by Vickie Moseley
Written for the Virtual Season 13.
ARCHIVE: VS 13 exclusive for two weeks, then anywhere
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction although several real places are mentioned. No copyright infringement is intended.
NOTE: If you are anywhere near Landers, CA, visit the Integratron and grab a sound bath. Then write me and tell me how it went.
SUMMARY: When two kids go missing in the desert night, it sets a course of tragic changes for the X Files Division.
Outside Landers, California
June 7, 2006
The Integratron was a massive bubble of a building sitting in
the middle of the Californian desert, just outside Landers.
Started in 1957 by George Van Tassel, a former aircraft
engineer, it took 18 years to complete. Inside, the curved roof
and exposed wood beamed ceiling was supposed to slow down
the aging process through electrostatic frequencies.
The Integratron, for all its attributed value, had fallen into
disrepair after the death of its creator. But others interested in
its unique design and effects bought it and turned it into a
mecca of new age healing. Hundreds of people from
spiritualists to aging rock stars were drawn to the white dome
to experience the ‘acoustically perfect tabernacle and energy
But not everyone drawn to the Integratron was looking for a
new lease on life or the perfect rave. Some came to the desert
to reach outward and upward.
Two lone figures sat on a blanket outside the 38-foot dome-
shaped structure. The stars twinkled bright near the waxing
gibbous moon in transit, directly overhead. The light from that
moon cast the dome behind the couple in stark relief, painting
it a shimmering, radiant white. The wind occasionally picked
up crumbs of sand and dust, which kept stinging their eyes as
they searched the horizon.
“Are you sure we’ll see them tonight?” the doe-eyed girl asked
of her male companion. “I mean, how do you know they’ll be
“It’s a full moon,” he countered, feigning knowledge he didn’t
“No, it’s not. Not yet,” she countered, crossing her arms. “You
just brought me out here because you want to get laid,” she
“I haven’t touched you!” he retorted. “Here, want some more
wine?” he asked in an artful dodge of her accusation.
“Sure.” They sat and sipped in silent contemplation of the
stars. “What exactly are you hoping we’ll see? What the hell
are these ‘lights’ anyway?”
“UFOs, man. They come here. They’re attracted to this thing.”
He jerked his thumb back over his shoulder toward the white
“It looks like one of those places where they have telescopes,”
she said skeptically.
“Nah, it’s cool inside. No telescopes, but lots of cool shit. They
have these bowls made out of stone and shit that make these
sound waves — you can take a sound bath.”
“You’re putting me on,” she said with a raised eyebrow.
“No, seriously. My mom said someone at her office came out
here before. She said that shit was better than botox, dude!
Really, it makes you look younger.”
“I don’t need to be younger. I need to be warmer,” she told
He turned his head toward her and smiled. “Here, we can
share my jacket,” he offered. He pulled one arm out of the
sleeve and motioned for her to move closer. He tugged the
denim around her shoulder, his arm holding her in place.
She nodded, drawing in a deep breath. “It really is pretty with
the stars and the moon. But how long are we going to sit here
She stopped talking suddenly when a bright star grew larger in
the northwestern sky. It was low to the horizon and seemed to
be moving toward them. “Is that — ”
“Shhhhh,” he cautioned and fumbled around on the blanket.
“Where’s my damned camera?” he growled. Finally grasping
the digital camera, he let go of the girl to bring it up to his eye.
“Oh, wow, this is so cool — ”
As he clicked off shot after shot, the star/craft sped closer and
closer. Suddenly there was a ferocious wind and a tremendous
sound, and the ground around them shook, knocking over the
wine bottle and spilling the remaining drops on the blanket.
Both teens looked up at the craft, now directly overhead,
blocking out the stars and the moon. As they stared at the
underside, a brilliant light erupted from the bottom of the craft,
encasing them in brightness.
In the wink of an eye, the light — and the teens were gone.
Georgetown, District of Columbia
June 9, 2006
His first sensation was the smell of burning wood and burning
flesh. He’d experienced those smells enough times to know
that his next impulse would be paralyzing fear. Fire. Fire in a
house on Cape Cod, his arm burning from the embers. Fire
killing dozens of people on a bridge over Ruskin Dam, searching
through the body bags in anguished terror of finding his one
true friend in the world. Fear. But this wasn’t the same. He
needed to look further. Forcing himself to stand, he looked
A dense fog hung in the air, but after a moment, he recognized
it as smoke. All around him were huts, grass huts with
thatched roofs like he’d seen in the English countryside many
years before during a break from school. Thatched roofs, now
ablaze with flames leaping skyward, orange, red, and yellow
the only color in the grey sky.
As he looked around he saw them. Dark shadows on the
ground that slowly formed into bodies. They were shrouded in
black cloth; some were tied at the neck, across the chest, the
legs. Others appeared to have just rolled out of bed. None of
them moved. Death was as thick as the smoke and hung over
The wind shifted and ash blew in his eyes. The flames were
closer now, he had to move, but everywhere he looked the
burning huts surrounded him, moving closer to him, cutting off
all means of escape. Bits of burning thatch were swept up in
the maelstrom and landed on his cheek, on the back of his
neck. He brushed them off, but others soon followed.
One hut was untouched by the flames. He ran toward it,
pulling on the wooden door until it came free. He fell into the
darkened room, stumbling over something on the floor just in
front of the entrance. The light from the open door and one
tiny window did little to reveal the contents of the room. He
bent down to try and see what he’d stumbled over.
He knew it was another cloth-shrouded body. He pulled back
the fabric, it stuck to the corpse in places and he grimaced at
his efforts. A foul stench arose and he fought the bile in his
throat. This person had been dead for days. Slowly, the cloth
pulled away and he could just make out the features of the
face. At first all he could see were the black spots, the sunken
eyes with darkened skin all around them. The swollen tongue,
hanging out of the slack jawed mouth, bore the same black
spots and the horrid, putrid smell. His revulsion soon turned to
recognition as he pulled back slightly and looked at the face as
a whole. It wasn’t the face of a stranger — it was his own.
He barely had time to recoil in repulsion when he heard a
popping sound behind him. He turned toward the door and saw
the hut had finally caught fire. The entrance was already
engulfed in flame, the dry thatch and sides going up faster than
he could have imagined. The flames reached out, catching the
cloth of the body laid out before him. Before he could move, as
the paralyzing fear took root in his stomach, the flames licked
at his hands, his legs, his face —
Mulder and Scully’s residence
June 9, 2005
Mulder awoke in a cold sweat, to find he was crouched at the
head of the bed, shaking. It took him many minutes to feel
brave enough to look around him. It was their bedroom.
Scully was curled sleeping next to him, her back to him as she
hugged her pillow.
His heart slowed finally, taking its time. He tried to move and
found all his muscles protesting as the adrenaline diminished
from his system. With some effort, he looked at the clock.
Feeling a bit stronger, he straightened his legs and sluggishly
got out of bed. By the time he’d finished in the bathroom, he
was moving with more certainty. He grabbed his running
clothes, pulling them on as he walked, found his running shoes
at the bottom of the stairs, and was out the door without a
second thought. In the east, the sky was already starting to
turn a velvet blue.
Scully hit the alarm button sleepily and then rolled over to
touch the sheets next to her. Cold. Just like the last four
mornings. Sighing heavily, she tossed the covers aside and
headed for the bathroom.
Thirty minutes later, she came down the stairs, the smell of
coffee and cinnamon toast wafting through the hallway to the
dining room and kitchen. She bit her lip in frustration, but
forced a smile on her face.
He was sitting at the table, coffee in one hand, folded
Washington Post in the other. He wore the dark charcoal suit
that she’d just retrieved from the cleaners — the one that
brought out the brown and green in his eyes. But she could
see the dark circles around those eyes from ten feet away.
Squaring her shoulders, she walked over and kissed him on the
temple. “You were MIA again,” she teased lightly as she ran
her hand along his shoulder blades and sauntered into the
kitchen. Her mug was sitting next to the coffeemaker; the 12-
cup carafe was over half empty. Another indication of how long
he’d been up. Sighing again, she poured a cup, added the
requisite amount of non-fat creamer and headed back into the
“You have to read Ruth Marcus today,” Mulder said casually
over the top of the paper. “The woman should be canonized.”
“I don’t think this Pope is out to make saints of political
pundits, Mulder,” she said, finding the financial pages lying on
the table. She scanned the headlines and moved it aside.
“Same dream?” she asked, sipping her coffee to keep from
staring at him with a worried expression she knew he’d find
“Same,” he said, making a great show of refolding the paper.
“Doonesbury is good, too.”
She nodded. For four nights it had been the same dream. He’d
told her about it the first morning — had that only been
Tuesday? From what he told her, she’d surmised that the
dream, or vision, as he preferred, centered on the Black Death
— the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages.
He’d given her sketchy details at best, and she was sure there
was plenty he wasn’t sharing with her.
“So — ”
He laid the paper on the table and folded his hands atop it.
“Scully. Remember our agreement,” he warned.
“Mulder, I know what I promised. And I’m keeping to that
promise. I won’t judge and I won’t try to fix this. But that
doesn’t stop me from worrying about the effect it has on you.
Frankly, you look exhausted. I’m half tempted to call you in
sick and make you stay home and rest.”
