Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Food for Thoth

foodforthothcover

Food For Thoth

Author: Elf X

Category: Holiday, casefile, teentsy Bones crossover

Rating: PG

Artwork: Martin Ross

Summary: Mulder and Scully’s Thanksgiving plans go awry when a priceless amulet turns up at dinner.

Spoilers: Bones spoilers

Disclaimer: Tip o’ the pilgrim’s bonnet to Chris Carter and Kathy Reichs.

Original web date:11/21/2008

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Food For Thoth

The Jeffersonian Institution

Washington, D.C.

8:23 a.m.

As he moved through the darkened hallways, surrounded by the images and keepsakes of the dead, Lenny again cursed Latrelle — for his lovely wife, for his two beautiful children, for the comfortable domesticity his colleague had found in a world seemingly wracked with pain. As his gun bounced against his thigh, Lenny contemplated a thousand deaths for the man with whom he’d worked for five years.

The married thing, Lenny fumed. It always works.

It was Thanksgiving Day, and Lenny Chakiris once again was walking his macabre beat through this high-class junkyard while Latrelle feasted in the bosom of his family (and what a bosom the lovely Mrs. Wilkinson possessed, the godfather of Latrelle’s boys mused) . Lenny had worked the last five Christmases, Thanksgivings, and New Years — the single man’s curse. He’d thought about getting a ring for one of the broads he’d been banging just so he could for once for god’s sake actually watch a bowl game.

The upside was, he didn’t have to spend the day with his pain-in-the-ass extended family and their litany of hypochondria, unaddressed grievances, and ill-concealed resentments. But he hated the Jeffersonian on holidays — the only sign of life was that crazy chick Brennan, the forensic anthropologist, scraping goop off skulls and shinbones up in her lab.

She was kinda hot, if you liked the Morticia Addams type. But what kind of freaking atheist commie didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. Actually, the whole ghoulish forensics team was a few bricks shy. Hodgins was a nice enough guy when you passed him in the hall, but he was full of nutty conspiracy theories about how the government was trying to ship everybody off to Guantanamo. And that creepy kid, Addy, they put him in the nuthouse after he’d hired on with that cannibal serial killer.

Montenegro, now, she definitely was a babe, but anybody would hang out with Dr. “Bones” and her crew must have some kind of kink. The only one Lenny fully trusted was Agent Booth, Brennan’s FBI pal — he seemed like a regular guy, even wished him a happy Thanksgiving yesterday. Effiing Latrelle.

Lenny tensed as he ventured into the Death and Deities exhibit. He was Greek Orthodox all the way, but there was something about this hall of idols and icons, dog-headed and dragon-bodied action figures, and ancient drawings full of crap that would make Stephen King piss his jeans. Musta had too much time on their hands before TV and microwaves, Lenny mused.

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The security guard unconsciously avoided the eyes of the dozens of demons lined up behind glass beyond the huge pouting head some long-gone whack job had carved. Winged rat thing, check. Three-headed cat thing, check. Bat with boobs, check. Birdhead –.

“Fuck,” Lenny whispered, his blood temperature plunging. He stepped forward, touching his gun as he peered at the spot where Birdhead was supposed to be. Lock was secure, laser detector armed. No sign of tampering, no prints. No Birdhead. Just, just…

“What the fuck…?” Lenny squeaked, his voice echoing through the galleries.

Residence of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully

Georgetown

10:55 a.m.

“You are not wearing that shirt.”

Mulder looked up from his Post and blinked at the petite redhead tugging a casserole of steaming yams from the oven. He glanced down at the red cotton pullover interwoven with dancing green extraterrestrials.

“Well, yeah,” he responded weakly. “I mean, of course not?”

“The last one,” Scully affirmed, sliding the sweet potatoes onto a trivet as Mulder yanked the sweater off and headed into the bedroom. “We’re finally going to make Thanksgiving at Mom’s house — I’d like it to be more Rockwell than Roswell. As it is, I nearly had a stroke when she called to see if we were still coming. I was afraid it was Skinner sending us off to chase a poltergeist at the Pentagon or a Flukeman in the Longworth Building men’s room.”

“Relax,” Mulder said, smoothing his freshly laundered T-shirt as he emerged from their boudoir. “OK?”

Scully stared at Stephen Hawking’s presumably beaming countenance and the legend, “If you’ve got the Time, I’ve got the Mass.”

“Much better,” she sighed.

“Great. You all set?”

Scully exhaled, smiling beatifically. “Over the Potomac and through the burbs. Oh, you did remember to turn off your…”

She was interrupted by an electronic rendition of the Close Encounters theme. Coming from Mulder’s jeans. He pretended momentarily to ignore the ringtone, then shrugged contritely as he reached into his pocket.

“Mulder,” he mumbled into the cell phone, jumping as the oven door slammed explosively.

Residence of Maggie Scully

Washington, D.C.

11:23 a.m.

“Clara, you put that cookie down right this minute,” Margaret Scully commanded as she peered at the bird tanning inside her oven. Her granddaughter slipped the gingersnap back onto the china platter with a pensive sigh. “I know you’re starving, Baby, but I don’t want you to spoil your supper when your aunt and Fox will be here any time now.”

Maggie smiled unconsciously. She never thought she’d be able to utter those words. Three years ago, it had been the serial killer/turkey invasion in Illinois; two years ago, the killings in New England. Last year — Maggie still didn’t quite understand what had transpired in Pennsylvania last year.

She’d thought about doing a ham — it would be considerably less trouble, and she wouldn’t be stuck with a ton of leftover poultry. But Matthew and Clara were all hepped up for a traditional Thanksgiving. And now, as it turned out, Dana and Fox would be here to enjoy it…

As Maggie reflected warmly, the phone warbled in the living room. She heard Tara mute the TV.

“Maggie?” her daughter-in-law called warily a few seconds later. Maggie sighed, selected a cookie, and started to hand it to Clara. She paused, then passed her the platter.

Georgetown Riverside Apartments

Washington, D.C.

1:23 p.m.

“Did you move the body?”

Tracy Lochmuller shook her head soberly. Special Agent Fox Mulder silently studied the young woman’s brown eyes, and she blinked. “Well, I had to put it on the counter, obviously, or I wouldn’t have found the, uh, thing… I guess I mean Dad wouldn’t have found the thing. Is that question really relevant here?”

Then Mulder blinked. “No. No, I guess not. Sorry — instinct. So you believe the artifact originally was in the body cavity? You didn’t notice when you were preparing the body, when you emptied the cavity?”

“I used a spoon to scoop out the cavity.” The Georgetown University junior frowned. “Hey, this is getting a little creepy. Could you please quit referring to our turkey as ‘the body’? It’s making me feel a little nauseous.”

“Join the club,” Scully muttered. The call from Skinner, just as she and Mulder were loading the car for the trip over the river and through the ‘burbs to her mother’s house, had dashed her Thanksgiving vibe.

Mulder ignored his partner. “Can we see the remains, er, the turkey?”

“We ate most of it,” Tracy reported apologetically. “Dad was on his third serving of dressing when he, ah, when he discovered the thing.”

“Actually, the ‘thing’ is a priceless amulet depicting the Egyptian god Thoth,” Mulder supplied. Scully found a perch and settled in. “He was considered the heart and tongue of Ra as well as the means by which Ra’s will was translated into speech. Thoth one of the two deities who stood on either side of Ra’s boat, and was and was charged with judging of dead. He was one of the most important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. He’s often depicted with the head of an ibis, a bird.”

“Yeah,” Tracy drawled. “So you want to see the turkey?”

“And the thing,” Mulder sighed.

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A burly DCPD officer stood guard over the bird’s — to be precise, the semi-skeletonized remains of the Lochmullers’ Thanksgiving turkey and the bird-headed judge of the dead, now interred in a plastic evidence bag. It was a small Thoth — an exquisitely detailed work in lapis lazuli, similar to the one at London’s Science Museum, but far crisper and well-preserved than the London specimen thanks to an obviously more adept mummifier. Due to its immaculate state and a cryptic inscription carved into its base, the Jeffersonian had pegged the amulet’s street value at somewhere around $5,000 — quite a few tankfuls of gas even in this day, but somewhat small potatoes in the antiquities world.

The amulet’s inexplicable disappearance from a case in the Jeffersonian Institution’s main gallery that morning had sparked a furor at the museum. An Agent Booth was official Bureau liaison with the Jeffersonian, but he’d been sidelined with a leg wound during a chase the week before, and Mulder had been reluctantly assigned because of the more unusual aspects of the theft. Chief among those aspects was the night guard’s discovery, in the place of the lapis amulet, under laser/heat-and-motion sensitive protection, of a glob of stale bread, eggs, pork sausage, sage, and other sundry seasonings. Equally unusual was the determination that the uncooked dressing was precisely of the mass and weight of the Great God Thoth.

That had spurred speculation that the thief somehow had bypassed the Jeffersonian’s security and pulled an Indiana Jones, replacing the artifact with turkey filler. Given the unwieldy and moist nature of the concoction, the agent who’d forwarded this theory was roundly taunted and stalked, sulking, outside for a Morley.

Mulder flashed his ID and pulled on a pair of latex gloves. His hand disappeared inside the cannibalized fowl as he stared at the now empty turkey cavity between the ribs.

He turned to the bagged deity, and then to Scully. “The dressing’s baked onto the amulet. It look thoroughly cooked to you?”

“I’d say a few millennia’s usually enough for a one-serving god,” Scully mumbled.

Mulder scowled, and turned to Tracy. “The dressing?”

Tracy nodded briskly, and retrieved a Revereware platter from the kitchenette counter. “There’s not much left — Dad loved it, even though it was my first time. Mom was going to fix Thanksgiving dinner, but they’d been wanting to see the place–”

“And you thought you’d give them a little surprise,” Mulder finished cheerfully. “Good job, Rachael Ray.”

Tracy sighed. “Dad’s probably going to have to have dental surgery. He cracked a molar on the thing.”

“Thoth,” Scully corrected dispiritedly.

“Tracy,” Mulder said gently, “I’d like you to try to write down a complete chronology from buying this bird to how you stored and thawed it, how you prepared the stuffing, and when, how, and under what circumstances you stuffed this turkey. It’s important we establish a timeline. I assume you didn’t come across any Egyptian amulets while you were mixing the dressing.”

“That’s what’s so weird. I pulled out the organs and the neck and all that gross shit out of the turkey — I remember feeling around in there to make sure there wasn’t anything else. And I know I didn’t see any amulets or anything while I was mixing the stuffing. You think maybe it was in the stuffing mix?”

“It’s a competitive business,” Mulder suggested. “Was anyone else around when you put the turkey in the oven?”

“I was alone here from the time I started cooking the thing about 8 a.m. ‘til Mom and Dad got in from Delaware.”

“No offense, Tracy, but were either of your parents alone with the bird at any time?”

“Dad hasn’t been in a kitchen for 20 years, and I told Mom not to kibbitz. They were watching the game ‘til I brought the turkey and stuff out. That’s where we saw about the Thoth thing getting stolen — on one of the news breaks.”

Mulder nodded and turned to the cop, who was warily eyeing the amulet. “You guys want to bag this dressing, too? Have it delivered to the FBI lab.”

Mulder scanned the kitchenette one last time, then dipped his finger into a nearby casserole and tasted the chocolaty whipped concoction. “Officer? You want to bag up this up, too?”

“Bureau Lab?” the policeman grunted.

“I’ll take it to go,” Mulder said.

The Jeffersonian Institution

Washington, D.C.

2:49 p.m.

“It’s happened again,” the Jeffersonian’s director moaned as Mulder and Scully entered the main atrium of the nation’s largest scientific and cultural repository.

“You got that dressing?” Mulder demanded.

The director impatiently thrust a Ziploc of raw stuffing mix at him. “I submitted a sample to Dr. Hodgins, one of our scientists, as well. He works for our forensic anthropologist, Dr. Brennan. She reported the latest theft — the mandible of a Mesopotamian slave.”

“Ah, the jawbone of an Assyrian,” Mulder grinned. The director did not reciprocate. “What’s Brennan doing here on Thanksgiving, anyway?”

“She’s not one for holiday observations. Dr. Brennan was cleaning the mandible an hour ago when she got a call. When she came back, the bone was gone. From an electronically secured lab. The police were investigating the Thoth theft, and she summoned us at once.”

“Can we speak to her?” Mulder asked.

The director looked uncomfortable. “Ah, Dr. Brennan normally works with an Agent Booth. When I told her you were coming, well, it would seem Agent Booth has discussed you with her. She asked me to represent her in this investigation. She said — and these are her words, mind you — that you were ‘too frivolous.’”

“Imagine that,” Scully smiled for the first time that day.

“But Dr. Brennan passed along something the thief left in place of the mandible — after photographing the scene, of course.” The director pulled a second Ziploc from his jacket. “It would seem to some kind of jellified compound.”

Mulder partially unzipped the bag and sniffed, then handed it to Scully.

“Cranberries,” she confirmed.

Georgetown Riverside Apartments

4:10 p.m.

“I’m really sorry if I’m wasting your time, Agent Mulder, but this is getting wicked strange,” Tracy breathed as she ushered Mulder and Scully into the apartment house foyer.

“Not at all,” Mulder said, following the coed up the student-worn stairs. “I told you to call if anything new came to you.”

“It didn’t come to me,” the girl informed him cryptically. “Here we are – Apt. 2.” She rapped on a door adorned with a cardboard turkey. “Mrs. Cronin? It’s me, Tracy.”

The voice was brittle but sweet. “Coming, honey.” The door swung open to reveal a gnomish woman in a housedress and apron. The unmistakable aroma of Cannabis sativa wafted into the hallway, and Scully registered the thick lenses in Mrs. Cronin’s outsized glasses.

“Glaucoma?” the agent/pathologist asked.

“No,” Mrs. Cronin smiled uncertainly. “Why?”

“Because it smells like a Dead concert in here,” Mulder explained tactfully. “Cancer?”

“Jesus,” Scully and Tracy gasped in unison.

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“Oh, my, no, I’m healthy as a horse,” Mrs. Croning pishtoshed. “I made some lasagna — you must be smelling the oregano.”

“Sure, that has to be it,” Mulder said as he spied the turkey breast cooling on a TV tray in her immaculate living room. Flava Flav was finessing the honeys on the Nixon-era set alarmingly close to the makeshift table.

“Mrs. Cronin, could you show Agent Mulder what you found a little while ago?” Tracy asked gently.

“Surely, dear.”

“Lemme venture a guess. Is it bony, ancient, and full of poorly maintained teeth?”

“I brush every morning and before bed, young man,” Mrs. Cronin informed him coolly. She hobbled to a side table near the window and retrieved a parcel wrapped in paper toweling. She unwrapped it slowly, and Mulder stared, dumbfounded, at the huge Eisenhower for President button.

“We haven’t voted Republican — the late Mr. Cronin and I — since that rat bastard Hoover screwed the pooch,” Mrs. Cronin informed the agents cheerfully. “I think I’ve been punk’d, no doubt by the neo-con people.”

“Where did you find it? In the cranberry sauce?”

“That’s an awfully improbable guess, young man. Of course not — I can’t abide tart fruit. It was left in place of my dear late husband, to add insult to political injury.”

“They stole a photo of your husband?” Scully inquired incredulously

“No, dear, my husband. His ashes.”

Mulder frowned. “You mean a cremation urn?”

“No. The envelope with Ronald’s ashes. The original urn those thieves sold me didn’t coordinate with my window treatments.”

Mulder glanced at Mrs. Cronin’s chartreuse floral curtains. “O-kay. Do you happen to have any idea how much your husband’s ashes weighed?”

“He was an atrocious eater — we had to shop at the big and tall.”

“Hmm.” Mulder smiled and stepped away, unholstering his cell phone. “Yes, I need to speak to Dr. Brennan, if she’s in. Tell her it’s, ah, Agent Malone. Jack Malone. Thanks.” He beamed at Mrs. Cronin as he waited; she beamed back. “Yes, Dr. Brennan? Yes, I know — we’re looking for the jawbone of an Assyrian…Oh, yeah, Mesopotamian. That was a joke. Noooo, I guess Assyrians aren’t that funny. It’s biblical humor — you know, the jawbone of an ass? Yes, I realize it’s a human mandible…When we’re done with it as evidence, I guess. Look, Dr. Brennan, your director gave Dr. Hodgins a sample of cranberry sauce to analyze. Could you have it weighed and get back to me with the precise measurement? Oh, and we need another sweep of the museum to see if anything else has been stolen. What? Oh, uh, I guess Agent Mulder and I must’ve accidentally switched cell phones. He’s a scatterbrain, Fox, real frivolous guy. Happy Thanksgiving. Hello? What a stiff,” Mulder muttered as he pocketed his phone. “Scully, can you bag that button? Tracy, come with me.”

“Where are you two going?” Scully asked suspiciously. It hadn’t escaped her notice that Tracy had changed into a pair of Juicy shorts and a jogging bra since their last visit, and that her gaze had never left Mulder since their arrival.

“We’re hunting for cranberries,” Mulder announced, gravely.

**

As it turned out, the violated cranberry sauce was uncovered in Apt. 10, on the third floor, where construction worker Richard Frannick had been puzzling over the disembodied jawbone that had materialized in his side dish.

Apartment 7 yielded a 19th Century corn shucker, a missing radio alarm clock, and two wary lesbians named Vicky and Nikki. Apartment 3, decorated campily in Early ‘60s Blue-Collar and Einstein posters, was blessed with a used Jeffersonian coffee mug — Kris, the twenty-something tenant searched diligently before realizing half his microwave pizza had dematerialized. The HUD clerk in Apt. 12 had discovered an anatomically explicit Incan fertility god lodged in her still-boxed pumpkin pie.

Mulder established a command center in the Chinese cafe across the street — the only eatery open that sacred day. Between dumplings, he was able to direct a Jeffersonian scavenger hunt that yielded a Westclox AM-FM clock radio, a wad of pumpkin pulp, and a manila envelope containing the earthly remains of Ronald Cronin. The Micronesian fetish, the Ike button, the corn shucker, and the Peruvian fertility icon were weighed, and Mulder ordered the same for the items found throughout the museum. With Dr. Brennan the only professional staffer on duty for the holiday, Mulder wrote the coffee mug off until Friday but instructed the director to prohibit the removal of any frozen (or thawing) pizzas.

“What’s the pattern, Mulder?” Scully finally asked as she sipped her artificially sweetened black tea. “What’s the profile? Our thief somehow penetrates a virtually impenetrable museum at several points over the past five hours, replacing a series of random objets d’art and office fixtures with food and miscellaneous items stolen from a single apartment building, only to scatter his semi-priceless swag among a group of disparate people.”

“You forget — the Jeffersonian pieces and the apartment house items were stolen simultaneously, or so it would seem. And each object stolen from the folks across the street was replaced with an item of precisely the same weight and, I’m guessing, mass. Either the killer is a demented genius with a very nuanced motive, or…”

“Go ahead,” Scully sighed.

She was saved Mulder’s paranormal explanation literally by the bell. Mulder dropped his fork and pulled up the e-mail from the Jeffersonian as it arrived with an electronic chime. He smiled with anticipation as he opened the attached .jpg and fired up Photoshop, turning the laptop toward his partner.

“While you were draining the tanks and briefing Skinner, I called the Jeffersonian and asked them to chart the location of the stolen objects on a schematic of the museum. I did up a rough model of the apartment building. The red dots indicate objects on the first floor of the museum and the second floor of the apartment, the blue dots objects on the second floor of the Jeffersonian and the third floor of the apartment building. OK, let me drag the apartment layer on top of the museum layer and…..voila. They match, see?”

Scully’s jaw dropped. “Connect the dots — maybe there’s a pattern. There has to be a logical pattern in this.”

“Actually, I think what we have here is a brilliant mind paired with extreme incompetence. What we have here is not pristine order, but utter chaos. And I think I know who our culprit is.”

Scully drained her tea. “Then let’s go.”

“Slow down, Watson,” Mulder said, spearing the last potsticker. “Our thief isn’t going anywhere, and he can’t afford to make a grab for the real treasure.”

“What? The Crown Jewels?”

“More like the royal throne.”

Residence of Rudolph Pettridge

Washington, D.C.

6:34 p.m.

“Would you like some sherry, coffee…?” Dr. Rudy Pettridge invited in a voice clearly intended to discourage Mulder and Scully from accepting.

“Well, sure,” Mulder said enthusiastically as he settled into the Georgetown professor’s favorite leather “moustache” chair and peered about the book-packed study. “Cream, Splenda if you got it. Equal would be fine. Actually, sugar would be great.”

“We’re in something of a hurry,” Scully smiled, shooting daggers at her partner. “We’re investigating a student of yours as a person of interest in a series of local crimes.”

“Today?” Pettridge fretted. “We were just about to settle in for dinner. Guinea hen,” he explained, as if his choice of holiday fowl made a difference.

“Kris Labatt. You remember him? He was your grad assistant a few years back.”

The lean, bearded professor frowned. “I don’t know that I’m comfortable discussing a former student. Especially when…”

“When he left the university under a cloud?”

Pettridge considered, then leaned against a detailed globe the size of a killer asteroid. “Kristopher was a brilliant student — would have been a brilliant student. His speculations on quantum mechanics were practically Hawkinsian — you should have read his masters thesis on string theory and spontaneous broken symmetry. A poor practical mathematician, though, and impulsive.”

“That’s how he got in trouble with the school?” Mulder asked.

Pettridge sighed. “The head of the department — he’s since moved on to Duke — had several faculty and grads to a cocktail party at Christmas the semester prior to Kristopher’s pending graduation. Kristopher was particularly taken with a Kangxi porcelain Hugh had acquired in Beijing — beautiful piece. Well. Two days later, Hugh and Sylvia came to breakfast to find the bowl gone and some sort of pipe in its place.”

“Pipe?”

“One of those marijuana pipes, like a hookah.”

“A bong?”

Pettridge nodded. “It obviously was a student prank, though how he managed to get through an armed security system…”

“Labatt?”

“Yes. The young idiot’s initials were scratched on the base of the…pipe, and when the campus police were dispatched to his apartment, they found the Kangxi on a coffee table. Hugh was concerned about the school’s image, and, I suspect, the ridicule such a prank might bring down on him. Kristopher was asked to leave the university. Such a foolish stunt from such a promising young man.”

“Maybe more promising than you could imagine,” Mulder suggested.

The Jeffersonian Institution

Washington, D.C.

7:15 p.m.

“What’s the first law of physics, my Quantum Ms. Goodwrench?” Mulder asked as they again ascended the stone steps of the Jeffersonian.

“Mulder,” Scully groaned.

“Matter cannot be created nor destroyed. By extension, the molecules of two objects can’t occupy the same space. What do you know about teleportation?”

Scully stopped and seized Mulder’s sleeve. “You absolutely have to be freaking kidding, Mulder.”

“Scientists from the University of Queensland’s Australian Research Center for Quantum Atom Optics recently devised a new way to teleport atoms without involving quantum entanglement. When two atoms or two laser beams are inextricably ‘entangled,’ it’s possible to make a link between two ends of the line. If one particle is rotating in one direction, the other one will always rotate in the opposite direction. As a result, measurements performed on one particle seem to instantaneously influence the other particle. If there is a change in one entangled state then the other reacts and sends the information instantaneously. Voila! Teleportation, Baby.

”The problem is quantum teleportation isn’t a particularly reliable way to teleport something if you want it to get there in one piece. So far, scientists have succeeded in transporting photons and single atoms. It would take a few million years to send one Klingon at that rate. But the Australian team hit on the idea of using a Bose-Einstein condensate — a type of matter that only exists at around a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. That’s about negative 273.15 Centrigrade, cold enough to freeze the brass finials off Martha Stewart. Under such HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercooled” \o “Supercooled” super-cooled conditions, a large fraction of the atoms collapse into the lowest HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_state” \o “Quantum state” quantum state of the external potential, at which point quantum effects become apparent on a macroscopic scale. And Bose-Einstein condensates exhibit bizarre anomalies such as spontaneously flowing out of their containers. Without friction, the fluid can overcome gravity because of adhesion between the fluid and the container wall, and it takes up the most favorable position, all around the container.

“Anyway, the point is, the head of the Australian research team reported teleporting 5,000 particles using Bose-Einstein condensates. At almost absolute zero, the atoms of the substance you want to move all act in exactly the same way — it behaves as if it was one big atom rather than a collection of particles. For example, if you shine a laser at the condensate and fire atoms at it, the condensate will emit light. Since the condensate behaves like one big atom, all the photons are emitted in the same direction and form a signal beam. By screwing around with the laser and the condensate, scientists can make the beam carry all the information about the atoms fired at the condensate. You see where I’m going with this?”

Scully nodded. “Are we out of creamer? I think I may have used the last of it this morning. Oh, I’m sorry – I must have lost you when I reached terminal-stage REM sleep.”

“C’mon, Scully. Do you really believe a person — even one of Labatt’s IQ — could have so precisely matched the mass of the objects switched between the museum and the apartment house? Or stole each pair of objects — objects miles apart — at seemingly the exact same time?.”

“You’re saying this disgraced, pot-smoking ex-grad student managed to put together the resources necessary to do what the world’s greatest scientists have been unable to? I know a little about quantum mechanics, too: Can you imagine the computing power it would take to ‘record’ every atom in an amulet or a coffee mug, much less the technology it would take to transmit all that information? You c’mon, Mulder. What was LaBatt’s motive? Was he simply showing off?”

“Scully, think about it. Kris Labatt is a brilliant scientist with a far-reaching grasp of physics. He somehow managed to bypass a sophisticated home security system to switch a Chinese artifact with a bong that clearly incriminated him. I think that’s when he first realized the laws of teleportation.”

“I can’t wait.”

“Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, and two molecules can’t coexist in the same place. If a bowl materializes in the space occupied by a bong, the bong must fill the void left by the bowl. If an Egyptian amulet is teleported into the stuffing-filled cavity of a turkey, an equal amount of dressing must take its place.”

“I think I know where the bong went.”

Mulder started back up the steps. “Somehow, Labatt fell to the secret of teleporting matter, but then he was kicked out of school. He continued to work on the project, piecing together what he needed as he could afford it. Now, he’s perfected the technology. Well, so to speak.

“Pettridge noted Labatt is a lousy math student. So was Einstein — that’s probably why Labatt has him plastered all over his walls — but he still managed to whomp up a mean Theory of Relativity. Labatt’s no Einstein. He was smart enough to cook up a smokescreen for us, though. After his neighbors told him about the strange events of the day, he realized he’d missed his mark several times. He can relocate the building blocks of matter, but he can’t get past the laws of matter or calculate the right mathematical algorithm to target his booty. But it was brilliant, claiming that mug materialized in his apartment. There have to be hundreds of those mugs at the museum — he probably bought his during one of a dozen trips to the Jeffersonian. As for the pizza box? If we didn’t find it, we‘d probably just assume a janitor had thrown it away or a guard nuked and ate it.

“What he didn’t realize was that we could use a little simple geometry to uncover his real target,” Mulder continued as he nodded to the Jeffersonian guard at the huge main doors. “Every object that disappeared from Tracy’s building turned up at the location of its corresponding museum piece — except one.” His footsteps echoed through the empty museum atrium as a reconstructed woolly mammoth looked on. “On my little overlay, Labatt’s apartment corresponds to a major gallery of the museum — no offices, labs, or breakrooms where a mug might have been around. Then, when I found out which gallery it was, I realized why there was something so familiar about Labatt’s apartment. That’s why I called for those eBay records on the way back from Pettridge’s. Along with Labatt’s most recent electrical bills — if he’s zapping crap all over the metro D.C. area, I’m guessing he must be using some mega-bitchin’ refrigeration Whoop, there it is.”

Scully studied the banner above the gallery entry. It resembled a colossal sampler, the letters stitched homily across the laminated canvas. “War-to-War America:/The Season of our Discontentment — 1955-1975.”

