Category Archives: Halloween

Exorcismus: Expedio

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Exorcismus- Expedio

Continued from Exorcismus: Imperium

WOODWARD AVENUE

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1015

“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.

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1130

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.”

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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.

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TRINITY CHURCH

BIRMINGHAM, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1130

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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1200

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.

Scully exhaled.

“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.”

Mulder smirked.

“What?”

“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.”

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KINGSBURRY ACADEMY

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1215

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?”

“Huh?”

“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.”

“Huh?”

“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.

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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.

Power.

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.

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TRINITY CHURCH

BIRMINGHAM, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1230

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.

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KINGSBURRY ACADEMY

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1245

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.

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1330

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.

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KINGSBURRY ACADEMY

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

1345

“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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MADISON AIRPORT

MADISON, WI

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17th, 2008

1000

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.”

END

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Exorcismus: Imperium

sfo0987

Exorcismus

Author: Starfleetofficer1

Category: X-File

Rating: PG-13

Artwork: Truthwebothknow1

Summary: The agents investigate a triple homicide that turns into an encounter with a demon.

Spoilers: Seasons 1-7, VS15 episode “A Reason To Believe”

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Many of the characters in this fanfiction are based on real people. This fanfiction is loosely based on a true story.

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Original web date:10/18/2008

Exorcismus – Imperium

KINGSBURRY ACADEMY

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10th, 2008

1500

“So if anyone has any questions on the reading, please email me. It’s a long one and I don’t expect you to have it and the questions done by Monday. But we have a quiz on Wednesday so it would be in your best interests to finish the reading this weekend, to give yourselves time to do the questions by Wednesday. Have a good weekend.”

As the students got up and started to leave, having started packing their backpacks when the digital atomic clock reached 1459, one girl still had her laptop on her desk as she stood and approached the teacher.

“Mr. Greenwood?”

Skip Greenwood turned his attention to her.

“I have a question. When we went over the legend of King Arthur you told us he was most likely a fifteen-year-old boy, who managed to convince the local English to fight off the Romans.”

“Yep, that’s about right,” Skip told her. “Where’s the question?”

“Well, what would you expect us to write on an exam? It seems a little short for the whole thing, if you know what I mean.”

“Well, Ashley, sometimes legends come down to a very simple explanation. Arthur likely won a few battles and the largely oral culture of the natives he recruited honored him as their king. He was more than likely killed in battle after a few months, but oral cultures can be very powerful. The root of a legend can be nothing more than an extraordinary kid about your age.”

They were alone in the classroom now, and Ashley started to pack up her backpack. “All right, I guess. I just didn’t want to lose points for such a short answer.”

Skip smiled. “You’re doing fine in the class, Ashley. I don’t see any reason to be worried.”

“Good to know. See you Monday, Mr. Greenwood.”

“See you Monday,” Skip said. He disconnected his laptop from the interactive SmartBoard in the front of the classroom, and then packed it in his bag. The classroom was an interesting contrast of 70-year-old architecture and top-of-the-line technology. He went to his desk for a moment to collect a few things and put them into his briefcase, and then grabbed his raincoat and headed outside. Hopefully the buses wouldn’t be gone by now.

Kingsburry Academy was separated into two campuses: the North and the South. The North campus was largely devoted to science, math, language, and the museums the school had on the grounds. The Kingsburry Science Museum and the Kingsburry Art Museum were region-wide hotspots for parents to bring their children for afternoon amusement, and for young people to come to gaze at the stars during the evening Observatory stargazing hours, or look at art and make out by the romantically set backyard of the Art Museum.

Kingsburry’s South Campus was largely devoted to crafts, books, English, History, and the Research Center. The South Campus housed the girl’s dorms, and the girl’s middle school. The North Campus housed the boy’s dorms. Because the school did not admit girls until the late 1930’s, the North and South campuses had very different architecture. The North campus was largely early 1900’s architecture, with a heavy English influence. The South campus was much closer to Frank Lloyd Wright’s style, emphasizing on what was modern when it was built. In the 1980’s, the school decided that girls and boys could be taught together, and integrated the classrooms.

Along the two-mile-long road that linked the two campuses were the boy’s middle school, the lower school, and several sports fields. Also about halfway along Kingsburry Road was teachers’ housing. Condos, apartments, and small houses lined the side-streets and formed a unique suburban community housed inside of a PreK-12 school the size of an average college campus.

Skip Greenwood, a history teacher, father of two, and devoted Star Trek fan, lived in one of the houses with his family. And usually, because his work was right on campus, he let his wife have the car for the day. Which meant he had to catch the bus going to North Campus, and have it drop him off at the side-street that would take him directly to his house.

He wasn’t worried about the slight delay today, however. Most of the students had after school activities that kept the buses running well after 1600. There was a short delay between 1520 and 1540 when there were no buses running, because most kids had gotten to practice or to the opposite campus. Day students old enough to drive had been bused to their cars, and boarders had been bused to their campus of residence. But when the 30 minute club meetings ended, buses started rolling again. If Skip could catch the bus before 1520, he could be home before his 8-year-old son walked back from the lower school.

The bus driver, Jerry, was pleased to see him, as always. “Hey, Skip, how ya doing?”

“Fine, Jerry, and yourself?”

“Doing just fine. Home?”

“Yep,” he answered, and settled into a front seat on the half-full yellow schoolbus.

“How’s Arthur and little Cory?”

“Arthur’s doing great. He entered the science fair last weekend and won second place.”

“The Science Museum science fair?” Jerry asked.

“That’s the one. He did his project on the solar system and was sure to include the major and minor planets. It seemed to have caught the judge’s attention.”

“I guess so, if he won second. Good for him. And Cory?”

“He’s very…mobile.”

Jerry laughed. “They tend to get that way at that age.”

“Arthur wasn’t into everything like Cory is, but you know, different kids, different personalities.” Cory, Skip’s one-year-old son, was far more willful than Arthur was seven years ago. But Skip was a patient man, and a loving father, who would spend as much time with both of his sons as he could. He may have neared the end of his rope a few times more with Cory than with Arthur, but that didn’t mean he avoided spending time with his baby.

“Yep. Well, here you go,” Jerry said, and stopped the bus at the corner. He opened the door. “See ya later, Skip.”

“Have a nice weekend, Jerry. Tell Susan I said hi.”

“Will do.” The doors slid shut behind him and he walked down the street toward his house. He happened to arrive at the same time as Arthur.

The boy’s shoes were wet and caked with mud and he smiled sheepishly at his dad.

“You took the shortcut again, didn’t you?” Skip asked, walking up the path that led to their modest home.

“Yeah…it’s a lot quicker than taking the road, Dad. I’m sorry…”

“Well, take off your shoes before you come in the house. You’ll be cleaning them tonight after your homework.”

Arthur sighed. “Okay,” he resigned. “Can I have time on the computer tonight?”

“If you finish your homework and clean your shoes before bedtime. Absolutely. What do you plan to do? Play Starfleet Command?”

“Maybe, but I was thinking about researching planetary orbits on the Internet. Mr. Banning said today that we’ve been tracking a planet circling a nearby star, and I want to see if I can find a mapping program.”

“Have fun,” Skip said with a small smile. His son was brilliant, and had taken an interest in something Skip had unlimited interested for, but limited ability: science. After scraping by with very low mathematics scores in college, he had decided his interest wasn’t his calling. And his son was rapidly approaching the point at which Skip’s interest greatly exceeded his knowledge.

They entered the house, knowing it was unlocked. No one locked their doors at Kingsburry. The second they stepped through the threshold, they both froze in place, as the blood drained from their faces. Arthur’s eyes began to well up in tears, and Skip pulled his son close to him, but was unable to move.

There before them, hung from the ceiling, was the bloody body of an unfamiliar woman. Her hair was long, blonde, and curly. She looked to be in her mid-forties, draped in a white cloth marred with blood stains. Her throat was slit, and her dead eyes were open. The corneas were solid red. The second Skip was able to peel his eyes away and look down at Arthur, Arthur looked back up. He still cried as he said, “It’s happening again, isn’t it?”

Skip glanced up at the now bare, perfectly clean ceiling. He nodded slowly. “I think it is,” he managed to say.

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MULDER & SCULLY TOWNHOUSE

GEORGETOWN, DC

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11th, 2008

0900

“So that was the last straw?”

“That was when I got out of my car.”

“And when did you pop him one?”

“Mulder, I did not ‘pop him one’.”

Mulder and Scully were sitting on their couch, Scully nursing a sore but otherwise unharmed hand, and finally submitting to Mulder’s requests that she tell him what had happened to the car last night.

“Then explain to me why—”

“Okay, fine, I did hit the bastard, but it was in self defense.”

“I’m seeing mounds of paperwork in your future.”

Scully groaned, and leaned back into the couch.

Mulder smirked slightly. “Did you knock him unconscious?”

“No. I just pissed him off,” Scully said.

“But he was smart enough not to keep fighting a redhead.”

“He was smart enough not to keep fighting a federal agent, who he rear-ended.”

“Why’d you hit him?”

Scully looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. “After he tailed me for twenty minutes, tried to get around me and nearly caused three accidents, failed to pass me when the other lane was clear, and kept flipping me the bird every damn time I looked back at him, he finally rear-ended me at a stoplight, got out of his car, and started tapping the window.”

“So you drew your gun…”

Scully sighed.

“You didn’t draw your gun?” Mulder asked, surprised.

“No,” Scully admitted.

“What did you do?”

“I got out of the car at the intersection and started screaming at him.”

Mulder raised his eyebrow in a truly Scully-like manner. “Why?”

“How can you ask me that question?!” She demanded.

“No, I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it, Scully. But why didn’t you just draw your gun, tell him you were a Federal Agent, and end it right there?”

She didn’t answer for a moment, but finally she said, clearly ashamed, “Because he really pissed me off.”

“When did you hit him?”

“When he reached into his pocket. He pulled out a pocketknife.”

“Why didn’t you draw your gun?” Mulder asked, puzzled and alarmed.

“I don’t know, Mulder. I did after I hit him…”

It was Mulder’s turn to sit back. He folded his arms. “Yeah, I have no idea how you’re going to justify this one.”

“He has a black eye. That’s it.”

Mulder just gave her a ‘look’. Then he stood. “All right, this little role reversal is getting too weird for me, if you know what I mean. I’m going upstairs, gonna get dressed.”

He was a little concerned about how she was still rubbing her hand but he had brought up the issue last night, and gotten worse treatment, in his opinion, than the asshole who had rear-ended her. The damage to the car was minimal. The jerkwad’s car actually looked worse. But Scully had even admitted to him last night that she had lost her temper and handled the situation wrong, which was unlike her. That bothered him more than her sore hand.

As he reached the top step, the phone rang. Scully groaned. “Probably the insurance.”

“Or the Bureau, firing your ass,” Mulder joked. “I’ll get it.”

“No, I’ll get it,” Scully said reluctantly, and got up from the couch. She walked the few steps she needed to get to the phone, looked at the CID, and answered. “Hello, Sir.”

Mulder leaned over the railing, an interested look on his face.

“No, Sir. We planned on submitting our final report on Monday. Yes, Sir. Completely finished.” There was a pause, and Scully rolled her eyes. “Well, Sir, that may be a problem. There was an incident last night…” She sighed. He was going to hear about it eventually. “I was rear-ended last night, and I’m fine, but…it’s a little complicated, Sir.”

Mulder smirked, knowing what was coming next. Skinner’s demand that she tell him exactly what happened. And as she recounted the story, he reflected that this really did sound like something he would get himself into.

“So it might be difficult for us to leave on Monday, if things need to be sorted out,” Scully said. “All right, Sir. I’ll tell him. Have a good weekend.”

When she hung up the phone, Mulder still stared at her expectantly.

“Skinner has a case for us out in Wisconsin. A triple homicide. He’s sending us the casefiles now…you’re expected to go without me if I have to stay here.”

Mulder looked visibly disappointed. “Do we have any details about the case?”

“He didn’t specify any. Just said he was sending the casefiles. Your flight leaves Monday morning at 7 am.”

Mulder groaned.

“I’ll catch the first one out, as soon as this is cleared up. I’m sorry, Mulder.”

“No, no…” Mulder started, and then shook his head. “It’s fine. You might even get this straightened out by Monday. I’m gonna grab a shower,” he said, still sweaty from this morning’s run.

Scully didn’t respond. Instead, she headed for the copy/scanner/fax/printer, where the case files were coming in. As the photos printed, she looked at them closely, and then her eyes grew wide. She quickly turned on the desk lamp and leaned in closer, fumbling for her glasses in the top drawer. She looked closer, but it was gone. She stared for a moment, flipping through the crime scene pictures again, looking for any trace of what she knew she saw.

She lost track of time, and didn’t even hear Mulder come into the study. “Scully, you looking at the case files?”

She started at his voice, and then nodded.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, walking over to her.

“Look at these photos, Mulder, and tell me what you see,” she ordered, her voice betraying her confusion and fear.

Mulder flipped through them. “Stabbed, stabbed…and stabbed. What’s the problem?”

“You didn’t see anything?”

“I see three women stabbed post mortem, with their throats slit. What am I supposed to be seeing?”

Scully sighed, took the pictures out of his hands, and sat down.

“Talk to me, Scully,” he said gently, and knelt in front of her. “What do you see in these?”

“I don’t see it any more…”

“Okay, what did you see?” He was still speaking very gently, and wore a look of concern. It only magnified when she pulled away, determined to find what it was she had seen before. She kept studying the photos, moving them at different angles to see if she could spot a trick of the light. Mulder didn’t move from his position, and waited for her to finish.

“I thought…for just a second…Mulder, it looked like Melissa. Every one of them. Then I looked away and…”

Mulder didn’t speak.

“It’s stupid, I must not have gotten enough sleep…”

“It’s not stupid. Let me look at these. Let me look at the case. We’ll figure out what’s happened.”

She nodded slightly, and handed him the photos. He took them and the rest of the papers in the printer, and pounded them into a stack on the desk. He placed them in a file folder from the drawer, and then paperclipped the photos to the front. As he did so, his peripheral vision caught something. He looked again, and it was gone. But he could have sworn he saw bright orange eyes in the picture.

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HOME OF BRIDGET SMITH

BIRMINGHAM, WI

MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 2008

1100

“Happy birthday to me,” Mulder sang sarcastically as he popped a sunflower seed into his mouth and put the car in park. “Happy birthday to me,” he continued, opening the door. “Happy birthday to Spooky, happy birthday to me.”

The triple homicide was now a quadruple. Bridget Smith, a 40-year-old single mother of two, had died in the same manner as the other three: a single slit to the throat. Each body had significant post mortem stabbing, all in the same pattern. Two by the torso, one on the right leg, and three on the forearm, to make it look like defensive wounds.

The reason why it was clearly and undoubtedly an X-file, Mulder and Scully had found after reading the casefile, was because in every case, the single mother was killed in her bedroom with the doors and windows locked, and security alarms armed. The children, in every single case, were at sleepovers. And the security companies that serviced the houses not only were all different companies, but all showed the FBI the records that revealed the security alarm had not been turned off and then on again.

Thoughts of Eugene Victor Tooms fluttered through his mind as he approached the crime scene, and wished Scully was there. But unfortunately she was straightening out her little misadventure, and would arrive tomorrow at the earliest. Meanwhile Mulder was left to profile the Invisible Man by himself.

“Agent Mulder?” A balding man in jeans and a light parka asked, walking out of the front door of the house. “Detective Giles, Birmingham PD,” he said, flashing his badge. “I thought you had a partner?”

“She’s coming tomorrow,” Mulder said, and extended his hand. “So this is the same story as the others?”

“Exact same story. You know, you probably don’t hear this a lot but I’m relieved to have you guys here. Whoever this guy is, he’s not your average killer.”

“Can I see the bedroom?”

“You can see the whole damn house. You can have anything you want. Like I said, we’re very happy to have you here.”

Mulder couldn’t hide the look of surprise on his face, but Detective Giles didn’t seem to notice. He led the way into the small suburban home, and Mulder looked around at the incredibly tidy little house. He was led directly upstairs to the bedroom, where the tidiness stopped. The body on the bed hadn’t been packed up yet and Mulder approached the ME, who was taking something from the woman’s fingernails.

“Gina, Agent Mulder with the FBI. Agent Mulder, Gina Yong, Birmingham PD’s ME,” Giles introduced.

“Nice to meet you,” Mulder said. He elected not to stick out his ungloved hand and shake the ME’s. The state of her latex gloves told Mulder that she had been working for a while now and was about ready to pack up the body.

“Nice to meet you too,” she said, and got back to work.

“What was the time of death?” Mulder asked.

“Early this morning, probably at about 5 or 6 am,” the ME answered, but was clearly concentrating on something other than Mulder.

“May I ask if you found anything unusual in the other three autopsies, Dr. Yong?” Mulder asked.

The woman shrugged, and looked up. She looked slightly annoyed. “Not really, no. It would’ve been on my report if so. They all died from a single but deep slit to their throats, severing the jugular artery and blocking the airway. The stab wounds were the same in all three victims—four, now. Same pattern. If I was taking a wild guess, I’d say a serial killer. But what serial killer can get into a house with an alarm system, motion detector, and locked door?”

“I can think of at least one,” Mulder muttered, and glanced around the room.

“Hm?” She inquired, not quite catching his last statement as she turned back to the examination.

“Nothing, just speculation. I’m gonna look around, if no one minds.”

“Have a field day, Agent Mulder. I hope you find something,” Giles said.

Mulder gave him a small smile and then walked over to a CSI kit on the floor, and extracted a pair of latex gloves and an evidence bag. He then began looking around the bedroom. The windows were shut and locked, and Mulder saw from the little boxes along the edges that they were also alarmed.

“Has suicide been considered?” Mulder asked.

“I ruled that out,” Yong answered. “The cut to the throat is too long and too deep for someone to do it to themselves. They’d go into shock before being able to finish.”

“Is it possible they could have used something to do it for them? Some kind of unique tool?”

“If they did, we haven’t found anything at the crime scenes,” Giles stated.

Mulder nodded, and continued walking through the room. He noticed a crucifix on the wall, a Catholic symbol, and stored the information away for further use.

“Where are the kids?”

“Social services, for now. They have a grandma coming to pick them up soon.”

“Did they see anything?”

“The oldest one did. He was the one that opened the bedroom door when they got back from the sleepover. He was in shock when we got here. His younger sister called 911.”

“How old?”

“Twelve and ten. They slept over at the house down the street. Some kind of party for a soccer league or something.”

Mulder nodded as he paced the room. “What about the other kids?”

“All different ages. Some with siblings, some without. We couldn’t find a pattern there.”

“They didn’t go to the same school, play on the same teams, anything like that?”

Giles shook his head. “No. The only pattern we’ve found is single suburban working moms. And two, including this one, were Christian—had some kind of religious symbols on the walls or statues on the dressers.”

Mulder nodded, dissatisfied. He paced around the small bedroom for a little while longer, not noticing any kind of ritualistic items, anything to suggest a conjuring or otherwise. The dresser drawers had only clothes in them. The closet wasn’t harboring any interesting boxes. It looked as if this lady had nothing to hide.

“I want to see the kids’ rooms.”

“This way,” Giles said, and walked out of the room and down the hallway.

Mulder looked through both rooms before noticing something in the girl’s room that he had also noticed in the boy’s. Glancing at the Bible on her bed, he paged through it and realized it was a gift, but not from the mother. Someone named Greenwood…

He walked into the boy’s room and found the same dedication. He looked through the kids’ things once again, and found his answer. Amidst the boy’s pile of messy papers that resembled Mulder’s own desk, he found a six-month-old flyer for a non-denominational Christian Bible study for children. He looked at the start date on the flyer, and then looked at the dedication date on the Bible. They were exactly six months apart.

He checked with the girl’s Bible, and it matched as well. “The kids attended a Christian Bible study for children and received these Bibles about two weeks ago,” he told Giles. “You should check that out—see if the other kids attended it too. It could be where the killer found his victims.”

Giles nodded, and took the flyer from Mulder. “I’ll run a check on the teacher, find out where he lives. And I’ll see if the other kids attended it too. Do you think this is a religious crime?”

“Possibly,” Mulder said, glancing at the alarmed windows in the girl’s room. “But it’d be some magic trick to slip in this house without someone being notified. If our killer was just interested in a hate crime, they probably would have attacked the women in their cars, or coming out of their houses. Something easier than breaking in here.”

“So you think our killer wasn’t looking just to kill them, but to make a statement.”

“Could be,” Mulder said, his tone non-committal. “It could also be that making statements isn’t what our killer is into,” he added, and left the room. “Can I get a look at the downstairs?”

“Absolutely,” Giles said, and followed Mulder down the front steps. About a half hour later, Mulder asked to see the basement. The downstairs hadn’t been very helpful. Surprisingly enough, the basement door was locked from the outside. “That’s interesting,” Mulder commented, and Giles took a snapshot of it before they opened the door, and climbed down the stairs. The minute he looked around at the basement, he whistled. “Wow. A single working mom and a hobbyist…”

“She was the only one with a woodshop,” Giles said, glancing appreciatively at the equipment before them. “But the other mothers had hobbies as well. Rooms in their houses dedicated to their hobbies.”

Mulder walked up to some of the machines, remembering his very light training at the hands of Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor, when he and Scully appeared on the show Tool Time not too long ago.

“This is a miter saw, isn’t it?” Mulder asked.

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Giles shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything about this stuff. It’s some kinda saw.”

Mulder checked that it was unplugged, and then ran his fingers over the base. He held up his index finger to Giles. “Dust,” he commented. “For someone so into shop tools, she didn’t clean them very well.”

“Not true, Agent Mulder,” Giles said, surveying the table saw, drill press, scroll saw, and bandsaw. “These are all clean.”

Mulder looked at the garbage, where he found a single piece of wood and some dust dumped inside. Then he looked at the workbench. “She was down here…when it happened, she was down here. She was working.” He pointed to the piece of wood, the chisel, and the hammer, all out on the bench. An iPod sat in its stereo cradle, and though the lights were turned off and the miter saw was unplugged, it was clear someone had left here in a hurry.

“How can you tell?”

“Someone who has a workshop like this doesn’t leave their tools on the bench when they’re done. And they don’t leave their work sitting here, either. Or leave their iPod here to collect sawdust from the air.” He pointed to the mask and safety glasses on the bench, and said, “Something scared her. She did what she felt was necessary to leave it safely, and then left. Locked the door behind her.”

He turned to Giles. “She was up there in her clothes but the ME estimated the time of death to be early this morning. She was working here late at night and then she locked herself in her bedroom. Something spooked her down here.”

Giles nodded. “You could have something there. We found all the other hobby rooms locked at the crime scenes. Whatever scared the victims might have done it while they were working. Then they get spooked and leave.”

Mulder walked around the basement, past the workshop and over to a stack of boxes. It looked like an average basement, with randomly stored, no longer used items. Children’s toys that she didn’t have the heart to throw out, even though her kids were no longer interested. Boxes of clothes that either were too large or too small, or out of style. Camping equipment and…what was this? A box marked ‘Church’.

Mulder inched his hand toward the tape to pull it open, when an incredibly cold wind bristled through the air, and then was gone. He turned, and looked at Giles. “Did you touch the air conditioning?”

“Huh?” Giles asked, looking up from the workbench.

“You feel that?”

“What?”

“That…never mind,” he said. He looked at the box again, and tore open the tape. Inside were children’s catechism books. From kindergarten through about sixth grade, probably recent for the twelve-year-old. CCD class folders, notebooks and even a few primary-colored rosaries, with smiley faces on each bead. A children’s novel aimed at about first or second-grade readers, entitled, “Jesus Loves Me.”

“Why would you pack up religious stuff if you’re still religious?” Giles asked, and Mulder nearly jumped. The man had snuck up on him, and was now standing right behind him.

Mulder shook his head. “Maybe it’s old stuff. Maybe they’ve outgrown this stage,” he said. But even as he said it, he knew it wasn’t true. Some of the Catholic books had titles like Catholicism for Teens, and Mulder knew if the boy was twelve, this would have been bought recently. He needed to talk to Scully. She might see a connection here that he couldn’t understand. For about the hundredth time since he stepped on the crime scene, he wished his other half was here.

Glancing around the basement, he realized he had just about looked through everything there, other than the Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter decorations. It wasn’t a very large basement and most of it was taken up by the woodshop.

Walking back to the woodshop, Mulder looked at what the woman was making. Some kind of little toy train. He wondered if a sister or brother of hers had a child who would enjoy a toy like that.

Then he noticed the blueprints, hand-drawn probably by Bridget, for the little toy. They were pages long, and were concluded by a cute little drawing of a toddler with a bow in her hair, playing with the toy train. It was clear that this woman didn’t do this for money, but because she enjoyed it.

“You said the other women were hobbyists. What did they do?”

“One woman collected stamps. Another did patterns for doll clothes, for her kid. The third woman was into books—she had an entire library in her house. Every kind of book you can imagine.”

“You said two were Christian. Were they all religious?” Mulder asked.

Giles shrugged. “I don’t know. We’d have to go back over the houses again and find out.”

Mulder nodded. “Good idea. And find out who Greenwood is and get me an address. I need to call my partner and give her an update on this. I’ll meet you back at the station,” he said, thoughts already floating around his head about what could have done this.

Aliens were improbable. A ghost generally didn’t have this kind of MO, but wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. Another mutant like Tooms was still possible, and in fact made sense. Someone who could sneak down into the basement, make some noises loud enough to scare the woman into her bedroom, where he could crawl through the vent and kill her behind a locked door…

“Scully.” Her voice surprised him. When had he dialed her? “Hello? Mulder?”

“Hey, yeah, it’s me. Just wanted to give you an update. How are you doing?”

“Fine, almost done with meetings. I should be out there tonight.”

“That’s good. That’s an improvement over tomorrow.” Mulder exited the crime scene and walked toward his car.

“I’m sorry you’re all alone on your birthday,” she said, sounding genuinely apologetic. “I’ll make it up to you.”

As Mulder got into his car, he couldn’t help but say, “Ooooh, Scully, you know what I like.” He heard Scully chuckle and he said, “When you get to the motel room, I’ll have a bubble-bath waiting for you.”

“You’re only saying that because you know what you get after the bubble-bath,” Scully teased.

“Hey, it’s my birthday!” Mulder protested with a grin. He started the car, and put his seatbelt on with one hand. Checking his mirrors briefly, he prepared to pull the car away. But his grin dropped suddenly and he did a double-take, staring at the rear view mirror.