“But Mom, I have an algebra test,” he whined sarcastically. He
got up and poured himself more coffee before returning to the
dining room. “Scully, get real. I’m out on medical leave
enough without wasting a perfectly good sick day on a nap!”
She drew in as much air as her lungs could hold. “OK, fine.”
She wanted to say so much more, but knew it would fall on
deaf ears. Or at worst, would start the day with an argument.
He picked up one of the discarded sections of the Post and
handed it to her. “Hey, how about this. Would you care to go
to the symphony with me next Friday?”
She furrowed her brow, but quickly read the page aloud. “The
National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.
Celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth with this
fascinating exploration of his life, music, and legacy featuring
musical excerpts, commentary, and the complete ‘Jupiter’
Symphony.” She looked up, joy and amazement on her face.
“Mulder, I love the Jupiter Symphony.”
He gave her his patented grin. “I know. You love Mozart,
period. I saw that and knew we had to go. I’ll call for tickets
when we get to the office. And I thought we might have dinner
at that Italian place down on Wisconsin afterwards.”
“Paparazzi? I’ve wanted to go there forever!”
“I know. You’re always pointing out their specials on the way
to work,” he returned with a bigger grin.
“Wow, tickets to the symphony, dinner at an upscale
restaurant.” She looked up suddenly. “Mulder, is this a date?”
He seemed taken aback. “Let’s see, we live together, have for
a couple of years now, sleep together every night. No, Scully,
this in no way constitutes ‘a date’. I plan to bring a case file so
we can call it a business meeting and I can take it off my taxes
By his thundercloud expression over his flippant words she
could tell he wasn’t taking her question well. “No, that’s not
what I meant at all”, she said quickly. “I just meant — Mulder,
we’ve never had a real ‘date’ before. We’ve gone out to dinner
and gone to movies, but never planned it out a whole week in
advance unless it’s Valentines Day or my birthday. This is so . .
. unexpected. But I have to say that aside from a deep-seated
desire to check your lower back for a removed tail, I am very
pleased. I think this is one of the most romantic things you’ve
She came around to stand next to him and put her arms
around his neck, seductively rubbing his chest under his jacket.
“Sure you don’t want to go back upstairs — we can both call in
with the ‘Friday Flu’.”
He laughed and hugged her arms, tilting his head to kiss her
lightly on the lips. “I would, but my partner is a real dragon
lady. She chews my ass if I blow off work for sex.”
“Poor woman. Maybe she should just get laid,” Scully replied,
nipping his earlobe.
He was laughing hard now. “OK, enough of this. We have to
get to work,” he told her firmly as he stood and his chair
effectively pushed her away. “But we have all day tomorrow
and Sunday to practice up for our date night.”
She watched him as he took both cups into the kitchen, her
hands on her hips. “Mulder, I should tell you now — I never
sleep with a guy on the first date.”
“Scully, this is the last ream of printer paper,” Mulder informed
her as he loaded the paper tray.
“What are you doing over there? Printing out _War and
Peace_?” she asked. He’d been ‘surfing’ the net all morning
while she put the finishing touches on the expense reports from
their last case. She felt the numbers 1372 were permanently
etched on the backs of her eyelids.
“Just some stuff I found on the internet this morning,” he said
absently. He looked down at his watch. “Hey, lunch time.
Want to hit the Mall, have a hot dog and stare at the tourists?”
She rolled her eyes, but couldn’t hide her smile. “Sure. Just
give me a minute to finish this last report. Then we can drop it
off to Skinner on our way to lunch.”
The Assistant Director was standing in his outer office,
consulting with his administrative assistant when the agents
arrived. “I was about to call and leave a message for you to
come see me after lunch,” he said, ushering the pair into the
interior room of the suite. “I have a new case for you.”
He handed a file folder to Mulder and the two agents sat down
in their usual chairs in front of Skinner’s desk. Scully leaned
over as Mulder held the folder between them.
“Missing persons?” she asked, as Mulder flipped through the
“The girl is the daughter of Los Angeles city council member —
with close ties to the Attorney General,” Skinner said tersely.
“Oh goodie. So how did we get this little gem?” Mulder asked,
handing the rather thin folder over to his partner.
“Apparently — an eye witness, admittedly almost 10 miles
away, reported . . . ” Skinner flexed his jaw, a sure sign he
wasn’t comfortable with what he was about to say. “Bright
lights in the sky.”
Mulder closed his eyes and leaned his head back, as if exposing
his throat to a guillotine. Scully licked her upper lip and sighed
heavily. After a moment, Mulder straightened up and took the
folder back. He read a little further and his forehead creased
with a frown. “Wait a minute, where was this?”
Skinner thought for a moment. “Southern California, out in the
desert,” he said with a shrug.
“No, not just in the desert. In the desert outside Landers.
They were near the Integratron,” Mulder stated with a knowing
“The what?” Scully countered. “What is an Integratron? I
never heard of such a thing.”
“And here I thought I’d corrupted you completely, Scully,”
Mulder shot her a grin. “The Integratron is the masterpiece of
a slightly off balanced aircraft engineer, George Van Tassel. He
got the idea — ”
“No, don’t tell me, from an elf that snuck through his window
while he was playing billiards,” Scully parried.
Mulder’s grin broadened and he gave her a brief nod in
acknowledgement of her memory. “Not quite. It was a visitor
from the planet Venus named Solgonda,” he answered. “But I
must say, Scully, I’m impressed.”
Skinner cleared his throat and gave Mulder a disgusted glare.
“And this — Integratron — is significant to the case?”
“Well, just a couple of months ago it was the site for a big UFO
watchers convention. They must have picked it for a reason,”
“UFO convention?” Skinner queried.
“Yeah, the Gunmen went out for it. Frohike took one of the
sound baths the place is famous for. C’mon Scully, you have to
admit the little man had a ‘glow’ about him when they came
“I assumed it was the sun and the tequila,” Scully mused.
“Be that as it may,” Skinner said firmly, “you are to go out to
Landers and work with the LA regional office on this one. I
expect periodic reports on your progress. We need to find out
what happened to those two kids — ET or otherwise. Kim has
your tickets. You leave tonight.”
“Good thing the symphony is next weekend,” Mulder muttered.
“I just hope we’re back in time,” Scully whispered as they
departed the office.
“Oh, we will be. I promise. Nothing could make me miss our
first date,” he assured her, letting his hand rest on the small of
her back as they walked to the elevators.
June 10, 2006
If there was one thing Mulder could say for the desert, there
was certainly no need for a flashlight — if the sun was out.
Even his FBI approved Ray Bans were having a hard time
reflecting the glare off the white dome of the Integratron. His
fuzzy feeling could have been attributed to jet lag, they had left
Dulles at a not quite red-eye flight time of 4:30 pm, but they
arrived at LAX just seconds shy of midnight (Eastern Daylight
Time) and that made it over six hours travel time.
At Scully’s worried look and gentle coaxing, he’d swallowed a
bitter tasting sleeping pill when they finally arrived at their
adjoining rooms. He got his revenge when his partner had
been forced to spend ten minutes waking him out of his
drugged slumber. She was right, he had slept a full 5 and one
half hours without a single dream that he could remember. The
down side was he felt like a vampire about to crumble to dust
in the brilliance of the late morning sunshine.
The Supervisory Agent In Charge of the Los Angeles Regional
Office had assigned a young agent just out of Quantico to
accompany them to Landers. The Junior G-Man was complete
with a buzz haircut, grey suit, and his own set of Ray Bans. His
name was Jason Clark, and Mulder was certain he’d lied about
his age on his application. He also suspected the slight
indentations in the young man’s earlobes and eyebrows spoke
to a few pieces of jewelry gathering dust in a drawer
Scully was just a few feet away, inspecting a blanket, all but
buried in the sand, and an empty wine bottle. She picked it up
with latex encased hands, sniffing at the rim. “Not exactly
dealing with a high roller here,” she quipped and dropped the
bottle in an evidence bag.
“You didn’t send an evidence team out here earlier?” Mulder
The young man looked perplexed. “At first, no, but we did late
last night. I think it was assumed they’d taken off, maybe to
Vegas. The kids weren’t reported as missing until the owners
of the property found their car abandoned on the side of the
road and called the highway patrol. CHP called the boy’s
parents; their name is on the title and registration. When we
figured out it belonged to one of the missing we had our
evidence team go over it, but the only prints found were the
Mulder frowned, thinking hard. Something wasn’t right but the
fog in his mind wouldn’t allow him to see the pieces clearly.
“Mulder, you need to come here and look at this,” Scully called
from a few yards away. She was crouching low and poking at
something on the ground. He was beside her in a few strides,
dropping down next to her.
“What is that?” he asked. Carefully, she picked up the object
by the edges.
“Glass,” she said, handing it over to him. It was oddly shaped,
about 8 inched long and 4 to 5 inches wide at the widest point.
It was irregular and the coloring wasn’t even.
“Lightning?” Mulder asked of her.
“This area sees less than 2 inches of rain a year, Mulder,” she
replied with a shrug. “And there’s more of it, over there. All
lying on top of the sand.”