Mulder stepped up his pace. “Labatt’s apartment is located one unit away from Mrs. Cronin’s — that was the tipoff for me. The Eisenhower button would be in the same gallery as Labatt’s quarry.”

“Which was?” Scully demanded.

“You know the Smithsonian’s been doing some major remodeling over the past few months, so several exhibits have been relocated. The Jeffersonian was planning this exhibition about our transition from the complacency of the ‘50s to the social unrest of the ‘70s, and it took the opportunity to borrow a very special piece to cap off the exhibit.”

Scully locked eyes with June Cleaver, pretty in pearls as she displayed a casserole no doubt intended for Ward and Wally and the Beav. She looked away, slightly unnerved. “And that piece was?”

“This way,” the tall, broad guard grunted, jerking his head toward a blown-up photo of a hippie inserting a flower into the barrel of a Guardsman’s weapon.

“I thought Labatt’s home décor was a little off,” Mulder explained. “He didn’t seem like the floral wallpaper-and-doily type, and his retro furnishings seemed a little too well-Pledged to fit with that hellmouth he calls a kitchen or his Hawthorne Heights T-shirt.”

Scully paused before a psychedelically customized Volkswagen. “Now that you mention it, his living room seemed, I don’t know, more like a furniture showroom.”

“Or a museum display?” Mulder suggested. “I checked, and it turns out Labatt had a major interest in ‘70s pop culture. When he was a kid, he watched a lot of TV with his dad — mostly syndicated reruns, TVLand. Stuff like the Brady Bunch — God knows what that might’ve done to his psyche. But he had a favorite — one of the seminal series of the ‘70s. TV’s first attempt to deal frankly with the American angst of the Vietnam Era, the changing structure of the nuclear family, the intergenerational divide over issues like politics, religion, sex.”

Scully snapped her fingers. “Oh my God. Mulder, are you trying to tell me this scientific wunderkind, this techno-wiz has invented a means of transporting matter, has shattered everything we know about physics, for, for…”

“For that,” Mulder said, indicating the incongruously pedestrian tableau before them.

“Mulder, he’s…”

“A moron?”

**

Labatt opened the door with a broad, dumb grin. It was, to say the least, the last reaction Mulder’d expected.

“Hey, guys, join the party,” the would-be antiquities thief invited heartily.

“Kristopher Labatt, you’re under arrest for the theft of, well, for theft,” Mulder faltered. He stopped mirandizing as he spotted the two suited men examining Labatt’s laptop.

“Dude, you’re too late,” Labatt laughed apologetically. “They made me a better deal.”

“Jesus, Labatt, just shut up, OK,” the taller of the two suits snapped. He pulled his ID and flashed Mulder and Scully. “Agent Weller, National Security Agency. You Mulder? They didn’t say which one was which.”

“I am the one they call Mulder,” Mulder declared. “If you don’t mind me asking, what the hell, dude?”

“We’re detaining Mr. Labatt as a person of interest,” Weller said, flatly. “And that’s all you need to know. Happy Thanksgiving, ‘dude.’”

“Wait a minute,” Mulder floundered as Scully reached for the door. “We’re detaining Labatt for the thefts at the Jeffersonian.”

“Dude, sorry,” the ex-grad student said. “But unless you can do better than six figures and satellite, I’m going with these guys.”

“I said, pipe down,” Weller sighed.

Then, the light dawned. Mulder smiled down at the hapless teleporter. “I bet I know what you’re thankful for today. They found out about your little Star Trek toaster oven and offered you a contract.”

“I don’t think he wants me to talk about it,” Labatt whispered.

“We’ve cleared everything with the Jeffersonian,” Weller reported. “So, bye, now.”

“Bye,” Scully returned, tugging Mulder’s sleeve. Mulder tugged back. Weller stepped forward.

“I’m going, I’m going,” Mulder growled. “But I have to know just one thing.”

Labatt looked to Weller, who sighed and nodded.

“What you’ve done, Labatt — it’s earthshaking. Like the Holy Grail of quantum technology. And you use it to steal Archie Bunker’s chair?”

Labatt settled into the copy of Edith Bunker’s chair he’d located on the web and set his Mountain Dew on the small, round table that was identical to the once-familiar fixture at 704 Hauser Street, Queens, New York. “I know, I know, it was stupid. But I like had to have that chair — I tried to find one like it, but it’s like one of a kind. I mean, look at this — everything’s accurate down to the silverware at the dining room table. The chair was the last piece.”

“It’s a chair, Kris.”

Something shifted in Labatt’s eyes, and he smiled thoughtfully at Mulder. “When Mom left us to ‘find ourselves,’ Dad tried his best, I dunno, to keep things normal for me. He came to all school stuff, kept on my ass about my grades, and every Thanksgiving, he’d buy one of those already-cooked turkeys from the supermarket deli and we’d eat it in front of the TV, watching reruns on one of the cable stations. All in the Family was his favorite — his dad wouldn’t let him watch it, too edgy, I guess. We’d laugh our asses off watching Archie and Edith and Meathead and Gloria — boy, did those two ever pork out, huh? Anyway, those Thanksgivings were the best. I guess I just wanted to, you know…”

Mulder was silent for a moment, lost in memories of his father’s cold and formal holiday rituals, of he and Samantha in front of the tube, watching Underdog soaring over the streets of New York on Thanksgiving morning.

“I know,” he finally murmured, rising and nodding to Scully. “You watch your ass around these guys, OK, Kris? And Weller, make sure he gets the full Dish package.”

“Hey, dude,” Kris called as Mulder reached the door. “I got like a ton of tofurkey and pumpkin pie left. You two got any place to be?”

Mulder looked at Scully, who consulted her watch and shrugged. He grinned at Weller.

“Don’t even,” the NSA agent warned.

“Stifle it, Meathead,” Mulder responded. “I like the tothigh.”

“Par-tay!” Kris shouted. “Hey, you know what? I think The Jeffersons is on.”

*END

Turkey Trot

Title: Turkey Trot

Author: Vickie Moseley

Summary: Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Category: Holiday fic, X

Rating: for everyone

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended and that goes for yahoo news (see

notes at end)

Written for Virtual Season 15, two weeks exclusive.

Archive: yes

Thank you, Lisa for beta and Donna for patience. May your turkeys never dry out.

3605 N Street NW

Washington, DC

November 18, 2007

4:30 pm

“Yeah, well it can’t be helped.”

Scully tucked a strand of hair behind her left ear as she held the phone at her right

ear with her shoulder.

“No, I understand completely, Mom. Chicken pox is chicken pox, there is no easy

way to get around it.”

Mulder had been ignoring the call, listening to the football game but at the words

‘chicken pox’, he sat forward and openly eavesdropped.

“No, you tell Tara not to worry, we’ll be fine. Sure. No, I don’t think we’ll let the

Gunmen know that we’re by ourselves for Thanksgiving this year.”

He stood up, slicing his index finger across his throat in a vicious manner, indicating

that he was not going to subject himself to Frohike’s culinary experimentation again.

“Well, that case of food poisoning last time was pretty hard on Mulder. Besides,

maybe I’ll make him take me to some bed and breakfast in the mountains. Yeah,

just the two of us.” She tilted her head and gave him a saucy smile. “That does

sound nice, doesn’t it? Well, kisses to the pox-riddled from Auntie Dana and I’ll call

you later if we do end up going out of town. We love you, too, Mom. Bye.”

Mulder had been hanging on every word and when his partner finally hung up the

phone, he shot her a worried look. “What’s going on?”

“Well, Thanksgiving is a bust this year. Both Matt and Claire have come down with

chicken pox. They’ll be pretty miserable for a week at least.”

“Chicken pox,” Mulder mused aloud. “How did they both come down with it — they

don’t even go to the same school?”

“Kid down the street. The whole neighborhood is under quarantine. And Mom is

staying over to help Tara out.”

“So, it’s just you and me for Thanksgiving, huh?” Mulder asked, stepping over to

where Scully sat on the sofa and pulling her up into his arms. “I can think of lots of

things to do with a turkey baster, Scully.”

“I’m sure you could, Mulder, but I think a nice four-poster bed in a quaint little

country inn overlooking some spectacular scenery is more what I had in mind.”

“You leave this one to me. I have the perfect destination. I just have to do a little

research and I’ll make all the arrangements,” he assured her.

She cocked her head and frowned. “Some place nice, Mulder. I want nothing that

has the word ‘save’ in the name.”

He dutifully ran his index finger over his heart. “Cross my heart and hope to die,

stick a needle in my eye,” he quoted. “I won’t even look at places that have less

than 600 thread count sheets.”

She nodded. “OK. I’ll leave it all up to you.”

FBI Headquarters

November 21, 2007

11:45 am

“So that’s your explanation, Agent Mulder? Field mice?”

“Yes sir,” Scully responded before he could open his mouth and get them stuck in

another long explanation of the reasons he took this case. “In the transformer.

What Agent Mulder originally thought might have been telekinetic force was actually

just an electrical arc from the transformer — ”

“–That was caused when some field mice chewed through the insulation,” Mulder

finished.

Skinner nodded his head and closed the file. “Well, good work. And might I

commend you on the lack of medical costs associated with this investigation.”

Scully hid her smile behind her hand but Mulder frowned at the dig. “Well, sir, if

that’s all . . . ”

“Oh, yes, you two have requested the afternoon off. Going out of town for the

holiday?”

“Just a little R&R, sir,” Mulder said as he rose from his chair and followed Scully to

the door.

“Just be careful. I’ll see you on Monday, bright and early.”

“Happy Thanksgiving, sir,” Scully said for both of them.

They rushed over to the townhouse to change their clothes and grab their packed

suitcases. In less than an hour they were locking the door behind them and tossing

the cases in the trunk of the car.

“Mulder, will you tell me where we’re going now that we’re on the road?” Scully

asked pointedly.

He grinned at her. “The Rose. A little B and B in Elk County, Pennsylvania, my love.

And we’re in the Sungold Suite. Each suite is named after a particular rose and the

decor is in that rose’s color. From the brochure, the Sungold Suite is — ”

“Yellow,” she said with a smile and a nod.

“Very good Agent Scully. Remind me to put you in for Agent of the Year,” he teased.

“The brochure is in the glove compartment if you want to look. It also has the

directions, so keep it handy.”

She pulled the slick brochure out of the compartment and opened it on her lap. After

a few moments, she turned to him with a look of pure awe. “Mulder, how in the

world did you find this place? It overlooks the mountains, it’s absolutely gorgeous —

“Internet, my love. And the pictures don’t do it justice, according to the owner when

I made the reservations. He FedEx-ed the brochure down so I could see it. I did

good?”

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “You did very good. And you will be

handsomely rewarded,” she told him with a wink.

“Oh yeah,” he sighed happily.

They arrived a little before 4:30. The sun was sinking low and had just dipped

behind the mountaintop, casting the world in shadows. The trees on the hillside and

along the drive, maple, sweet gum and oak, were ablaze with the colors of the

rainbow. Near the three-story clapboard structure was a fall garden of mums,

accented with bales of hay and pumpkins.

“Mulder, you are getting an _extra_ special reward for this,” Scully murmured as she

pressed another kiss to his cheek. He grinned like a Cheshire cat as he pulled their

suitcases from the trunk.

A little bell on the door signaled their arrival. A woman in her early 60s stepped into

the foyer, wiping her hands on a green and white striped dishtowel.

“You must be the Mulders,” she said with a warm smile. “I’m Hannah Morgan. I

believe you spoke to my husband Harold on the phone.”

“Yes, Mrs. Morgan,” Mulder said politely. “I’m Fox Mulder and this is — ”

“Dana,” Scully said, stepping forward to shake the woman’s now dry hand.

“Fox and Dana, how nice that you decided to spend Thanksgiving with us,” Hannah

said with such sincerity that Scully was touched. “Now, let’s get you registered.

Have to keep the bean counters happy,” she said with a wink.

She showed them over to an antique secretary and pulled out an equally ancient

hotel register. Scully’s eyes widened.

“Oh, this is just for show. I have a Mac Book Pro in the office,” Hannah assured her.

“But I think this old book was here when we bought the place and it’s nice to keep all

our guests names in.”

Scully quickly entered their names and their address while Mulder handed Hannah

his Visa card. She ran the card through a reader that was secreted in one of the

secretary’s many drawers and then handed the slip and the card back to him. He

signed the slip and returned the card to his wallet.

“Now, let me see if I can get Harold out of the basement long enough to help you

with your bags.”

“Oh, that’s all right, Mrs. Morgan. I have them,” Mulder assured her.

“Now Fox, please call me Hannah. We’re all family here. And if you’re sure you can

manage, I’ll show you up to your room.”

The two agents trailed after her up the curved staircase to a second floor, then up

again to the third. Hannah led them down the hallway to a door on the east side of

the house. “You’ll get the morning sun, but please feel free to pull the shades if you

want a little extra time in the morning,” she directed.

She opened the door with an old skeleton key on a metal fob, which looked like it

had once been in similar service in a hotel from decades gone by. Mulder ushered

Scully into the room first and she took a few steps then stopped in the middle of the

room.

The walls were the palest yellow, with a border near the ceiling of cream and yellow

roses trimmed in blue. The four-poster bed dominated the room, but didn’t

overcrowd it. The bedspread was satin, in a slightly darker shade of yellow. The

door for the bathroom was open and Scully spied a claw footed tub and pedestal

sink.

In the room, the dressing table was dark oak, as was the armoire that was situated

between the two double-hung windows. Sheer panels were the only window

dressing and the china blue shades were up, allowing a view of a mountaintop and

above it, the nearly full moon. When she looked down out the window she could see

the rose garden that spread out from the back of the house now frosted with

moonlight. There was a path and walkways and thanks to the mild fall, some of the

roses were still in bloom.

“It’s breathtaking,” Scully sighed. Mulder was still standing by the door, admiring his

partner more than he had noticed the room. She smiled at him.

“I did good?” he asked with obvious pride.

“You did good,” she assured him. They both startled when Hannah cleared her

throat behind them.

“Dinner’s on your own tonight, I’m making preparations for tomorrow, but town is

only 15 minutes up the road and there’s a nice little steakhouse just a few blocks in.

Just stay on the state route, you’ll come right to it. It’s called the Angus. Oh, and

they have vegetarian dishes,” she added quickly. “But tomorrow, Harold and I will

have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for all our guests,” she beamed. “Well, I’ll let

you two get settled in. Please make yourselves at home.” She smiled at them again

and left, closing the door behind her.

“You are amazing,” Scully said, walking over to her partner and encircling his waist,

laying her hand on his chest.

“Nah, you’re just easy to please,” he teased and tipped her head up so he could kiss

her. “Are you really hungry?”

“Not for steak,” she whispered, catching his eye. She stood on tiptoe and kissed him

greedily.

“Who needs food, right?” he asked but it was entirely rhetorical for his partner’s

dainty fingers were already hard at work divesting him of his clothing.

They ended up not going out again that night and were ‘too busy’ in the morning to

bother with breakfast as well, so the next time the vacationing agents surfaced was

at noon for the Thanksgiving feast. Hannah had obviously enlisted the help of a

caterer for some of the dishes, because the breakfront in the dining room and an

additional 8-foot long table set against the windows were both groaning from the

multitude of warming trays and dishes. Harold made his appearance, cutting slices

of the 24 lb turkey and the accompanying whole ham and standing rib roast. Mulder

made the comment to his partner that he wished he had two plates, one for meat

and the other for everything else. She rolled her eyes but managed to fill her own

plate to overflowing.

There were four other couples staying at the house so with the Morgans, there were

an even dozen for dinner. Names were exchanged and Harold led the table in a non-

denominational grace before everyone grew silent except for the tinkling of silver on

china, and the occasional request to pass the bottomless gravy boat that was making

the rounds.

An hour and a half later, Mulder was half passed out in front of the 48-inch flat panel

television in the parlor, sharing a sofa with two other men who were in similar states

of near unconsciousness. Scully kicked his foot and he blearily cracked open one

eye.

“Hey,” she said, nudging him over just enough so that she could perch on the arm of

the sofa. “What quarter is it?”

“Scully, I don’t even know what game we’re watching,” he admitted, pulling her

down into his lap.

“If you’re that sleepy, why don’t we go upstairs and take a nap?” she suggested.

“Are you trying to kill me this weekend,” he nuzzled into her ear. She giggled and

hit him on the chest.

“Mulder, I meant to _sleep_,” she whispered back.

“Not a bad idea, since I didn’t seem to get much sleep last night or this morning,” he

said in a normal tone of voice that earned him another slap to the chest.

“Gentlemen, Happy Thanksgiving,” he said as he peeled himself off the sofa cushion.

There were mumbled groans that seemed to convey returned sentiments.

The nap lasted an hour and a half and there was sleeping involved. But when Mulder

awoke alone he felt the humid air and could smell the undeniable fragrance of

Scully’s favorite bubble bath. He smiled because it had been one he picked for her

and it pleased him to no end that she liked it so much.

He groaned as he tugged the satin sheets and then stumbled out of the bed. He

wandered in to the bath and smiled before letting out a jaw-cracking yawn. “Got

room in there for another?”

“Another what,” she replied with a tilt of her head. She knew exactly how it affected

him when her hair was up in a clip and the loose strands curled from the steam

rising off the bath water.

“Another turkey,” he replied, stripping quickly and waiting for her to scoot forward in

the water so that he could slip behind her. When he was settled, she leaned back

into his arms and sighed.

“I didn’t think you had it in you, Mulder,” she said happily.

“No, Scully, I think that’s the soap,” he quipped, though he had a pretty good idea

that she wasn’t talking about his recent bout of stamina.

“No,” she said seriously and turned to look at him over her shoulder. “This weekend.

We’re in this beautiful inn, we’ve eaten wonderful food, we’ve drank wine, we’ve

made love — ”

“That last part I plan on doing again — in the almost immediate future,” he

interjected.

“And in all of this — the last 24 hours, not one X file!” she finished, settling back into

his arms. “I’m proud of you, Mulder. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

“Oh, for that, — you are going to pay, G-woman,” he growled playfully. “Pay and

pay good!”

“Bring. It. On,” she challenged and he happily complied.

Friday dawned crisp but cloudy. After a wonderful breakfast of Belgian waffles with

apple compote, Mulder found Scully in the living room by the fire, curled up with a

book.

“Hey, want to take a walk?” he asked, leaning casually against the fireplace mantel.

Scully looked out the window behind the sofa where she was sitting. She turned

back to him with a frown. “It looks cold. And seems like it might rain.”

“We can be back the minute the first drop hits,” he assured her. “And you brought a

sweater as well as your coat. We’ll bundle up.”

She laid her book beside her and crossed her arms. “Mulder, why are you so intent

on going for a walk?”

“Hey, we ate all that food yesterday. I thought it might feel good to walk some of it

off.”

“Uh huh,” she replied, not believing him for a moment. Just when it looked like she

was going to object, she picked up her book, replaced her bookmark, and then held

out her hand so he could help her up.

“We’re going?” he asked, confused.

“That’s what you want, isn’t it?” she answered. “Give me a couple of minutes to get

my boots on.”

She didn’t say a word when he ushered her out to the car. She did shoot him a look

as she buckled her seat belt, but he said nothing. After a short drive, he pulled into

a parking lot for a state conservation area.

“Mulder, how did you know this was even here?” she asked.

“Harold told me. He said there were some nice hiking trails through these woods.”

“Woods,” Scully repeated ominously. “We’re going on a walk through the woods.”

“Scully, just because we’re in a wooded area — ”

“Mulder, could we just get on with this. Because I’m pretty sure there is more to this

than a simple walk in the woods.”

Mulder tactfully avoided her eyes and led the way over to the trailhead.

The forest thickened within just a few yards and they found themselves in a stand of

oak and maple. The path was gentle for a while before they came to the first valley,

when the walking got a little more difficult. Still, the rain held off, the hills shielded

them from the wind and the forest was truly beautiful, even as the evidence of fall

colors crunched beneath their feet.

They trudged up a hillside, Scully giving Mulder a hard look when he offered her a

hand over a large fallen tree, when Mulder veered off the marked path and onto

what appeared nothing more than a deer trail. Scully’s suspicions grew with each

step. The forest was thicker here, lots of fallen branches and piles of dead leaves.

With each step she expected to step into a nest of unhappy creatures, perhaps even

snakes. She shivered and glared at Mulder’s back as he forged on blithefully

unaware.

“Mulder, you seem to have a destination,” Scully said, panting lightly as she jumped

over another fallen tree trunk.

“Harold gave me some general directions,” he replied over his shoulder. “There’s a

really pretty overlook not far from here.”

“Overlook,” she muttered as she struggled to keep up with his much longer strides.

It was another quarter of a mile when Mulder held up his hand to slow their

progress.

“This is the overlook?” Scully queried, leaning around her partner to look at the

scenery beyond.

“Sort of,” Mulder said cryptically. He looked around a moment as if trying to

triangulate his position. Suddenly, he bounded over to a tree and crowed. “Scully,

you gotta see this!”

Rolling her eyes, she made her way over to him with a minimum of jumping. “It’s a

tree, Mulder,” she said in disgust. “And there are a few million all around here.”

“Scully, look where I’m pointing,” he commanded. About 5 feet off the ground there

appeared a slash mark on the bark of the tree.

“I’m seeing it, but I don’t know what I’m looking at,” she admitted.

“Evidence, Scully. That’s evidence!” Mulder told her happily.

“Of global warming?” she shot back sarcastically.

“Of Bigfoot!” he corrected her, dancing around the tree, kicking the leaves as if

looking for more indications of recent activity.

“Mulder — you dragged me all that way — ” She stopped suddenly and glared at

him. “You brought me all the way to Pennsylvania to hunt Bigfoot?” she accused.

“Now, Scully, it’s a really nice inn and we had a great day yesterday,” he countered

hastily.

“You did! You came here to hunt Bigfoot!” she shouted, not caring that her words

were echoing off the surrounding hills.

“But Scully, I did bring you to a nice Bed and Breakfast, I did play the dutiful

significant other — ”

That got him a well-timed raised eyebrow and a glare that veritably dripped icicles.

“Not that I didn’t want to be the dutiful significant — ” The rest of his apology was

said to her back as Scully turned on her heel and stomped back down the trail.

“Scully! Scully wait a minute!”

He had to hustle to catch up with her. When he grabbed her arm, she almost broke

his wrist pushing his hand off. He stood there while she glared at him.

“Scully,” he said quietly, meekly, with as much sincerity as he could muster.

As if ordained by on high, the clouds opened up and a cold rain started to fall.

“Bigfoot,” she repeated, crossing her arms. The rain was starting to get heavy and

her hair was sticking to her face, streams of water running off her chin.

“He’s been sighted Scully. Right here, in Elk County, Pennsylvania. It just seemed

too perfect. You wanted a nice quiet hideaway for Thanksgiving and I found this

place — ”

“Mulder, did it ever occur to you to _ask_ me if I wanted to go to Pennsylvania and

hunt for Bigfoot?” she growled.

“And you’re going to stand there and tell me that you’d agree to come out here and

hunt Bigfoot on our Thanksgiving weekend?” he snorted.

“Here we are,” she countered. “Except now it’s raining cats and dogs and I’m royally

pissed at you!”

Thunder and lightning punctuated her statement.

“Scully, I know you’re pissed at me, but I think we need to find some shelter,”

Mulder shouted at the thunder continued to roll around the hilltops.

“Sure, fine, whatever,” she exclaimed, throwing up her arms. “Maybe Mrs. Bigfoot

will invite us in for Thanksgiving leftovers!”

“I think I saw some rocks off this way — maybe there’s a cave near here,” Mulder

said, deftly sidestepping his partner’s snide comment.

A bolt of lightning struck a tree not more than 100 feet away when Mulder finally

found the rocks and as luck would have it, a small cave. Taking her hand, he led

them into the damp interior.

It wasn’t much more than a ledge cave carved out of the solid rock hillside, but it

was relatively dry and out of the elements. Mulder pulled his leather jacket off his

shoulders and draped it over Scully’s back. She glared at him, but accepted the

offered jacket.

“Might as well get comfortable, we’ll probably be here a while,” Mulder said, finding

himself a nice rock to sit against.

“Bigfoot,” he heard her mutter again. “Honestly.” The rest of her mumbling was

drowned out by another clap and roll of thunder.

“Scully, it really was just a whim. It was a nice day — ”

“Mulder, it was overcast and windy,” she countered.

“And I thought it would be a — ”

“Say it and die, Mulder,” she growled. “I swear to God, if the words ‘nice trip to the

forest’ cross your lips — ”

“Scully, what’s this?” he asked, interrupting her in mid-threat.

He was holding something in his hand. In the dim light of the cave, she could only

imagine what his twelve-year-old mental self had discovered. “I don’t know, Mulder,

and I really don’t care.”

“I think . . . are those teeth marks?” he asked, levering up to his feet and coming

over to squat next to her on the other side of the cave.

“Probably. Probably bear,” she said, not looking at the small bone he held in his

hand.

“Scully, admittedly I’m not an expert here, but doesn’t that look kinda human?”

He was practically sticking it under her nose when she finally looked down at the

bone. Taking it from him to examine it more closely, she wrinkled her nose in

distaste.

“Mulder, some hunter probably used this cave before we found it. We are in a state

conservation area,” she pointed out reasonably.

“There’s no sign of a fire,” he told her.

“Guess it’s a hunter who likes steak tartar,” she shrugged and dropped the bone to

the ground.

He moved back to ‘his’ half of the cave, kicking at the soft dirt of the floor. “Scully,

there are other bones over here,” he said slowly.

“I wouldn’t doubt it. It’s a nice cave. I’m sure we aren’t the first, human or animal,

to discover it,” she replied. “I think the storm is finally moving on. We might be

able to make it back to the car,” she suggested. When he didn’t reply, she looked

over at him. “Mulder, did you hear me?”

“There are more of those slash marks we found on the tree over here,” he stated,

pointing to the cave wall.

“Mulder? The car? I’d like to get out of here before the next cloudburst,” she

prodded.

“You go ahead, I want to check this out,” he answered absently.

“Go ahead? We’re at least a mile from the parking lot,” she countered. “What are

you looking at now?”

“More bones, Scully. And this one looks sorta — ” His voice trailed off as he held up

a human skull.

“Oh my God!” Scully gasped as she walked over to examine the newest find.

“Mulder, this is an adult skull. Look, the wisdom teeth have been extracted, but

there was a break in the jaw bone to do it.”

Mulder paled at her casual observation. “I think there’re more remains here.”

“We need to get a forensics team up here immediately. There’s not telling what

we’ve stumbled on. This could even be a decades old murder.”

“You think they’re that old?” he asked, chewing his lip and looking out at the

diminishing rainfall.

“Well, without carbon testing it’s impossible to tell. But I don’t think they’re newer

than ten years.”

Mulder stepped over to the opening and pulled out his cell phone. “No service.

You’re right, Scully. We need to get back to the car.”

“Do you remember the way back?” she asked.

He stepped out of the cave and looked around. “Uh, yeah. Didn’t we . . . ” He

frowned and turned in a half circle. “Boy, it looks different without the lightning.”

Scully rolled her eyes. “OK, let’s just think a minute.” She walked a few feet from

the cave chewing on her bottom lip. “Doesn’t that tree look familiar?”

He glared at her and shook his head.

“Well, let’s do this. Are you wearing a tee shirt under your sweater?”

“Yeah,” he said warily.

“Tear off a piece so we can mark the cave. At least we’ll know which one it is in case

we get turned around.”

“Good thinking. Sure you weren’t an Indian Guide,” he grinned at her. He pulled up

his sweater and ripped a ten-inch scrap of material off his undershirt. “Glad I didn’t

wear my Knicks shirt this morning,” he said, handing her the white strip of cotton

material.

She tied it to one of the branches of the tree nearest the cave opening. “OK, which

way?” she asked, crossing her arms.

He thought about it for a good two minutes. “That way,” he said confidently.

