it could just have been a
bad consequence of Pitt’s unfamiliarity with the ritual, but It
seems to have far too much of a connection to Randolf. Maybe you
should get back on to the guys and see if they can dig up anything
from Randolf’s past. I gotta go – we got a tip-off that Randolf’s
on Main Street brandishing a severed head. I should be able to get
more answers there.”
“What do you mean by that? Mulder, who gave you the tip?” her
panicked voice choked into the cellphone.
“Our supposedly friendly Doctor David. Look, we’re just pulling up
there now. You take care – I’ll speak to you later.”
“Mulder, no! Wait until I’m there!”
“Mulder?!” She was practically yelling into the mouthpiece, and
the cab driver looked up briefly into the rear-view mirror as the
car entered the long stretch of corn and soybean fields separating
Tuscola and Solus. “Mulder!” Eyes flicked down to stare at the
phone display, only to see the ‘NO SERVICE’ message flashing
tauntingly on and off.
With coat collars pulled up to shield themselves as much as
possible from the unrelenting storm flooding the streets, Mulder
and Skinner got out of the Ford and rounded the corner, only to
almost trip over the mutilated – almost unrecognizable – corpse of
Sheriff Bill Dench and bump into Deputy Grovener standing beside it
with his head lowered.
He slowly looked up at the sound of their approach and mournfully
shook his head.
“I was…I–” He turned a fraction and pointed at Bob Randolf, who
now stood at the other end of the road – the useless, disintegrated
paper bag now lost in one of the storm drains courtesy of the
running rain, and the severed head of Dench’s pet rolling in a
circle at his feet. “I was approaching him when Bill…He turned
up in the Rancher, but then…” Grovener shook his head yet again
– desperately fighting against the tears clouding his vision. “I
didn’ see it…He didn’ see it…But *he* saw it!” The accusing
finger stabbed the air again to point in Bob’s direction. “The
next thing I knew, somet’ing p-p-pushed me over and blood was…Oh,
God, his flesh was just bein’ ripped away, and there was so much
blood, but I still couldn’ see anything!”
“Because you never look, and that’s why Sheriff Dench had to pay
for his ignorance – for his ‘Old School’ way of thinking.”
The two men from the FBI sharply turned with weapons drawn.
“So, who sent you this time, Doctor David?” Mulder seethed through
grit teeth – the memory of him ignorantly standing aside as this
convincing liar touched Scully’s wounds refusing to let him be. “I
don’t think Sheriff Dench is in much of a condition to use as a
false alibi this time.”
Lightning tore through the clouds, illuminating the older man
standing only a few feet away.
“People meddle with things they should never touch. People turn up
where they don’t belong. People commit crimes but remain
unpunished. Why does everybody become so blind and deaf to these
things, Mr. Mulder?” Tom David ground out, keeping both hands deep
in the pockets of his anorak. “Oh, and how’s your partner, by the
way? She seemed rather shaken up at the morgue…”
“Where’s the creature, sir?” Skinner barked before Mulder had
chance to react – briefly glancing over his shoulder for any clue
that the panther was still around.
David let out a chuckle, but refused to answer.
“You don’t have control over It anymore, do you?” the younger agent
hesitantly queried, taking a step forward and pushing the last
comment directed at him away.
“You’ve got it all wrong.”
“It’s coming back!” Randolf suddenly cried out to anybody or
anything that could hear him over the hurricane.
All faces turned to stare at him questioningly for a second before
Mulder turned back and demanded of the doctor, “How’ve I got it
wrong? Tell me. Explain it to me.”
“Greg lied to me. We were talking a few days after Jess Randolf’s
funeral, and he said how much he wished he could do one of those
resurrection spells like in the movies so his friend would be happy
again…” David shook his head and lowered it for a second as
inside his coat pockets he continued to rub thumb and forefingers
along the metal concealed there. “I told him it was easy, but only
if you could handle that kind of power – if you’d worked with the
dark arts before. He told me he had, years ago, but he’d never
been able to do *that*.”
