AUTHORS: Suzanne Bickerstaffe and dtg
CONTENT: Casefile; mytharc; Concludes in the first
episode of Virtual Season 11.
SPOILERS: Allusions to mytharc episodes prior to
Season 8, and to Virtual Season 10 mytharc
episodes. Specific reference near the end
of Act II to events in Circles and Patchwork.
SUMMARY: The case of a missing fourteen year old girl
forces some memories to surface, with
momentous results for Mulder.
THANKS: To everyone who supports the Virtual
Seasons, either by contributing their talent
or their feedback; and to the most amazing
bunch of women ever brought together by
the love of the work.
FEEDBACK: To the authors at the email addresses above,
and to the Virtual Season 10 feedback page
DISCLAIMER: You all know it, you’ve heard it a million
times. The X-Files, Fox Mulder, Dana
Scully = not ours, just borrowing, will return
to their ungrateful owners (Chris Carter,
1013 Productions, 20th Century Fox) when
DISTRIBUTION: This story belongs exclusively to the
Virtual Season 10 site for two weeks;
thereafter, please contact the authors for
permission to archive.
*It’s like being a child again, knowing the monsters in the
closet are real, hearing them scratch and scrabble in the
dark, and never being able to make anyone believe. I’m
fourteen years old, and still afraid to be alone. Afraid of
monsters that have escaped the confines of my closet to
roam my waking world. The worst nightmares are the ones
that find you even in the light of day.*
*Yet I risk the shadows whenever I can gather enough
courage. It’s the only control I still have over the spiraling
catastrophe my life has become. I sit in the dark, as I’m
doing now, with only the shaded desk lamp’s circle of light
to hold back the darkness. When it’s quiet like this, the
scratch of my pen against the soft ivory pages of my diary
gives me comfort. The childish fears I can’t bring myself to
tell anyone else, I can write here. Memories that come to
me only in flashes, I record in as much detail as possible.
Maybe someone will find this book someday, and begin to
understand. I still hope that reading these words over and
over may someday help *me* understand what’s happening
to me. Maybe even help me find a way to escape.*
In her right hand, she held hope in the form of an endless
stream of words that flowed in multi colored ink across the
page. In her left, she twisted a long strand of dark hair like
a child would do, looping the tress around her fingers until
it tugged against her scalp.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the vanity mirror, and
paused to study her reflection. The light coming from the
desk lamp gave her a spooky look, as if she were holding a
flashlight under her chin, ready to say “Boo!”. She twisted
her face into an experimental snarl that quickly dissolved
into quiet giggles.
Her father’s voice from the doorway made her jump a foot.
She slapped the book shut and turned to show him a sunny
smile. “G’night, Daddy.”
“Don’t stay up too late. You’ve got school tomorrow.”
“I won’t, Daddy.” She knew he loved it when she called
him that. He thought she was too young to call him ‘Dad’.
As *if*. She kept the smile on her face until he closed the
door behind him. Then she opened the book and picked up
*I know they’re coming for me again. I can feel them
getting closer, their thoughts reaching out for me in the
dark. I’m going to hide this book so they can’t find it. To
whoever is reading this now, I need your help.*
Maddie re-read the last entry and nodded. It would be her
final one, and she wanted it to be right. After a moment,
she closed the book and walked to the bed. Lifting one
corner of the duvet, she tucked the book between the
mattress and box spring. When she put the duvet back in
place, she made sure to leave a corner of the book poking
She turned out the desk lamp, plunging the room into
darkness. Then, she sat down on the bed to wait.
* * * * *
April 23, 2003
“Madison Sage Spencer, aged 14. Disappeared from her
home last night, hasn’t been seen since around ten PM. No
sign of forced entry, no signs of violence, no sign that any
of the girl’s things or anything else in the home is missing.
No one saw or heard anything.” Scully shut the file folder
and watched as the scenery on the Merritt Parkway flew
“Madison? Sage? Isn’t anyone named Debbie or Susan
anymore?” Mulder glanced over at his partner, but she
noted that the gleam of mischief that normally would have
accompanied that kind of remark was absent from his eyes.
Missing children, thought Scully. Every time they went out
on a missing child case, he was a different person. Even
now she sensed the quip was more for her benefit, in its
way a kind of reassurance that so far, he was fine. But then,
they’d only had the case for a few hours. She took the
photograph from the dossier they had brought with them
from Washington that morning. The missing girl’s uncanny
resemblance to what Samantha surely would have looked
like at fourteen was already having its effect on her partner.
Usually one to hide his reactions, at least in front of
everyone but her, he had turned white as buttermilk and a
gasp had escaped his lips when Skinner first passed him the
She broke her silence. “Mulder, are you sure about this?”
He paused for a moment, opting not to say the first thing
that came to mind. It bothered him when it seemed as
though she felt he couldn’t be objective and professional on
this kind of case. And as a professional, and a damned good
agent at that, her concern about him stung. But he also
knew she was only thinking of his welfare, and he had to
admit there were times he was on the ragged edge….
“Sorry, Scully. Just thinking. In answer to your question,
yes, I’m sure about this. And even if I weren’t – who the hell
else are they going to give it to? Supposedly the girl had
told several friends that she was convinced she was about
to be abducted by aliens – and not for the first time. The
parents – not that I can blame them – are almost hoping that
is the case since it seems, to them anyway, a more bearable
alternative than what human monsters can do to girls of that
His partner sighed. “I know, Mulder. But –”
“I’ll be fine, Scully.” He glanced over, his expression
softening. “Really. And thanks.”
She gazed at his face before nodding tightly. She might be
able to believe his reassurance better if he didn’t look like
he had aged ten years since their meeting with Skinner
early that morning.
Mulder took the exit ramp and eased his way onto the main
road. Moving from suburbia to a more rural area, they
entered an expensive sub-division and drove slowly along
tree-lined roads bracketed by lovely houses set on perfectly
“Willow Brook Lane. This is it, Mulder. Turn left, then it’s
the fourth house on the right. Or so our directions say.”
The marked and unmarked law enforcement cars took up
nearly all the parking spots on the road. Mulder slipped into
the last spot, earning the glare of one of the residents. As
they approached the house, Scully could feel her partner
tensing with each step. Mulder rang the bell at the entryway
of the beautiful Georgian home.
A middle-aged man, dressed casually but expensively,
swung the door open.
“I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder, and this is Special Agent
Dana Scully, from the FBI. We’re here about your
The man’s tired face lit up when he heard their names.
“Oh… you’re the experts Lieutenant Nickerson spoke of!
Please, come right in. Priss – they’re here!”
Flashing an astonished ‘Can you believe this?’ look at his
diminutive partner, he allowed her to lead the way into
huge living room, with its fieldstone fireplace and soffits
and skylights. They sank into the leather sectional and
Scully pulled out her notebook.
“Mr. Spencer, we have the report of the Shelton Police
Department on the statement you gave when you found that
Madison was missing. What else can you tell us?”
The man looked confused. “Like what? Everything
happened just the way I said. My wife went in because
Maddie hadn’t come out for breakfast, and found she was
gone….” The man’s voice broke and he took a second to
steady himself. “We were beside ourselves.”
“The police report said that Madison’s bed hadn’t been slept
in,” Mulder commented mildly.
“That’s right. She was there around ten o’clock last night,
because went in to say good night to her and she was there.
But for some reason, she never went to bed.”
“How can you be so sure, Mr. Spencer? This is very
important, because it may give us an idea about what time
Madison disappeared,” Scully reminded him.
“Oh, there’s no doubt. After she gets up, it looks like a
bomb hit her bed. You don’t know how many housekeepers
we’ve had that have commented on it,” Spencer said,
shaking his head. “But the duvet cover though – that was
just a little mussed, kind of pulled up at the corner. That’s
how I was able to find it.”
“Find it?” Scully prompted.
“Her diary. I found it peeking out from between the
mattress and the box spring. While we were waiting for the
police to come, I took a look, to see if maybe I could find
any clues.” The man flushed. “Normally, nothing could
make me invade Maddie’s privacy like that, but I guess I
was hoping that there might be something about a
boyfriend in there, someone she may have run off with. Not
that I would have been happy about that, but in view of the
alternatives…” He trailed off.