They’d walked for fifteen minutes when Mulder held up his hand. She started to

object when he shushed her. “Look over there,” he whispered, pointing to

something off in the distance to their right.

On another rise, far enough away that it was just a glimpse, there appeared to be a

large animal. It was crouched on the ground, foraging through the leaves. Then

suddenly it stood up on two legs and ran off into the deeper woods.

Mulder grinned at his partner’s astonished stare. “Scully, that was him! That was

Bigfoot!” he whispered excitedly.

“Yeah, and he was headed in the direction of our cave,” Scully pointed out dubiously.

“You think — those bones . . . ”

“I think we better find the parking lot. And fast,” she told him, taking the lead and

picking up the pace.

They slipped and slid down the hills and scrambled up the hills and by the time they

arrived at the parking lot, both agents were covered in mud, wet to the bone and

exhausted. Mulder tried his cell phone again, this time getting service. The local

sheriff’s department requested that they stay in the area and just as he was putting

the phone away, the skies opened up again, drenching them once more.

He looked at his partner over the hood of the car. She was sopping wet, her hair

sticking to her face. But she had the same expression she wore over a decade ago

in a rain-deluged cemetery in Oregon. And he couldn’t remember her ever looking

more beautiful.

“C’mon, Scully. Let’s get in the car till the Sheriff arrives,” he said with a gentle

smile.

“If we get in the car right now, Mulder, it will cost us a fortune to have the car

detailed when we get back home,” she said, crossing her arms defiantly.

“I’ll pay it, gladly, if we can avoid hypothermia and pneumonia.” He opened the door

and waved her inside.

Once in the car, Mulder started the engine and cranked the heater up to high. The

blast of cold air made them both shiver, and Mulder pulled Scully into his arms

rubbing her shoulders until the warmth started to flow.

“Scully, I’m sorry if you think I deceived you,” he said softly in her ear.

“It’s just that sometimes I wonder if you’ll ever grow up, Mulder,” she said quietly.

“I’m not a grown up?” he asked, slightly offended.

“No, Mulder — you are the quintessential Peter Pan. Meteorites in Washington,

Bigfoot in Pennsylvania — you’re still sneaking around playing hooky. The only

problem is you aren’t skipping school — you’re skipping real life.” She turned so that

she was looking right at him. “You’re skipping our life.”

His eyes widened at her accusation. “Scully! That is so untrue,” he objected. “Look

at this weekend. I wouldn’t be here if you weren’t with me. I wanted to find

Bigfoot, I’ll be the first to admit that, but I wanted to find him with you and only

you.”

“Whether I wanted to find him or not, right?” she asked, her expression showing her

own feelings on the matter.

“I guess . . . I just assumed you’d go along with it once we were on the trail,” he

said with sudden realization. “I blew it, didn’t I?”

She took his hand, brought it to her lips and lightly kissed his knuckles. “Mulder, I

knew what I was getting into with you. You’re a work in progress. Doesn’t mean I

can’t point out your flaws from time to time. Also doesn’t mean I would be

anywhere else.”

“So you still love me?” he asked with a boyish twinkle to his eyes.

“Forever and always,” she answered, leaning over to kiss him. When she pulled

back, she wiped a smear of mud off his cheek.

He leaned forward to capture her lips when there was a loud tapping on his window.

Three hours later

Scully pulled into the parking space outside the inn and cut the engine. She turned

to her partner and then turned back to look out the windshield.

“Don’t feel bad, Scully. Anyone could have made that mistake,” Mulder assured her.

“I just would like to know what’s so impossible about the fact that we saw Bigfoot?”

“They were county cops, Scully. Lack of imagination is a job requirement.”

“But I’m a scientist, Mulder. I gave them a totally reasonable statement and they

laughed at me!”

“I know, I know,” he consoled. “Hey, let’s go upstairs and scrape all the mud off

each other and then spend the rest of the evening in that big claw footed tub?”

She looked over at him and smiled. “Just another day in our real life, huh?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?” he asked.

She shook her head. “C’mon Mulder. Race you to the tub.”

the end

End Note: Yahoo news had a brief report of a Bigfoot sighting in Elk County

Pennsylvania. It’s so close to DC that I couldn’t resist. Happy Turkey Day everyone!

13

Turkey Trot by Vickie Moseley

First Timer Blues

First Timer Blues

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Skinner’s Office

Monday

“Well, Agents, everything looks in order,” commented Skinner as he closed the report before him. “I’m glad you were able to finish the case before the holidays. What do you have planned for the rest of the week?”

“Well, sir,” Scully began, “since it is a short week and we don’t have any current cases, I thought Agent Mulder and I might take the opportunity to catch up on our paperwork. We have several weeks of expense reports that need to get done and we want to finish the report on the Hodgkins case. I got the lab results back on Friday.”

“Excellent idea. So, what do you two have planned for Thanksgiving?”

Mulder fielded this question. “We’re planning on staying home, watching football, do a little snuggling on the couch.” The last comment earned him a kick from his partner. “Ouch!”

“You’re not going to your mother’s house, Agent Scully?”

‘My sister-in-law, Tara, has taken the kids to visit her family and Mom chose to go on a skiing trip with her ladies club, ‘The Red Hat Brigade’. That leaves Mulder and me without family this year.”

“You’re not cooking dinner?”

“I was going to cook, sir,” Mulder began, “but decided against the hassle of cooking for just the two of us this year. Maybe we’ll order a pizza to be delivered.”

Scully looked at him incredulously. “Pizza!”

“We could make it a turkey pizza with all the trimmings.”

Scully chuckled at the idea of a turkey pizza, covered in dressing and gravy. Mulder would probably love that. Put anything on pizza crust and he was a happy man.

“How about you, sir, what do you have planned?” asked Mulder.

“Oh, the usual. Stay home, watch football, maybe have a nice steak dinner at the local restaurant.” Skinner rattled off his usual Thanksgiving tradition. He was so tired of spending the holidays alone. He would love to have some company. He suddenly had an idea. He had come to think of Mulder and Scully as more than his agents; he thought of them as friends. Maybe he could persuade them to join him for Thanksgiving. Yeah, that was a super idea. He could cook! They could enjoy each other’s company, watch football, eat a real Thanksgiving dinner; it would be fantastic. “I have an idea. Why don’t you two join me for Thanksgiving? It would be great. I’ll cook dinner. We can watch the football game together. Sorry, but I can’t do anything about the snuggling thing.” He added with a smile. “Please, I would really like that.”

Mulder and Scully shared a glance that said everything. They had planned on spending the holiday together and doing nothing, but they would have the whole weekend to do that. This would mean a great deal to the Assistant Director and they could use all the good karma with their boss they could get.

“We’d love to, sir, thanks,” replied Scully. “Can we bring anything with us?”

“Well, yeah, why don’t you bring the beer? I mean what’s football without some brewskis?” Skinner was literally grinning from ear to ear. This was going to be so much fun. This would be a great Thanksgiving.

Basement Office

Tuesday afternoon

“Scully, these reports are so boring. What I wouldn’t give for a good bigfoot case right now.”

“Mulder…you don’t want to be on the road for Thanksgiving…again, do you? Just think, one more day and we have a 4-day weekend.”

“Actually, that’s dinner at the boss’s, then a nice 3-day weekend. You know, I had big plans for us on Thanksgiving.”

“It’s only dinner. It’ll mean a lot to the AD and we could use a few brownie points. Besides, we will have plenty of weekend left for your _plans_.”

Suddenly the phone rang. Mulder uttered a “Thank you, Jesus” under his breath as he jumped to answer the phone. This could be his salvation from the reports. “Mulder.”

Scully could tell by the straightening of Mulder’s stance that it was their boss on the line. It was almost a Pavlovian response to the sound of Skinner’s voice.

“Yes, sir,” said Mulder and then hung up the phone.

“What’s up?”

“Skinman wants to see me…just me…in his office, muy pronto.”

“Why? What did you do, Mulder?”

Mulder feigned a hurt look. “Do? Now, why do you assume I’ve done something?” Her only answer was the now routinely raised eyebrows. Mulder grabbed his suit coat and headed for the door, “I can assure you, Agent Scully, that I have done nothing to draw the wrath of the AD.” As he left the office, she heard him mutter, “At least, I hope not.”

Mulder rapped lightly on Skinner’s office door and entered, when he was beckoned inside.

“Please, have a seat Agent Mulder.” Skinner directed him to his usual chair facing the AD’s desk.

Mulder noted the stern look on Skinner’s face. He had been wracking his brain the entire trip from the basement to here, trying to figure what he could have done to upset him so much. He couldn’t come up with anything; not anything recent.

“Sir, I don’t know what I have done…” began Mulder.

Skinner held up his hand to stop Mulder is mid-sentence. “Agent Mulder. Are you under the impression I’m mad at you?”

“Well, sir, that is usually the case when you call me up here…alone.”

“I called you up here to ask you a question.”

“Certainly, sir, fire away.”

“Have you yourself ever prepared a Thanksgiving dinner?”

Mulder was completely taken aback by the question and the look on his face showed it. This was the last question in the world he would have expected the AD to ask. He stared at the man in a state of shock.

When Mulder didn’t answer the question, but continued to stare, Skinner tried again. “Agent Mulder, it’s not a hard question. Yes or no. Have you ever cooked a turkey dinner?”

Mulder finally brought himself back to reality, answering the question that was posed. “Yes, sir, I have. Several times. In fact, if we eat Thanksgiving at home, I do the cooking. It’s kind of a tradition now.”

“Good!” That was exactly what wanted to hear. A huge grin spread across his face which was contagious, because Mulder couldn’t help grinning too. He had obviously given the right answer.

“What kind of turkey do you usually get? I mean, do you get a fresh turkey or frozen? I read about free-range turkeys…have you ever tried one of those? How big? I need enough to feed 3 people, but I love turkey sandwiches, so I thought I would like to have a lot left over. What should I make with the turkey? I know you have to have stuffing, but what else?”

The questions seemed to be non-stop. Mulder didn’t think the AD took a single breath in between the string of questions. They kept pouring from his mouth.

“Does Scully like apple pie or some other kind? I prefer pumpkin, but I wanted to see what you would prefer?”

Finally Mulder put a stop to the questions. “Sir! Umm, have you _ever_ cooked Thanksgiving dinner before?” Mulder was pretty sure he knew the answer, but he had to confirm his suspicions.

“Well, no, _but, I have seen it done hundreds of times. My mother cooked every year for as long as I remember and, after I got married, Sharon cooked it many times.”

“Did you ever help, sir? Help them in the cooking process?”

“No, not really. I was never allowed in the kitchen. I was always told to stay out of their way,” he said resignedly. “But, I did carve the turkey,” he added as an afterthought.

“Oh, uh, Scully usually insists on carving the turkey. She’s the professional slicer & dicer. She may fight you on that one, sir.”

Skinner formed a mental picture of Scully in her scrubs and mask, standing over a roasted turkey, sliced open with the traditional “Y” incision, removing the slices of meat from the bird.

“Sir? Sir!” Skinner finally broke out of his daydream and looked up at Mulder. “Why did you offer to cook dinner, if you hadn’t done it before?”

“I spend every Thanksgiving alone. I wanted some company. I’ve come to think of you and Agent Scully…Dana…as more than just my agents, but my friends. That’s what friends do…they spend the holidays together. Besides, how hard can it be?”

Mulder thinks back to his first attempt at Thanksgiving dinner. He had managed, but it did not come off without a hitch. Perhaps, he could pass on some tips that might help.

“Buy a fresh turkey. Seeing that it is Tuesday, you won’t have time to thaw out a frozen turkey.” Mulder recalled being up all night changing the water in his attempt to quickly thaw out his frozen bird.

“Make a list _before_ you go to the store. Decide what you want and make a list. You have a better chance of getting everything you need if you make a list first.” That was another mistake Mulder had made. He just went to the store and started buying things. Luckily, he managed without the missing items, but he had never gone to the store without a list again.

“One more thing…check out the Butterball website. It’s full of information for the first-timer. I sure wish I had seen it before I started the first time.”

Skinner wrote all this down. “Anything else?”

“Buy lots and lots of whipped cream. It saved my dinner more than once.” The thought brought a smile to Mulder’s face, remembering how he and Scully had found so many uses for the wonderful stuff, other than putting it on food.

“Whipped Cream? For the pie?”

Mulder realized what he had just said and the thoughts he was having here in Skinner’s office. He immediately straightened in his chair. “Umm, never mind, sir…I don’t think it will help you in this case. Forget I mentioned it.”

Skinner appraised his agent, trying to figure out what he had talking out, but decided it was best to forget about it. He was impressed that Mulder knew so much about cooking. He felt much more confident after their discussion.

“Thank you for all your advice, Agent Mulder. I feel much better now. Please don’t tell Agent Scully about what we discussed. Let’s just keep it as our little secret.” Skinner knew it would be hard for Mulder to keep a secret from Scully, but he didn’t want her to think he couldn’t pull this off on his own, which of course, he couldn’t, but he didn’t want her to know that.

When Mulder got back to their office, Scully was ready for him. “What did Skinner want? Is everything OK? You were gone a long time. I almost thought about coming to your rescue.”

Dammit! He had completely forgot about Scully. He had been so floored by the AD and his apprehension about cooking the dinner, that he hadn’t prepared an excuse for Scully. “He..uh…he wanted..uh,” stammered Mulder. Luckily, this worked in his favor, since Scully simply thought he was stalling, which he was, but she thought it was because he didn’t want to tell her what had happened, which of course, he didn’t. Finally, the light bulb went off. He could have sworn the room brightened with the birth of his idea. “He wanted to talk to me about Sheriff Oates. He said he had gotten several complaints about my behavior during the case.”

Scully had to think a moment. Sheriff Oates. Mulder could tell the moment that she remembered, as her bright smile turned into a dark scowl. “You mean that chauvinistic pig from “Pig Snout”, Kentucky? If any one was out of line, Mulder, it was him. He was rude to both of us.” Her voice had grown louder with each word. “I thought you were on your best behavior…considering. Maybe I should talk to Skinner.” She headed for the office door.

“No!” Mulder shouted, which pulled Scully up short. “I mean, no, everything is OK. I explained everything to Skinner and he was fine with it.” Scully’s expression seemed to relax before his eyes. “Besides, he said he didn’t care much for the sheriff either,” he added with a chuckle.

“OK, Mulder, if you’re sure,” she conceded. “Let’s get this last report finished up and head out a little early.’

“I like the way you think, Agent Scully.”

Mulder/Scully residence

Thanksgiving Day, 6:00 am

Mulder woke to the sound of the ringing phone. He fumbled to answer it before it woke Scully. “H’lo, he slurred sleepily.

“Agent Mulder? I’m sorry to call so early in the morning, but I need your help.” It was Skinner and he sounded panicked.

“One sec,” whispered Mulder, as he slid out of the warm bed and left the room carrying the cordless phone with him. He went into the kitchen, so he could talk to Skinner without disturbing Scully. “What’s wrong, sir?”

“What kind of stuffing should I make?”

Stuffing, thought Mulder. He woke me at 6:00 am from a dead sleep to ask about stuffing. The man was losing it. He cleared his throat, before he began. “What do you mean?”

“I _mean_, what kind of stuffing should I make? I have cornbread stuffing, rice stuffing, and plain bread stuffing and I don’t know what kind to make. What kind does Agent Scully like?”

Mulder chuckled to himself. “Well, Scully is partial to cornbread stuffing, but I’m sure she’ll love any one of them.”

“Ok, cornbread it is. Thanks!”

“Umm, sir, you’re not going to make it now are you? You have to make it right before you use it to stuff the turkey.”

“I know that, Agent Mulder. I’m just about ready to put the turkey in.”

“Sir, how big of turkey did you buy?”

“I bought the smallest I could find, which was 11 pounds. Why?”

“Well, it should only take a little over 3 hours to cook that turkey. If you put it on now, we can eat it for breakfast.” They had already agreed to meet at Skinner’s for dinner at 1:00 pm. “Why don’t you wait until 9:30 or 10:00 to put it on?”

Mulder could hear the disappointment in Skinner’s voice. He obviously wanted to put that turkey in now. “Ok. I’ll wait a while before I put the turkey in. I’m just anxious to get started. Maybe I’ll read the paper for a while. I’ll see you and Scully around 1:00.”

When he returned to bed, Scully snuggled up to him and asked…actually it was closer to a mumble, “who zat?”

Dammit! He had completely forgot about Scully…again. He had been so caught up in Skinner’s plight, that he hadn’t thought about what to tell Scully. At this rate, he was going to have to compile a list of excuses that he could pull out at any moment. He thought she had dozed back off, when she asked again. “Oh, it was Skinner. He wanted us to bring some, uh…butter when we come.”

“‘kay,” she managed and burrowed deeper into Mulder’s arms. Good one, Mulder, that seemed to satisfy her.

An hour later, the phone rang again. Mulder knew who it was before he even picked it up. He slid out of bed, grabbed the ringing phone, and headed back to the kitchen.

“Does Scully like giblet gravy or plain gravy?”

Mulder rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Sir, it really doesn’t matter.”

“I don’t understand how one is supposed to make gravy using the internal organs that were removed from the turkey.”

Yummy, thought Mulder. It doesn’t sound too appetizing when you put it the way. “You boil them to cook them. Dump them all in boiling water for about half an hour. Personally, I only use the liver and throw away the rest, but that’s my preference.”

“Ok, that sounds like a good idea, Agent Mulder. I’ll just cook the liver.”

“And boil a couple of eggs to add to the gravy. Scully likes it that way.”

“Great. Thanks again. See you at 1:00.”

Mulder was just about to crawl into bed next to Scully’s warm body, when the phone rang again. He did an about face and left the room.

“What is it now, sir?” Mulder asked with a hint of irritation.

“Am I disturbing you, Agent Mulder?”

“Uh, no sir, I’m up now.”

“Oh, good. I seem to be all out of eggs. Could you please pick some up on your way over here?”

“Yeah, sure,” Mulder said as he hung up, without so much as a see ya later. “Sure, fine, whatever,” he mumbled as he returned to the room.

He decided against crawling back into bed. Scully looked so peaceful and he didn’t want to disturb her anymore. Besides, he was wide-awake now. He would go for a run instead. He leaned over and gave Scully a peck on the cheek. She asked him who was on the phone. He didn’t have to make up an excuse this time. “It was Skinner. He asked if we could bring him some eggs when we come over later. I’m going for a run. Be back soon.” He gave her another kiss, which elicited a small moan from her. He hesitated a moment, gazing at her sleeping form. With a sigh, he gathered his running gear, and headed for the bathroom.

He returned an hour later to the smell of coffee. Obviously, Scully was up. He had stopped and bought a newspaper and some bagels for breakfast. Mulder followed the smell into the kitchen. Scully was sitting at the table drinking coffee. He put his purchases on the table and headed directly for the coffee pot.

“Skinner called. He wants you to call him”

Mulder stopped in mid-pour. “Did he say why?”

“Nope. He just wants you to call.” She looked up from her coffee, as Mulder sat down at the table with a sigh. “Is everything OK? He sounded a little stressed” Scully asked, her voice dripping with concern.

“Nah, everything is fine. I’ll give him a call and then take a shower.” He took his coffee and the cordless phone and headed to the bedroom. Mulder dialed the AD’s number, while he began to remove his sweaty clothes.

“Skinner.” Wow, he answers the phone with the same tone that uses in the office. He doesn’t even have a home phone voice. “Hello?”

“You called sir?”

“Yes I did. Do you know how to make cranberry sauce? I have a pint of fresh cranberries, but I can’t figure out to turn them into a sauce.”

“Gee, sir, I’ve never attempted to make cranberry sauce. I have no idea how to pull that one off. I always buy the kind in a can. You know, the jellied kind.”

“Oh. Well, then could you pick up some canned cranberry sauce on your way over?”

Mulder better start writing this down. At this rate, he was going to have quite a list of things to pick up at the store. “Sure, sir. No problem. See ya later.”

A couple of hours passed without any more phone calls. Mulder assumed that was a good sign…you know, no news is good news, when all of a sudden the phone rang.

“Mulder,” he said as he answered the phone.

“Mulder. I need your help. Can you come over now?”

“Now?”

“Yes, _now_!” Skinner shouted, then added in a softer voice, “Please?”

Mulder could tell Skinner needed help. He’d never seen him in this state and hoped never to again. It was unnerving. “Yes sir, we’ll be over soon.” He heard Skinner whisper a contrite, “thanks” before he hung up.

“Mulder, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Everything’s fine.” At the look she gave him when he used the dreaded “f” word, he added, “Really. He’s just lonely and wants some company.”

She scrutinized him, trying to figure out what was up with him and the Assistant Director. He looked back with such an innocent face, that she decided to drop it. “Let’s head out. Besides, we need to stop at the store to get the stuff on Skinner’s list.”

When they arrived at Skinner’s apartment, he answered the door almost immediately. Almost, like he had been waiting for them by the door. Scully smiled at the sight before her. Skinner had a bath towel tucked into the waistband of his jeans. He and it were covered in flour and other assorted smears.

You could smell the cooking turkey. She took in a deep breath. “Something sure smells good, sir.”

Skinner relieved her of the bag of groceries she was carrying. He grasped her arm and hustled her to the couch, offering her some Chex Mix that was in a bowl on the coffee table.

“Thanks. Can I help you with anything?” she offered.

“No, no, no. Everything is under control,” he said calmly. “You just sit back and enjoy the game. Mulder, you want to put that beer in the fridg?”

Mulder followed the AD into the kitchen. As soon as they stepped in the kitchen, Skinner changed into a different man. He started talking at ninety miles an hour in a hushed voice, so Scully wouldn’t hear.

“Mulder, everything is going to hell! I burned the cornbread stuffing, so I had to make the rice stuffing. Of course, there wasn’t very much rice stuffing, so it all went into the bird. Do you think that will be enough dressing or should I make the bread stuffing? I don’t know if I have enough ingredients for it though. I’m running low on supplies.”

If Skinner hadn’t been in such a state, it would have been funny. Mulder knew how important this had been for him. “Relax, sir. Calm down. Everything will be fine. I think the rice stuffing will be plenty. Is that the only problem?”

Skinner gave him the “are you serious” look and began where he had left off. “The mashed potatoes are done…real done…I didn’t even have to mash them.”

Mulder peeked into the pan and took a spoon to stir the potatoes. Skinner might have just made the first mashed potato soup. “It’s OK. Scully doesn’t really do a lot of starches anyway and she’s been trying to get me to lay off them too. What else?”

“My pie crust turned out pretty well…after the third try, but the pie cooked a bit too long, so it is burnt on the edges.”

Mulder glanced at the pumpkin pie cooling on the counter. It was overdone, with a perfect black charcoal ring around it. “Don’t worry about the crust, sir. No one ever eats that part anyway. Next?”

“I couldn’t figure out the whole giblet thing. All the pieces looked alike; well, except for the neck. I didn’t want to accidentally use the heart or something, so I just threw them all away. Besides, I wouldn’t have had time to boil any eggs anyway. So I settled for plain gravy. It didn’t taste too bad, but it was really thin, so I tried to thicken it up by adding flour; that’s what my Mom use to do. Of course, then it got all lumpy. By time I fished out all the lumps, I have about a cup of viable gravy left.”

Mulder was working very hard not to smile at Skinner’s plight. He knew he would have problems, but a problem with everything was almost unheard of. “A cup of gravy should be plenty for 3 people. Anything else?”

“My salad turned out OK,” he said proudly.

“Congratulations, sir! Scully loves a good salad. Um, sir, do you mind me asking? How did you cook the pie and the turkey at the same time?”

“Well, I put the turkey in early. I know, you said not to, but I knew I needed the oven for the pie. The turkey has been done for a while now. That’s one of the reasons I called you to come over early. It’s ready…everything is ready.”

Mulder looked around the kitchen and didn’t see the turkey. “Where is the turkey, sir?”

“I wanted it to be hot, so I put it back in the oven. It should be hot by now.”

“Sir, you can’t do that,” Mulder said, as he snatched a couple of potholders off the counter and handed them to his boss. “Pull it out now or it will dry out.”

Skinner removed the bird from the oven and it did indeed look dry. It looked a lot worse than when he first took it out of the oven. He deflated right before Mulder’s eyes. “I’m a failure. My dinner is ruined,” he moaned.

“Sir, you are not a failure. Thanksgiving dinner is not as easy as it sounds. Believe me, I’ve had my share of failures in the kitchen. Everything will be just fine.”

Skinner felt slightly better, but not much. He had wanted everything to be perfect. He had no idea how hard that would be. “I’ll put the food on the table and you get Scully.”

Scully was sitting back on the couch, munching on a handful of Chex Mix and watching the game.

“Hey, that’s a good idea,” Mulder said as he grabbed a handful of the snack and began eating them. It might be the most sustenance they would get that day. He sat down next to her and leaned in so he could whisper in her ear. “Skinner had some difficulties with his dinner. You should be supportive and complimentary. Don’t make a big deal out of it. OK?”

“What kind of problems?”

“Typical first-time problems.”

“First time?” Mulder nodded affirmative. He pulled her up from the couch by her hands and led her into the dining room.

Scully had to admit the table looked nice. Really nice. He had some fine place settings, obviously from his wife. Once they all sat down, Skinner stood up to address his company.

“Thank you for coming over and spending Thanksgiving with me. It has been a long time since I have had friends to spend the holidays with. Anyway, thanks.” He took the knife and turned to Scully. “Would you like to do the carving, Dana? I heard you were the best.” He gave a little wink to Mulder at the last remark.

“I’d be honored, sir…um, Walter.” He smiled at the use of his first name. She sliced into the turkey and noticed it was a bit dry, but decided not to comment. “This really looks great, sir.” His smile widened with the compliment. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Once she had cut about a half a dozen slices, she sat down to enjoy the meal.

The bowls of food made the rounds. The turkey really wasn’t too bad, especially bathed in the gravy. The potatoes were thin. You couldn’t eat them with a fork, but a spoon worked just fine.

Between the two of them, Mulder and Skinner polished off the cranberry sauce and Scully had 3 helpings of salad. The rest of the dinner pretty much remained untouched.

“I’m sorry, but this dinner is not exactly what I had planned,” offered Skinner by way of apology.

“Oh, I don’t know sir, mashed potato soup might just become a new Thanksgiving tradition,” Mulder said trying to ease Skinner’s guilt.

“Really, sir,” Scully said, “it really wasn’t that bad, especially for your first try.” Oops, she shouldn’t have said that.

Skinner glared at Mulder. He hadn’t wanted Scully to know this was his first time. Of course, he then realized, considering how it turned out, he should be glad she didn’t think that this was the dinner of an experienced cook. That would be worse. And Mulder had done everything to help him. He really was a good friend to put up with so much. His glare softened into a smile.

“Thank you, Scully. And thank you, Mulder, for all your help. You just wait until next year. I’ll do it better next time. You’ll have to come back year, to see how much I have improved, and I assure you, I _will_ improve. I have nowhere else to go but up.” Everyone had a good laugh at that point.

“Hey, who wants dessert? I made pumpkin pie.” Before they could decline, he had disappeared into the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later, carrying a tray. On the tray were the pumpkin pie, three plates, and four cans of whipped cream.

When Scully spied the cans of whipped cream, she turned to Mulder and gave him a very seductive smile and licked her lips. Mulder’s breath caught in his throat. Finally, once he was able to breath again, he turned to the AD and said, “Um, sir, could we get that dessert to go?”

The End

American Gothic X

American Gothic X

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Trixie’s Truckers Home

Interstate 55

McLean, Illinois

November 23, 2006

4:15 am

I was still pretty groggy when Dan called me and said I could take Lisa’s shift if I hurried my ass up. Oh joy. But at least working the early bird shift meant I could be home eating turkey with Mom and Martin by 12 o’clock, maybe even catch a little of the Macy’s parade on the DVR.