They exchanged knowing looks, communicating and
remembering at one and the same moment. “You think
something from above did this?” he asked. She shrugged
again. “Collect some of it, let’s have it analyzed,” he
Clark, in the meantime, had gone into the building and
returned. “I just called the office. The families haven’t
received any ransom calls or notes.”
“They aren’t likely to get any, if it’s who I think is responsible,”
Mulder said rising and dusting the sand off his hands. “Agent
Clark, if you could take these items back to the office and send
them down to the lab for us we’d appreciate it.”
Clark nodded, happy to be doing something productive rather
than just acting as tour guide. “Sure, no problem.”
As they started back toward the car, Mulder made a left turn
and headed into the Integratron. Scully had to scramble to
follow him. She caught his elbow as he reached the door.
“Mulder, shouldn’t we be going back to LA?” she asked, though
to Mulder’s ears it sounded a lot like one of her ‘commands’.
“I just wanted to check this place out a minute, Scully. The
guys told me all about it one night over cheese steaks,” he
mugged back at her.
The interior was just as Byers had described it. The dome
ceiling was supported by 16 ‘spines’ that made the center look
like a double-legged spider suspended 38 feet above. The
wood had a light stain and there were windows all along the
bottom, giving the interior an airy appearance. The vaulted
room was largely empty, save for a sling-like chair that hung
from the center of the ceiling.
“Tassel built the dome to coordinate with Lakhovsky’s principles
of a multiple wave oscillator. Lakhovsky believed that cells
were living batteries, a positively charged nucleus surrounded
by negatively charged cytoplasm. He further theorized that if
cells were subjected to a range of oscillations, they would
actually regenerate,” Mulder extemporized as they circled the
“We could have used that theory back when we were stuck on
the Ardent,” Scully interjected with a smirk.
“Exactly,” Mulder replied with a grin. “And remember, you
were the one who suggested the meteor that fell was acting as
a giant battery in the ocean, causing our cells to oxidize too
“Even so, Mulder, this is — well, a little far-fetched, don’t you
think?” she retorted.
Mulder stood in one place, slowly turned around and looking
toward the ceiling. “I don’t know, Scully. Maybe if we hadn’t
aged 60 years in a couple of days, I might agree with you.”
“Would you like to give it a try, Agents?” called a woman from
the doorway. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you. I’m Barb, one
of the owners. I was just talking to Agent Clark and came to
see if there was anything else you needed to look at. Sure
hope you find those kids.”
“So do we, thank you for cooperating with the investigation,”
Scully answered. “But as for trying this out — ”
“I’d love to,” Mulder interrupted before Scully could give a
negative response. “If it’s not too much trouble.”
“No trouble at all, it’s what we do. It will take about 30
minutes for a sound bath, if that’s all right with you,” Barb said
amiably, looking from Mulder to Scully. Scully sighed in
annoyance, but finally nodded her acquiescence. Mulder
“Why don’t I go tell Agent Clark we’re going to be here a little
while longer,” Scully offered with a roll of her eyes but went out
to find the young agent. Mulder followed Barb to a part of the
room that had a table with a number of large white bowls of
different shapes and sizes.
“These are our sound bowls,” Barb explained. “They’re made
from quartz, and we beat Ivory because we’re 99.99 percent
pure,” she added with a smile. “The sound waves are tuned to
the seven chakras and promote relaxation, pain relief — they
cure whatever ails you.”
“Do you have them on a party mix?” Mulder joked, but sat
down in the hanging chair and tried not to get seasick.
“I’ll get them started, you just try to clear your mind.”
The notes started and Mulder closed his eyes. The sound
seemed to wash over him in waves, gentle waves lapping at the
shore. He smiled as he imagined the beaches of his childhood,
running barefoot through the surf, chasing Samantha who
always seemed to be just ahead of him. He focused on his
breathing and found himself losing the fogginess induced by the
drugs from the night before. He felt at peace and drifting on
the waves of sound.
In his mind’s eye, he was driving down a street. It was night,
quiet, just city noises. Odd place to feel relaxed, he thought
momentarily, but soon he was searching and found a single
storefront, solitary on a block. The buildings on either side had
been torn down at some point, made into parking lots. Just the
one storefront remained. The windows and door in the front
had bars, roof to sidewalk, to keep out intruders. The glass of
the windows had been painted black so that no one could see
Mulder saw himself get out of the car and press his face against
the glass. Where the paint had chipped off, he could see into
the room. He thought he saw a pair of feet, bound — someone
sitting in a chair and tied up.
That was all the encouragement he needed to motion to Scully
to follow him. Scully got out of the car and walked with him
around to the back, where the cinder block structure had a
simple unmarked metal door. Scully leaned against the wall,
acting as lookout as he produced his lock pick and went to work
on the lock. He reached his hand out to grasp and pull the
knob and heard a slight popping sound before the building
erupted in an explosion.
Mulder startled forward and almost fell out of the swing chair,
but he was caught in the ropes. The chair, suspended from so
far above, began swinging wildly. He could hear someone
calling him, but he could still feel the heat of the explosion, the
impact of brick and mortar falling on him. His terror for Scully
was greater than his terror for himself. Even with his eyes
open he could see her body engulfed in flames, hear her
screams ringing in his ears. She was gone, dead, he knew it!
It took several minutes before he felt her hands on either side
of his face, talking to him in tender caresses of words. “Mulder,
come back to me,” she was repeating and his breath filled his
lungs once more where it had long been absent. He opened his
eyes and she gave him a nervous smile.
“No more sound baths,” she told him firmly as she helped him
crawl out of the sky chair. “What happened? You are anything
but relaxed. Did you have another — vision?” Her inflection on
the word underlined her concern.
“Yeah, I think so. It was something,” he whispered. “We have
to get out of here.”
“Out of the desert?” she asked, helping him to his feet, only to
grab his arm sharply when he swayed and almost went down.
“Out of California. Back to DC. I want you back in DC before
“Mulder, that’s ridiculous! We’re here on a case. I can’t just
run back to DC now.”
He knew he was scaring her, but he had to find a way to keep
her safe. Placating her would raise her suspicions, but it was
all he had. “OK. Sorry. Let’s just get back to the office and
see if they’ve heard from the kidnappers.”
She looked at him crossly. “You don’t think it’s — ”
“Someone very ‘terrestrial’ snatched those kids, Scully,” he
hissed in her ear. “And they are in danger, I know that for a
fact. But we aren’t going to find them out here.”
Federal Office Building
11000 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
All the way to the office, Scully kept giving Mulder stern looks.
He knew she wanted to know about the vision but couldn’t ask
in front of Agent Clark. Mulder was just as happy to have Clark
in the car — there was no way he could tell Scully about this
one. As soon as he overcame his disorientation, he knew what
he’d seen. Someone had those kids in that storefront and had
it rigged to blow. But he also felt in his heart that if he called
out the troops, all they would find would be a pile of rubble. He
had to go alone and find that storefront — without Scully. And
at all costs, he had to avoid going in that back door.
They had just arrived at the office when one of the
administrative assistants walked up to Scully. “Agent Scully,
you’re a pathologist, right?” asked the woman cautiously. At
Scully’s affirmative nod, the woman smiled brightly. “Oh,
good! Agent Martinez would like a word with you — in his
Scully turned so that only Mulder could see and rolled her eyes.
“I have a feeling I’m going to be tied up for a while. What are
you going to do?” she asked.
“I think I’d like to talk to the kids’ parents, take a look around.
Maybe I can get a fix on who they might have fallen in with,
who might want to snatch them.”
“You’re certain this wasn’t . . .” she restated as she let her eyes
drift toward the ceiling.
“As sure as I am of my own name, Scully. Aside from that
glass, which could have gotten there in any number of ways,
and an eye witness account from 10 miles away, all we have to
go on is two missing persons. Missing from a very deserted
location, at night. I just want to find them before any harm
comes to them.”
Scully shrugged and patted his arm. “Well, I’m pretty sure I’m
about to be ‘volunteered’ to do a autopsy here, so when I’m
finished, I’ll catch up with you, OK?”
“I’ll meet you back at the hotel, if not before,” he assured her.
Councilwoman Gainer’s residence
“She’s a good girl. Usually she gives us no trouble whatsoever.
But since she’s picked up with Mark, well, she did get in rather
late a night or two. Still, I can’t imagine them running off.
Someone took them, Agent Mulder,” Mrs. Gainer said firmly,
fighting the tears choking her voice.
“Mrs. Gainer, is there anyone, anyone at all who might want to
harm you or your husband, even an old score, someone you
might have dealt with when you were Assistant District
Attorney?” Mulder asked gently.
Her head shot up and she bit her lip. “Agent Mulder, I
understand where you’re going with this. But I have wracked
my brain and I can’t come up with anyone who would do this.
Yes, I had my share of cases as ADA, but the criminals I put
away are all accounted for. As for my husband, he’s a
professor of anthropology at UCLA. Jilly has no enemies, only
friends. I’m not being immodest; she doesn’t have a mean
spirited bone in her body. I honestly can’t think of anyone who
would take her from us.” The middle-aged woman brushed a
tear from her cheek. “Besides, wouldn’t we have received a
ransom note or something by now? It’s been over 48 hours.”
Mulder sighed and flipped his notebook closed. “Would you
mind if we had a look at Jill’s room?”