“Mulder? Is everything okay?” Scully asked, confused by the silence.

“I thought I saw something,” Mulder said absently, turning around to look at the back seat. He was beginning to get a very uncomfortable feeling about this case. With what Scully had seen in their townhouse, and what he had thought he had seen and felt from the crime scene photos, in the basement of Bridget Smith’s house, and now in the car, he definitely wasn’t enthusiastic about spending the next few hours without Scully.

“What did you see?” Scully demanded. “Are you in the car?”

“Yeah, just leaving the crime scene. It was in the rear view mirror, Scully. I don’t know what it was…” But in truth, he did. It was the same orange-eyed figure he thought he had seen in the crime scene photos. Only this time, it had a body to go along with it.

“It might have been a trick of the light.”

“Maybe,” Mulder said, but they both knew he wasn’t considering that possibility.

“I’ll be there tonight. Then we can talk,” Scully assured him.

“I could really use you on this one, Scully. It has to do with religion, I think.”

“Religion?”

“Specifically Catholicism, but I need your opinion on that.”

“All right…well, I’ll do my best. I still expect that bubble-bath.”

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Mulder promised her, trying to get back into the original light-hearted mood.

“Be careful, Mulder. I’ll see you soon.”

“See you soon.”

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KINGSBURRY ACADEMY

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 2008

1530

Giles had gone over the crime scene photos from the other three cases, and come up with nothing that suggested any religious preference for the other two victims. So Mulder had ended up visiting the respective crime scenes and gathering himself that only two of them were the same religion.

One woman was Jewish. Another was Muslim. The third was Christian. And, of course, Bridge Smith was also Christian. However, Mulder had found one piece of information that he intended to pursue, as soon as Scully got there. Every single woman, with the exception of Bridget Smith, had recently changed religions. Their children had recently changed with them, and had been sent to classes in the new religion.

The other Christian woman’s children had attended the Bible study with Greenwood, and Mulder wondered if the other teachers of religious classes had any connection to each other. He told Giles to figure that out.

Mulder had spent about an hour going over the case with Scully, who was finally finished with her meetings and had told him she would be packed and ready to get on the plane within an hour. She would definitely be in Wisconsin tonight.

He really wished Scully could be with him for this interview with Greenwood. He hated doing interviews by himself; he always felt as though he’d miss something, or not ask a crucial question that could lead to proof later. Scully was his other half—his better half, if his opinion counted for anything—and without her he didn’t have nearly as much confidence in his own abilities.

As he turned the car into Kingsburry Academy, he stopped at the security gate settled next to the turn off of Woodward Avenue highway. He rolled down his window and flashed his badge, and the security guard smiled, and lifted the barrier remotely.

The drive into Kingsburry Academy was longer than he expected. The school grounds were huge, and it was almost a quarter mile of grass and trees before he got to the actual school. He saw signs for the South Campus parking lot, and recognized what had to be teacher’s housing off of some side-streets. He passed by tennis courts, a football field, and more side-streets. He knew from the map he had looked at that the Kingsburry campus included two museums open to the public as well as several courtyards, lakes, sports fields, and playgrounds.

He found the Greenwood’s side-street and turned into it, off the hill that would have taken him directly to the Observatory had he kept going. The small houses were situated in a row, overlooking one of Kingsburry’s lakes. A man in rubber pants was down by the lake, putting some kind of water treatment solution into it. Mulder parked the car and walked up the stairs that took him to the Greenwood’s front door.

He rang the bell, and looked around. A few middle-school-aged kids dressed in khaki pants and fairly nice shoes, carrying backpacks and holding gym bags, trudged through some mud, and then said goodbye to each other as they headed to their houses. In the distance, Mulder could see a soccer field near the boy’s middle school filled with kids in uniform, practicing.

Finally, the door opened, and a middle-aged man with dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard looked quizzically at him. “Can I help you?”

“Mr. Greenwood, my name is Fox Mulder, I’m an agent with the FBI,” Mulder said, pulling his ID just as a baby with curly red hair ran into his father’s legs and demanded attention.

Skip bent down and picked up his son Cory, and then turned to Mulder again. “Do you want to come in?”

“If you don’t mind, Sir.”

Skip opened the screen door, and Mulder stepped in. The house was very small, but very cozy. It was immediately obvious that this was an active family with children. Small shoes lay at the foot of the stairs, and a child’s laughter could be heard from the family room. In the kitchen, a woman sat at one of the two stools at the counter, talking on the phone.

Mulder also immediately noticed the music playing throughout the small house. He didn’t know where it was coming from, but there were multiple sources and the nearest one was playing Christian music.

It was a contrast to the chilly, overcast Wisconsin weather outside to see a house so bright and full of life.

The baby didn’t say anything but he did grasp at his father’s chin, studying its features as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.

“Would you like to have a seat?” Skip asked.

“That’d be fine,” Mulder answered.

He led Mulder around the corner, and straight into the family room. It had two couches, one smaller than the other, up against the wall to make a large space available in the middle of the room. Legos lay everywhere, clearly the efforts of a child to construct something massive.

A machine resembling one of Rube Goldberg’s lay in the center of the carpet, constructed from a combination of Lego’s, K’nex, string, duct tape, and the broken pieces from an old Mouse Trap game. Across the carpet, among more Legos, was a slingshot with a piece of paper. A closer look revealed to Mulder that the slingshot was adjustable, and the paper marked the angles not by numbers but by names. ‘Wall’, ‘window’, ‘ceiling’, and ‘Lego Blaster’ were scrawled in child’s writing. Mulder realized that whoever had done this was quite the remarkable child-engineer. And that child sat before Mulder, immersed in a school book and smirking as if it was the funniest thing in the world.

“Arthur, would you please go to your room to do your homework?”

Arthur looked up, glanced at Mulder curiously, and then nodded. “Okay,” he said, and gathered his school things in his arms as he left the room obediently.

“I’m sorry about the mess,” Skip said.

“It’s fine. I’m here to talk about an investigation that’s currently going on.”

“Would you like to speak to my wife too?” The man offered.

“If she’s busy we could discuss this alone for a few minutes,” Mulder said. “It’s no problem.”

Skip indicated with his hand that Mulder should sit, and sat down himself on the other couch. He put Cory in his lap and let the baby play with a Lego piece from the floor. It promptly went into his mouth—luckily, it was large enough that it didn’t much matter.

“There have been four murders in the area in the past week,” Mulder said. “The FBI is investigating the situation and my partner and I were called in because of some unusual circumstances surrounding this case. Today, while I was at one of the crime scenes, I found a flyer for a children’s non-denominational Bible study with your name as the instructor. It ended two weeks ago. Three of the children of the murdered women attended the class.”

Skip looked shocked. “Who?” He asked, his voice nearly a whisper.

“Margaret Denfield and Bridget Smith, the two most recent murders. Mr. Greenwood, are you all right?”

The man looked ready to pass out. But he managed to nod, and called in a frightened tone, “Melissa? Melissa, get off the phone, come in here…”

A moment later, the blonde woman, apparently Skip’s wife, entered the room with a troubled expression.

“Bridget and Margaret are dead,” he said to her, and she instantly cupped her hand over her mouth. “How?” she asked, approaching the two men.

“They were murdered, Mrs. Greenwood,” Mulder said sympathetically, watching their reactions carefully. “I’m Agent Mulder with the FBI.” He stood respectfully until she sat down next to her husband, a numb expression on her face. “I’ve been assigned to this case.”

She nodded slowly, and then looked at Skip. Mulder could recognize near-telepathic communication when he saw it—he and Scully did it all the time. The fact that the two of them were doing it now told him that they knew more about this than was obvious. “Mr. Greenwood, Mrs. Greenwood, how well did you know these two women?”

“They were the mothers of some of the children in my Bible study class. We would occasionally talk,” Skip said, sounding quite baffled.

“They were both new Christians,” Melissa offered. “They wanted their children to understand Christianity, so they enrolled them in Skip’s non-denominational class at our church.”

“And that would be The Ascension of Christ Lutheran Church?” Mulder asked, already knowing the answer.

Skip nodded.

“What can you tell me about these women?”

“Bridget was raised Catholic,” Melissa offered. “She had recently accepted Christ into her life when we met her, and she joined our church not far after that.”

Mulder’s expression betrayed his confusion. “I’m sorry…you said she had been raised Catholic.”

Skip and Melissa both nodded.

“But…then you said she was a new Christian.”

Skip took Melissa’s hand, and seemed to debate how he should best answer that unasked question. In the end, he simply said, “We suspect she didn’t truly believe in the Catholic faith she was raised in. She became a protestant Christian and for the first time, recognized herself as a true Christian, about a month before I met her.”

“How did you meet her?”

“We were at the Science Museum with Arthur, at a science fair exhibit. It was a while ago, during the summer. Her twelve-year-old took first place, her ten-year-old took second, and Arthur took third.”

Mulder nodded. “Bridget Smith was divorced, and so were the other four women. Do you know if they attended any kind of support group?”

Skip shook his head. “If they did, I wasn’t aware of that. Margaret and Bridget were both very independent people. They didn’t want to discuss the past.”

“What’s going to happen to their children?” Melissa asked.

Mulder tried to give her a gentle smile. “They’re in Social Services custody right now. Family members are going to pick them up, and they’ll end up with a good home,” he assured. He felt guilty saying it, though. Too many times he had seen children taken from their homes after incidents like this and placed in a much worse situation. Foster care, or a family member not fit to raise a child, were often the only alternatives.

“Were there ever any other adults in the class, Mr. Greenwood?”

“For safety purposes, the church requires two adults in a Bible study with young children. This Bible study was geared towards kids 10 to 14, so our pastor, Pastor Steve Mitchell, was present.”

Mulder took out his notebook. “Can I get a phone number for Pastor Mitchell?”

“He’s not under any suspicion, is he?” Skip asked, concerned.

“We have no reason to suspect him but we should interview all people involved, Mr. Greenwood.”

Skip conceded reluctantly, and gave Mulder his pastor’s number. Then he seemed to summon up all his courage before he asked, “Agent Mulder, how did Bridget and Margaret die?”

Mulder glanced at him curiously. “As I said, Mr. Greenwood, they were murdered.”

“Were the circumstances unusual?” Melissa asked.

“Unusual how?” Mulder inquired, his interest piqued.

Skip sighed, giving his wife a ‘look’ that she returned right back to him. He started to answer the question, when a chill identical to the one in Bridget’s basement passed through the room. Mulder looked up, trying to find any open windows. All he found was a closed fireplace.

But this time, Mulder’s company seemed to have noticed it, too. They shivered, and Melissa got up and turned the stereo up. The Christian music was now much louder.

“I’m sorry, Agent Mulder, we were just curious about the situation. It’s very…unusual, to have two friends murdered,” Skip said, and stood. “Is there anything else we can do for you?”

Mulder looked at them, clearly puzzled. “No, for now, I–” He stopped, as the orange eyes caught his peripheral vision again. He directed his line of sight toward the window where he saw them, and quickly walked over to it. He looked down, where the front yard remained clear, and then looked around to see where it could have fled. “Do you have a cat?” He asked, well aware that cats did not usually have bright orange eyes.

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The Greenwoods glanced at each other, and then Melissa answered, “Yes, we do.” It was clear she wasn’t saying what she wanted to say, and Mulder didn’t like it at all.

He had to find a way to get them to give up whatever it was they were hiding, but they seemed to have a routine down, and they were definitely treating him politely, but as an ‘outsider’ at this point.

“May I ask why you play Christian music all around the house?”

“It’s good for inspiration,” Skip said simply.

“Do you play it in every room?” Mulder asked.

“Yes,” Melissa answered, but didn’t look like she was about to offer any more information.

“Why play it when no one’s in the room?” he asked, trying not to sound insistent, but interested.

“So it’s on when we walk in. Agent Mulder, really, is there any purpose to these questions?” Skip asked.

Mulder tried his hardest to think of one, but honestly couldn’t. Again, he wished Scully was here. “No, Mr. Greenwood. I’m sorry if I insulted you. I’ll call you if I have any more questions.”

“We’re glad we could help, Agent Mulder,” Melissa said.

Mulder handed a business card to Skip. “If you think of anything that might help this investigation, please let me know.”

“We’ll do that, thank you,” Skip said. He handed a squirming Cory to Melissa, and walked Mulder to the door.

“I’m sorry about your friends. Thanks again for your help.”

“It’s no problem. Have a nice day.” Mulder felt like he was being pushed out the door. He heard the lock engage behind him, and sighed. That would’ve gone better had Scully been there, he thought.

Meanwhile, inside the Greenwood’s home, Skip called Arthur down from his studies. The 8-year-old stormed down the creaky stairs, making it sound like the house would collapse in on itself. But Skip didn’t call him on it. Instead, he walked into the family room, and the little boy followed.

The four of them sat on the couches amongst the Legos, Christian music, and cuckoo clock that chimed 4 pm. Then Melissa bowed her head, and folded her hands.

Everyone but Cory followed. The baby sat on the couch, slobbering on a toy duck he had picked up off the floor.

Melissa began. “Dear Lord, protect our family from the demon that torments our friends. We don’t know how it managed to get to two true Christians, but we pray for their souls…”

Melissa’s voice caught, and so Skip continued. “We pray for their souls in heaven, Lord, and for future victims of whatever or whoever has been unleashed on the innocent. We know we’re safe because we have no fear of what Satan unleashes on us. We have only respect for you, and belief that you will protect us.”

“God, please continue to keep the demons out of our house,” Arthur said. “I don’t want them to come back, and now that what’s his name from the FBI was here, they might follow him around, and hurt him.”

“Yes, God, please bless Agent Mulder and his partner,” Melissa said. “For they may not be true believers, but they’re trying, however foolishly, to stop what Satan has unleashed. We sense they’re good people, God. Please give them the chance to see your way.”

“Amen,” Skip said.

“Amen,” Melissa and Arthur echoed.

“Agent Mulder did seem like a good person,” Arthur commented. He headed for the stairs. “But not a Christian.”

“Arthur, please don’t listen in on conversations from the top of the stairs,” Skip said, exasperated.

“I wasn’t,” Arthur stated simply. “I used my discernment.”

Melissa gave him a gentle smile. “It’s not yours, Arthur.”

“Sorry,” Arthur corrected as he mounted the stairs. “I used my gift of discernment.”

“Much better,” Melissa said, and gave him a small pat on the hand before heading into the kitchen, to see about dinner.

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MARIOTT INN

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 2008

2000

Mulder lay on his hotel bed with the TV playing the Red Wings game, but he paid it no mind. He was intently focused on the yellow pad of paper in front of him, where he was scribbling down notes viciously. Scully would arrive any moment, he knew in the back of his mind, but until there was a knock at the door to the adjoining room, he wasn’t moving. He was on a roll.

He had consulted the Internet for a while, and then escaped to the recesses of his mind. Something about this case rang a bell, and he wasn’t quite sure what. But he did know it was indeed a very disturbing bell.

He recognized that something was horribly wrong when he had left the Greenwood’s house. They not only didn’t act normal, but something about how this was fitting together—or not—made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

After he explored the grounds of Kingsburry a bit more, he badged his way into their North Campus’s library archives, and did a bit of ghost research on a hunch. It seemed like the kind of place that would have a very strong affinity for ghost stories, being so old and harboring so many kids. Maybe some of them would be true, and maybe that was the connection he was looking for.

It turned out that there were over two hundred ghost stories surrounding the Kingsburry school. Lucky for him, the librarian, a very old woman who couldn’t have reached five feet tall or weighed any more than a hundred pounds, guided him to the ones that were most likely true.

And that’s when he found what he was looking for. Several of the dorms were reputed to be haunted. Some teachers had resided in the apartments built into the dorms, for supervision purposes. And some of those apartments had been haunted. In an article from just five years ago, an ‘anonymous’ family was apparently tormented by a ghost. The article came from the school paper, but with a little digging and a little badge waving, Mulder had been able to find real records of the family’s testimony to whatever authorities were called in.

It was originally thought to be a prankster kid living in the dorms, breaking into the apartment to move objects around, open baby gates, and break toys. Then it escalated to a new level when the family was vacated from their home one night for an undocumented reason, and a priest was called in from out of town. The records seemed to smooth over the event, and only a few months later, the family moved out of the apartment and into one of the teachers’ houses. With a little more digging and some sweet talk, Mulder had found out from one of the secretaries that the tormented family was the Greenwoods.

At that point, it began to make sense to Mulder. The Christian music wasn’t inspiration, it was protection. And they knew everyone in this heavily Jewish and atheist community would think they were crazy for believing in one of Satan’s demons. And so they elected not to discuss the matter with him.

The papers scattered around the bed profiled the ‘suspect’, whose picture was becoming clearer in Mulder’s mind as he worked. All women were independent. All had started a new life, both after the divorce and in a new religion. All were devoted to their children, and wanted them to explore the same religious path they had themselves. And all had hobbies that led to alone time.

Two knew a very Christian family that had been tormented by a ghost on the grounds of a very rich and not-so-Christian school campus.

Powerful. The suspect was powerful, and wanted more power. It elicited fear in its victims. Forced them into further seclusion, behind locked doors. It attacked alone, in what some might call a cowardly manner, in places where the victim couldn’t easily find a weapon to fight back.

Angry. The suspect was angry, as indicated by the post mortem stabbing.

Meticulous. It didn’t waver from a formula, so it either only wanted single, independent, working mothers who had recently changed religions, or it only knew how to attack them. Or only was ordered to attack them?

A knock at the door interrupted Mulder’s profile, and he got up and opened the door to the adjoining bedroom with a broad smile. Scully stood in front of him, grin on her face. “Bubble-bath?” She asked.

“Aww, shit,” Mulder said, rolling his eyes. “I’m sorry. I got busy—”

“You what?!” She said with mock horror, and then pulled him close to her, and gave him a kiss. “Working on a profile?”

“Yeah, and I think I’m starting to pull a few things together. But I need your input.”

“After dinner. I’m starving. Do you have pizza?”

Mulder looked back at the empty pizza box guiltily, and said, “We can order another one…”

“You ate the entire pizza? My God, Mulder, we’re too old for that!”

“Speak for yourself, Scully. I’m still in the trim and burly shape of my youth.”

Scully poked his belly, which was virtually non-existent, and he said, “If you want me to giggle like the Pillsbury Doughboy, it’s not happening.”

She laughed, and picked up the phone book from under the nightstand. Mulder glanced at his yellow tablet, and sighed. Back to profiling, at least until Scully’s pizza arrived. He had to get this done soon, before his suspect picked another victim.

A few moments later, a veggie and sausage pizza was on its way, and Mulder watched as Scully sat down on the bed amongst the papers.

“Scully, I have a question for you.”

“Okay…”

“I mentioned to you that Bridget Smith was the only one who hadn’t changed religions recently.”

She nodded.

“Well, when I interviewed the Greenwoods, they made it sound like Catholicism wasn’t really considered Christianity. That by joining a Lutheran church and becoming a Lutheran, she had changed religions. That’s not true, is it? Or is there something I’m unaware of here?”

“Well, you understand the difference between Protestants and Catholics?” Scully asked, more of a statement than a question.

Mulder nodded.

“Basically, it rests in that fundamental difference. Catholics believe that accepting Jesus as your Savior and leading a good life will earn your way to heaven. Protestants believe that all you need to do is to accept Jesus as your Savior, and then you automatically are in heaven regardless of what your life is like. But they do believe that doing good is seen as better than doing bad, so no one’s running around with the notion that life is a free-for-all.”

“So some Protestants still believe that the Catholics aren’t getting in heaven, and some Catholics believe the Protestants aren’t getting in, and hence we have Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland?” Mulder asked with a small smile.

Scully rolled her eyes. “Basically, yes, and don’t make fun of that.”

“There are some Protestants left that don’t believe Catholics are Christians. That’s what the Greenwoods are talking about—according to them, Bridget had just become a Christian.”

“Maybe. But I wouldn’t put the Greenwoods in a very exclusive religious group without having some proof.”

“It doesn’t matter—I’m not trying to prove they’re one religion or another. It’s just that, according to the Greenwoods, Bridget Smith, Margaret Denfield, and the other two women by definition have changed religions.”

“Wait…you’re considering the Greenwoods suspects?”

“They acted very oddly, Scully, and I know they’re hiding something without a doubt. But they’re not guilty of murder. They’re involved in this somehow, but not as criminals.”

“What’s your profile say?”

“I think we’re dealing with something or someone who either has a very specific grudge, obsessive compulsive tendencies, or instructions from someone higher up. And given the manner in which these women died, locked in their houses with the alarms on, I think we’re dealing with something with a certain paranormal bouquet, if you get my drift.”

“Are you thinking ghost, some kind of spirit, demon, or a mutant?” Scully asked. “Eugene Victor Tooms’ Wisconsin-bred cousin?”

Mulder smirked. “You’ve got to stop with this role reversal, Scully, before I start painting my nails and wearing high heels.”

“I think that could be sexy for one night…” Scully said thoughtfully.

“Keep dreamin’ G-woman,” Mulder said with a grin, and turned back to his tablet. He thought so much better when she was around. This thing was starting to fit together, and his research from the Internet was falling into place as well. “What do you know about the Christian idea of demons, Scully?”

Scully’s grin dropped, as she recalled the manners in which they had encountered what one might call a ‘Christian demon’ before. A school in Milford Haven, New Hampshire, where a substitute teacher’s status as human was still up in the air. A boy named Charlie, who hailed from Virginia and had his dead evil twin brother exorcised in Mulder’s presence. A CEO of a major company hunting down a little boy in Ohio whose hands bled like Christ’s. An pastor of a church able to control snakes—many of which ended up biting Mulder. And many encounters after that, not the least of which was a very recent one: a man going by the name Billy Ward, who tried to convince innocent townspeople in Nebraska and other states to accept his healing abilities, only to later enslave them to his will.

She nodded to Mulder’s question, and asked slowly, “You think we’re dealing with that again?”

Mulder sighed, and put his tablet down. “Scully, twice today I’ve felt something very cold brush up against me. I’ve seen orange eyes multiple times. And while those things could all be strange coincidences or ghosts trying to get my attention, I do have a feeling about this case. That we’re both not going to enjoy it much.”

“What about the Greenwoods? How did they strike you?”

“I feel like I would have gotten a better opinion of where they stand had you been there. But from what I can tell, they’re very hard-core Christians. They play Christian music throughout their household, in what I’m guessing is an effort to keep out demons.”

“Demons can only go where they’re welcome,” Scully said quietly. “That’s according to Christian faith. Only where they can rule by fear or through the open arms of the naïve, can they go. Otherwise they’re banished easily.”

“Not so easily in four single mothers’ cases,” Mulder commented, and rose from the bed. He stretched, and then dropped his arms. “Scully, I think first thing in the morning, we need to go see the Greenwood’s pastor. Steve Mitchell.”

Scully nodded. “I would’ve thought you’d have already gone to see him.”

“I tried, but he was busy. Some kind of retreat’s going on for elementary school kids. He was unreachable all of today.”

“A retreat on a school day? That’s unusual.”

“It’s elementary school. They can learn to tie their shoes tomorrow.”

Scully smiled for just a moment, before falling serious again. “Mulder, I want you to be careful. It wasn’t too long ago that you were tied to a table while a building collapsed on top of you, courtesy of one of these…I guess demons, for lack of a better term.”

“Don’t worry, Scully. I won’t do anything crazy.”

She just gave him the ‘look’, and he couldn’t help but laugh. “Really, I promise.”

“Yeah, I haven’t heard that before,” she said, rolling her eyes. She walked toward the bathroom. “I’m gonna get a shower. If the pizza comes, don’t eat it all, or I’ll kick your ass.”

“Yes, Ma’am. I’ll leave you a slice.”

“You better not eat any, Mulder. I’ll have your ass in a sling,” she called from the bathroom, and he chuckled.

“Wield that sling, Scully!” he called back, and elicited a small laugh.

He picked up his notes and organized them, or rather threw them into a pile. It was his version of organization. He placed them on the desk and sat in front of the computer again, where he began doing further research. Tomorrow, they would go visit the pastor and try to figure out where this thing had come from, and what it wanted.

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KINGSBURRY LOWER SCHOOL

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

0900

Arthur sat in his seat and tapped on the tablet PC screen, writing in his answer to the word the voice in his headphones had asked him to spell. He sighed. So boring. Who didn’t know how to spell ‘extremely’ at this point? Really, where did Kingsburry find these rich kids who didn’t know anything?

In math, Arthur reminded himself, he wasn’t so fast either, so it was a trade-off. Spelling and science were his thing. Reading and math, not so much.

The teacher waved her hand in front of the classroom, and said with a smiling face, “Okay, spelling lesson’s over. If you didn’t finish, you’re welcome to go online tonight and type in the answers instead of write them. If you don’t own a Tablet, that is. Please log out of your programs and get ready for Social Studies.”

Social Studies. It was more like current events turned on their heads, Arthur reflected. His parents had told him what was really going on in the nation. He didn’t need these CNN-addict teachers to feed him lies he knew weren’t true…

He wished it wasn’t time for Social Studies. He wished it was time for science. In science, he learned about planets and things he liked. And when he went home, he discussed it with his parents and they would explain to him how cool God was, to make evolution happen, and make science happen, and make planets go around in orbits like they did. In Social Studies, he was just confused as to who was right and who was wrong…

Once everyone had put their Tablet PC’s back in the rack in the corner of the classroom, and put their headphones back in their desks to ensure that they weren’t listening to their iPods secretly, the teacher began the lesson. Today’s lesson was going to be about the Iraq war. Oh, joy, Arthur thought. Here we go again.

He doodled on his notebook through most of it, half-listening to what the teacher said. But his ears perked up when one particularly annoying statement caught his attention. “And so we should take away from this that war is not a good thing, ever, and that non-engagement is always better than engagement. Who can explain why we should immediately leave the war in Iraq?”

Arthur couldn’t stand it anymore. He had overheard his dad tell his mother than this teacher was on the ‘edge of too liberal, even for Kingsburry’, whatever that meant, and that ‘people are asking her to tone it down, and let the kids decide for themselves.’ That surprised Arthur. From what he could gather, if people were going to tell her to let his peers decide for themselves instead of shove things down their throats, he was completely justified in what he was about to do. He raised his hand.

“Yes, Arthur? I didn’t expect to hear from you in this discussion.”