I don’t mind working the early shift. It’s quiet, just the OTR guys coming in, mostly. Since I got this job when I was in high school, I’ve become familiar with a lot of the guys in the rigs. People think truckers are always strangers, but that’s not true at all. Truckers are nomads, most of them have set territories so you get to know them and more often than not, all their heartaches. One thing for certain, once you know them, you are one of them and they don’t take to any one else causing you any trouble.

I grabbed the decaf that had just finished spitting and hustled over to Jake, sitting at the counter. “Fill ‘er?” I asked, holding up the carafe.

“Josey! Girl, where you been? Ain’t seen you in a couple ‘o moons!”

“School started again,” I smiled as he nods toward his cup. “I’m a junior now.”

“You’re up at ISU, ain’t ya?” he asked before taking another swig of coffee. Jake likes his coffee HOT. He’s told me on more occasions than I care to count that he likes his coffee like he likes his women and that’s as far as I want to remember the rest of his analogy. “What ‘er you studying fer now?”

“Same thing — Psychology. Gonna get my degree, get a masters and a Ph.D and then I’m gonna open up an office back where we used to have the smokers lounge. Charge all you guys out the butt to come in and tell me all about your women troubles.” I gave him a wink and he knew I was kidding.

“You’ll be a millionaire, sweetheart. A friggin’ millionaire!”

I went back to the kitchen to get another load of cups when I heard the door chime. Peeking around the corner, I saw a woman in a fur trimmed parka sitting down at one of the window booths. She pulled off her gloves and blew into her hands — a sure sign she needed a cup of coffee. I hurried out with a cup and pot.

“Regular?” I asked, holding up the carafe.

“Yes, thank you,” she sighed. She picked up the menu card and glanced over both sides. “I’ll have an order of raisin toast, butter on the side, please.”

“There’s a special today, eggs, an order of hash browns and toast or english muffin for 2.99,” I suggested.

She smiled and shook her head. “Just the toast. And a glass of water, please.”

Diets — why bother when you can just run a few miles? But I jotted down her ‘order’ and headed to the pass through to call it back. Henry was working the grill and he and I go way back — back when I was just a little girl in pigtails and Dad would bring me in with him when he was off the road. Henry grinned at me as I tacked up the order.

“So, tell me about this young man you’re seeing,” Henry said casually as he pulled the raisin bread out and popped it in the toaster.

“I hardly call it ‘seeing’, Henry. We have a lot of classes together and he gave me a ride home. Saved Martin a trip into Bloomington to pick me up. No big deal.”

“He helped you with your bag,” Henry countered.

“Who told you? Oh, wait, Mrs. Dubois was sweeping her porch when we got in. The old busy-body.”

“Seems to me, a nice girl like you oughta be thinking about settlin’ down, startin’ a family.”

“Henry, despite what everyone in McLean has decided, I’m hoping to go to graduate school — in Chicago.”

Henry shook his head. “You don’t belong in a place like the Windy City, child. You’ll get your fool head blowed off — and that’s if your’n lucky!”

I rolled my eyes. Sometimes it felt like this town was just too tiny — everybody elbowing their way into everyone else’s business. The door chimed again and this time it was a guy — an older guy but still really cute. He had on a leather jacket and no hat. His ears were red from the cold of the parking lot. He sat down at the counter three seats over from Jake.

“Coffee?” I asked, but I’d already plunked down a cup in front of him.

“Yes, please. And I’ll have the steak and eggs special, eggs over easy.”

“American fries or hash browns?” I queried.

“There’s a difference?” he asked back, an amused look on his face.

“American fries are sliced fried potatoes. Hash browns are the shredded kind,” I explained. Not from around here — at least wise not from around Illinois.

“Hash browns. And raisin toast, please.”

I couldn’t help it, I looked over to the woman by the window. It was just too much of a coincidence. But the guy in front of me just kept looking at me.

“Oh, and could I have a side of biscuits and gravy with that?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said with a smile and jotted it all down. I only had to turn to tack it up for Henry. By this time, the lady’s toast was up.

I picked up the plate and was taking it over to her table when he came in. He looked like he’d been driving a flat bed — jeans were torn and dirty, shirt hadn’t been changed in a week and his beard was right at the really seedy looking stage. Now, that’s not saying anything bad about flatbed drivers. They just never seem to have enough time between loads to take showers and change. My Dad drove flat beds for a while before he went Haz mat. He’d probably still be alive today if he’d stayed with them.

I nodded to the guy but he kept his head down and took a table in the center of the room. He was huddled down in his jacket, an old fatigue jacket, the kind hunters used to wear before everything had to be blaze orange. I took him a cup of coffee but he pushed it away.

“Just water,” he growled.

I looked over at Henry, but he was busy fixing the counter guy’s eggs. “You have to buy something to sit at the tables,” I told him.

He lifted his head to look at me and my guts froze. He had the strangest eyes. They were blue, but pale blue, like a lake in January. And when he glared at me I thought I might just turn into a giant popsicle standing there.

“What’s the cheapest thing on the menu in this dive?” he spat out.

“Coffee. Eighty-nine cents a cup, free refills,” I answered. My voice just barely made it out of my mouth, my throat was dry as dust.

He nodded and I put the cup back in front of him, filling it. As I turned to walk back behind the counter, he grabbed my wrist. His hand was like a vice.

“I want cream. Not that half and half shit. Real cream.”

I was trying not to cry. I knew I was shaking like a leaf. I glanced over to Henry but he was still busy. Fortunately, Jake had taken notice of what was happening and he stood up, coming over to where I was standing.

“Is there a problem here?” Jake asked. Now, Jake wasn’t a spring chicken, he’d turned 60 just last spring. But he still stood 6’3″ without his special order cowboy boots and he was built like — well, like a long haul trucker, minus the beer belly. He reached over and wrapped his big bear claw hand around the sleazy guy’s wrist, right above where he was clamped down on mine. “I think it’s time for you to pay your bill and leave,” Jake said and he was using the voice that said he meant it.

“Let go, old man,” the slimeball snarled.

“When you let go of the lady here,” Jake returned. It was the first time in my life I’d ever been called a ‘lady’ by someone as old as Jake. At least without that permanent ‘young’ in front of it. It made me want to cry again, but I was trying hard not to.

“Well, why don’t you just go straight to hell!”

Everything from that point on happened way too fast. The bastard held out his hand and all of a sudden, Jake flew through the air and landed in a heap, knocking over a table and two chairs in the process. I flew through the air in the opposite direction and landed on the floor, too stunned to move. The woman by the window jumped a chair to get over to me, dragging me behind the counter. The guy at the counter pulled out a gun from I don’t know where, but the asshole was faster and the gun flew out of the guy’s hand and crashed into the window, going off in the process and one of the ceiling lights crashed to the floor. Then he ‘pushed’ the guy up against the wall so hard he hit his head and slumped to the bench seat below him.

Sparks were flying from the ceiling light, but other than Jake groaning, there were no other sounds.

The woman and me were huddled behind the counter when I heard what must have been a hundred sirens pulling into the parking lot. Lights were flashing across the white and black tile behind the counter. I looked up to see if Henry was still in the kitchen. I couldn’t hear him back there and I prayed he didn’t try to do anything heroic, like Jake.

“It’s over, Wilson. Just give yourself up,” the woman called out and I covered my ears, afraid of what would happen next.

“I got your boyfriend out here, Agent Scully. I suggest you come up with a way for me to get out of here. Wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him,” the asshole shouted back.

The woman, who I just found out was an ‘agent’, didn’t look very happy at that comment. She shook her head and chewed on her lip. “Mulder?” she called out. There was no answer.

“Hey, Agent Scully, is it a bad thing when there’s blood comin’ outta yer ear?” asshole Wilson crowed.

That was when Agent Scully started looking real angry. “If you hurt him in any way, Wilson, I will personally rip your balls right off your — ”

“THIS IS THE STATE POLICE! WE HAVE THE BUILDING SURROUNDED!”

“C’mon, Agent Scully. You know I can take all of you with me. You don’t want that, do you?” Wilson yelled back to us. Suddenly, all the ceiling lights started popping and crackling and crashing to the ground. “Scully, you have to the count of three to get your ass out from behind that counter!” Wilson shouted. “One . . . two . . . ”

Agent Scully grabbed her weapon, which I could now see was holstered at her hip and shoved it in my hands. “Do you know how — ”

I nodded an emphatic yes. Dad had taught me to hunt, I could use a gun.

“Just don’t let him get it,” she hissed as she stood up, hand raised, and walked around the counter.

“Where’s the little filly? I want everyone where I can see ’em,” Wilson said with a smart ass chuckle as if he was the funniest guy on the planet. I wanted to plant a bullet right between his eyes, but after seeing what he could do, I was afraid I’d miss and he’d kill us all.

“Leave her out of this, Wilson. You’re trapped in here. You’re in charge. This doesn’t have to end badly.”

From the crack in the front of the counter that Dan never had fixed I could see her eyeing the other guy — Mulder — on the floor. But she was talking directly to Mr. Incredible, or whatever the hell he was.

“Nice, nice. I know what you’re doin’ Agent Scully. Talking me down off the ledge. Real nice. But you see, I’m not gonna be taken again. I’m not gonna let them bastards shoot me full of drugs so I can’t out of that looney bin. No sir, not this time. This time, I’m goin’ out with a bang!”

I heard the wind starting to howl, and then I realized it was coming from inside the diner! The walls were shaking, the pots back in the kitchen were rattling and the hair on my head was whipping around my face. I took that gun Agent Scully had given me and released the safety. The wind was so strong I had a hard time cocking the damn thing. I peered through the crack, looking for a good shot. Finally the asshole was in range. His back was turned to me, his arms raised up and his hands waving with the wind. He was a conductor and he was orchestrating the whole diner. I squinted my eyes, lined up the sight and gently squeezed the trigger . . .

Bang, Bang, Bang – Bang!

I looked down at the gun in my hands — I hadn’t finished pulling the trigger! Where had the shots come from? I looked through the crack and saw that Wilson was lying across one of the tables. There was a lot of blood. Agent Scully was feeling his neck.

“He’s dead, Mulder,” she said and sighed. That was my cue to get up and come around the counter.

“Nice shot. For a minute there, I was afraid you were really out,” Agent Scully said as she helped the other agent off the floor. He had a little gun in his hand and I could now see the holster at his ankle peeking out from under his pants leg.

“For a second there, I was out. Then I just sort of played possum,” he said with a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eyes. Man, he was even cuter than he’d been when he walked in the door!

“Played possum? Mulder, we have been on this assignment way too long,” Agent Scully said, and tried hard to hide her matching grin.

“Think we can get home in time for leftover’s at your Mom’s?”

I lost the rest of the conversation because the entire Illinois State Police District Six out of Pontiac came busting through our doors. Before long I was explaining what happened. Apparently, Henry had snuck out the back door, called in the troops and then went over to Mom’s house to get her. Mom and Martin both hugged me to pieces before I had a chance to tell them I was fine.

Poor Jake ended up with a concussion and a cracked rib, so he was spending Thanksgiving at Bloomington Memorial. He got to ride in the back of an ambulance. Henry assured him we’d watch over his rig.

In all the ruckus, I was afraid they’d get away. I found them standing at the back of a second ambulance, arguing.

“It’s a scratch. Not even a real scratch, look, a band-aid covers it,” Agent Mulder was saying, forcefully, and showing the little bandage just behind his ear.

“You were unconscious. I’m not taking you on an airplane for the next 24 hours and that’s final,” Agent Scully was telling him, in no uncertain terms.

I cleared my throat and that caught their attention. Agent Mulder stepped forward, extending his hand toward me. “Fox Mulder, with the FBI. Thanks for your help in there,” he said. He looked back and smiled. “This is Dana Scully, my partner.” She stepped forward and shook my hand, too.

“My name’s Josey, Josey Hanner and I didn’t help,” I told him. “I wanted to — I was meaning to, but by the time I had him in my sights — you had him already.”

“That’s how we wanted it,” Agent Scully said. “I just wanted to make sure he didn’t get control of the gun, I didn’t expect you to take him down. That was our job.”

I nodded, understanding. “Well, um, I was wondering — ”

“How he managed to do all that with the wind and all?” Agent Mulder offered.

“Yeah! I mean, he looked completely like a — ”

“Normal person?” Agent Scully suggested.

“No, like a complete and total loser,” I finally found the right words.

Agent Mulder nodded. “From what we know of him, he had a . . . power, for lack of a better word. He could control air currents. He had been in a psychiatric hospital until a week ago. When he escaped, everyone assumed he died of the elements. He’d fooled them all into thinking he was incapable of taking care of himself. But it was just an act, a means to get them to let their guard down so he could sneak past them without being detected.”

“So he was smart?” I asked.

“Too smart. He’d killed several people, but was always found unfit to stand trial. He’d wrap the psychiatrists around his little finger,” Agent Mulder added with a disgusted look.

“So if one of them had seen through his act — ”

“He would have been on death row, more than likely,” Agent Scully said.

“Thanks,” I told her. That paper I had due in Deviant Behavior was looking more important by the minute. “Are you gonna be here for a little bit? I’ll be right back.”

“We aren’t going anywhere except a very close by motel,” Agent Scully said, crossing her arms.

I ran over to where Mom and Martin were talking to one of the state troopers. Mom was more than agreeable to my plan. I ran back as the ambulance pulled away, leaving the two agents standing in the cold wind.

“We’d like you to come to Thanksgiving at our house,” I said, chewing my lip. “It’s just me, my older brother and my mom, but Mom can’t figure out how to cook for just three people and we have enough to feed an army.”

Scully was shaking her head. “That’s very kind of you, but we don’t want to intrude.”

I just laughed. “Look, my Mom wants to give you guys a medal or something for saving my sorry life, so you better keep her down to just a plate of turkey and dressing. Besides, the diner’s the only place around that serves dinner, unless you want fries with your chicken nuggets.” I nodded my head toward the McDonald’s in the gas station across the road.

“Scully, a home cooked meal sounds awful nice, and it is Thanksgiving,” Agent Mulder reminded her. “I don’t suppose your family watches football on Thanksgiving, do they Ms Hanner?”

I laughed again and nodded. “Are you kidding? Martin played defensive lineman at ISU. He’ll be glued to the set.”

Agent Scully rolled her eyes. “Who am I to stand between you and a turkey dinner _with_ football?”

I pulled out my order pad and scribbled directions to our place. “The Motel 8 over there is brand new and if you explain the circumstances, I’m betting they’ll let you in early. Mom said the turkey will be ready to come out of the oven at noon.”

Agent Mulder looked at his watch. “That means we have 3 hours.”

“Which you will spend taking a nap,” Agent Scully said and she had the same tone to her voice Mom gets that warns me not to try and argue with her. Agent Mulder rolled his eyes and sighed, but finally nodded.

“We’ll see you in a few hours. Thanks again, Ms. Hanner.”

“The name’s Josey,” I reminded him. “And believe me, it’s our pleasure.”

I watched them get in their car and Agent Scully drove across the road to the Motel 8. Mom was calling my name; something about the turkey would need basting. I hustled over to our car and got in the backseat. I closed my eyes. A nap didn’t sound at all bad, I decided. But first, I had to call Dan. I wanted him to make sure I didn’t have to work any shift on Christmas. One holiday a year was enough, in my book.

The end

Turkey 101

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Title: Turkey 101

Date: November 10, 2004

Author: Kathy Foote

Summary: Mulder and Scully reminisce about Thanksgiving

past

Rating: PG

Category: MSR, Humor

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, these characters are the property of

Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox. I

wish they were mine, but they aren’t.

Archive: Two weeks exclusive with VS12, then anywhere is

fine by me

Authors’ note: This story was written for IMTP Virtual Season

12, Thanksgiving Special.

Thanks: To Emmy and everyone at Mulder’s Refuge who

encourage my writing, to my Mom who is rapidly becoming my

writing partner, and last but definitely not least, to Vickie

Moseley, my absolutely fabulous beta.

Turkey 101

THANKSGIVING, 2004

Mulder and Scully sat around their dining table having just

finished their Thanksgiving dinner. The table was packed with

food. There was a modest sized turkey that had been roasted to

perfection, missing a few slices. There were half full bowls of

dressing, mashed potatoes, and green beans. There was even a

gravy boat containing what looked like giblet gravy. There was

a beautiful centerpiece of autumn flowers, surrounded by

burning candles. It was perfect; Martha Stewart would have

been proud.

“Mulder…that was the best turkey yet. I believe you outdid

yourself”, Scully said rubbing her full belly. “You just keep

getting better every year. I don’t know how you do it.”

“Yeah…well…compared to the first year, it isn’t hard to show

improvement”, laughed Mulder, remembering his first

experience cooking a turkey. “Do you remember that?”

Scully broke into a wide grin, “Of course, I remember. I was

completely surprised. I had no idea what you had planned.”

“I just wanted to do something really special for you Scully. I

had no idea what I was getting into. It was a spur of the

moment thing…”

THANKSGIVING, 2001

Mulder sat in his office, seeing how many pencils he could get

stuck into the ceiling. He was bored. It had been pretty quiet

these last few days with Scully spending all her time at

Quantico. Thank God, it was a short week. Tomorrow was

Thanksgiving and they would be off for four days. They were

planning to spend the long weekend together, since her mother

had gone out of town. He couldn’t wait. They hadn’t spent that

much time together, since they became a couple.

He wanted to do something special for Scully, so he decided he

would cook Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey and

dressing and pumpkin pie. He called her cell phone and asked

her to come to his place the next day around 2:00. He said he

had a quick errand to run in the morning but he would have

lunch ready when she arrived. He wanted to make sure she

wouldn’t arrive before the meal would be ready. He knew she

would never suspect that he would actually cook a turkey. She

would probably be expecting pizza or Chinese takeout.

On his way home, Mulder stopped at the supermarket to buy the

fixings for dinner. He picked out an 18 lb frozen turkey. It

looked big, but he thought it would leave them with plenty of

leftovers. They wouldn’t have to cook the rest of the weekend.

He had better things planned for them, than cooking meals.

He walked up and down the aisles trying to decide what he

should buy to eat with the turkey. He bought Stove Top

Stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, frozen green beans (Scully

would expect some kind of green vegetable), a jar of turkey

gravy, and jellied cranberry sauce (he had always liked that

stuff). He picked up a pumpkin pie and a can of whipped

cream. He thought about it for a second, and when an idea

formed in his head, grabbed a second can of whipped cream.

He saw a stack of aluminum roasting pans. He thought about it

and decided he didn’t have anything big enough to hold the

turkey, so he threw one in his basket. He mentally went over

his menu and decided he had everything he needed. The girl at

the checkout counter commented on his choice of turkey,

guessing that he must be cooking for a large group and hoping

he had enough time to thaw it out. Mulder wasn’t listening. He

was deep in thought about how he would pull this off.

As soon as he got home, he called the Gunmen to see if they

knew how to cook a turkey. They put him on speakerphone and

each threw out a myriad of ideas from cooking the turkey to

stuffing it. They even detailed how to properly prepare giblet

gravy (what the _hell_ is a giblet?).

Finally, Mulder had had enough of their advice. He said he

would figure it out on his own, but before he could disconnect,

Byers suggested checking out the Butterball website. He said

they were bound to have all kinds of information on cooking

turkey. Mulder had no idea such a website existed. He

immediately booted up his computer and checked out the site.

The site was amazing. It had everything he would need to know

about cooking turkey. It even had videos.

The first task was to thaw the turkey. He could thaw it in the

refrigerator for 2-3 days. 2-3 days? No way! There was a

faster way that involved using cold water. That would be a

possibility. He read further. “Are you left with no time to thaw

your turkey? No thawing is needed for all natural Butterball

Fresh Whole Turkeys”. Now they tell him. It looked like it

would be the cold-water method.

– Thaw breast side down in its unopened wrapper in cold water to

cover

– Change the water every 30 minutes to keep surface cold

– Estimate minimum thawing time to be 30 minutes per pound for

whole turkey

Wait! 30 minutes per pound? If that were correct, it would take

9 hours to thaw the turkey. Damn! It was almost 11:00pm and

if he started now, it would not be thawed until 8:00am. Why in

the hell had he bought such a big turkey? What had he been

thinking? Obviously, he had been thinking about spending the

weekend with Scully and nothing else.

Mulder filled the sink with cold water, placed the turkey in the

water, and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer went

off, he replaced the cold water in the sink and reset the timer.

Every 30 minutes he repeated the procedure. Finally, around

1:00am, he began to fall asleep during the wait, only to be

awakened by the ringing timer. He would no sooner fall into a

deep sleep then he had to get up and take care of the turkey.

Around 7:30, Mulder figured the turkey was thawed enough and

was ready to be cooked. He jumped back on the computer and

looked up how to cook the turkey. First, he needed to know

how long it would take to cook the monster turkey. It would

take 4 1/2 hours to cook if he stuffed it and only 3 1/2 hours if

it was unstuffed. Mulder opted for an unstuffed turkey. He

studied the remaining steps, committing them to memory.

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

– Place thawed or fresh turkey, breast up on a flat rack in a

shallow pan, 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep.

He thought about how glad he was he had seen the pans in the

store. He had never considered what he would have used to

cook the turkey in. Pan…check!

– Brush or rub skin with oil to prevent the skin from drying and

to enhance the golden color.

Oil? Mulder didn’t have any oil. He had butter and that would

be close enough. Butter…check!

– Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of

the thigh muscle, but not touching the bone. If unstuffed, the

turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 180°F deep in

the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not reddish pink when

thigh muscle is pierced deeply.

Meat thermometer? They had thermometers for meat?

Obviously, the one Scully had bought for him wouldn’t work; it

didn’t go any higher than 106 degrees. What were his options?

Well, he could run out and try to find one or do without it. He

decided he would do without it. No meat thermometer…check!

– When the turkey is about two-thirds done, loosely cover the

breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of lightweight foil

to prevent overcooking the breast.

Foil? Dammit! He should have checked out this website before

he went to the store. Think! Where could he get some foil? He

remembered he had some leftovers in the refrigerator that were

wrapped in foil. Thank you, Scully. Foil…check!

He returned to the kitchen and prepared the turkey for cooking.

He first turned on the oven to 375 degrees. Then, he rubbed

down the bird with butter, put it into the roasting pan, and

placed it in the oven. He checked his watch…8:30. He would

need to put the foil on the turkey at 11:00.

By 11:00, you could smell the turkey cooking. Mulder

unwrapped the leftovers, set the foil aside, and threw away the

leftovers. He carefully smoothed out the foil, but still managed

to tear it several times in the process. He arranged the small

pieces of foil over the top of the turkey, trying to cover as much

as possible. Wouldn’t want to burn our breast, now would we?

He checked his watch…11:30. The turkey should be ready by

1:00.

While Mulder waited for the turkey to finish cooking, he

decided to recheck the website to see if there was anything else

he forgot. There were so many topics on the website. He

decided to check out the ‘First Timers’ section and see how he

had done.

– Determine how much turkey and stuffing you will need: Let

Butterball do the math with the Turkey and Stuffing Calculator.

Oops…well he had missed that one. 18 lbs for 2 people was

probably a bit much. He decided to see how much he should

have bought. He entered the variables. Adults…2, children…0,

leftovers…yes. He pressed the ‘Calculate’ button and it spit out

the answer of 3 lbs. Wow…he guessed he would have a lot of

leftovers. Maybe he could pawn some off on the Gunmen.

– Prepare your shopping list: Save multiple trips to the store by

Creating Your Own Shopping List.

That would have been a good idea. At least he didn’t make

multiple trips to the store. Of course, he decided to forego some

of the items. Next time, he would make a list of everything he

would need, including the elusive meat thermometer.

– Thaw the Turkey: Refrigerator or Cold Water? Decide which method

is right for you.

He wished he had seen that one. If he had known and planned

ahead, he would not have been up all night thawing out the

monster turkey. Next time, he would buy a smaller turkey and

would purchase it several days in advance.

– Roasting to Perfection: Follow our Open Pan Roasting Method and

Video for tender and juicy turkey every time. And learn where the

meat thermometer goes and how to tell when the turkey is done.

There was that damn meat thermometer again. He would

definitely have to buy one of those next time.

– Still looking for fail-safe preparation? Consider preparing a

Butterball Fully Cooked Turkey.

He really wished he had seen that idea before now. He could

have bought one already cooked or had dinner catered if he had

planned ahead. He nixed the latter idea. He really wanted to

cook for Scully. She was going to be so surprised and this

would have all been worth it just to see the look on her face. He

let out a satisfied sigh as he thought about her.

He shook himself from his daydream. He didn’t have time for

that. He had just enough time to grab a quick shower and set

the table, before the turkey would be done.

At 1:00, he checked out his turkey. It was golden brown and

looked pretty damn good, even if he said so himself. He took it

out so it could…breathe…or was it rest…either way, it had to

sit for at least 15 minutes before it could be carved. He figured

it could lie there and rest until Scully got there, which would be

in about 45 minutes.

It was time to cook the side dishes. He had four side dishes,

which would require 4 burners and 4 pans. He had 4 burners on

his stove, so that was no problem, but when he counted pans, he

came up short. He found only 2 pans. Now what could he do?

Not only would he have to cook 4 things using only 2 pans, but

also he would have to keep everything warm until Scully

showed up. He hadn’t even considered that each of these things

needed to be cooked on top of the stove and basically at the

same time, so everything would be hot.

He suddenly had a brilliant idea. He removed the turkey from

the roasting pan and placed it on a cookie sheet, since he didn’t

have a plate big enough to hold the massive bird. He would

cook the stuffing and potatoes, put them in the roasting pan, and

keep them warm in the oven, while he cooked the beans and

gravy.

True to her word, Scully showed up at exactly 2:00. He opened

the door and there she stood. He invited her in and took her

coat. She was casually dressed in jeans and an oversized oxford

shirt, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail.

“I thought we were just going to hang out and watch movies, so

I wore my comfortable clothes.”

“You look great, Scully, but you might be even _more_

comfortable wearing nothing” Mulder retorted, waggling his

eyebrows for a lecherous effect.

Scully looked back at him, patting him on the cheek, “Maybe

later…if you’re a good boy.”

Mulder gave her his patented puppy-dog look, “Ah, Scully, you

know I am always a good boy. Maybe we can…”

She interrupted him, having noticed the smell of the food. “Is

that food I smell, Mulder? Did you already order lunch?”

“Order? I’ll have you know, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for

us…with my own hands.”

“Well. I just assumed you would be ord…wait…what did you

say? You cooked?”

“I _cooked_ . Turkey, dressing, and all the fixings.”

“Mulderrrr”, she purred, “I can’t believe you cooked…. for me.”

“Come sit down Scully and I’ll put the food on the table.”

Mulder retrieved the food from the kitchen. He put the

dressing, potatoes, beans, and gravy in their own bowls. Scully

watched with her mouth agape as Mulder brought the dishes

filled with food from the kitchen to the table.

He brought out his turkey last and placed it in the center of the

table.

Scully’s eyes widened in surprise. “Mulder! How many more

people are you expecting? That turkey would feed a small

army.”

“Yeah, I know…I…uh…I thought we could eat the leftovers

this weekend. I figured we would be too _busy_ to cook

anything. Besides, you’d be amazed how many leftover turkey

recipes I found on the Internet. There’s turkey chili, turkey

nachos, turkey pizza, turkey pasta…”

Scully rolled her eyes, “Enough, Mulder…I’ll take your word

for it. You’re beginning to sound like that guy from Forrest

Gump.”

Mulder proudly carved into the turkey and, as he hoped, it was

done, even without the use of the meat thermometer. Scully and

he ate their Thanksgiving dinner amid the occasional sounds of

approval.

“Mulder, this is _really_ good. I am so surprised.”

Mulder gave her a little pout, “Are you surprised because you

weren’t expecting it or are you surprised because it is good?”

“Both, I guess. I never expected you to cook an entire

Thanksgiving dinner. It was a great surprise and you did a

damn good job. I’m proud of you.”

Mulder smiled, “Thanks.” He wasn’t sure what made him most

happy…the fact that it turned out so good or that Scully was

proud of him. “Hey, I have another surprise. Close your eyes.”