“You believed him?”
Clueless, Skinner remained silent – gun steadily trained on the
still figure of the doctor.
Likewise for Deputy Mike Grovener.
At the other end of the road, as thick clouds begun to circle above
their heads, Bob Randolf desperately searched left and right for
the source of the distant voices he could hear. He was angry the
death of the sheriff had caused the gathered townsfolk to run away
before they’d properly seen what he could, but at the same time it
relieved him because he didn’t think he could bear to witness
When the creature materialized into view through the fog forever more
marring his vision – yellow piercing eyes fixing on blue clouded
ones – he knew it was time.
“I thought I could help,” David continued, reluctantly. “When I
received a call from Bob’s ophthalmologist at Jarman ten days later
reporting the symptoms of possible CBS, and then a week after that
when Heather Mallory brought her boy to me with the strange bite
wound on his leg, I knew that it had gone awry…that Greg had no
control over It. I tried to send It back to the Hell It came
from, but It was too strong. It… It feeds on emotions – the
ultimate pet peeves of anybody with a mystical connection to It. I
don’t know what It gained from Greg, other than his life, but It
fed on my hatred of the people that just waltz into this town, milk
it of whatever they can and then disappear again – that’s why the
victims over the last month have been new members of the community
and why your partner was almost the next….why you two will be as
well if you don’t leave here as soon as possible.”
Slow steps followed by tiny splashes of water on the tarmac road
started out toward the three men, and then increased pace to a run.
Somewhere nearby there was the sound of tires screeching to a halt.
Mulder felt an inexplicable shiver run up his spine – making the
sensitive hairs on the back of his neck stand on end and his head
turn to look over his shoulder.
“But there’s something else driving this creature – something that
made my attempts to dismiss it impossible,” the gray-haired doctor
continued shakily as he sensed the approach of the unseen entity.
“It has to be guardian to the man that killed It.”
Skinner’s eyes opened wide, but as he turned to glance at Mulder,
the younger agent fell to the ground – a loud scream of pain
rushing past his lips.
“Mulder!” Scully cried out as she quickly rounded the corner in
time to see several inexplicable slash marks tear through his
Armani suit and chest. “Wh–?” She pulled her gun, but there was
nothing she could do but watch helplessly as her partner was
attacked by something she could neither see nor explain.
Time seemed to slow in the minds of the interlopers, but Tom David
focused his attention on the visually-impaired man who’d taken
several steps to the middle of the road, and then quickly removed
the two metallic items from inside his custom-altered coat
pockets. Grovener’s weapon fired, but not in time to stop the
doctor from throwing the unknown, round objects at Randolf.
Lightning struck the road where Randolf had been earlier.
Light reflected on the surface of the flying pieces.
A bullet ripped through David’s chest.
Sharp, bloodied teeth released their catch.
Scully dropped to her knees beside Mulder’s unconscious, bloody,
Piercing eyes sharply turned to intently watch as the two headlamps
landed by Randolf’s feet, and that was when the memory returned.
//Roaming the open land, hoping to find food and maybe a mate as
the dark night enveloped It; the unending rain pelting against Its
fur; crossing the makeshift road; hearing the screeching tires and
looking up into two blinding saucers of light before unspeakable
pain ravaged Its body, and then………nothing\\
Suddenly, It knows who the true threat to It is.
Despite his open mind when it came to weird stuff – beliefs that
had certainly only been strengthened by this case – Deputy Michael
Grovener had had no true handle on just how weird things could be
until he – as well as Agent Scully and AD Skinner – looked over at
the two headlamps.
Paw followed paw followed paw and then the creature leapt into the
air – ready to pounce on Its prey.