Jill Gainer’s room was just like any other 18 year old college co-
ed’s, filled with certificates and awards from her high school
days as well as boxes yet unpacked from her move back home
for summer break. Mulder looked over the selection of books
on the five shelved bookcase. Nothing unusual, not even
anything about UFOs. After thanking the Gainers, Mulder and
Clark drove to the home of Mark Henry.
The Henry house was a modest home. A decade old minivan
sat in the driveway, but the interior of the home was neat and
clean. Mrs. Henry sat on the worn sofa, a high school yearbook
clutched in her hands, tear stains on her cheeks.
“He’s been working at McDonald’s but he’s started applying to
colleges, you know,” she said with a strained smile. “His
grades weren’t that good, but he wants to get into UCLA
because that’s where Jill is going. If he can’t get in there, he’ll
go to community college and get his grades up. He was just so
busy in high school, he kept down a job — ”
“He didn’t run off with that girl,” Mr. Henry said adamantly. “I
know that’s what the big shot politician is saying happened, but
it didn’t. Mark wasn’t like that! He and Jill were friends, maybe
a little more than friends, but they didn’t run off!”
“I’m inclined to agree with you, Mr. Henry. That’s why we’re
here. And if you can think of anyone who might have a grudge
or something — ”
“I’m not saying he’s the sharpest knife in the drawer, Agent
Mulder. But Mark is a decent kid. This neighborhood — well,
some of the kids are into drugs, gangs. Not Mark. He went to
school, he went to work, he hung out at the mall. Just a
normal kid, you know?” The older man seemed annoyed as he
brushed moisture from his eye. “We just want him home.”
“Do you mind if we take a look around Mark’s room,” Mulder
asked, not wanting to bother the family any longer than
“What are you thinking, Agent Mulder?” Clark asked as he
followed the man around the room. Mulder moved some
clothes off a chair to discover several issues of ‘Blender’
magazine. A couple of posters on the wall were of military jets
and the space shuttle. Nothing jumped out at him or really
drew his attention.
“No enemies, no note, I’d have to say I’m leaning toward
someone snatching those kids whose sole purpose was foul
play, not ransom.”
“Isn’t that pretty rare?” Clark rejoined.
“Rare doesn’t mean it _can’t_ happen, Agent. Just that it
doesn’t happen very often,” Mulder instructed.
“But it also means there should be more kidnappings like this
one, doesn’t it? I mean there should be a pattern or
“You would think,” Mulder mused, picking up a Dodgers cap
that had fallen to the floor. “Or this could be the first one.”
Clark leaned against the doorway, checking the hall before
speaking. “We aren’t going to find those kids, are we, Agent
Mulder?” he asked.
Mulder was quiet for a moment, considering his answer. “I
want to find them, Agent. I’ll do everything in my power to
Clark nodded grimly and led the way out of the room.
Travelodge – LAX
Mulder was lying on the bed flipping channels, half a pizza
congealing on the dresser when Scully finally made it to the
“Why is it every time someone finds out I’m a pathologist,
suddenly there’s an autopsy that just has to be performed
immediately?” she whined as she dropped next to him on the
bed, face down.
He smiled at her and shifted around so that he could massage
her shoulders. “Rough day at the office, dear?” he teased
lovingly in her ear.
“Yes,” she said, muffled by the pillow.
“I made dinner. It’s over there,” he encouraged, nodding
toward the pizza box.
“I don’t smell pepperoni,” she complained.
“You don’t smell it because you use that ‘stuff’ on your nose so
you can’t smell the dead bodies. If you look closely, there are
pepperonis on the remaining half of that pizza,” he directed.
She pulled herself up with exaggerated slowness and inspected
the now cold pizza. Grabbing a particularly large slice, she tore
off a hunk and chewed. “Drink?” she mumbled.
He disappeared into the alcove outside the bathroom and
returned with a diet cola, dripping with melted ice. “Red wine
with pizza, right?”
“Of course,” she agreed and popped the top one handed. “Did
you find out anything interesting speaking with the families?”
she asked around bites.
“That these are the two most adorable and loving children in
the world and no one could possibly want to harm them,” he
recited in monotone.
“Even the Councilwoman’s kid? I thought she was a DA before
“Apparently that angle has been checked out before our arrival.
She said all the criminals she prosecuted have been accounted
“So we have nothing,” Scully said glumly. “I’m taking a
Mulder resumed his channel surfing but his mind was not on
the television. He couldn’t shake the images that kept looping
in his brain. He knew where the kids were. It wasn’t just some
‘hunch’ on his part this time. Just as surely as he’d know
months before when those people had been called to the
Milford Bridge in Pennsylvania.
If only he could figure out _where_ that storefront was.
Deserted storefronts in many areas of LA were a dime a dozen
and it wasn’t exactly prudent on his part to order the Bureau or
the LAPD to go searching them all door to door.
His visions had always been unexpected, brought on suddenly
by either contact with alien artifacts or the more recent ‘sound
bath’ he’d taken at the Integratron. But he’d never forced them
to come. Maybe if he tired he could put himself in a trance . . .
The bathroom door opened and Scully came out wearing just a
towel. He smiled at her. “Wow, the view in this room just got
a whole lot better,” he teased.
“Yeah? You think?” she asked, crawling up on the bed beside
him. Instead of the slow seduction he was expecting — hoping
for — she flopped face down again. “Mulder, I think I’m too old
to travel across the country and then work a full day,” she
admitted with a tired sigh.
He smiled affectionately at her and took up rubbing her
shoulders again. “You stay right there,” he ordered and got off
the bed to rummage in her suitcase for a moment. When he
returned he gently helped her into a pair of royal blue silk
“Are you sure you don’t want to . . .” she started to ask, but a
large yawn that shook her with its force stopped her in the
middle of the question.
“Tomorrow, after you’ve had a good night’s sleep,” he told her,
kissing her nose. He helped her pull back the covers and then
helped her cover back up again. “Get some sleep. I love you,”
he told her.
She lay down on the pillows, closing her eyes with a contented
smile. Suddenly her eyes flew open and she pinned him with
her stare. “Mulder. You aren’t staying awake are you?”
“I just wanted to go over a few things,” he covered, pointing to
“Look, you didn’t get that much sleep last night and you
definitely aren’t caught up from this past week, either. Why
don’t you take another pill — just so you don’t have another . .
. you know,” she suggested timidly.
He wanted to object but saw the longing and concern in her
eyes. “Where are they?” he asked tiredly.
“Inner pocket of my suitcase,” she told him. She watched him
warily as he pulled the pill bottle out of the bag and extracted
one pill, holding it up for her inspection. At her nod, he walked
over to the sink and drew a glass of water.
He could see her clearly in the mirror. She’d turned her back
and had snuggled down into the covers. It was a simple
motion to grab a tissue, stuff the pill into it and toss it in the
garbage next to the sink. He drank the water and went back to
She rolled over when he returned and watched as he slid out of
his pants and dress shirt, leaving just his boxers and tee. She
held out the covers for him. Once he was settled, she put her
head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his chest.
“G’night, Mulder. Love you,” she mumbled.
He kissed the crown of her head. “I love you, too, Scully.
Always and forever.”
He didn’t have long to wait for her to fall deeply asleep. He felt
horrible as he crawled out of bed to go sit in the chair by the
window. He felt like he was lying to her, palming the pill,
letting her think he was actually going to sleep. But it was for
her own good — and those kids. He knew the vision was a
warning; he couldn’t bring Scully when he went to find those
kids. If anything were to ever happen to her —
She was going to be mad when she figured it out, but he’d
make it up to her. And maybe, once he had the kids back
safely, he’d come back to the motel and apologize in person,
not over the phone as he often did. Didn’t they always say
make-up sex was the best?
He’d gone into trances plenty of times in college and when
working with Dr. Weber. It didn’t take long for him to sink into
the nether world. This time as he found himself driving down
the street he purposely searched the street signs.
He brought himself out of the trance and reached for the phone
book in the desk drawer. Taking it into the bathroom, where
he turned on the light, he found the map of LA and the
surrounding area. He tore the pages out of the book, and
headed out — but not before taking a single sheet of paper
from the guest services folder and scribbling a note.
It wasn’t really ditching if he told her where he was going.
June 11, 2006
She awoke in a cold sweat, panting to get air into her lungs.
Even as she opened her eyes, the nightmare slipped from her
grasp and she was left feeling terrified. When Scully discovered
the other side of the bed empty, her fear became
“Mulder?” she called out, hoping he was just in the bathroom.
No answer came and she cursed loudly, tossing off the covers
and snapping on the light. The note was standing against the
lamp, right in plain view.
I fully expect an ass chewing, but I had to get those kids. If I
sense trouble, I’ll call out the troops. If you don’t hear from me
— come save my ass. I’m going to an abandoned building in
the 2400 block of Santa Fe, directions on the back.
Hope you aren’t so mad that you won’t go on our date next
Anger surged through her as she grabbed for her cell phone.
She punched three buttons and started looking for clothes to
throw on as she listened to the rings. He was smart enough to
pick up on the second ring.
“Mulder,” he said in a hushed voice.
“Where the hell are you and what the fuck do you think you’re
doing?” she growled.
“Scully,” he breathed. “Um, look — ”
“No, Mulder, you look. What were you thinking, ditching me
like this? No,” she stopped him before he could even answer.