“Another?” Scully obediently closed her eyes.

Mulder disappeared into the kitchen. He retuned with the

pumpkin pie and the two cans of whipped cream. He placed the

pie and one can of whipped cream on the table, keeping the

other can behind his back. “Ok, you can open your eyes.”

When Scully saw the pie, her eyes grew wide, “Oh my God,

Mulder, I couldn’t eat another thing. Let’s save the pie for

later.”

Mulder leaned in close to Scully’s ear and huskily whispered,

“Fine by me, Scully, because I actually had a better use planned

for the whipped cream anyway”.

Scully turned her face to look at him and broke into a wide

smile, “Oh really, Agent Mulder?” She snatched the can of

whipped cream off the table and said, “I have a few plans of my

own.” She stood and started backing toward the bedroom

Mulder also broke into a wide grin. He brought the other can of

whipped cream from behind his back. “Oooh, Scully…I sure

hope we’re thinking the same thing. Come on…I’ll race you to

the bedroom…”

THANKSGIVING, 2004

Mulder and Scully laughed as they remembered that

Thanksgiving not so long ago.

“Mulder, did we ever eat that pumpkin pie?”

“Yeah…the next day…but we had to eat it plain, because we

used up all the whipped cream on other things”, Mulder said,

reaching for her hands and waggling his eyebrows for added

effect.

“Save it, Mulder.” She rose from the table before he could

reach her and disappeared into the kitchen. Mulder’s arms fell

to the table and he rested his head on them, letting out an

impatient sigh. He could hear Scully moving around the

kitchen, opening the refrigerator door. “Mulder? You want

dessert now?” she yelled from the kitchen.

“Awww, Scully, can’t we save the pie for later,” pouted Mulder,

not moving his head from where it rested. He had hoped the

story would have reminded Scully of the time _after_ dinner,

but apparently he had made her think of pie.

Scully returned from the kitchen with her hands behind her

back. “I didn’t say pie, Mulder…I said _dessert_.”

He raised his head to see Scully bringing her hands from behind

her back. In each hand, she had a can of whipped cream. A

huge grin formed on Mulder’s face.

“Come on, Mulder…I’ll race you to the bedroom…”

The End

Dark Meat

clip_image002

Title: Dark Meat

Author: Martin Ross

Spoilers: None

Summary: Witches and ghosts and marauding turkeys. Yes,

it’s Thanksgiving.

Written for Virtual Season 12 with exclusive rights for two

weeks.

Category: Casefile; humor

Rating: PG-13 — adult language

Disclaimer: Mr. Carter and the gang own it; I just visit.

Morton County, Illinois

Thanksgiving

1:02 p.m.

Mulder stared with a tinge of horror as the corpse was

dissected. He’d seen this scene countless times before,

but this time, somehow, it was different, more disturbing.

“Note the exaggerated breast size,” the Morton County

medical examiner murmured, slicing through the tissue with

an artful diagonal incision. He dispassionately removed

sections. “Industry breeding and genetics efforts in recent

years have been focused on increasing breast size and

overall bird weight. This, of course, has resulted in

reduced reproductive capabilities and certain orthopedic

concerns…”

“Jack, I swear to God this is absolutely the last time you

will be allowed to carve a turkey in this house,” Sandi

Yerkes snapped, thumping her grandmother’s lace tablecloth

with a plump but well-manicured hand. “Bad enough last year,

when I caught you trying to weigh the gizzard.”

Jack Eisner snorted, granted his hostess a withering look.

“The liver. I was weighing the liver. Weighing the gizzard

would be a pointless exercise. Besides, you heard me offer

Dr. Scully the honors. Professional courtesy.”

Sheriff Ron Yerkes sighed. “How’s about we just rule this a

homicide and dig in, huh, folks?”

“Hey,” Bill Yerkes protested, adjusting his considerable

girth as Sandi’s grandma’s dining chair creaked in agony.

“What kind of crack was that, Ronnie?”

The sheriff held up his palms. “C’mon, Uncle Bill. Getting a

little sensitive here, aren’t we?” He turned to the federal

agents who were sharing his Thanksgiving table. “A gang of

PETA people came over from Peoria last week and had a sit-in

at Bill’s farm. They’re still put up at the Days Inn,

waiting for the next slow TV news day.”

“Yeah, have a good yuck, Sandi,” Uncle Bill bristled.

“Damned animal rightists — care more about some dumb bird

than an honest man trying to feed his family.”

“Actually,” Mulder interjected in a familiar manner that

elicited a silent groan from his partner across the table,

“turkeys exhibit a very complex group intelligence,

including fairly sophisticated communicational capabilities.”

“This is lovely flatware,” Scully chimed in.

“Sorry, Ronnie, Sandi,” Uncle Bill rumbled, chin inclined

toward the table. “This Atkins horseshit has me kinda tense,

I guess. And those PETA assholes.”

“Bill,” the slight woman at his side gasped. Charlene

Yerkes was elegantly put together, with apricot hair and

rings on every finger. “Watch your mouth. And this diet is

for your own good.” Charlene turned from her husband.

“Bill’s lost 23 pounds so far, just by cutting carbs.”

“Like to lose about 132 more pounds, but my nephew’s the

sheriff,” Uncle Bill grumbled petulantly.

“Maybe if you’d eat something besides turkey all the time,”

Aunt Charlene chided. “Roast turkey, fried turkey, BBQ

turkey, turkey hash, turkey Jello if I didn’t draw the line.

All washed down with homemade wine. No wonder you have to

drink a gallon of warm milk every night just to get to

sleep.”

“It’s the only way I can get through this carb crap and

your bitching,” he countered, righteously.

“Can I leave now?” All eyes moved toward the magenta-haired

girl in the corner. Alecia Yerkes had been silently studying

the adults around the table, like some Bergmannesque goth-

girl specter of Death.

“How about we eat first?” Sheriff Yerkes suggested dryly,

clearly accustomed to his daughter’s monotoned complaints.

“Looka that,” M.E. Eisner exclaimed. All eyes again turned

to see the beaming pathologist displaying a plate of thick

tissue sections and artfully dismembered appendages.

“Agent,” Sandi inquired. “As you’re our guests, I wonder if

you wouldn’t mind saying grace to begin the meal.”

Scully turned a snort into a cough. Mulder glared across the

side dishes.

“I’d be honored,” he said, beaming beatifically. Scully’s

amused expression morphed into abject terror. “Now, if we

could all assume the position of prayer…”

“Whatever,” Alecia sighed.

Around the table, heads bowed, and Mulder’s eyes closed. “On

this hallowed and, uh, revered Thanksgiving Day, we the people

thank God or whatever cosmic force may rule the universe

for providing this bounty which with thine own blessing we

intend to partake, er, upon.

“As we sup upon this bounty that thou has provided for our

nourishment, we shall not forget the sacrifices made by our

forefathers — and foremothers, of course — who came to

this sweet land of liberty only to endure harsh winter

weather and face new bacterial and viral strains to which

they had built no immunity, as well, I’m sure, as a host of

food allergies and sensitivities owing to the bounty of

native but foreign vegetation thou provided for their

sustenance.”

Sandi Yerkes opened one eye, curiously, then reassumed the

position of prayer. Alecia leaned back in her chair,

fascinated.

“And we thank thou, thee, for this magnificent bird,

ritually slaughtered so that we may give thanks for the

amber waves of grain which thou hast endowed upon us.

May we appreciate the sacrifice this noble creature has

made each time we see a flock of gobblers against the

autumn sky…”

“Turkeys don’t fly–” Uncle Bill protested before giving up.

“And so shall we enjoy this feast, with malice toward none

and charity at home. Amen.”

The table was silent for a moment. “Amen,” Ron blurted

hastily, and his family and friends chimed in.

“Just lovely, this flatware,” Scully murmured.

**

“How’s your mom, Scully?” Mulder asked as his partner folded

her cell phone.

Scully sighed, leaning against the newel post of the Yerkes’

carpeted stairway. “Thank God Cousin Grace invited her to

come up for the holiday. It would’ve been a lot tougher on

her, first with Bill, and then with us being held up here.”

Mulder and Scully had hoped to return to D.C. two days

earlier, but complications had arisen in the Heartland

Thresher case even after the Bible-spouting serial killer

had been apprehended on the banks of the Illinois River.

“Well, Uncle Bill is comatose on the couch. Coroner’s taking

up the recliner. Ron’s trying to hear the Lions game over

Bill and Jack’s snoring and gastric rumblings. Sandi and

Charlene are in the kitchen, scraping cranberry-and-dressing

caulk off that love-ly flatware you were so enamored with.

Little Alecia’s up in her room, no doubt preparing a

Black Mass. And I think there’s still a recliner with my

name on it…”

“Oh, no,” she said, grabbing his forearm. “You are not

leaving me alone with the ‘gals.’ You were the one who

jumped at the sheriff’s invitation.”

“Dana, Fox?” Aunt Charlene sang from the living room. “Who

wants to be my euchre partner? Or are you canasta people?”

“Oh, yeah,” Scully muttered, petite fingers stretching

Mulder’s sweater. “You aren’t going anywhere.”

In the main room, Charlene was attempting unsuccessfully to

rouse her husband. “It’s euchre time, Bill. You’re going to

sleep through all the fun!”

Uncle Bill’s rasping snore only increased in volume. Dr.

Eisner affected a theatrical snore of his own, and the

sheriff cranked up the game. Ron jumped as his walkie-talkie

erupted on the lamp/table next to his avocado recliner.

“What you got?” he snapped into the radio.

“It’s me, Ted,” the voice was nasal and apprehensive. “We

got a disturbance out at Paul Cremone’s place. Might say

kind of a hostage situation.”

Ron’s footrest slammed into place as his socked feet hit the

carpet. “Family thing? Paul get shit-faced again?”

“No,” the deputy drawled.

“Well, what the hell is it like?” Ron roared. “Oh, crap;

just hang tight and I’ll be right over.”

Aunt Charlene appeared distraught as the sheriff slipped on

his uniform parka. “So you’re out this hand?”

“Sheriff?” Mulder inquired, hopefully, avoiding Scully’s

gaze. “Ron? You want some backup? It sounds like a

potentially risky situation.”

“Saddle up,” Ron invited, admitting a blast of late fall air

into the overheated house.

“Mulder,” Scully said through her teeth.

“I know, be safe,” he nodded briskly. Mulder grinned at the

sheriff. “Women, huh?”

**

The first thing Mulder noted was the crowd packed about the

Cremone farmstead, stretching from the wide, railed front

porch to the navy blue Harvestore bin towering over the

poultry houses.

“Looks like Woodstock by way of George Orwell.”

Sheriff Yerkes crunched to a stop on the berm beyond the

Cremone driveway, surveying the white sea of turkeys. “Much

as I’d love to show off my University of Illinois education,

I’m more of a Hitchcock kind of guy, Agent.”

Mulder shoved open the passenger’s door and strode around

the unit. Hundreds of wattled, beady-eyed heads turned

simultaneously toward him, and a tidal wave of feathers

rippled toward him, accompanied by an eerie, almost

ritualistic group warble. “Whoa,” the agent exclaimed,

slamming himself back inside the sheriff’s car.

Yerkes grinned. “Spooky, huh? They’re like that — like ants

or termites. Like they’re all operating with the same mind.”

“I read where groups of eight or ten birds will participate

in a kind of chase during where they’ll run at each other,

then dodge suddenly,” Mulder said.

“You done profiling these birds?” Sheriff Yerkes asked.

“Just saying, they’re not as stupid as they look,” Mulder

explained weakly.

As the flock turned as one toward the lawmen, Yerkes shoved

his door open and strolled to his deputy’s unit, on the other

side of the drive. Deputy Ted was huddled in the front seat,

nursing a hand wrapped in what appeared to be a bloodied

muffler. Yerkes sighed and motioned for him to roll his

window down. Ted vigorously shook his head.

“Dammit, Ted,” Ron shouted. He depressed the button on

walkie-talkie, and the deputy jumped as the radio on his

passenger seat beeped. Ted pressed it to his face. “What the

hell happened to you, Ted? Paul drunk? He take after you?”

“It was them.” Even though the walkie-talkie static, Ted’s

voice was filled with terror. “They did this to me when I

tried to go up to the house. We need back-up, Ron.”

“I brought the damned FBI with me.” Ron chewed his lip,

then reluctantly unsnapped his holster. “Crap, Agent. I

guess we’re going in.”

**

Official play had been suspended early on when Charlene and

Sandi fell into heated debate over “freezing the deck” – an

issue that apparently bore the global significance of the

Kyoto Agreement on Climatic Change. Uncle Bill had settled

into a low rumble of somnambulistic white noise.

“I know you had those rules with the cards,” Charlene

fretted, rooting through a side board near the now-silent

TV. “You need a system, like index cards…”

“Hell, I went to a convention in Vegas, and they didn’t

have anywhere near the kind of gear you see on the show,”

Dr. Eisner ranted. “And let me assure you, none of the CSIs

there looked like that Helgenberger chick.”

“Charlene, just sit down,” Sandi breathed. “Let’s just play

it your way.”

Aunt Charlene froze, her angular jaw dropping. “It’s no fun

if you don’t follow the rules.”

“What they oughtta do,” Eisner thumped the table, “what they

oughtta do is CSI:Peoria. Sure, we don’t have serial

killers – well, ‘sides the Thresher, but those network guys

are missing a bet. Bunch of puffed-up Hollywood…” Eisner

again thumped the table.

Scully’s iced tea, dosed to near-saturation with Equal, had

edged closer to the table’s edge with each thump, and as the

coroner drove home his point about CBS and its staff, the

plastic tumbler toppled into her lap. The combination of

Sandi’s shriek and a lapful of ice yanked Scully back to the

land of the living.

“Jack!” Sandi yelled, running for paper towels. Dr.Eisner

stared dumbly at the brown liquid dyeing Scully’s jeans

and the beige carpet, then pulled a monogrammed

handkerchief from his polyester sports coat.

“No!” Scully gasped and shrank back as he loomed toward her.

“Thanks, Doctor, but I’m fine, really. Mrs. Yerkes, where’s

your restroom?”

“Upstairs, Hon, second door,” Sandi cooed. “I am just sooo

sorry, Agent!”

“Not at all,” the sodden Scully assured her, escaping to the

hallway. She took the stairs two at a time, and closed the

bathroom door firmly. She sat on the pink plush toilet lid

and set to work on the tea stain.

In the end, Scully looked like the stylishly casual victim

of extreme incontinence, but her jeans were again uniformly

blue. The special agent took a deep, cleansing breath,

grasped the wobbly doorknob, and re-entered the Yerkiverse.

“No, no. Aces are 20 points,” Charlene insisted downstairs.

Scully steeled herself and started down the hall.

Only to come face to face with the girl. Or at least half a

girl, for the smiling Jesus painting at the end of the

upstairs hall was visible through her red-checkered blouse.

Scully froze, and the girl walked toward her, an oblivious

grin on her pretty blonde face. She wore white Capri pants,

like the kind Laura Petrie made famous, and her hair was in

a ponytail. A mole was anchored at the corner of bee-stung

lips. Late teens, early twenties, the agent ventured, her

heart pounding

Then the girl walked through Scully, and after a split-

second, the petrified redhead spun to see the apparition

stroll through the plaster and lath at the other end of the

corridor.

“Don’t worry.” Scully jumped, then spotted Alecia leaning

against her bedroom door jamb. “She won’t hurt you.”

**

“I’m not into the satanic shit or anything,” the teen told

Scully. Alecia’s room was a study in bipolar eclecticism,

as if Jan Brady and Marilyn Manson had jointly supervised

the decorating. “It’s just, you know, this stuff, it makes

people leave me alone.”

“The woman,” Scully prodded gently.

Alecia flopped back on her black pom-pommed pillows. “Well,

I guess that’s my fault, kinda.”

“Your fault?”

The girl pursed her black lips and inhaled. “Yeah. See, I

summoned her.”

**

Mulder sucked at his palm, then wiped his mouth vigorously

with his sleeve as he contemplated where the turkey that had

bit him had been. He glumly examined his slashed and

shredded pants legs, and stared out the cruiser window.

Thousands of beady, impassive eyes stared back.

The sheriff sighed. “I’m thinking. I guess it’s time to call

the state boys, ‘cept those animal rights folks are still in

town, and we’d have every Peoria TV crew shooting every bird

we shoot.”

Ron peered out to see a large ripple in the sea of poultry.

The birds were shifting position. The wave then began to

move, away from the farmhouse and its terrified inhabitants,

around the sheriff’s and deputy’s cruisers, out toward

County Road 1250W.

“The hell…?” Ron muttered, craning backward in his seat.

“They’re heading west, Sheriff,” Mulder advised.

“Jesus. Toward town?”

The flock now well down the gravel road, Mulder cranked his

window down to peer in the opposite direction. “Sheriff, you

better alert the Econolodge, the Best Western, and the Motel

6 downtown. There’s a second wave coming.”

**

“I got to reading about wicca, you know, witchcraft?” Alecia

told Scully.

“I know,” the agent sighed.

“It can get pretty deadly out here in Hooterville, you know?

So me and my friends, we started playing with the Ouija board,

learning a few incantations and trying out a few spells. It

was supposed to be bullshit – you know, like to wish for

better grades or for one of the guys to notice us. And,

well…”

“Yes?”

“Well, I always liked Uncle Bill – he didn’t treat me like

some little dumbass kid, and he’d let me help out on the

farm sometimes. So I wanted to do something for him.”

“You saw how Aunt Charlene treats him. What a bitch – always

on his ass about his weight or what a failure he is. The

bank downtown turned him down for a loan last year – he wanted

to start his own turkey sausage business instead of growing on

contract for the mega-turkey company. Well, Aunt Charlene

like ripped him a new one, said the doctors all might think

he’s a big dreamer, but you couldn’t eat on dreams. Whatever

that means. So I wanted to do something to help Uncle Bill

feel better about his life, about himself. So I cast a

spell, with the help of some runes.”

Scully’s head was pounding. “To do what?”

Alecia looked apprehensive. “Nothing really horrible. Just

for Aunt Charlene to maybe just, you know, disappear, and for

Uncle Bill to find his true love.”

Scully’s eyes tracked to the hallway.

“I did want him to find somebody maybe just a little bit

older,” Alecia explained. “And alive. Duh.”

**

“So, you think Sabrina the Teenage Witch pulled one out of

her pointy hat?” Mulder posed, moving his cell phone to his

left ear and watching the hundreds of birds about 50 yards

ahead of Sheriff Yerkes’ creeping unit.

“Get real, Mulder,” Scully breathed. “Though Alecia swears

she’s never seen this apparition before she cast her

‘spell.’ God forbid I should ask, Mulder, but if this were a

‘true’ haunting, wouldn’t Patti Duke’s ghost have made her

presence known before now?”

“Unless some event has occurred that may have manifested

her. Maybe Alecia’s spell merely tore the tissue between our

plane and the ghost’s. You talked to the grownups about

this, yet?”

He could hear the heat of Scully’s sigh in his ear. “I guess

I was hoping to just stay up here in Alecia’s room until you

got back. What’s your course of action?”

“The suspects don’t seem to have spotted their tail yet. Me

and the sheriff’s gonna foller ’em into town, make sure

there’s no fowl play. Scully? Scully?”

Mulder shrugged, and pocketed the phone. “So, Ron, whatcha

think? What are they up to?”

“Damned if I know. The grain elevator’s downtown – you think

maybe they’re, I dunno, hungry? Yeah, I know. But you got

any better ideas, Agent?”

“We’re too far from Capistrano,” Mulder mulled. “By the way,

you don’t happen to remember any recent visitations at your

house, do you?”

The sheriff’s brow wrinkled as he eased ahead. “Just you

folks, and the doc.”

“No. I mean otherworldly visitations. My partner and your

daughter saw something strange upstairs. What appeared to

be the spirit of a young woman. Blonde, pretty, dressed

like she came out of an episode of Happy Days.”

“Doesn’t sound like any ghosts we’ve seen lately,” Ron

drawled.

“OK, OK. Let me put it to you this way: How long you been

policing around here?”

“Oh, since 1978 or so.”

“How about your predecessor, any of the older guys on the

force? Anybody ever mentioned any mysterious deaths back in

the early to mid-’60s? Any local girls go missing?”

Ron kept his eyes on the turkeys, pursing his lips in

concentration. “Boy disappeared in ’85, along with about

$10,000 in fast food receipts. A vanful of kids from Peoria

went into the lake back in ’71. But wait a minute, J. Edgar.

If there’s a ghost haunting my house, wouldn’t it have had

to have, well, bought the farm there?”

“Relax, Ron,” Mulder smiled. “I’m just trying to consider

all the possibilities. You don’t have any memory of a cute

little blonde Anne Francis clone…”

“What do you mean, Anne Francis?” The sheriff was suddenly

alert.

“My partner said she had a little mole in the corner of her

mouth, kinda like Anne Francis. You know, Forbidden Planet,

Honey West?”

It was Sheriff Yerkes’ turn for silence. “Nah,” he finally

murmured. “Too homely.”

“What?”

“Well, it’s just that Uncle Bill used to have the hots for

some gal back when I was a kid, before he married Charlene.

But she was a far sight from Anne Francis. Closer to Francis

the Talking Mule. Couldn’ta been her.”

“Why didn’t he marry her?” Mulder asked, leaning forward.

“Did she die mysteriously? Tragic accident on Dead Man’s

Curve? Blind date with some budding Norman Bates?”

“Afraid your theory just went south on you, Sherlock,” Ron

chuckled. “Saw her last weekend at the Peoria mall. Amy

Ogleson’s alive and well, and still looks like she needs a

bridle and a bag of oats.”

“Well, it was a-” Mulder perked and stared out his side

window. His finger waggled. “Sheriff, Ron. I think we just

hit the cross-town traffic.”

Yerkes’ head turned slowly to County Road 500N, a blacktop

which now was white with waddling, wattled birds…

**

“Agent Scully, why don’t you sit down?” Sandi cooed

solicitously. “I think we still have some of Charlene’s

tomato wine left.”

“I’m fine,” Scully hastily assured the group above Uncle

Bill’s low sawing. “I’m not saying I believe I saw a ghost,

but I did see something up there. Does the description I

gave you sound at all familiar?”

Scully looked to Aunt Charlene and Dr. Eisner, who likely

would have been the “ghost’s” contemporaries. Eisner

fingered his mustache, deep in memories. Charlene’s

sharp jaw was tight, and she looked pointedly away from

Scully.

“Ms. Yerkes?”

Aunt Charlene looked challengingly at the younger woman.

“You know, it sounds a little like, oh, you know, Amy

Ogleson,” Sandi said, snapping her fingers. “You went to

school with her, didn’t you, Charlene?”

Scully could hear Charlene’s jaw constrict.

“Yeah, yeah. In fact, didn’t Bill take Amy Ogleson to the

junior prom?” Sandi prattled on, oblivious to her husband’s

aunt’s tension.

The older woman rose stiffly from the couch. “Are we going

to play Canasta or not?”

**

“OK, so what, exactly?” Mulder absorbed Scully’s latest

intelligence as the Dumont city limits beckoned. “This is

like a makeover ghost? Sheriff Yerkes said this Ogleson

suffered a severe congenital beating with the ugly stick.”

“Sensitive, Mulder,” Scully said. “Aunt Charlene and Dr.

Eisner described Ogleson as some kind of femme fatale.

But ‘Sandi’ managed to dig out an old family album –

which, by the way, we are only halfway through – and I

have to concur that, at best, Amy Ogleson’s charm must

have rested in her personality.”

“Or maybe she put out… Scully?”

“I’m here. For the moment.” Scully’s voice was

glacial. “Clearly, this isn’t our woman. Unless…”

“I hear the cogs turning.”

“Unless Amy Ogleson had a sister. The mole could be a

hereditary trait.”

Mulder turned to the sheriff. “Amy Ogleson have a sister?”

“Only child,” Ron replied absently, watching worriedly as

the combined birds of eight local farms moved in one white

wave down the holiday-deserted Main Street. Deputy Ted had

surveyed the county to discover a mass poultryhouse-break.

“Only child,” Mulder informed Scully.

“Agent,” Ron said urgently.

“Gotta go,” Mulder said, ending the call. He squinted out

the front window. “It’s quiet.”

“Too quiet. They’ve stopped.”

That’s when Mulder heard the sound of breaking glass.

Another crash followed, and an alarm began to echo

through the metro business district.

“The bank! Aw shit!” Ron unholstered his weapon and threw

open the door.

“Sheriff!” Mulder yelled. “Wait up! Let’s get backup!” But

Yerkes already was approaching the mob of birds. Mulder

pulled his sidearm and pursued him.

But before he could reach the sheriff, Mulder’s shoe hit

a puddle of turkey guano, and the fed met the road. He

stumbled to his feet and craned for a peek of Sheriff

Yerkes.

“Ron!” he shouted. “Ron!”

A few thousand small, emotionless eyes suddenly turned in

Mulder’s direction. He leveled his gun toward the birds.

A few dozen peeled off and began to advance. Mulder aimed

for the nearest bird, heart pounding. There was a feral

intelligence in the alpha tom’s beady little eyes that he

suspected would chill him toward Butterball products

for the foreseeable future.

And then the wave turned. Mulder kept the gun at shoulder

height as the advancing force flowed back into the sea of

turkeys and the sea ebbed toward the other end of town. A

trio of monolithic grain elevators towered over the Town

Hall, a minimart, and a Days Inn at the western edge of

Dumont.

“Hey!” a weak voice echoed. “You wanna pull your jaw back

in, get your thumb out of your ass, and get over here?”

Sheriff Yerkes was sitting against a lamppost before the

First National Illinois Community Union Bank, nursing a

bleeding ankle. His clothes looked like something from the

Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue for homeless-wannabe teens —

the gangsta gobblers had pecked and tore the fabric from

calf to midsection. Mulder knelt beside the lawman.

“You OK?”

“Like the man said, it’s just my pride,” Ron groaned.

“What was that all about?” Mulder asked.

Ron grunted to his feet. “Look in the front window of the

bank.”

Mulder crunched through broken glass, turkey shit, and

feathers to the now shattered plate glass window. A half-

dozen corpses littered the carpeted lobby floor, and every

surface — every counter, desk, chair, and promotional sign

— was festooned with turkey leavings.

“They attacked the bank,” the agent murmured, swiping his

disheveled hair back. “What are they? Socialist poultry?”

“I don’t know,” Ron said, low and apprehensive. “But

they’ve located a new target.”

“The elevator? You think they want to feed?”

“I look like the Lord of the Flock? Jeez, all I wanted

this afternoon was my game and a snooze in front of the

tube. Usually, turkey helps put me to sleep, not flat

on my ass.”

Mulder started to formulate a witty comeback, then clamped

his mouth shut and studied the carnage about him,

formulating a theory…

**

“She’s pissed off,” Sandi fretted. “Whenever she’s in a

snit, she makes sandwiches.”

Dr. Dana Scully, forensic pathologist, University of

Maryland physics major, special agent, considered the query.

“I dunno,” she finally shrugged. “Why’s your aunt so piss–,

er, miffed, anyway? This woman is clearly no threat in

her present state. Whatever that is.”

Sandi pulled Scully away from the kitchen doorway and the

sounds of furious sandwich-making. “See, Amy Ogleson was

Uncle Bill’s dream girl, you might say. She was funny,

smart, and pretty. Him and Aunt Charlene have had a rough

patch these last 40 years or so, and when Bill gets a

snootful, he tends to talk about what might’ve been. So,

you think that ghost is her? Amy Ogleson back to haunt

him? Or Charlene?”

“I dunno.” The ringing of her cell phone saved Scully

further academic embarrassment. “Scully. Yeah, how goes the

flock?”

“We been slimed, and I’m afraid this could get ugly real

quick. The rogue turkeys may be heading for the motel at

the end of town, and it looks like the lot’s pretty full.

They just trashed the bank.”