The other kids snickered. She said things like that in Social Studies. She knew who his father was, and what he stood for. But Arthur had been told to stand tall in situations like this. So he did. He stood from his desk. “Ms. Allison, may I please make a statement?”

“Of course. We encourage open thought in this classroom.”

“I think that war is never a good thing. I think we all know that, ’cause people get hurt in war. But sometimes we have to go to war. Like way back in World War Two, Hitler was gonna try to conquer the whole world, and he killed six million people just ’cause he didn’t like their religion. Our country was real important in that war. So sometimes it’s necessary.”

“Thank you, Arthur, but we’re not talking about that important conflict, we’re talking about this current one.”

“I know, Ms. Allison. May I please continue?” Manners were of the utmost importance at Kingsburry.

“Yes, of course.”

“I think that once we make a choice, even if it’s a bad one, we have to try to make a good one in the end. It makes more sense to not just pull out, Ms. Allison. It makes more sense to make sure everyone’s safe. The people in Iraq and our soldiers.” He had heard this, of course, from his parents. But it made sense to him. He thought it would make sense to other kids, too.

“Arthur, the purpose of this discussion is not to force our beliefs on our fellow students.”

Now Arthur was confused. Had he done that?

“Please sit down, and let the other kids decide for themselves.”

Arthur sat, but he didn’t like it. He hated Social Studies. This was all they ever talked about. The current President and how many mistakes he had made. How a new candidate needed to be younger, more in tune with current generations, and more democratic to balance out the ‘party imbalance’.

But his dad had told him that even though the current President had made lots of mistakes, he had also done lots of good things that didn’t get on the news. He told Arthur that it was important for him and his classmates to decide what presidential candidate they supported in the school’s Kids Pick The President Election by doing their own research. That the school should just tell them what sites to go to, to get kids’ political information. And that they should be learning more history, and less opinion. Arthur wasn’t sure what was opinion and what was fact, at this point.

As one of his classmates recited what they had heard their own parents say, and was applauded for their equally opinionated view, Arthur rolled his eyes and went back to doodling. He was smart enough to know when there was a bias in the classroom. He just hadn’t quite figured out the entire ‘party politics’ thing yet. He wasn’t sure whether it was a party split or it was another kind of split. But it was clear there was a split.

Suddenly, he saw on his notebook page a picture of himself drawn before his eyes. He removed his pencil from the page and stared, wide-eyed, as the drawing became clearer and clearer. Finally, it was finished with a rope tied around his neck, and he found himself looking very dead on the page. He jumped back, and pushed the notebook off his desk.

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“Excuse me? Arthur? What’s going on over there?” Ms. Allison demanded.

Arthur gaped at his notebook, and pointed at it. “It just…it just…”

The kids giggled. “What’s wrong with him?” “Is he gonna explode?” “Why’s he turning that color?” “Ewww, he’s gonna barf!” “Cool, look at it!”

Ms. Allison picked up the notebook and glanced at it. “These don’t look like notes, Arthur. These look like drawings of Star Wars.”

Arthur would normally have corrected her. It wasn’t Star Wars. It was Star Trek, and the two things were eternally different. But Arthur could barely breathe.

“You look sick, Arthur. Why don’t you go to the Infirmary? Come back when you’re feeling better, and we’ll discuss your note-taking skills.” She placed the notebook back on his desk, and Arthur saw that the drawing was gone. There was no picture of him, in excellent detail, dead before his eyes.

He rose slowly, and walked out of the classroom as if in a daze. But he didn’t go to the Infirmary. He went to his locker instead, where he pulled out his cell phone and turned it on. It was only for emergency use, and the bill was very expensive, so he had been told to keep it off unless it was a very important matter. But he couldn’t think of anything more important. He called his mom.

“What’s wrong, Arthur?” Melissa answered immediately. He could hear her grabbing the car keys and going to the front hall for Cory’s shoes.

“Mom…it’s here. It drew on my notebook, it’s in my school, it’s here—you have to get here!”

“Calm down,” Melissa said firmly. “If you show it you’re scared, that’s how it can get to you. Remember—it can’t hurt you if you believe. Okay? I’ll be right down to get you and take you home. If I take too long for some reason, you can go ahead and download a Christian song on your cell phone. You have permission. Okay?”

Arthur nodded, and then realized his mother couldn’t see him. “Okay,” he said, shaking slightly.

“Stay by your locker if you feel safe there. Otherwise go to the Infirmary and wait for me there.”

“Why there?”

“Talk to Nurse Thompson. She’s a Christian—she can help you.”

“Okay,” Arthur said.

“It can’t read your mind, Arthur. It can’t know you’re scared unless you show it you’re scared. You have to act brave, even if you don’t feel brave. And pray to Jesus. He’ll protect you.”

“Okay. I’m praying now.”

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“Good job. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Arthur hung up the phone and turned his back to his locker, looking up and down the hallway. Its 1900’s English architecture accented some of its pointy features and the dim lighting in the ceiling created shadows that scared Arthur. He knew It could be hidden in any of them. It hated the light, according to his parents. It loved the dark. And since Christians were a source of light, he had been taught, it could find him in the dark in a couple of seconds. So he had to keep nightlights on at night, and carry a flashlight in his pocket, just in case.

Last night, Arthur had done an Internet search, and then deleted his history. He wanted to know more about Agent Mulder. He had gotten a reading on him from his Discernment, the ability to distinguish Christians from non-Christians and spot demons in a group of non-possessed people, according to his mother. The reading had said that Mulder was not a Christian. But he got the sense that he was a good man. So he searched the Internet before he went to bed last night and found that Mulder believed in all sorts of things that Arthur did too. Aliens, and mutants, and cool things Arthur saw on the Internet. The Greenwoods didn’t have cable, but Arthur saw things at his friends’ houses too. And on Star Trek.

The reason why this came to mind now was because Arthur realized that Agent Mulder might be able to help. Agent Mulder could definitely help out. If only he had the Agent’s business card…his dad had put it in his wallet. His wallet was across campus, in his back pocket probably in one of the Upper School classrooms. He couldn’t get that far in such a short amount of time. But maybe his dad would be nice enough to read off the number to him…

He called his dad, still scanning up and down the hallway nervously. He really hoped he’d answer.

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BIRMINGHAM POLICE STATION

BIRMINGHAM, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

0925

“So I’ll go down to that church, talk to Mitchell, and then check out the crime scenes again,” Mulder said.

Scully agreed with a nod. “If you find anything that looks like the harboring of a 130-or-so-year-old fugitive, call me.”

Mulder smirked. “You’re the first one I’ll notify.”

They had just discovered, courtesy of Giles and his team, that similar murders had occurred about a hundred years ago, with victims that practically matched the MO of the current victims, except they were widows. All had children, and hobbies. And one was a Kingsburry school teacher, in the days when the school was only one campus, and only for boys aged 14 through 18.

“I’ll go over the autopsy results and let you know if I find anything the ME might have missed.”

“Thanks,” Mulder told her, as he headed toward the door. Just then, his phone rang. “Mulder,” he answered.

“Agent Mulder, you met me yesterday, sorta, my name’s Arthur Greenwood.”

Mulder, surprised, turned to Scully as he answered, “Yes, what can I do for you, Arthur?”

“Agent Mulder, it’s real important you get down to Kingsburry. I know you like ghosts and aliens and stuff, and well, I got proof for you. I read about you on Google, and…”

Arthur’s voice cut off suddenly, and Mulder frowned. “Arthur?”

No one answered.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

KINGSBURRY LOWER SCHOOL

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

0930

“Arthur? You okay, buddy? Arthur, are you there?”

Arthur stared at the phone screen, which had got his attention by getting extremely hot. He had nearly dropped the phone, but that was all the demon wanted—it just wanted his attention. Now that it had it, it could show him what it wanted to. And on the screen, as if a music video were playing, was a video of Agent Mulder in his car. Suddenly, a black shape with red eyes moved in front of the car and Mulder swerved. He hit a car in the other lane…they were close to Kingsburry! Arthur saw the sign! Mulder’s car tail-spun into the other lane and was smushed by a dozen other cars in the oncoming Woodward Avenue traffic. This was bad!

“Agent Mulder!” Arthur said, having seen enough. “Agent Mulder, please, don’t come! Don’t come, Agent Mulder, you can’t come!”

“Arthur? You okay? What’s going on?”

“You can’t come. Don’t get in your car, Agent Mulder, please.”

“What’s happening, Arthur? Calm down.”

“It’s gonna find you. It’s gonna hurt you in your car. Just stay out of your car!”

Arthur hung up the phone, and put it in his pocket. What could he do? He had to save Agent Mulder from what was about to happen. What if he distracted the demon? But then the demon would come for him…but it couldn’t come for him; he was a Christian, and he was protected. Agent Mulder wasn’t protected.

He shut his locker and began to walk purposefully down the hallway, toward the Infirmary. If he was going to do this, he was going to need backup. And he had been taught that the only suitable backup for something like this was a fellow Christian.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

WOODWARD AVENUE

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008

0945

“Arthur’s a very intelligent boy, Mulder,” Scully said, staring at her computer screen back at the station. “He’s won multiple science fairs, and has been admitted to MENSA’s junior division. His father and mother both said they were on their way down to the lower school, but they couldn’t get a hold of him on his cell phone. Mulder, he’s probably planning something, and that something is probably going to get him hurt.”

“I understand,” Mulder said into his phone, while speeding down Woodward Avenue towards Kingsburry Academy. “I also think his parents are at least partially reasonable people. We can probably convince them to calm him down before he starts a public panic.”

Mulder’s actions, going after Arthur, were not just out of concern for public relations. He was genuinely concerned about the child. This very intelligent and imaginative boy was convinced that it was his Christian duty to protect others from demons. That was what Scully had got from Mr. Greenwood after a few moments of conversation. The Greenwoods were both concerned that Arthur would do something unfortunate for both himself and for the other children in the school, but most of all, they were very worried about whatever Arthur had seen. If there was indeed a demon in the school, Mrs. Greenwood had said, it would take a Christian presence to get it out. And Arthur was just too young in his beliefs to remain unafraid.

Mulder knew where the kid got it from, now. He didn’t buy into this crap about Christians being the only ones able to cast out demons, but after what he had seen, he couldn’t discount a demon as the source of these murders. What chiefly concerned Mulder was that four civilians, a baby included, would get wrapped up in the demon’s agenda because they were too naïve to see their own vulnerability.

Scully was spending a few moments compiling all the data she could on Arthur and his family, in case a hostage situation ensued and Mulder needed to negotiate. He didn’t know what this brilliant boy would concoct.

“Mulder, please be careful in there. If we’re dealing with what we’ve dealt with before, you know how it can rope you in. Just keep your head. I’ll join you if you need me to, but I think you may need GPS directions to navigate this school, and you’ll need the information I’m gathering now.”

“Yeah, stay put, Scully. This doesn’t have to get out of control. I’m just going to go in, calm the kid down, and get the family out of there before Kingsburry calls CNN.”

Mulder was concentrated on changing lanes to the left, when suddenly a black shape swam before his vision. Orange eyes peered at him and a black arm went back as if to punch through the windshield. Mulder turned sharply, and was partially broadsided by the car behind him. The bump was enough to make the car fishtail over the grassy divider and into the oncoming traffic. Mulder tried to right the skid desperately, but the black shape clouded his vision. He had long since dropped the phone.

The oncoming traffic on the highway couldn’t stop fast enough. Cars plowed into his, creating a partial pile-up, and propelling his car directly into a light post. Although Mulder lost track of what was happening back at the first impact, it was the light post that did it. As the airbag engaged, Mulder’s world disappeared into a velvety black.

clip_image014

Continued in Exorcismus: Expedio

Matty’s Big Adventure

Title: Matty’s Big Adventure

Author: Vickie Moseley

Summary: Trick or treating will never be the same for Matthew Scully. Written for Virtual Season 15 Halloween Special.

Category: X, VS15

Rating: general audience

Two weeks exclusive with VS15.

Disclaimer: no copyright infringement intended.

Author’s Notes: Big Thanks to Lisa for quick beta!

Matty’s Big Adventure

Maggie Scully’s residence

Baltimore, MD

October 20, 2007

“The water was up to my armpits, it was smelly and icky and slimey. I kept trying to get hold, but I couldn’t. Finally, when I was able to get the lever pulled, the gate came crashing down and sliced the flukeman in half!”

Matt Scully’s eyes were as big as saucers as he sat in rapt attention, listening to his favorite ‘uncle’ regale him with past exploits.

“Did you drown, Uncle Fox?” the ten-year old asked anxiously.

“Well, if I’d drowned, I wouldn’t be here right now, would I, sport,” Mulder replied, ruffling the boy’s reddish brown hair.

“Wow, you’ve seen everything, Uncle Fox,” Matt whispered in awe.

“May I remind Uncle ‘Fox’ that he was not alone in all his endeavors,” Scully intoned from the dining room. “. . . and there is a large bag of trash with his name on it waiting for him in the kitchen,” she added, arms crossed and a bemused expression dancing in her eyes.

“Duty calls, sport,” Mulder sighed and pulled himself off the sofa to go do his ‘manly’ duties. As he passed his partner she lightly jabbed at his arm.

“Uncle Fox now, is it?” she asked quietly, so the young man in the living room couldn’t overhear.

“He told me the kids at school thought it was weird to call your uncle by his last name. I told him it was OK to call me Fox.”

“Everybody on the planet,” she muttered, eyes toward the ceiling. “Except me.”

“Hey, you can call me Fox,” he crooned low in her ear. At her challenging look he smiled and leaned into nuzzle her neck. “In the bedroom, up against the wall in the hallway, when we’re using the dining room table for purposes other than holding plates and silverware …”

“Garbage. Under the sink. Now!” she commanded, pushing him away and holding back her smile. She smacked him on the flank has he sauntered into the kitchen.

“So, I don’t know what to do,” Tara was saying to Maggie as he approached the sink and was pulling out the trash basket secreted beneath it.

“She’s frightened by anyone in a mask?” Maggie asked. “Oh, Fox, could you take the recycle bin out, too?”

“Sure, Mom. It’s in the pantry?”

“Yes, thank you.” She turned back to her daughter-in-law. “Well, if she gets that frightened, you can’t take her out with you on Halloween.”

“I know, but that means no trick or treating for Matty,” Tara replied.

“Oh dear. He’s had his costume picked out since Memorial Day,” Maggie said mournfully. “He’s not going to be happy about this.”

Mulder stopped trying to juggle both the bag of trash and the blue plastic recycle bin. “Why can’t Matty go trick or treating?”

“Claire has developed a deep fear of all things Halloween. We were in the pharmacy the other day and she was running over to the toys section, like she always does. They had a display of this life-sized animatronic zombie — he removes his own head. Well, it makes a growling noise and she looked up, saw the head go up — I’m afraid we sent some of the pharmacy customers into cardiac arrest with her blood-curdling screams. I had to take her out of the store and couldn’t even go back inside to buy the gallon of milk I had gone there to get.”

“Oh boy. That’s rough. Poor little pumpkin,” Mulder sighed. “But hey, why can’t Dana and I take Matty trick or treating?”

“Um, Mulder,” his partner said from the doorway. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” At his very blank expression she tilted her head. “I’m on the opening panel at the forensics seminar in Boston October 30 through November 1 — and you promised to stay out of trouble this year.”

He rolled his eyes upward. “Scully, how much trouble could I get into with a 10 year old boy trick or treating?”

All three women turned and stared at him with equally disbelieving expressions.

“Ah, c’mon now! I’m not that bad!” he exclaimed.

“Fox, what about the Halloween you were bitten by a black widow spider in your own home?” Maggie asked.

“Or the Halloween you guys were headed back home after a case and ran into a kidnapping — that was an overnight stay at the hospital as I remember,” Tara added.

“I was treated and released,” he objected.

“And then there was last year at the old sanitarium in Louisville,” Maggie said, shaking her finger at both her daughter and her partner.

“Hey, that was Dana in the hospital, I was — ”

“Treated and released,” both Maggie and Tara said mockingly in unison.

“Tara, you don’t trust me with your son?” he implored. His hurt expression spoke volumes.

The young woman sighed. “Mulder, I trust you with my son’s very life. It’s you I’m worried about.”

“It’s pretty hard to get into too much trouble in this neighborhood, Tara,” Maggie finally admitted. “If they stay in this subdivision, maybe they can go to the mall afterward. Quite a few of the restaurants have free kids meals for children who come in dressed in costume. It can be a ‘boys night out’.”

“It’s supposed to be cold that night, too,” Mulder added. “You don’t expect Mom to walk all over town in the cold.”

“Dana, what do you think?” Tara asked, chewing on her bottom lip.

“Yeah, ‘Mom’, can I go trick or treating with Matty,” Mulder asked, arms folded, thoroughly disgusted that no one seemed to be treating him as an adult.

Scully huffed a breath. “Oh, all right. I guess I can trust you to go around the neighborhood and gather candy. But Mulder, you will bring your cell phone and if you see anything suspicious — ”

“Call the police!” Maggie, Tara and Scully said in unison.

Mulder hefted the garbage bag and recycle bin again. “I get absolutely no respect in this family,” he grumbled as he made his way out the door.

Halloween Night

5:45 pm

Matty was bouncing on the balls of his feet, watching out the window of his grandmother’s living room. He let out a whoop when he saw the red SUV pull into the driveway. “Uncle Fox is here, Grandma, Uncle Fox is here!”

“I see that, Matthew. Now come here so I can try your cape on you.” The boy ran over to her chair and stood at attention as she fastened a flowing black cape about his shoulders. “There, much better now that I shortened it. It won’t drag on the ground or trip you when you’re walking. Do you have your flashlight?”

“Right here,” announced the short ‘Count Dracula’ as he dug through his black silk treats bag and brought forth a small flashlight. “Mom says it’s just like the ones Auntie Dana and Uncle Fox use,” he said proudly.

“Use or lose?” Mulder quipped as he came in the front door. “Hey, I thought I was picking up Matty Scully here. All I see is a vampire.”

“It’s me, Uncle Fox!” Matty exclaimed excitedly, and somewhat mumbled. “I just have on fake teeth and blood on my chin.”

“The transformation is remarkable,” Mulder noted, smiling with approval.

“Costume adjustments are complete,” Maggie said with a wink. “I think you’re ready to go.”

“So I’m to take him back home to Tara, right? That was the plan last time I talked to her, but it keeps changing.”

“Oh, yes, well, actually, come back here after you finish the neighborhood. We’re to take him ‘out of costume’ and then if you don’t mind, you can drop him off on your way home. I had to keep his cape over here this week because any time little Claire sees it she becomes hysterical,” Maggie told him.

“She’ll get over it. By next year she’ll be out there with Matty and the rest of the kids,” Mulder assured her, but he still wondered. Maybe the events of the balloonfest had affected the little four-year old more than anyone had considered.

Willows of the Lake Subdivision

Halloween night

7:30 pm

“Hey, Mattster, what say we call it a night, huh, sport?” Mulder pleaded as he studied his watch.

“Uncle Fox — there’s a whole ‘nother block left,” Matthew whined back.

“Yeah, but it’s gettin’ pretty cold out here. I can see my breath.” Not to mention, not feel my toes, Mulder thought ruefully. “I promised your Aunt Dana I’d be home when she called at 9.”

“You got your cell phone,” Matty replied, rushing off to another house with the porch light on. Mulder stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets and stamped his feet. His ears were tingling from the cold. Frost bite. That would piss Scully off to no end and likewise, he would never hear the end of it, either. He sighed deeply as Matty returned from yet another candy bonanza.

“Butterfingers — the big ones!” the boy crowed. “Grandma’s neighborhood is the bestest!”

“Yup, I think you’re right there. But Matt, your bag’s startin’ to bulge at the seams.”

“I gotta get enough for me and Claire,” the boy replied reasonably. “Jest ‘coz she’s scared of the masks don’t mean she wants to miss out on the candy. I promised her half of everything I get — except the Snickers, of course. I’m keepin’ those.”

“Oh, of course,” Mulder answered, trying hard to hide his amusement.

“But she gets all the gummy bears. ‘Specially the girly ones.”

“Absolutely,” Mulder agreed. “The girly ones taste funny, anyway.” The sarcastic tone to his voice was completely lost on the ambitious 10-year old.

Finally, they came to the end of the block. Mulder heaved a relieved sigh. “Well, that’s that. Let’s head back to Grandma’s house — ”

“Wait, Uncle Fox! There’s another house,” Matty objected.

All Mulder could make out was the dense growth of trees that marked the end of the subdivision. “Matt, that’s just part of the forest preserve,” Mulder pointed out.

“No, see the driveway?” Matt said, motioning toward a gravel path. “And look — you can see the lights through the trees. It even has a mailbox!” Sure enough, a mailbox stood quiet sentry next to the path.

“Matt, that house has to be a quarter of a mile down that road. I really doubt they’re expecting any trick or treaters,” Mulder reasoned.

“That’s always where you get the most stuff, Uncle Fox,” Matty countered. “See, the people who live in those kinda houses buy all this stuff and then no kids come. So if any kid does show up, they give ’em tons of candy! It’s like those guys in California — the gold diggers!”

“Prospectors,” Mulder corrected, stifling a chuckle.

The path was pockmarked and it made walking treacherous, but Matty insisted on holding the flashlight. A couple of times Mulder worried that a twisted ankle might be added to the impending doom of frost bite, but he managed to stay on his feet.

It was quiet in amongst the trees. The leaves rustled and blew in the wind, creating little dust devils that pranced before them. Halfway to the house, Matt’s bag grew too heavy and Mulder ended up carrying it the rest of the way.

“You stand here, Uncle Fox,” Matty informed the agent and even went so far as to physically position him at the end of a long broken sidewalk.

“You sure you want me so far back?” Mulder asked with concern.

From a pocket of his jeans, Matty withdrew another smaller plastic trick or treat bag. “Yeah, I’m sure,” he said with a smile. “The idea is that I don’t want ’em to see my treat bag is full,” he explained, with infallible 10-year old logic.

“Oh, got it,” Mulder agreed with a bemused grin. “Go on, it’s cold and this is the last house — no negotiation. Right?”

“Oh, OK,” the boy agreed reluctantly.

“Go on,” Mulder encouraged, waving toward the front porch of the old house.

Mulder regarded the house closely. It had been a beauty in its day, but that day was long past. The two-story house had all the intricate gingerbread molding of truly fine craftsmanship, but now the clapboard was worn and detaching in places. The roof of the porch sagged precariously and the Victorian style porch light was missing one of its panes of glass, showing the naked bulb inside. The agent couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it was a ‘real nice fixer upper’ that had come on hard times due to the current housing market and tight credit.

Still, the doorbell worked. Mulder could hear it plainly all the way at the end of the sidewalk. After a few seconds of waiting, the door opened. Mulder could only see shadows, but he could plainly see Matthew holding out his empty treat bag and nodding with anticipation.

Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. Mulder watched in horror as Matty stepped into the house and the door slammed shut behind him.

Bad, this is bad, the agent’s instincts screamed at him as he ran up the sidewalk. The concrete was more precarious than the road leading up to the house and Mulder tripped on a large cement ‘iceberg’, dropping to his knees hard. He groaned and grabbed his ankle, looking back at the house.

“Matty! Matt, come out, sport — we have to get going!” Mulder yelled, hoping his voice didn’t sound as desperate as he was feeling. He didn’t want to scare the boy if there was no danger, but he wanted whoever was in the house to know for certain that an adult was nearby and in control.

“Matt, c’mon!” Mulder shouted again. He scrambled to his feet, ankle protesting all the way and pounded up the steps to the porch. Reaching the door, he latched onto the doorknob and turned it hard. Nothing happened, the door was locked. He hammered on the doorbell and threw his shoulder against the door. Solid oak, nicely aged, resisted his efforts and bruised his upper arm.

He pounded on the door, now frantically. He could hear nothing inside the old house, no footsteps, no talking. “Matty, if you can hear me, yell!” he directed through the slim crack where the door met the molding. “Matty, it’s OK, sport. I’ll get you out of there.”

Mulder moved quickly over to the big picture window next to the door. With little thought, he brought his elbow up and jammed it into the pane of glass. The window shattered, sending a cascade of dirty shards down his pants leg. Mulder hit a few more panes until he had enough room to squeeze through. His leg caught on the saber-like shards embedded in the glazing, but he took no notice.

Inside the house was absolutely still. He shined his light around the room to find only dustcovers on the furniture and a thick coating of cobwebs in the archways. Running over to the door, he flashed the light to his feet. There were no footprints by the door except those he made as he turned around.

Matty and whoever had answered the door had vanished.

The lady at the door was pretty — as pretty as his own mom. She smiled at Matthew. “Oh, my, at last. Come in, come in,” she beaconed. “I had put the candy bowl away, I was afraid I wasn’t getting any trick or treaters this year.”

“It’s our last house,” Matty explained with a shrug.

“Well, I hope it’s the best one,” the lady smiled brighter.

While she was away getting the candy, Matty looked around. The house was really nice. It was old filled with lots of neat stuff. Antiques, his grandma would call them. He didn’t see a television or any toys, so he guessed the lady didn’t have kids.

She was gone quite a while and Matty’s curiosity got the better of him. He walked over to a long table and looked at all the stuff there. He realized he was wrong; she did have toys — just not ones that I had ever been allowed to play with. There were old style trucks, one that said ‘milk’ on the side and had doors that opened in the back. He could see little wooden bottles packed in tiny boxes inside the truck. There was a fire truck, but it wasn’t the neon green of the Fairfield Fire Department. This one was red and had horses in front!

“You can pick that up, if you like,” the lady said from behind him. It startled Matty and he twisted around, almost dropping his bag. “It’s OK. I don’t mind if you look at them.”

“This is really cool,” Matty said appraising the collection. “What’s this one?” he asked, picking up a car unlike any he’d ever seen.

“That’s a Studs Bearcat,” the woman said proudly. “That was his favorite,” she added with a big smile.

“You have a kid?” Matty asked.

“Oh, yes. I have a son. But he’s not with me now,” she said wistfully. “I hope he gets to come home soon.”

“Oh, divorced,” Matty reasoned.

The woman laughed. “Oh, no, nothing like that. He just got older and moved away.”

“He’s a grown up!” Matty exclaimed, proud he had figured it out.

“Yes, something like that,” the woman said sadly. She looked toward the staircase that led to the upper floor. “Would you like to see his room? I’ve kept it just as it was when he was your age.”

