Title: Operation PS2
Date: November 9, 2005
Author: Kathy Foote
Summary: Who knew so much strategy went into planning a shopping trip
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, these characters are the property of Chris Carter, 1013 Productions,
and Twentieth Century Fox. I wish they were mine, but they aren’t.
Archive: Two weeks exclusive with VS12, then anywhere is fine by me
Authors’ note: This story was written for IMTP Virtual Season 13, Thanksgiving Day Special
Thanks: To Emmy, my number one fan; she writes the best feedback.
You can gain weight on her feedback; it is so rich. T
o Mom, for all her wonderful help. She is the best sounding board and a great proofreader.
And last, but definitely not least, to Vickie Moseley. She gave me the initial idea for the story.
She is an inspiration and the best damn beta.
Tara Scully’s House
“M-o-o-o-o-m! I’m thirsty!”
“Coming…” came the reply from the kitchen.
Mulder looked up from the football game and watched Tara ascend the steps for the third time
in the last half-hour, a glass of water in her hand. Poor Matthew was sick, but he was starting
to feel better, which just made him cranky. Mulder could relate. He hated to be sick and he hated
it more when he was getting better, but was not yet well. You felt like you could do things,
but everyone said you weren’t well enough to do anything but rest.
Rest…your body needs rest, they’d say. Oh, how he hated that stage.
Mulder emerged from his thoughts when Tara descended the stairs a short time later with an empty
glass in hand. He watched her as she returned to the kitchen. He could barely make out the “how is he?”
questions posed by Maggie and Scully, to which Tara responded with the usual “he’s fine”.
When the conversation returned to a steady murmur, Mulder returned his attention to the football game.
He wasn’t exactly interested in the game, but he sure enjoyed relaxing on the couch, following the fabulous
Thanksgiving dinner they had just feasted on. Scully had wanted to come to Tara’s this year for dinner,
instead of spending it at home together. He didn’t mind. They didn’t get to see Scully’s family very
often, even though they lived so close. Besides, she said it would be so much easier for their shopping
trip if they were already here. They could get a much earlier start than when Scully had to drive over
to Tara’s house or they had to meet somewhere in between.
That’s what they were doing in the kitchen, planning their shopping trip. Shopping trip? This was no
shopping trip. This was a battle plan; a major offensive. Patton would be proud. The one time he
ventured into the kitchen at the beginning of the game, the table was covered in sales ads, hand-written
notes, and something that looked like a floor plan. They seemed to be discussing the best strategy for
navigating through Wal-Mart. He quickly retrieved a beer from the refrigerator and returned to the
peace and quiet of the den.
It was the end of the third quarter and they were showing the same commercial they showed in the last
commercial break. He couldn’t believe how often they showed the same commercial over and over again
during a football game. Instead of watching the same Hummer commercial for the umpteenth time, he
took the opportunity to visit the kitchen, check on Scully, and perhaps grab another beer.
“How’s your game, Mulder?” Scully asked as he stepped into the kitchen. “Are _my_ Cowboys winning?”
He turned to answer her question and noticed she was wearing a big grin. She was always teasing him
about the Cowboys. He was a big Redskins fan and there was an intense rivalry between the two teams,
so she seemed to take pleasure in cheering on the Cowboys, even at the expense of his beloved Redskins.
“Yeah…they’re winning,” he answered her question dejectedly. He leaned down so he could whisper
in her ear, “but if they were playing _my_ team, that would be different. The Redskins already kicked
their ass once this year. Remember?” He placed a few small kisses on her neck, just below her ear.
She did remember the game vividly. They had a friendly bet going and Mulder had won. Not that she minded
much. She had thoroughly enjoyed paying off her bet. Just the thought brought a smile to her face and
she was momentarily lost in the memory. He moved away from her and continued on to the refrigerator,
intending to retrieve another beer and return to the couch.
“Dana? Earth to Dana,” Tara said he she gently shook Scully’s arm. “What are we going to do?”
Scully shook her head, as if waking from a dream. She looked at Tara and then suddenly Scully’s
expression changed. If this had been a cartoon, a bright yellow light bulb would have appeared over
her head. “I have an idea.”
“Mulder?” she called to him as he was walking out of the kitchen.
He turned back at the sound of his name, “Yeah, Scully?”
She put on her sad face, which she knew was unfair, but she needed his help and would do anything
to get it. “Mulder, we have a problem and we _really_ need your help.”
Mulder returned to the table and sat next to Scully with a definite worried look on his face.
“You know you can count on me. What is it?”
“Well…you know Matty’s sick and he can’t go to the sitter tomorrow, so…”
“You want _me_ to watch Matthew?”
“No, Mulder. Mom is staying here with the kids. What I need is for you to help us with our shopping.”
His jaw dropped as he gaped at her in stunned silence. “H-help you…” Suddenly, he became
extremely apprehensive. “How?”
“It won’t hurt. Honest. We need you to take one item on the list and get it. That’s it.
The doors open, we all go get one item on the list, and leave. Piece of cake. We’ll even let you
get the Playstation. Will you help?”
He looked at them with uncertainty. Both Tara and Scully, and even Maggie, were looking at him hopefully.
