Continued from Exorcismus: Imperium
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
“Let’s get him up on the gurney. Ready, one, two, three.”
“BP 100/60, a little lower than we’d like it.”
“Dealing with a head trauma, that’s to be expected. Sir? Sir, can you hear us?”
Mulder opened his eyes and saw two blurry figures looming over him. A little man in his skull was attempting to escape and had just decided to skip the rubber mallet and go right for the sledgehammer. The rest of his body felt sore and at the moment, everything hurt. He remembered the orange eyes, and the black figure right in front of his car before he swerved just a block from Kingsburry. “Scu…” he started, ignoring the fact that an oxygen mask was on his face.
He felt someone reach into his jacket pocket and pull out his wallet. “Got an ID. Agent Fox Mulder, FBI,” the paramedic said. “Fox, you were in a car accident. We’re loading you onto an ambulance now. You’re going to be all right. Can you give us someone to call for you?”
“Scu…Scully,” he said finally, closing his eyes with exhaustion.
“Wait up a second!” A third voice yelled, and a police officer ran over, carrying Mulder’s cell phone. “Here’s the phone. Might have his ICE contact in it.”
“Thanks,” the paramedic said, and closed the ambulance doors behind him. “Scully, you said? I’ll find him in the phone book. Relax, Fox. You’re gonna be all right.” He flipped the phone open, and started scrolling through contacts.
The other paramedic was sticking him with a needle and Mulder was starting to get agitated. As things got clearer, he realized he shouldn’t be in the back of this ambulance—he should be at Kingsburry, getting Arthur Greenwood out of there before he did something stupid. The 8-year-old, in Mulder’s opinion, had been brainwashed by his very Christian parents into thinking that it was his duty to fight off a force none of them understood.
“Wait—Arthur,” Mulder said.
“Relax, Agent Mulder. We’re gonna get you to the hospital, and we’ll call Scully for you. You’re a very lucky man—that crash could’ve been a lot worse.”
The other paramedic, who kept calling him Fox, much to Mulder’s annoyance, was now on the phone with Scully. He could hear her furious and concerned voice demanding what hospital he was being taken to…again. He tried to focus, but found his eyes slipping shut, and the sound of the paramedics’ voices dimming. Soon, he heard nothing at all.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
He didn’t know at what point he fell asleep, or unconscious, but the next thing he knew he was in a hospital bed waking up to Scully’s prize-winning smile once more.
“Sorry,” he said.
“Don’t be,” Scully answered. “You finally got your wish. The role reversal’s over.”
He smiled slightly, and tried to sit up. He gasped and his bandaged arm immediately went to his chest as he grimaced in pain.
“Take it easy,” Scully said immediately. “Slow movements.”
She helped him elevate the bed just slightly with the remote, and he asked, “How bad?”
“A concussion, some nasty scrapes on your arms, and a hell of a bruise on your ribs, but otherwise, you lucked out.”
“Thank God for airbags…” His own statement caused a flash of recognition to pass over his eyes. “Arthur! Scully, what happened with Arthur? What time is it?”
Scully’s smile dimmed. “Mulder…they can’t find him. They’ve searched the entire campus, but he’s not there. The lower school nurse isn’t there either. There was no sign of a struggle, and he left his locker closed and locked behind him. His mother and father think the demon’s led them away from the campus.”
“What do you think?” Mulder asked, sensing her obvious skepticism.
“I think Arthur and Janet Thompson, the nurse, have left the campus in pursuit of what they believe to be a demon. And I can’t vouch for whether it is or isn’t. But we have to find them, obviously. Mrs. Greenwood told me that Nurse Thompson is one of the few ‘believers’ in the community, and that she would have offered protection to Arthur. I think they’re both under the impression they can stop this thing, whatever it is.”
“So we have two delusional, crusading civilians out there chasing a demon. A real demon.”
Scully raised an eyebrow.
“I’ve seen it multiple times, Scully. Orange eyes, a black kind of body—not concrete. It flashed in front of my windshield. That’s why this accident happened.” Mulder started to get up, but Scully pushed him back down.
“Mulder, your memory of the accident is going to be fuzzy. You took a huge bump to the head and were unconscious for an hour and fifteen minutes.”
“Better than my usual MO,” he countered. “And I remembered those just fine, too.”
“There were a dozen witnesses. You tried to change lanes, and the car in your blind spot sped up at the wrong time. You weren’t at fault. And neither was a demon. It was just a car accident.”
“Those witnesses are wrong, Scully,” Mulder insisted, his temper rising. “And we need to get to Kingsburry.”
“You need to stay put for twenty-four hour observation,” Scully argued. “I’m not bending on this. I’ll go to Kingsburry, I’ll bring the Greenwoods here—whatever you want me to do. But you’re not leaving this hospital for twenty-four hours.”
They stayed locked in a death glare for a few moments, and then Mulder conceded. “Fine, but just twenty-four hours. Do we have the Madison FBI office searching the area?”
“We’ve got an Amber alert and missing persons alert in every convenience store, church, and office building in the state.”
“Good,” Mulder said, slightly satisfied. “Can you bring the Greenwoods here? I need to talk to them about Arthur.”
She nodded. “They’re still at Kingsburry, talking to the police, but I’ll tell them you need to speak with them. Get some rest until I get back, okay, partner?”
Mulder rolled his eyes, but nodded. It wasn’t long before he was asleep.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Arthur sat huddled in a small ball, his cell phone playing the Christian song he had downloaded, while the school nurse rubbed his back affectionately and let him cry. What he had seen had come true. Agent Mulder had gotten hurt. It was his fault—he had failed to stop it from happening. He had failed to stop the demon.
“Arthur, you have to be brave. It’ll see you upset and it’ll know it’s won. If you don’t act upset, it can’t see,” Nurse Thompson said.
The abandoned church had not been condemned, and had been easy to park behind and sneak into. The pews were dust-covered and the pulpit was cracked and about ready to fall apart. Janet Thompson and Arthur sat against a wall, under a stained-glass window picturing Mary with baby Jesus.
“I wish my mom and dad were here,” Arthur said.