Scully frowned. “Well, that oughtta make at least one person

here happy. If he ever rises from the dead.”

The line went silent for a moment. “What do you mean,

Scully?”

Scully took a breath, and related Uncle Bill’s problems

with the lending community. More silence.

“Scully,” Mulder finally said, “what do you know about

tryptophan?”

His partner slipped into professional mode. “Tryptophan.

It’s an essential amino acid and a precursor of serotonin.

Tryptophan supplements can help suppress the appetite for

carbohydrates and raise blood sugar.

“Tryptophan’s also beneficial in treating some forms of

schizophrenia. And, yes, as I’m guessing you’re really

wanting to know, it’s the compound in turkey and other

foods that promotes drowsiness.”

“It’s not the only thing,” Mulder retorted. “What about the

side effects? What happens if you OD on tryptophan?”

“OD on trytophan?”

“Headaches, sinus congestion,” a drowsy voice drifted from

the armchair. Dr. Eisner opened one eye. “It can jam you up

something awful, too. Oh, and too much tryptophan can screw

with sleep patterns something awful. Give you some

hellacious nightmares.”

“Constipation and hellacious nightmares,” Scully translated.

“Mulder, just what are you–?”

“Agent Scully!” Sandi Yerkes suddenly screamed.

“Agent Mulder!” Scully heard Ron Yerkes shout.

Sandi, braced in the kitchen doorway, was white-faced.

“Agent Scully, I think she’s choking!”

The phone fell to the carpet, and Scully rushed into the

kitchen. Aunt Charlene was sitting against the dishwasher,

gasping like a grounded carp and roughly five shades more

blue than she normally would be.

“She was only eating my Cranberry Jello Dream,” Sandi

whispered ineffectually as Scully began performing the

Heimlich.

“It’s not working,” Scully panted after about three minutes

of the procedure. “Dr. Eisner!! Get in here!” She was

answered by an abrupt snort from the living room. A rumpled

coroner appeared in the doorway.

“Kee-rist,” he yelped. “You tried the Heimlich?” The agent

nodded vigorously. “Airway must be completely blocked and

constricted. Sandi, you call 911! Agent, find that turkey

thermometer and some isopropyl.”

“Thermometer?”

He looked up bleakly, a bead of sweat rolling down his broad

pink forehead. “You have done a tracheotomy before, haven’t

you, Doctor?”

“Once,” Scully stammered.

“Well, that’s one up on me. Let’s move!”

**

“Scully!” Mulder yelled, growing frantic. “Scully!!”

“What happened?” Ron demanded, ignoring the flock now

swarming across the Days Inn lot. “What’s going on, damn

it?”

“Your Aunt Charlene,” Mulder breathed. “I think she’s

choking.”

“God!” The sheriff sprinted for his unit, for the radio.

“Ron!” the agent shouted. “Sheriff! The bank – the ones the

turkeys trashed. Was it the one that turned your uncle down

for his turkey processing loan?”

“Yeah!” Yerkes snapped from the passenger side of the

cruiser. “So what?”

“Those animal rights activists? Are they still at the motel

here?”

“Sure, yeah!” Ron keyed his radio.

“Wait, wait,” Mulder implored. “One last thing. How’s your

Uncle Bill feel about Dumont?”

“What? You are nuts…”

“No. What’s his feeling about this town?”

Ron gaped at the FBI agent. “With the yuppies moving in from

Peoria, the town’s been trying to annex more of the outlying

farms, close ’em down. The county’s trying to regulate the

turkey guys outta business. Of course, he hates this town.

Bill told me last week he felt like the community has crapped

on him–.”

The sheriff halted, staring first at Mulder, then at the

turkey-soiled streets of Dumont…

**

“You have to be very careful here,” Dr. Eisner murmured, his

fingers twitching. “You don’t want to nick an artery or

break the hyoid.”

Scully wiped sweat from her forehead as she positioned the

pointed end of the turkey thermometer over Charlene’s

cyanotic throat. The woman’s eyes were bulging, and she

gurgled in dry, rasping terror.

“Scully!!” It was a small, tinny, fuzzy voice. Mulder’s voice.

“Take the pill! TAKE THE PILL!!”

She then remembered dropping the phone. Scully tried to tune

out her partner’s voice as she prepared to incise Aunt

Charlene’s throat.

“TAKE THE PILL!! SCULLY, TAKE THE PILL!!!”

Scully held up a quieting palm, then, thermometer in hand,

crawled on her knees toward the phone nestled in the thick

living room carpet.

“…THE PILL, SCULLY. TAKE THE PILL!!”

“What pill, Mulder?” Scully yelled, reaching for the

instrument. She clapped the phone to her ear.

“WAKE UP BILL, SCULLY!” Mulder repeated, clearly now. “For

God’s sake, wake up Uncle Bill!!”

Washington, D.C.

One year later

“So that’s why we’re feasting on General Tso’s chicken

instead of Butterball’s finest,” Arthur Dales exclaimed,

slapping the red-and-gold tablecloth before him.

“You can understand why we might feel like a little less

traditional Thanksgiving celebration this year.” Mulder

smiled at the father of the X-Files as he poured him some

more plum wine. Scully had suggested a less celebratory

beverage choice for the elderly ex-agent, but Dales had

cheerfully changed the topic and, well, it was the holiday.

“But the birds,” Dales murmured.

“Within a minute or so of Scully shaking Uncle Bill back to

consciousness, the flock started dispersing. We had to get

about three dozen turkey wranglers to help round them up

and sort them out by farm, and I hear the town paid a

whopping bill to clean the place up, but the PETA people

were spared a merciless pecking.

Mulder sipped his tea. “That’s what made me realize what was

going on. The same force, the same consciousness, dispatched

a flock of turkeys to dispatch a coven of vegans while

blitzkrieging the local bank and soiling the town that was

trying to sh–”

“Mulder,” Scully warned.

“Yeah, anyway. And unless we were to embrace a ludicrous

twist of coincidence, we had to believe that same consciousness,

that same force, had manifested not only a woman with whom

the Yerkes had experienced some checkered past history, but

indeed an idealized version of that woman. The way Bill

had seen Amy Ogleson, remembered her. That’s when it clicked.

She was a dream. A very vivid dream.”

Dales thumped the table. “No!”

“Alecia’d told Scully Aunt Charlene had remarked that ‘the

doctors’ had called Bill a ‘big dreamer.’ Actually, Bill was

a vivid dreamer. One of those rare cases where an

individual’s dreams seem startlingly real. Now, if

tryptophan tends to disrupt or alter sleep patterns and

dreaming, then imagine if the dreamer had ingested mass

quantities of tryptophan over an extended period. After

Charlene cracked the whip on him, Bill forsook all carbs

and boosted his turkey intake to extreme levels. This

ill-advised diet, supplemented by cheap homemade wine,

contributed to his gastric distress and, combined with

Charlene’s nagging, to a raging case of insomnia. So he

gulped gallons of warm milk each night.”

“More tryptophan,” Dales said. “His bloodstream must have

been saturated with the stuff. Er, I assume the unfortunate

Uncle Bill was responsible for Aunt Charlene’s, um,

Predicament?”

“Not that we could ever prove,” Scully muttered. “We

couldn’t even bring him into court.”

“Give it a rest, Scully,” Mulder sighed. “He agreed to quit

turkey cold turkey, so to speak. And Bill and Charlene

finally reached an accommodation.”

“An accommodation?”

“Bill hooked up with the equine but affable girl of his

youthful dreams at a New Year’s Eve party a month later.

And Charlene is now the wife of the town coroner.”

Dales beamed. “Marvelous. And look – here comes our

Thanksgiving feast!

“Happy Thanksgiving! God Bless America!” Luan Yee,

proprietor of Happy Paradise Garden, yelled as he delivered

three platters of hot orange-glazed chicken and dressing

festooned with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts.

Mulder grabbed his sticks, but Dales coughed with dignity.

“Why don’t we honor the Great Benefactor responsible for

this evening of fellowship and food? Agent Mulder–?”

“Our father…” Scully began loudly.

The End

The Autumn People

THE AUTUMN PEOPLE

TITLE: The Autumn People

AUTHOR: Traveler

Feedback:: iluvxf@hotmail.com

RATING: PG-13 for a few nasty words

CONTENT: X-File, Angst, MSR and a little MT

SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully encounter a touch of evil and do a little soul searching in the heartland of America.

FEEDBACK: Always welcomed.

DISCLAIMER: 1013 and FOX own these characters.

DISTRIBUTION: Exclusive to VS!2 for two weeks. Please send me an email if you would like to archive elsewhere.

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INDIANA STATE ROUTE 45, 4:38PM

The constant droning of the tires had lulled her to sleep

miles ago. She wasn’t sure what had possessed Mulder to

leave the interstate for these quiet Indiana back roads but

she could only look at so many miles of open farmland

before boredom overtook her and she drifted off. She knew

he was upset, choosing the constant noise of the classic

rock station that he’d selected on the radio instead of

conversation.

They’d come out here by invitation from a support group for

abductees, ‘alien abductees’ for whom Mulder had become

somewhat of an idol. When he couldn’t give them an answer

as to what he or the government were doing to stop the

invasion threat they all believed existed his golden imaged

had been forever tarnished.

Since the events of the last month they had tried to make a

life for themselves outside the X-Files. The fight still

raged on Capital Hill over the governments’ complicity in a

growing list of cover-ups but the policy of denial was

still in full force despite the equally growing number of

groups involved in blowing the whistle. The can of worms

Mulder had opened all those months ago was yet to make

anyone uncomfortable. Mulder’s credibility was beginning

to suffer, so much for public awareness.

And now these people who had experienced some of the same

frightening things she had, who only wanted someone to give

them faith that their voices would be heard had felt they’d

been let down by the very person they believed understood.

The Mulder she knew today was not that same impulsive,

driven, loner she had met all those years ago, demanding

answers by waving a gun and a badge. Dedicated as it were

to an endless search of truths he’d yet to find. He’d

grown up to face the stark reality that you didn’t always

get what you wanted and quite often it cost you more than

you gained. He’d come to realize that it wasn’t worth the

price. The heartache of the last ten years had brought

them together. They had each other but not much else and

somehow that seemed a hollow reward for all they had been

through.

The decisions they’d made in the past few months had left

him in a melancholy mood. She knew he enjoyed spending

time with her and her family but she could always sense his

loss of self-direction. The idea of leaving the Bureau had

given him cause for thought. Torn between wanting to head

his career in another direction and finding a purpose for

continuing their work she knew he found it hard to get

motivated these days. He told everyone he was between

careers. The one he spent living off his inheritance and

the one where he actually did something for a living. She

knew how he felt; her emotions were spent. The sudden

cessation of motion brought her awake.

Opening her eyes to the late afternoon sunshine she looked

first at why they had come to a stop and then at Mulder who

seemed to be engrossed in the scene spread out before them.

He had pulled the car of on the shoulder of a two-lane

road. Perched as they were on the top of a slight rise the

field below them was filled with wilted vines and hundreds

of golden pumpkins. The sun made the cloud filled fall sky

dark and foreboding despite the warm hues of the turning

foliage.

He sensed her awakening and tilted his head towards the

scene before them. “Will you look at that?”

“It’s a field of pumpkins Mulder,” she stated somewhat

annoyed, stretching to get the kinks out of her shoulders.

“Why have we stopped?”

Trying to lighten her mood he smiled slightly, “That’s got

to be the most sincere pumpkin patch I’ve ever seen.”

What did sincerity have to do with a field of pumpkins? It

was late afternoon, they were in the middle of nowhere USA

and she ached from having fallen asleep buckled into the

seat of yet another in a never ending supply of Ford

Taurus’. Is that all rental agencies furnished these days?

Angrily she let him have it. “What the hell are you

talking about?” It made him flinch.

“Geez, Scully, you’ve never seen THE GREAT PUMPKIN?”

Oh, please, she thought, some people never grow up. But

she decided to play along. “Please don’t tell me we’re

going to spend the night in that pumpkin patch waiting for

the Great Pumpkin?”

“I saw a sign for a Bed and Breakfast a few yards back,

it’s your choice.” He put the car in drive but didn’t take

his foot off the brake.

Some choice she thought to herself, but a bed and hot water

sounded much more appealing. Mulder could sleep in the

pumpkin patch if he wanted to. They do have hot water out

here don’t they? “Where are we?”

“Needmore.”

“You’re kidding right?”

“Come on, Scully, this is the heartland of America, the

stuff you miss flying by at 70 miles per hour on the

Interstate or soaring over at thirty-five thousand feet.”

“And we need to stop here because? If we’d stayed on the

Interstate we’d be in Indianapolis by now. Don’t we have a

flight to catch?” Even to her own ears she sounded bitchy.

“I cancelled our flight,” he stated too matter-of-factly

turning the wheel and giving the car a little gas. Damn,

how long had she been asleep? As he eased the car back

onto the road she took in the dreamy look he still seemed

to have. Almost like he’d been asleep too, or lost in his

own thoughts for all these miles.

“Mulder, what’s wrong?”

He turned, almost too suddenly, a defensive motion.

“Nothing!” he bit his lip when she flinched. “Not a damn

thing.” Then he reached over to pull her left hand into

his and let out a long sigh of frustration, then a gentle

smile curved his lip. “I seem to remember a conversation

in a car with you once before…something about stopping the

car. I thought we should stop.” Despite the caress he

placed on the back of her hand, he turned back to the road

just as quickly.

“If I remember correctly, that didn’t turn out too well.”

“Yeah, well, maybe it just wasn’t the right place or the

right time,” he said, pulling his hand away and gripping

the wheel a little too tightly. Time, something they never

seem to have enough of just for themselves. Giving the car

a little gas he eased it back onto the road, Scully settled

into her seat her gaze coming to rest on her partner. They

were still partners weren’t they? Their relationship had

grown so much over the past couple years but to define what

they now were to each other was almost impossible to

categorize.

Less than a mile down the road a small sigh appeared

welcoming them to Needmore, Indiana. There was obviously

something needful in Mulder’s desire for them to stop here.

Whether it was fatigue, the futility of their situation or

a need for some personal redemption she wasn’t sure. What

she was sure of however, as the sun disappeared behind the

fall clouds was the sudden chill she felt as they headed

into town.

DOWNTOWN NEEDMORE

It occurred to them as they drove through the center of

town that they had driven though some sort of time warp and

ended up in the 1940’s. Needmore, Indiana had a small

village square surrounded on three sides by dated

brownstone store fronts. On the forth side sat a town hall

and what appeared to be a library. A couple of older

vehicles sat in front of a diner on the corner across from

the town hall. The cloudy evening made it all look that

much more depressing. “You said you saw a sign for a bed

and breakfast?”

“Yeah.” What he hadn’t told her was that the sign had been

so weathered it was hardly readable. “Right before I

pulled off the road, it said Main Street.”

“Well, there are no other streets Mulder. This has got to

be Main Street.”

Despite the well-kept appearance of the square, dry leaves

scurried down the street in bunches, gathering in empty

doorways, there were very few shoppers. Scully rolled down

her window at the site of a couple of gentlemen who had

emerged from the barber shop, complete with turning barber

pole as they came to an intersection. A blast of frigid

fall air gusted into the window surprising her. “Excuse

me,” the three men turned at the sound of her voice. “Can

you tell us where the…” she turned to Mulder. “What was

the name of the place, anyway?”

“Need More Rest, I think it said.”

She stared at him a moment in disbelief, should she scream

now and scare these poor gentlemen to death or do it in the

privacy of the car after she rolled the window back up?

Turning back to the gentlemen she casually asked, “Can you

tell us where the Need More Rest Bed and Breakfast is?”

Deciding she’d kill Mulder for this later.

“That’s Alice’s place,” the one man dressed in coveralls

and a barn jacket and leaning on a cane replied. Another

man in their party, an older gentlemen, stepped up to the

window of the car. He wore a three piece suit and as he

leaned into the window pulled a pocket watch from his vest

and popped it open. “It’s almost five, you’ll have to

hurry. She doesn’t take any guests after five o’clock.

The house is two blocks down on the right.”

“Thank you,” they both said in unison.

Mulder pulled away from the curb as Scully pushed the

button for the window enclosing them both in the warm of

the car. Two blocks from the square they came to a sign in

front of a huge gray Victorian home covered in white

gingerbread trim. The yard was full of whimsical yard art

and whirligigs. They pulled into the driveway and Mulder

cut the engine, leaning into Scully’s space as she turned

to take in the house before them. “Welcome to Wonderland,

Scully.”

“If the Queen of Hearts comes out that door Mulder, we’re

leaving.” He chuckled and popped the door. The wind

swirled and lifted his overcoat before he could wrap it

snugly around himself. He buttoned it quickly and came

around the car to accompany Scully up the stairs of the big

house. The huge porch looked much the same as the yard

did; filled with baskets of waning flowers and knick-

knacks. A swing at the end swayed with the stiff breeze.

Scully wrapped on the door as Mulder turned the knob to

find it unlocked. Bells jingled from the top of the door

as they both stepped into the foyer. “Hello,” Scully

called out.

The foyer extended into a hallway that appeared to reach

all the way to the back of the house. To their right was a

beautiful ornate staircase leading to the second floor. On

their left were French doors that led to a sitting room.

“Hello”, they both called this time but there was still no

reply. Mulder was about to make his way down the hallway

when they heard the jingle of a bell and someone stomping

their feet. An elderly woman’s voice echoed from the back

of the house. “Just a moment, I’ll be right in.”

A few moments later they were greeted by a collie mix dog

followed closely by a tall elderly woman in a long denim

dress. “Maggie, sit!” she commanded to the dog.

“Goodness, I was out in the yard and noticed your car in

the drive,” she apologized pushing up the sleeves of her

dark green sweater. “What can I do for you folks?”

“We’d like a room, actually, Mulder said. My name is Fox

Mulder; this is my–friend Dana Scully. I saw your sign

down the road.”

Alice’s hand flew to her chest, she seemed a little

flustered. “Oh, my, yes, I haven’t had any quests it quite

some time.”

“If this in inconvenient for you,” Scully said. “We can be

on our way.”

The woman seemed to hesitate for a moment. Taking in their

smart attire, she was sure this couple was not just out for

a weekend drive. She had heard Mulder hesitate when he

mentioned his lady friend, like he wasn’t sure what to call

her and yet there was something in his voice, in the

hopeful way he had asked about the accommodations and

besides, Maggie seemed to sense this tired looking

gentleman was asking for more than a room for the night.

“Oh, no, no, I’m sorry, my name is Alice Halloway; you’re

very welcome to stay. Please, just give me a few minutes

to get a room ready.”

As she started up the stairs she turned to them once more.

“Will you want one or two rooms?”

“One will be fine,” Scully replied and Alice disappeared up

the stairs with Maggie close on her heels.

Scully stepped into the large sitting room as Mulder went

out to the car to get their bags. Glancing about the room

she decided they were definitely stuck in the forties. The

furnishings in the room were just as Victorian as the house

itself. Mulder wouldn’t be spending any time punching a TV

remote tonight, there was none. Everything in the room

looked perfect, like no one had used it for a very long

time. There wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. Suddenly she

heard someone calling her name and walked back to the

hallway. “Miss Scully?” Alice called from the top of the

stairs. Scully approached the bottom of the beautiful

staircase and looked up. “I’m sorry; I was just admiring

your sitting room.”

“The room is ready if you’ll come up I’ll show you around.”

Mulder pulled their garment bags from the trunk of the car

and turned to go back into the house. He stopped abruptly

when he found himself face to face with a tall dark skinned

man with a neatly trimmed beard and sporting a black

waistcoat and tall hat. He had dark eyes and a mystical

quality to his voice when he spoke. “Mr. Mulder, my name

is Alvin Dark,” he said, extending his hand for Mulder to

shake. Mulder hesitated a moment as he felt the hairs on

his neck raise but put down his bag and shook Dark’s hand.

“I don’t believe we’ve met before Mr. Dark, how do you know

my name?” The handshake and the fact this man knew who he

was already made him feeling uneasy.

“I know everyone whose soul searches for redemption Mr.

Mulder.”

Mulder hesitated before replying. “I’m not sure I know

what you mean?”

“Yes you do, you’ve been thinking about it all the way

here,” he handed Mulder a flyer; it was a small poster for

a carnival. “You’ve been thinking about all the choices

you’ve made that have brought you here. All your failures,

the hurt you have caused, the people you’ve lost; but most

of all you think of the things you wish could change if you

could. I see the desire in you Mr. Mulder, the desire for

a life free from these burdens. Remove the darkness from

your soul and free those around you. Come and be amazed.”

Mulder took the flyer from Dark’s hand, DARK’S PANDEMONIUM

FAIR. Welcome to my hell, he thought to himself. “You

have no idea what I’ve been thinking Mr. Dark,” his tone

aggravated by the audacity of the man’s words. Stuffing

the paper into his pocket, he bent down to pick up his bag.

When he straightened up again, Dark had disappeared.

Alice had given them the first room at the top of the

stairs. She had shown Scully the bath across the hall.

Since there were no other guests at the moment they had it

all to themselves. She heard the door jingle again

downstairs. “Scully?”

“We’re up here, Mulder.”

As she heard him climb the stairs she stepped out of the

room to take her bag from him. He looked weary but he

smiled when she greeted him and followed her back into

their room. He set his bag on the floor. “Maybe we should

have asked for two rooms.”

The room was no larger than your average bedroom. There

was a large bay window in the front filled with what

appeared to be yards of lacey curtains that draped onto a

window seat. A Queen Anne chair upholstered in some dark

green fabric sat to its right in front of a dark mahogany

wardrobe. There was a small dresser with a mirror and a

four poster double bed that Mulder imagined he would

probably hang off of by at least a foot.

“The bathroom is down the hall,” Scully replied

“Look, maybe this really was a bad idea, we should just

go.”

“Mulder, we can’t, Alice has been so accommodating. She

asked what you liked for breakfast.”

“Breakfast is a long way off, I don’t think I can wait that

long.” Mulder looked away from her and began to rummage

through his bag.

Scully came over to touch his arm. “Find something casual

to wear. Alice said that little diner we passed is open

until nine we can walk back and get something for dinner.

Just give me a minute in the bathroom.”

He reached up and brushed the hair back from her face.

“It’s cold out there. Are you sure you want to walk.”

Kissing his palm she pulled away. “We’re getting out of

the car, remember?”

Fifteen minutes later they had been ushered out the door

with a key and Alice’s instructions to tell Mil at the

diner that they were staying with her. The brisk wind made

them walk fast and in a few short minutes they were outside

the diner. Mulder paused for a moment when another of

Dark’s carnival posters pasted to a light pole caught his

eye. ‘Change all the things you could change if you

could…’ Dark’s eerie voice coming back to him. Yes, he’d

change a lot.

Scully had stopped a few yards up the sidewalk when she

realized she was walking alone. Turning around, he seemed

to be gazing into space. “You coming?”

“Um…what?”

“I thought we came here to eat?”

“Yeah,” Mulder answered distractedly. “I’m coming.”

Another poster appeared pasted to the back of the cash

register on the counter as they entered the diner. Inside

the tiny restaurant time seemed to stop. A few patrons who

were seated at the counter turned as they came in. Those

who were seated in the booths at the windows all looked

their way. They both felt very self-conscious.

“Mil, these folks are stayin with Alice, you fix them up

something nice,” a voice boomed from behind them and they

both turned to see one of the gentlemen they had asked

directions from earlier. Mulder nodded a thanks.

“Oh, yes, of course,” the busty woman from behind the

counter grabbed two menus out of the pocket by the register

and tugged Scully with Mulder following to an empty booth.

Small town grapevine, news evidently had traveled fast.

“It’s kinda late, but you folks pick out whatever you’d

like, it’s no trouble.”

Mulder looked up at the list of specials scrawled in chalk

on the board over the counter. “You still have some of the

meatloaf special?”

“Oh, yes, town favorite,” Mil replied with a grin.

He glanced at Scully, “We’ll have two of those and some

coffee.” He handed her back the menus.

“That’ll just take a few minutes; I’ll get you some

coffee.”

The coffee came, warm and rich. Scully decided that if the

meatloaf tasted half as good as the coffee, she wouldn’t

mind eating it. Mulder was quite, deep lines under his

eyes told here how weary he was. At the moment he seemed

to be engrossed in something over her left shoulder. She

glanced in the direction he was looking but saw nothing

that would appear to have earned so much attention.

“Where are you, Mulder?”

His eyes came back to hers. “You like carnivals Scully?”

He gestured with his chin to whatever he’d been looking at

over her shoulder. When she turned again she saw the

poster he’d been studying. “What do you say we hang around

for a day?”

“Dr. Blockhead, Jim Jim the Dogfaced Boy, we went to a

carnival once Mulder.”

“No, actually we INVESTIGATED a carnival; we’ve never been

to one.” Their dinner appeared in front of them, two

heaping plates of meat and potatoes. Evidently Mil thought

they needed to be fattened up. Scully reflected back to

‘The Enigma’ and decided she wasn’t so sure she wanted to

know why. The meatloaf was delicious.

Mulder had cleaned both their plates and partaken in the

free pumpkin pie for desert as Scully sipped on another cup

of coffee. She hadn’t really thought about it but neither

of them had eaten since the continental breakfast at their

hotel that morning. At least traveling on their own dime

had meant better accommodations. Leaving the diner the

wind was at their back as they headed back to Alice’s.

They passed an antique store that Scully decided she

wouldn’t mind investigating in the morning, a dry goods

store and the barber shop. It was as if this little town

had been lost in time several decades ago. It was quaint

but it gave her the chills.

Other than complimenting Mil on the meatloaf and inquiring

about the pie Mulder hadn’t said much over dinner. He

still had that ‘lost in thought’ look she’d seen on him

when she’d awakened in the car that afternoon. She wished

he’d talk to her about what was on his mind. They walked

along in silence until she felt his fingers curl around

hers. “A real step back in time isn’t it?”

“It’s very quaint Mulder, but I think I like living in the

present myself.”

There was another carnival poster in the barber shop

window. Mulder stopped in front of it dropping her hand.

“What has you so obsessed with these carnival posters?”

“I don’t know just a feeling that it’s something more than

just fun and games.”

“A feeling?”

He pulled the copy of the poster Dark had given him from

his pocket handing it to Scully.

She took if from him and read the bold print, DARK’S

PANDEMONIUM FAIR. “Where did you get this?”

“Dark gave it to me.”

“This Dark, of Dark’s Pandemonium Fair?” She asked pointing

to the name in bold print.

Mulder stuffed his hands back into his pockets, kicked at

some leaves that had gathered at their feet. “Yeah, you

know, disorder, chaos, the land of demons. He handed it to

me outside Alice’s when I went out to get the bags.” He

was facing the wind and squinted when it bit into his

flesh. His hair blew it all directions. Scully, sensing

his discomfort, slid her arm through his and turned him

around back in the direction of Alice’s and began to walk.

“What did he say to you?”

He looked away from her, up the street in front of them,

“He just invited me to hell.”

THE NEED MORE REST, 10:13 P.M.

By ten o’clock Mulder had paced for at least two miles back

and forth across their room. A man without a remote was a

restless thing. There wasn’t even anything he could get

comfortable sitting in and he obviously was no longer

tired. Visions of some things Scully could think of that

would tire him out came into her mind but neither of them

felt comfortable engaging in anything but a kiss within

Alice’s house. She tried desperately to read as he paced

but it was too distracting.

“Go for a run Mulder.” He stopped dead. Salvation.

She knew he had his sneaks, he’d worn them up to the diner

and she was sure there were some sweats in that bag of his

somewhere.

He stopped, his face brightening. “You don’t mind?”

“Change your clothes, take the key and just be careful of

the dark.”

His dress shirt flew off over his head. “I don’t think I

need to worry about traffic Scully.”

“Probably not, I just don’t want you to get side swiped by

a deer.”

Properly attired in his sweats he grabbed the key off the

dresser and sat down on the bed to tie it into the laces of

his right shoe. He leaned over and kissed her gently. “I

love you.”