“Let me tell you what you were thinking. You were thinking
that you knew from that vision you had this morning exactly
where the kids are and you were going to go in like the Lone
Ranger — ”
“Scully, that’s not fair! I left you a note, damn it,” he hissed.
“Look, this is all fine, but I’m kinda busy right now.”
“Where are you?”
“A warehouse district down by the railroad tracks. Yes, you’re
right, I had a vision today. And it was just like Milford Bridge,
Scully. Remember Milford Bridge? The one where only three
people died instead of dozens? So I’m here now and I think I
need to check this out, don’t you?”
She chewed on her lip. At least she was there to call for help if
he got into trouble. She had half a mind to call 911 from the
motel phone while she kept him on the line on her cell. “What
have you found?”
“Looks like late 70’s urban renewal. It used to be a small
shopping area or something. All the other buildings have been
demolished except one little storefront. There are bars on the
windows and it looks like their painted from the inside — I can’t
see anything. Wait!”
“Mulder?” she asked frantically.
“Scully, I see something. There’s a place where the paint must
have peeled off. I can see movement in there, Scully. I think
it’s the kids.”
“Is there a back door — ”
“No!” he shouted and then lowered his voice. “No, no good.
Can’t go in the back door.”
“Mulder, if you have your lock pick — ”
“Bad idea, Scully. Trust me on this one.”
“OK, then let me call the police. They can get the door open —
“Scully, look, the fewer people around here, the better.
Besides, I found a basement window and the bars are pretty
deteriorated. Let me try something — ”
She waited breathlessly while she heard him grunting and the
sounds of metal scraping. “Scully?” he asked.
“I’m still here, Mulder.”
“OK, I got the bars off and the window opened. I’m going in.”
“Mulder, I’m calling the police now.”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
She picked up the other phone and dialed quickly. When she
had the dispatcher on the line, she turned back to Mulder.
“What’s the address?”
“It’s the 3100 block of S. Santa Fe Avenue in Vernon. It’s
about 15 minutes from our motel,” he told her. She quickly
repeated that information, along with her badge number to the
dispatcher and hung up.
“I see stairs, Scully. I’m going up them.”
“Mulder, please, be careful. The police are on their way. Why
don’t you just wait — ”
“I see the kids, Scully. I see them. They’re both tied up and
they looked drugged, but they’re alive. I’m —
She heard a thud, the sound of a cell phone hitting a hard
surface, followed immediately by a sound that almost burst her
eardrum. The cell phone went dead; the display saying the call
She knew what it sounded like — an explosion. But she also
knew that she could be mistaken. She prayed she was
mistaken. For what seemed like an eternity she stood there,
staring at the phone’s display. Then the earth started to rotate
again and she quickly dialed Jason Clark’s cell phone number.
S. Santa Fe Avenue
She had finished dressing and was waiting outside when Clark
arrive some 30 minutes after her call. She’d tried Mulder’s
number several times in those minutes, getting the same
recorded voice telling her the cellular customer was not
available. She called the police dispatcher, but was told that
there was no information available from the scene. By the time
Clark pulled up to the curb to let her in the car, she was trying
hard to put a stop to her frantic thoughts.
When they turned the corner to the warehouse district, she
spotted the flashing lights and breathed a sigh of relief. The
police had arrived. Her relief died when she saw the fire trucks
and the rubble that had been an abandoned storefront.
Her heart was in her throat as she raced out of the car, not
even waiting until Clark came to a full stop. A cop grabbed her
arm and she tried to shake him off, but he wouldn’t let her go.
Finally realizing she had her ID, she flashed her badge and was
let loose to run toward the wreckage.
As she got closer, she saw the ambulances. On the ground
near the two vehicles were indistinct shapes, lumpy and slick
looking in the strobing lights. She slowed her pace and her
heart skipped several beats. Someone was tugging on her
sleeve and she turned to find Clark standing next to a soot-
“This is Agent Scully,” Clark said by way of introduction.
“Agent Scully, this is Chief Ramirez of the LAFD.”
“Agent Clark tells me you’re looking for someone?” Ramirez
“Yes. My partner and two kidnap victims, did you find my
partner?” she rasped, finding it harder and harder to
concentrate with those black shapes on the ground so near.
“Sorry ma’am, I’m not sure what you’re asking. There was an
explosion. Place went up like a roman candle. We were able to
pull three bodies out the debris — ”
“Three bodies?” she croaked, swaying. Clark grabbed her by
the shoulder, but she shook him off.
“Yeah. They’re over there. Ambulances are here to take them
to the morgue. That fire was hot, identification’s gonna be a
bitch — they’ll have to rely on dental records, more than likely.
Now, what’s this about your partner? Why on earth would he
“My partner. My partner and I were investigating a missing
persons case. Two teenagers. He found them. We were on
the phone together, I called the police and directed them to this
“Well, we didn’t see anybody around here when we got here.
That car was parked over there,” he said, pointing to a car with
a Lariat bumper sticker, sitting just a few yards down the
street. “Sorta surprised it has wheels left in this
Scully jogged to the car, only to find it locked. Quickly pawing
through her pockets, she came up with the spare key. The
door opened easily and she swallowed around the boulder in
her throat. She didn’t hear Clark come up until he touched her
arm and she jumped.
“He has to be here. He told me he was coming here,” she
A policeman joined Agent Clark and looked sympathetically at
the now distraught woman. “Ma’am, maybe you better take a
look over here,” the cop suggested, motioning toward the
bodies on the pavement.
“Agent Scully,” Clark said compassionately. “Maybe . . . you
have to consider . . .”
She spun on the young man with fire burning deep in her eyes.
“That’s not him. He’s not in one of those bags over there,” she
spat out. “Here, I’ll prove it.”
Anger gave her the strength she needed to storm over to the
body bags and unzip them one by one. The first, from the size
of the body and the hands and feet, was obviously a young
woman or a teen-aged girl. Her heart sank as she closed the
bag again. The second body wasn’t much taller, but the feet
were larger and years of experience told her it was a small man
or a nearly adult male. She was having a hard time getting air
into her lungs. As she pulled back the zipper on the last bag all
background noise around her faded. All she could hear was the
sound of the tag running through the metal teeth. She peeled
open the sides of the bag and stared into the face of her
“Scully, where were you? I needed you,” Mulder accused.
She stumbled backward several feet in horror. When she could
force herself to look again, the image of her partner’s face had
vanished and in its place was a burned corpse, totally
unrecognizable. She blinked twice and then darkness
The next few hours were almost lost to her and what she could
recall came to her in flashes of memory. She vaguely
remembered Clark helping her into the passenger seat of his
car but recollected none of the drive to the motel. She recalled
getting in the elevator but had no idea how she managed to
find herself in bed with the sun shining around the drapes
covering the window.
She saw movement in the shadows and raised her head slowly.
Her head hurt terribly and her mouth was unusually dry. The
shadow moved again, silhouetted by the light from the window.
Assuming it was Mulder, she closed her eyes, thinking it had all
been a bad dream.
When she dared to look, the figure came into focus as Clark
stood up from his chair at the table and offered her a cup of
coffee. Her gut twisted as she realized the events of the past
24 hours weren’t a dream — she was living her worst
Clark looked at her sympathetically. “I called Agent Martinez
and he put in a call to Assistant Director Skinner. The DC office
emailed a copy of Agent Mulder’s dental records to the Medical
Examiner here. He’s waiting for you to come to the morgue, if
you’re feeling up to it.”
It all came crashing back — the note, the call, the noise over
the phone, the rubble, the body bag, Mulder accusing her of not
coming to his aid — the burned corpse. She drew in a breath,
and studied the pressed foam coffee cup. “I need to get
dressed,” she said absently running her fingers through her
“Agent Scully, um, AD Skinner said he’d contact your mother.
He’s on his way out here.”
She nodded and stood up, only to find herself sitting heavily
back on the edge of the bed. The dizziness had come out of
nowhere. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she mused.
She made an effort to rise more slowly and wasn’t bother by it
“Shock, most likely,” Clark offered. “Agent Scully, I haven’t
had a chance to tell you how sorry I am . . . Agent Mulder
seemed like a really — ”
“I’ll be right out,” Scully said abruptly, cutting off the younger
When she came back into the room, Clark was on the phone.
He smiled sadly at her, handing her the coffee, freshened.
“Yes, we’ll be there in about half an hour. Yeah, thanks.” He
placed the receiver back on its cradle. “That was Agent
Martinez. AD Skinner’s plane just touched down and an agent
is meeting him at the gate. He’ll catch up with us at the
“What time is it?” she asked, sipping the coffee. She felt so
fuzzy, she drained the cup only for the desire to have the
caffeine wake her up from the phantasm she was living.
“It’s a quarter to four,” Clark said after checking his watch.
“I was asleep all that time?” she asked, shaking her head to
clear her thoughts.
“It’s been a rough night,” Clark soothed. After an
uncomfortable silence, he jiggled the keys in his pocket. “Are
you ready to go?”
She nodded stiffly and followed him out to his car.
As they made their way through late afternoon rush hour
traffic, Scully stared out the window. A hundred images
tumbled free fall through her mind.