Janet nodded. “I know. We’ll go back and find them as soon as the demon’s gone. But Arthur, your mother and I know each other very well, and I know she would trust me to keep you safe while they protect Cory.”
“Why can’t Mom come and Dad can watch Cory?”
Janet smiled softly. “You want your mom here because she has Discernment too, huh?”
Arthur nodded carefully. “How’d you know?” He asked, clearly surprised.
“Because I also have that gift from God. And I knew you were coming to the Infirmary as soon as I saw Agent Mulder’s car run off the road, on my computer screen. Arthur, I want to help you, but Cory needs your mom’s protection right now. And your dad’s support.”
“Because Cory is little, and vulnerable at this point. He’s going to need someone with Discernment to keep the demons away. And between the two of us, we can get this demon out of Bloomfield Hills.”
“How? How do you get a demon to go away other than play Christian music? ‘Cause we can’t play Christian music through the whole city.”
“We’ll have to convince it that as long as we’re here, it isn’t welcome.”
“How?” Arthur asked insistently.
“I’m not sure yet,” Janet admitted. “But we first have to find it, and that shouldn’t be too hard. It seems to find us, after all.”
“Do you think we should go back to Kingsburry, and set a trap?”
“I think that’s an excellent idea. But we need to plan first. Put your cell phone on a loop so that music doesn’t stop playing. Okay?”
Arthur nodded, and obeyed.
“All right, now let’s talk about Kingsburry, and where the best place to set a trap might be.”
BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Skip and Melissa Greenwood walked in, Skip holding Cory in his arms. They both looked haggard and intensely worried, as Mulder expected. He switched off the news broadcast that was covering the happenings at Kingsburry Academy, after the disappearances.
“Agent Mulder, how are you feeling?” Skip managed to ask.
“I’m fine. My partner’s forcing me to stay here for an unnecessary twenty-four hours,” Mulder said, giving him a small smile. “I take it you’ve both spoken to the police and you know that we have an APB out for Janet Thompson’s car.”
They nodded. “She’s not going to hurt him. We’re worried about what they’re about to encounter,” Melissa said.
“Mrs. Greenwood, how did your son know I was going to be in a car accident?” Mulder asked. It earned him a look from Scully, but he needed to be direct with these people or he was never going to get any information from them. They were very used to being persecuted for their beliefs, and had grown accustomed to offering no information outside the company of people who believed what they did.
“Arthur has an active imagination,” Skip said instantly. “He probably guessed.”
“That’s a damn good guess, Mr. Greenwood,” Mulder stated flatly.
“Mulder…” Scully warned. It was clear she didn’t want her partner scaring these people off, but Mulder knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“I believe in extrasensory perception,” he told them honestly. “I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it studied in a formal setting, and I’ve seen scientific proof that shows it exists in some people. I also believe that what we’re dealing with is indeed a paranormal creature, what you call a demon. My partner and I investigate unusual cases, which typically can be explained by something that most people think is ridiculous. Please, tell me what it is you know about your son, and I’ll do my best to get him help in what he’s about to do.”
“You can’t help him, Agent Mulder,” Skip said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
“Explain it to me,” Mulder said.
Scully stood back and watched. He was getting through, but she was keeping a close eye out for anything that might indicate he was pushing too far. The more information they had on what this child’s delusions were, the better off they were in their search to find him.
Melissa sat down in the chair next to Mulder’s bed, eyeing the stitched contusion on his forehead. “Are you sure you’re up for this, Agent Mulder?”
“I’m fine. Trust me. I guarantee you I’ve heard weirder stories than yours.”
Melissa glanced at Skip, who nodded carefully. It was clear to Scully that this was something they had sworn not to discuss in front of an outsider.
“When Arthur was three years old, we lived in an apartment in one of the dorms on campus. The apartment had some problems. We were constantly bothered by…a ghost,” Melissa told him.
“We’d come home and the baby gate would be opened, Arthur’s toys would be broken, and our furniture would be in different places,” Skip explained.
“We thought it was one of the kids in the dorm at first, but then things got much worse. We started seeing things in the house,” Melissa said. “I saw a hideous man with a knife enter through the front door. Skip saw a hanged woman in the bathroom. And little Arthur…Arthur was always a very good child. A calm child. And it was crazy…he started to draw on the walls. He didn’t draw nearly as well when he drew on paper, and one day, he drew in red crayon a picture of a young boy with twisted fingers, mangled teeth, and red eyes. And he wrote, in English, ‘I’m coming.’ Arthur didn’t know how to write at that point.”
“We left the apartment after that. We thought it was a ghost,” Skip said. “But we were wrong. It was a demon, and it was trying to get to us, not get us out of the apartment. It followed us to our new home, and we ended up having a priest come in to exorcise the place.”
“When did you discover Arthur had extrasensory perception?”
“We call it Discernment. It’s the ability to distinguish demons from normal people, and the ability to pick out believers and non-believers. Sometimes, people with Discernment have visions of the future,” Melissa said.
“When did you discover Arthur’s Discernment?”
“It isn’t his. It’s a gift from God,” Melissa told him. “It can be taken or given at any time. It’s usually given in early adulthood, but in very rare cases, children can exhibit signs. Arthur did when he was about six. He saw the boy from his drawings at age three. The boy with the mangled fingers and red eyes. He has since seen things outside his windows, in the house, and in objects.”
“How did you know it wasn’t his active imagination?” Scully challenged.
“Because I saw them too,” Melissa said. “I also have the gift of Discernment.”
Mulder was quiet for a moment, before he asked, “What about you, Mr. Greenwood? Do you have this gift?”
“No. But demons can make people see things without having the gift—that’s how I see things, Agent Mulder. I can’t detect what they are, but I can see them.”
“The red eyes—I’ve seen orange eyes several times during this case. Why are they orange for me?”
Melissa glanced at Skip and shrugged. “We have no idea.”
“Maybe it’s because you’re red-green colorblind, Mulder,” Scully said, her voice sarcastic. “The demon wants to be sure its eyes freak you out.”
“She may have a point,” Skip said. “The eyes are always an excellent way of distinguishing demons from normal people. That’s according to Melissa.”
Melissa nodded her agreement.