“Go in peace,” David whispered from where he lay writhing on the
And in that moment a lightning bolt struck the earth mere
centimeters from Randolf’s feet, sending him hurtling backwards
several meters and a surge of energy causing the headlamps from the
car he’d crashed four months ago to momentarily illuminate. Three
faces watched in shock as the beams revealed the shape of a panther
in mid-pounce, but then the light faded…
Absolutely everything went still.
3605 N STREET NW
MAY 4th, 2005
Wide, blue eyes stared in awe and then blinked.
“I mean, *wow*!”
Sitting down on the couch, Scully gave an uncertain shrug of her
shoulders and a just-short-of-genuine smile. The last two weeks
had been a living nightmare she prayed to God she could forget, and
as fascinating as it may be to Kenny as he sat there with a can of
Coke in one hand and listened to her recital of the events, ‘wow’
was far from being the word she would have used to sum it all up.
It had taken fifteen minutes for the EMS vehicles to arrive in
Solus due to the debris kicked up by the tumultuous storm that had
miraculously cleared after the beams from the damaged car
headlights died. Questions had been asked, answers had been
disbelieved and Skinner had had to try explain as much as he could
of what he understood – which was very little – whilst the
paramedics worked on the three injured men and Dana frantically
begged her unconscious partner to hold on.
The next forty-eight hours had seen all three patients in critical
status, but only two made it beyond then; both Mulder and Randolf
regaining consciousness on the 22nd.
“So, this creature was the ghost of the thing that caused Randolf’s
car crash?” Kenny Andrews queried, sipping on his drink.
Skinner had returned to D.C to deliver the necessary paperwork on
the case and inform Andrews of what had happened. The Kid had
wanted to visit his friends at the hospital in Tuscola, but had
been trying to wrap up the profiling case he’d been n when they’d
left, so this was the first time he was able to catch up properly.
“It would seem so,” Scully sighed reluctantly – knowing that by
doing so she was admitting to some belief in ghosts.
An awkward pause for thought.
“But how the hell are you gonna explain any of this? I mean, how
and who do you prosecute?” the younger man pressed with a frown.
“What does Mulder think?”
‘Too much,’ she inwardly chuckled. Despite his lethargic state,
her partner had certainly been the master at reeling off summations
on their experience, much to her chagrin, although she did partly
blame herself for letting him use that damn laptop in the bed.
“Mulder’s been making a lot of reference to Shamanisitic and Native
American beliefs – about the black panther spirit’s power and
guardian energy. So much of those two days is inconceivable,
though, I really couldn’t tell you either way or the other. The
x-files explanation will go on file saying Pitt, David and Randolf
were all responsible in some way for the murders, but Pitt was the
instigator – that a mystical, vengeful spirit killed anybody that
went against Its masters. The official explanation? It never
“I got a letter from Mike saying he’d moved on and would contact me
soon, but he didn’t tell me anything else,” Andrews sighed,
shaking his head before combing a hand through his black hair.
“Seriously? They’re sweeping it under the carpet?”
“Assistant Director Skinner says the senior US Senator from
Illinois ordered us not to take this further, and he thinks it
might be for the best – to let them take care of things.”
“What about you?”
She looked up and fixed her gaze on him at the sound of the
concerned tone, but then quickly looked away and shook her head.
“I guess he’s right. We were there to prove Randolf didn’t kill his
friend, and we did that – our involvement was fi–”
“No, I meant ‘how are you doing’?”
“Me? Oh, I’m fine…”
“Mulder still letting you get away with that one?”
Scully smiled and checked the time on her watch. “No – I wish!”
she teased. “Seriously, though, I’m doing okay – the scratches on
my arm healed so that there’s just light scarring there, and I’m
just happy he’s doing well. I gotta give him supplements to ensure
his amino acid levels stay balanced for a few more days, but
hopefully after that everything will be as ‘back to normal’ as it
can be for us.” She paused, let out a sigh and then raised to her
feet barely managing to conceal a large yawn by raising a hand to
her mouth. “Did you want to go in and see him?”