“I love you too, now go and close the door.”

When he got to the bottom of the stairs Alice was seated in

the sitting room working on something on her lap. He was

surprised to find her still up.

“Anything I can get for you Mr. Mulder?” She started to

put her lap work to the side.

Mulder came to stand in the archway of the room. “I’m just

going out for a run. Scully-Dana’s upstairs reading.”

“So late you go for a run?”

Mulder chuckled, yeah, sounds nuts doesn’t it he thought to

himself. Alice got up and followed him to the door. “Do

you suppose Dana would like a cup of tea? I don’t get much

chance to chat with anyone.”

Mulder thought for a moment, glanced to the top of the

stairs and dumbly mumbled, “Yeah, I suppose you could ask

her.”

Alice touched his arm, sensing there was something that was

preoccupying his thoughts. “You be careful, it’s dark out

there.” He smiled a thanks, turned and opened the door,

pulling it closed as he stepped onto the porch. He heard

her lock the door behind him.

Mulder stood at the top of the porch steps thinking only

what a fool he was standing out here in the cold and not up

snuggled with Scully in that tiny bed. Heavy clouds

covered the sky illuminated only slightly by distant

flashes of lightening. It seemed to have gotten colder or

maybe that was because he was out here alone.

He made his way down the steps, stretching when he hit the

walk and started off at a slow pace heading away from the

center of town. There were a few more blocks of houses

similar to Alice’s and then they started to thin out. As

he approached his jogging speed the homes had become larger

farm houses, the road lined with fences, the cold air made

his lungs burn. Off in the distance, across a field he

noticed a glow. It seemed to come from behind a line of

trees at the back of the field. Jumping the ditch along

the edge of the road he started to jog across the field,

oblivious to the darkness and the irregular footing he

stumbled several times. Scully would have his head if he

twisted an ankle or worse.

As he made his way closer to the tree line the faint sound

of what he swore was carrousel music made him slow to a

walk. He stopped at the tree line, trying to see through

them to what lay beyond in the adjacent field. His breath

came in frosty pants, the music grew louder. He could see

lights that appeared to outline an archway, maybe a Ferris

wheel and the tops of other attractions. He remembered

Dark, suddenly appearing behind him in Alice’s driveway

telling him to come and be amazed.

“Dana,” Scully heard her name followed by a light rapping

on the door to their room. “Dana, its Alice, would you

like some tea?” Scully closed her book; she hadn’t really

been able to concentrate on it since Mulder left. She’d

changed into some fleece herself and had dug the romance

novel Mulder had bought for her at the airport out of her

bag. Did he really think she read these things? Truth was

she did on occasion and he knew it. “Just a minute,” she

called, sliding off the high bed and padding across the

room to the door. She opened it to find Alice, dressed in

a flowery robe standing in the hallway.

“I hope I didn’t wake you.” Scully shook her head and

Alice smiled. “Your friend said you might like some tea.

I was wondering if you’d like to come down to the kitchen.”

Leave it Mulder to make her plans for her. Some things,

she had come to realize, would never change. “Yes, Mulder

always assumes I need tea before bed, that would be nice.”

“I’ll go down and put the kettle on, you come down when

you’re ready,” Alice said, reaching to pat her on the

shoulder in an understanding but not condescending way.

A few minutes later Scully wandered in to the large

kitchen. The kettle was already whistling and she could

smell baked apples. “I made some cobbler earlier, would

you like some?” Alice looked up from the pan she was

slicing into.

“Smells wonderful.”

“You just have a seat dear,” Alice replied as she busied

herself with cutting the cobbler. “I don’t get much chance

to visit with outside folk. Maybe you can tell me what

it’s like in the real world.”

Scully sat down at the big oak table and soon found herself

digging into a slice of Alice’s cobbler. Alice didn’t want

to know about the real world. From Scully’s vantage point

over the past several years it had been a frightening place

full of secrets and lies that most people would find to

impossible to believe. What was real were people like

Alice, going about their everyday lives; sometimes she felt

as if she and Mulder were the ones not living in the real

world.

“You two seem very professional. Where are you folks from

if you don’t mind me asking?”

Alice’s voice startled her from her thoughts. Scully

looked up and watched Alice as she poured their tea. She

looked like a woman who had spent her whole life in this

small town and it seemed to suit her just fine. “D.C.,

actually.”

“My, you’re a long way from home. I can’t imagine you had

this in mind as your destination when you came out here.

We don’t get many tourists as you probably guessed. Alice

smiled gently at Scully and set the tea on the table.

“Cream and sugar?”

Scully stirred the condiments into her tea. “We came out

here through an invitation from a support group for

abductees. I’m a doctor, Mulder’s field is Psychology. We

um, sort of have this standing joke about being in the car

all the time and I think he sort of fell for your small

town on our way through and we decided to stop and get out

of the car.”

“Abductees? Oh my,” Alice made a motion with her hand and

chuckled. “For a moment there I thought you were talking

about those silly alien abduction stories you see on TV all

the time.”

Scully looked across her tea cup at Alice. No, she would

not admit that was the reason they were here. She smiled,

“um no, not that type of abductee.”

“You two have been together a long time haven’t you?

You’re obviously very close but you’re not married?”

Scully smiled at the woman’s intuition. Not surprised by

the question. “No, we’re not married.” How do you explain

who you are to this gentle woman without giving away your

life story? “We’ve been through a lot. Life has a way of

eating you up if you try and take on more than your share

of the burden. I think we’re both ready to slow down a

little, maybe get a taste of this simpler life.”

Alice’s expression darkened a bit. “You know, most folks

who come through here think this is such a quaint place.

Like we’re all so much better off living a quiet life away

from the hectic world; like we’ve escaped into the past and

are content to stay there. This town has its secrets too

Dana. Would you like more tea?”

Before Scully could answer Alice had gotten up to retrieve

the kettle. “I’ve been the town librarian for almost

twenty-five years; seen a lot of things you wouldn’t think

happened in a place like this. As Alice poured more tea

she continued. “Most folks in a town like this spend their

whole life wishing they could be you.”

Scully looked a little surprised, if they knew, no one

would want to be her and Mulder. “What do you mean?”

“You know, thinking they could be better than they are.

Nellis Walker for instance, he walks around town in his

three-piece suit, owns the Dry Goods Store, always bragging

about how he’s gonna make all these investments. Don’t

know where the hell he thinks he gonna spend these riches

in a town like this. Big Jim Carter, he was going to play

for Notre Dame until an accident crippled him. He can

barely walk now but still talks about what a great player

he would have been. Then there’s Mil, the gal at the diner,

she was a gorgeous gal. Married Ron, always thought he was

God’s gift to women. I don’t know what made him buy that

damn diner. Mil’s spent her whole life on her feet waiting

on other folk, never had any family of her own.” Everybody

here wants to be something they’re not Miss Scully.”

“Do you have family Ms. Halloway?” Certainly this woman

hadn’t spent her whole life alone in this huge home.

Alice sighed, “Oh, my, Louis and I had four children. My

eldest died in Vietnam. The others have all gone out into

that hectic world of yours, I don’t hear from them much.”

“What about Louis?”

“Louis built me this beautiful home and gave me four

beautiful children but he always thought he hadn’t done

right by me for some reason. He was a dreamer, always

talking to me about the wonderful places he was going to

take me. He just never understood that I was happy right

hear with him. I lost him almost ten years ago-in an

accident.”

Scully reached over and patted Alice’s arm. “I’m sorry.”

A distant rumble of thunder shook the house and she looked

up at the kitchen clock. It was well after eleven. She

felt Alice take her hand. “You take care of that man of

yours. Don’t let the darkness take him from you.”

DARK’S PANDEMONIUM FAIR

Mulder was amazed when he cleared the trees and saw what

was before him. A huge Ferris wheel lit up the night sky.

A banner welcoming him to DARK’S PANDEMONIUM FAIR was

stretched between two towers advertising attractions like

the Maze of Mirrors and the Temple of Temptation. The

carrousel music continued to play, drawing him towards it

in an almost hypnotic manner. The wind picked up as he

entered the grounds, the sound intensifying like the

wailing of a thousand souls, it gave him the chills and he

wished not for the first time that he was back in that bed

with Scully.

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The music seemed to be coming from an enclosed tent just to

his left. As he parted the canvas he could see the

brightly lit carrousel. Four rows of exquisitely carved

horses continued all the way around and the whole carrousel

was trimmed in ornate brass. Dark stood at the controls in

the center and a man Mulder recognized from the diner, a

heavy set man who walked with a cane sat on one of the

outside horses. “Are you ready?” he heard Dark ask. The

man only nodded. Mulder watch in fascination as the

carrousel began to turn and then with puzzlement as he

realized it was turning counter-clockwise, backwards at an

increasingly more rapid speed. He continued to watch as

the horses, the man and Dark himself blurred into a sea of

color and noise. It made him dizzy and he clutched the

canvas of the tent to keep himself upright.

As the carrousel began to slow he found himself watching in

horror as the image of the man became clearer. He was no

longer the aged, crippled man that Mulder has seen sitting

there earlier. In his place was a small boy, dressed in

similar clothing.

When the horses came to a stop Dark approached the boy,

lifting him from the horse and placing him on the ground.

“There you are Jim. Did you enjoy the ride? I’m sure you

feel like you never have before.” He ruffled the boy’s

hair, looking up he stared straight at Mulder and they both

watched the boy run off into the carnival grounds.

Mulder’s instinct was to walk away but he found Dark’s

intense gaze held him in place until the man was once again

right in front of him. “I told you you would be amazed,

Mr. Mulder. Do you see what it can be like to be given a

second chance? You can have a whole new life Mr. Mulder,

free to make different choices than the ones which have

brought you here.”

“I don’t need another life Mr. Dark. I’m happy with the

one I have.” Mulder turned to leave but Dark grabbed his

arm and turned his hand over to place a ticket into his

palm.

“You say that Mr. Mulder but it is not what your heart

desires. You can ride whenever you like.”

Mulder pulled his arm away angrily. “Go to hell,” and

continued to walk away. As he neared the edge of the

carnival grounds he stopped, looking down at the ticket he

still clutched in his hand. He crushed it tightly but

couldn’t bring himself to toss it away. He finally stuffed

it into the pocket of this sweatshirt and began to run.

NEEDMORE BED AND BREAKFAST

Scully lay awake, listening to the distant rumbles of

thunder. Midnight had passed and still no Mulder. Certain

there were no dark conspiracies in this small town she was

beginning to wonder what ditch he had fallen into when she

heard the door jingle downstairs. The stairs creaked as he

climbed them quietly and shortly thereafter the water came

on and went off in the bathroom across the hall. The door

clicked open when he entered their room. She heard him pad

across the floor in his socks and then watched as he

stripped off his sweats in the dim light from the window.

He eased himself slowly down onto the bed and sat for a

minute collecting his thoughts. He sighed, “You’re awake,

aren’t you?”

Scully pulled the covers back motioning for him to join her

in the small bed. “Mulder, it’s after midnight, where were

you?”

“Running…”

“All this time?”

“Yeah, I guess–maybe trying to outrun my past.”

His answer startled her. He didn’t talk much about his

past anymore. Seeming to have come to terms with what had

happened to his family and himself some time ago he had

been focused on their future very much lately. Scully

pulled herself up, adjusting the thick pillow behind her.

“Mulder, something’s been bothering you since we got here,

talk to me.” He turned to her, lying himself down beside

her, fluffing the pillow behind his head and crossing his

arms behind it to raise himself up a bit.

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“I don’t know,” he said bitterly shaking his head. “I just

keep thinking we’ve never finished what we started. All

these years of searching and gathering what evidence we

could have really amounted to nothing. Nobody cares.”

“There are people who care, Mulder.”

“No they don’t,” he said with disgust. “Truth is, people

don’t want to know the truth, they don’t want to know what

the government is capable of behind their backs, or what

could threaten their lives from,” he tipped his chin up,

“Elsewhere. They’re much happier living in complete

oblivion like these people here. I can’t think like that

Scully.” She lay down next to him, propping her head up

with her left hand. “Mulder, oblivion is not what it’s

cracked up to be. Small towns have problems too.”

He turned to look her straight in the eye. “Not global

ones Scully; not ones that can change the course of the

world. What are we supposed to do, just pretend we don’t

know what we know; do nothing about it?”

She’d seen this coming. This storm she’d seen brewing deep

inside him, a raging flood of emotions that needed to be

released. You might change the course of a river but you

can’t take away the force behind it. She could see the

conflicting forces gathering right behind his eyes and it

was beginning to frighten her. “Mulder, what do you

propose to do? I will not let you become an army of one.”

“I didn’t say that! I-I don’t know what I want to do.”

Enraged one minute and subdued the next he closed his eyes,

“I know what this has all cost us. I think about it all

the time and I know…” He turned to face her again, “I know

you do too. I’m tired of the fight but I can’t bring

myself to walk away from it.”

“It’ not just our fight…” speaking softly, trying to calm

him she reached out and touched his arm.

“Then find me someone else who gives a damn, Scully! He

was angry again suddenly. She pulled her hand from his

arm. “There is so much going on out there in the world.

So much we know will continue to go on without any way of

stopping it. I’m just having a really hard time wrapping

myself around the fact that we don’t seem to be in any

position to do anything about it.”

“Mulder, why do you insist on making this hell for

yourself? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you’re

not the ONE who’s supposed to do something.”

He sighed, turning to face her. “You know me better than

that Scully, I never stop to think.” He turned back to

look up at the ceiling. “I am what I am, Scully. And if

there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live

in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

“Is that what our lives have become for you, purgatory?”

Realizing what she thought he’d implied he turned to her

suddenly, a look of astonishment on his face. “No! God, no

Scully, that’s not what I mean.” He pulled his hand from

behind his head, reaching over to caress her cheek. “Right

now I just have no sense of direction. I used to know

where I was headed, now, now-I have nothing to focus on.

It’s taken me years to make this hell, I’m just so very

thankful that you’re here to keep me from being lost to

it.”

She leaned over and kissed his forehead, that beautiful

mind, “maybe you weren’t running from your past, Mulder.

You were running towards our future.” He reached out to

her then with both arms, turning onto his side and wrapping

them around her as she turned to spoon against his chest,

his warmth enveloping her. Pulling her hands into his he

kissed the crown of her head, her temple, the side of her

cheek. “This is heaven here with you,” he whispered into

her ear. She turned her head, their mouths meeting in a

soft kiss.

8:06 A.M.

She woke to the sound of the door opening again. Mulder

stepped into the room, his hair wet, clothed in a tee shirt

and jeans. “I think Alice is making a buffet just for the

two of us, you better get moving before I eat it all.”

His somber mood from the night before seemed to have

improved. She watched him walk over to the window and

appraise the sky. It was still overcast from last night.

“How about we hang around, go check out that carnival?”

“You’re serious?” she said, unwinding herself from the

covers and dropping from the high bed onto the cold floor.

“You went out there last night didn’t you?”

He looked at her in surprise; maybe he should be

investigating her and not the eerie Mr. Dark. He shrugged

but wouldn’t deny it. “Looked like it might be fun, get

dressed,” he mumbled though the sweater he had pulled over

his head. “I’m going for coffee.” He kissed her and

headed out the door for the stairs and the unmistakable

smell of coffee brewing from the kitchen below.

Scully arrived in the kitchen to find Mulder helping

himself to a rather hefty stack of pancakes. There was a

big plate of sausages and a basket of muffins in the center

of the table. How many people did Alice think she was

feeding? “Coffee, Dana?” Alice turned from the stove when

she saw Scully enter the room. “You better make another

pot; she’s not coherent until she’s had at least two cups.

OW!”

Mulder’s comment had gotten his stocking clad toes crushed

under Scully’s shoe as she seated herself across from him.

“Guess you haven’t had enough to wake up either.”

“More coffee, Fox?” He nodded and presented his half full

cup for a refill. Scully noted not for the first time how

Mulder had just sort of made himself at home here. She

still felt as if she were staying in someone’s home she

didn’t know. She wondered if it was the faint resemblance

that Alice had to Teena Mulder and that his subconscious

had found itself back in a home he hadn’t had for almost

thirty years.

“Will you two be heading for home today?” Alice sat down

and passed the bowl of eggs she’d just finished.

Mulder caught Scully’s eye before he replied. “Um, we were

hoping you wouldn’t mind guests for another night. We’d

kind of like to roam though town, maybe take in that

carnival.”

Alice seemed surprised. “Well there isn’t much of a town

to roam through, but you’re certainly welcome to stay.

Those carnivals are too shady for me, just a bunch of

gypsies out to take your money.”

Mulder chuckled between bites. He felt a lot more relaxed

than he had last night. The kitchen was warm and full of

wonderful breakfast smells. Maggie’s head had taken up

residence on his lap, her big brown eyes pleading for a

missed directed bite of sausage. He used his stocking clad

toes to tickle Scully’s calf. When she looked up at him he

winked at her. She was glad to see his mood from last

night had changed. “Seems like an odd time of year for a

carnival. Do they come here often this time of year?”

Alice dropped her fork; it clattered from the plate to the

floor. Flustered, she bent to pick it up but Mulder and

pushed his chair out and had already gotten to his feet,

bending down to pick it up. He touched her shoulder as she

waved her hands about. “My, I can be so clumsy sometimes.

They’re in the drawer to the right of the sink.”

Outfitted with a new utensil she looked from Mulder to

Scully. “There’s something very strange about the carnival

that comes here. I’ve kept track. They only come here

every twenty-five years and I swear it’s the same people.

It’s like they never age. But that couldn’t be could it?”

Mulder’s eyes flashed in Scully’s direction and she knew

the hunt was on. “You mean they always look the same each

visit?”

“Well I certainly think so. Strange things happen when

they visit here. I don’t want you not to have fun, just be

careful.” She reached across her plate to pat Mulder’s

forearm.

While Scully helped Alice clean up the kitchen Mulder went

off to find his shoes. He met her at the bottom of the

stairs with their jackets. “You want to walk or drive?”

“I thought we were getting out of the car?” she replied

smiling up at him. He opened the door, waving her through

but before he could follow her Alice stopped him with a

hand on his arm. “You keep your eye on that pretty thing,”

she nodded towards Scully. “You don’t want to loose her.”

Mulder smiled in acknowledgement but something about

Alice’s manner made him realize she was very serious.

After walking around the square and finding almost every

establishment closed for the day they ended up in front of

the antique store, “I had no idea something like a carnival

could shut down an entire town for a day,” Scully sounded

disappointed. Mulder slung his arm over her shoulder.

“Well everyone here obviously finds something about it

enticing; I suggest we go take a look.”

“You obviously find something about it enticing. Do I have

a choice?”

There was something about Dark’s carnival that had

attracted his attention. Something that played on his

thoughts since last evening and he definitely needed a

second look. This time however, he would have her there to

back him up. He reached for her hand and clasped it

tightly in his own. “No, you don’t.”

They stayed on the road instead of cutting across the field

as Mulder had done last night. A dirt lane appeared on the

left and they followed some other town folk down the lane

and then a short walk across the field brought them to the

carnival entrance.

As soon as they entered the carnival grounds Scully felt

uneasy. There was definitely something very strange about

this place. She could tell Mulder had sensed it too. He

had taken her hand as if to anchor himself to something

real, she squeezed his tightly indicting she too felt

apprehensive. They wandered through the crowd recognizing

several people from the diner the night before. Children

were playing games, several carried around oversized

stuffed animals they had won. A sudden commotion to their

right drew their attention to a booth with a money wheel.

The gentleman from the square, Mr. Walker was waving a

ticket with glee announcing himself the winner of the one-

thousand dollar prize. Mulder made a motion towards a ball

toss game but Scully stopped him. “I don’t need any

evidence of your youthful agility Mulder.”

“You spoil all my fun, you know that.” He looked

disappointed.

“It’s better to spoil the fun before it turns into

something I have to treat when you strain your arm.”

“I played right field Scully, there’s nothing wrong with my

arm.”

“Three decades ago.”

“You really know how to hurt a guy, don’t you?”

“Me and the beast woman,” she smirked back at him.

His gaze then wandered to a large tent with a banner strung

across its entrance proclaiming it the home of “THE TEMPLE

OF TEMPTATION”. A dwarf stood outside accompanied by a

scantly clad young woman, performing some interesting

gyrations with her hips and bellybutton to the beat of some

mystical tune. “Bet you can’t you do that.” Mulder teased.

“Bet you I can’t either.”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, come see the most beautiful women in

the world! Our Harem of Happiness dances for your

pleasure,” the dwarf chanted. Mulder and Scully watched

several men hover about the entrance looking suspiciously

like they didn’t want to be seen entering. Scully

recognized Ray from the diner as he brushed past the other

men and disappeared into the tent. Mulder caught him too.

“Should I follow him?”

“In your dreams,” Scully said, pulling him away from the

temple.

Mulder looked up; the Ferris wheel had come to a stop.

“How about a ride?” Scully followed his gaze, Mr. Walker,

now waving a hefty cigar was stepping onto the Ferris wheel

to share a car with a woman in a veiled hat. Mulder was

pulling her towards the Ferris wheel and she soon found

herself seated next to him in a car only a few sections

behind Mr. Walker and his friend. Scully was never a big

fan of Ferris wheels and she braced herself as the wheel

turned and they climbed higher. It was a beautiful view

from the top. Even in the gray afternoon the countryside

was ablaze in fall color. The fields around the town had

all been harvested leaving a patchwork of browns and

greens. Below them on the midway the town’s people milled

about; many of them lingering near one of the larger

attractions that she could not make out from this height.

Mulder took her hand again, “Relax,” he whispered gently as

the wheel turned, sending them up and then back down over

and over again Lightening flashed off in the distance. It

seems to be coming from the same direction as it had just

yesterday; a storm that forever seemed to linger on the

horizon. The top of this wheel was not where she wished to

be if that storm decided to come this way.

The wheel began to slow, coming to a stop as each car was

opened for the passengers to get off. Scully looked down,

watching as the riders jumped off and ran for another

attraction. The woman in the veiled hat that had been

riding with Mr. Walker stepped off alone. “Mulder,” Scully

pulled his attention to what she was seeing. “Where’s Mr.

Walker? I’m sure he got on with that woman.” They both

watched as she lifted Mr. Walker’s hat from the seat,

smiled and handed it to the ride attendant who acknowledged

her with a sadistic grin.

“Well if he got on, he had to have gotten off Scully,”

Mulder smirked at her. She didn’t think it was funny.

As they got off the ride Scully pulled Mulder aside.

“Mulder, I have a very bad feeling about this place.”

“What?” Mulder chuckled, more to ease his own suspicions

than hers. He took her hand again. “It’s a carnival Scully;

they’re supposed to be a little creepy. Come on, I think I

know a way to make you taller.”

The large attraction Scully had seen from the Ferris wheel

was the “MAGICAL MAZE OF MIRRORS.” They both stood for a

moment and watched people mimicking in front of the wavy

mirrors outside. Mulder stepped up to the shorter one and

had his image reflected back to him as wide as he was tall.

“Hey Scully, see what I’d look like if I was your size?”

She gave him a gentle shove and he pulled her in front of

the tall skinny mirror. Suddenly they were both the same

height. “See, now you’re more my type.” That got him a

punch in the shoulder, “I don’t type.”

Scully’s gaze drifted to the exit of the attraction. Mil,

the woman from the diner stood pale and dazed at the top of

the stairs. Stepping away from Mulder, Scully approached

the woman. “Mil? Mil, are you alright?” The woman looked

down at Scully when she heard her name, reaching up to

touch her face with a wistful look and then started down

the stairs. When she reached the bottom she smiled gently

and walked away.

Scully turned to look for Mulder; he was talking to a tall

man, dressed in a black waistcoat. He was almost Mulder’s

height with thick dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard. It

did not look like a pleasant conversation. As she started

back to where they were standing her reflection in one of

the mirrors caught her attention. She turned and gasped.

Her own reflection gazed back at her surrounded by her

sister, Melissa and both her brothers, Bill and Charlie;

smiling in a family portrait that would never be.

Mulder heard her and turned from his conversation,

“Scully?” She was white as a sheet, reaching out

hesitantly to the mirror, caressing the face of someone

only she could see. He turned his attention back to Dark.

“Damn you.”

Dark followed Mulder to Scully’s side. “This must be

Dana,” Dark said admiringly, reaching to caress her cheek.

Mulder bristled. “My, you are strikingly beautiful,” he

reached to take her hand, kissing the back of it gently.

“My name is Alvin Dark. I certainly hope you’re enjoying

my fair. You never know what mysteries of the heart you

may uncover here.” Scully shook his hand listlessly, still

in a daze from what she had seen in the mirror. Mulder

grabbed her shoulder to steady her. “Are you okay?” She

nodded slightly.

“No, she’s not okay,” Dark corrected. “She’s seen a

reflection of what could have been. Perhaps Miss Dana

would also like a ticket for the carrousel,” Dark

continued, pulling a ticket from his coat pocket and

offering it to Scully. “It can change your life.”

Mulder intercepted the ticket before Scully could take it,

snatching it from Dark’s hand angrily. “She doesn’t need

one of your damn tickets. Now leave her alone!” Grabbing

Scully’s hand he pulled her away from Dark, heading back

towards the entrance and away from the pandemonium. “She

is alone, Mr. Mulder!” Dark yelled after them.

As they reached the open field Scully grew tired of being

dragged and snatched at Mulder’s arm. “Mulder, stop!

What’s wrong with you?” She pried his fingers from her

wrist. “Let go of me!”

He whirled on her, spinning her around to face him and

planting is hands on her upper arms. “I don’t know! But

you were right; there is something very bad about this

place, Scully. Last night, I did come out here. He’s right

about the carrousel, it does change you. The crippled man

from town, I saw him get on the ride last night, it went

backwards, backwards in time, and when it was over, he was

a child again Scully; a healthy child.”

“Mulder, that’s crazy, it’s not possible!”

“Forget about the possibilities for once, Scully. I know

what I saw. Dark, I don’t know-he plays on the fearful

needs of the human heart, your heart’s desires. What did

you see in that mirror?” When she just starred at him he

shook her. “Tell me what you saw!” Snatching his hands

from her shoulders, she stepped away from him. Not wanting

to think about what she saw. “Who did you see-Bill? Who

else? Melissa? A family you won’t see again because of

your relationship with me.”

“Mulder, please.”

“Somehow he’s able to give people the life they thought

they wanted. Take you back, let you start over. That’s why

he gave you the ticket Scully, a ticket to a new life.”

When they got back to Alice’s’ they found Maggie lying on

the front porch. Her tail thumped against the aged wood as

they approached; a quick search of the house revealed that

Alice was no where in sight. “You don’t suppose she…”

Scully looked apprehensively at Mulder.

Mulder stopped to look at a photo of Alice and Louis

proudly displayed on the corner of the mantle. “What

happened to her husband? You said you two talked last

night.”

“She said he had an accident.”

“I’ll bet there have been a lot of ‘accidents’ in this

town,” he countered, opening the door. “Come on, there has

to be some town records somewhere.”

“Alice-Alice said she was the town librarian, maybe that’s

where she is.”

Their first stop had been the diner. A “CLOSED” sign hung

on the door. Scully tapped Mulder’s shoulder “Isn’t that

Mil?” she said pointing across to the square to where a

beautiful dark haired woman was leading a toe haired boy by

the hand.

“Mil!” Mulder called out. The woman turned abruptly at the

sound of her name. Even from this distance they could both

see the change. She had to be 30 years younger in

appearance. The boy she was leading turned also. Mulder

recognized him as the boy he had seen step from the

carrousel the previous evening; the boy who had once been a

crippled man.

“Mulder, what’s going on?”

“Something wicked, Scully, come on!” He grabbed her hand

and they headed for the library.

NEEDMORE TOWN LIBRARY

The building had been open and dimly lit when they arrived

but there was no sign of anyone within its walls. Large

wooden tables with reading lamps filled the main aisle. A

set of stairs ascended to the second floor. They walked

slowing through the first floor shelves filled with neatly

filed fiction and children’s stories. Mulder’s eyes

searched frantically for any type of reference material.