Mulder glanced at Scully, and then back to the Greenwoods. “Okay, so where is Arthur likely to go to try to banish this demon from the Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills area?”
“He doesn’t need to go anywhere in particular. He just needs to get its attention, and then Janet will probably pray for God to banish the demon to another area.”
“And the demon needs to be there in order to be banished?” Mulder asked.
“There are no specific rules to this, Agent Mulder,” Melissa said. “At this point, anything could happen. Arthur will do what God tells him to.”
“What do you think God will tell him to do?”
Skip frowned. “I know what it is you’re trying to do. We’ve been judged too many times not to recognize when someone’s patronizing us.”
“Mr. Greenwood, I may not believe in everything you believe, but trust me when I say that I think this threat is real, and that Arthur is about to encounter something very dangerous. I want to give him as much help as possible. Now is it really so fantastic to assume that just because I don’t believe what you believe, that God wouldn’t use my partner and me to your advantage? And to His?”
Skip was silent. It was excellent psychology, and both Melissa and Skip knew it. But it was also true. God could use non-Christians to help Christians, absolutely. Whether Agent Mulder really believed that or was just a good psychologist who spoke to a lot of witnesses, they would never know for sure. But they suspected the latter.
“Okay. We’ll trust you in this…we know Agent Scully doesn’t fully believe what we’re saying, either,” Skip said.
Scully raised an eyebrow.
“But she does believe in a higher power, and she believes in the demon in almost the same way as Agent Mulder,” Melissa said. “We should trust you both.”
“Good, now that that’s settled,” Mulder said, “Let’s talk about the game plan.”
“There is no game plan,” Melissa old him. “We have to wait for another sighting, another visitation from the demon. Another murder isn’t likely to happen—Arthur and Janet have it occupied. But Satan could send another, to finish the job that this one can’t. We have to be ready.”
“May I ask a question?” Scully asked, her skeptic tone barely controlled.
“Yes?” Skip asked.
“If it’s your job, as Christians, to fight off these demons, then why is it that Satan just doesn’t send his entire army, and overpower you? Why hasn’t he done that across the globe, and taken over? Humans are fallible. You have to believe that.”
“It isn’t our job, Agent Scully,” Skip said, sounding more like he was describing how to assemble a bookshelf than what may or may not have been his calling in life. “It’s our duty to stand up for what we know is the truth. It’s God’s duty to back us up. And God protects those who stand for him. It’s as simple as that.”
Scully frowned, realizing that she couldn’t argue with these people. They were so set in their ways that she would never get through. And maybe, just maybe, what they said had a bit of truth to it.
“But Arthur is a child. And he’s probably under the notion that it’s his job to fight this thing off on his own,” Mulder said carefully. “I think the best defense is to get to him and convince him that it’s just not true.”
“Arthur knows that it’s God’s will, and not his, that will determine what happens,” Melissa said.
“Does he, Mrs. Greenwood? He’s an eight-year-old boy who dreams about starships and galaxies, and adventures,” Scully stated. “Does he understand what you’ve taught him or does he think this is a very cool video game that’s been placed in his lap?”
“He could get hurt out there,” Mulder said. “He’s with a grown woman who you both apparently trust, but he could still get hurt. We should find him, and talk to him. Make him understand his true place in this.”
Skip and Melissa glanced at each other, and then Skip nodded. “It’s possible Arthur could be mistaken as to what’s going on. He could think of himself as a hero character, and that would be dangerous.”
“Very. So if you have any idea where he might be, that would be really helpful,” Scully said.
“We’ll try to think of places they might go,” Skip promised.
“And we’ll let you get some rest, Agent Mulder. Hopefully there’ll be something to go on soon,” Melissa said, and stood from her chair. The three left the room, with the baby cooing over something he saw and then promptly starting to cry. The door closed behind them.
“I know it’s hard to believe what they’re saying,” Mulder told her, already knowing what was going to come out of her mouth. “But I think they’ve got something here.”
“You?” Scully asked, raising an eyebrow and folding her arms. “How so?”
“I may not buy into what they’re saying, exactly, but I do believe that family has some kind of telepathic ability. And they’ve interpreted it in the only way they know how—through Christian mythology.”
Scully rolled her eyes.
“You know what I mean. I’m not insulting your religion, Scully. Just the aspects of that religion that the Greenwoods have used to explain a paranormal phenomenon.”
“But Mulder, what if they’re right? What if all this does come back to God?”
“That’s not going to help us find that little kid, Scully. Arthur is out there right now looking for a demon he can probably sense through the same biological anomaly that allowed Gibson to read our minds. But instead of sensing what the demon wants from Burger King for lunch, he’s sensing who it wants to destroy. Imagine having that kind of a burden, at eight years old?”
“Then the explanation of God giving him a gift would definitely assist in his processing of the world around him.”
“Whether or not that explanation is true,” Mulder finished for her.
Scully sat down in the chair next to Mulder. “We’ve seen demons exorcised before. It’s been done through ceremony, through dissatisfaction with the people it’s using for its purposes…”
“Through smelling your gym socks…”
Scully ignored the comment. “We need a way of convincing the demon it can’t get a foothold here.”
“You’re treating this as if it’s real, with no skepticism whatsoever, and I’m wondering if my concussion is more serious than we thought.”
Rolling her eyes, Scully simply said, “We don’t have any other explanation for what this thing is, and we’ve both seen demons possess and harass people before. So until we find a scientific explanation—”
“It’s better to just go with the How to Exorcise your Body handbook.”
“Very funny,” Scully said dryly.
“You have to admit, it has a little ring to it.” When she looked to the ceiling as if asking for divine intervention, he asked, “Do you think you could get me a laptop, Scully? I want to do a little research.”
Scully nodded. “I guess that would be okay. But if I see you overdoing it…”
“I know, I know. My ass in your sling.”
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
The students had been taken out of classes after the disappearances, and their parents had come to pick them up after they had been allowed to leave the lock-down areas. Buses took boarders back to their campuses of residence, and juniors and seniors to their cars. Lower and Middle School students lined the turn-around drives where they were normally picked up. The line of cars was familiar to everyone. Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, another BMW, a Volvo (of all things, a station wagon Volvo…that parent must have taken a pay cut).
