Category Archives: Season 11

Camarilla

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TITLE: CAMARILLA

AUTHORS: The Virtual Season 11 Producers

EMAIL: vs10producers@yahoo.com

RATING: PG-13

CONTENT: Casefile; mytharc; Conclusion of “Legacy“,

the last episode of Virtual Season 10

SPOILERS: Allusions to mytharc episodes prior to

Season 8, and to Virtual Season 10 mytharc episodes

Patchwork“, “Circles“, “Last Kiss” and “Legacy“.

SUMMARY: Mulder has found the evidence his mother

left for him but will it be his last gift?

THANKS: To everyone who supports the Virtual Seasons,

either by contributing their talent or their

feedback; and to everyone who loves The X-Files.

FEEDBACK: To the Virtual Season 11 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 we’re done.

DISTRIBUTION: This story belongs exclusively to the

Virtual Season 11 site for two weeks; thereafter,

please contact the Producers at the above address for

permission to archive.

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TEASER

April 26, 2003

2:14 AM

Interstate 95

Southwest Rhode Island

Street lights stood like sentries illuminating the

onramp to I-95 West. For a split second, the driver

was bathed in light, only to merge back into the

darkness that seemed more suitable to his nature and

mission. He rolled his neck and shoulders trying to

ease the tension caused by the night’s activities. He

had carefully held his vehicle’s speed to the posted

limit on the back roads to the major highway, and now

pressed the accelerator more firmly with a sense of

relief.

Glancing down, he noted with some surprise that his

gloves were still on. He pulled them off and reached

for the cigarette case in the storage area between

the seats of his Lexus. He lit a cigarette and

inhaled deeply, feeling the tension melt away as he

did so. It seemed almost impossible that, after all

these years, his nemesis had been eliminated. Spooky,

finally gone completely nuts, and killing himself. Or

so it would seem. How sad.

Charlie snorted without amusement. Son of a bitch. If

it hadn’t been for Mulder, he could have eventually

talked Dana around. After all, her practical outlook

on things, her lack of belief in the paranormal all

made her mentally and emotionally much more likely to

side with Charlie than with Mulder. A pity. It would

have been nice to have that family connection. To

have someone he could trust, one person he could be

around without fearing the sudden, sharp intrusion of

a knife between his ribs. God knew his success had

brought him plenty of enemies a handful of whom had

made it their mission in life to either disgrace or

kill him. Yes, Dana would have made a formidable

ally. Very regrettable, the way things turned out –

for her as well as for him. And, of course, for the

late Fox Mulder. He took a last drag on the cigarette

and opened the window to toss it out.

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The lights on the highway took on a hypnotic rhythm

as he sped through the night. He went over his

actions back at the house, occasionally shaking his

head as he recalled each point. He hated having to

rush. He was a planner by nature, someone who liked

to have the time to organize his thoughts, pull all

the details together. Build a plan and look at it

from every angle, and then and only then, when it had

passed muster, put it into action. But word of

Mulder’s trip to Greenwich and subsequently to

Quonochontaug came with little warning, as Mulder’s

actions had been characteristically impetuous. And it

had just been too good an opportunity to miss.

Now that he had time to think, Charles Scully

regretted using the drug. He shrugged mentally. Force

of habit. Oh, it had its good points. The drug worked

quickly, preventing the recipient from crying out or

hitting back, and it left no traces in the body. But

he would have had a clearer mind if he knew exactly

what Mulder had been looking for. It might not have

been something that the old bitch had been hiding,

after all. Maybe he was just being paranoid. But

Charlie never trusted all that much to luck. And his

sixth sense told him Mulder was on the trail of

something, which by definition would not be a Good

Thing.

No, using the drug had not been one of his brighter

moves. Mulder’s being unconscious ruled out any of

his array of persuasive methods for finding out what

the agent might have been up to. Hopefully, Mulder

hadn’t found whatever the hell it was that he was

looking for.