“Sure,” Matty agreed willingly. All thought of his uncle outside had completely disappeared from his mind.

Mulder opened the door easily from the inside and stepped out onto the porch. It hit him. Time to call for back up. He grabbed his cell and punched 9-1-1.

No service.

He cursed loudly and dropped the useless piece of technology back in his pocket. His mind told him to go back to the subdivision, find a house and call for help. But his heart wouldn’t let him leave. He knew Matt was somewhere in that house.

He stood on the porch for several heartbeats, glaring at the broken sidewalk and the path beyond. Go get help — it’s what Scully would tell him to do.

No, that wasn’t entirely true. There had been plenty of times when they’d been in danger that Scully was the one to forego leaving for trying to save his sorry ass.

His decision made, he turned back around and entered the house. Matthew was there, somewhere. He just had to find him.

The bottom floor held nothing of interest. There was a sofa and a few tables in the parlor, a dining room that held a long table but no chairs and a kitchen that seriously needed updating.

He found a small bathroom off the kitchen but the sink was hanging off the wall and the medicine cabinet was missing, leaving an unsightly hole and exposed studs.

Everywhere he went he found no footprints, no sign that anyone had been in the house for years. His worry gnawed at him as he finally climbed the stairs to the second story.

“Wow!” Matty exclaimed as the lady opened the door to the room at the far end of the long upstairs hallway. “Is that a real train set?”

“Um hum,” the woman smiled and nodded. “Lionel’s finest,” she said proudly.

“Does it work?” Matty asked, still in awe.

The train set ran the length of one wall and stood on a platform that was as wide as a twin bed. It contained several sets of tracks and all around the tracks were small villages and pastoral scenes. There was even a river with a bridge.

“Sure it works,” she said calmly. She walked over to the platform and flipped a switch under the table. Two of the trains sprang to life, chugging along the tracks. They were headed in the opposite directions so that they passed one another twice as the looped around the platform universe.

“This is great! Man, I wish I had one like this,” Matty said with glee. “Hey, is that a draw bridge?”

“Why, yes it is,” the woman answered. “Would you like to work it?”

Matty licked his lips. “Yeah, sure,” he said timidly. She took his hand and led him to the far end of the platform where there was a series of toggles.

“You push this up when you want the bridge to go up and then when the train approaches, you push it back down,” she instructed. She gave it a quick test and he nodded that he understood.

“This is way cool. Wait till I tell Uncle Fox about this!” Matty said happily. Suddenly, his young face took on a panic stricken look. “Oh gosh! Uncle Fox! I left him outside!”

“It’s OK, I’m sure he’s still waiting for you, dear,” the woman said soothingly. “It’s cold out there. How about we go down to the kitchen and fix your uncle a nice cup of cocoa?”

“I don’ know,” Matty said fearfully, biting his lip.

“It’s awful cold,” she prodded. “It would warm you both up on your walk back to the main road.”

“But he’s been waiting so long already,” Matty said worriedly.

“Then he’ll definitely need something to warm him up, right?” countered the woman.

Matty couldn’t argue with that logic. “OK, I guess. But we need to hurry,” he admonished.

“I’ll do my best.”

“Cocoa only takes a minute forty in the microwave,” Matty said casually as they walked back down the steps.

“Well, it takes a little longer on the stove, but I’m sure we’ll have it in a jiffy,” she answered kindly.

The stairs creaked noisily, shattering his already jagged nerves. Mulder stopped in mid step and steadied himself with a hand against the railing. When he lifted it, his fingers came away coated with years of neglect. The wall to his right was marred at precise intervals with bright colored squares of the original wall paper, places once covered with framed pictures of loved ones, he had no doubt.

The top step sagged under his foot and he held his breath, hoping it would hold his weight. It did and he was able to ascend to the hallway. There were three doors on one side of the hall, four on the other, but one was narrow and appeared to be nothing more than a closet or a pantry. He tried each door in turn, shining his flashlight into the rooms.

There wasn’t a stick of furniture in the upstairs until he reached the last door in the hall. Opening this door, he found a platform — too long for a bed and too wide to be a suitable dining table. It was crudely made of bare two by fours and he wondered at its purpose. He was about to leave the room and go back down stairs when a hand landed on his shoulder, causing him to drop his flashlight.

“May I ask what you’re doing here?” came a voice from the darkness. The hand remained on his shoulder, but Mulder reached down and it released him so he could pick up his light. When he stood up again, and directed the light toward the other person, he found himself staring at a man at least twice his age.

“Again, may I ask what you’re doing here?” the man inquired.

“I’m looking for my nephew,” Mulder said tersely. “He was trick or treating and someone in this house has hidden him here.”

The man looked Mulder up and down and sighed. “It’s all right. She’ll let him go in a bit.” The old man turned and left the room with Mulder standing dumbstruck behind him.

Mulder quickly gain his senses. “Wait a minute! You know who has Matthew?”

The man kept walking down the hall to the steps. “Ay-yup,” he answered.

“Who? Where is he? It’s a federal offense to kidnap — ”

“Hey, nobody said anything about kidnapping,” the old man intoned with a shake of his head. “She wouldn’t hurt a soul. She’s jest showin’ him around.”

“Showing him — ” Mulder sputtered. “Look, I think you better explain yourself. I’m a Special Agent with the FBI and I demand to know — ”

They had reached the bottom of the stairs and the old man look at Mulder with abject pity. “Won’t do ya no good, being from the FBI. She’ll let him go in a bit. You jest gotta calm down and wait fer her to be done.”

“If she harms a hair on that boy’s head — you are an accomplice and you’ll go down!” Mulder shouted. “I will see you all the way to the prison gates!”

“Calm down, calm down,” the old man chastised him. “She wouldn’t hurt him! I know her.”

“Who is she?” Mulder bit out through tightly gritted teeth.

“She’s my mother,” the old man sighed.

In the kitchen, Matty was staring wide-eyed at the woman by the stove. “Gee, you make cocoa just like my grandma,” he told the woman.

She smiled down at him and reached out to ruffle his hair, then dropped her hand before touching him with a bittersweet expression on her face. “My son loves his cocoa,” she said and turned quickly, hiding her face. She cleared her throat before speaking again. “Would you mind getting the cups? They’re in the cupboard over there, next to the ice box.”

“What’s the ice box?” Matty asked, confused.

“Oh, sorry, it’s there, the big machine over there — ” She was pointing to a very old style refrigerator.

“Wow, does this thing still work?” Matty asked. “Where’s the water and ice part?”

She shook her head with amusement. “The water is here in the sink and the ice is in the top of the ice box,” she explained patiently.

“Huh,” Matty grunted. But after a moment, he found the cupboard and the cups. “Three?” he asked.

“Oh, no, thank you. Just two. One for you and one for your uncle.”

Matty brought the cups over to the counter next to the stove.

“So, is your father in the war?” the woman asked, stirring the pan of warming milk and chocolate powder and sugar.

“No, my dad died,” Matty said quietly.

“Your mom — ” The woman coughed and started again. “Is your mom still living?” she asked, though her voice was strained.

“Oh, yeah, sure. My little sister is scared of Halloween. So my Uncle Fox is taking me around.”

“That’s very nice of your uncle, to take you trick or treating. Would you like marshmallows in your cocoa?” she asked. When Matty wasn’t looking she quickly wiped at the corner of her eye.

“I would. Uncle Fox likes ’em but sometimes Aunt Dana won’t let him have ’em. She makes sure he doesn’t eat too much fat and sugar.”

The woman laughed. “Well that is a woman’s job, to take care of her family.” Carefully, she poured the hot liquid from the pan into the mugs and then reached into a canister at the back of the counter and pulled out four fat, fluffy marshmallows, dropping two in each cup. “There you go,” she said. “Can you carry them without spilling?”

“Sure, I’m good at that,” Matty assured her. “Thanks, uh, — hey, what’s your name anyway?”

“Helen,” she said. “My name is Helen.”

“Oh, mine’s Matt,” he replied with a nod. “Well, I better get going. Uncle Fox is probably wondering where I am.”

“Matt, before you leave, I forgot to give you your treat! Here, let me get it from the pantry.” She stepped over to a small room off the kitchen and returned with a little paper bag just like the ones Matty had for his lunch bag. “I’ll just slip it in your pocket so you don’t have so much to carry.”

“Thanks, Helen,” he smiled up at her.

“Can you find your way out? I have to clean up the pan,” she explained, nodding toward the sink.

“Sure.” Matt cautiously moved to the door of the kitchen, mindful of the precious cocoa in his hands. He stopped at the door. “Hey, um, Helen? Happy Halloween!”

She smiled at him, and this time he saw the tear tracks in her eyes. “Happy Halloween, Matt. And if you see my son, please tell him I love him.”

“Yeah, sure,” Matty said, a little confused. “No problem.” He turned then and walked to the door of the house. He was just trying to figure out how to hold both cups and open the door when the door opened on its own. On the front porch were his uncle and a really old man.

“Hi, Uncle Fox! Look what the nice lady made for us!” Matty exclaimed, nodding down at the cups.

“Matthew!” Mulder gasped, almost causing the boy to spill the cocoa. He took the cups, put them on the ground and then hugged the boy for all he was worth. “Matty, you scared me. Please, don’t ever do that again! I was so afraid — if anything were to ever happen to you — ”

“It’s OK, Uncle Fox. Helen wouldn’t hurt me. She’s nice. You’ll like her. C’mon, you can meet her.” The boy turned back to the doorway to enter the house but stopped, stunned. Where there had once been a warm and welcoming home there was now nothing but darkness and cobwebs. “Hey, wait a minute!” he demanded. “Where did the insides of the house go?”

“I think you have something you wanted to explain,” Mulder sneered at the old man.

9:00 pm

“So Helen was a ghost?” Matty asked as they walked back toward Maggie’s house.

Mulder pulled on his lip. “I guess you could call her that, yes,” he admitted.

“But she wasn’t scary and she let me play with the trains and she made us cocoa with marshmallows,” Matty pointed out, shaking his head.

There was nothing Mulder could say to that. They walked for several moments in silence.

“It this what you and Aunt Dana do all the time, Uncle Fox?” the boy piped up as they approached the block where Maggie’s house stood warm and inviting, the porch light still gleaming in the darkness.

“Pretty much, yeah,” Mulder replied. “Does it scare you?”

Matty thought about that for a minute. “Nope, not really.” Then he looked up at Mulder and smiled. “She was really nice, Uncle Fox. And the house was really cool. I think she was just lonely for her little boy.”

“Well, she died when he was pretty young. Mr. Andrews said she died suddenly when he was ten years old. So I guess maybe you reminded her a little of her own little boy.”

“She wanted me to tell him that she loves him. I forgot to do that,” Matty said and started back toward the woods.

Mulder caught his cape and tugged him back beside him. “I’m pretty sure he knows that, sport.”

Matty nodded. “Like I know my dad still loves me,” he said wisely.

“So, what are we going to tell your mom and grandma?” Mulder asked.

“Just that we found some neat houses and lost track of time,” Matty said with a firm nod. “I don’t think they could handle the real story.”

“Me neither, sport. It’ll be our little secret.”

the end

Haunted

Title: Haunted

Author: Starfleetofficer1

Summary: Mulder is trapped in a ‘haunted house’ on Halloween.
Written for the VS.

Category: X-file, Mulder in peril, Scully in peril

Rating: PG-13

Two weeks exclusive with VS15.

Disclaimer: no copyright infringement intended.

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BASEMENT OFFICE

WASHINGTON, DC

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31st, 2007

1400

“Mulder, why are we here?” Scully asked with a sigh, staring up at the pencils embedded in the ceiling as she leaned back in her chair.

“Because there have been reports of unexplained phenomena in this particular house, in the suburban neighborhood just outside—”

“I’ve listened to that explanation for the past hour and a half,” Scully said, sitting up straight now and looking him in the eye. “And I fail to see how we have any real evidence of an X-file here. What we have is a children’s newspaper article—something you picked up entirely by chance, that is most likely made up to scare their friends at school.”

“The Hillside Elementary School’s newspaper won awards for its credibility,” Mulder said. “They reported on Presidential elections, the stock market, current affairs…not to mention a highly developed video game review section and comic page.”

“They’re eight years old.”

“Some of them are ten,” Mulder said. He put the child’s article down on his desk, and stood up. “Scully, the evidence presented in their article may sound juvenile but it all checks out. It doesn’t matter if their writing style is childish—they’re children! It doesn’t mean they aren’t credible. I’ve checked out every sighting they mentioned in the article, and they were all established with the local police.”

“A local police office in Hillside, Virginia, that has less to do than Andy Griffith.”

“Come on, Scully, it’s worth checking out.”

“It’s Halloween.”

“And you’re already here, so why not go trick-or-treating with me?”

She gave him a ‘look’.

“Like you said, it’s Halloween! Let’s have a little fun with it!”

She stood up, and sighed. “Mulder, I swear, if I didn’t love you I’d have killed you by now.”

“I knew you’d see my side of it,” Mulder said cheerfully, apparently ignoring her implied threat. He stood up and grabbed his coat, and started out the door.

Scully reluctantly followed, and said, “If this turns out like the last haunted house, Mulder, it won’t matter if I love you. I will shoot you.”

Mulder looked behind him, and smirked. “I thought you didn’t want it to turn out like last time.”

She rolled her eyes, and barged in front of him. He grinned, and followed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

HILLSIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

HILLSIDE, VA

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31st, 2007

1430

Walking through the halls, the agents were bombarded by a stream of giggling eight-year-olds in the third grade section of the school. One little boy tripped and Mulder feared he would be stampeded by his classmates, so he helped the third-grader to his feet. The thanks he got was a screeching cry, “Stranger! Stranger! Help! He’s got me, help!”

Mulder let the little boy go, and a teacher ran out into the hallway. The kids made way for the adult, who looked like she was about to punch Mulder.

The agents quickly drew their badges. “We’re here with the FBI,” Scully said before the woman could ask. “And we’re investigating suspicious activity near 435 Westbury Street.”

“A little girl named Ashley Burns wrote a detailed article on the subject, and we were wondering if we could speak to her about her sources.”

The teacher looked taken aback. “Um…of course. She’s in my class. I hope you understand that the ‘suspicious activity’ is nothing more than teenagers playing pranks around that area.”

“Yes, we’ve considered that option,” Scully said, aiming a pointed glance at Mulder.

Mulder quickly covered his tracks. “But in the event that it wasn’t teenagers, and illegal activity has been occurring in the location, we need to investigate,” he said.

The woman nodded comprehensively and led them into her classroom. A bell rang, and the little children ran toward their classrooms to take their seats. “I’m Pam Wells, by the way,” the teacher said.

“Agent Mulder, and this is Agent Scully,” Mulder said.

”Pleased to meet you,” Pam told them, and approached a little girl sitting at a desk. “Ashley, these people are here from the FBI. They’re interested in your newspaper article.”

The little girl’s eyes grew wide. “Did I break any rules?” she asked.

“No, Ashley, we just had a few questions,” Mulder said kindly. “Want to step out into the hallway?”

Ashley nodded cautiously, and Scully offered her hand to the fearful girl. When Ashley took it, they moved into the hallway and could hear the classroom explode with chatter as soon as they were gone. The door shut behind them, and Ashley looked up inquisitively.

“We understand you checked out the Westbury house, for your newspaper article,” Scully said. “We were just wondering how you made sure all the things you put in the article were true. Could you tell us that?”

“I talked to the police,” Ashley said, “And I brought them a big list of things that people had seen. I wanted to make sure everything I wrote had a police record, ‘cause people report things like that. And they had records of everything. So I put it all in my article.”

“Could you tell us if you’ve ever seen any of the things you’d written about?”

“I saw the lights going on and off, and I knew the house was contempted, so no one lived there.”

“Condemned,” Mulder corrected with a small smile. “Do you live near the haunted house?”

“I live about two blocks away. I ride my bike down there all the time.”

Mulder nodded, his facial expression still passive and non-threatening. “So I’ll bet your friends and you sometimes want to go inside, huh?”

“Sometimes we dare each other, but no one’s actually done it. The sign on the front says you can get in a lot of trouble if you cross the fence. But a lot of teenagers have come really close. Most of them were arrested.”

“They were arrested right away? Before they got into the house?” Scully asked.

Ashley nodded. “The police sit right around the corner, and sometimes right out front. If anyone goes near it, they arrest them. That’s why not many kids make it past the back yard fence. And no one goes in the front. That’s just dumb.”

Scully looked perplexed, but Mulder spoke before she could voice any concerns about the story. “So you’ve probably heard a bunch of stories about that haunted house, huh?”

Ashley nodded.

“Would you share some of them?”

She looked uncomfortable for a moment, before saying, “It’s just supposed to be a Hillside thing. That’s what the grown-ups told us when they told us all the stories. That’s how the story starts. ‘You can’t tell anyone outside Hillside.’”

Mulder and Scully glanced at each other. “We’ve got special permission to hear things like that, Ashley,” Scully said. “FBI agents are like police officers—you can tell them things you wouldn’t tell other people.”

“So I won’t get in trouble?” Ashley asked.

“You won’t get in trouble, I promise,” Mulder said.

“Okay,” Ashley started, hesitating for a moment. “I’ll tell it just like my parents told me. Twenty-five years ago, before I was born, a man in Hillside went crazy. He got a chain saw and started hacking people up with it, just like in the movies only for real. They tried to catch him, but he got away. He ran into the forest.” She shuddered a bit. “And then ten years later, some people say they saw him. They say he met somebody outside the forest who led him straight to the contempted—condemned—house. But when the police went and searched it, they said no one was there. Still, every night, the lights come on for a bit and then go out. The doors open up and close by themselves. One minute you’ll see a window closed, and the next it’s open again. The yard’s unkempt and overgrown and messed up, and the ivy’s about to take over the house, but no one dares go near it. ‘Cause if you do, the crazy man will get his chainsaw and hack you up. It’s not a person in there—it’s his ghost. And that’s why it’s haunted.”

Mulder and Scully were quiet for a moment. “And why aren’t you allowed to tell people that live outside Hillside?” Mulder asked.

“Because, that’s how the story starts,” Ashley explained. “It’s a Hillside secret. Not even the real estate office tells people about it. That’s what my dad says.”

“Ashley, what’s the house like on Halloween night? Is it very busy, with police all around it? Or is it kind of quiet?” Scully asked.

“There are two more cars than usual on Halloween. It’s kinda something all the kids go and stare at, until they’re told to move away. It’s kinda cool, like that. But we don’t want to get hacked up or something. So only stupid teenagers go past the fence in the backyard.”

“Thank you, Ashley, you’ve been very helpful,” Mulder said. “And I’m very glad you wrote that article.”

Ashley shrugged. “It was just a school project.”

“We’ll let you go back to your classroom now. Thanks for helping us out,” Scully said. Ashley smiled and went back into the classroom, leaving Mulder and Scully alone in the hallway.

“Well, I think it’s fairly obvious what’s going on here,” Scully said.

“Yes, I do too,” Mulder said, and started walking.

“I’m afraid to ask, Mulder,” Scully stated.

”Don’t worry, I don’t think this is a ghost, or an X-file,” Mulder stated.

Scully stopped in her tracks. “You don’t?”

“No, of course not. It’s pretty obvious what’s really happening.”

“Well…why don’t you enlighten me?”

“The chainsaw man—whatever his name is, we’ll have to look that up—he’s being harbored in the house by the police. Clearly it’s their own little secret. We’ve just got to get a warrant to go in and drag him out.”

Scully smiled, and looked down as she started walking.

“What?” Mulder asked. “You don’t think he exists, do you, Scully?”

“It’s a child’s tale, Mulder. And that house is condemned—a very attractive thing for children. It makes sense that there would be a police presence, especially on Halloween. Imagine what would happen if one of those kids went in there, and fell through the floor?”

“Explain the lights, then. And the windows.”

“Kids imagine things all the time. They love ghost stories, and you yourself admit that this is not a ghost.”

“Not a ghost. A fugitive,” Mulder said.

“A fugitive we’ve never heard of? A fugitive that is guilty of a violent killing spree with a chainsaw, from twenty-five years ago, that we haven’t heard of?”

“It’s possible. We don’t know every serial killer who’s ever walked the Earth.”

“But this is Virginia,” Scully argued, opening the front door to the school. “It’s too close to home. We would at least remember it from the nightly news. You would definitely remember something like that.”

“I was in England, and you were in college, and please tell me you didn’t watch the nightly news every day at college.”

“No,” she admitted reluctantly, “But I would’ve heard about something like this. It would have been all over American news everywhere.”

“I doubt it. If he only killed two people and it was contained to Virginia, it would have been a brief story on one or two nights of the week, and people may have mentioned it in casual conversation, but it wouldn’t have been big. We’ll find out, though.”

“Where are we going?”

“Back to the office. I want to look a few things up before we head to that house for the night.”

“For the—Mulder, we can’t spend Halloween night in a condemned house!”

“Why not? Sounds perfect to me.”

“We don’t even have a warrant, or backup, or…what are you planning on doing? Waiting for the chainsaw man to come home from the grocery store?”

“I doubt he leaves very often.”

They climbed into their car, and Mulder started the engine. “Mulder, I want you to do me a favor,” Scully said.

“Ooooh, Scully, I thought you’d never ask,” Mulder said with a mischievous grin.

Scully rolled her eyes, and ignored the comment. “I want you to promise me you aren’t going to ditch me and go in there by yourself. If we’re going in, we’re going in together, and we’re doing it with backup and a warrant. If there is a chance that this chainsaw maniac is in there, then the police are obviously trying to protect him and we’ll be working against a madman and the locals.”

“I think we can dish out more reserves than little Hillside can,” Mulder said nonchalantly. “I’m not worried. But okay. I won’t go in alone. And we’ll approach the maniac with extreme caution.” He didn’t voice his happiness that Scully was acknowledging the maniac’s existence with so little argument. He didn’t want to spoil the moment.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

435 WESTBURY ST

HILLSIDE, VA

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31st, 2007

1800

Trick-or-treating had started in the tiny town. It was less than a mile across, but the kids were in every square meter they could occupy. They ran around happily, ready to start their candy-collection, or T.Ping and egging in some cases.

Mulder and Scully walked down the street, having parked a few blocks away, and surveyed the police presence casually. They noticed three cars, one hidden and two visible. The only way in seemed to be through the back. They had federal agents ready to move in and surround the place the minute they had confirmation of the suspect’s presence. The agents also had orders to detain any police officers who might try to resist the apprehension of the suspect.

What they had found at their office was disturbing. There was indeed a chainsaw maniac twenty-five years ago that no one had caught. No body had ever been found after the final chase that forced the killer’s car into the forest, and caused the vehicle to explode in a ball of fire. But no charred human remains had been sited, even after a careful inspection.

What was even more disturbing was Mulder’s discovery of the nearly successful cover-up that took place directly afterward. The maniac was the police chief’s younger brother. Mulder and Scully didn’t even bother talking to the man. From witness testimony, and what they pieced together, they had enough for a warrant. And surprisingly enough, Mulder had found a contingent of field agents willing to be his backup.

The one snag was that the house was, indeed, condemned and they had no idea about the infrastructure. They weren’t sure if they were walking into a booby trap or rotted floorboards from the moment they entered. So they had no choice but to enter carefully.

The police presence made that very difficult. Since they were operating under the radar, in a completely FBI-sanctioned mission to discover if the local police really were concealing a fugitive from the federal government, they had clearance to detain anyone who resisted. But that, naturally, would undermine the nature of their mission. If the occupant inside was alerted to their presence, there was a chance he could make a run for it.

Mulder spotted a hole in the woods right behind the house. “See that clearing?” he pointed.

“Yeah, I see it. Are we moving in that way?”

“We should try,” Mulder said. They were both wearing concealable GoldFlex vests under their shirts, which allowed them to look like they were wearing normal clothing, thanks to the nanotechnology. They carried their weapons in their holsters, but their jackets covered them up. Whenever someone would look in their direction, Mulder would grab Scully’s hand so they looked like a normal, civilian couple. And considering her reaction to the necessary but comfortable contact, Mulder wished people would look in their direction a little more often.

They were able to sneak through a few backyards to get to the woods behind the Westbury Street house, and saw the policeman guarding the door in the back. “Damn,” Mulder said, and swung back around the trunk of a tree, dropping to his butt as he leaned against it.

Scully sighed. “We’ve gotta create a diversion,” she said.

Mulder nodded, and spoke into his radio. “This is Agent Mulder,” he said on the secured channel. “Requesting diversion for a single officer guarding the back door.”

“Copy,” came the reply, and a moment later, some firecrackers were set off in the backyard of the house next door. The policeman rolled his eyes, and walked away from his post. “Hey!” Mulder and Scully heard him yell. “Hey, you kids, get out of there! Where are you? Where’d you go? Yeah, that’s right, leave before I call your parents!”

They took that as their opportunity to enter in the back door. They did so as quickly and quietly as possible, drawing their weapons and opening the creaky door carefully. They shut it once inside, and began scouting out the house.

It was full of cobwebs. There wasn’t a spot they could walk in without getting one on their face, arms, or hands. The dust was piled so high that Mulder felt like he was walking on sand, and he knew no one had been in this house for at least a decade. He was beginning to feel a little discouraged, when Scully gasped.

Mulder quickly made his way through the rotting wood-paneled house and reached her location. “What’s wrong?” He asked, gun extended in front of him.

“Mulder, look at this,” she said, looking curiously at the kitchen counter.

Mulder lowered his weapon slightly and glanced at the counter. There wasn’t a speck of dust on it. It was rotting, like the rest of the house, but there was no dust.

“Odd,” he said.

“Extremely. I think you may be right—there could be someone living here.”

“Then how did he get to the kitchen? There are no footprints in the dust.”

“I have no idea,” Scully said, shaking her head.

“Maybe he really is a ghost.”

She rolled her eyes. “You take the upstairs. I’ll see if there’s a basement.”

He nodded, and extended his weapon again.

“Be careful on the stairs,” she told him.

He listened, and tried each step before putting his full weight on it. Before he knew it, though, he was on the second floor of the tiny house, and encountered nothing more than more dust, and some vacant rooms. The hinges on the doors had rusted completely, and every door had fallen off. Mulder was surprised that such decay occurred in such a short amount of time—the house had been abandoned and condemned since 1967, but it had lasted 102 years prior to that. Perhaps it had just been in existence for too long.

Mulder heard a noise, and turned his head and his gun instantly. He walked carefully into the room from which it came, holding his weapon and flashlight straight out in front of him in a cross-hand position.