The stream of children in designer clothes they would grow out of in a few months was also familiar to everyone. They shoved each other around as normal children do, some oblivious to the amount of damage they were doing to the expensive clothing in which they had been dressed.
But James Gregory Sanders III was not oblivious, and it disgusted him. He was so much smarter than everyone else in the third grade, and it bothered him that no one seemed to recognize this. But the teachers did let him do things the other kids didn’t get to do, as they should. James was the richest kid in the third grade, and he knew it.
He missed school several times in the past few years he had been in school, simply because his parents hadn’t flown the jet back from the island according to the school schedule. No one ever demanded his homework if he came in with a note from his mother saying he was excused. James had learned that you can get by many things by using money.
And nothing annoyed James more than the faculty kids. Faculty kids who got into Kingsburry just because their parents were teachers. They didn’t belong with the rest of the kids. His parents had confirmed this for him—they told him that many of those kids didn’t have the kind of upbringing James did. Lack of money, James had been told, often led to bad behavior. Such as the behavior of Arthur Greenwood, running away during school.
James watched as one of the faculty kids pushed his way through the crowd, going to God only knew where. The kid pushed James, and James said, “Excuse me!”
The kid didn’t turn. James lunged for him. “Hey! You pushed me!”
“Sorry,” the kid said. He was at least a year younger than James, and that allowed James to tower over him.
“You don’t just push me and say ‘sorry’ and walk away. What kinda stuff do you have?”
“What kind of stuff do you have? What can you give me? Or don’t you have anything? Parents don’t make enough money?”
“I just have a couple of dollars and my backpack. I gotta go. I’m trying to find my friend.”
“Give me what’s in your backpack, and then you can go home to your little hole in the wall.”
The only teacher in the area was engaged in comforting two crying kids, who had gotten into a fight, and the boy James was interrogating had nowhere to easily run. So he did the only thing he could think of. He kneed James in the groin and took off.
Lucky for James, the kid had largely missed. James took off after him, his longer legs giving him the advantage. The boys ran around the building and down to the soccer field. The faculty kid was fast—he must run a lot, James thought. But James was bigger. He was gaining on him.
They crossed the soccer field and went through some thick trees, the faculty kid using his knowledge of the grounds to navigate expertly. He was heading home, James thought. Toward the pitiful excuses for houses where the teachers lived.
The faculty kid would have taken the conventional route, had there not been something red in his peripheral vision. He stopped for a moment, looked over to where it was, and then ran that way. Surely by now the bigger kid had determined that he was heading for his house, and a sharp turn in such thick woods would throw him off.
He saw a red piece of cloth caught on a branch, but paid it no mind. He knew this way would take him to the lake if he kept going, and that would lead him to where Arthur’s and his fort was. But another step and the world fell out from under him. He tumbled down, yelling in fear, until he fell onto something soft. Hay. Hay was at the bottom of the small hole. He looked around, reaching into his cargo pants for his flashlight. Since Arthur carried one, he had wanted one too, and he finally got to use it.
The hole wasn’t just a hole; it was a tunnel. And it went so far that he couldn’t see the end. He started walking slowly, cautiously taking in his surroundings. The walls had drawings on them, but they looked like kids’ drawings. There were pictures of rocket ships in dark red and blue colors, and then in faded black were pictures of horse-drawn carriages, apparently in some kind of race.
A very old-looking car was drawn on one wall, and children had etched their names into the walls along with dates. The earliest date was 1906. The most recent date was 1965.
Stone walls, the faculty kid realized. Stone walls that had been constructed deliberately. This wasn’t just any tunnel. This tunnel had to lead somewhere. But where could it lead? And why hadn’t he and Arthur and the other faculty kids found it before?
“Jake,” a voice said. It wasn’t quite male, and it wasn’t quite female. It sounded sort of gravelly, as if it had once smoked, and the faculty kid looked around. Who was calling his name?
“Jake, keep going. Adventure. Excitement. Fun…”
“Who are you? Where are you?” Seven-year-old Jake asked, more than slightly afraid.
“Don’t be afraid,” a child’s voice replaced the first voice. “Don’t be afraid, come have fun!”
“Where are you? What is this place?”
“It’s a secret tunnel,” the child’s voice said, and giggled. “Come on! Don’t you like cool things?”
“I like cool things,” Jake said defensively.
“Are you scared?” The voice taunted.
“No!” Jake said immediately. “Nothing scares me! Me and Arthur, we’re the bravest kids at Kingsburry. Where are you? What’s at the end? Buried treasure? The Temple of the Mummy? Some kinda weird back-from-the-dead mutant monster from Star Trek?”
“Better than those things. Those things are make-believe. The stuff down here…it’s much better, Jake. Keep walking.”
Jake followed, but slipped his backpack off and left it in the tunnel. He didn’t need it anymore. It just had his school things in it.
He walked down the long tunnel, and the drawings disappeared. The stone walls became dirtier, and the cobwebs were greater in number. He jumped several times at the sight of dead animals, and he suddenly felt very afraid when he saw the skeleton of a deer.
“Don’t be afraid, Jake,” the child’s voice said again. “It’s fun in the end, you just have to keep walking.”
“Why? What’s down there?” Jake asked. “Where are you?”
“I’m at the end!”
“Where’s the end?” he demanded.
“Not far,” the voice said, and at that moment Jake stepped into a larger area. His flashlight displayed the strange room for him. It was a room with a table at the center, and a pen long since covered in spider webs.
“What is this place?” Jake asked.
“This is where it started, Jake.”
Jake spun, and saw the figure of a young boy, about his age. The boy’s fingers looked mangled, and his teeth were all messed up, like he hadn’t been to the orthodontist. He was dressed in weird-looking clothes, with socks that came up to his knees, and a weird-looking jacket with no collar. His shirt collar was rounded like a girl’s and he had a bow tied around his neck. Not a normal bow tie, but a ribbon-like thing.
“Who are you?” Jake asked, trying not to sound scared.
“My name’s Timothy,” he said. “But that doesn’t matter now. This is how it started. What do you know about the history of Kingsburry, Jake?”