“And was there?” Mulder asked.
Grimly, Spencer shook his head. “No, nothing like that. I
gotta say, though, I wasn’t prepared for what Maddie had
“Tell us about that, Mr. Spencer.”
“Better than that, I can show you.” He went to a beautiful
writing desk that cost more than Mulder earned in two
months and scooped up a little book, presently residing in a
plastic evidence bag. “Here it is. Oh, Lieutenant Nickerson
— the FBI agents have arrived and need to see Maddie’s
A tall, heavy-set man walked over and grasped Mulder’s
hand. “Nice to have an… er… expert with us on this one,
Agent Mulder.” The words were not quite genuine, but
Mulder was more accustomed to that than Spencer’s
comparatively effusive greeting.
“Thank you. About that diary…?”
Nickerson took the bag from Spencer and pulled the book
out. “It’s been dusted for prints. Nothing on it but
Madison’s. No reason you can’t use it.”
“Thanks. I’ll take it with me to look over later, if that’s
The police lieutenant nodded his assent.
“Maddie says in her diary that she felt she was about to be
abducted by aliens. That she was abducted by them before
and had been returned,” Charles Spencer volunteered.
“And what do you think about that, Mr. Spencer?” Scully
“Well, my wife and I, I guess we’re more open-minded to
that sort of thing than most people. We’re believers, you
might say. I have been ever since my college days. Priss
and I even honeymooned in Roswell. We met at a
convention– Sorry, I’m rambling.”
“Priss is Mrs. Spencer? Maddie’s mother?” Scully asked,
jotting down notes.
“Well… yes to the former, no to the latter. Priss is my
second wife. Maddie’s mother is an international banker, in
the Far East at the moment. We’ve been trying to get in
touch with her. She left us when Maddie was about three.
They’ve never been particularly close. I married Priss
almost three years ago.”
Mulder pondered for a moment, then said, “Mr. Spencer,
we’re at a disadvantage here. What can you tell me about
Madison? Her likes and dislikes, interests, that sort of
Spencer gestured for the policeman to take a chair and sat
back down himself. “Maddie is incredibly intelligent.
Gifted. Her IQ is over 170. Not that her grades reflect that.”
The man frowned briefly, then continued. “I think it’s just
that she’s so smart, it’s difficult for a school – any school –
to challenge her sufficiently to hold her interest.”
“Chuckie… you’ve got to be honest with them.” A lovely
blonde no older than thirty came into the room and
introduced herself to the occupants. “Hi, I’m Priscilla
Spencer,” she said, her words lightly inflected with a
Southern accent. “I’m so glad you’ve come to help us get
Maddie back. But you’ll have to forgive my husband.
Where Maddie’s concerned, it’s real hard for him to be
“Priscilla! You know Maddie’s had it rough.”
“I know that, Chuckie, but that doesn’t excuse everything.
Maddie didn’t exactly approve of her Daddy’s marriage to
me at first,” Priscilla confided to the group. “She could be
real… well, difficult, you know? Teenagers can be tough at
the best of times, and under the circumstances…. Well, let’s
say Maddie was a challenge. But the past six months or so,
we’ve gotten to be friends. I really think she was coming
“I’m sure we understand how you feel, Mrs. Spencer,”
Scully said sympathetically. “You said Maddie could be
difficult. In what way?”
“Well, Chuckie’s right when he says that her intelligence
has sometimes made things hard for her. Hard to fit in with
other kids, that sort of thing. Even teachers sometimes
resented her. Maddie could be pretty tough if she thought
her teachers weren’t of her intellectual level. She gave me a
hard time at first, thinking I was a dumb bunny from
Nowhere, Georgia. But once I showed her my Mensa card,
she backed off a bit.”
If Scully hadn’t been sunken into the Italian leather couch,
she probably would have fallen over. She would have bet
Priscilla Spencer wouldn’t have known how to spell
‘Mensa’. Or ‘card’, for that matter.
Priss continued, “Frankly, having met some of her teachers,
I gotta say Maddie wasn’t far wrong in her assessment of
some of them. But she was also willful. I know what kids
can get up to at that age – I think I just about made my
Daddy’s hair turn white with some of the shenanigans I got
up to. But she could still… well, let’s just say that Chuckie
lets her get away with things I would have earned a real
whooping for, from my Daddy.”
“Kind of a handful.” Mulder smiled.
She nodded. “Exactly. But she’s Chuckie’s daughter, and
we want her back.”
“Do you think she might have run away?” ventured Scully.
Both the Spencers shook their heads. “My daughter has
lived a very sheltered life, Agent Scully,” Charles said. “I
don’t think she could catch a bus on her own. She’s
intelligent, but not in the least street-wise, and frankly, I
have coddled her. Not only do I think she wouldn’t have a
clue how to run away, but for the life of me, I can’t see why
she would want to. Leave all this?” He gazed around at the
evidence of wealth that surrounded him.
“What do you think about Maddie’s diary, Mrs. Spencer?”
Priscilla Spencer eyes opened wide. “I really don’t know
what to think, Agent Mulder. I mean, I believe that aliens
regularly visit our world, and have taken earthlings aboard
their space ships, and performed experiments on them. We
even talked to some of them at that last convention, didn’t
we, Chuckie? Talked to the abductees, I mean, not the
aliens. But to have that happening right here in our family?
I just don’t know. Maddie didn’t confide in us, but I doubt
she would. Not to me, anyway. Maybe to Chuckie.” There
was no failing to notice the touch of hurt in her tone.
Her husband shook his head. “She never mentioned
anything about aliens to me. But I did notice something in
her diary about the previous time she talked about, when
she said ‘They’ took her before – it was last summer when
she was at camp in the Adirondacks, so we wouldn’t have
been around in any case. And she never mentioned
anything about it after she came home from camp.”
Mulder nodded his understanding. “Mr. Spencer, what do
you do for a living?”
“I’m a stockbroker.”
The agent’s eyes scanned the room and its furnishings.
“You’ve done well in these unsettled times.”
The man nodded. “That’s because I have the sense to take
my own advice, Agent Mulder. Sometimes you have to
play the game conservatively. When your clients insist on
trying to revive the boom times single-handedly and think
they know more than their broker, bad things can happen.”
“Bad enough that one of them might think at getting back at
you through your daughter?”
He shook his head vehemently. “No. No way. Most of the
people I deal with can well afford to take a few losses,
Agent Mulder. There’ve been no threats, no unpleasantness
of any kind. If you like, I can put you in touch with the staff
in my office, and they’ll corroborate that.”
Mulder nodded. “And you, Mrs. Spencer?”
“I’m in IT. I design business software, working from home
so I can be here for Maddie and her younger brother
Kirkland. He’s with Chuckie’s sister right now. He was real
upset,” she explained earnestly.
As gently as she could, Scully said, “You both obviously
earn a good living. What makes you so sure that your
daughter wasn’t taken for ransom?”
The Spencers reached out for each other then, grasping
hands. “We’re praying that’s not it…. Of course, it’s not the
money – we’d give all we have to get her back. But we
know what the chances are of having her returned to us if
she was taken for ransom. That or if one of these s-sexual
p-p-predators—” Tears filled Priscilla’s eyes and she trailed
off. “We know it’s not good, and that the more time passes,
the less chance Maddie has. But if it’s something else, even
if it’s something bizarre or paranormal, well, then we can
Mulder stood, helping Scully fight her way out of the deep
couch. “Mr. and Mrs. Spencer, we will do everything in our
power to bring back your daughter. Now, if Lieutenant
Nickerson can show us Maddie’s room, we’ll take a look
and then we’ll be on our way. I’m sure he can fill us in on
the other information we need. We’ll stay in touch.”
The missing girl’s room conveyed the schizophrenia of
adolescence – side-by-side posters of Eminem and Stephen
Hawking, a small mob of stuffed animals warring for space
with issues of Cosmo and Marie Claire. Mulder scanned the
books in her bookcase and CDs in their rack while Scully
went through the girl’s dresser.
“Window?” he asked Nickerson.
“Locked, just like you see. We dusted for fingerprints and
came up with just the housekeeper’s and the girl’s. Nothing
in the flower beds beneath the window, and the ground is
soft enough that it would have taken a great impression, if
anyone had been around there. But – nothing.”