The second he entered the room, though, he felt something heavy come down on top of him and he collapsed, as the world faded.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

435 WESTBURY ST

HILLSIDE, VA

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31st, 2007

1830

Mulder awoke handcuffed to a very rusty pipe, sitting on the ground. He looked around, and wished he could rub his aching head. He didn’t see anyone, and so he called, “Scully! Scully, I need help!”

“Shut up, or I’m gonna have to do something you’re not gonna like,” a voice said. Then a man emerged from the closet. He wore all black, looked to be in his late fifties, and carried a chainsaw in his hand. He matched the picture of the police chief’s younger brother.

“Mulder?” Scully called, and they heard her mount the creaky steps.

“Sorry ‘bout this,” the man said with a wicked smile, and stomped once on the floorboard he was standing on. Suddenly, everything began shaking, and there was an enormous crash. Mulder heard Scully scream.

“Scully!” He called, panicked, as he struggled against the handcuffs. “Scully! What did you do to her, you bastard?!”

The man rolled his eyes. “Oh, please, stop your whining. She’s not dead. Just buried.”

“You son of a bitch, I’ll—”

“Not from this position, you won’t,” the man said, stepping out of reach of Mulder’s low kick and stomping on the floorboard in one motion. The floor directly beneath Mulder caved at that moment, and the agent dropped downward, only to be stopped by his hands, secured on the rusty pipe. He cried out in agony, and hung there painfully, half supported by the piece of floorboard sticking against his back, and half by his now bloody wrists.

“I’m gonna enjoy this,” the maniac said with a nasty grin, and started up his chainsaw.

XXXX

One story below them, Scully was half-buried by collapsed floorboards. Her upper body was exposed though, and when she came to, she groaned in pain and tried to extricate herself. She found she couldn’t. She tapped her hand against the radio in her ear, and said, “Request backup, request backup, move in immediately! Move in!” Then she placed her hand on her head, and felt the sticky liquid that could only be blood.

She tried again to extricate herself just as she heard the sound of sirens and commotion outside. This time, she was able to wiggle most of her lower body free. It took her a few more moments, but she was fueled by adrenaline and the ever-present, urgent screams from upstairs. She knew Mulder was in trouble. They had found their killer.

She knew the sixth step was barely accessible, but the upper half of the stairs were still intact, and she had to get up there quickly. She found her gun and picked it up with a bloodied hand, holstered it, and climbed on top of the unstable rubble. She leapt for the sixth stair, scraping her hands and nearly falling off in the process. She gripped the rotting floorboards and pulled with all her might, thinking only of Mulder and what could be causing those horrified screams. Images of chainsaws descending on her partner were ever-present in her mind.

She hauled her leg up to the sixth stair and rolled into a position where she could get to her knees, and climb the rest of the way up. She nearly fell off twice when the boards started to give way, but she made it up the short flight and half dove, half stumbled, into the room where the screams were coming.

Drawing her weapon as she entered the room, she quickly assessed the situation. Mulder was hanging by his hands from a rusty pipe—one that would likely break soon. He was unable to pull himself up, quite obviously, as at least one of his arms had to be already dislocated. And from his position, Scully could tell that the floorboards from the collapsed floor were likely sticking into his back, if not penetrating it.

She pointed her weapon at the older man standing over her partner with a running chainsaw. Its blade was far too close to his skin for her comfort. “Turn it off and drop it, now,” Scully yelled.

“Scully—” Mulder cried in pain, looking at her with…concern? How could he be concerned about her when he was the one hanging by his wrists from a rusty pipe?

“I ain’t stoppin’ for no one. This is my first kill in—”

Before he could continue, and just as he lowered the chainsaw so it was level with Mulder’s midsection, Scully put a bullet in his temple. He dropped to the side, the chainsaw falling on top of him and slicing his own midsection open. Scully shot the machine, after quickly scanning for a battery and making sure she wouldn’t blow them to kingdom come by shooting a gas tank. When the chainsaw ceased running, she ran over to Mulder.

“Scully, my God…” Mulder panted.

“I know, Mulder, I’m gonna get you out of here.”

“No—I’m okay—”

“You’re not okay,” Scully said. That much was obvious by his labored speech and profuse sweating. She assessed his position, and after quickly determining that he didn’t have any broken bones, she asked, “Do you think you can bring your legs up if I supported your torso?”

He squinted in pain, and nodded. “Scully, please…let someone else—you’re hurt.”

“I’m fine, Mulder,” Scully said.

Mulder shook his head. “Your ear,” he said, before he couldn’t help but cringe in agony, and yell out at the pain.

Scully reached her hand up to her ear, where she felt a flap of skin clearly open and bleeding profusely. She still didn’t feel it, but she knew she would soon. She could only imagine how it might look. “It’s okay, Mulder,” she said quickly. She hugged his torso tightly, trying to support it and alleviate some stress from his arms. He cried out in pain, and she said, “Pull your legs up. Come on, you have to try, Mulder. I know it hurts, just try, damn it!”

Mulder yelled the entire time he was attempting to get his legs out, and by the time he managed to raise one knee so that it was level with the floor, a fireman walked in with a paramedic not far behind.

“We can take over, Ma’am,” the fireman said. “Alright, Sir, we’re gonna get you out of there. Don’t worry.”

“I’m a medical doctor,” Scully explained. “And I’m his partner. Let me help—I’ve already assessed his condition.”

“You need some help yourself, Ma’am,” the paramedic said.

“I don’t think he has any broken bones,” Scully said quickly, ignoring their protest. She watched as the fireman supported Mulder’s back on a short backboard, and alleviated some of the stress from the jagged floorboards digging into his back. “He can move his legs. You just need to pull him out slightly. One or both shoulders might be dislocated, be careful—” she tried to say, but the two of them were already on their way to extricating Mulder. They had him out fairly quickly, and they cut the handcuffs off of him and loaded him on a portable stretcher.

“We’re gonna have to get him out the window,” the paramedic said. “We can’t navigate that staircase.”

“Absolutely agreed,” the fireman said. “We’ll get the chopper over here,” he stated, and radioed it in. It wasn’t long before the chopper arrived, and they broke the window open.

During the exchange, Scully’s eyes wondered from Mulder’s form to the suspect lying dead on the floor. She couldn’t believe what she saw next.

The man rose, grabbed his chainsaw, and before Scully could even get a shot off, walked through the walls.

Only a few seconds after that, she collapsed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

GEORGETOWN MEDICAL CENTER

GEORGETOWN, VA

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31st, 2007

2000

Scully entered Mulder’s room with a bandage around her head, over her ear. The ear wound hadn’t caused any nerve damage, and had required nineteen stitches but had otherwise been superficial.

But she had gone into shock and had only woken up after receiving blood and being hooked up to an IV. She now traveled, as was hospital policy, in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse.

Mulder’s left shoulder had been dislocated, but his right was just strained. Both wrists were bandaged and his left arm was in a sling, but he was otherwise no worse for wear. He was expected to be released that night, while they wanted to keep Scully overnight for observation.

“Hey,” Mulder said, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and getting up to meet her. “I can take it from here,” he said to the nurse.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but I can’t let you do that,” the nurse stated.

Mulder rolled his eyes. “I should’ve been the one to come see you, Scully,” he said as they walked back to his bed together. He held her hand once he had climbed up onto the bed, and she smiled at him. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, Mulder. They’re just keeping me for observation.”

“I’m sorry to make you come over here. You really shouldn’t be out of bed.”

“Tell me about it,” the nurse said.

“Do you think you can give us a few minutes alone?” Scully asked the nurse.

The woman rolled her eyes. “If you get out of that wheelchair, it better be to get into a bed.”

“Oh, so that’s how this hospital operates,” Mulder said with a grin. “I don’t think we’ll have trouble following those instructions.”

The nurse muttered something about ‘need to retire’ before she left.

Scully chuckled at Mulder, and smiled tiredly at him. “How’s your arm?”

“It’s okay. It’ll be fine. Scully, you’re never going to guess what the police found when they searched the house.”

Scully eyed him suspiciously, and he continued. “Nothing. Not a trace of him anywhere, Scully. You shot him. I saw you shoot him. I saw him fall—but he’s not there. Someone must have stolen the body. They’re gonna want to question you, when you feel up to it. Did you see anything after I was loaded onto the helicopter?”

Scully hesitated, and looked down. “You have to understand, Mulder, I had a concussion, I was in shock…I was probably delirious.”

“What did you see?” he asked excitedly.

She looked up at him, and smiled slightly. He’s gonna have a field day with this. “I saw him get up and walk through the wall. But it was a concussion-induced image, it means nothing—”

“It proves he was really a ghost,” Mulder said.

“No, Mulder, it proves that someone stole the body and I couldn’t process the information.”

Mulder frowned. “Who would want to steal the body, Scully? And how would they get it through the wall?”

“I don’t know, but it’s the only viable explanation. If he really was a ghost, then why would he have fallen when I shot him?”

Still frowning in thought, the agent let go of Scully’s hand. He rotated his right shoulder carefully, and shook his head. “Maybe he didn’t want anyone to know about his existence.”

“And why would that be?”

“He’s a ghost. I don’t know why they do what they do, what motivation they could possibly have. And let’s hope I don’t find out anytime soon.”

Scully smiled. “Yes, let’s hope for that.” She reached out for his hand again, and gave it a squeeze.

“Thanks for what you did in there, Scully.”

“No problem,” Scully said, meeting his eyes and starting to smirk. “But now you owe me one.”

Mulder laughed. “Always, Scully. Always.”

Zany Costume

TITLE: Zany Costume

AUTHOR: Erin M. Blair

E-MAIL: eblair@sonic.net / erinmblair@gmail.com

FEEDBACK: Yes, please.

DISTRIBUTION: VS14 for a couple of weeks, then to

Gossamer, Ephemeral, and the mailing lists!

RATING: R.

CATEGORIES: SRA — Story, Romance, Angst.

KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully Romance.

SPOILERS: Up to Je Souhaite; VS12 Displacement; various

VS spoilers. Nothing too major…

DISCLAIMER: Mulder, Scully, and Margaret Scully belong to

Chris Carter.

SUMMARY: Scully confides to her mother about Mulder’s desire

to wear a strip club dress outfit for Halloween. Mulder and

Scully get steamy…

NOTES: Special thanks to Dev for beta reading this one. I know

it took me long enough… 🙂 I was inspired by reading one of

FatCat’s steamy stories with Donnilee and I thought just the

*idea* of Mulder wearing a strip club dancer outfit for

Halloween would be like…

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

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Zany Costume

Written by: Erin Blair

“Mom, Mulder’s crazy.”

“Dana, you don’t mean to say that your partner -”

“I told him about the Halloween party that one of our co-

workers is holding in the cafeteria. And he picks out this crazy

outfit – ”

“It’s for Halloween,” Maggie said, frowning. “What’s so crazy

about that?”

“We have a case that we’re dealing with for the past few weeks.

I can’t go into details, but we have to go to court about the

evidence in a different case on that day. He said he’s going to

wear that to court!”

Maggie sighed. Now she understood why her daughter was

upset about Mulder’s idea of wearing the costume her daughter

was holding up her partner’s black tear away pants, cuffs, and

red bow tie. There was no shirt in the ensemble. “He is going to

pretend that he’s a strip club dancer?”

“Oh, yes.”

“A strip club dancer? Dana, I think this might be great for you.”

“Mom!”

“He obviously loves you enough to show you a very good time.”

“Mom, we have court that day! He can’t wear that there!” Her

face reddened while she continued to picture it in her mind. “No

matter how much I think he would be the hottest man there – it

just won’t look good to the outside world.”

“How so?”

“Mom, don’t tease me.”

“I’m not, honey. People would be dressing up in costumes,

probably even zanier than what Fox would be wearing. It’s

Halloween, for goodness sakes!” She paused. “Think of all the

possibilities of this costume, Dana. It would be great for um,

some interesting positions.”

“Mom!”

“Dana, I’m just trying to help.” Maggie turned around and saw

Mulder standing there in the doorway, smirking at both of

them.

“How long have you been standing there, Mulder?”

“For fifteen minutes, Scully.”

“Oh, my God! You heard practically everything,” Scully said,

blushing. This conversation has been a sort of embarrassment

over details about her sex life with Mulder. Scully didn’t want to

discuss the big “it” with her mother and then finding out that

Mulder had heard the whole thing. Her face simply flushed

again like a red tomato and her eyes gazed at Mulder.

“Well, it’s certainly a revelation that Maggie thinks that this,” he

pointed to the costume, “would be helpful to our sex life,

Scully.”

Scully sighed. She never was fond of revealing private details

about herself with anyone, but she has been opening herself up

like a book to Mulder and by extension, her mother. “I can

imagine what sexual positions that I want to do to you,

Mulder.”

Mulder smiled. He loved it when he caught Scully in an

embarrassing proposition, which usually led to a blissful night

with just the two of them. “Oh, really?”

Scully nodded seductively. She smiled at him and thought of

that negligee that she bought. “I need to get you alone, G-Man.

I love it when we’re together. Like last week.” Oh yes, last

week was a fun-filled lustful night of relaxation and making love

until the early morning sunrise. Her memory of the skin-to-skin

contact between the sheets came back, giving her a wonderful

release.

Mulder laughed nervously. He had an idea what Scully was up

to, but decided not to let on that he knows anything about it.

“Um, Scully, your mother’s still here. I don’t think…we should

do that now.”

“I’ll leave you two alone now,” Maggie said with a knowing

smile.

Scully hug her mother. “I’ll talk to you later, Mom.”

“Take care of yourself, Dana. I want details of your adventures

with Fox.”

Scully whispered in her mother’s ear and nodded. “I will.” With

that, she watched her leave the apartment and turned towards

to Mulder.

“Are you planning something, Scully?”

“Um, no.”

“You’re a bad liar.”

“Mulder… Mom wanted us to be alone together. She thinks

we’re too busy with cases.”

“Oh.”

“And we should do something about that, don’t you think?”

Scully asked, purring like a tigress wanting to get together with

her mate.

“I think we should,” Mulder agreed.

~*~*~

The End

Ghosts, Ghoulies, and Gunmen

Title: GHOSTS, GHOULIES & GUNMEN

Authors: Foxglove and AnubisKV5

Summary: Frightening things happen on All Hallow’s Eve

Rating: for everyone

Category: V

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.

Written for the Virtual Season 14 Halloween Special Event

Archive: Exclusive VS 14 two weeks, then with permission

comments: pstanford@vtown.com.au and AnubisKV5@cs.com

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**********

Halloween wraps fear in innocence,

As though it were a slightly sour sweet.

Let terror, then, be turned into a treat,

Lest it undermine our commonsense.

Our nightmares are the founts of fancy whence

We wander through the fields of our conceit,

Eluding the true horror we must meet

Embodied in the play of our pretence,

Now ranged across the night in our defence.

~ Nicholas Gordon

**********

October 31st

7:30 p.m.

“It’s a conspiracy.”

“Perpetrated by whom?” Dana Scully’s answer to Fox Mulder’s declaration held a

slightly amused tone.

His nose almost pressed against the front window and his face colored an odd shade

of orange by the flashing pumpkin-shaped fairy lights that he had hung up earlier in

the day, Mulder turned and glared at his partner. “I don’t know, but it has to be.”

“Because it’s raining?”

Mulder turned back to his vigil. The heavy rain had been coming down in sheets for

some time now, pelting against the large front window.

With the tip of his finger, he traced one of the numerous drops on its path down the

glass, ending by drawing an alien head in the condensation. “It’s not just raining,

Scully.” Mulder hesitated, and then said. “It’s Noah weather.”

“Noah weather?”

“Yeah, you know, lots and lots of rain, cubits and cubits of ark, animals, two by two,

flood, etc.”

“I know what you’re referring to Mulder, but it’s not that bad.” Scully tucked her feet

under herself and snuggled into the corner of the couch. “Besides, we could really do

with the rain.”

“Yeah, I know, but did it have to be tonight? Of all nights? All Hallows Eve, the only

time of the year when people are encouraged to dress up and challenge, mock,

tease, torture and appease the dread forces of the night, of the soul, and of the

otherworld that becomes our world on this night of reversible possibilities?”

Mulder heaved a frustrated sigh and took a final glance out at the deserted street;

seeing no masses of little costumed ghoulies and ghosties, he twitched the curtains

back into place.

Scully cast a fond glance at her partner. “You know, I think that you’re more

disappointed than the kids.”

His hands pressed against his hips, Mulder threw a wistful glance at the table by the

front door that held a huge bowl of assorted candies and the pumpkin that had taken

him several painstaking hours and an assortment of Scully’s scalpels to carve into an

evil, maliciously grinning Jack O’Lantern.

“I still think we could have managed, Tara didn’t have to cancel you know.” He

sighed. “We could have used umbrellas and I know the kids have raincoats.”

“Sloshing through ankle-deep water is not everybody’s idea of fun, Mulder.” Scully

broke in. “And, it wouldn’t have been half as much fun because Matthew and Claire

couldn’t show off their costumes.”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.” Mulder strode across the room and dropped

lethargically onto the couch next to his partner, crossing one leg over the other. He

reached out and flicked his fingers at one of the furry spiders that bounced back and

forth atop the deely-bopper headband that Scully was wearing, her only concession

to a costume for the evening.

“So, now that trick or treating is out, what do you wanna do?” He asked.

“There’s probably a really bad horror movie on TV that you haven’t watched since

last Halloween.” Scully smiled.

Mulder shrugged his shoulders and reached for the remote control. The TV flared into

life and he began rapidly flipping channels, looking for something to take his interest.

Unable to follow the ever-changing picture on the screen, Scully reached for the

magazine she’d abandoned earlier that evening. She picked up where she had left off

on a rather interesting article and left Mulder to his own devices.

**********

9:00 p.m.

Mulder was thoroughly entranced by the old black and white version of Hitchcock’s

classic movie ‘The Birds’ that he had finally settled on.

He’d never admit it to Scully, but he found the bleached blonde, Tippi Hedren,

extremely annoying, reminding him of Marita Covarrubias. Mulder secretly enjoyed

watching her get pecked nearly to death when she was stupid enough to go into the

attic of that house.

Any student of horror movies knew that was a really, really moronic and ultimately

deadly thing to do.

Hell, he learned that himself VERY early on when he first got into the X-Files.

However, it never stopped him from walking right into the next horroresque X-File

situation.

Mulder slouched on the sofa, one hand following a steady path between his mouth

and the large bowl of heavily-buttered popcorn propped by his leg; the other hand

was preoccupied stroking Scully’s sock encased feet, which were comfortably

ensconced upon his lap.

The sudden, loud and insistent thumping on the front door took both agents by

surprise.

Mulder jumped up, just managing to save the bowl of popcorn from hitting the floor

as he gained his feet.

Hurrying to the door, he pulled it open and stared in bemusement at the trio of

unlikely ghostly visitors on their doorstep.

“Trick or treat!” Ringo Langly and Melvin Frohike raucously chorused while John

Byers stood at the rear of the small group, his usual placid expression firmly in place.

Langly pushed past Mulder and stood just inside the doorway dripping on the floor.

Shaking his rain-drenched hair, he removed his glasses and attempted to wipe them

on his thoroughly soaked t-shirt.

Frohike shouldered his way out of a dilapidated orange and brown raincoat and

wiped a hand across his face. “Man alive, it’s coming down out there!”

Joining them at the door, Scully grabbed at the raincoat before Frohike could drape it

across the nearest piece of furniture.

“What are the three of you doing out on a night like this?” She asked in total

amazement as Byers carefully shook his umbrella free of raindrops and propped it in

the entryway.

“We were doing the tour of the Halloween light displays.” Langly answered.

“Were doing the tour?” Mulder grinned. “What happened, did you get thrown off the

bus for inappropriate comments?”

Byers did an uncanny impression of Scully raising her eyebrows. “We didn’t do the

official tour.”

“Huh?” Mulder questioned.

Langly glowered at the shortest Gunman. “Scrooge here, decided that we could save

the fifteen bucks each and instead follow the tour bus ourselves.”

“Hey jerkwad, it saved us forty-five dollars.” Frohike griped.

“Unfortunately,” Byers broke in before the squabble escalated. “Some of the roads

were flooded and impassable, so we had to turn back.”

“A bust huh?” Mulder returned from a quick trip to the linen closet, where he had

grabbed a handful of towels; he passed one to each man and used another to mop

up the puddles on the floor.

Frohike stood in the middle of the room, towel dangling from one hand and looked

around him at all the Halloween touches; wispy cobwebs adorned the banisters on

the stairs, on the mantle above the fireplace a pumpkin vine garland was looped

around an assortment of candles.

However, the ornament that really attracted his attention was situated on a low table

near the large front window.

A small tree, bare black branches all gnarled and bent was decorated with little white

balls.

Frohike stepped closer to the little tree. “Aren’t you guys a bit early for Christmas?”

He asked glancing back at the two agents.

Scully hid a smile behind her hand. “It’s not a Christmas tree, Melvin.”

“It’s not?” He said in surprise. “Sure looks like one, bit bare of course.” He bent

down and his eyes widened.

“Eww, gross, they’re eyeballs!” He exclaimed.

Mulder looked up from his chore and grinned, “Yeah, aren’t they great?”

“Not especially, no,” Frohike backed away from the tree and handed Mulder his

towel.

Langly and Byers moved to look at the tree as well.

“Well, for once I can truly say it’s gnarly,” Langly commented.

Byers only bent closer. “What’s the thick … goo … that’s dripping off them? It looks

real.”

“Oh, it’s just a little something left over that Scully brought home from the autopsy

bay,” Mulder commented, his mind still on mopping up water.

Byers stepped quickly away, “WHAT?!!”

Scully grinned. “He was joking, John. It’s just a nice little conglomeration Mulder

made up of Caro Syrup, mayonnaise and a touch of food coloring,” she turned to

look at her partner, “which Mulder WILL clean up.”

“Yes, Mother,” Mulder, stated, grinning and looking up at her from under his lashes.

Scully grinned back and watched happily as Mulder continued to clean up after the

Gunmen. It had taken her a long time, but she had finally trained Mulder to clean up

after himself–mostly. The recriminations if he didn’t just weren’t worth it.

Those recriminations usually carried over into the bedroom, so Mulder was always

very eager to make sure water, mud, green ooze, ectoplasm and any other “stuff” he

usually tracked in didn’t stay long.

Langly had his towel over his head and was vigorously rubbing his hair. “Well, it was

a bust to a degree; actually, the van broke down just a couple blocks away from

here. I think something got wet.”

“A bit like you?” Scully questioned. “Do you want to borrow one of Mulder’s shirts? I

can put yours in the dryer.”

Frohike snorted. “Put any of his clothes within spitting distance of a clothes dryer and

they’ll disintegrate.”

Langly peered myopically out from under the towel. “Uh no, it’s okay.” He pulled the

saturated piece of clothing away from his body. “Can’t put this in a dryer, it’s got

that printing stuff on it.”

Scully narrowed her eyes and stared at the words written across the thin man’s

chest.

Langly stretched the wrinkles out of his shirt and watched as Scully read the words.

“Langly!” She exclaimed and put a hand to her mouth, hiding the smile that curved

her lips.

Mulder looked across from where he was diligently rubbing the towel back and forth

across the floor with his foot. “Scully? What’s up?” His eyes travelled over to where

the blond Gunman was holding his shirt out away from his body.

Mulder read the words out loud. “All grown up and still fascinated by nipples.” A

devilish look crossed his face and he smirked at his partner. “Hey Scully, I want a

shirt like Langly’s.”

“Forget it Mulder.” Scully lifted one eyebrow. “It’s not going to happen.”

“What are you complaining about, man?” Frohike asked without thinking, still drying

himself off. “You’ve got the best nipples around!”

Everyone stopped dead and Scully turned to glare at Frohike, who, noticing the

sudden silence, looked up and around at everyone. Then he looked at Scully, realized

his major faux paus.

“I m-meant your OWN nip-nipples, Mulder.” Frohike corrected himself, stuttering

helplessly, never taking his eyes off Scully’s deadly raised eyebrow.

Scully gave him a death stare. “I’m SO relieved you find Mulder’s nipples

fascinating.”

Langly, Byers and Mulder laughed out loud as Frohike’s face turned scarlet.

With one final glare, Scully turned back to the blond Gunman.

“Give me your shirt and I’ll hang it up, it won’t dry completely but it’ll be better than

sitting around in wet clothes.” Scully made to leave the room but turned back.

“Um…your jeans? Are they wet too? You can use a pair of Mulder’s if you like.”

Mulder’s head snapped up, a dismayed expression on his face. “Scully!”

Throwing a glance in Mulder’s direction, Langly blushed and stammered. “N…no! Uh,

no really, I’m fine, just the shirt, thanks Scully.”

Scully nodded and walked into the bedroom, returning a moment later with a plain

gray t-shirt.

Langly peeled off the saturated item and handed it across before pulling the dry shirt

over his head. “Thanks.” Replacing his now dry glasses, his eyes widened at the

sight of Scully’s Halloween adornment. “Hey, cool deely-bopper, where’d you get it?”

“At the costume shop downtown.” Mulder answered, joining the group. “I couldn’t

find one with alien heads on it.” He stated in a disappointed tone. “So, instead I

settled for this shirt.” He pulled his shoulders back as three pairs of eyes scrutinized

the design on his button-down shirt.

The material was patterned with miniature grinning skulls, empty eye-sockets

dripping blood. The hem of the pale gray-tinted shirt was colored a deep red,

suggesting that the blood dripping from the skulls had pooled around the edges.

“I gotta admit Mulder,” Frohike shook his head. “It’s not something I woulda

chosen.” He turned away and his eyes lit up when he discovered the contents of the

bowl nearby.

“Dude, it’s righteous!” Langly exclaimed with satisfaction.

“Yeah, aliens aren’t quite in keeping with the theme of Halloween are they?” Frohike

asked as he dug through the candy.

“I don’t know, lots of kids used to dress up as ET.” Mulder said.

“ET was cute though.” Scully admitted as she attempted to herd Frohike away from

the candy and into the kitchen. “Anyone for coffee?”

“Some cocoa would be nice.” Byers handed Mulder his barely damp towel and

insinuated his body between the rapidly emptying bowl and his shorter cohort.

Frohike snorted judgmentally under his breath at Byers’ choice.

“Actually, that sounds really good.” Scully agreed. “Anyone else?”