But what if he had? ‘Shit!’ Now that he thought about

it, maybe he should have set the house on fire. No,

that would have brought the fire company and police

out too soon. Didn’t want that to happen until Mulder

had inhaled all the carbon monoxide possible. It

wouldn’t do to have the S.O.B. rescued — he had been

a thorn in Charlie’s side for long enough. But at

least a fire would have destroyed whatever Mulder did

find, if anything.

‘Think positive, Charles,’ he said to himself. The

complete mess the cottage was in bespoke a vain

search and a lot of frustration. Mulder couldn’t have

found it, even assuming there was anything to find,

and that was far from certain. It must have been just

another of the agent’s hare-brained theories.

Trouble was, Mulder did have an uncanny way of

turning up something from nothing, of seeing

possibilities where no one else did. And Charlie knew

the agent had never really reconciled himself to the

idea that his mother had committed suicide.

God damn it. He really shouldn’t have used that

needle. Not knowing what the hell Mulder was up to

was going to rob him of several nights’ sleep. In

frustration, Charlie thumped the steering wheel with

the heel of his hand.

Sourly, he went on to catalog his set-up of Mulder’s

‘suicide’. He recalled how he had piled the leaves

around the base of the garage door to seal in the

exhaust. His heart kicked painfully in his chest. If

it were noticed, it could speak against Mulder’s

committing suicide. He took a deliberate deep breath

and blew it out through his mouth, forcing his

thoughts in a more cautiously optimistic direction.

Never mind. When help did come, that evidence would

be obliterated when the garage door was swung open.

And by that time, it would be too late for Fox

Mulder.

Maybe he’d send someone to burn the cottage down

later. Some ‘hobo’ perhaps, treating himself to a

night’s shelter, who would manage to torch the place.

That should take care of any evidence that Teena

Mulder might have left there for her son. It wasn’t

the best solution, not the one he would have come up

with if had had time to plan, but it would have to

do.

“Too bad, so sad, Dana,” he purred to himself. “Well,

this may work out for the best. Maybe with Mulder

gone, you’ll go back and do what Dad wanted you to.

Get out of all this, and stay out of it. And more

importantly… stay the hell out of my way!”

ACT ONE

April 26, 2003

2:14 AM

West Beach Road

Quonochontaug, RI

Dana Scully flexed her hands, cramping from the death

grip she had on the steering wheel of the rental car.

She hadn’t heard yet from the Quonochontaug Police.

Surely that was good news… wasn’t it?

She had wasted valuable hours, waiting for her

partner at the motel. She thought that after some

time by himself, thinking things over, he would be

back to talk things out. When it became apparent that

was not going to happen, she lost more time, calling

the Gunmen to see if they had heard from Mulder, or

had intercepted any information about him that might

tell her how to find him. Finally, she applied her

considerable intelligence and logic to the situation.

His mother, her death and a journal that might exist

and that she might have left for him were uppermost

in his mind. So logically, he would go to the source.

And so would she.

Scully remembered the last time she had visited the

neat house in Greenwich, when her partner had been

experimenting with getting the lost memories of his

childhood back. Although Mulder and his mother had

withdrawn to another room, she could hear every word

of their exchange. With a twist of her gut, she

recalled Mulder’s plaintive question and his mother’s

emotional response. She winced, remembering hearing

the crack of palm against skin….

Then Mrs. Mulder’s incredible coldness to her only

surviving child. “Fox, you’re bleeding”, said not

with concern but almost as an accusation that his

blood might fall on her carpet, marring the pristine

whiteness. And then, his flight in their car seconds

later, leaving her stranded in the uncomfortable

aftermath of the showdown between mother and son…

She pulled up at the house, noting that Mulder’s

rental car was nowhere in sight. But the lights on in

the house gave her some hope. She rapped on the door

repeatedly for several minutes, before the lace

curtain covering the window was drawn back a few

inches and the thin, sour face of a middle-aged woman

appeared. Scully held up her badge and reluctantly,

the woman slid off the dead bolt and opened the door.