Holding defibrillator paddles in a military hospital in Alaska,
watching his body jump with each application of electrical
Standing windswept in a desert outside Farmington, New
Mexico, screaming his name as she peered into the smoldering
husk of an ancient boxcar.
Walking through the foyer of his old apartment toward a sheet
covered corpse lying on his living room floor.
Arguing with Skinner in the hallway of Northeast Georgetown
Medical Center as Diana Fowley sauntered toward her.
Trembling with the force of unshed tears as a doctor at
Georgetown told her of Mulder’s precarious condition while
Skinner watched her closely and gauged her reaction.
A thought jumped unbidden into her consciousness. She was
supposed to be feeling something — anything. Fear, anger,
soul-wrenching sorrow . . . but there was nothing. A black and
endless void filled her entire being. She looked out the
window, seeing her faint reflection in the glass. That’s exactly
how she felt — a faint, near-invisible reflection of herself.
Experimentally she bit her bottom lip hard, tasting the blood’s
copper tang. Nothing. No pain, no sensation. That should
bother her, she thought. That was wrong. But then, what was
She wanted to feel. She wanted to be angry with him for
leaving their bed and running off again. She wanted to feel
loss, the deep, yearning depravation of losing half her soul.
She wanted to feel sorrow, grief, heartbreak, and lament,
anything but this empty shell of emotions.
She should have gone to him, she thought. But there hadn’t
been time. She’d called the police; they would have been there
before her anyway. But she’d been at the motel, safe, while
Mulder had —
Why wasn’t she screaming, she wondered distantly. Why
wasn’t she tearing her hair out by the roots? It was her own
fault, she mused. She’d held her emotions about her partner
so tightly in check for all those years, only recently allowing
them full reign over her mind and body. This was the price to
be paid — now that she needed them, needed to feel more than
anything else in the world, she couldn’t.
No, that wasn’t right. She didn’t need to feel emotions. She
needed to feel Mulder’s arms around her. She needed to feel
his warm lips pressing a kiss to the crown of her head. She
needed to feel his hand at the small of her back, guiding her,
letting her know that he was always behind her, backing her
up, whatever they faced.
“Agent Scully?” Clark interrupted her thoughts. She realized
the car wasn’t moving. They were in a drive through. Trying
to clear her mind to the present, she accepted the cup of coffee
he was offering her. “I got you blueberry muffin. I realized
you hadn’t had anything to eat in a while.” She looked down
and found a small pastry bag, top folded, sitting in her lap.
“Thank you, Agent Clark,” she mumbled. She put the cup to
her lips and sipped at the hot liquid. Even the bitter coffee
hitting the cut on her bottom lip didn’t give her any sensation.
Numb. She was completely numb.
“Jason,” he said, putting the car in drive and pulling out into
“I’m sorry?” she asked, forcing her head to turn and look at the
“My first name. It’s Jason. I . . . I just thought . . . Agent
Clark sounds so much like a stranger. I just wanted you to
know that you aren’t alone Agent Scully, um, Dana. It will be
all right. My . . . uh, my Dad died a year ago and I remember
my Mom — not that you and Agent Mulder were married or
anything — ”
“How close are we to the morgue?” Scully broke in. He was a
nice young man and she knew she shouldn’t treat him so
coldly, but she couldn’t hear about his memories of his father’s
death. Her mind wouldn’t allow it.
I’m not allowed to feel, but I can’t hear about death either, she
mused. Why? What psychological security system was at work
acting as border patrol on her thoughts? Her id? Her
superego? Mulder would know. Oh, right, she couldn’t ask
Mulder. He wasn’t there to consult on psychological matters
“Just around this corner.” He seemed to be considering his
next words. “I can let you out and park the car — but if you’d
rather, I can help you — ”
“That won’t be necessary, Agent, er, Jason. Thank you, you’ve
been very helpful. Just drop me off at the curb. I’ve been here
“Sure, Agent — Dana. Agent Martinez and AD Skinner are
waiting for you in the lobby. I’ll be in shortly.”
She got out of the car and started toward the entrance. The
door opened before she got there and suddenly Skinner was
walking beside her, his large hand on her shoulder. “Scully,”
he said, watching her, once again gauging her reaction. “Are
you ready for this?” The worry and concern in his voice caused
a shiver down her spine, but she looked up at him placidly.
“Yes, I’m fine,” she said woodenly. “Let’s do this.”
She caught the furtive glance Skinner cast toward Agent
Martinez. Martinez looked like he wanted to be anywhere else
in the world at that moment. Awkwardly, he offered Scully his
hand. “I’m very sorry — ”
“Let’s see what we’ve got,” Scully interrupted. She didn’t want
platitudes. She didn’t want sympathy. She wanted to wake
That thought stuck with her as they entered an elevator and
descended two floors. She wanted to wake up. It was all a
dream. She remembered, although vaguely, another dream
she’d had like this. Mulder’s skeleton was laid out on a metal
table near Brown Mountain, North Carolina. A wake was held in
his apartment. Langly was in a tuxedo tee shirt and Frohike
downed a bottle of booze while Byers talked the ‘the party line’
at her. It had been a dream. If that had been a dream,
couldn’t it be possible . . .
She jumped when Skinner’s hand grazed the small of her back,
pushing her out of the elevator car. He started to apologize but
she shook her head — she hadn’t taken offense, she’d just been
startled. There was a long corridor to walk down to the exam
rooms and she felt every step take them farther and farther
away from their destination. You’re going into shock again, a
tiny voice in the back of her mind informed her. Hell of a lot of
good it did her to know that, she couldn’t control it even if she
The Medical Examiner was standing near the far wall, a light
board next to him. Dental records were displayed, three sets of
negatives displayed in two neat rows. He waited until she was
standing next to him before he began.
“There have been positive identifications on two of the bodies
so far. Councilwoman Gainer was down earlier and identified
the remains of her daughter Jill. Mr. and Mrs. Henry came
down soon after and identified their son, Mark. These x-rays
here,” he pointed to the last set to the right on the top row,
“were provided by the FBI from Agent Mulder’s file.” He
swallowed and pointed to the ones directly below the last set.
“We took these from the third body this morning.”
Scully closed her eyes and brought her hands up to her mouth,
her fingers knotted as if in prayer. Taking in as much air as her
lungs could hold she slowly opened her eyes and inspected the
last two sets of dental records.
There was not even a shadow of doubt. The first set showed
bridgework in the area of the lower front incisors, the result of
being an unexpected and unwarranted participant in a wrestling
match free-for-all six years before. The second set showed the
exact same bridgework and matched up a filling in the right
back molars. He always seemed to chew his gum on the right
side, she noted remotely.
“Would you care to view the remains?” the ME asked quietly.
Skinner sucked in a breath, but remained silent. Scully looked
over at the table in the center of the room. The other two
bodies had already been removed and were on their way to the
funeral homes, she contemplated. That left only the final
Each step brought her closer, but at the same time she felt
colder and more distant, as if she were watching herself from
far away. The body was uncovered, she could see where
patches of fabric from the clothing had seared to the desiccated
skin before flash burning, leaving only patterns in the ash. A
partial circle of plastic and metal, fused beyond verification, lay
near the left arm. With great effort she forced her hand out to
pick up the object. Parts of it crumbled with her touch. She
brought closer for inspection. “This is his watch,” she said
The ME looked to the two men and then back at Scully. “Is that
a positive identification, Agent?” he asked quietly.
She found that spot on her bottom lip again and worried it with
her teeth. Finally, licking lips long gone dry she nodded. “Yes.
This is Fox Mulder,” she said, running her fingertip up the arm,
not disturbing the ash. “I’m sure.”
There was no air in that room, and she started to feel dizzy
again. Strong arms grabbed her shoulders and she found
herself sitting in a hard chair out in the hallway. Skinner was
crouched in front of her, his tormented expression waiting for a
sign that she was back from wherever her psyche had taken
“I need to talk to my mother,” she said softly.
He nodded and handed her his cell phone.
Margaret Scully’s residence
June 12, 2005
The two women sat huddled together in the bright sunny
kitchen. Maggie sat with a tissue wadded in her left hand, her
right hand clasped in Tara’s hand, fingers entwined. It had
been a long 24 hours for both of them.
When Dana had called, Maggie had been fixing a late lunch. All
thoughts of food vanished as her daughter told her of the death
of her partner before succumbing to choked sobs. Walter
Skinner had pried the phone from Dana’s fingers and related as
much of the story as he could. Fox had gone on his own to
search for some missing children. There had been an
explosion. Fox and the two kids were dead.
“Could it possibly be a mistake?” Maggie asked fearfully. There
had been other times, too many to count, when Dana had been
led to believe that her partner was gone, only to have him
reappear just a few days later.
“No, Mrs. Scully. The body was badly burned, yes, but Dana
made the identification herself from the dental records. There’s
no mistake this time. I’m very sorry.”
Maggie had placed her next call to Tara and they had cried over
the phone, Tara promising to come over the next day — without
“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Tara said, breaking the silence. “He
called just before they left for California to find out Matty’s
baseball practice schedule. He thought he’d be home in time to
make it this week.”
Maggie got up and patted her daughter-in-law’s shoulder as she
crossed to the stove to refill their coffee cups. “It was nice of
your neighbor to pick up Matty and take Claire for a few hours.”