Scully wished Alice had been here to help them. Without

her it had taken some time to find what they were looking

for on the upstairs level.

After an hour of searching the town records neither of them

had come up with a solid lead as to what they had

witnessed. Mulder could tell Scully was still shaken by

what had transpired at the carnival. The sight of Mil and

the boy on the square had only added to her apprehension.

He could tell her mind was miles away. Dark had touched

her deeply with his deception. He had no idea she ached

this way. He pulled another book from the shelves, a hand

written journal. Returning to the table where Scully sat,

he began to read. “Listen to this,” he said aloud, drawing

her attention. “1928, There has been more ill fortune

since the autumn people have arrived, these traveling

people who come to destroy others by granting their heart’s

desires as has been the cause of the devil since God

created the world. Old folks talk of such a carnival

visiting many years past when they themselves were young.

Each visit is followed by a most unusual storm and a

promise of their return again another autumn”

A sudden burst of wind whipped the pages from Mulder’s

fingertips startling them both. Looking up, Dark stood in

the doorway of the library. “I knew I’d find you here,

reading of other men’s dreams,” he said as he carefully

climbed the stairs to where he and Scully sat.

“Scully, run,” Mulder whispered to her. When she didn’t

move he grabbed her arm tightly, “Damn it, hide!”

Scully pulled away from him, saw his wordless plea and

disappeared behind the library shelves.

The door blew shut behind him as he reached the top of the

stairs. “That’s all you have isn’t it, Mr. Mulder, your

dreams.” He came to stand next to Mulder who still sat

holding the journal in front of him. “She has dreams too

you know. Dreams you’ve taken from her. Dreams of a happy

family life, of children and nieces and nephews, I can give

you your dreams Dana, I know you’re here.” Dark surveyed

the shelves with is eyes trying to determine where Scully

had hidden herself. He was certain he could draw her out

with his words. “You still dream to experience motherhood;

of times spent with your brothers and sister. Quiet times

with family and friends away from this life you’ve chosen

to live. I can give you that other life Dana; I can give

you that child and more.” He turned back to Mulder.

Mulder stood up, face to face with Dark, still holding the

journal he’d been reading. “I know who you are. You’re

these autumn people; you feed off the misfortune of

others.”

“Yes, and we are hungry again and the torments of men call

us to feed on the pain and

despair in men’s hearts.” Dark began to circle the table,

his eyes canvassing the rows of books, looking for Scully.

“I see it in yours as I’ve already told you. I hear

middle-aged men like you groan with the despair of what

they cannot accomplish. We suck the misery from them,

always looking for more.” He came to stand before Mulder

again, snatching the book from his grasp. “This book won’t

help you, tell me where she is and I can turn the years

back for you. Take you back to that moment when your life

changed forever; make it so it never happened.”

Mulder stared defiantly at Dark but said nothing. Dark

accepted the challenge.

“Twelve,” Dark ripped a page from the journal, crumpling it

and tossing it to the floor. “You sit there frozen in fear

as your own sister is taken away. It destroyed the family;

none of you were ever the same.”

Dark began to stalk the library aisle. “Twenty-eight,”

Dark ripped another page from the book, again crumpling it

as trash and throwing it to the floor. “As a young agent

you make a serious miscalculation regarding your suspect.

Another agent dies. He had a family Mr. Mulder, a wife and

two boys.”

Scully watched from her hiding place as Mulder’s face

flinched with each page Dark ripped from the journal;

baring his life before him in a wicked game of ‘This Is

Your Life’. He was not responsible for this and she was

about to put a stop to it.

“Mulder! Don’t listen to this!”

Dark turned, hardly surprised to have flushed her out. He

walked behind the shelves and grabbed her arm, dragging her

to where Mulder could see her. “And this, perhaps your

deepest regret, what you have taken from her. Thirty-

three,” rip, Dark tossed another page away. “Your

obsession with a lunatic leads to Dana’s abduction. She’s

gone for three months. It’s changed her life forever, Mr.

Mulder. Your father, Dana’s sister…

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Scully seethed

at him. Mulder never moved.

“I most certainly do, and so do you. Look at him, a

middle-aged man who cowers in his past. He has no future

for you. Thirty-four,” Dark ripped another page, “Lucy

Householder. Rip, “Thirty-five, Melissa Ephesian, Max

Fenig.” Rip, Dark stood before Mulder. “Thirty-six, Ester

Nairn, Emily Sim.”

Scully stood horrified behind Dark. “Stop this now,” she

pleaded.

clip_image008

Rip, “Thirty-six, Patrick Crump, Jeffrey Spender, Karen

Berquist, a young woman named Pam; shall I go on? How many

others did you enlist in this cause of yours? All

causalities of war Mr. Mulder, your war, were the answers

really that important to you?”

Mulder stood facing Dark, unable to speak. to the truth of

Dark’s words. Dark continued to taunt him. “Thirty-eight;

a woman you once loved, Diana Fowley; Amber Lynn LaPierre,

your own mother; she called you didn’t she? You never

called her back. And now Dana’s brother.” Dark threw the

book on the floor, “You fool, you see now what drew me to

you? You heart is full of despair,” Dark then reached to

place his palm against Mulder’s chest. “You couldn’t save

any of them could you? I feel your heart beat while theirs

does not. Do you want to know what it feels like to die?

Feel your heart slow, your breath still?”

Mulder’s face grew ashen, sweat broke out across his

forehead, he stumbled back and slid down the shelf behind

him until he was slumped on the floor. Dark turned to

Scully handing her a ticket, like the one he had tried to

give her earlier. When she resisted he forced it into her

hand, grabbing her wrist. “You can have a life Dana, the

life you dream of. Join me. I can give you what he can

not.”

Scully tried to pull away but Dark turned them around to

face a woman she hadn’t noticed standing in the shadows.

Scully recognized her as the woman from the Ferris wheel

only now she was dressed in black, her face covered lightly

with a black veil. “Give him a taste of his future so he

will remember it when it comes.”

Scully watched the woman approach Mulder. There was a

scent of smoke and she could see Mulder begin to perspire

again, his breath grew rapid and he began to grimace in

pain. Clutching his left arm, he slid down on to the

floor. The woman stooped before him, her hand caressing

his chest. He gasped for breath, his breathing growing

shallow and then stilled, his face frozen in a deathly

expression, his eyes lifeless. A heart attack, she

recognized the symptoms.

“Stop this!” She tried again to wrestle herself from

Dark’s grip.

Dark pulled her too him, “Come with me,” he whispered in

her ear.

4:04P.M.

Mulder felt himself being shaken gently. The pain had

subsided but he lay exhausted on the floor of the library.

When he opened his eyes, Alice was kneeling at his side.

“Oh thank God, I thought the darkness had taken you.” She

helped him to a sitting position against the shelf behind

him, he breathed deeply trying to catch his breath, he felt

light headed. He had never felt pain like that before.

“Where-where’s Scully?”

“Dark took her Mr. Mulder, she’s not here,” Alice replied

worriedly.

Mulder crawled onto his knees and struggled to stand with

the help of the library table where he and Scully had been

seated. Alice grabbed his arm to steady him. “Don’t let

the darkness take your life from you Fox. They feed on the

darkness; you must not let them see it in you. Dana loves

you very much, that’s all you need.”

He stood for several minutes just testing his lungs waiting

for the dizziness to go away, his strength to come back.

When he felt like he could walk he headed for the door,

Dark had taken Scully and he knew where they were headed.

He stopped and turned to Alice, “Thank you.”

By the time he reached the other side of the square he’d

managed a brisk walk. When he hit the road that passed

Alice’s house he was at a steady jog. The wind whipped his

hair. A sudden burst of lightening streaked across the sky

followed by an ominous rumble of thunder. The clouds

billowed angrily above him. Mulder broke into a dead run.

He took the route he’d used the first night, cutting across

the field, his chest burning from the cold air. On the

other side of the woods the carnival came into view.

Lightening flashed again illuminating the field

momentarily; a light rain had begun to fall. Mulder came

to a halt when he reached the entrance. The carnival now

seemed deserted except for the midway lights which still

blazed a welcome that seemed only for him.

The dwarf Mulder had seen hacking for the harem girls stood

at the entrance to the maze of mirrors. At Mulder’s

cautious approach he waved his hand as if beckoning Mulder

to enter. “Where’s Dark?” he demanded. The dwarf only

motioned again for him to enter.

Mulder walked cautiously into the maze, his palms extended

in front of him as he headed down the corridor.

Reflections of himself looked back at him at every turn.

He heard Scully cry out, “Mulder!” her cry echoing off into

nothing. He quickened his pace and soon found himself in a

room full of mirrors, Dark’s liquid voice startling him.

“Looking in my mirrors for another chance Mr. Mulder? Would

you know it if you found it?”

“Is that what people find in here, second chances? You know

what I’m looking for Dark! Where is she?” He could hear

the wind outside as it battered the tent around him.

Thunder continued to roll. The storm was getting closer.

He circled the room but soon found there was no way out.

“These are the mirrors of darkness, Mr. Mulder. They lead

men to ruin. I’m sure I can find one for you.”

In the mirror in front of him Mulder saw the image of Ray

from the diner surrounded by the dancing girls, laughing as

they lavished him with touches. Suddenly Dark’s voice

haunted him from beyond. “This is the mirror of incredible

loves never to be found.”

In the next mirror Mulder saw Mr. Walker, still dressed in

his three piece suit, waving the money he’d won in the

game. “This is the mirror of riches beyond wishes, never

to be spent.”

The image changed again. This time the image of Jim Carter

appeared. A football tucked under his arm, leaning on a

cane. “This is the mirror of greatness and fame,” the

image changed to the small boy Mulder had seen Dark lift

from the back of the carrousel horse. “A game hero no

more.”

“And this,” Mulder turned to another mirror. “This is the

mirror of pride and vanity where the war of time is fought

and lost.” An elder Mil, laughing with customers at the

diner appeared before him changing suddenly to a beautiful

but terribly frightened young woman.

“Ah, and the mirror of regret,” Mulder watched as his own

image appear in the mirror before him. “I believe this one

suits you Mr. Mulder.”

“Fox! Fox!” Mulder turned around; in the mirror behind

him he saw a reflection of himself, thirty years ago.

Samantha was there reaching out to him in desperation.

“NO!” With one swift movement Mulder thrust his fist

through the glass, shattering it and the images into

hundreds of tiny shards.

“Mulder! I need your help!” Mulder turned again, seeing

his reflection as a much younger man. Scully, her hand

outstretched to him. “NO!” Again he thrust his fist

through the glass shattering the images. Blood dripped

from his clenched fist. As he uncurled his fingers he

could see the splinters of glass imbedded in them.

“Fox, call me when you get back.” His mother’s voice came

from behind him. He turned reluctantly to find himself

face to face with himself, his mother’s image speaking to

him on the phone. He froze.

“You’re a failure of a man Mr. Mulder. The answers have

always been there for you. You just never took the time to

listen to what those around you were trying to tell you.

You never gave them a chance. Let me give Dana another

chance. I’m going to give her the life she wants, a life

with her family around her, the life you’ve taken from

her.”

“NO!” Mulder reached through his mother’s image in the

glass before him once again sending shards of glass flying

in all directions. His hand grasped that of another and he

pulled hard; pulling Alice through the glass and into his

arms.

“Fox! Oh thank God, you’re all right.” Mulder stood for a

moment in utter confusion. “You’re hurt.” Looking down,

his right hand was now covered in blood. Alice had begun

to fuss over it with her apron; there was no time to attend

to it now. He grabbed Alice by the shoulders. “Where did

he take her?” The poor woman was shaking. “I don’t know.”

The melodic rhythm of carrousel music filled the silence.

“The carrousel!” Mulder was gone in an instant. Fighting

his way out of the mirror maze he was hit by the tremendous

force of the wind which had gained in intensity. Rain

pelted him as he made his way across the midway to the tent

that held the carrousel. Lightening arched across the sky.

Inside he found Scully perched on one of the magnificent

horses, Dark at the controls, the carrousel beginning its

movement back into time. Lightening flashed again, closer

this time, sending a loud burst of thunder that shook

everything about him.

“Scully! No!” Mulder ran around the platform of the ride

as she spun away from him. Suddenly there was a tremendous

flash; arcs of electricity flew down from the center of the

tent and across the brass poles that held each of the

horses. Mulder could see Scully’s whole body lurch and

then she fell from the horse to the platform to the ground.

The carrousel itself lurched grinding to a stop and then

suddenly changing direction, beginning to spin in a

clockwise direction. Another bolt of lightening arced its

way down through the tent. Dark had attempted to cross the

platform but the second bolt had dropped him. He fought

desperately to crawl from beneath the hooves of the horses

as the carrousel spun faster.

“No! God, No!” Mulder had reached Scully. She lay

lifeless. He dropped to her side, scooped her up into his

arms, brushing her hair from her face with his bloody hand.

“Scully, Scully-come on”, he urged tapping her cheek

softly. “Come on, I need you.” When he got no response he

turned angrily towards the carrousel, “Damn you Dark! You

can’t have her!” Angry tears brimmed in his eyes.

Suddenly someone was trying to pry her from his grasp.

Gentle hands pulled his away from her. “No, Fox, you must

not let them feed on the darkness. Be happy!”

Mulder looked up, shocked by the idea. “I can’t. Not

without her-never without her.” The same gentle hands that

had taken Scully from him were wiping his tears from his

face, twisting his cheeks into some resemblance of a smile.

“Don’t let them take her, son.” Alice was pulling him to

his feet, taking his hands and pulling him along in some

sort of macabre dance. “Rejoice in your love, there is so

much more you need to do with your life. Your goodness

will prevail. Laugh with me Fox!”

Behind them the carrousel continued to spin, arcs of

electricity jumped from one horse to another lighting up

the tent in an eerie blue light. Dark, aged and motionless

lay under the horses. Mulder looked at Alice, her eyes

pleading with him to join her. “Dance, Fox, laugh with

me!”

Mulder stumbled along with her, her light heartedness

beginning to pull him away from the sorrow he had felt.

They danced about as the wind tore at the tent, laughing at

each other and how ridiculous they must appear. A movement

at his feet brought Mulder to a stop. Scully had rolled

onto her side and was attempting to sit up. Mulder dropped

to her side to help her, glancing up at Alice with a look

of utter amazement. He pulled Scully too him, wrapping her

in a fierce embrace. “Come on, we have to get out of

here!” Alice was pulling them both to their feet. The

wind had become a steady roar, ripping the tent and

whipping their clothes.

Outside the tent the carnival was being torn a part by the

wind. A huge funnel cloud had appeared and was now bearing

down on them. Glass shattered, wood splintered and canvas

was ripped to shreds. They bolted for the exit, stopping

momentarily to view the chaos. When the huge banner over

the entrance began to give way Alice yelled for them to

run. Mulder grabbed Scully’s hand pulling her along as he

followed Alice across the field. Bits of debris flew about

them. Mulder could swear it wasn’t the wind he heard but

the hideous moaning of the souls Dark had taken with him.

When they reached the tree line the three of them turned as

the remains of the carnival were sucked up into the vortex

of the funnel. It spun in place for several minutes and

then it too was sucked back up into the cloud from which it

had come. A peaceful silence fell over the empty field.

NEEDMORE BED & BREAKFAST 6:17 P.M.

None of them said a word as they made their way back to

the bed & breakfast. The late afternoon sun had broken

though the clouds sending its warm rays down from the

heavens and bathing the town in a glow of new found hope.

Standing in the yard they all let it warm them. Coming

back to herself Scully realized she still clutched Mulder’s

hand tightly, a very sticky hand. Looking down she gasped

when she saw the cuts and drying blood that coated his hand

and wrist. “Oh, Mulder, what have you done to yourself

now?”

He looked down as he felt her drawing his hand up to

examine the damage. He winced as she began to poke about

at the cuts. “I think I shattered a few images of myself

I’d like to forget.”

“This looks like glass, this has to be cleaned up,” she

wouldn’t look at him.

Alice stepped up and patted her shoulder, “Bring him in the

house; I’m sure I have what you need.”

They followed Alice up the steps but Mulder stopped her

before she got to the door, “Scully wait.” Alice went on

ahead inside.

“Mulder you’re hurt.” Still not looking at him she grabbed

the handle to the screen door pulling it open until

Mulder’s left hand slammed against it above her head. “So

are you.”

“I’m fine.”

“Neither of us if fine, Scully,” he touched her chin,

raising it to make her look at him. Her lip trembled but

she stood her ground. “Okay, we’re not fine, but can we

please have this conversation after I’ve stopped you from

bleeding all over this poor woman’s porch!”

She was right, his hand throbbed. He pulled the screen

door open and followed her into the house.

In the kitchen they found Alice, laying out some first aid

supplies on the table. She looked up as they walked in.

“I’ve patched up a few boys in my day,” she said smiling

gently at Mulder and patting him on the arm. “But I think

you’re better off in her hands.” Winking at Scully before

she quietly left them alone.

Mulder watched as Scully transformed into doctor mode,

pulling his jacket from his shoulders and pushing the

sleeve of his sweater up past his elbow. He followed her

to the sink where she gently began to wash the blood away;

gritting his teeth as she examined the cuts again under the

light over the sink. “You still have glass in some of

these Mulder, some of these should be stitched,” she

observed in a very clinical tone.

“I doubt Alice has any cat-gut Scully, just butterfly

them.”

“That will leave scars, Mulder.”

“It’s not like I don’t already have some of those.”

Her eyes flashed to meet his but she said nothing, patting

his hand dry, she motioned to the table, “Sit!”

As Mulder sat down Scully opened a bottle of peroxide,

moistening a cotton ball she began to dab at the cuts.

“Geez,” Mulder hissed.

“Mulder I’m sorry, these have to be cleaned. I have to get

the glass out.”

“Yeah-yeah, I know, ow!”

The doctor mode was keeping her mind from what had happened

over the past few days. Mulder could see she was

struggling to keep working; her mind reeling with the

implications of what Dark had said to him, what he had

implied about Scully. She finally spoke. “What happened

out there Mulder?

“I don’t know. A visit from the devil’s own, sent to tempt

the souls of men?”

“But you stopped them, Mulder.”

No he hadn’t. What had happened out there had nothing to

do with his intervention as far as he could see. Something

else and driven the devil away. Something he refused to

believe in and only others had faith in. “I didn’t stop

them, Scully,” he whispered softly.

With his hand splayed out on a towel she had picked up a

pair of tweezers, her hand shaking above his. He reached

out with his left to still it. “Scully,” she froze in his

grasp. “Scully, I’m okay,” he said softly. Her eyes

finally came up to meet his quickly filling with tears.

She dropped the tweezers and wrapped her arms around his

neck, her head against his shoulder. “Oh, Mulder, none of

those things Dark said to you were true,” she lifted her

head to look him in the eye. “You know that, don’t you?

You’re not responsible for any of those lives.”

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions?”

“Mulder, don’t.”

His arms came around her, rubbing her back with his good

hand. He whispered into her ear, “I am responsible for

yours. I know how I’ve hurt you.”

She pulled back suddenly at his reply. “No, Mulder, we’ve

had this conversation before but you don’t seem to listen.

When I met you all those years ago I knew I was in trouble.

The good looks, that cocky attitude…”

“You thought I was good looking?”

His comment brought a welcome gentle smile back to her

face. “Will you just listen-that propensity you had for

always being one step ahead of me, it was so aggravating at

times I wanted nothing more than to prove you wrong. But

then I started to see the man behind those hazel eyes, his

pain and his passion, his incredible mind. You’ve taught

me so much Mulder, you let me do the investigating even

though you knew what I’d find-and then somewhere along the

line I fell in love with you and this search of yours and

now nothing can change how I feel. The X-Files are my job

too. The decision to stay with them-and you has always

been mine.”

Mulder huffed, “I seem to remember a moment in my apartment

when I practically begged you not to quit and you begged me

not to make you stay. You’ve lost so much Scully; you

can’t tell me you haven’t thought about what Dark offered

you.”

She hesitated a moment, “I don’t think about it, Mulder it

hurts too much. I know how it feels Mulder, I miss my

sister dearly and now Bill-and I don’t understand Charlie.”

“The truth, Scully,” he pleaded.

She knew what he wanted and after all these years, how

could she give him anything but? She picked up a cotton

ball and began to dab at his hand again. He flinched.

“Scully, please don’t do that,” he winced as she continued.

Finally grabbing her hand again, ‘It hurts like hell. If I

didn’t know you better I’d think you were trying to hurt me

back.”

She threw the cotton ball on the table. “Okay, I DO think

about it. I used to dream about it. After I lost Emily I

used to think about what was taken from me and what I could

never have again. I think about it every time you make love

to me, about what I can never give you.”

“All I need is you Scully,” Mulder tried to comfort her.

“This isn’t about what you need Mulder. Don’t you see?

Dark, the autumn people, they fed off our individual pain.

What we want but will never have. He gave you a ticket too

didn’t he?” Mulder nodded.

“Why didn’t you use it, ride that carrousel back to your

childhood and live your life over again? I know you’ve come

to terms with your loses but you can’t tell me you weren’t

tempted by the offer. What kept you from escaping this

purgatory you think you’ve made for yourself?”

“You,” he said simply. She saw the sincerity in his eyes.

“I didn’t want too,” was all he could let escape his dry

throat.

“You didn’t want to forget that you’ve lost your family?”

“NO!” Mulder shouted at her angrily, how dare she suggest

that. “I mean, yes, I’d give anything to forget what’s

happened to me, to my family to you. But I don’t want to

forget them and I can’t forget you.” He laced his fingers

though hers, his eyes tired and regretful.

“Then you’ve answered your own question, Mulder. Don’t you

see? Even if Dark could have given me my heart’s desire, I

wouldn’t want it. Not without you.”

He acted as if he was about to say something but she

silenced him with a finger to his lips. “Can you imagine

us, the happy family, 2.5 kids, the dog, and the mini van?

The holiday picnic with your family and mine, lots of

nieces and nephews, Bill actually liking you?” She’s

smiled as she’d said it but he saw the truth in her words,

it wasn’t them. He whispered an honest “no”.

“These past ten years, everything we’ve been though

together, as hard and as frightening as it’s been, we’ve

been there for each other. All the pain and the hurt; it’s

bonded us together with a strength only others can imagine.

It’s made us who we are, brought us here to this place in

our lives. These people, Mil, Mr. Walker, Jim Carter, all

the others Dark gave a second chance too. They haven’t

gained anything. Like you say, what they’ve given up is so

much more important.”

Mulder shook his head slowly, “I don’t follow you.”

“All their memories, all their life experiences, everything

they’ve ever done and everyone they’ve ever loved.

Everything that made them who there were, is gone.

Mulder,” she reached over, running her fingers across his

scalp. “You have the most amazing mind.”

He shook her off. “It’s a curse, Scully.”

“No Mulder, it isn’t. That memory of yours, to be able to

call up all those moments that are important to you, live

them again in your mind. If you didn’t want to keep those

memories, you would have used your ticket, erased them from

your life and began a new one. All those people, they’re

starting over but they’re not the same person they were

before. I don’t want to loose myself; I didn’t want to

loose you. That’s what frightened me more than anything.”

“We are but the sum of our memories,” Mulder said with a

sad smile. “The good ones and the bad.”

“But I wouldn’t change any of them, I told you that a long

time ago,” Scully replied smiling back to him.

“Even that fluke man thing?”

She didn’t answer, picking up the tweezers again and

spreading his fingers so she could pull the glass shards

from his hand. Mulder gritted his teeth turning serious

again. “Don’t give up on your dreams, Scully.”

What was he trying to say to her? There was no answer to

that one dream and the pain of trying to find one was not

something she chose to pursue. They had each other and a

future-somewhere. She looked up to find his gaze fixed on

hers a question in his eyes. “This is our life Mulder. I

won’t give up not as long as you don’t. That expression of

yours, a dream is an answer to a question we haven’t

learned how to ask, if we stop dreaming, then who will ask

the questions?”

He knew exactly where she was taking this. Asking him for

a commitment about their future; about whether they’d spend

the rest of their careers or perhaps their lives in this

endless pursuit of the truth. He sighed, “It’s not worth

it, Scully.”

“The truth, Mulder.”

He clenched the side of the table with his other hand as

she went back to her impromptu surgery. “I’m just so damn

tired of loosing Scully.”

“Maybe it’s not about winning or loosing, Mulder, it’s how

you play the game.”

“You can’t play the game when the rules keep changing all

the time, when you don’t have enough pieces. This is so

much bigger than just us, Scully.”

“Maybe that’s the problem, we just need more pieces.”

What was she telling him?

“Don’t give up on your dreams either, Mulder. You will

find a way.”

They sat in silence as she dabbed at the cuts again and

then spread some antibiotic ointment over them; butter-

flying a couple of the deeper ones and then wrapping his

hand in several layers of gauze. She patted his hand when

she’d finished and started to get up from the table.

Mulder stopped her, “Where do we go from here, Scully?”

She looked down into his questioning eyes. “Back on the

road and home.”

8:10 A.M.

The following morning Alice made them breakfast again.

Mulder had called and gotten them a flight back to D.C. for

late that afternoon. Sitting around the breakfast table in

the warm kitchen had brought back good memories for him.

Back to a time when life was easy and free of the threats

that surrounded them today. They were times worth

remembering, memories that gave him cause to look toward

the future with a new determination to find that other way.

By ten they had the car packed. Scully had cleaned and

rebandaged Mulder’s hand and now they stood on the porch to

say their goodbyes. Alice handed Scully a paper sack.

“It’s the rest of the cobbler from the other night, thought

you might like it for a snack along the way.” Scully gave

her a gentle hug. “Thank you so much, take care of

yourself.” She broke the embrace and stepped away, down

the stairs and towards the car.

Mulder stood for a moment, “I don’t know what to say to

thank you.” Alice smiled, “Life is a long journey, Fox,

full of rights and wrongs. I sense that in your mind you

think you’ve made a lot of wrong choices but in your heart

you’ve always done the right thing. It has never failed

you. You are a good man.” He wrapped his arms around her,

giving her a gentle hug and kissing her lightly on the

cheek. She pulled back and patted his arm. “Next time you

get tired and need another rest, you just come back here to

Needmore.” Mulder chucked and stepped away, heading down

the steps and joining Scully in the car.

They headed back through town. Both the diner and the dry

goods store were closed but the square was filled with

people enjoying the autumn sun. Scully turned to Mulder.

He sat in the passenger seat gazing out through the

windshield, his mind somewhere else. They had talked into

the night, coming to some sort of conclusions about their

life back in D.C., about juggling work and taking time for

themselves. In some sense they had been given a second

chance themselves only they still had all their memories to

take with them. Scully smiled to herself, whether it was

fate, destiny or just bad luck here they were back in the

car again; where this journey would lead them, only time

would tell.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Thanks to Ray Bradbury whose story

Something Wicked This Way Comes gave me the idea for this

piece. Special thanks to my beta and best ebuddie, Chris

whose home is back in Indiana. This story is dedicated to

her as a special thank you for being my only friend who

understands the addiction. You Milton fans will remember

Pandemonium as Milton’s name for the capitol of hell in

PARADISE LOST. A little note on my spelling of the word

“carrousel”, Webster only spells it with one “r”, I’ve

given it two in remembrance of the wonderful carrousel

which stood in EUCLID BEACH PARK on the east side of

Cleveland, Ohio until 1969. For what ever reason, the

owners of the park, the Humphrey’s, chose to use two “r’s”.

When the park closed the ride was sold at auction and

disappeared from Cleveland. Over the past several years a

group of enthusiastic citizens located and purchased most

of the horses and are currently working to restore the ride

itself and bring it back to Cleveland. There really is a

Needmore, Indiana though I’m sure it is nothing like my

fictional rendition. There’s a quote from STAR TREK in

here somewhere.