Jake watched as the boy walked around to the table, and fixed his pale-faced gaze on his new ‘friend’. “Um…I know it was built a long time ago, in like 1905 or something. And I know that it was only for old kids back then.”
“This tunnel was a fort my father built for me. He was one of the contractors—a good friend of Mr. Kingsburry.”
Mr. Kingsburry, the founder of Kingsburry Academy, had many good friends. And he was usually very generous to his many good friends, giving them land and jobs.
“That’s cool,” Jake said. “Wait a sec…how could he have been one of the contractors? You mean like one of the new buildings? The Natatorium? That’s a cool building—I saw them finish it up a few months ago. Right in time for winter, my mom said. Now people can swim inside again.”
The boy didn’t answer. He walked over to the wall, and touched it. “This is where I placed a plan. A plan of who would have to leave Kingsburry. A teacher of mine.”
“She wasn’t my teacher yet but she would be, when I got old enough. It told me so. She was a Christian. Are you a Christian, Jake?”
Jake looked confused, and he was starting to get uneasy about this kid, whoever he was. “Um…no. I’m Jewish.”
“A religious boy?”
“Uh…I should go. I don’t think we’re supposed to be down here.”
“Don’t go, Jake. I still haven’t finished telling you my story.” Suddenly, the boy wasn’t on the other end of the room, he was behind Jake, blocking the exit. “You don’t want to leave before you hear the story.”
Jake nearly jumped out of his skin. He backed away from the boy, clearly afraid. “How’d you do that?”
The boy smiled, exposing his rotting teeth. “A magic trick. Want to see another?”
Jake shook his head. “I wanna leave.”
The boy took a step toward Jake. “You want to see another. It can show you so many cool things. You’ll be amazed.” Then the boy’s smile dropped, and he stared into Jake’s eyes.
Jake tried to look away, but found his gaze transfixed. He saw power, enormous power. Power to knock that big kid who had chased him right on his butt. Power to stop the rich kids from teasing him. Power to buy his family a new house so they didn’t live on campus anymore, and instead lived in a big mansion like the rest of the kids in his class.
Anger, at those who would make fun of him and make him feel small. At those who had broken his fingers—wait…that had never happened. Had it?
Meticulous. Plans, many detailed plans, that told him exactly how he had to make Them leave. If They left, he would have power, and get rid of the anger, and be forever happy.
For just an instant, Jake saw the boy’s eyes turn totally black, and then burn in the brightest red. Then, it was gone. Jake could no longer see the boy. But he knew exactly what he had to do. He grabbed a rusty knife that lay in dust and spider webs in the corner of the room, and then headed out of this tunnel, this pointless place from long, long ago. With a new body, ‘Timothy’ no longer had to be ‘Timothy’. Jake’s eyes were their normal color. Jake’s fingers were normal-looking, and Jake wore clothes as normal kids from the year 2008 usually did. Most of all, Jake knew Arthur Greenwood, It’s greatest enemy. All It needed was one chance to introduce Jake, as he had introduced Timothy, to the wonders of taking a life. And then It would be able to eliminate its greatest threat in this area, and take a strong grip on the naïve but oh-so-powerful people here.
With eager steps, It climbed the ladder Jake seemed to have missed in his fall. And It entered Kingsburry Campus once more in human form.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Arthur was talking to Nurse Thompson about some of the scariest places in the lower school, where he felt that the demon might want to exploit that fear. “One time, my friends and I all saw the towel in the old locker room move by itself. It was nuts! My teacher said it must have fallen, but we know that wasn’t true. Then the janitor came in and roped off the old locker room, and—”
He stopped. Something was wrong. He looked at the stained-glass windows on the other side of the room, and suddenly the pictures began to move. Nurse Thompson looked too, but her expression was puzzled. She couldn’t see what Arthur could see.
The wise men were no longer bringing gifts to baby Jesus. Now, they transformed into one figure—the boy Arthur had seen before. The boy with mangled fingers, and red eyes, who stared at him from outside his window now that the Christian music kept him out. That boy haunted Arthur’s nightmares far worse than anything else.
The boy approached baby Jesus, who wasn’t baby Jesus anymore. It was his friend, Jake. And then, the two collided. And became one. Arthur stared, wide-eyed at the solid black eyes of his friend as the seven-year-old pointed a finger directly at Arthur, and whispered, “I’m coming.”
“No!” Arthur yelled, looking away from the window. “Oh, no!”
“What? What is it, Arthur?”
“It took Jake. Jake’s gone, it took him!” Arthur sobbed, and turned his face into Nurse Thompson’s shoulder. “It took Jake because he’s my friend, and now…how do we get it out?”
Janet patted Arthur gently, and said, “We have to go to Kingsburry now. Arthur, we’ve got to go and help your friend Jake. Okay?”
“Why’d it have to take him? He was one of my only friends! I don’t have any in my class! Why Jake?” Arthur sobbed uncontrollably.
Janet realized now was not the time to try to get him to move. She comforted him, hoping he’d realize they needed to move quickly, and soon. If they were going to save Arthur’s friend, they had to exorcise this demon before it killed Jake.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
James was lost. He had gotten his designer khaki pants muddy, he had snagged his sweater-vest, and his Spider brand-name coat was now dirty. He didn’t know where he had lost that faculty kid in the woods, but it was impossible to find one’s way out. He had pulled his designer sunglasses off his face and stuck them in his backpack, to see better in these woods. He just needed to spot a parking lot, a car, any sign of civilization…
Was he going to starve in these woods? Would he never find his way out? Suddenly, he heard a crunch. He spun, his heart-rate increasing. “Who…who’s that?” He asked fearfully.
Jake emerged from some trees, without his backpack and looking more than slightly dirty.
“You little idiot! Do you realize you got us lost?” James spat, and approached him. “My sweater’s snagged! This sweater cost more than you, you little worthless piece of trash. You’re gonna be working for me for the rest of your life to pay this off.”
Jake didn’t speak. He stared at James with a cold expression.