He couldn’t say no to one Scully woman, much less three. “Ok. I’ll do it. Exactly what do I have to do?”
A little wave went around the table, as each of the Scully women expressed their thanks.
With Mulder on board, Maggie excused herself to check on the kids.
First, Scully pulled out the Wal-Mart sales ad and placed it in front of Mulder.
Pointing to the picture, she began to explain. “This is your target, Mulder, the PS2.
They’ll be on sale tomorrow morning for $99.”
“Jeez, Scully, we could buy one of these almost anywhere. Hell, we could buy it off the Internet.
Wouldn’t that be easier?”
“Easy? You don’t understand the concept of Friday after-Thanksgiving shopping, do you, Mulder?
It’s not supposed to be easy. To get the great sales, you have to make sacrifices. You have to get
up early and fight large crowds. Are you willing to make those sacrifices? For me?”
Mulder could never say “no” to Scully. Of course he would help her, even though he really didn’t
want to go anywhere near the stores tomorrow. “Okay, okay, I’m with you. I go get the PS2. Then what?”
With Mulder’s willingness to help, Scully switched to commander mode. ‘Now listen closely, Mulder.
The PS2 will be the hardest item to get. It’s the most sought after item on the list. That’s why we’re
assigning it to you.”
“I’m honored,” he replied in a mocking tone.
“I’m serious, Mulder, it won’t be easy. Electronics is in the back of the store.
You’ll have to navigate through crowded aisles, past equally determined people to reach your objective.
There’ll be a limited number and you must get to them before they’re all gone.
We’re counting on you, Mulder.”
“So, while I’m fighting the hordes of motivated PS2 buyers, what will you and Tara be doing?”
“We have our own objectives. Tara has the Clothes department, while I have the Toys.”
“Gee, Scully, sounds like you guys have really planned this out.”
“Oh, we have. Here’s the plan. The doors open at 6:00 am. We plan to be in line by 5:15 am.”
“5:15?” Mulder shouted. “We’ll have to get up at 4:30.”
“4:00 am to be exact. I plan to have time for coffee and breakfast before we leave.
We’re going to need all the energy we can get.”
Mulder rolled his eyes, mumbling something about “so much for sleeping in “.
Scully ignored his grumbling and continued. “Anyway, the doors open at 6:00 am.” She pulled out
what looked like a crude floor plan of the store. “Mulder. You have to avoid the main aisles
at all costs. _Everyone_ will use the main aisle to get to the back of the store.
You have to use your speed and agility to cut through the side aisles this way, toward the
back of the store.” She moved her finger across the page showing him the desired path.
“After we retrieve our assigned items, we rendezvous back at the snack bar. Got it?”
“Got it,” Tara confirmed enthusiastically.
“Mulder?” she looked at him for acknowledgement.
“Yeah, I got it,” he confirmed, less than enthusiastically.
“Great! Let’s hit the sack. We’ve got an early roll call tomorrow,” she said, as she
picked up her papers from the table and left the kitchen. Tara followed Scully and
Mulder brought up the rear.
Day after Thanksgiving – 5:15 am
There were already 50 or more people lined up outside the doors at Wal-Mart. The trio took
their place at the end. Within minutes, another 15 people had joined them in line.
Mulder couldn’t believe how many people would get up this early in the morning to go shopping.
He thought Scully and Tara were crazy, but he realized, they weren’t alone.
There were a lot of crazy people out here.
They stood there making small talk, while they waited for the doors to open.
Scully had wanted to go over their plan again, but they had already gone over it
four times since they got up. He had it memorized. Hell, he had it memorized after the first time.
The couple standing behind them was discussing their plan. The man was being sent to get a PS2 game.
He was much larger than Mulder. His plan was to barrel down the main aisle straight to
the back of the store and snag one of the prized PS2 games.
Mulder leaned toward Scully, so only she could hear him talk. “Scully? See the couple
behind us? Don’t look! Anyway, the big guy is going for the PS2 also. He plans on taking
the main aisle and pushing straight through the crowd.”
Scully nonchalantly gazed around Mulder and saw the man he was talking about. He was huge.
He could easily be a linebacker for a football team. She looked back at Mulder and noticed
he looked nervous.
“Look, Mulder, stick to the plan. Avoid the main aisle. You’re a runner and you’re fast.
Speed through the side aisles where there is no crowd and you will beat him. Trust me.”
“Always,” he replied and gave her a quick kiss. She gave him a slight bewildered look.
He shrugged and said, “Kiss for luck.”
At that moment, the doors opened and the crowd surged forward. It was like Disneyworld when
the front gates opened; everyone entered the store and ran to their various assignments.
As soon as the big guy that was behind Mulder cleared the door, he pushed everyone out
of the way, heading down the center aisle. Remembering what Scully said, Mulder cut down
the first aisle on the right and broke into a run. He zigzagged through the aisles,
making his way to the Electronics section at the back of the store. All he could think o
f was how much Scully and Tara were counting on him and how disappointed they would be i
f he failed to accomplish his mission.