“Lieutenant Nickerson, you don’t really believe the girl was
taken by aliens, do you?” Scully asked.
Red-faced, the big man pulled at an ear. “Well… I guess
weirder things have happened – but not many. No, I’ll tell
ya, I was just about blown away when Mr. and Mrs.
Spencer told me about the diary and started going on about
aliens and all. I dunno. If it was Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow, I
would have them figured for wackaloons. But these people
are upstanding members of the community and big
contributors to the local Police Athletic League. They’re
best buddies with the mayor, half of the town council, and
their State Senator, and they’re on a first name basis with
the Governor. So if Mr. Spencer tells me he wants to
explore all angles on this, including alien abduction, well
then, I’m gonna do it. I am not ignorant of the potential
political fallout from this. After all, I wasn’t born
“I understand completely, Lieutenant,” Mulder said. “Now,
can you give us a list of her teachers, friends, anyone who
can give us some insight into Maddie?”
“Got it right here for you, including directions.”
“Thanks. Here’s my card, with my cell number. Call us if
you hear anything. You know, this is probably exactly what
it looks like – a kidnapping for ransom or some sexual
“I know. I’ll call you, don’t worry.” He shook his head. “I
only wish it was aliens. But I haven’t lost sight of the fact
that it’s much more likely that some scumbag who should
have been locked away years ago probably took her. We
have the men of five local police departments beating the
bushes for this girl. If we turn up anything, you’ll be the
first to know.” He hesitated for a moment. “What do you
make of it, though – what she wrote in the diary?”
Mulder smiled slightly. “Nothing yet. But I’m working on
Six hours later, they wearily picked up food from a diner
and headed back to the motel. Their interviews with
Madison Spencer’s teachers and friends had left them no
closer to solving the girl’s disappearance. Her friends
characterized her as smart and usually fun, but with a wild
streak that was unnerving at times. All mentioned that
Maddie had started talking about aliens and her fears about
being abducted a few weeks previous. They thought at the
time she was just trying to get attention.
Madison’s teachers were a different matter. While
obviously shocked and dismayed that the girl was missing,
they were straightforward to the point of bluntness in their
opinions of her – and ‘difficult’ was about the most
restrained comment concerning her behavior.
The exhausted agents entered their rooms, then opened the
communicating doors between them, accustomed by this
time to the charade they needed to maintain. Scully kicked
off her heels and Mulder dispensed with his tie. Then they
sat down at the table in Mulder’s room to eat.
“So what do you think?”
Tiredly, he shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know
what to think. I’ll know better when I’ve spent some time
looking at the girl’s diary. I have a feeling all the answers
are there, Scully. In the diary.”
Scully sighed. Mulder already looked like he hadn’t slept in
weeks, and this was only the beginning. If it turned out the
girl had been taken by a sexual predator…. Hell, even if she
had been taken by aliens, would that be any better for
Mulder? Could he deal with that result any better, after
what happened to his sister? “Mulder….”
“No – it’s all right, Scully. Really. I’m okay. Maybe I’m
just deluding myself, but I have a feeling about this case.
Now, why don’t you finish dinner, shower and then we can
She closed the cover of the white styrofoam box, not even
pretending to eat what she had no appetite for, and stood.
“You’re going to stay up all night, aren’t you?”
He picked up the girl’s diary. “Only if I have to….”
April 24, 2003
Scully awoke and stretched, her hand coming into contact
with the cool sheets beside her. Groaning, she remembered
coming out of the shower the previous night, looking
forward to that ‘together’ time Mulder had promised, to find
him already completely engrossed in Madison Spencer’s
diary. She surrendered to the inevitable and had watched
some inane movie on TV until she drifted off to sleep.
She sat up, not at all surprised to see her partner in the chair
he had occupied since they had returned to the motel. His
head was thrown back and he was softly snoring, the diary
dangling precariously from his hand. Finally, it fell to the
floor with a soft thud, but it was enough to wake him.
“Gmph…. Oh, g’morning, Scully.”
She sighed. “Good morning yourself. You know, Mulder,
you can’t help anyone if you run yourself into the ground–”
“Yes, Dr. Scully.” He grinned at her – a real grin, for the
first time in over twenty four hours.
She cocked her head to the side suspiciously. “Mulder?”
“You’ve figured it out, haven’t you? And it’s not what we
Smiling, he nodded. “Help yourself to some of the in-room
coffee, made not more than…” he consulted his watch
“…two hours ago. Then come and join me and see if I made
any major blunders in reasoning.”
Scully pulled on a tee shirt. Crossing to the bureau, she
drained the little pot, pouring coffee for both of them. She
sat at the table and pushed his cup across to him.
“Okay – here’s the diary. Examine it, read it, whatever. I’ll
She did so, as she did everything – carefully, deliberately,
thoughtfully. Finally, she looked up at Mulder.
He was stretched back in his chair, his long legs straight out
in front of him. “So… what did you notice?”
“The handwriting,” she replied without hesitation. He
nodded encouragingly and she went on. “It changes with
each entry – the pen color changed from black to blue to
lavender and green and back again, the handwriting was
slightly larger and rushed-looking in one entry, smaller and
neater in another, but all done with the same hand.”
“And from that you infer…?”
“It’s too perfect, Mulder. Too… conscious, I guess would be
the word. This is exactly what I would expect to see if an
intelligent person were trying to pull a fast one. Based on
what I see here, I would say Maddie Spencer sat down and
wrote all the entries in this diary over a very short period of
time – a few hours or a few days, perhaps, but certainly not
over the ten months supposedly recorded in this journal.”
Mulder smiled. “My take on it precisely, Dr. Scully.”
“So you’re thinking she set up her own disappearance?”
“And I agree. So that lets out the alien angle, which is what
she wanted everyone to believe, for some reason. Maybe
thinking that we wouldn’t be looking for her if we thought
she had been taken by aliens, and she would have more
time to cover her tracks. She might even be thinking of
trying to pull some sort of a ransom scam on her parents.
But Mulder, that doesn’t completely rule out her having
been grabbed by some deviant. Or someone out to get her
parents, for that matter.”
Mulder stood and stretched, then began peeling off the
clothes he had worn for over twenty four hours. “Yeah,
that’s true… but that would be one hell of a coincidence,
don’t you think? That on the very night she’s planning to
run away, she gets grabbed by someone out to get her
parents? No, Scully, I think the only person out to get Mr.
and Mrs. Spencer is Maddie. She’s acting out a lot of anger
and frustration and teenage angst, some of it justifiable,
some of it the product of a spoiled rich kid with too much
intelligence and too little discipline.” He frowned. “Not that
she’s necessarily any safer. Charles Spencer said his
daughter wasn’t street-wise. If he’s right, she may have
managed to find herself in a world of hurt by now.”
“So what are we going to do?”
He flipped her his cell phone. “Call Lieutenant Nickerson.
Tell him to put out an APB on the girl in Hartford, New
York City, and Bridgeport. And in New Haven, which is
where we’ll be looking for her. Tell him to concentrate on
areas favored by runaways. Oh – and tell him she may have
disguised herself. I would look for short blond hair.”
“So that’s what *I’m* going to do. What are *you* going to
He pushed his boxers down over his hips, kicking them on
top of his other discarded clothes, and pulled her into his
arms. “I am going to take a long, hot, very overdue shower.
And then, Agent Scully, you have a choice – food at the
diner down the road, or something even more overdue and
It was a bit more than ninety minutes later that they began
slowly driving along Chapel Street. The huge number of
Yalies basking in the Spring sunshine in front of the
University Art Gallery made their task both easier and
harder. While it was difficult trying to find Maddie among
so many other young girls, there was no shortage of people
to show the missing girl’s photo to. Finally, after it seemed
they had interviewed everyone under the age of twenty-five
in New Haven, they struck paydirt.
“Yeah, I’ve seen her.” The young man handed the
photograph back to Mulder. “My girlfriend, Beth, is getting
her PhD in Sociology. She works with runaways, and
sometimes brings one or two of them back to sleep at her
place – especially when they’re really young and she
figures they’ll get into big trouble without someone looking
out for them. We were supposed to go out and catch
“Bowling for Columbine” at a midnight show last night, but
she showed up with this kid and another girl, and begged
off. Said she didn’t want to leave them, thought they’d take
“Do you know where she is now?” Scully asked.