Oh yes, this was definitely Mulder’s handiwork.

Scully’s eyes drifted over the disarray cushions

flung off sofas, curio cabinets emptied, their

contents piled in total disregard to their fragility

or value. God knew what mess there was in the kitchen

and the other rooms…. “Where is Agent Mulder?” she

demanded.

The woman stood stiffly, her hands planted on her

hips. “Gone. And a good thing too. He might own this

place now, but I won’t put up with this! I called the

police once on him and I’ve got a mind to do it

again! Not right in the head, that one….” An upset

Mrs. Harrison went on to describe Mulder’s search of

his mother’s house. The woman worked herself into

near hysterics by the time she finished her tale of

woe and Mulder’s misdeeds.

“Agent Mulder is under a good deal of stress,” Scully

began.

“That’s one word for it,” the cleaning woman

retorted. “He’s just nuts, if you ask me. How that

sweet, wonderful woman ever turned out a son like

him, I’ll never figure out.”

Scully could have set her straight on exactly what

the ‘sweet, wonderful’ Mrs. Mulder did to create

Mulder’s neuroses, but she held her tongue. “Look,

Mrs…?

“Harrison,” the woman supplied.

“Mrs. Harrison, I know Mulder’s made a lot of extra

work for you. How about if I write you a check for

the time it’s going to take you to straighten up all

this mess?”

The woman’s eyes narrowed speculatively. “It’s gonna

be a lot of work at least ten hours or so. And I

get fifteen bucks an hour.”

In spite of the upscale neighborhood, Scully doubted

Mrs. Harrison got anything close to fifteen dollars

an hour. But she wrote the check without comment and

handed it to the woman.

“There. Now, do you have any idea where Agent Mulder

might have gone?”

Mrs. Harrison glanced at the check, then folded it

and stowed it in her pocket. “He was muttering

something about the ‘summer house’. Didn’t say he was

going there, but- ”

“Thank you, Mrs. Harrison. That helps a lot.” Scully

left the house at a run.

It seemed that everything had conspired to slow her

down traffic on I-95, despite the lateness of the

hour, construction detours and finally a flat tire,

just outside of New London.

Crossing the state line into Rhode Island, Scully

finally did what she had been trying to avoid she

called the Quonochontaug police to check out the

cottage and wait for her there. She hadn’t wanted to

bring outsiders in on it, but increasingly her unease

and sense of urgency had been ratcheting up. Somehow,

she felt that her partner was in trouble again.

She made the right turn from West Beach Road onto

Sunset, driving as quickly as she dared on the

narrow, curving, residential road. Following the big

curve to the left, she spotted the police car parked

in front of a modest cottage on the ocean side of the

road.

She pulled over and ran to the police car, where the

officers were sitting inside, enjoying a coffee

break. She bent over to talk to them through the open

window. “Anything?”

“Nope. Not a thing. No lights on, no cars. Looks like

you kind of jumped the gun on this one, Agent

Scully.”

“Maybe,” she said, unconvinced. Scully lifted her

head, cocking it to one side. “Officer, kill your

engine for a minute.”

Officer Simmons looked at his partner as if to say

“Feds!”. Shrugging, he turned the key and the engine

quieted.

“Do you hear that?” Scully asked, tense.

“Hear what?”

“That noise. Sounds like an engine….”

Simmons and his partner reluctantly got out of the

squad car. “Look, Agent Scully, it’s probably someone

warming up their car up the road or something- ”

“No.” Scully began walking in the direction of the

noise. It seemed to be coming from a small garage at

the extreme right hand side of the property. And the

closer she got to it, the surer she was. But why

would a car be left running in the gar– Oh, God.

“Call for an ambulance!” Scully screamed, running up

to the garage.

“But–”

“Do what I say. Now!” She threw the garage door up,

but not before noting the leaves piled at its base.