He was running full out, when a Wal-Mart employee, pushing a cart, entered the aisle
from the left, virtually cutting him off. Unable to slow down at this point, he had
three options; run into him, leap over him, or cut up the aisle he just came out of.
In his mind, he weighed each option in less than a second. He couldn’t hit the guy;
that would just slow him down and probably get them both hurt. He couldn’t leap over him;
who did he think he was, OJ Simpson running through the airport? If he cut up the aisle,
it would take him away from his target, adding precious seconds to his journey.
He quickly decided on option D; he slowed down and let the guy pass. As soon as the
employee was clear, he resumed his mad dash for the back of the store.
He could finally see the back aisle. One turn to the left and he would be there.
As he turned the corner, he spotted his competition approaching from the opposite direction,
his sights set on the Electronics section. Mulder could already see a crowd of people around
what looked like a stack of PS2 games and the stack was getting smaller by the second.
Mulder put on a final burst of speed and got there mere seconds ahead of the larger man.
He snatched the last PS2 game from the shelf, just as his opposition made a grab for it.
Mulder practically hugged the box to his chest, so proud to have achieved his goal, until
he looked into the glaring eyes of a very pissed off man.
“Hey, buddy, that game is mine,” he said angrily to Mulder.
“Look, fair’s fair. I got here first.” Mulder retorted.
“Like hell! You _stole_ it from me just as I was reaching for it,” he yelled back.
Mulder couldn’t believe how angry the guy was. It was just a game. He almost
considered giving him the box, but then he thought about Scully and there was no
way he was giving up this game. “Possession is 9/10ths of the law, so that makes it mine,” he explained.
The man figured he needed to take possession of the precious item, so he reached out,
grasped the box, and pulled. Mulder wasn’t about to let go of the prized possession, so he held tight.
A crowd of shoppers formed a circle around the pair as they wrestled over the box.
Finally, the man released his hold on the box. He was angry and red-faced.
Mulder could picture a cartoon version of him with steam pouring out of his ears.
Mulder started to say something, but before he could open his mouth, he saw a huge fist
coming straight for him. Unable to block the hit, it landed like a ton of bricks on his left cheek.
The force of the blow caused Mulder to stagger backwards and lose his footing.
He lost his grip on the box, which crashed to the ground. The man thought about grabbing the game,
but when someone shouted for Security, he decided to cut his losses and ran away.
Mulder sat there, massaging the left side of this face, staring at the damaged object.
Just moments before, he had held it in his hands and now it was broken. He couldn’t believe
how defeated he felt. He told himself that it was a stupid game. He could buy one next week at
any other store, but he had wanted to succeed in what he felt was his mission.
There was a tap on his shoulder and he looked up into the eyes of a caring saleslady.
“Are you all right young man? Do you want me to call the police?”
“No thanks, I’m fine…but the game isn’t. I’m afraid it’s broken. I’m sorry about that.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll be right back,” she told him and quickly
disappeared through a set of double doors.
She came back a few minutes later carrying a brand new PS2 game.
“Here, take this one,” she said, handing him the undamaged box.
“There’s a whole pallet of them in the back. The guys were about to bring them out
when that man started the trouble.”
He couldn’t believe his eyes. He was thrilled. “Thank you, ma’am. You just saved
me a whole lot of heartache.”
“You’re welcome. Now you better get some ice on that eye, before it swells up.”
She was right. He could feel his eye and cheek beginning to swell. He had almost
forgot about it in his excitement. He thanked her again and made his way to the rendezvous point.
Mulder slowly approached the front of the store carrying his package. As he neared
the snack bar, he could see Scully and Tara sitting there, wearing frowns on their faces.
As he got closer, he realized they didn’t have any packages; they hadn’t gotten anything.
When they saw him, the first thing they noticed was the PS2 game in his arms.
They both smiled, but then Scully’s smile turned into a frown, when she spotted his swollen eye.
“Mulder, what the hell happened to you?”
“Well, Scully, my mission was not without casualties, but I was victorious.
What happened to you guys? Where are your packages?”
“Oh my god,” Scully exclaimed, “It was a madhouse in there. By the time I made my
way to the toy aisles, they were stripped clean.”
“I actually got a hold of one pair of sweat pants,” Tara retold, “but some woman
grabbed the other end and pulled until they ripped in two. It was just horrible.”
“At least Mulder got the PS2 game,” Scully said. “Let’s go pay for it and head to
the mall. They have some great door-opening specials that start at 7:00.”
Mulder raised his hand like a traffic cop. “No way, Scully. I would rather be
sitting at home with two sick kids; hell, I would rather be sick _myself_ than go
through that again.” He lowered his hand and gave her his poor puppy face.
“Besides, I need to put some ice on my eye.”
She realized he was right. He did need to get something on his blackening eye.
They agreed to drop him off at the house on the way to the mall.
On the way home, Scully and Tara discussed where their plan had failed.
“Maybe we got there too late,” Tara offered.
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Scully concurred. “We have to get there earlier.
That’s the key; position in line. What do you think, Mulder? Maybe next year,
we should get there before 5:00″
“I don’t care what you two do. There’s no way I’m going through that again.
I’ve done my tour of duty in shopping hell and I’m retiring with a perfect record; one for one.”