The young man stole a look at his watch. “It’s still pretty
early. You might catch them at her place. Otherwise try the
Runaway Center run by St. Raphael’s.”
Mulder got the addresses and directions from the student,
and thanked him. It was only a five minute walk to the
brownstone that housed Beth’s apartment. “Ah, the life of a
student, Scully. Only students and musicians think eleven
in the morning is ‘early’.”
“Let’s hope we’re early enough to get the worm, Mulder.”
They were about to climb the steps to the brownstone when
Scully glanced up the sidewalk. She broke into a sprint
towards three female figures who were strolling away from
One of the females stopped, and turned questioningly. Her
companions waited, but were obviously impatient to be on
Scully caught up with the trio. “Hey Beth, remember me?”
The pretty brunette smiled but shook her head. “I’m sorry, I
can’t quite place….”
Scully returned her smile. “No, I’m sure you can’t.” With a
lightning quick move, her hand encircled the wrist of one
of Beth’s companions, a young-looking girl with a very bad
blond wig. Instinctively, the girl tried to pull away.
“What the hell do you-” Beth began angrily, glaring at
Mulder skidded to a stop by the group, brandishing his
badge. “Ma’am, we’re Federal agents. This girl is Madison
Spencer, missing from her home and up to now, presumed
Beth took his badge and examined the ID carefully before
handing it back to him.
“Fox Mulder, Dana Scully,” Mulder said by way of
introduction. “Your boyfriend told us about your bringing a
young runaway in off the streets last night. We were hoping
it might be Maddie.”
“Maddie’s parents undoubtedly owe you a debt of
gratitude,” Scully told the student. “As do you, Maddie.”
“Why don’t you go fuck yourself,” the girl replied sullenly.
She pulled the wig off and ran a hand through her dark hair,
Mulder sighed. “Not the witty repartee I would have
expected from seeing your Stanford-Benet scores, Maddie.”
* * * * *
Yale New Haven Medical Center
April 24, 2003
When they got to the medical center, Maddie’s father was
waiting just inside the ER door with Priss at his side. The
man was shaky with relief, as Mulder expected. The step-
mother’s reaction to the news was much more equivocal.
Standard procedure called for a medical examination,
which Maddie steadfastly refused to permit. Her father
expressed his wishes firmly but gently.
“Sweetheart, we have to make sure you’re all right.” He
placed himself pointedly between his daughter and his
wife. Priss looked as if she wanted to slap some sense into
her stepdaughter. Maddie was playing to the FBI agents,
but some of her tirade was most certainly aimed at her
“What for? I hope you don’t think you’re making sure I’m
still a virgin, because that ship sailed a LONG time ago.”
She crossed her arms and stuck out her chin. It made her
look very much like her father.
Mulder saw the flush rise in the man’s face, but he kept his
voice calm and steady. Years of practice, Mulder supposed,
dealing with his daughter’s defiance. “You’re not
impressing anyone with this, Maddie. Go into the exam
room and behave yourself. We’ll wait for you.”
She went, but not without gracing everyone in her
immediate vicinity with a withering look. When the door
closed behind her, there was a communal sigh of relief.
Charles Spencer turned to the two agents with a pained
expression that Mulder could completely understand. The
man would have to take that hostile bundle of teen angst
home with him. “Agent Mulder. Agent Scully,” he shook
their hands in turn. “I don’t know how to thank you.”
Scully smiled. “There’s no need, Mr. Spencer. We’re very
happy to have helped.”
The man nodded. “We have a long road ahead of us, I’m
afraid. I guess we haven’t paid enough attention to her, and
this is the result.”
Mulder doubted the problem was a lack of attention, but he
let it pass. “She’s a very strong-willed young woman, but
there’s a lot of potential there. You might work on
redirecting all that creative energy into something more
positive,” Mulder offered.
Charles Spencer surprised them all with a chuckle. “Agent
Mulder, you are being much too generous, but I appreciate
He and Scully made their escape a few minutes later. They
still had another hour or so of reports to file before it was
truly all over, but just being outside in the warm afternoon
sunshine was having a decidedly positive effect. He saw
Scully from the corner of his eye, watching him stretch the
kinks out of his back. She looked more relieved than
‘Chuckie’ Spencer. “What?”
She suddenly looked self-conscious. “I–.” Whatever she
was going to say got edited somewhere between her heart
and her mouth. “Do you have the car keys? I want to
He studied her face for a moment, then dug the keys from
his pants pocket and dropped them in her upturned palm.
She’d been worried about him. He didn’t have to quiz her to
know that. “You can drive if I can pick where we eat
She rolled her eyes, of course. “Chili dogs and cheese fries.
God help us all.”
That wasn’t what he had in mind, but he let her suffer for
awhile. It served her right for giving him such a hard time.
He waited until they were leaving the field office, reports
properly filed, before he gave her the name of his chosen
restaurant. Her entire face lit up with delighted
“Mulder! Real food?” That smile could make up for just
“Cheese fries *are* real food.” He couldn’t resist one last
Mulder gave her directions to the restaurant, then called
ahead to make a last minute reservation. Their luck was
holding, because the maitre ‘d was able to seat them
immediately. The atmosphere was perfect, the food
wonderful. Scully had given him a vaguely alarmed look
when he gave the waiter his selection, but she’d kept her
comments to herself. He’d ordered the weirdest entree he
could find, just to get that very look from her. It was worth
a little heartburn, he decided.
It was almost ten o’clock when they got back to their motel.
Scully had let him drive, and she was sound asleep by the
time they arrived. He considered carrying her in, but
thought better of it immediately. She’d have his head on a
stick, but the mental image of her tucked in his arms made
him smile like an idiot. That was the expression she saw
when her eyes opened a moment later.
“Do I dare ask what prompted that look?” She looked at
him, one eyebrow arched as she unsnapped the seat belt.
His grin broadened. “I don’t think you’d like the answer.”
She gave him a playful smack on the arm and got out of the
car. It was a beautiful night, pleasantly cool with a soft
breeze, and he wondered if they could sleep with the
windows open. Cuddled under the covers, sharing body
heat. His grin was beginning to make his face ache.
“Hey, Scully! Where are you going?” She was headed for
her own door. When he called to her, she looked back over
her shoulder but didn’t slow down.
“I need a shower, Mulder.” She wrinkled her nose at him.
“And so do you.” And with that, she was inside. The door
closed softly behind her.
Mulder stood in the parking lot, hands on his hips, mouth
hanging open in shock. The door opened again a moment
later, and Scully peeked out at him wearing a very familiar
smile. “Mulder, you are *so* easy. Get over here.”
Evil woman. Evil. “Yes, ma’am.”
* * * *
April 25, 2003
Scully was awakened by soft murmurs that escalated into
cries of distress before she could untangle herself from his
arms enough to raise up and look at his face. “Mulder,
wake up. You’re dreaming.” She touched his forehead and
his eyes snapped open, wild and unfocused. “Mulder, it’s
me. It’s all right. It’s just a dream.” She said it over and
over, stroking his face as his breathing slowed.
He turned his head, finally looking at her with concern.
“Are you all right? What’s wrong?”
“Mulder, I’m fine. You were having a nightmare.”
His expression moved from concern to confusion. He
pulled away from her gently and sat up against the
headboard, scrubbing at his face with both hands. “I woke
She sat up, too. “It’s okay. Do you want to talk about it?”
“In a minute.” He shivered and pulled the sheet up to his
chest. “In a minute,” he said again, very softly.
Scully brushed the backs of her fingers over his cheek,
thinking he might have a fever. His skin was cool and dry.
Not a fever, then. Shock? From a dream? “I’ll get you some
water.” She got up and headed for the bathroom.
“She came to me, Scully. My mother.”
The matter-of-fact way he said it sent a chill down her
back. She stopped and came back to the bed. “You were
dreaming about your mother?”
“No… I … I don’t know.” He hugged his arms tight to his
body and shuddered. “I’m cold.”