Instantly, a cloud of concentrated exhaust smoke and

fumes poured into the night air. Coughing and

gagging, she reeled back. She covered her mouth and

nose with her hand and pressed forward. Beside her,

she could feel the police officers brush past her in

their rush to the car. One shut off the engine while

the other opened the back door. Between the three of

them, they pulled Mulder’s unresisting body from the

car, out of the garage and stretched it out on the

grass.

“Light I need light,” panted Scully.

“I’m on it!” Derrick Wilson replied. He ran into the

cottage and hit the switch to illuminate the front

yard. The single light bulb did not improve the

situation significantly.

“No good,” Scully said. “Let’s get him inside so I

can see what I’m doing.”

In seconds, Mulder was stretched out on the couch in

the bright lights of the living room. The second she

saw her partner’s coloring, her heart sank. “Where’s

that ambulance?” she spat.

“Coming. They’re on the way,” assured Officer

Simmons.

She quickly checked Mulder’s pulse and found a very

weak carotid rhythm. “Oxygen. He needs oxygen. I

can’t do anything without–” Her voice broke.

At that moment, Wilson came in with a small portable

tank, complete with tubing and mask. “Can you use

this?”

“God, yes!’ Quickly, she turned the flow of oxygen

all the way to maximum and placed the mask over her

partner’s face.

In answer to Simmon’s questioning look, Wilson

explained, “From old man Gifford, when we took him to

the hospital that last time. We left it in the back

seat when we brought him into the ER. I was going to

return it but then I heard he died, so….”

Scully pushed her hair back from her face with a

shaky hand. “This is helping, but he needs to be

intubated. Where the hell is–”

The whine of the ambulance siren grew in volume until

it became deafening and then suddenly cut out. Within

seconds, voices were heard outside and then the

paramedics came rushing in. “What have we got?””

“Carbon monoxide poisoning,” Scully said. Quickly,

she poured out what she knew his vital signs, a

quick history, the results of her exam when she first

found him.

“How long?””

“I don’t know.”

“He’s bad,” the other paramedic said from Mulder’s

side. “Sir, don’t try to talk.”

Instantly, Scully was there. She grabbed his hand,

folding it in her own. “What is it, Mulder?” she

asked, tears shining in her eyes.

His skin bore the unmistakable cherry-red coloring of

carbon monoxide poisoning, and his chest heaved with

the effort to pull air into his lungs, Mulder gasped

out – “Book…. In pile… Polite Con…-

versation…. Must… get… it… I…

was…right….”

“Lady, we gotta sedate this guy so we can intubate

and flood him with O2, or we’re gonna lose him.”

She nodded and turned her attention to her lover.

“Mulder, they have to put a tube down. We have to get

as much oxygen in you as we can, and it’s the only

way… Mulder?”

His eyes rolled back in his head and his hand became

limp in hers.

“Okay we intubate now. Step back, lady.”

In a state of shock, she complied as the paramedics

tore in to a flurry of action around her partner. In

seconds, he was intubated and one of the paramedics

was bagging him, forcing the attached oxygen into his

lungs.

“We’re taking him to Westerly Hospital. You can

follow, if you like,” said the lead paramedic.

Scully pulled her eyes from Mulder’s form on the

gurney with an effort. “Thank you. You go ahead.

There’s something I have to do here first. Perhaps

Officer Simmons…?”

“I’ll take you there, Agent Scully. No problem.”

She nodded. “Please take good care of him,” she

begged.

“We will, ma’am.” The paramedics hurried out the door

as fast as the gurney would allow.

“Officer Simmons, Officer Wilson I need your help.

Come with me.”

Resisting the urge to stay with Mulder with every

fiber of her being, Scully moved from the living room

and quickly began looking into the rooms of the

cottage to find what her partner had been trying to

tell her about. When she snapped on the lights of the

study, she knew she was on the right track.