“I haven’t told them, Mom. I couldn’t. How could I tell Matty
that now his Uncle Mulder — ” The younger woman’s lip
quivered and she bit it sharply. “How can he ever learn to trust
someone again? Trust that they won’t die on him?”
“Tara, neither Bill nor Fox meant to die — ”
“No, Mom, I know they didn’t mean to die. I know they never
meant to leave us. But it hurts so bad, it’s like all I keep
reliving the moment when I first found out about Billy . . .” She
broke down into sobs and Maggie rushed to her side, embracing
“We’ll get through this, sweetheart. And we’ll get Dana
through this. I’m just so worried about her. When this finally
hits, it’s going to hit hard.”
“How is she doing today? I know you talked to her before the
flight this morning. How is she holding up?” Tara asked, firmly
clamping down on her emotions.
“She was — calm. After her call yesterday from the morgue,
when she identified the body and she cried, she’s just been
calm. I talked to Mr. Skinner. He said she eats when food it
given to her, answers when someone speaks directly to her,
but aside from that, she’s like a robot. She slept last night. He
got her to agree to change to a different hotel and he booked
them a suite so he could give her some privacy but still be close
by. Oh, I wish I could have gone out there to be with her,
Tara. I’m afraid it’s the calm before the storm. Dana has
always been so strong; she’s the last one to fall apart, ever.
But this time, when she realizes what’s happened — I don’t
know if she’ll be strong enough to handle it all.”
“Then we’ll have to get her through it. You and Dana and Fox
were there for me — you and I will have to be there for her
now,” the younger woman said with conviction.
The doorbell rang and Maggie closed her eyes in exasperation.
“Want me to get it, Mom. I’ll shoo them away, whoever they
are?” Tara offered.
“No, that’s all right dear. It’s probably just the mailman. I’ll
Maggie got up and tiredly walked to the front door. She could
see a silhouette of a man through the curtains of the side
window. Certain it was the mailman, she opened the door.
Recognition was instant and she threw her arms around the
man standing on her porch, hugging him for dear life.
“Mom,” came the startled voice of the visitor. “Mom, are you —
“Charlie! Oh, Charlie, you’ve come at just the right time!”
Maggie told him and broke down into sobs.
It had taken an Act of Congress and all the internet wizardry
his Administrative Assistant Kim had at her disposal, but they
managed to get a direct flight from Los Angeles to Dulles. The
body had been transported on the same plane. Skinner was
not going to take any chances that it might ‘disappear’ in mid
He was at a loss, however, how to bring Scully back. Oh, her
body had sat in the seat directly beside him. She’d appeared to
listen when he spoke to her about contacting the Bureau’s
Personnel Department and getting the ball rolling for a full FBI
funeral with burial in Arlington, if she so desired. She had even
mentioned that she didn’t want the remains buried in
Massachusetts as his father and mother had been. But beyond
a few moments of polite discussion about practical matters,
she’d been detached and silent through the flight.
He didn’t want her to worry about the casket and had assured
her that he had agents coming to accompany it to the funeral
home. She had thanked him and went back to looking out the
Walter Skinner felt the full weight of her silence settle down
upon him. Bitterly, he knew the day had finally arrived. So
many near misses through the past, he’d gotten complacent,
thinking they really could bounce back from anything and
everything thrown at them. So many times in his dealings with
these two agents, he marveled at their capacity to merely exist.
Between them, they had more lives than an army of cats — a
seemingly inexhaustible supply. But in the back of his mind, he
knew that was just wishful thinking and one day he would be
given the task of burying the dead and trying to keep the one
God, he was tired. Skinner arched his back and heard bones
crack and pop. He’d spent the night in a reclining chair in the
living room area of the Airport Comfort Suites, standing watch.
He didn’t think they would try to kill Scully so soon after killing
Mulder, but he couldn’t afford to be overconfident. So many
factors were at work. It was obvious to Skinner that Mulder
had been murdered, that he’d been lured to that storefront and
trapped inside when the building exploded. But to what
purpose? The powers that constantly threatened the two
agents had more opportunities over the past several years than
he could keep track. This had seemed like a simple kidnapping
case. Had it been staged specifically to eliminate one or both of
He knew that at some point he was going to have to answer
that question. But for now, his greatest problem lie in ensuring
the health and safety of the fragile looking woman who had just
left his side to go to the ladies room.
Maggie Scully’s residence
Maggie couldn’t stop smiling, even though tears were streaming
down her face. Tara hovered nearby, but didn’t seem to want
to sit at the table with them. She was making iced tea and
fixing sandwiches while Charlie talked.
“Anyway, I was assigned to work with the Department of
Defense Counterterrorism Unit in Europe and Northern Africa.
Deep cover, if you can believe that, Mom,” he said with a
boyishly proud smile. “I couldn’t call you, I couldn’t even let
you know through an email or a letter. I was so worried about
you all. And when I got word about Billy — ” His handsome
features grew serious, saddened.
Maggie put her hand over her son’s. “We understand,
sweetheart. I can’t say it didn’t hurt, but I am so proud of you.
Your father would be so proud.”
He looked up at her and smiled his thanks. “I don’t really
understand, though about Dana and her partner. I thought
they just worked together.”
Tara stiffened at the counter, but continued to slice tomatoes
for the sandwiches. Maggie sighed. “They’ve been more than
partners for a very long time,” she said quietly. “They have a
house together. They’ve been living together, well, since
before Bill’s accident.”
“But they aren’t married? Why the hell didn’t the guy marry
Tara spun on her heel and glared at the man at the table.
“They couldn’t remain partners if they got married,” she said
flatly. She grabbed a nearby kitchen towel and wiped her
hands. “Mom, I’m sorry, but I need to pick up the kids and go
“You’ll be back for dinner, won’t you?” Maggie asked with
Tara looked over at Charlie with an unreadable expression and
then to her mother-in-law. “I’ll see how Claire’s doing. She
was really cranky earlier; I think she might be coming down
with another ear infection. I’ll call you.” She took the two
steps over and leaned down to kiss Maggie on the cheek. “I’ll
call you,” she repeated tenderly. She stood and looked over at
Charlie. “It’s good you’re home, Charles,” she said evenly and
left the room.
Maggie watched the back door swing shut and smiled an
embarrassed smile at her son. “It’s been awfully hard on Tara.
She and Fox had become friends. Fox did so much with Matty,
really stepping in to make sure the boy had a male role model.
And Dana, well, since they can’t have children of their own — ”
“Mom, you don’t have to make excuses for Tara. She’s
probably still mad at me for not coming to Billy’s funeral and
quite frankly I don’t blame her at all. I felt horrible. I wanted
so much to be here, but it was just impossible. I almost quit
my assignment that week, but my superior talked me out of it,”
he said, getting up to bring the sandwiches Tara had made over
to the table. “But I’m here now. What can I do to help?”
Skinner watched the line of women leaving the restroom. It
had been a steady stream of people for the past 10 minutes.
He had almost considered going into the restroom and looking
for Scully, but a plane had arrived and the baggage area had
filled, making it impossible for him to sneak into the ladies
room. He had been forced to wait outside.
Finally, his worry overcame his trepidation about invading her
privacy. He stopped an airline hostess just about to enter the
ladies room and asked her to see if she could locate his missing
agent. He didn’t go into details, in fact, he told a white lie —
that their flight had been called and he was worried that they
would miss it. She smiled at him and promised to give the
message. After a few minutes she returned.
“Sorry, sir, but no one answered when I called for Ms. Scully. I
checked all the stalls and I don’t think she’s in there.”
Skinner’s expression went from bland annoyance to utter
despair in an instant. “Thank you,” he said evenly and started
toward the short-term parking lot entrance. He pulled out his
cell phone and dialed. When the other party answered, he was
“Is this Frohike? You’ve heard about Mulder? Yes, I intend to
start a full-scale investigation into this explosion. But there’s
something come up that may be more urgent — Scully’s
missing. I can’t be sure where she went, or if it was of her own
volition, but I’m giving you an hour to find her before I call out
the troops. I will not give Margaret Scully more bad news —
understand? Call me back if you hear anything.”
The parking garage was almost empty, it was easy to find a
place close to the door. She put the car in park and turned off
the engine. Her car. She must have found it in the parking lot
of the airport. She couldn’t remember even getting into it or
driving anywhere. Where was she? She glanced around the
cement walls and toward the entrance. Hoover Building. She’d
come on autopilot.
It hadn’t even occurred to her to go to their duplex, but when
she did think about it, for a brief moment, she knew she
wouldn’t be going there anytime soon. She couldn’t face
walking into their home, seeing his dirty tee shirts in the
laundry hamper, seeing his shaving cream on the vanity next to
her mousse. The very thought of ever entering those rooms
again left her with a feeling of sheer dread. But for some
reason the Hoover wasn’t so hard to face.
Scully got out of the car and walked toward the entrance. The
guard on duty smiled at her and waved her through. He was
new, she remembered. Had only been with the Bureau for
about a month. He probably wouldn’t have heard about
Mulder, news didn’t travel that fast. She was glad he hadn’t
mentioned anything about her partner. She was sick to death
of all the tea and sympathy she’d been getting.