Langly and Mulder both requested coffee.

“I’ll join you in a cup, Agent Scully.” Frohike ran his tongue over his lips and moved

to stand next to her. “Can I give you some assistance?”

Scully agreed, studiously ignoring his trademark leer, and suggested they all adjourn

to the kitchen.

As Scully bustled around filling cups, Mulder filled a plate with some cookies and

placed it on the table.

“Here you go guys, try one of these.”

Each man took one of the delicious-looking treats and bit into it, their first taste was

followed by a chorus of appreciation. Scully turned from the counter and looked

pleased with the reaction.

“Okay, Mulder, dude, where did you buy these? I gotta get some.” Langly asked.

“We didn’t buy them.” Mulder grinned as he set two cups down on the table.

“Scully’s Mom made them.”

Langly lifted another cookie from the plate and eyed the petite agent. “You reckon

your Mom would consider making us some?”

“I’m sure I could ask her for you.” She said as she placed steaming cups of cocoa in

front of Byers and Frohike. She returned to the counter for her cup just as the lights

suddenly dimmed and then brightened.

Everyone in the room looked up at the ceiling and then at each other. “Close.”

Mulder stated.

“With the current government’s attitude towards maintenance on the power grid as

well as the pittance that is spent on any infrastructure, it’s a wonder that the power

hasn’t gone out before now.” Frohike grumbled around a mouthful of cookie.

Scully reached up to an overhead cupboard and pulled out a box of candles. “Mulder,

will you go and get the candle holders? I think we’d better be prepared.”

Almost as if Scully’s words had been a signal, the lights flickered off again and then

on.

“Cool, a blackout on Halloween!” Langly grinned. “Can’t get much spookier than

that.”

“Scully, where are they?” Mulder’s voice carried in from the other room.

“On top of the bookcase, Mulder.”

“Where? Oh, never mind I see them.” Just as he called out, the lights flickered again,

but this time they stayed out.

The darkness was complete, unable to see her hand in front of her face, Scully

blindly felt through the kitchen drawer designated for bits and pieces until she felt

the shape of the box of matches under her fingers.

Never one to miss a beat, Langly broke out into an off-key but recognizable whistling

rendition of the “Twilight Zone” theme song.

“Weirdness!” Frohike muttered and grabbed for another cookie as Byers quite

accurately slapped his hand away in the total darkness. Frohike just glared in his

direction and reached for the cookie again. “Who do you think you are, my mother?”

“Agent Mulder offered us each ONE cookie,” Byers reminded him. “Don’t be greedy.”

“Oh, shut up you narc!” Langly snapped at him.

“Boys,” Scully started, “Don’t fight or the Halloween cookie fairy will…”

A thumping noise sounded suddenly from the living room followed by a crash and a

loud voice. “Damnit, I can’t see a thing!”

“Mulder, are you all right?” A match flared into life followed by the weak flickering of

candlelight.

“Yeah, I’m fine, just tripped over something.” He limped into the kitchen rubbing one

hand over his left knee, his glow-in-the-dark skeletons on his shirt gleaming a

weirdish green color.

“Next time, put your shoes away.” He was admonished.

“How’d you know it was my shoes?” He asked.

“Because you dumped them right by the bookcase earlier after Tara called.”

“Oh.”

The Gunmen snickered at the exchange.

The kitchen brightened slightly as Scully lit more candles. Placing one of the holders

in the center of the table, she sat back down and picked up her mug of cocoa.

“Where’s your Official FBI Issued Halogen Flashlight, Agent Mulder?” Frohike asked

sarcastically.

Mulder opened his mouth, but Scully answered instead. “Mulder has lost so many,

along with his weapon, that A.D. Skinner makes him check them out and back in

every day. He gets fined twenty-five dollars a day for every day he forgets to turn

them in.”

The Gunmen laughed, including Byers, at Mulder’s expense.

Mulder glared at the love of his life with a huge frown. “What is this? ‘Pick on Mulder

Night?'” He was still rubbing his knee.

‘Trust Mulder,’ Scully thought, ‘to get hurt IN the house on Halloween night.’

Scully smirked at him. “Just ignore him, boys. He’s just pissed off that he couldn’t go

out trick-or-treating.” She sipped her cocoa, watching Mulder in the candlelight.

She was certain she saw a bit of revenge brewing in his dark hazel glint, and hoped

it would wait until the Gunmen were gone.

Mulder had busied himself lighting kindling to start a fire he had laid in the fireplace

earlier in the evening. It would provide both heat and light, dismal, as that would be.

“That’s … an interesting pumpkin carving,” Byers observed from the table, staring

over at the Jack O’Lantern by the door.

“Did you carve it, Scully?” Langly asked.

“No,” Scully sipped her cocoa, “That’s all Mulder’s doing.”

“Yep,” Mulder smiled, jumped up from the hearth, hobbled over to the door and

brought the Jack O’Lantern back to the table.

The candle inside was still burning brightly, nicely illuminating the carving in a

weirdly flickering way.

Frohike leaned closer to get a better look at it. “Well, it’s really, really butt-ugly,

Mulder.” He looked up at his friend, “What is it?”

Mulder glanced at Scully who couldn’t contain her smile. “Well, it’s THE most hideous

and heinously evil thing Scully and I have ever experienced in all our years on the X-

Files.”

All three Gunmen leaned forward to peer at it inquisitively.

“Well, hell yeah, it’s ugly,” Langly agreed, “but what IS it, man?”

Scully really was trying hard not to laugh, but failing miserably, causing her deely-

boppered spiders to swing madly above her head, and receiving grins from her

partner.

“I figured if you really wanted to scare anyone, you needed to use, as a model,

something that you knew really well and that scared the piss out of you,” Mulder told

them. “It’s dear ol’ ex-FBI Assistant Director Alvin Kersh.”

Frohike nearly spit out his drink, Langly almost dropped his cup and Byers just

blinked, then all of them broke into peals of laughter.

“Looks just like the old tight-assed fart!” Frohike grinned.

“Yeah, that’d scare the crap out of anyone.” Langly observed.

“It IS a remarkable likeness,” Byers agreed, leaning forward again to get a better

look.

“Whatever the hell happened to old fart-face anyway?” Frohike asked.

“We don’t really know,” Scully told him. “He was booted out of the FBI…”

“Something he’d been trying to do to ME,” Mulder reminded them all, with a smile at

the irony.

“But, we really haven’t heard anything one way or the other; he just seems to have

dropped off the radar.” Scully said with a shrug, not really liking to talk about him,

and returned to her cocoa.

Langly was still staring at the Jack O’Lantern and asked, “How’d you do this,

Mulder?”

“Well, I…” but Mulder was cut off when all the candles in the place went out at the

same time, with the exception of the flickering candle in the Jack O’Lantern, Kersh’s

ugly mug staring at them all.

Everyone froze and looked around. “Just a breeze.” Scully commented serenely,

taking a sip of her cocoa again.

“Scully,” Mulder looked at her, “the power’s out; no air is moving in here, no

windows are open. How could they all go out at the same time?”

Scully looked at him, the shadows from the orangish glow on his face casting weird

shadows across his visage and making him look positively evil. “Oh no, Mulder!” she

told him. “Uh uh! No. No X-Files on All Hallow’s Eve!”

“Why not?” he grinned evilly, grabbing the box of matches and lighting the candles

on the table again. “It’s the perfect night for ghost stories, you know.”

Mulder had just finished lighting the candles when they all flickered out again, except

for the hideously carved Kersh Jack O’Lantern.

“Um…” Frohike looked around nervously. “I, um, I think we need to be going…”

“Oh, don’t be silly, Melvin,” Scully told him. “It’s just a coincidence. Besides,” she

looked at the windows and no light was leaking in from outside the curtains, “It looks

as if all the streetlights are out, too. It would be dangerous for you guys to get back

out in that van, even if you can get it started.”

This time, Scully grabbed the matches and relit the candles … only to have them go

out again almost immediately.

No one commented when she nervously scooted her chair closer to Mulder’s.

“Well, this is not how I’d planned to spend Halloween.” Mulder stated glumly, despite

the weird problems with keeping the candles lit.

“We can’t let a perfectly good October 31st go to waste.” Langly declared. “So, back

to what Mulder suggested; does anyone know any good ghost stories?”

Two of the occupants at the table expressed their doubts, Mulder on the other hand

brightened considerably.

“Yeah, I’m in. Scully?”

“I don’t believe in ghosts, Mulder.” She announced primly.

“You’ve had a ghostly encounter Scully; remember Maurice and Lyda?”

“Mulder, we agreed that never happened.”

“Uh, we agreed?” He replied disbelievingly. “I thought you decided that it was all in

our heads and I just went along with you.”

“Be that as it may, it still doesn’t negate the fact that I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Scully crossed her arms over her chest in defiance.

“Besides, Scully,” Mulder grinned at her, “Remember? Maurice and Lyda showed you

their ‘holes.’ And they didn’t show their ‘holes’ to just anyone.”

At the comment “Maurice and Lyda showed you their ‘holes,'” all three Gunmen

looked at each other — Frohike with a leer — and then back at Mulder and Scully,

expecting an explanation, which they didn’t receive.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mulder.” Scully’s expression was grim and

her face was typical ‘Scully-angry.’

Mulder propped his chin in his hand and sighed. “I have never figured out why you

find it so difficult to believe in things that break the rules of science as you know it,

even when you see those things with your own eyes.”

Frohike and Langly had grins plastered on their faces as they listened to the Agents’

differences of opinion.

“What’s your point Mulder?”

“My point is, that you don’t have to believe in ghosts, to tell ghost stories, Scully.”

Mulder put forth.

“What’s the purpose then?”

“Entertainment, amusement, distraction, every person’s God-given right to have the

beejesus scared out of them.” Mulder motioned to the ornament that Scully still

wore.

Scully rolled her eyes and sighed, making her deely-bopper spiders wiggle. “We get

enough of the real beejesus scared out of us at work, Mulder. Why would we want to

do it to ourselves at home?”

“You don’t necessarily believe in witches and goblins either, but you get involved in

Halloween.” Mulder pointed out to her.

“That’s different.”

“How?”

Scully opened her mouth, fully prepared to launch into a detailed explanation as to

how she had come to that decision, however the words just wouldn’t come. Instead

she crossed her arms again and glared at her partner. “It just is.” She declared.

Mulder stared at her in anticipation, waiting for clarification, when nothing more was

forthcoming, his eyes crinkled at the corners.

“‘It just is’?” He teased with a wide smile. “Dr. Dana Scully, M.D., Board Certified

Pathologist, purveyor of dead bodies and hard science everywhere and constant

proclaimer of ‘Mulder, that’s insane!’ And that’s the thrust of your argument, ‘It just

is’?”

Scully shot her partner a look that would have lesser men immediately running for

the hills. “Mulder, don’t make me hurt you.”

The others around the table burst into laughter causing a smile to creep across

Scully’s face.

Mulder grabbed one of Scully’s hands and pressed it to his lips. “All right, how about

us guys tell really bad ghost stories and you can tell us how illogical, irrational,

unscientific, unreasonable, how scary…”

“I get it Mulder.” She pursed her lips and tried to pull her hand away.

Mulder tightened his grip and grinned at his partner. “All right, who wants to go

first?”

Silence reigned around the table, until Frohike nervously cleared his throat. “Okay,

I’m game.”

He leaned his elbows on the table and clasped his hands, while he marshalled his

thoughts. Then with the bright flame from the Jack O’Lantern reflecting Kersh’s face

in his glasses, he began.

“They say that there once was a prospector wandering through the Yukon with his

two dogs, searching for gold. One evening as it neared dusk, he found himself mired

down in the muskeg – boggy country with water just underneath the surface of the

semi-frozen ground and just above the permafrost.

“It was a treacherous place, and would be very easy to sink beneath the surface and

be engulfed. The more the prospector and his dogs tried to free themselves from its

clutches, the more lost they became.

“Finally, the prospector found a firm spot on a small hill. There were a few scraggly

trees on the elevation, and he made a small fire and cooked up a bit of soup for

himself and his canine companions.

“As the stars came out overhead, the man tried to find a comfortable place to sleep,

knowing that in the morning, he and the dogs would once again face the quagmire.

“At last, the prospector fell into an uneasy sleep. As he slept, he dreamt that a fierce

native warrior was standing over him, threatening him with a spear.

Frohike deepened his voice. “‘Why have you invaded this sacred ground?’ the warrior

demanded. ‘Leave at once or I will kill you!’

“‘I am lost in the muskeg,’ the prospector said in his dream. ‘Show me the way out,

and I will gladly leave.’

“The warrior frowned down at him. ‘I am the protector of this place, and cannot

forsake it. But I will summon a guide for you.’

“The warrior raised his arms toward the sky and called something in a tongue the

prospector could not understand. Then he vanished.

“The sudden growling of his dogs awakened the prospector. Sitting up, he beheld the

glowing figure of a beautiful Native American woman standing at the bottom of the

hill. He blinked in amazement, and felt chills run all over his body.

“The woman beckoned to him, and to his surprise, his dogs ceased their growling

and ran up to her. They pranced around her like pups, and he felt his fear fade away.

“Packing up his gear, the prospector made his way down the darkened hillock to the

treacherous muskeg that surrounded it.

“The glowing woman smiled at him. She raised her arms in the same gesture used

by the warrior in his dream, and transformed into a beautiful snow-white hare. The

glowing hare hopped slowly ahead of the prospector, leading him eastward.

“The prospector followed it closely, deviating neither left nor right from its path. The

dogs followed him eagerly and showed no interest in chasing the hare.

“For several hours, the prospector and his dogs followed the glowing animal through

the treacherous twists and turns of the quagmire.

“Just before dawn, they reached solid ground. The prospector looked around and

knew where he was.

Ahead of him, the white hare became once more the beautiful, glowing figure of a

woman.

“The dogs danced up to her, and she patted them on the head. Then she offered the

prospector a sweet smile and vanished as the first rays of the sun pierced the

horizon.”

Frohike fell silent and looked around the table in interest.

Scully was staring deeply into the mesmerising flame inside the pumpkin. Mulder had

an intrigued expression upon his face, Byers was leaning back in his chair, his face

obscured by the darkness; Langly however was staring at him open-mouthed.

“What?” Frohike exclaimed.

“You call that a ghost story?” The blond Gunman’s voice dripped with disgust.

“It fitted the criteria, it was a story and it involved ghosts…so yeah.” Frohike shot

back.

“Man, you don’t know anything about how to tell a really scary story.”

“Like you could do better.” Frohike muttered.

“With my eyes closed. My Kung-Fu is the best!” Langly announced, leaning towards

the shortest Gunman.

“Hey guys.” Mulder butted in.

“See what you started Mulder?” Scully glared as the two Gunmen began to hurl

insults at each other.

Byers leaned forward and laid his hand gently on Scully’s. “It’s okay, Agent Scully.”

He spoke in his normal, quiet tone. “They’re always like this.”

“You’re sure, John?” Scully questioned.

“Positive.” Byers let his friends continue their verbal attacks for a few more seconds

before clearing his throat.

Almost immediately, Langly and Frohike fell silent. Byers looked from one man to the

other, his mild gaze quelling their antagonism with more success than any words.

“I believe you were next.” He nodded at Langly.

“All right!” Langly exclaimed enthusiastically. Tossing a glance of contempt in

Frohike’s direction, he continued. “This is how you tell a ghost story.”

“This is supposed to be a true story. Somewhere in Pennsylvania there’s an

abandoned property with a monstrous, decrepit Victorian house that was supposed

to be haunted.

“It should have been a good resting place for the local deer hunters, but they won’t

go near it. A few that have tried have come away before midnight with tales of

ghostly thumping noises, gasps, moans, and a terrible wet bloodstain that appeared

on the floor of the front porch and could not be wiped away.” Langly widened his

eyes and continued, his voice almost a whisper, cadenced purposefully to make the

others lean towards him.

“Aubrey Phelps was an Englishman dude who, in the early 1800’s, had purchased

land and built a huge, fancy Victorian house all covered with gingerbread trimmings

and surrounded by lovely gardens.

“When everything was arranged to this dude’s liking, he sent out party invitations to

everyone within messenger range. It was the biggest social event of the year, with

music and dancing and huge amounts of food. Sawhorse tables were set up with

refreshments, and drinks were set out on the front porch.

“People came from miles around. The only one missing was the son-in-law of an old

man named McInturf. They had had a terrible fight that afternoon, and the boy had

stalked off in a rage, threatening to get even with the old man.

“Around midnight, the musicians took a recess and old man McInturf went out on the

front porch with some friends to enjoy snifters of brandy and smoke their cigars.

“Suddenly there came the thunder of hooves rushing up the lane. A cloaked figure

rode towards the lantern-lit porch. McInturf put down his drink. “That will be my son-

in-law,” he told his friends as he went down the steps.

“The cloaked figure stopped his horse just outside the pool of lantern-light. There

was a sharp movement and two loud shots cracked from a gun.

“Old man McInturf staggered backwards, shot in the throat and the chest. The

cloaked man wheeled his horse and fled down the lane as friends ran to the

assistance of the old man.

“McInturf was laid down on the porch. He was bleeding heavily and they were afraid

to move him much. There was some talk of fetching the doctor, but everyone knew it

was too late.

“So much blood was pouring from the old man’s wounds that it formed a pool

underneath his head. McInturf coughed, once, twice; a hideous, gurgling, strangling

sound that wrenched at the hearts of all who heard it. Then he died.

“McInturf’s body was laid out on the sofa, and the once-merry guests left in stricken

silence. The servants came and wiped the red-brown bloodstain off the floorboards.

“The next day, a wagon was brought to the front of the house and McInturf’s body

was carried out onto the porch.

“As the men stepped across the place where McInturf had died, blood began to pool

around their boots, forming a wet stain in exactly the pattern that had been wiped

up by the servants the night before.

“The men gasped in fear. One of them staggered and almost dropped the body. They

hurriedly laid McInturf in the back of the wagon, and a pale Phelps ordered the

servants to clean up the fresh bloodstain.

“From that day forward, the Phelps could not keep that part of the porch clean.

Every few weeks, the damp bloodstain would reappear. They tried repainting the

porch a few times, but the bloodstain would always leak through.

“In the county jail, McInturf’s son-in-law died of a blood clot in the brain.

“A few months later, one of the Phelps’ servants went mad after seeing a ‘terrible

sight’ that made his head feel like it was going to explode.

“Folks started saying the house was being haunted by the ghost of McInturf, seeking

revenge.

“The property was resold several times but each resident was driven out by the

terrible, gasping ghost of the old dead dude McInturf reliving his last moments and

by the bloodstain that could not be removed from the porch. The house was

eventually abandoned.”

Langly sat back in his chair and nodded at the others around the table. “Now that’s

a ghost story!

There was a pregnant pause as everyone looked at each other in the orange glow of

the Jack O’Lantern.

Scully was the first to comment. “The blood stain mustn’t have been properly

removed in the first place.”

Three of the men at the table turned and cast varying levels of incredulous looks at

her.

“Is that your official scientific opinion, Doctor Scully?” Mulder asked, blinking

owlishly at her.

“Blood just doesn’t reappear after it’s been correctly cleaned up.” She stated. “And

this supposedly happened back in the early 1800’s. They would have only had soap

and water, no doubt that’s exactly what happened.”

Narrowing her eyes, Scully stared at Langly through the flickering light. “If, of

course, this was, as you said, a true story, somehow I have my reservations.”

“Scully.” Mulder straightened from his slouched position and leaned towards her.

“Don’t ever change.”

“I beg your pardon, Mulder?” She enquired.

“I don’t want you to ever change from being yourself, your skeptical, disbelieving,

unconvinced, dubious, doubting-Thomas self.” He finished off with a flourish and

wrapped his arm about her shoulders. Pressing a kiss into her hair, he murmured.

“Because it’s those qualities that make you MY Scully.”

Scully smiled, then turned and kissed him on the cheek. Mulder’s other arm went

around her and their lips were about to meet when Frohike piped up and asked,

“Um, do you two want to be alone, or can we watch?”

Scully pulled away from her partner, and even in the light of the Kersh O’Lantern,

everyone could see her blush. Mulder looked from Scully to Frohike and grinned.

It wasn’t often that Scully let her defences slip in front of anyone, but it was certainly

a sign of how much she trusted the Gunmen to actually forget herself in their

presence.

She pushed her chair back and stood up. “You okay Scully?” Mulder enquired,

turning to catch her hand.

“Yes, I…ah, how about we go sit in the living room, it’ll be more comfortable than

these kitchen chairs.”

Trailing after Scully, like ducklings, the Gunmen made their way into the living room

and arranged themselves onto various pieces of furniture, leaving the love seat

couch for the agents.

Mulder brought up the rear cradling the Kersh O’Lantern. He placed it on the low

coffee table in the middle of the room before lowering himself onto the couch next to

his partner and slinging an arm along the back of the couch.

The weak light cast from the single candle inside the lantern sent eerie shadows

around the room, the light from the fire not really helping, and Scully couldn’t help

the involuntary shiver that raced down her spine.

Mulder felt the shudder that coursed through his partner, he moved closer so that his

body was touching hers and slung his arm around her shoulders.

“So,” Langly said, flexing his shoulders and grinning at the other occupants of the

room. “Who’s next?”

Frohike eyed Mulder. “Come on G-man, betcha you’ve got a real life ghost tale

haven’t you?”

Mulder tipped his head to one side and regarded the small man with raised

eyebrows. “Maybe.” He twirled his fingers through the hair at the back of Scully’s

neck. “But I think Scully and Byers should go before me.”

“Mulder!” Scully exclaimed, pulling out of his loose embrace. “I told you I don’t

believe in this stuff.”

“I know.” He placated her. “But didn’t you ever hear a spooky story when you were

growing up, something you were told by someone else in the family, or when you

were at school.” He gave her a leering grin. “You know, a ghostly sailor haunting one

of your Dad’s ships?”

“I don’t know, Mulder…” Scully hesitated.

Mulder had a ‘harrumph’ look on his face and turned to stare at Scully. “Well, if YOU

are so positive about your negativity, why don’t YOU tell us YOUR favorite ghost

story, Scully? Put up or shut up!”

Scully stared right back at him and folded her arms over her chest. “All right, Mulder.

I will.”

Scully pursed her lips, folding and unfolding her hands several times before finally

sliding each one underneath her thighs. “Well, there was a tale my Dad used to tell

us sometimes.” She straightened up and looked Mulder in the eye. “But, it doesn’t

mean that I believe it.”

Mulder grinned. “Sure, strictly for amusement purposes only.”

“And.” She pulled one hand free and waved a warning finger in Mulder’s face. “I

don’t want to see you opening an X-File about it anywhere down the track.”

“Cross my heart.” Mulder intoned solemnly, drawing the imaginary lines across his

chest.

“You guys heard that?” Scully asked. “You’re my witnesses.”

Three heads nodded like bobble-head dolls, along with varying sounds of agreement.

“All right then.” Scully made herself comfortable and closed her eyes as she gathered

her thoughts.

“My Dad told us this story after being at sea for a six month stretch. I was only little,

I think Bill might have been about ten or twelve.” Her breath caught and Mulder

quickly took her hand in his, holding it firmly.

Scully took the support her partner offered and began her tale.

“Many, many years ago, when the Spanish commanded the oceans, there was a

Captain Don Sandovate, his ship the Fortunato voyaged from Spain to the New World

in search of treasure.

“They found gold in abundance, enough for many men, many lifetimes over. But

among his crew there were a few sailors who did not wish to share their newfound

wealth with the monarchs of Spain.

“On their journey up the Atlantic Coast, the sailors mutinied and imprisoned their

captain, tying him to the main mast and refusing to give him food or drink.

“Day after day, the captain lay exposed to the hot sun of summer, his body drying

up as the treacherous sailors worked around him. Finally, his pride broken, Don

Sandovate begged: ‘Water. Please. Give me just one sip of water.’

“The mutineers found this amusing, and started carrying water up to the main mast

and holding it just out of reach of their former captain.

In the terrible heat of a dry summer, the captain did not survive long without water.

“A few days after the mutiny, the captain succumbed to heat and thirst. The new

captain, a greedy man with no compassion at all in his heart, left Don Sandovate tied

to the mast, his body withering away, while the ship turned pirate and plundered its

way up the coast.

“But Providence was watching the ruthless men, and a terrible storm arose and

drove the ship deep into the Atlantic, where it sank with all hands; the body of Don

Sandovate still tied to the broken mast.

“Shortly after the death of the mutineers-turned-pirates, an eerie ghost ship began

appearing along the coast, usually in the calm just before a storm. It had the

appearance of a Spanish treasure ship, but its mast was broken, its sails torn, and

the corpse of a noble-looking Spaniard was tied to the mast.

“The ship was crewed by skeletons in ragged clothing. As it passed other ships or

houses near the shore, the skeletons would stretch out bony hands and cry: ‘Water!

Please! Give us just one sip of water!'” Scully curled her fingers and reached out.

“But none could help them, for they are eternally doomed to roam the Atlantic,

suffering from thirst in payment for their terrible deeds against their captain and the

good people living along the Atlantic coast.”

Scully fell silent and risked a glance at Mulder. He was staring at her in disbelief.

“What?” She asked worriedly. “Do you know that one? I probably told it wrong, it’s

been a long, long time since my Dad told it to us kids.”

Mulder hurried to reassure her. “No!” He replied fervently. “I was…I’m wordless.” He

finally admitted. “I’ve never heard that story before.”

A thoroughly delighted grin lit up his face. “That was really good.” He looked at the

Gunmen. “Wouldn’t you guys agree?”

Frohike shifted in his seat. “I’ve got this image of some Spanish guy with a neat little

goatee beard, all dried up and desiccated, stuck in my head.” He grimaced. “Jeez,”

He moaned. “I’m gonna think of that every time I have to look at Byers.”

“I can’t believe YOU would tell a ghost story, Scully! In fact, I can’t believe you

DID!” Mulder told her, then leaned over and gave her a brief kiss. “I’m so proud of

you!”

Scully smiled back at him in the glow of the Kersh O’Lantern. “Just because I don’t

believe in ghosts doesn’t mean I can’t tell a good tale, Mulder.”

An extremely loud crack of thunder and a spike of lightning made everyone jump.

Everyone squirmed in their seats — even Scully, who did try to hide it but was

unsuccessful. None of the men commented on her unease, however, preferring to

keep their reproductive organs intact.