She took the blanket from the foot of the bed and wrapped
it around him. Mulder clutched at it, pulling it around his
shoulders. Scully sat down on the edge of the bed next to
him, rubbing his arm trying to warm him. “What do you
“I thought I was just remembering when I saw her in the
woods after the accident.” He touched the cast on his left
wrist, as if she might not remember the night two weeks
ago, or the accident that had nearly killed them both. “But it
He went silent again, staring into space until she squeezed
his shoulder. “Mulder, talk tome.”
The blank stare swung over to her, coming slowly into
focus. “This is different, Scully. I don’t know how to
describe what I’m feeling.”
Nightmares were nothing new, though they had become
much less frequent over the past couple of years. She was
an old hand at seeing him through their aftermaths. But
this… this was something completely outside her
experience. “Let me give you a sedative, Mulder. Just a
mild one, so you can sleep.”
He was shaking his head before she finished speaking. “No
pills. Scully, I need to work through this.” Before she
could react, he was out of bed and across the room, picking
up her laptop from the desk. “I’ll just take this in the other
room so you can sleep.”
Even for him, it was a stunningly abrupt mood swing. He
was halfway to the connecting door before she found her
He stopped and turned around. “Go to sleep, Scully. I’m all
right. I just need to think.” He smiled. “I’ll come back to
bed when I’m finished.”
“You won’t leave?” She’d meant it as a statement of fact,
but it came out a question.
“I won’t leave. Get some rest.” He opened the connecting
door and stepped into the other room. Before she could say
good night, he closed the door softly behind him.
She lay down on the bed on Mulder’s side, surrounded by
his sleep-warm scent. The television came on next door,
broadcasting a snippet of music before the volume was
muted. She fell asleep to the sound of keys tapping in the
When she opened her eyes again, the room was filled with
sunlight, and the bed next to her was still empty– or empty
again, she wasn’t sure which.. Scully rolled over and put
her hand on the rumpled sheets. Cold. And no water
running in the shower. She raised up on one elbow to look
The connecting door was closed. He’d probably decided to
sleep in his own bed rather than risk waking her again.
Or, he could be gone.
A rush of panic drove her out of bed. She went quickly to
the door, pressed her ear against it, and listened. He was
tapping keys again. Or still. She opened the door.
“Have you been up all night–” She started toward him, but
he looked up with an expression that froze her in place.
He turned the laptop so she could see the screen, then he
stepped back and watched as she read the first few lines.
It was a medical information web site, and the topic
displayed made her heart sink.
“Paget’s disease, Scully.”
“I see that.” She also saw how upset he was, despite the
calm facade. “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
“Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”
She felt the ground shift under her feet. “What are you
“I remembered what woke me up, Scully. My mother
whispering in my ear. Not tonight, and not in the woods a
few weeks ago. It was three years ago, when I was in
Sacramento with Harold Piller. Do you want to know what
She’d heard that tone many times over the years, watching
him interrogate a suspect. Never directed at her. “Yes, I’d
like to know what she said.”
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
Scully waited for the punch line. “And?”
“I told you back then that she was trying to tell me
something. Do you remember that?”
He snorted. “You remember telling me I was imagining it?”
“Mulder, where is all this going?”
“She left me something, Scully. That’s what she was trying
to tell me. Something that will explain what happened to
Samantha. What happened to you. To me. I don’t know
what it is yet, but I’m going to find out.”
The Spencer case could not have put him in this frame of
mind. Then, what…? “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
“I had a lot of help.” His voice was dangerously soft.
“What are you saying?”
“Paget’s isn’t a death sentence.” He gestured at the
computer screen. “My mother could have lived for years
before developing any of the debilitating symptoms.
*Years*, Scully. Why didn’t you tell me the truth?” He
walked to the unused bed and sat down heavily. His voice
fell to a whisper. “Why didn’t you just tell me the truth?”
“Mulder, I… I told you what I believed. I still believe it.
Your mother killed herself because–”
“–was *made* to kill herself, Scully. Just like Greta
Wilson and all those other women in Clayville. Those
women had– were *given*– the same disease my mother
had. We know their suicides took place after they received
phone calls. Suicides that came as a total shock to their
families. Just like my mother. How can you not see what
Deep breath. “Okay. Let’s say for the sake of argument that
there is a connection. Tell me how that leads you to
conclude that your mother left you some secret
He was shifting his weight from one foot to the other,
impatience in every line of his body. “Scully, I can’t tell
you why I’m so certain. I just am.”
She took a step toward him, but he was already moving.
He grabbed his suitcase and coat from the bed. She hadn’t
even noticed that he was packed. “You can take a cab to the
airport. I’m taking the rental car.”
He had his hand on the doorknob before she found her
voice. “Mulder.” He stopped and turned around. “Where
are you going?”
“To my mother’s house in Greenwich. It’s about 45 minutes
west of here. If I don’t find anything there, I’m going to
Quonochontaug.” He pulled the door open. “I’ll call you.”
“Let me come with you.” She was already mentally packing
“I’m not planning to do anything stupid, Scully. Please trust
me to work this out on my own.”
Her instincts were screaming at her to stop him, but the
plea in his eyes overrode them. “Are you sure you’re all
“I’ll call you,” he repeated. And then he was gone.
* * * *
Scully had told him once that the human mind naturally
seeks meaningful patterns and configurations in things that
don’t inherently have them. *Mulder, if you’re given the
suggestion of a particular image, you can’t help but see that
That was what she thought he was doing now, he knew.
Searching for meaning in his mother’s death by suggesting
to himself that she’d left him something after all. That she
hadn’t just erased herself from his life without a backward
He’d spent the past forty minutes telling himself Scully was
The house looked exactly as it had the last time he was
here. It had been spring then, too, the air scented soft green
with the promise of summer. He’d returned from his
mother’s funeral, emptied out the refrigerator, hauled the
non-perishables to a local food bank, and locked the door
forever. He’d contacted a realtor the next day, intent on
getting rid of this house as well as the ones in West Tisbury
and Quonochontaug. It would be his break from the past.
One that had been long overdue.
Except that he couldn’t do it. After several broken
appointments, the realtor had come to the same conclusion
and stopped calling. Mulder arranged for someone to come
in twice a month to keep the dust under control, hired a
lawn service to maintain the grounds, and renewed his
promise never to set foot here again.
Fate, it seemed, had other plans.
The contrast between the warm spring sunshine and the
shadowy stillness inside the house made him shiver. He
walked through the living room into the kitchen, opening
drapes as he went, letting in shafts of sunlight that pushed
back the chill. He stopped in the doorway.
The tape was gone. The oven door was closed. All evidence
of his mother’s death was erased, but the images were
burned into his memory. Her body had been found here on
the floor in front of the oven, her face turned toward the
open door. *Placed here facing the door.* He had suspected
it then. He was certain of it now. All he needed was the
proof she left for him.
He searched the drawers and cabinets, then moved to the
basement, pawing through boxes and crates, through stacks
of newspaper and shelves filled with the long-forgotten
miscellany of his mother’s life. In the storage nook under
the stairs, he rediscovered an Electrovac Princess vacuum
cleaner and the memories that went with it. He put the
cleaner and the memories back where they belonged and
He looked behind picture frames, inside lampshades, under
the sofa and chair cushions. He rifled the contents of every
drawer; every closet. Upstairs, he removed the mattresses
on all four beds, upended furniture, and tapped on every
wall looking for hidden panels. When he had looked in
every conceivable hiding place, he went back to the
beginning and started again.
He was on his third tour of the basement when he heard
something upstairs. Footsteps coming toward the basement
door. He was halfway up the stairs, gun in hand, when the
“Who’s down there!?” A very frightened female voice. The
woman was backlit by the sunshine streaming in the
kitchen behind her.
“It’s okay. I own the house.” He holstered his weapon and
raised both hands. “You’re Mrs. Harrison, right? I hired
She flipped the light on, one hand pressed to her breast.
“You scared me half to death!” She backed up as he
reached the top of the stairs. “I called the police when I saw
the mess.” She held up her cell phone.
“Then I guess we better call them back.”
As he said the words, someone began banging on the front
door. With a heavy sigh, he went to answer it. Even after he
identified himself to everyone’s satisfaction, he was the
object of some very odd looks. There was no disguising the
chaos he’d made of the living room, after all, and no good
explanation he could offer for creating it. He simply let
them think what they obviously thought, and bade them a
good afternoon. Judging by the expression on Mrs.