The elevator ride down to the basement was quiet and it
allowed her thoughts to start ganging up on her. Before the
doors opened, she felt a panic grip her; she felt the walls of the
elevator car start to close in. She exited the car quickly and
ran to the door at the far end of the hallway.
The door was locked, as she expected. She pulled out her keys
and unlocked it, turned the knob and stepped inside, flicking on
the light with one fluid motion. Mail was scattered on the floor
where the mailroom clerk had slipped it under the door. She
stooped to gather it up to place it all on the desk.
The top envelope caught her attention. The return address was
the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It was addressed
to Fox Mulder. Dropping the rest of the envelopes, she ripped
open the flap and pulled out two tickets. Mozart. Their date.
Without warning, she started to shake. She trembled so hard
she crumbled the tickets in her palm. Angrily, she tossed the
stiff paper to the floor but it didn’t feel like the expense of
energy she needed. She strode the four steps to Mulder’s desk
and swept everything on it to the floor in a loud crash. That
felt a little better, but she was just getting started.
One by one, she cleared the shelves of books and
paraphernalia. A strange feeling overtook her and it was as if
she were watching herself from a great distance. A tiny part of
her mind tried to understand her need for violence, screamed
at her to stop, but she quickly ignored it. His basketball
bounced into a corner so she grabbed it and threw it as hard as
she could at the skylight, frustrated when it bounced back
without the expected satisfying crash of glass. She needed
sound. She needed something to break through the ice that
had engulfed her in the last 18 hours.
Systematically she tore through the office, smashing monitors,
tossing keyboards to the ground and stomping on them, tipping
over chairs, pulling out file drawers and scattering the contents.
As she extracted some of the folders, she tore through them,
ripping the covers and pictures and reports, destroying his work
as efficiently as it had destroyed him. She wanted to destroy
everything; destruction was all she knew. She was panting,
heaving with the effort when she spied something that would
truly give her some satisfaction.
Without a second thought, she pulled back her right fist and
smashed it through the glass door of the case just over her
The sound of the tempered glass cracking and finally giving
way, falling to the floor in a sound not unlike ice giving way on
a frozen lake was exactly what she was waiting for.
She pulled her arm back and prepared to take another shot, not
realizing a jagged piece of glass had torn through the skin the
entire length of her forearm. She punched through the second
glass door with her other fist, gleeful at the crystalline sounds
of annihilation. With a perplexed expression she looked down
and saw that she’d managed to slice through a major vein in
one arm, possibly an artery in the other. As blood shot from
her arms with each beat of her heart, her eyes rolled back in
her head and she fell to the ground.
Walter Skinner found her just seconds later, lying in a pool of
blood. Frantically, he wrapped his handkerchief around the
worst of the cuts; the left arm was spurting blood at an
alarming rate. His tie was called into service on the right arm.
Terrified at the paleness of her complexion, he found the phone
lying on the floor and quickly dialed 911.
The ambulance arrived quickly and worked on the pale and
unconscious agent while Skinner stood by, feeling helpless.
How had this happened? He looked around the room at the
total carnage. If there was a single square inch of the room
unscathed, he was hard pressed to see it. As the EMS
attendants were loading Scully on the gurney, a familiar figure
stood in the doorway.
“Walter, my God, what happened down here?” Assistant
Director Jana Cassidy was wide-eyed as she surveyed the
office. She cast a quick look at the agent being wheeled to the
elevator. “Is she badly injured?”
“She’s lost a lot of blood. Both arms.”
“Suicide?” Cassidy asked, shocked.
Skinner glared his reply. “I want an evidence team down here.
We have to find out what happened, who’s responsible for this.”
Cassidy stepped into the room and put her hand on Skinner’s
upper arm. “Walt. I think we both know what happened here.
I heard the news this morning. I’m so sorry. I know Agent
Mulder had worked under you for several years and you were
Skinner stepped away, trying to distance himself from the
woman. “Jana, we don’t know. We don’t know anything.
Someone might have come in here, was tearing the place apart
looking for something — it’s happened before,” he objected
when she started to interrupt. “Scully must have walked in on
them, surprised them. That’s how she got hurt.”
“Her arms, Walt. Her arms were cut,” Cassidy said sadly. She
looked around the room once more, spying the glass doors to
the cabinet. She walked over and looked closer at the frame.
“Walt, there’s a lot of blood here,” she said, pointing to the red
streaks on the white paint. “I’m sorry, but it’s obvious to me —
“Well, it isn’t obvious to me,” Skinner growled. “I want this
room gone over with a fine toothed comb. I want the security
tapes for the last hour to show who’s been in this basement.”
“If they find out she was alone and did this herself, it will make
it worse for her,” Cassidy warned. “She could lose everything,
Walt. Her field status, her job . . . ”
“She’s already lost everything,” he growled. “Jana, at this
point, I don’t think things could get any worse.”
Georgetown Medical Center
Maggie Scully was out of the car and running before the
emergency room double doors had fully opened. She skidded
to a stop at the nurses’ desk. “Dana Scully, please. I was
called, I’m her mother, Margaret Scully.”
The nurse looked up at the distraught woman and nodded,
turning her attention to the computer screen. “Yes, Mrs.
Scully. Your daughter’s been taken to the fourth floor. That’s a
restricted floor, I’ll have to call ahead and tell them you’re
“Restricted? Why? I don’t understand?”
The nurse looked annoyed but forced a smile. “The fourth floor
is where the psychiatric ward is located. Your daughter is there
for her own protection. I’m sure her doctor will be able to
explain — ”
“Her own protection?” Maggie blurted out. “What are you
talking about? I was told she was brought here unconscious.
What is going on?”
“Mom, calm down,” Charlie said, coming up behind her. “Sorry,
my mother is worried about my sister. Could you tell us the
name of the doctor assigned to her care?”
The nurse smiled at Charlie, giving credence to his charm.
“Certainly, Mr. Scully.” She glanced down at the chart.
“Although this is a little strange. There’s a neurologist listed as
her physician. Dr. Jason Leonard.”
“Thank you,” Charlie said with another winning smile. He then
turned Maggie. “Mom, let’s go up and find Dr. Leonard. We’ll
get to the bottom of this.”
As they rode the elevator to the fourth floor, Maggie bit her lip.
“Leonard, I’ve heard that name before.” She finally looked
over at her son as she remembered. “Wait. Jason Leonard.
He’s an old friend of Dana’s from medical school. He treated
Fox last year when he — ” She let her voice trail off, reminded
of the most recent tragedy. “But why would he be treating
“Maybe Dana asked for him,” Charlie suggested off hand.
“Mom, we won’t know any more until we talk to him. Please,
just try and relax.”
They walked toward the nurses’ desk on the fourth floor,
located outside a set of locked double doors with a keypad
“I’m Charles Scully and this is my mother, Margaret Scully.
We’re looking for Dr. Jason Leonard. My sister, Dana Scully is a
patient of his.”
“I want to see my daughter,” Maggie interrupted. “I want to
see Dana now, please.” Tears were dampening her cheeks and
she brushed them aside.
“Of course, Mrs. Scully, Mr. Scully. Dr. Leonard is waiting for
you in observation room three. Just follow this hallway to the
end and make a right. The rooms are numbered.”
“But I want to see Dana,” Maggie insisted.
“Dr. Leonard will have to approve any ‘in room’ visitors, Mrs.
Scully. Why don’t you go down and talk to him.”
“Mom, c’mon. Let’s go find Dr. Leonard,” Charlie urged.
“I don’t understand, Charles. Why would they bring Dana to
the psychiatric ward? It makes no sense,” Maggie uttered as
they turned the corner and Charlie pointed to the door with a
three stenciled on the glass.
“Mom, let’s talk to the doctor.”
They entered a room with a large computer flat panel monitor
sitting on a desk and a dark haired man in a white lab coat
seated in front of it. He turned when he heard the two people
enter the room. Rising, he held out his hand to Maggie.
“Mrs. Scully, hello. You probably don’t remember me, but we
met at Dana’s and my graduation ceremony from medical
school. I’m Jason Leonard.”
Maggie took Leonard’s hand, but couldn’t tear her eyes away
from the screen. It was a black and white security camera’s
view of a room, sparsely furnished with a single cot near one
wall. The walls appeared covered with cloth. There was a lone
figure huddled on a cot, forming herself in a fetal ball. “Who is
As soon as Maggie asked the question, the person rolled off the
cot onto the floor and flew into a rage, throwing themselves
against the walls. Now Maggie could see that the walls were
actually padded, as was the floor. During one wild run at the
wall, the person faced the camera full on.
“Oh my God!” Maggie exclaimed when she recognized her
daughter on the screen. “What is happening? Why is she
doing that?” she demanded.
“Mrs. Scully, please, let’s sit down. I had hoped that Dana
might have calmed down by now; we’ve given her a fairly
strong sedative. As you can see, she’s very agitated.”
“What are those bandages on her arms?” Charlie asked quietly.
“She tried to commit suicide.” He turned to Maggie. “I’m very
sorry to tell you this, Mrs. Scully, but Dana has experienced a
complete psychotic break.”
Maggie looked at the screen in horror before turning into
Charlie’s waiting arms and collapsing in grief-stricken sobs.
To be continued.
Coming soon . . . Virtual Season 13’s Summer Blockbuster