During one of his frequent trips to the window to look out at the storm, Mulder had

left the curtains open. It was not only pouring rain harder than before the Gunmen

arrived but was also lightning as well, with huge cracks of thunder booming

overhead every few minutes.

In short, it made for a particularly creepy Halloween night.

“You guys are SO full of crap,” Mulder said, turning from the window, and all four

faces turned to glare at him. “You wouldn’t know a scary story if it walked up and bit

you in the butt.” A crack of thunder and another lightning strike from outside the

window lit him up from behind, giving him a momentary strangely eerie blue aura.

“Well, if you think ours is ‘crap,’ G-man,” Frohike told him, arms folded over his

chest, “then why don’t YOU regale us with one of your own, oh Master of the Sacred

X-Files?”

“Yeah, dude!” Langly agreed. “Toss one out there for us, if you’re that much better

at story-telling.”

Mulder glanced at Byers who nodded, backing up his friends, then at Scully.

“Don’t look at me, buddy,” Scully held up her hands, palms facing him. “You got

yourself into this; you get yourself out. And by the way, I don’t know you.”

Scully sat unusually close to Mulder and he looked over at her and smiled a

particularly evil smile.

Mulder sat back, his face both shrouded in shadows and highlighted by the menacing

orange glow of the Kersh O’Lantern. He was quiet for a moment before he began

speaking in a low voice, forcing everyone to lean closer to hear him.

“Janette was a fifteen year old, very simple, small town girl, who just happened to

be very, very superstitious,” he began.

“She had started out life as a very sickly baby since birth and had continued to be

that way all her life. Her birth had been VERY difficult and nearly deadly event for

her Mother. Out of seven children, Janette was the youngest, but the only one who

ever suffered sicknesses. Her parents had blithely commented, all her life, that

‘Janette was jinxed.’

“As a result, poor Janette grew up believing these things, believing she was jinxed

and that she unintentionally jinxed others, and was terribly, terribly superstitious,

and by her own beliefs, she became an emotional cripple.” Mulder leaned forward,

his fingers interlaced as he looked at the carved pumpkin, as if his mind was a

thousand miles away.

“Janette never stepped on a crack, for fear of breaking her Mother’s back,” he

continued. “She never stepped on a line, for fear of breaking her Mother’s spine.

“Janette carried several rabbits’ feet with her, always rubbing one for good luck.

“She was DEATHLY afraid of mirrors, of getting too close to them for fear of

accidentally shattering one and, thereby, giving herself seven long, horrible years of

overwhelming bad luck.

“Janette knew that bad luck came in 3s, so if she had even the smallest bouts of bad

luck two times in a row, such as dropping her peas on the kitchen floor, or scuffing

her shoes, she’d pretend to be ill and stay in bed to avoid the third and, she thought,

the deadly third bout of bad luck.

“Janette, like her brothers and sisters, walked to school each morning. Her siblings,

however, also thought she was strange and didn’t want to be seen with her, so they

walked faster than she, leaving her behind.

“On the way to school — a lonely journey; she, fearful of seeing ravens, the

harbingers of death — and counted the magpies she saw on her way for luck.

“If she saw a penny, she picked it up, because, as everyone knew, if you didn’t you’d

have bad luck.

“Whenever anyone spoke around her of someone’s death, Janette would, at all costs,

knock on wood to keep the bad spirits of death away from herself.

“Janette was very withdrawn and quiet; she never liked calling attention to herself

for fear of drawing others’ ire and spite. If that happened, she knew, without a

doubt, that serious accidents and illnesses would befall her.” Mulder glanced around.

“And accidents DID befall her now and then.

“When she was forced to go to into town with her family, there was a walk she hated

because an overhead sign covered it and there was no way around it. Of course, it

was a given that walking under a large sign was VERY bad luck and she hated

walking under that sign. So, no matter what she had in her hands, she managed,

somehow, to arrange it so that she could cross the fingers of both hands as she

walked under the sign.

“Whenever a Friday the 13th rolled around, Janette always became mysteriously ill

and always managed to be far too sick to go to school that day. All she wanted was

to stay in bed, where she lay, shivering all day, scared nearly out of her mind, never

wanting to give the evil spirits reasons to come after her, as she knew they wanted –

– and were waiting — to do.”

Mulder shifted slightly and reached up to rub his chin for a moment, and everyone in

the room again squirmed in their seats. Then he continued with his story, his voice

still very low, intentionally causing chills to run up the spines of everyone in the

room.

“At one point, Janette’s neighbor’s oldest son, knowing her fears — as did all her

schoolmates — intentionally cursed her, and, in the traditions of old, late one night,

she sneaked out of the house, drew the boy’s pet dog to her with a piece of meat,

then pierced the dog’s skin with a pin to draw a small amount of blood to reverse the

curse. The dog howled in pain and ran away from her with its tail tucked between his

legs and would never come close to her again.”

Frohike glanced at Langly who looked at Byers who looked at Scully who hadn’t

taken her wide eyes off her partner.

“She knew that to cure a cough,” Mulder continued, “you should take a piece of hair

from the hacking person’s head, put it between two slices of bread and feed it to a

dog saying ‘eat well, you hound, may you be sick and I be sound’. However, because

of her last incidence with the next-door neighbor boy’s dog, the dog wouldn’t come

near her and her father’s cough became so bad he was hospitalized and nearly died

of pneumonia.

“Janette knew this was ALL her fault and she went to school crying the next day,

rubbing her rabbits’ feet and praying hard that her father would survive.

“However, at her school, the popular girls had always picked on Janette mercilessly,

and had made public jokes at her expense.

“Normally,” Mulder told them, “Janette was very quiet in school and had no friends at

all. For the most part, she outwardly ignored the taunts, but inwardly she was torn

up and seething.

“Most students and teachers thought she was weird, others thought she was strange,

and, for some, her superstitious habits were just downright scary.

“Janette was always upset if she found an apple in her school lunch with the stem

still in, because she knew she’d have to twist it out, counting from A-Z and knowing

that whatever letter the stem broke on, that was the letter of the first name of the

boy she’d marry. And she didn’t like ANY of the boys at her school.”

The smile that appeared on Mulder’s face was almost malicious at this point.

“One day at lunch, Janette was sitting alone in the far corner of the lunch room, as

usual, opening her lunch sack, and she was sitting staring at the apple with the stem

inside the sack.

“Just then the ‘popular girls,’ all thirteen of them — an obviously unlucky number —

with large amounts of make-up, tight, short clothes, and bad attitudes came

strutting over to taunt her.

“‘Hey, look it’s Miss Stupid Superstition!’ their leader shouted, causing all eyes in the

lunch room to turn to her. Janette couldn’t help but notice the laughter that followed

and turned scarlet in embarrassment.

“The girl pulled out a mirror, held it up in front of Janette and intentionally cracked it

right in front of Janette’s face, sharp splinters going everywhere.

“Janette held in a scream and ran out, leaving everything behind.

“The lunch room erupted in laughter.”

Mulder looked around at everyone again then continued. “Mortally embarrassed and

truly angry for the first time in her life, Janette held a grudge for everyone after that

day.

“The next day, Janette was absent from school. In fact, she didn’t return for over

two weeks.

“Teachers, students and even the girls who taunted her were worried — well, only a

little.” Mulder smiled.

“Then one night, on the very next Friday the 13th, the girl who broke the mirror

received an unexpected phone call.

“‘Come to my house tonight,’ Janette’s voice rang out. ‘You MUST be there at 8:00

o’clock sharp!’

“The girl was uncomfortable but eventually said she’d be there, hung up and

immediately called her friends, deciding to pull a huge joke on Janette.

“When they arrived at her house, the front door was open slightly, blown back and

forth by the small breeze, its hinges creaking unnaturally.

“The girls, who were a little creeped out now, slowly opened the door and walked in

to the candle lit room, only to see the horrible sight of … Janette, hanging by her

neck from a rope, her body slowly swinging back and forth.”

Mulder glanced at Scully, whose breath had hitched at his words, but only he had

heard it. He turned back to look at the Gunmen and kept talking.

“All the girls screamed at the sight. Her wrists were cut and clothes were bloody and

dripping.

“The blood was dripping down onto a VERY large mirror supported by four cinder

blocks at each corner, over which Janette was hanging.

“Before the girls could turn and run, the rope suspending Janette snapped with a

sound like a loud shot, and Janette’s dead body crashed down into the mirror!”

Mulder clapped his hands quickly together, the sound making everyone jump.

“The mirror shattered into a million pieces — larger pieces flying everywhere, hitting

other mirrors the girls hadn’t noticed and shattering them, too.

“Glass flew everywhere, embedding into the eyes, mouths, faces and bodies of the

girls who could do nothing but scream and fall onto even more large glass shards!”

Mulder’s voice rose.

“The girls, writhing and dying on the floor had never noticed the message written on

the wall in blood:

“‘NOW DO YOU BELIEVE IN SUPERSTITION?'”

The room was deathly quiet, except for a boom of thunder, the crackle of the fire

and rain on the windows.

“Well?” Mulder asked.

“It…” Scully cleared her throat, “It was an interesting story, Mulder.”

“Yeah, it was,” Frohike agreed, his voice a little high, and the other two Gunmen

nodded in agreement.

“It WASN’T a story, boys,” Mulder grinned at them evilly.

“What do you mean, Mulder?” Scully asked suspiciously.

Mulder grinned evilly again. “It was an X-File; one of the first I ever read. It

happened; and it was never solved.”

“Oh, come ON, Mulder! You expect me to believe that?” Scully demanded.

“No, I don’t expect YOU to believe anything Scully, because you never do!” He

leaned over and kissed her. “But that’s what I like about you, you know.”

Scully reached up and kissed him, their arms surrounding each other, their kiss

becoming deeper.

“Guys,” Frohike interrupted. “This is touching that you’re ‘growing’ together and all,

but I’m getting really creeped out here. We still don’t have lights, it’s raining harder

than anything out there and somehow we have to get home.”

“Oh nonsense,” Scully told him as she moved slightly away from her partner. “You

guys will stay here for the night. We have an extra room, the couch and even

bedrolls for camping trips. Besides, it will be nice and warm in here in front of the

fireplace.” Scully indicated the roaring fire that Mulder had kept stoking all night.

“However,” Scully smiled and looked at the quiet Gunman. “John hasn’t told a story

yet.”

Byers’ eyes went wide and he looked around as all eyes turned to stare at him.

“He wouldn’t know any ghost stories or how to even tell one,” Langly laughed.

“No kidding,” Frohike agreed. “Unless you consider stories of computer downtime at

the FCC as ghostly.”

Mulder tried not to laugh at Byers’ expense and Scully patently refused to do so.

“Actually,” Byers said quietly, “I DO know of … something, but it’s not a ghost story.

Well, not exactly, that is.”

“Oh, come on,” Frohike rolled his eyes, “I really do not want to hear about it,

whatever it is. If it’s coming from YOU, Byers, we all know it’ll be lame.”

“No kidding, dude…” Langly started, but Scully stopped them both.

“We listened to YOUR stories, boys,” she said. “If John has a story, I want to hear

it.”

Byers looked around, and then looked down at his hands twisting in his lap. “Well,

you see … what I’m going to tell you … it’s real and it happened to me, when I was

younger.”

He looked up and at each one of them. The expressions on their faces were ones of

intrigue. “And, the truth is — I’ve never told anyone about this. Well, okay, I did

when I was in college, but everyone laughed at me, so I learned to never tell anyone

… ever again.”

Scully leaned forward. “John, don’t worry; none of us will laugh at you. Will we,

boys?” She turned her ‘Raised Eyebrow Death Stare,’ as Mulder privately called it, at

each man and all of them muttered ‘no’ or variations thereof.

“Go on, John,” Scully told him, then sat back and linked her arm through Mulder’s.

Byers looked around at everyone one more time and once again, everyone jumped

when another booming crack of thunder and bolt of lightning peeled through the

house.

“Well,” Byers started, “when I was in college, a lady friend from some of my classes

invited me over for dinner one evening.

“You see, we had been taking an English course concerning ‘Literature of the Occult,’

and she claimed her husband could contact the dead.

“Of course, I didn’t believe her, so she offered me the chance to experience her

husband’s ‘talents’ in person, and invited me over to dinner one Saturday night.”

Byers shifted uneasily and worried with his hands some more.

“Her name was Liz and her husband’s name was Keith. After dinner, we all went into

their den, and then Keith explained to me what it was all about.

“Apparently, he had taken a number of courses in ‘The Silva Method’ of mind control,

you might say.”

Frohike snorted derisively but one look from Scully stopped it.

“I’ve heard of this,” Mulder said. “Isn’t it based on Jose Silva’s belief that most

people function using their left brain more than their right? And that by using the

‘alpha waves’ in your right brain, you can raise your I.Q. Silva got off into

parapsychology … and … didn’t Silva come to believe that one of his daughters, who

he taught using his method, was clairvoyant?”

“Yes, that’s right,” Byers, replied. “Keith took the course under Jose Silva himself,

some years before Silva passed away, and Keith continued with his studies on his

own.

“Some people — doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and religious leaders —

believed Silva’s work to be very dangerous, anti-Christian and, in fact, satanic. But

Keith and Liz claimed it wasn’t,” Byers said.

“However…” Byers hesitated for a moment and looked up at them. “Keith claimed he

could, at the alpha level, talk to the dead.”

Langly laughed outright. “Oh come on! A lot of people claim they can talk to the

dead! This isn’t scary at all! MY story was better than this!”

“Langly,” Scully told him, “we listened to YOUR story, and now I want to hear

John’s. So be quiet!”

Langly sank back against the overstuffed chair, looking chastised. Frohike only

smirked at him.

Byers cleared his throat, twisting the ring on his left hand and continued. “I don’t

blame anyone for not believing; I didn’t believe it myself, and that’s why Liz invited

me over … so Keith could demonstrate his abilities to me.

“As I said, after dinner, we went into their den and Keith got comfortable in his

recliner. Liz explained that Keith had to do this in the dark, so he wouldn’t be

distracted by anyone, so except for a candle burning in the dining room, which

connected to the den, we were in the dark. I couldn’t see Keith’s face at all.

“I really didn’t know WHAT to think. I sat there and waited and waited and I didn’t

know what I was waiting for. Until…

“Keith suddenly spoke in a voice that was somehow different from the voice I’d

heard all night. He said, ‘Keith is ready.'”

Mulder leaned forward, “He wasn’t speaking as himself?”

“I don’t really know,” Byers told him. “I didn’t ask; I was told to not speak until Liz

told me it was okay to do so. And then she did tell me it was okay.

“Liz said, ‘ask Keith about someone you know who has passed away and Keith will

interpret for him or her.'” Byers swallowed nervously.

“The first person I thought of was my Grandfather, who passed away when I was

fourteen. So, that’s whom I asked to ‘speak to.'”

Byers looked around at everyone. “You have to understand, I really didn’t know

these people very well, and I’ve always been a very private person, not to mention

that I was, at that point, twenty-one years old, off to college and I hadn’t thought of

my Grandfather in a long time. He was not a kind man and so we weren’t close.

“In any event, there was no way either of them could have known anything about

my Grandfather, so I felt confident that this would prove Keith to be a charlatan.”

Byers stopped for a moment and interlaced his fingers, then began twisting his

hands nervously again.

“John? Are you okay?” Scully asked leaning forward.

Byers looked up, startled, “Oh yes, I’m fine Agent Scully. I was just remembering…”

Scully sat back and glanced over at Mulder who shrugged slightly, then turned back

to look at Byers. Both Langly and Frohike were watching him closely, too, appearing

concerned.

“Anyway,” Byers continued, talking quietly, “Things got really … bizarre at that

point.

“It was dark in there, to be certain, but once my eyes had adjusted to the dark, I

could see some things, including Keith’s figure, outlined in the slight light of the

candle.

“Suddenly, he sat up, thrust his hands out as if pushing someone away and said,

‘NO! GO BACK!’ several times loudly.

“I started to say something to Liz, who was sitting next to me, but she physically put

her hand over my mouth and kept her eyes on her husband.”

Byers looked down at his hands again. “And then … and then … well, Keith said,

‘How’s my little JFK?’ When I heard that, in my Grandfather’s voice, I nearly

jumped out of my skin because that was the name my Grandfather had called me.

“I’d literally forgotten about that until Keith said it.” Byers swallowed convulsively.

“But it quickly became even more … intense…”

Byers glanced up again, noting that he had everyone’s complete attention and

squirmed slightly where he sat. “Um, then Liz indicated I could talk to ‘my

Grandfather,’ so I asked, ‘who are you? What is your name?’

“Keith — or my Grandfather — replied, ‘don’t you know me, little JFK? I’m your

Grandpa, Aiden Southworth Byers.'”

Byers’ breath hitched and he looked up at everyone, his eyes wide. “You see, my

Grandfather’s name WAS Aiden Southworth Byers — and there was simply NO way

that either Liz or Keith could’ve known that. To say I was … upset is an

understatement. I wanted to leave … THEN. But, Liz held onto my arm and I

couldn’t move. She encouraged me to talk to him.

“Against my better judgment, among other things, he mentioned how hot it was

where he was, and out of the blue, that he had, in fact, killed my Father’s next oldest

brother, who had died mysteriously at age four, two years before my Father was

born…”

“John,” Scully said, “You don’t have to finish this. It’s obviously painful for you to talk

about.”

“No, it’s okay, Agent Scully,” Byers smiled faintly at her, and then looked down at his

hands again. “My Grandfather — or Keith — just kept talking and he talked about SO

many things that no one, except family members would know, such as my Mother’s

propensity for chocolate mint ice cream, with caramel sauce, my Father’s desire for

me to become a lawyer … just so many things that it was truly … spooky.”

Byers looked up at Mulder and, even in the light of the Kersh O’Lantern and the

subtle light from the flames of the fireplace, it was clear Byers was blushing. “Sorry,

Mulder.”

“Hey, no problem,” Mulder smiled.

“Well, I’m officially creeped out,” Frohike admitted. “I didn’t think you had it in you,

Byers.”

“Me either,” Langly added.

After a beat, Byers said, “But I’m not finished.”

At that moment the candle in the pumpkin flickered so wildly they thought it would

go out, but it flared back into life, causing everyone in the room to shudder.

Byers took their attention away from the pumpkin again by clearing his throat once

again. “Um … after it was over, it took Keith a few minutes for Keith to bring himself

out of the ‘alpha wave level’ he’d been in while talking with or for my Grandfather.

“Then Liz turned some lamps in the room to a low setting, saying it took a lot out of

Keith to do this thing.

“Once Keith finally opened his eyes, he DID look worn out and haggard, and then I

asked him how he knew all that he knew.

“Keith claimed that going to the alpha level made him open to talking to the dead.

“Then I remembered what he’d done at the beginning of the session — throwing his

hands out and saying ‘No! Go back!’ I asked him what THAT was about.”

Byers hesitated; his voice lowered even more, and said, “Keith said that my

Grandfather was trying to come into the room with most of his head missing.

“And he asked me what that meant. I couldn’t say a word. I just got up and RAN out

of there, got in my car and sped all the way back to my dorm room, locked myself in

and didn’t sleep for days. It was the first time I’d ever missed a class in my college

career.”

Frohike was feeling definite goose-bumps and Langly, Mulder and even Scully

weren’t far behind. Scully was leaning so close to Mulder she was almost in his lap.

“You see,” Byers looked up at each one of them, then back down to his fingers,

which were almost raw by now with his twisting them constantly. “My Grandfather

committed suicide when I was fourteen.

“And he did it by using his hunting rifle in the bathroom of the master bedroom. He

actually missed the first time and it just went through his jaw.

“He was determined, though; the second shot took off a good portion of his head. My

Grandmother had heard the first shot, came running and walked into the bathroom

when he pulled the trigger the second time.

“She was never the same afterwards and had to be put in a psychiatric hospital for a

long, long time.”

There was dead silence in the room, and all that could be heard was the crackle of

the fire and the rain beating continuously on the window.

“I’d never told anyone about that since it happened, and hadn’t again until tonight,”

Byers said quietly. “He truly was not a nice man, he hated his grandchildren and

great-grandchildren. It’s a given he hated his own children, and it had been rumored

that he HAD killed my Father’s brother, but there had never been any proof.”

Scully started to say something, but when she opened her mouth, instead, there was

a high, moaning shriek and everyone in the room jumped to their feet, turning

toward the sound which was coming from the hall.

Melvin Frohike might have denied it later, but he screamed a “girly scream” at what

he thought he saw.

Byers paled and muttered, “Oh my God!”

Langly just fell back into his chair and Mulder’s arms tightened around Scully, whose

eyes were huge.

For a few seconds, a hazy, watery apparition appeared to float towards them, and it

was a very thin, tall man with part of his head missing.

The apparition seemed to fixate on Byers, shrieked again and then literally popped

out of existence, causing everyone’s eardrums to ache momentarily.

“What the HELL was that?” Frohike asked.

“I want OUT of here!” Langly insisted.

“It was a ghost!” Mulder added in a stage voice.

“It was my Grandfather,” Byers pronounced.

All eyes turned to him, everyone staring, until Scully finally spoke. “No offence to

you, Byers, but there are no such things as ghosts.”

“Then what the hell was THAT thing?” Frohike asked again.

Scully nudged Mulder towards the hall. “Go look.”

“Me?” Mulder asked, refusing to be moved. “Why me?”

“Since when did a little ghost ever bother the great Fox Mulder?” Scully asked with

only a hint of a smile.

“Since NOW,” he answered.

Scully sighed and grabbed his arm, dragging him behind her. “All right. We’ll go

together. As always.”

The Gunmen all looked at each other, not knowing what to say or do, and simply

waited until Mulder and Scully returned.

“It was nothing, boys,” Scully said.

“Nothing?” Mulder demanded.

“The window just blew open, that’s all,” Scully said giving Mulder the eye.

“Scully,” Mulder asked, “how the hell can a window that slides up and down blow

open?”

“I don’t know; it just did,” Scully replied haughtily, “and that ‘apparition’ was nothing

but fog from the cold and rain blowing in through the window and down the hall.”

“Yeah. Right.” Mulder folded his arms and sat down.

Scully tapped her foot nervously and looked towards the window. “Boys, it’s still

raining, the streets are probably flooded and you don’t know whether or not your

van will start. I suggest that you bunk down here for the night.”

“After seeing that THING?” Langly nearly shrieked, his voice up almost a full scale.

“Shut up, Langly,” Byers told him. “You know she’s right.” He turned to Scully.

“Thank you, Agent Scully. We’ll take you up on that, however, I insist on helping you

clean up.” He stood and began collecting cups and saucers.

“Thank you, John,” Scully grabbed the plate of cookies, gave Mulder one last burning

glance, and headed to the kitchen, followed by Byers. “You guys help Mulder get the

bedding and bedrolls.”

“Geez, she’s bossy,” Frohike muttered.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Mulder retorted.

“I HEARD THAT!” Scully shot back over her shoulder.

The three men in the living room went about their Scully-appointed duties quietly

after that.

In the kitchen, Scully and Byers went about cleaning up, until Byers turned to look at

Scully, who was openly laughing, as quietly as possible.

“It was BRILLIANT, John!” Scully turned to him. “That last bit about your grandfather

— and the ghost — it was absolutely brilliant!”

“Agent Scully…” Byers tried to interrupt her, but she continued.

“I haven’t seen Mulder that scared since … well, I can’t remember when. And I

thought Melvin and Langly were going to pee themselves!”

Byers put a hand on her forearm to stop her. “Agent Scully, I KNOW what you and I

had planned — to scare them all, but the truth is, earlier today, when I was

supposed to come over while you and Mulder were gone, and set up the projector,

sound equipment and everything else … well, I wasn’t able to make it.”

Scully looked at him and laughed. “Good one, John! You almost had me believing

you there for a moment.”

“Scully,” Byers’ grip on her forearm tightened. “I’m not making this up. I did NOT

come over here this morning — there is no hidden equipment of ANY kind … and the

story about my Grandfather and Liz and Keith is true!”

Dana Scully blinked. “John, you can cut the crap now,” she said, becoming

somewhat nervous by his intense expression.

“Scully, I am NOT making this up.” Byers insisted stringently. “It really happened to

me, at age fourteen — my Grandfather committed suicide and everything I told

about what happened with Liz and Keith that night is absolutely TRUE. Whatever

that was in the hallway, it didn’t come from a projector and I didn’t rig the window to

open, either.”

Byers’ expression was intense and almost overwhelming. Scully shivered but covered

it quickly.

“You can stop trying to scare me, John,” Scully told him nervously. “It’s not working.

Oh, and the power failure was a great touch.” Scully had finished rinsing the dishes

and stacking them in the drainer to dry. Then she turned and walked out of the

kitchen to find the rest of the men.

John Byers stood in the kitchen tightly holding onto the counter’s edge and closed his

eyes.

It was only the second time he’d ever told anyone about that horrific event in his life,

and no one believed him anymore now than they had the first time.

It was a time and event he would never forget and he still had nightmares over the

events at Liz and Keith’s that night, no matter how much he tried to forget it AND

his truly horrible Grandfather.

A scream pulled him instantly out of his introspection and he rushed to the living

room to find Scully tightly hugging herself, turned away, in front of the window.

Frohike and Langly were standing near her, looking concerned.

“What happened?” Byers asked, concerned.

“Good goin’, Byers,” Frohike nudged him. “You scared the crap out of Scully.”

“No he didn’t,” Langly said. “She saw something outside the window.”

Scully’s breath was hitching and her eyes were tightly closed.

**********

On the steps outside their place, Mulder stood with his service weapon ready and

looked closely around in the moonlight subdued by heavy clouds.

All he saw was rain, rain and more rain. The only movement was the branches in the

trees as the wind and rain hit them.

Looking at the window, he also saw nothing but rain and a dim orange glow.

Mulder backed away and into the house, flipping the safety on his weapon and

tucking it in the back of his pants.

Inside, he carefully closed and locked the door and went to find Scully.

She jumped when he put his arms around her, then she threw her arms around him

and buried her face in his neck. “Did you see him, Mulder?”

Mulder patted her back with one hand and smoothed her hair lovingly with the other.

“There was nothing out there, Scully. Nothing but rain and more rain. Not a soul

around.”

“What did she see?” Byers asked quietly.

“It was Kersh,” Scully turned and told him. “It was Kersh’s face in the window. He

was right there,” she turned and pointed at the window. “I swear, it was him!”