Harrison’s face as she was leaving, he would be in the
market for a new housekeeper.
Mulder closed the door and wandered back to the kitchen,
stepping around the mess. He was going in circles here
with no idea what he was looking for, though his
conviction that ‘it’ existed hadn’t wavered. It could be
photographs. Or a tape recording. Or letters. Papers of
A *journal*. How could he have forgotten? He knew she
had kept diaries when she was a girl. She’d actually showed
them to him one fall afternoon when he was helping her
clean out the attic. A whole box full of leather-bound
dreams. He’d also watched her burn them, one by one in the
living room fireplace, a few months after Samantha had
disappeared. Might she not have kept one as an adult? A
private place where she could confide all the pain and rage
she could share with no one else?
There was nothing here. He was sure of that. If she’d
realized she was in danger, she would have hidden the
journal. Quonochontaug would be the perfect place to do
just that. Close enough to still be accessible, but away from
the first place they would look.
Scully would be on her way back in D.C. by now.
Worrying. Or thinking about having him committed. He
pulled out his cell phone and punched speed dial 1. As he
waited for voice mail to pick up, he tried to mute his
excitement. She already thought he was on the edge. Her
recorded voice spoke in his ear, soothing him. He waited
for the beep. “Scully, it’s me. I’m still here in Greenwich,
but I’m leaving for Quonochontaug in a few minutes. I
know what I’m looking for now. I can’t believe it took me
this long to figure it out, but I’m sure there’s a journal. I’ll
call you when I get back tomorrow night. Don’t worry.”
That last part was wishful thinking. He knew she’d worry
until she saw him again. He hung up the phone and stuffed
it back in his pocket.
Mulder made one final pass through the house, securing
doors and windows. Mrs. Harrison… or her replacement…
could do the rest. He pulled the drapes shut again on his
April 25, 2003
Mulder pulled the car into the gravel drive, allowing the
vehicle’s momentum to carry it almost to the door of the
weathered garage-workshop before turning off the engine.
He got out and took a deep, appreciative breath of the air,
redolent with the scents of sea and conifer and Spring.
Grabbing his overnight bag and a sack of groceries from
the trunk, he crunched up the gravel pathway to the
summer cottage that had for so long been in his family.
Now it was his, to do with as he pleased. Positioned on the
water, with its own strip of private beach and little dock, it
would have sold for a small fortune, even in a rotten
economy. But Mulder didn’t need the money, and in truth,
he was tempted to keep the summer house. Both he and
Scully could use a refuge from Washington and the
frustrations of their jobs. And he knew how fond his
partner was of the sea. They could get a small sailboat and
generally live an idyllic existence. But before the cottage
could become that refuge for them, the ghosts already in
residence had to be exorcised.
And one of the keys to that exorcism was finding out what
his mother was trying to tell him – about her death and
possibly so much else.
He took a deep breath, as if to fortify himself against the
memories within, and unlocked the door. Inside, the air
smelled stale and musty, mute testimony to the fact that the
housekeeper had not been in for several weeks. Putting the
bags on the table by the door, he cracked open two of the
living room windows, despite the chill of the oncoming
dusk. Quickly and purposefully, he moved from room to
room, removing dust sheets and opening windows, as if just
by those acts he could dispel the ghosts that resided there.
He brought his bag into his old room, the bed now looking
ridiculously small for his tall, lanky frame. Still, it would
have to do. Nothing could have induced him to move to the
more spacious bed in his parent’s old bedroom.
He took the groceries – mostly microwavable fast food –
into the kitchen, and put them away on autopilot. The
utilities were on, as his mother had always found it more
convenient to be able to drop in at the summer house
whenever she wanted without having to arrange for the
power and water to be turned on each time. Mechanically,
he ground some coffee, dumped it into a filter and poured
water into the coffeemaker. But rather than on these
mundane tasks, his mind was focused on his epiphany….
She had been there – in the driving snow and sleet and
bitter cold. He had seen his mother and she had truly been
there, talking to him, prodding him, telling him where to
go. Saving his life….
He frowned in frustration. As always, his visual memory
was better than his aural one. He had been barely
conscious, his injuries and hypothermia making it so hard
for him to move and to think. But he remembered
everything about what he had seen – what she was wearing,
how her hair looked, her face. However, as his injuries
from the accident and hypothermia faded, so had his
memory of what he had heard, of precisely what it was that
she had said to him. And somehow, he felt that it was very
important that he remember.
He poured a mug of the coffee that was now ready and took
it into the living room and sat down. ‘There are none so
blind as they who will not see….’ He remembered that.
Mulder grimaced as he swallowed the steaming hot brew.
Next time be a little less vague, Mom. If you want me to do
something, just tell me straight out. And if you want me to
find something, tell me where the hell it is….
Maybe her words to him had no meaning, maybe he was
making too much out of it. It was a quotation, but not so
unusual in its context, after all. She had been reaming him
out for… something. Something he wasn’t doing, or seeing.
Yeah, seeing. Something she wanted him to see, but he
couldn’t. Something about…. Yes, the pictures of himself
and his sister. Why she had burned them. And her death…
and the fact that it was not as it seemed.
Well, he had always surmised that. He had fought against
the evidence that his partner had obtained from the autopsy,
not able to bring himself to believe that his mother had
killed herself. Teena Mulder’s life had not been easy,
despite the fact that she always had all the material wealth
she might want. Marriage to his father – talk about a tough
life! Mulder snorted bitterly. What the hell had she ever
seen in him, he wondered. Losing a daughter, the strained
relationship with her son. Then the divorce, which was a
prolonged and ugly affair. Years of living on her own. And
then the stroke. But she was strong, she had gone through
all those terrible experiences, and had survived them. So it
had been hard to think she had killed herself, without a
final goodbye to him and leaving so much between them
unsaid. But inexorably, Scully’s logic and the terrible
diagnosis his mother had been given wore him down, and
created enough doubt that he began to believe that she had
committed suicide rather than face a long, painful,
Once again, as he had throughout the drive to Rhode Island,
Mulder thought about his conviction that his mother had
left a journal. He’d been so confident a few hours ago, but
now he was second-guessing himself. Maybe it was an
after-effect of the Spencer case. If his mother kept a diary,
why the hell hadn’t she mentioned it to him, either before
her death, or when she came from beyond the grave to save
his life several weeks ago? ‘There are none so blind as they
who will not see’. Great. How about ‘Hey Fox, I have a
diary with all the answers you’ve been looking for, and it’s
hidden in the cookie jar on the kitchen shelf of the summer
house’? Now *that* would have been helpful….
Suddenly the anger of a childhood full of accumulated
heartbreaks brimmed over. Mulder put his mug down with
a thud that sloshed coffee over the sides. “Enough!” he said
aloud. “I’ve been over it and over it. I don’t know what the
hell she expects me to see. You hear that, Mom? I don’t
know what you want me to find!” He held his head in his
hands, letting himself begin to sink into the lethargy of
depression. But as always, the arguments and doubts kept
springing unbidden into his mind.
If she were the type to kill herself, she would have done it
long ago. Teena Mulder was many things, not all of them
good, but she was not a coward. Her visitation, what she
said, and the fact that she was annoyed with him – oh, yes,
that had come through loud and clear from beyond the
grave – they all had to be for a reason. The many shared
aspects of her death with those of the quilters in New
Jersey should have set off alarm bells immediately.
He surged to his feet. No! I’ll tear this place apart,
searching for whatever the hell it is, he decided. If by then I
haven’t found it, then maybe Scully was right, maybe there
wasn’t anything to find. Or maybe whatever it was, was
found and destroyed by the people who killed her. But I’ll
be damned if I give up on this before I’ve finished.
He headed for the basement. Let’s apply some organization
to this, he mused to himself. Treat it like the search of a
crime scene. Start from the bottom up, missing nothing.