James moved so that he was directly in front of the faculty kid, and towered over him. “First you’re gonna lead the way out. Then I’m gonna call my mom and tell her what you did. Then your mom—”
James never got to finish. With rage he had never seen before, the faculty kid screamed like some kind of animal and leapt on top of him, pummeling him with every ounce of strength he had. The adrenaline coursing through his young body lead to more force being packed into each punch, and James soon began to cry.
But Jake didn’t stop. He screamed with each blow, each kick, each scratch, and ripped James’ sweater off of him with strength he never knew he had. Then he held it in front of the crying boy as he ripped the material even further, and threw it in his opponent’s face.
Finally, he drew the rusty knife out of his belt. It was a small knife, but enough to do serious damage. He held it at James’ throat as the boy whimpered and shook with fear.
He leaned in close, so close that James tried to squirm away from the scent of his breath. “You’re going to come with me,” he said in a voice that was not his own. It sounded gravelly…like a smoker. “You’re not going to argue. We’re going to the tower. And if you make one false move, I’ll slit your throat.”
James sobbed, trying to get away from the knife and this crazy poor kid who obviously had a mental problem.
Jake stood, and put the knife in his belt again.
“Get up,” Jake ordered, this time in his own voice. He felt good. He felt powerful. He had never felt this good before in his entire life. As he stared at the rich kid covered in mud and cuts and bruises, sobbing his eyes out like a kindergartener, Jake felt even better. Energy welled up in his chest and he grinned with excitement. Timothy was right. This was better than make-believe adventure.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Mulder was just about to explode with boredom. He had researched Discernment in all its shapes and sizes, and gathered as much information as he could. He had discovered, not surprisingly, that Discernment was rather like the secular ESP, only with a religious twist. He had the news on, covering the ongoing search for the nurse and Arthur. Scully was speaking to the Greenwoods, trying to get more information out of them.
Just as she walked into the room with the two of them, her cell phone rang.
“Scully,” she answered, and her expression went from passive to alarmed in a millisecond. “When?”
Mulder and the Greenwoods turned to her curiously.
“Is that building structurally sound?” A pause. “Can you knock down the door?” Another pause, and then she looked to the ceiling and closed her eyes. “I’ll be right down. The main quad of the school? Okay, don’t proceed until I get there. Keep trying to talk them down. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
She closed her phone, and turned to her small audience. “Two boys were seen going into a tower at Kingsburry, and shortly afterward, Janet Thompson entered the campus and created a diversion so that Arthur could enter. One camera caught him going in while the others were watching Janet Thompson’s apprehension and arrest. The doors to the Tower are locked at the moment and the police think they’re dealing with a hostage situation. One of you should come with me, to try to talk Arthur down,” Scully said to the Greenwoods.
They looked shocked and alarmed, and Melissa shook her head. “Arthur isn’t holding anyone hostage.”
“Mrs. Greenwood, we can’t know that for sure.”
“We’ve got to get down there,” Mulder said, flipping his legs over the side of the bed.
Scully sighed, clearly exasperated, and wondered what else could go wrong as she walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him from getting out of bed. “No, Mulder, you need to stay here for twenty-four hours,” she said almost automatically, knowing full well what the reply would be.
“I’m fine, Scully. I’m not arguing about this. I’m going. Please, take this IV out of me.”
“We need to get through paperwork, and get you discharged—”
“Oh my God,” Melissa said suddenly. She was watching the television, and she turned to her husband. “That’s Jake Folitz.”
They all turned to look at the TV, where they were covering the ‘hostage situation’. A child’s hand holding a rusty old knife could clearly be seen out the medieval-style window of the Observation Tower at Kingsburry. The camera zoomed in and caught a young boy’s face staring out at them with cold eyes. Mulder shivered, and Melissa gasped.
“Agent Mulder…can you see his eyes?” she asked, pointing to the screen.
Mulder looked again, but the picture was taken away. “No. I didn’t get a good look. What did you see, Mrs. Greenwood?”
“They were black. Solid black, no corneas.”
“What does that mean?” Scully asked, her expression more concerned than skeptical at this point.
“Red eyes mean a demon is posing as a person—it’s not a real person. Black eyes mean the demon has taken possession. Jake is Arthur’s best friend.”
“I’ll stay here with Cory,” Skip said. “Melissa, you need to go help Arthur.”
Melissa nodded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Agent Scully, are you coming?”
“Yes,” Scully said immediately, and let go of Mulder’s shoulder. He started to rise, and she turned. “Mulder, you’re a liability in this condition! You shouldn’t be out of bed, and you certainly can’t negotiate a hostage situation!”
“Scully, we’re wasting time,” Mulder said firmly. Cory, in Skip’s arms, turned to him with fear at the raised voice. “Arthur’s best friend is either going to kill the hostage in front of Arthur or he’s going to kill Arthur. We have to get there before that happens, and I’m not staying here, Scully. Take the IV out or I’ll take it out myself.”
Scully looked at Mulder with an exasperated expression, glanced back at the television, and then said reluctantly, “Fine.” She took Mulder’s IV out and grabbed his clothes from the plastic bag. She handed them to him and said, “Change quickly.”
Mulder simply nodded and began changing even though no one had left the room yet. He was done in a matter of seconds, and met them all outside. “Let’s go,” he said simply.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
“You Agent Scully?” the police officer asked upon their arrival.
Scully nodded, and pulled her badge. “Agents Scully and Mulder. This is Melissa Greenwood, she’s one of the children’s mothers.”
“You planning on going up there?” the officer inquired as they stepped out of the car.
“We are. I’m a medical doctor. Agent Mulder has hostage negotiation experience and a psychological background.”
“I can reason with Arthur,” Melissa told the officer. “He’ll listen to me.”
The officer seemed to consider this, and then nodded. “Okay. You need vests?”
“We’re dealing with a knife, aren’t we?” Mulder asked with a Scully-like raised eyebrow.
“Yes, but…okay. We tried talking to them. No one’s paying the slightest attention.”
“We’ll see what we can do,” Mulder said.
“All right, it’s your party. Be careful up there. We don’t want a repeat of 1994.”
“What happened in 1994?” Mulder asked.
“Kid took three others hostage at knife-point in the Tower, until a science teacher tackled him. That’s why they closed the building to students.”
“The police commissioner said on the phone the building was structurally sound but hadn’t been inspected in a while. Is there anything we should know about the structure?” Scully asked.