“You sure that’s alright? I don’t wanna disturb him if he should
“Resting? You are still referring to the same Fox William Mulder
that I live with, aren’t you?”
Kenny laughed and stood also.
Mulder looked up from the laptop screen as the bedroom door clicked
open, and smiled as Kenny came in. He closed the computer up and
reached to place it carefully on the nightstand – wincing slightly
at the pain in his chest the movement caused.
“Coming to laugh at the helpless, fallen agent, Kid?” he teased,
outstretching a hand to shake Kenny’s.
“Well, it was a thought, but then I just learnt from Scully that
you’re not as ‘helpless’ as you like to make out and figured maybe
I should come in here and kick your ass instead.”
Mulder let out a small chuckle – blinking several times to clear
the sleep from his eyes. “She worries too much. I told her ‘a
couple more days or so and then we can go on another little trip to
the forest’, but she doesn’t believe me. Then again, she’s not
exactly rushing to repeat the theories she suggested in Solus…”
“She’s a scientist, Mulder! She may be more open ‘cos of all the
stuff you’ve experienced together, but a part of her will always be
reluctant to accept anything paranormal – that’s what makes her
Silence and then a nod as Mulder mulled over the past fortnight.
If it had been up to him, he probably would have been back at the
office after their return to D.C a few days before the end of
April, but Scully, Skinner, the Gunmen and even Mrs. Scully had all
been on hand to make sure he remained in bed to recouperate.
He was impressed they actually let him use the toilet on his own!
‘A big, phantom cat clawed my chest, that’s all!’ he’d whined to
apparently deaf ears. ‘I’m not incapacitated!’
‘I don’t care, Mulder – this time you’re gonna properly take it
easy…at least for a week.’
Despite the small ache when he stretched too much, he felt fine
now, but nobody seemed to wanna know that, and he had to wonder
if they just liked to see him in this state!
“Anyway, what happened to Randolf in the end? Scully didn’t tell
me,” Kenny piped up again after a few minutes.
“Bob’s receiving psychiatric help to get him over the last five
months of his life,” the agent in the bed replied sleepily. “Maybe
tamper down those emotions. He completely lost his sight, so there
were fears that might push him completely over the edge, but it
seems to work out better for him – at least now the CBS isn’t
affecting him as badly… Certainly no claims so far of seeing any
kinds of creatures…”
“No sightings at all?”
With a shake of his head, the bed-bound agent sighed, “You know,
everybody mocked Bob because of what he reported seeing, and yet –
irony of ironies – before the accident, there were numerous
reported sightings of a black figure disappearing into the woods
bordering the town, and I even managed to track down a local
newspaper report from a couple years back stating that Sheriff
Dench had taken a couple pot-shots at it.” He paused only for a
second to yawn, and then continued, “Bob managed to kill the local
legend, but in the process became the cause of a new one being
born. Nobody wanted to believe him because they couldn’t see it
and there was the possibility of it really being right on their
doorsteps as opposed to out in the fields.”
“Do you think he knew he was the main cause of the people dying?
D’ you think he purposely dwelled on those emotions so that the
spirit would act upon them?”
Mulder considered the question for several moments – remembering
his meeting with the petrified man at the Sheriff’s Department.
“No,” he replied, confidently. “He wanted It to stop – to stop
seeing It at all. Maybe it was that feeling that made It do the
opposite and stay there.”
‘Case file #X121692B
Agent of record: Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully.
For centuries mankind has debated on the subject of if
there is an afterlife or not. Having grown up in a
Catholic family, I was taught that the fate of our souls
is up to God after our bodies have ceased to exist.
However, scientific logic states that there is nothing
after death. Though very little of this case can be
explained, and my personal accounts of witnessed events
may not be wholly depended upon, this investigation
certainly proved that there are just too many questions
out there for us to ignore all the answers…
…And maybe, sometimes, it really is possible for you to
take that second chance – whether you’re human or animal.’