The basement was unused, for the most part. So close to the
shoreline, it was impossible to keep dampness out of the
cellar or anything stored down there. So it had just been a
place for him and Samantha to play when the weather was
too inclement for them to go out to run off the excess
energy of childhood, and their mother was trying to get
some peace and quiet. Which she required frequently,
Mulder now remembered. He wasn’t really expecting to
find anything down there, and he wasn’t surprised when he
He climbed the stairs and walked to the furthest end of the
house, down the hall to the last room – Samantha’s. As in
the basement, he was pretty sure he was wasting his time
here. His mother had barely been able to bring herself to
enter the room after Samantha was taken. She hadn’t even
packed up her daughter’s belongings from the summer
house, but had merely instructed the housekeeper to bundle
them up and give them to one of the charities in town.
Mulder doubted his mother would have spent enough time
in the unnaturally silent and empty room to hide anything
in there. And unless she had become sufficiently handy
with power tools as to create a secret panel in the wall,
there wasn’t much there to hide anything in. He checked the
small closet and dresser, more to be thorough than because
he really expected anything to be there.
Next was his parent’s bedroom, but he moved to the
opposite side of the hall to his room instead. It was as if
time had frozen. The Mulders hadn’t been back as a family
after Samantha’s disappearance and the subsequent divorce
several months later. While his sister’s room had been
cleared out, his remained as he remembered it the summer
he was eleven, before everything had gone to hell. His
model planes, the microscope, the magic set – all were still
neatly arranged on the shelves. The thin layer of dust was
the only testimony that the items had not been placed there
that very morning. He tore his mind from the past with an
He started with the closet, but there was nothing there but a
collection of old sneakers on the floor, a long-outgrown suit
hanging on the rack, and stacks of board games on the shelf
above. Then he went around the room clockwise –
scanning, touching, and shifting everything he came into
contact with – from floor to ceiling. Again, he found
nothing to raise his suspicions.
He took deep, steadying breath before turning the know to
the door of his parents’ bedroom. He could feel the echo of
his parents’ unhappiness and disastrous marriage every time
he sent foot in this room. In truth, he felt almost like
bolting, so great was the feeling of misery emanating from
the place. Or, he admitted to himself, it’s your imagination,
coupled with having a pretty miserable childhood largely
caused by two unhappy people who should never have had
children. He steeled himself, and again did a painstaking
examination of the room, including lifting the mattress to
check for anything hiding between it and the box spring, as
he had in the other rooms. But nothing there or in the
contents of the drawers and closets was what he was
looking for, and there were no secret compartments in
either floors or walls.
He gave a cursory check of the bathroom, checking for
loose tiles that might hide a space large enough to hide
something in, and finding nothing unusual. Then he went
into the kitchen.
There, the myriad cabinets and drawers lent themselves
perfectly to hiding things. Feeling the pressure to find what
his mother wanted him to find, fearing that he would be
unable to, made his search more frenetic. Any attempt at
neatness was abandoned as drawers were now pulled out
and their contents dumped unceremoniously out onto the
kitchen table. After pawing through the pile, he dumped the
contents back into the drawer, ordered sufficiently only so
that they could be slid back into the hole in the woodwork
they had come out of. Everything that had been in the
cabinets was put on the kitchen counter. Mulder climbed on
a stool to be able to reach back into the furthest confines of
the cabinet, his hands sweeping every surface, vainly
looking for anything that might have been hidden there.
Finally, he stood with his hands on his hips, surveying the
mess around him with annoyance and growing doubt. If
what he was looking for wasn’t in Greenwich, and it wasn’t
here, then he was at a loss as to where else he might be able
to look for it. It had to be here. It had to.
By now it was dark, and the air blowing in from the open
windows was chilly. He lowered the windows and snapped
on the lamps in the living room, not bothering to draw the
curtains. He looked around the room. Short of taking a
knife to the comfortably upholstered couches and chairs,
there wasn’t a lot to search through here. He moved the
cushions and felt deeply into the crevasses of the seats but
came up empty-handed. He pulled back the rug, looking for
any sign of a trap door or loose floorboard, but was
disappointed. The tall, thin cupboards that flanked the
fireplace checked out free of anything suspicious. He felt
up along the fireplace flue as far as he could, finding only a
lot of soot and the desiccated bones of a few unfortunate
birds that had died in there. After washing most of the
greasy chimney soot from his hands and arms, he checked
the drawers of the end tables, finding nothing. He shook his
head. Too obvious. She’d never hide anything in such an
But maybe she would. Mulder began to smile. “The
Purloined Letter!”, he said aloud, on his way to the study.
The study had always been his mother’s favorite room, her
refuge from her husband and children. Fox and Samantha
had been allowed in there only rarely, and only to choose a
book to read from the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. His
mother was an inveterate reader, and Edgar Allen Poe had
been one of her favorites. “The Purloined Letter” was a
story about how to hide something so it wouldn’t be found.
Poe’s thesis was that the best hiding place was the most
obvious one, either because people wouldn’t bother looking
there, or if they did, what they were searching for would
blend in so perfectly as to be invisible. In Poe’s story the
hiding place for an important letter had been in among
He snapped on the lights and looked at the walls
surrounding him. Three of the four walls were lined with
books – thousands of them. He doubted the Quonochontaug
Town Library had this many volumes, which was probably
why his mother had surrounded herself with these books,
here in her summer home. Finding her journal – if it existed
– among this virtual library would be an enormous chore.
That was the bad news. The good news was that Mulder
was now positive he was on the right track.
Four hours later, he was still positive. He was positive, and
tired, and sweating, and he was also surrounded by hip-
deep piles of discarded books which covered the surface of
the room’s Berber carpet.
It hadn’t begun that way. He had started by taking each
book, leafing through to quickly inspect the contents,
replacing it and pulling out its neighbor on the shelf. But it
didn’t take long to occur to him that the task would take
days the way he was going about it. More draconian
measures were called for. That’s when the books began to
come out by the armload, to be hurriedly inspected for any
sign that they were not what they were, discarded on the
rug, and covered by the next load. One wall of shelves had
been stripped, and the top half of another. Half done, and
nothing out of the ordinary had turned up so far.
Mulder flung himself on the couch and immediately
winced, pulling an errant book out from under his butt and
tossing it to the floor at his feet. That’ll leave a mark, he
thought. He was exhausted, having had almost no sleep the
night before they broke the case, and his sleep wracked by
dreams the previous night. Plus the argument with Scully –
that always took a lot out of him. And his ghost-filled
search in Greenwich. He sighed. It was here. He was no
less sure of it. And somehow he had the feeling it was
crucial that he find it, the sooner the better….
But he was so damned tired. Maybe if he just closed his
eyes here for a minute….
The dark-clothed man cut the engine before he was within
sight of the cottage, pulling off the road and letting the
BMW drift to a stop behind a privet hedge gone wild. The
summer house was not more than three hundred feet away.
The spotter who phoned in this report would be rewarded
well, if it turned out to be true. If it wasn’t, the guy would
pay dearly for the chartered jet and the drive it had taken
for him to get here. In blood, not money.
Charles Scully closed the car door softly. He was lucky –
this time of year was a bit early for the summer folks to
have taken up occupancy. In July or August, there would
still have been plenty of people out and about at this time of
night. But now, with few year-round residents, all that
could be heard was the pound and hiss of the surf and the
chirping of crickets. He had no trouble attributing some of
his success to luck. He *had* been lucky. His rise in the
organization had been meteoric, and luck was a part of that.
But so was intelligence, know-how, instinct and a complete
lack of scruples.
He walked along the road, keeping to the soft tufts of turf
which muffled his footsteps. Around the bend in the road,
the summer house came into view, the lights blazing and
illuminating the front yard. Good thing I don’t depend
entirely on luck, Charlie thought, crossing the road. He
continued past the house, darting for cover in the shadows
by Mulder’s car and the old garage. Almost silently, he
worked his way along the darkened far side of the house to
the back, where he would be unseen by casual passersby.
He tried the back door, but the knob resisted the twist of his
hand. A flash of annoyance crossed his face. All right, so
this wasn’t going to be as easy as it might.
He crossed the patio to peer through the French doors,
jerking back automatically when he spotted the dark head
inside. Cautiously, he looked in again. Gazing through the
opacity of the curtains that stretched top to bottom over the
glass panes, he could make out the back of a navy blue
sofa, and the back of a dark head resting on it. In front of
the sofa and to the left, at least as far as he could see, were
built-in bookshelves, denuded of the books that once lined
them. He could see some of the books lying on the floor.