The room was knee-deep in piles of books. “Officers

we’re looking for a book, probably a diary, so it

will be hand-written. Mulder said ‘Polite

Conversation’. I’m not sure what that has to do with

finding this diary, but he wouldn’t have wasted his

breath on it if it weren’t important. Please, search

as fast as you can. I need to get to Mulder.”

They each started on a pile. Five minutes later,

Derrick Wilson held up a small volume bound in dark

red leather and marked with faded gold letters. “I

think I found it.”

“Let me see.” Scully grabbed the book. Feathering the

scripted pages, she caught only a few of the words,

but they carried a wealth of meaning. ‘Consortium’.

‘Alien’. ‘Spender’. “Yes, this is it,” she said.

“Thank you, thank you so much. Now, let’s go to the

hospital.”

Simmons negotiated the back roads expertly and

speeded up when he reached the Old Post Road. They

were in Westerly at the hospital only a few minutes

behind the ambulance. Scully blew through the doors

to the ER as if they weren’t there. “Where is he?

Where is Agent Mulder?” she demanded.

“Just a minute. Are you related to the- ” The Unit

Clerk didn’t get any further.

“You have a choice you can step out of the way or I

can go through you. What room is Fox Mulder in?

Wisely, the woman stepped out of the way. “Trauma

Room Three. On your left.”

“Thank you.” Scully brushed by her, intent on finding

Mulder’s room.

That’s when the overhead speakers sprang to life.

“Code Blue, ER. Code Blue, ER. Code Blue, ER.”

“Mulder, don’t you dare!”: Scully breathed. She

followed the crowd of staff, running into Trauma Room

Three.

“Clear! …Okay, we have a rhythm. What’s the word

from the Hyperbaric Center in Providence?

“Assuming we can get this guy stabilized, the

arrangements are all set. The doc in charge and the

tech are on their way in.”

The crowd that had gathered to assist with the code

began to disperse, giving Scully the opportunity to

approach the physician who seemed to be in charge of

Mulder’s case.

“Who are you? Are you this patient’s primary

physician?” he demanded.

“In a manner of speaking…. Yes, yes I am. What is

Agent Mulder’s condition?” asked Scully.

“Riggs, stay with him and monitor his vitals. I want

to know if he even blinks, is that understood?”

The ER nurse nodded. “You got it.”

“Alright, Dr….?

“Scully.”

The man looked puzzled. “I don’t recall anyone on

service here by that name.”

Scully pulled her badge and displayed it. “This man

is my partner. I am, however, a medical doctor and

his personal physician. Now,” Scully said, leaving no

doubt she wanted answers, “what is his condition?”

The physician glanced over the ID, nodded, and guided

her outside the treatment room. “All right. I’m

Doctor Steven Rosenfeld. Your partner is in critical

condition, but of course I don’t have to tell you

that, I’m sure you’ve figured it out. He has acute

carbon monoxide poisoning. Again, I’m sure you know

that. We lost his heartbeat in there for a minute or

two, but we defibbed and it came back quickly. He’s

in sinus rhythm, a little tachy, but under the

circumstances, not bad at all.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming,” Scully commented, with a

sinking feeling.

Rosenfeld shrugged. “You know CO poisoning. Even if

we can get him over this hump flush the carbon

monoxide from his blood, get him stable and keep him

that way, and that’s a big if then there’s the long

term effects.” He frowned. “This man was an FBI

agent?”

“*Is* an FBI agent,” responded Scully firmly.

“Maybe not anymore. I don’t mean to be cruel, Dr.

Scully, but you know as well as I do the future that

many survivors of CO poisoning have in front of

them… severe neurological and sensory defects,

organ damage, possibly severe psychological problems.

All this, on top of whatever made this guy want to

kill himself.”

Eyes flashing, Scully drew herself up to her full

5’2″. “My partner did not try to kill himself, Dr.

Rosenfeld! This was a murder attempt made to look

like suicide. Someone put him in that car, started

the engine and shut him in the garage.”

He looked skeptical. “How can you be so sure?”