“It should hold you people, but we can’t guarantee anything. It hasn’t been inspected in years. Could have rotting wood, termites…any number of things. Watch your step”
“Thank you,” she said as they took off for the Tower. It was a cylindrical building with a few medieval-style windows and an observatory dome at the top. It was clear that it used to house a telescope, probably in a display case or still in use at the Science Museum’s Observatory.
The Tower, made of stone and wood, was surrounded by a grassy yard and neatly-kept stones that led to the entrance. The police officer guarding the entrance got a nod from the officer Mulder, Scully, and Melissa had talked to before and allowed them to enter.
The spiral stairs creaked on their way up, and a bone-chilling cold passed through the air. The hairs on Mulder’s neck stood up and he knew exactly what they were dealing with here. And it was no small child.
They reached the top, and Mulder knocked on the door. “Jake Folitz, Arthur Greenwood, this is Agent Mulder with the FBI. I’ve got a doctor with me, and I’ve got your mom, Arthur. Would you like to open the door and let us in?”
“Now’s not the best time, Agent Mulder,” Arthur said in a strained voice, and was promptly met with someone screaming, “Shut up!” It didn’t sound like a child. In fact…it didn’t sound human.
Mulder glanced at Scully, who nodded. “Stand back, Melissa,” he told her quietly, and drew his gun. Scully and Melissa stepped down a few stairs, and Mulder shot the ancient lock on the door, and then kicked the door open. He pointed his weapon at the scene, and took in what he saw.
A boy who looked like he had been beaten to a pulp was sitting behind a standing Arthur, who looked like he was trying to protect the other kid. Meanwhile Jake Folitz held a rusty knife at Arthur, and turned quickly at the sound of the door being kicked open. He grabbed Arthur and pulled his friend in front of him, holding the knife at his neck. Mulder looked at the boy in the eyes, and saw the solid black Melissa had claimed to have seen. He couldn’t help but shiver.
“Jake, no one has to get hurt here,” he said almost mechanically, already knowing exactly what he was dealing with.
Scully also drew her gun, and Melissa stood behind them, looking at Arthur with compassionate eyes. She wasn’t panicking, which made Scully wonder if some kind of communication was going on between them.
Arthur looked absolutely petrified, but he was trying to control his breathing.
No one spoke, as Jake’s eyes stayed transfixed on Mulder’s gun.
Mulder squinted, unsure as to what was going on. But he found himself lowering his aim, until it was dead on Arthur’s head. He took a deep breath, as memories of Robert Patrick Modell flooded back and he thought of training his gun on Scully as he desperately tried to fight it.
“You can’t fight, Agent Mulder,” the voice that was certainly not Jake’s told him flatly. “I can make you pull that trigger…I can make her watch her son die. I can give you whatever you want, if you just accept who I am.”
“Jake, can you hear me?” Melissa asked quietly. “Jake, please, look around you. Look at what’s happening. You can fight it. You have the power, if you only see.”
“Jake, do you remember the fort?” Arthur asked, his voice strained from keeping away the tears. “You remember how much fun we had building it? Can you remember that, Jake? Please?”
Scully watched carefully as she searched for what her partner and Melissa so obviously saw in this child’s eyes. Then, in a flicker of recognition, she saw the black eyes cloud over with some white, as she had seen with the black oil virus. And she had to wonder if that wasn’t some kind of trick as well.
But then the boy’s face began to turn red, and he cried out in a child’s voice, as tears streamed down his cheeks. He tightened his grip on Arthur and looked as if he was truly fighting his own body as the knife slipped to the side of his friend’s throat, and he began to cut.
A gunshot rang out, and the little boy dropped to the floor, blood oozing from his arm. Scully looked quickly at Mulder’s shocked expression at his own action, and holstered her weapon as she ran over to the unconscious child. She took off her jacket and began to administer medical attention.
Mulder held his gun in place, unable to move. He had come so close to hitting Arthur…he had taken such a chance with a child’s life. He turned his eyes downward, where the shell from his bullet lay at his feet.
Melissa ran over to her son, who had dropped to the floor and begun to cry.
And then a chill entered the air again, this time so cold it caused everyone to gasp in unison. They could see their breath for an instant, and then Melissa and Arthur turned to the top of the Observatory to be the first ones to catch a glimpse of the black, non-corporeal form floating above them, red eyes peering down.
Mulder turned his attention skyward as well, and Scully did a double-take, still trying to treat the child.
The knife on the ground began to move, and Arthur stared at it before saying, first in a whisper, “Our Father, up in heaven, is very holy. My Father,” he said more firmly, walking toward the knife but still looking upward, “Is very holy. His Kingdom will come, and his will shall be done, both on Earth and in Heaven.”
The black figure came closer to Arthur, and Mulder took a step forward as Melissa held her son’s shoulders in support.
“Dear Father,” she said in a strong voice, “Give us today what we need. Forgive us our sins. And protect us from temptation. Deliver us from evil.”
“Deliver us from evil,” Arthur said firmly, glancing up at his mother, and then fixing his gaze on the red eyes. “Deliver us from evil.”
“For though we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil,” Melissa said, her voice resonating in the small observatory.
Scully applied pressure to Jake’s wound, but looked at the dark shape and Mulder, Melissa, and Arthur warily. This didn’t look like it was going to end well.
“For He is at my side!” Arthur screamed. “My God is at my side!”
“You have no place here!” Mulder yelled. “These people—they have faith. Just as those women you killed had faith, but were too scared to realize what you were.”
“You’re not so damn scary,” Arthur yelled, standing his ground. “You’re pathetic. You’re despicable. Go back into the hell-hole you came from!”
Melissa looked surprised, but pleased. She still held her son’s shoulders as she said, “You have no power over us. You aren’t allowed to have power over us! You’re not welcome here!”
The figure came even closer to Arthur, and the knife inched toward him as well, but Arthur stood strong. If the boy was afraid, he wasn’t showing it. He fixed his stare on the red eyes as if he was engaged in a lunchtime staring contest with a friend. His severe and hardened expression told Mulder this boy was drawing his strength from something other than his frightening experiences with ghosts and demons in his home.