Charles Scully pulled away into the shadows and bit his lip,
thinking. He didn’t want to over-react – that could be
disastrous. Mulder was clearly tearing the place apart,
searching for something. But why now? It had been months
since Charlie’s encounter with Mulder, and far longer since
Teena…died. What could have him up here, tearing the
summer house to bits?
But there had been that twenty-four hour gap just before
her death that Teena had eluded her watchers. God only
knew what she had gotten up to. Could she have gotten
back here to leave some sort of a message for her son?
Some sort of evidence that could bring down not only the
group, but more importantly, Charles Scully?
Yes, it was a fortunate thing he had taken the report
seriously, Charlie decided. Whether Mulder has found it or
not, he’s obviously on the trail of something, and it’s in my
best interests to see that nothing comes of it. Quietly, he
moved back to the French doors and tried the knob, finding
Disappointed, Charlie backed away from the doors. You
had to get in there some way, Wonder Boy, and I’m betting
you didn’t take the time to lock up after yourself. And while
you’re taking a little nap, now might be the best time to pay
a visit…. Charlie moved around the side of the house,
ducking as a car went by, its headlights piercing the
darkness. When he was sure the vehicle was not going to
stop, he moved to the front, using the newly-tended shrubs
His eyes slowly opened, and with a start, he looked at his
watch. God, he had been asleep for longer than he thought.
He sighed and sat up. Time to continue his task. Maybe he
should make some coffee first…. His eyes drifted down to
the spine of the book he had inadvertently sat on earlier.
“Polite Conversation” by Jonathan Swift. Another of his
Suddenly his heart began to thud in his chest. ‘There are
none so blind as they who will not see’… wait a minute, that
quotation was from “Polite Conversation”. Hardly able to
breathe, Mulder bent down to pick up the book and opened
it, somewhere in the middle.
Not print, but script.
His mother’s writing. A diary.
He had found it.
Hands trembling and tears welling in his eyes, he pulled the
book closer and tried to pick out the words his mother had
written in her neat but cramped script. “… his terrible
betrayal. He knew how I felt, yet he ordered me to…”
Mulder flipped through the pages. “…I swore I would see
him disgraced and dead if it was the last thing…” Again he
feathered the pages. “..knew the true purpose of the
Consortium….” And “…a new wrinkle in the always-
changing politics of the group, and the impact Char—”
A weird noise from the front of the house made Mulder’s
head shoot up. Quickly, he brushed away the tears that
clouded his vision. He reached automatically for his service
weapon, remembering only when his hand came up empty
that he had taken it off in the kitchen, to crawl under the
sink. Slowly, soundlessly, Mulder took the small, precious
volume in his hands and shoved it into the middle of one of
the piles of books. He crept to the kitchen and, picking up
his Sig Sauer, made his way quietly to the living room.
His eyes swept the room, finding nothing amiss. He walked
over to the front door, noting that the lock was on. Still,
something had made that noise. Mulder opened the wooden
front door and peered out through the window of the storm
door. There – that sound again, outside and to his left. He
went outside, turning in the direction of the sound.
The unmistakable click of a gun being cocked inches from
his ear froze him in mid-step.
“I’ll just take that gun, if you don’t mind.”
Mulder raised his hands, and the Sig was quickly snatched
“I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me–” A gun barrel
pressed tight to his temple ended the question.
The gun moved away from his head. An instant later, he
felt a sharp sting just behind his right ear. A needle…? He
Quickly, Charlie went inside and put out the lights in the
living room, then dragged Mulder’s unresisting form inside.
“Can’t have anyone driving by and see you passed out on
your front lawn, now can we, Mulder?” he said pleasantly
to his unconscious captive. “Whatever would the neighbors
Knowing Mulder would be out for a couple of hours,
Charlie went into the study, pushing books out of his path
with the toe of his shoe and surveying the mess with
distaste. What the hell were you looking for, Mulder? And
more importantly, did you find it, Charlie wondered. The
wreckage gave him no clues. He was probably, though not
certainly, looking for some sort of a book. Or perhaps just
something hidden in a book, or behind the shelves – which
didn’t narrow things down a hell of a lot. Charlie was faced
with searching for anything from a microdot to …. who the
hell knew. He went back into the living room. Mulder
showed no signs of rousing.
Decision time, Charlie thought. He settled in a comfortable
armchair to ruminate. What are my options here? I suppose
I can wait until Foxxy Boy wakes up and beat it out of him.
That would be amusing, but knowing Mulder as I do,
bound to be unproductive in the end. And likely to be both
noisy and messy. So what else?
I could torch the place, I suppose…. Charlie considered that
for a few minutes, discarding the idea reluctantly. While
the idea of Fox Mulder perishing in a fire certainly had its
satisfying ironies, fires brought investigations which almost
always turned up telling evidence. Charlie cursed his rapid
departure to Quonochontaug which prevented his laying
out a plan and bringing along the proper equipment to carry
it out. Charles Scully was above all things a planner; it was
one of the things that had contributed greatly to his success.
He disliked having to improvise. Improvisation led to
sloppiness and sloppiness led to… well, that didn’t bear
The longer he remained here, the greater the risk of
exposure. Whatever he did he had to do quickly. There was
no guarantee that even Mulder knew what he was looking
for, or that what he was looking for even existed. They had
kept a pretty tight watch on Teena. Charlie shook his head.
He was probably just being paranoid.
Now – what to do with Mulder. He could just leave him
here – to wake up with a bad headache. But what if he were
wrong about what Mulder was looking for? What if some
evidence existed that only the agent knew about? If he
couldn’t identify what Mulder was searching for and
eliminate it, he could just eliminate Mulder.
But how? Not with violence, unfortunately. A little town
like this would go batshit if one of its citizens was carved
up in the sanctity of his own home. The next thing he knew,
the State Police would be called in and there’d be a major
investigation. But Mulder was flake, right? And everyone
knew it. He had taken his mother’s death exceedingly hard,
and coming back here, how could the memories not be
overwhelming, driving him to a terrible act? It probably
wouldn’t fool his sister Dana, but…. Too bad this place has
an electric stove instead of gas, Charlie thought suddenly.
Could have been ‘like mother, like son’ – at least to all
appearances. His gaze fell on Mulder’s car keys on the table
by the door.
Ah! That might work. Charlie went out to where Mulder’s
car was parked. Inserting the key but not yet turning on the
engine, he was gratified to see the gas tank register almost
full. “Well done, Foxxy!” Charlie murmured. He got out of
the car and opened the garage door, noting with satisfaction
that his luck was holding – there was just enough room in
the cramped building to pull Mulder’s car in, which was the
next thing he did. Leaving the engine running, he pulled
down the garage door, exiting by a door in the back of the
He went back to the house and extinguished all the lights.
He couldn’t erase signs that someone had been there, but
then, he didn’t need to. It wouldn’t matter if people thought
that Mulder had gone berserk and trashed the cottage and
then killed himself. He just didn’t want someone coming by
at four in the morning and, wondering why the lights were
on in a house where no one lived, stop to investigate. The
longer he could put off the discovery of the car in the
garage, the longer the exhaust would have to do its job.
He had always preferred to work with his mind rather than
his muscles, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t strong. It took
only a little effort to pull Mulder up and over his shoulder.
He left by way of the French doors in the rear of the house,
retracing his steps from the garage and back in through the
The exhaust was already starting to build up in the small
building, stinging Charlie’s eyes and making him cough. He
put Mulder in the back seat – it wouldn’t do to have him
flop over onto the car horn and wake up everyone within a
mile. He made sure all the car windows were open and the
garage windows closed, and left by the back door.
He came around to the front of the garage, kicking dead
leaves and pine needles into a pile along the seam where
the door met the pavement, ensuring that not a wisp of
exhaust escaped. Stepping back to admire his handiwork,
Charles Scully murmured, “Goodbye, Mulder. It’s been
real. Say hi to Teena for me.”
Then as quietly as he had come, he made his way back to
the car hidden by the side of the road, started the engine,
and drove away.
End of Legacy
Concludes in VS11 Season Premiere: Camarilla