“Unless Mulder found a way to pile debris around the

outside of the base of the garage door after locking

himself in, someone else had to have done it. Officer

Simmons is checking the neighborhood now, to see if

anyone saw or heard anything. Now what’s your

treatment plan for my partner?”

“I’ve arranged for him to be transported to

Providence General as soon as he’s stable. They have

a hyperbaric oxygen chamber there. Although most of

the carbon monoxide will be flushed from his system

by the time he gets there, current theory seems to

support the use of hyperbaric oxygen for CO poisoning

to lessen the possible long-term effects. If he wants

to keep his career, I’d say it’s a must.”

“I agree,” Scully said.

“He has IV fluids running, a sedative to prevent

excitability from the CO in his system and to keep

him out while he’s intubated, and corticosteroids to

try to combat any inflammation and toxicity from the

CO. I’d like to keep him on the vent at least until

he arrives in Providence, unless he starts fighting

it seriously. Once he gets there, they’ll probably be

able to pull the tube, unless he has any more

episodes of arrest. Will you be going with him?”

She nodded.

“Well, get yourself a cup of coffee. It’s going to

take us about an hour to get him ready for transfer.”

“I’ll stay here with him, if you don’t mind.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself. Good luck, Dr. Scully,

to both you and your partner. You’re going to need

it.”

Act 1 Scene 2

The helicopter ride from Westerly to Providence was

one of the longest Scully had ever taken. Although

Mulder’s heart rate stayed steady and the ventilator

continued to pump oxygen into his lungs, she sat on

the edge of her seat. Her eyes were glued to him, to

the equipment, watching for signs, either of his

regaining consciousness and fighting the ventilator,

or worse, signals that his condition was going

downhill. When not consumed with that activity,

Scully spent her time wondering two things: who had

done this to Mulder, and was the information in the

little book that she carried worth it?

As far as she was concerned, nothing was worth the

risk to Mulder, although she knew he considered

himself expendable to the greater good, the Truth.

She turned the leather volume over in her hands,

forehead wrinkled in a frown. Part of her wanted to

read it – not to assuage her curiosity or the need to

know the Truth, but rather to see what its effect

might have on Mulder. It already had nearly claimed

his life, and his prospects for a normal future were

in danger. But beyond that, what if this little book

claimed a far greater emotional toll? If there were

things in this book that Mulder shouldn’t see until

he was stronger, she wanted to know about it.

But then did she have any right to do that? It was

Mulder who had been so certain that his mother’s

death was more than it seemed. Mulder again, sure

that Teena Mulder had reached out to him from beyond

the grave, to save his life and to urge him to find

what she had left for him, her legacy to him. And all

Scully had done was to preach the obvious, the safe–

in short, what others had wanted them to believe.

And now it looked like Mulder had been right once

again. Someone had tried to kill him, undoubtedly

someone close to the Consortium. And if they had

tried to murder him, how great a leap was it that

that person was also responsible for his mother’s

death? Both had been set up to look like suicides.

She knew for a fact that Mulder wasn’t suicidal;

perhaps his mother hadn’t been either.

Yes, she had swallowed the bait – hook, line and

sinker. She shook her head. Sometimes she felt as if

she were as much of an impediment to his search for

truth as the Consortium was. Someday she would have

to look deep inside herself for the answer to why she

resisted those flights of fancy of his that had such

an uncanny way of hitting the nail on the head.

Mulder, if you pull out of this… I’ll try, my love.

I promise I’ll try harder.

When they arrived, Mulder’s gurney was hustled into

the ER. Scully took up her post, pacing by his side

until the hyperbaric lab was ready for them. When

someone in a white lab coat finally appeared, Scully

pounced.

“Where the hell–”

The tall young man held out his hand. “I’m Tom

Daddario, physician in charge of the hyperbaric

therapy department here. You have Dr. Rosenfeld’s

written orders? We’d rather not deal with the fax

copies.”