“Poorly placed faith will destroy you,” the gravelly voice echoed throughout the room. “For even those of faith experience tragedy.”
The knife rose from the air, and Mulder didn’t even think. He just leapt. It embedded itself in his leg, directly level with Arthur’s stomach. Mulder dropped to the ground in agony, clutching the wound and panting as he glanced upward at the rapidly disappearing black shape.
“For mine is the Kingdom of Glory, and it can be yours, if you so choose. Choose wisely, for I will return.”
And then all was still.
Scully lunged for Melissa’s arm. “Apply pressure to Jake’s wound. Arthur, stick your head out the window and get the paramedics up here,” she said in one breath, and then dove to her knees in front of Mulder. “Hey, Mulder; Mulder, look at me.”
Mulder’s eyes were glazing over and he was rapidly getting paler. Scully stripped off her shirt and attempted to stop the bleeding, but she knew it had hit the femoral artery. A child’s stomach, at the same height as Mulder’s thigh, would have been what she was dealing with had it not been for her partner’s heroic actions. But now he was in danger of bleeding out.
Mulder made eye contact with her then dropped his gaze to see that she had only her bra on, her jacket across the room with Jake and her shirt now wrapped around the knife embedded in his leg. And he managed to smile just slightly as he said, “Should’ve just…done that, Scully…demon would’ve changed…evil ways.”
“Don’t talk, Mulder,” Scully instructed him, and took his pulse.
In another second, the paramedics were coming up the stairs. “What’ve we got?”
“A stab wound to the femoral artery, a gunshot wound to the shoulder—over there,” Scully pointed. “And I think that one’s in shock,” she indicated the wide-eyed, perfectly still little boy huddled against the wall.
“We’re gonna need more medics,” the paramedic, said, radioing it in as he got to work on Mulder.
The other paramedic saw to the gunshot wound.
Melissa held Arthur’s hand as she led him toward the staircase. Arthur looked back, and met eyes with Scully. “Agent Mulder isn’t a Christian. But he has faith.”
Then Melissa gave her a small smile, and led Arthur down the stairs.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17th, 2008
Mulder propped his crutches on the side of the airport chair and eased himself down carefully. He winced slightly, and Scully offered some support until he was settled. “Want something to eat?”
He shook his head. “No, I think that just about knocked the appetite out of me.”
She nodded, and sat beside him. She took his hand. “You should’ve agreed to the handicap train.”
“And be driven around like some senior citizen? I’m not that old, Scully.”
“You did just have a birthday,” she teased, and he rolled his eyes.
“I’m gonna start hiding the calendar from you.”
They sat in silence for a moment, Scully glancing at the digital display of departure times across the hall from their terminal seating.
“Scully, why do you think it left?”
She presumed he was talking about the demon. “We’ve already talked about this. It wasn’t welcome. Whoever has faith and isn’t afraid can exorcise a demon.”
“No, I’m not talking about now. I’m talking about back when Timothy was possessed. In the early 1900s. Why did it leave? Why didn’t it just take someone else’s body, when Timothy was killed?”
Timothy McGregor, the construction contractor’s son, had been attacked by an unknown assailant and killed at age eight, after murdering a Kingsburry teacher, and three other women. The boy had hidden his plans for murder in the underground tunnel his father had built him. From Arthur’s and Jake’s descriptions of the boy, Mulder surmised that the ghost of Timothy had come back to appeal to Jake’s want for revenge against that snob James.
James Gregory Sanders III had come out of his waking coma state in the hospital, and although he was clearly scared and agitated, he had demanded a trip to the family island to recuperate. Some things, Mulder thought, must never change.
“Maybe it did. Maybe it left Kingsburry because there were bigger and better things out there, Mulder. Maybe the one who killed Timothy was the one whose body was possessed next.”
“And it’s some kind of cycle? It just got back to Kingsburry after a hundred years?”
“No, I don’t think it works that way,” Scully said. “I think there’s a little footprint left wherever it goes. A seed that can grow into something larger.”
“A force of evil, growing in each place where this demon happens to gain some followers?”
“Perhaps,” Scully said. “Think about Jake, Mulder. A seven-year-old boy’s anger at a bully led to his acceptance of the demon, and a hunger for power. I don’t think that will ever go away. I think that part of Jake will always be with him. He’ll remember the feelings he had when he was beating James Sanders in the woods and at some point, he might want more.”
Mulder nodded, still uncomfortable talking about Jake. He had shot the seven-year-old, and now the child was in the psychological ward of the hospital, awaiting diagnosis. It didn’t look good for the little boy, given his continuously petrified state. Not only did Mulder feel very guilty about Jake, but he also felt a weight on his shoulders regarding Arthur. The eight-year-old had banished a demon from Kingsburry, but he had at least temporarily lost his best friend in the process, and it didn’t seem to Mulder that the Greenwoods had many other friends in their neighborhood. An isolated boy with a secret no one would believe…it sounded all too familiar to Mulder.
“But Scully, we’ve seen so many forces of evil, at this point, that I think it’s a safe assumption that they’re everywhere. And if what you’re saying is true, then they plant little seeds of jealousy, hate, anger…even in little children. So what’s stopped the world from falling to ruin?” He asked, trying to put his guilt out of his mind for now.
“Faith,” Scully said simply. “The Greenwoods have enormous faith. A drive to avoid the evil. Whether that means Arthur stays away from the ‘wrong crowd’ at school or is able to defeat whatever it was we encountered in the Tower, it helps him get through. The faith keeps the fear away, and only with fear or welcome arms can a demon materialize into something powerful enough to kill.”
“Then why am I not affected?” Mulder countered, not quite buying into this.
Scully smiled at him. “Mulder, you can be such an idiot sometimes. Why do you think it wasn’t just attacking Christian women? Do you honestly think it would limit itself just to religion?”
Mulder studied her. “So you’re saying it doesn’t matter what kind of faith you have…”
“It might matter what kind of faith you have, depending on what ‘seed’ from the demon you’re encountering. But I think,” she said, squeezing his hand, “that as long as you have faith in something, it can never control you. You have power over it instead. You’re free.”
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