“Scully,” Mulder began, “I can’t believe I’m the one telling you this, but what you

probably saw was the reflection of the pumpkin in the window. And with all these

stories we’ve been telling tonight, they got to you.” Scully looked up at him

skeptically. “Just a little.” He added.

“Look, Scully,” Mulder turned her to the window and pointed at it, “All those little

alien heads I drew just sorta combined — and it looks like a face.”

Scully tilted her head and looked but she wasn’t convinced, even though she wanted

to be.

“I guess,” Scully agreed, pulling slightly away from him. “I don’t know about

everyone else, but I’m ready for some sleep.”

A chorus of agreements came from all four men.

Mulder had given them all sets of his sweats to wear as pajamas and they began to

take turns changing in the second bathroom.

Finally, seeing that the Gunmen were all settled in for the night, all in the living room

to benefit from the heat of the fireplace, which was fuelled with more wood and

stoked, Mulder took Scully’s arm and started for the stairs to their bedroom.

“Goodnight everyone,” Scully shakily told them all, trying to hide her disquiet,

following her partner’s lead.

“Good night, boys!” Mulder told them.

“Yeah, right. YOU’LL be having a ‘good night,’ Mulder; WE’LL be sleeping out here!”

Frohike mumbled.

The Gunmen were settling in, as much as they could be under the circumstances,

when they heard an intentionally over-loud comment from Mulder at the top of the

stairs.

“Hey, Scully! Wanna see my Halloweenie?”

“Shut up, Mulder!” The bedroom door slammed behind them as the Gunmen

laughed.

**********

Outside in the chilled darkness, sometime later, an indistinguishable form

underneath the window uncurled itself and slowly stood.

The figure leaned forward to look into the window again.

It had been close; he hadn’t expected the woman to be looking out at the moment

he had looked in.

Then again, he hadn’t expected them to have company, which changed his plans

dramatically.

He’d also been lucky when the door opened and the man came out brandishing a

gun.

Fortunately, however, the “power failure” which he had caused had hidden him quite

nicely in the bushes in front of the window. All he had to do was wait until the man

went back inside.

And he had, after a few minutes.

Now all he could see was the orange sparks of the fireplace and the vague forms of

people lying on furniture and bedrolls.

His eyes stopped on the Jack O’Lantern and he laughed maniacally to himself as he

turned and made his way out of the bushes.

The exact same expression on the pumpkin was clear on former FBI Assistant

Director Alvin Kersh’s shadowy face when the lightning bolt pierced the skies.

Condensation on the window where Kersh had pressed his face imitated the Jack

O’Lantern’s expression.

Unfortunately, no one saw it.

Alvin Kersh, now completely, irreversibly, criminally insane, ran down the street,

disappearing into the rainy, black Halloween night.

**********

Many, many thanks, Violet Crumbles and Crikeys! to Foxglove for asking me to

write this “short story” <heh> with her! It was an international blast! Those last few

hours before the deadline we were flat out like a lizard drinkin’! (I miss Steve Irwin.)

~ Anubis

~ ~ ~

I’m not sure what it is with deadlines, but we always manage to scrape in by the skin

of our teeth.

Once again, I desperately appreciated Nubie’s invaluable assistance.

Halloween and fireplaces are not commonplace in my neck of the woods, and quite

frankly I would have been lost without her.

Late night chats and madly sending emails back and forth kept this fic growing.

~ Foxglove

A Night at Waverly Hills

Title: A Night at Waverly Hills

Author: Vickie Moseley

Summary: Waverly Hills is considered one of the most haunted places in North America. No

wonder Scully would pick it to spend a night near Halloween — after all, it was a hospital.

Rating: for everyone, but pretty scary

Category: V, SA, MT, ST

Written for Virtual Season 14’s Halloween Special

Disclaimer: Well, this is our seventh season, Chris and we’re still not making any money off this

little tribute. Don’t intend to this year, either. No copyright infringement intended.

Archive: Two weeks exclusive for VS14 and then anywhere.

comments to: vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com

Authors notes at the end, but mega thank yous to Debbie and Lisa, one for letting me use the

place and the other for lightning fast beta services. And now, on with the show:

clip_image001

A Night at Waverly Hills

by Vickie Moseley

Waverly Hills Sanitarium

Louisville, Kentucky

October 28, 2006

10:00 pm

“You’re absolutely sure you want to do this, Scully?” Mulder asked quietly from the driver’s seat

of the rental car that had brought them from the Louisville airport.

“Mulder, it’s what we do every day, right? Except this time there are no dead bodies to autopsy,”

his partner of many years shot back and grinned. “What? Are you turning ‘scaredy cat’ on me

now?”

Mulder swallowed thickly and looked past the hurricane fencing to the hulking structure beyond.

It had been a stately building at one time; the architectural details were still present even though

age and vandals had done their best to destroy the once magnificent edifice.

“Scully, I’ve read all the reports on this place. The Louisville Ghost Hunting Society has a whole

web page devoted to Waverly Hills. This isn’t going to be some little girl’s scratchy voice on a

digital recorder saying ‘help me I’m scared’ to a bunch of moonlighting plumbers. It’s definitely

haunted, and not by Casper and his buddies.”

“Mulder, might I remind you of a chilly Christmas Eve lo, many years ago when you dragged me

to a haunted house to spend the evening being pseudo psychoanalyzed by a pair of malcontent

specters?”

“I’m just saying that when we walk through that gate, no amount of ammo in our guns or clips is

going to save us, Scully,” Mulder said warily.

She chuckled at his dour expression. “If you’re too frightened, we can go back to the hotel and

watch ‘Creature Features’ all night on Sci-Fi,” she teased. “But I have to warn you, your ‘manly

man’ image will be slightly tarnished in my eyes.”

“You really want to do this?” he asked again.

“Yes, Mulder I do. This is my choice for a ghostly Halloween and personally, I’m somewhat

surprised by your reaction. Don’t you want to see what a ‘real haunted’ place is like? From a

strictly investigatory standpoint?”

He drew in a breath and chewed on his bottom lip. “I have no doubt at all that this place is very

evil, Scully. And just as my Grandmother Kuipers warned me many years ago, you shouldn’t

throw firecrackers in a hornets’ nest.”

“There _has_ to be a story there, Mulder. But the hour is growing late and we have only ’til early

tomorrow morning. So you grab the sleeping bags and I’ll get the lanterns and backpack. Let’s

move out.”

Sheriff Deputy Boatwright nodded as she unlocked the padlock to the hurricane fence. “Now,

cell phone reception gets real wiggy in there, so we use a different system. If you have a

problem and can’t get out or get trapped, put a lantern in one of the windows — whichever one

you’re closest to. We’ll keep an eye out. And I’ll be here at 7 am sharp to unlock the gate. If you

aren’t here in time, we’ll come in and look for you.”

“Thanks, Deputy. I’m sure we’ll be fine,” Scully said with an easy smile.

“Yeah, let’s hope so,” Boatwright replied. “Can’t imagine the paperwork involved if you two

turn up dead in the morning.”

“Yeah, that _would_ be ghastly,” Mulder muttered. “OK, Scully. This is your ghost hunt. Lead

on, MacDuff.”

“C’mon Mulder. At least we’ll have a roof over our heads,” Scully shot back, just as a large

cloud swallowed up the quarter moon, obscuring the thin light it had been casting on the

surrounding landscape.

“I’m taking that as an omen,” Mulder said glumly as he stared at the sky.

“Let’s get inside before it starts lightning,” Scully advised. With the Deputy securing the gate, to

ensure that no earthly tricksters disturbed their investigation, the two agents made their way up to

the doors.

“Mulder, watch out! There’s a huge hole in the ground over here. What on earth are they

doing?” Scully asked, shining her flashlight down into the crevice.

“Yeah, I read about that. A previous owner, in an attempt to weaken the structure, dug holes

around the foundation.”

“Weaken the structure? Why on earth — ”

“He wanted to bulldoze the place, Scully. He did manage that with most of the buildings around

it but this one is the main building of the sanitarium and was considered ‘historic’ so they stopped

his plans for demolition. His response was to let vandals tear the place apart. What we’re going

into is by all accounts a derelict building. Right now it’s in property limbo — no one wants to

restore it, no one can tear it down.”

“No wonder everyone thinks it’s haunted,” Scully replied with a huff.

The huge front door was standing ajar and with a gentle push, opened on creaking hinges.

Mulder shot Scully a raised eyebrow, which she matched by raising both of her own. He

fumbled for a minute to get his flashlight in his left hand, his gun hand free. She shook her head

and moved past him into the hallway.

The smell of decay was overpowering. In some areas, the broken windows had let in rain,

forming puddles on the tiled floor. Graffiti covered the walls in an overlapping mural design.

Scully could even pick out an occasion gang symbol among the spray painted illustrations.

There were rags and discarded mattresses in various corners, some of which had become condos

for families of rats and possum. The smell of animal urine and feces was thick.

“I think this is the Director’s office that Boatwright told us about,” Mulder said as he flashed his

light into a large office just inside the building. “She suggested we camp out there — it’s the

safest.”

“Not as many ‘ghosties’?” Scully teased.

“Not as much falling down stuff,” Mulder replied. “The place is in pretty bad condition.”

“OK, we make camp there. But Mulder, just because we’re sleeping in sleeping bags — it’s

strictly business tonight. No hanky panky until we get home.”

“I promise to only hold you when you beg me to, Scully, but you have to do the same for me.”

He winked at her.

The room appeared to be relatively clean of rodent and vermin. They set up their sleeping bags

and left on battery-powered lantern on the floor. Scully took some of the supplies out of the

canvas backpack and then handed it back to Mulder.

“Is this a first aid kit,” he sighed.

“And rope, and more batteries and some granola bars,” she said as she crossed her arms.

He started to say something then thought better of it. “As long as it’s not too heavy,” he said,

hoisting it on his back. After jumping up and down to ensure the contents had settled, he picked

up his maglight. “Shall we?” he asked, pointing out into the foyer.

“So, are you going to regale me with your knowledge from all the reports you’ve read?” she

asked as they picked their way around fallen ceiling tiles and piles of debris.

“Basically it’s your typical horror story, Scully. At the turn of the last century, Louisville —

which you might notice is rather humid,” he said, wiping perspiration from his forehead, “was a

breeding ground for tuberculosis. This was the hospital for those patients, since keeping them in

the general population only served to spread the disease.”

“The architecture is beautiful, from what we say early today,” she said, noting that most of the

beauty that had been the interior was now long destroyed.

“They started out with a smaller building for about 30 to 40 people and were quickly overcome

by the epidemic of a wet spring and summer. So the good people of this county raised taxes and

issued bonds and built this building. In its heyday, it housed hundreds of people, some of which

were eventually cured.”

“Many of which died, because it wasn’t until the invention of Streptomycin in 1943 that we had a

cure,” Scully interjected.

“Yes, that is absolutely right,” Mulder said with a pleased grin. “But the fact remains that this

was the only hope if you became infected with what was known as the white death.”

Scully looked around the walls, covered in dirt, paint and substances she would leave to the

unknown. “It’s sad that it’s been left to rot like this. The medical history alone is worth

preserving.”

“Not a lot of people like to be reminded that there was once a place where if you walked in the

door more than likely your exit would be through the ‘body chute’,” Mulder pointed out.

Scully nodded ruefully. “So, anyway, oh Mr. Peabody, where are the best hotspots.”

Mulder’s grin turned gleeful. “Oh, goody — we get to play Peabody and Sherman! Do I get to

mention that Mr. Peabody, in all likelihood, would want to do it doggie — ”

“Mulder! Focus!” she commanded, forcing herself to swallow her chuckle.

“OK, well, according to the layout I’ve seen, the room where the electroshock therapy was

performed is right up this way and it has been the site of considerable paranormal activity. Then

there is Room 502 on the top floor where a nurse hung herself — that’s a real hotspot. And of

course, the aforementioned body chute — ”

Scully looked up suddenly as she heard a loud crack and then a considerable piece of the ceiling

fell on top of them. Plaster rained down along with at least one wooden timber and her last

thought before she sunk to blackness was that they probably should have stayed at home.

Scully woke up slowly, her head hurt but otherwise she felt fine. There was sunlight pouring

into the room and it blinded her for a moment. Had she been unconscious through the whole

night? As she struggled to sit up, blinking against the harsh light, a hand gently pushed her back

down.

“Stay still, Scully. You’re going to be fine. Just lie back.”

She cleared her throat and blinked again. Finally, the source of that voice came into focus.

Skinner? What was he doing here? And where was her partner.

“Mulder!” she said, jerking upward again. This time, rather than stop her, her superior put his

hand on her back and helped her to sit on the edge of the bed.

“Same as before. Look, I understand devotion to patients, Scully, but I think you’ve become

attached to this one. That’s something I can’t allow. It’s too painful when the inevitable

happens.”

She looked up at her boss in confusion. “Sir, what are you talking about?”

“I know we pride ourselves on the our caring nursing staff, but Dana, you know as well as I do

you have a . . . well, shall we just say a soft spot for Fox Mulder. I know he’s a war hero and yes,

he’s handsome, but the truth of the matter is, he’s not getting any better. Dana, I just don’t want

you to get your heart broken, that’s all.”

“War hero? Sir, I don’t understand — ” She was disoriented and confused. She knew her

superior, the man in front of her. He was the medical director of the hospital. She sat up again,

and this time he let her. “I’d like to go back to the ward now, if you don’t mind.”

“Are you sure? Maybe you should take the rest of the day off,” Skinner suggested.

“No, really, I’m fine. I’d like to get back to work. I know what it’s like when we’re short-

staffed.”

He looked at her critically, assessing her condition. She smiled at him, hoping she looked better

than she felt. Her head was killing her but she knew she was needed back at the ward.

Finally he took off his glasses, rubbing them on his handkerchief before replacing them. “All

right, Scully. Can’t keep a good man down, or woman as it were. Go on back to the ward. But

if you start feeling faint — ”

“I know the signs, sir,” she said hastily and got off the cot as quickly as possible without making

herself dizzy. “Thank you, sir.”

“Just watch out for the ‘wet floor’ signs, Scully. We put them out for a reason,” he warned and

headed down the hall in the opposite direction.

When she arrived at the ward she was greeted by the other nurses, all of who were concerned

about her injury. After assuring them she was fit to continue, she picked up the remaining charts

on the desk and started her rounds.

His was the second room. He was sitting in the chair by the window, looking out on the grounds,

now covered with a blanket of white.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it, Scully,” he rasped. “All that beauty coming from just frozen water. It’s

like a wonderland. Like the Alps.”

She winced at the weakness she detected in his voice. When he turned to face her, his

appearance was that of a wraith — skin too pale and paper-thin, muscle tone literally melting off

his bones. But his eyes were as bright as she remembered.

“Yes, Captain Mulder, it is beautiful. But aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

“Captain again? How many times do I have to tell you, Scully? Mulder. Just Mulder,” he

chided but his eyes were kind and gentle.

“Would you like to go up to the solarium?” she asked.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt. Can I at least bring a blanket this time? It’s so windy up there,” he

wheezed. He started to rise, but was taken by a fit of coughing. She hurried over to hand him a

towel to cover his mouth. He collapsed back in the chair when the fit had passed. When she

took the towel she could see it was covered in blood and phlegm. She dropped it in a bucket

near the door to be bleached.

“I’ll get a wheelchair,” she told him and gave his shoulder a tender squeeze.

“Can I try to walk?” he asked. “I’d like to try to walk while I can.”

She bit her lip to keep her emotions in check. This man was so strong but that didn’t foretell of

survival. She’d seen strong men fall in her short time on staff. But the one thing they all held

onto was their dignity.

“Sure. I’ll help you if you need me,” she said. This time when he rose he did so slowly and

although he did cough some, it wasn’t as bad.

Dana was happy the hospital was so new. All the modern technology was so important in

fighting this horrible disease. But one of the best parts was the new ‘elevators’ that allowed

patients to be transported to the solarium or even the sun deck on the roof with ease. They by

passed the crowded solarium for the sun deck. Scully found a free chair and helped Mulder

settle down in it, draping the blanket around his shoulders to ward off the bitter cold wind.

He leaned his face up to catch the watery rays of the sun and sighed. She started to pull up a

chair to sit and he turned to her. “Go back where it’s warm, Scully,” he chided. “You don’t have

to sit out here in the cold with me. I’m all right.”

“I just thought I’d keep you company for a minute or two,” she said casually, shivering in her thin

hospital issued sweater.

“It’s well below freezing. I don’t want you to catch your — ” He stopped and chuckled bitterly.

“Sorry, stupid advice, considering where we are.”

“The sunlight really does wonders,” she told him firmly. “Why just last week, Mrs. Jenkins went

home to her family. She spent all summer and all fall up here on the roof.”

Mulder looked at her sadly. “Is that what they told you?” he asked.

“Well, yes. That’s what Nurse Mullins said. That she was declared cured and she went home.”

He nodded, refusing to look her in the eye.

“Why? Did you hear something different?” she asked crossly. Hospital gossip was more

dangerous than the disease they were all fighting.

“Let’s just say I have it on good authority — ” He stopped again and looked to the back of the

building, the side opposite from where they sat. It was the side of the building that held the body

chute, the tunnel through which the dead were carted away to the railroad tracks at the bottom of

the hill for funeral homes or the crematorium.

“She didn’t die,” Dana said angrily. “She went home, to her family.”

“Hey, I’m just saying what I heard,” he said with a shrug. “They dropped her down the body

chute on Thursday. You were here, weren’t you? On Thursday?”

She shook her head slowly. “No,” she said in a small voice. “I, um, I wasn’t on duty on

Thursday because I worked the weekend.”

“Well, anyway, you go inside. I’ll just sit out here in the sun,” he said waving her toward the

door.

Scully stood up and looked out on the snowy grounds. A group of children were having a

snowball fight on the hillside. Children who lived at the hospital — who were also patients but

who still went to school on the grounds, still played in the playground equipment purchased by

the county. “They don’t all die,” she said through gritted teeth. Furious with herself, she wiped a

tear from her cheek before it had a chance to freeze. “We do save some of them.”

He nodded, contrite. “The younger ones. I’ve seen what you’ve done for some of the kids. You

do save some of them, Dana. I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have said — ”

“We will save you, too. You just wait and see,” she told him and turned on her heel to head back

into the warmth of the hospital.

Time passed quickly in the hospital. There were patients to bathe and feed, some to take up to

the roof or the solarium. She had her favorites, not just Captain Mulder, but others, too. Mr.

Byers was such a dapper older man. Rumor had it that he taught at the University of Kentucky.

And his roommate, Mr. Langly, who seemed awfully interested in jazz, playing his Victrola at all

hours of the night. There had been three of the men, playing Hearts in the solarium. That was

until Mr. Frohike had expired in the spring.

She was busy taking around meal trays to the bedridden patients when she saw some activity in

Captain Mulder’s room. When her cart was empty, she went to see what was going on. Dr.

Skinner was standing at the side of the bed, listening to the Captain’s chest through his

stethoscope.

“Fox, I really think it’s the best course,” Dr. Skinner was saying.

“I . . . don’t . . . know,” Mulder said, each word punctuated with a wet cough. “I’ve . . . heard . . .

the stories,” he gasped out and then couldn’t talk again for the coughing and choking.

“Believe me, it’s the only course of treatment left to us,” Skinner said, holding Mulder as he

coughed up more phlegm and blood.

Scully hurried in and grabbed a towel off the rack, doing her best to clean up the patient. “What

treatment?” she asked, helping Mulder lie back on raised pillows.

“Thoracoplasty,” Skinner said, not meeting her eyes.

“A death sentence,” Mulder rasped from the bed. “But at least it’ll be quick. I wish I’d died at

Flanders Field. Better by a bullet than under a butcher’s blade.”

Skinner’s jaw twitched at the insult, but he remained calm. “We can schedule the surgery for

Friday. If we see some improvement before then, we can always cancel the procedure.” With a

withering look at Scully, he left the room.

“They have had some success — ”

“You just keep believing in your science, don’t you, Scully?” Mulder accused. “I’ve heard about

that operation. Do you know what they do?” He waited, more because he had no more breath

than because he expected her to answer. “They rip you open, stem to stern, cut all the muscles

and take out half your ribs. And if you aren’t dead yet, they sew you back up. But from what I

heard, not that many get sewed up. It’s a one way trip straight to the chute, that’s what I hear.”

“You listen to too much gossip,” she admonished. “Dr. Skinner is a gifted doctor. He wouldn’t

suggest the procedure if he didn’t think it would help.”

“Just gets rid of us faster,” he said, turning so he could look out the window. “Move us out so

there’s room for more.”

She stood by the bedside and watched him. He looked so lonely — and frightened. “I’ll come by

later and read if you want,” she offered.

“I don’t want to take up your time, Scully. You work hard enough around this dump,” he said,

but when he turned his eyes to meet hers, she could see the affection there.

“Well, I happen to enjoy our evenings together,” she said haughtily. “I’ll be by at 7 pm. And this

time, we’re reading something other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

He chuckled softly as she exited the room.

Friday came and with it, a nervous tension that she tried hard to conceal. When she arrived at

the hospital she went first to Mulder’s room. The night shift nurse was there, shaving his chest in

preparation for the surgery. He was having so much trouble breathing and he seemed caught in

fever dreams.

“Scully,” he called out, his hand reaching but only a few inches from the bed. He was too weak

to move far.

“I’m right here, I’m here,” she soothed, stroking his chestnut hair from his forehead. “I’m right

here.”

He opened his eyes and looked at her. “I hope the angels have your face,” he told her with a tired

smile.

“I’m not an angel,” she insisted. “And you’re going to be fine. They’ll do the surgery this

morning and by afternoon you’ll be back here. A day or two to rest and then I’ll come by and I’ll

finish _The Valley of Fears_. And I’ll ask the librarian if we can get one of the books of short

stories. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Angel,” he sighed and closed his eyes. She stood by the gurney as they carried him to the

operating room. With tears in her eyes, she whispered a silent prayer and went up to attend to

her duties.

It was hours later, when she had just taken Mr. Byers out on the sun deck that Nurse Mullins

found her. “Nurse Scully, a moment of your time, dear?” she asked.

Scully went into the nurse station and looked around. “You wanted to speak to me, Nurse

Mullins?”

The older woman nodded with a sad smile. “I wanted you to hear it from one of us, not from the

gossip mill. Captain Mulder . . . expired in surgery just a few moments ago. There was nothing

they could do, his case was too far advanced. I know that you were attached — ”

Scully couldn’t hear the rest of her words for the buzzing in her ears. After a moment, Nurse

Mullins left her alone with her thoughts. Dead. He was dead. He’d been her friend and he’d

called her an angel and now he was dead.

Later, she couldn’t recall how she spent the daylight hours. She moved around the hospital,

caring for patients. In every face she saw his eyes, in every voice she heard his last word to her.

Angel. But during the day she never shed a single tear.

That night, when the patients were bedded down for rest, she went up to the nurses’ station room

502, where Nurse Mullins had given her the news. In the empty room she tied strips of sheets to

a light fixture and hung herself.

“Scully! Scully, please, you’ve got to wake up, please,” she heard from somewhere far away.

She groaned. She was dead, wasn’t she?

“Scully, please, sweetheart. Please wake up.” She felt something wet fall on her face, very near

her eye. More wetness followed. She blinked her eyes open and stared right into Mulder’s face

as tears careened down both his cheeks.

“Mulder?” she asked. Her throat was dry as dust and felt sore from lack of use.

“Doctor! Doctor, she’s awake,” Mulder yelled over his shoulder. When he pulled back a little

she could see that she was in a hospital room. On closer inspection, Mulder sported a white

bandage on his forehead and his arm was in a sling.

“Mulder, what happened?” she asked as he brought a cup of water to her lips. “How did you get

hurt?”

He laughed and shook her head. “Me? I’m barely banged up, Scully. You’re the one we’ve been

worried about! You have a moderate concussion. The ceiling fell in on us. When I came to,

you were under the most of the rubble. I had to dig you out. I put the lantern in the window and

Deputy Boatwright was there in a jiffy. We called the ambulance and we’ve been here ever

since.”

“What time is it?” she asked, looking out at the dark night beyond the window. The lights of

Louisville shone in the distance.

“About 7,” he told her. “October 29. Which means we still have to get through Halloween night

in two days. Scully, this was a really bad idea, spending the night in a haunted hospital. For

one, we both ended up in a REAL hospital, and for another, we never did see any ghosts!”

Scully thought back to the dream she’d had, the horrible disease that had ravaged so many lives.

“I don’t know Mulder. It was pretty scary there to me.”

“Well, I think our best bet this year is to go to your mother’s house and hold up in one of the

bedrooms upstairs. No tricks, no treats, just us in a big bed and we don’t come out until it’s

November.”

“Mulder! In my mother’s house? What do you think she’d say to that idea?”

“You’ll have to ask her. She suggested it to me when I called her earlier.”

the end

Author’s notes: Yes, this is a bit different from the usual Halloween tale. But I think it’s scarier

because it’s all based on actual facts. Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a county hospital for

victims of tuberculosis in the early 20th Century. There was little could be done for someone

with TB before the invention of Streptomycin in the late 1950s. Sunlight and fresh air were

thought to be the best cures. The procedure Skinner mentions was performed as a last resort and

had a mortality rate of almost 95 percent. The dead were removed through the ‘body chute’ on a

daily basis. Whole families lived at the hospital, children were schooled and activities were

arranged. There was even an on site beauty parlor. The disease was controlled by 1960s and the

hospital was no longer necessary. It was used as a nursing home for a number of years until it

fell into the hands of a man wishing to bulldoze it and construct a gigantic statue of Jesus Christ,

but the county refused to allow it because of the historic nature of the hospital. He is responsible

for the building falling into such deplorable condition because he left it open for vandals and

tried to destroy the foundation, hoping the building would collapse on its own. The current

owners are making money for restoration by given ghost tours. If you are interested in some of

the paranormal aspects of the building, visit the Louisville Ghost Hunters Society web page at

http://www.louisvilleghs.com and look under ‘Public Investigations’ for Case No. 5 — Waverly

Hills. But I warn you, don’t read it alone, and you might want to sleep with the lights on.

Author’s notes II: One of the ghost stories of the hospital is that Room 502 is haunted by the

ghost of a nurse who hung herself. It was thought she was pregnant and unmarried at the time. I

heard this and thought anyone who saw so much death might be affected by it. So I put Scully in

that young nurse’s place (minus the out of wedlock child) and that’s where this story came from.