Taken aback by the man’s cheerful, friendly manner,

Scully handed him the papers, which he looked over,

nodding. “You’re Dr. Scully, I take it? All right. I

hear Mr. Mulder did well on the way here. When was

his last dose of sedative? I’d like to be able to

explain things to him before the procedure so he

doesn’t wake up in the hyperbaric chamber. It can be

a bit … upsetting.” The doctor smiled, a peculiarly

charming and boyish grin. “Besides, I want him off

the vent in there.”

As if reacting to the sound of his name, Mulder

stirred.

“I believe the paramedics stopped the valium and

other sedation when we were about ten minutes away

so it’s been approximately thirty minutes.” Scully

tried to keep the accusatory note out of her tone.

“Sorry. Unfortunately we can’t just walk in and flip

a switch for this ”

The alarms bleeped suddenly, as Mulder began to cough

and force the endotracheal tube from his throat.

Respiratory therapists seemed to appear from nowhere.

“Okay, push 2 mg of Valium IV I just want this guy

so I can talk to him, not so he’ll be snowed,”

Daddario ordered. “And suction him quickly please.”

His orders were carried out in seconds, and after a

couple of minutes, Mulder relaxed.

Daddario took his hand and bent over the gurney. “Mr.

Mulder, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can

hear me. Good! Okay, stay with me while I explain

something. You have carbon monoxide poisoning, and

you’re getting better, but we feel you’d benefit from

some hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Squeeze my hand if

you understand. Very good, you’re doing fine, Mr.

Mulder. We’re going to let you breathe on your own,

off the ventilator, and then do some blood gases. If

you’re still doing okay, we’ll take the tube out and

move you to the hyperbaric chamber. How’s that

sound?” Daddario laughed as Mulder squeezed his hand

so hard it hurt. “Well, it looks like you approve of

getting off the machine. I’ll be back when we have

the results of the ABG’s. No, don’t try to talk, Mr.

Mulder. The tube won’t let you talk. Wait, here’s

what you’re looking for, I think.”

The physician turned to Scully and motioned her over

to the side of the gurney. “Dr. Scully will stay with

you, Mr. Mulder, until you go into the hyperbaric

chamber. No visitors there, I’m afraid.” He grinned

at his own joke, nodded to the staff and went to the

nurses’ station to start writing down his orders.

As technicians and nurses went to work around them,

Scully bent over Mulder, tears shining in her eyes.

Although he was drowsy, his eyes focused on hers, and

she knew he could understand. She could also see the

frustration on his face with his inability to speak.

She gave him a watery smile. “It’s all right. I’ve

got it, love. I have your mother’s diary.” His eyes

closed briefly in relief and he squeezed her hand.

“Now promise me you’ll do everything you can to get

better.”

This time he both squeezed and nodded. They clasped

hands until the technician came to draw the arterial

blood which would determine whether he would remain

on the hated respirator. Ten minutes later, and the

respiratory therapist was removing the endotracheal

tube and placing an oxygen mask over his face.

Dr. Daddario strode in, clapping and rubbing his

hands together. “All set? Okay, Mr. Mulder, you’ll be

in the chamber about three hours. You won’t feel any

different, and you might best be advised to get some

sleep. I would also suggest that your partner do the

same. She looks ready to drop.” He raised his right

eyebrow in a manner that would have done Scully

proud.

She stood up straighter and her expression was

unequivocal. “If you can show me where I can wait for

Agent Mulder, I would prefer to stay nearby until he

is settled in his room after the treatment.”

“Scully ” Mulder’s voice came out as a weak croak.

“Mr. Mulder, save your breath. You’re going to lose

that argument, I can tell by the look on her face. My

wife’s Irish, and when she gets that look, well….”

He shot Mulder a look of mock commiseration. “Might

as well just go with the flow.”

Mulder sighed and nodded.

“There’s a staff lounge near in the hyperbaric

department,” the physician suggested. “The coffee’s

bad and the sofa’s lumpy, but you’re welcome to

them.”

“Thanks. And I’m sorry about jumping all over you

when you came in.”

“No problem. It’s been quite a night for you two.”

Two orderlies appeared. Along with a nurse, Dr.

Daddario, and Scully, they made a somber parade down

the corridor to the elevator, up two floors and down

several hallways until they finally arrived at the

hyperbaric therapy department. She stayed with him

until he was settled in the chamber, squeezing his

hand in farewell. “See you in a few hours, Mulder.”

clip_image005

He waved weakly, then settled himself into a more or

less comfortable position. Scully found the lounge

with the help of one of the technicians, coming on to

duty for the day shift. After a few techs came in,

poured coffee for themselves and left, Scully sat on

the couch, propping her feet up on the table in front

of her. She intended to glance quickly through the

journal, to get an idea of what sort of information

it contained, but her eyelids began to grow leaden.

The shrill of her cel phone popped her eyes open, and

resignedly she reached for it. “Scully.”

“How’s Mulder, Scully? Did he make it?”

Scully’s eyes narrowed and her tone was cold.

“Krycek. How did you get this number?”

“Haven’t you learned by now that you can’t keep a

secret from me?” His voice was light and teasing, but

then became more somber. “Seriously, Scully how is

he?” Almost, Scully thought with surprise, as if he

cared.

“Alive, no thanks to whoever tried to kill him. I

don’t suppose you’d know something useful like that,

would you, Krycek?”

“I might,” he replied, but did not continue.

Scully sighed. “All right, I assume you want

something for the information. I don’t know what I—”

“No, I don’t. Well, I don’t want anything you can

give me, not at the moment, at any rate. No, it’s not

that. I just wonder whether you really want to know

what I know, Dana. Can I call you Dana?”

“You can all me Agent Scully. So what do you know?”

“I know who set up Mulder’s ‘suicide’. But I’m not

sure you’re ready to hear it.”

Scully felt a frisson of apprehension. “Why wouldn’t

I want to know who tried to kill Mulder? Why wouldn’t

I be ready? Tell me who it was.”

He sighed. “All right. But don’t say I didn’t warn

you. It was none other than your dear brother

Charles, Agent Scully.”

The words hit her like a punch to the gut.

“You’re– you’re lying,” she croaked.

Krycek chuckled sadly. “Scully you know I’m not. I

was tipped by the person who tipped Charlie to Agent

Mulder’s whereabouts and his mission. A guy playing

both ends against the middle, not that he will

survive long at that game. He told me that Charlie-

Boy had been keeping tabs on you two. Mulder haring

off to Teena territory was enough to… shall we say,

set several things in motion. First among them was to

motivate Charlie to pay a social call. He’s been

chewing on the idea that Teena may have left

something behind that would be inconvenient for him

and his colleagues. Care to comment, Agent Scully?”

She clenched her jaw. “No. No comment.”

“Very wise–you never know who might be listening.

Because hypothetically, you understand if Teena

did leave behind certain records or documents or

whatever, whoever possessed said evidence would be in

very grave danger. Hypothetically speaking.”

“I understand.”

Krycek chuckled again. “I’m sure you do. Well, give

Fox my best for a speedy recovery.”

He hung up before a stunned Scully could reply.

All thoughts of sleep vanished. Charlie. Her own

brother had tried to kill Mulder. Not only that, but

he had tried to make it look like a suicide, which

made the act all the more detestable. And he at least

suspected the existence of the journal that rested in

her handbag. She had no doubts that Charlie would

kill her for it as mercilessly as he would squash an

insect. My God, what happened to him? Scully thought,

nauseous. How could that monster have come out of the

same loving home that she, Bill and Melissa had come

from?

And what the hell was Krycek up to?

Act I, scene 3

April 28, 2003

Providence General Hospital

2 PM

After taking Mulder’s vitals, the nurse left the two

agents alone. Scully could tell her partner was

itching to get at the journal, find out what message

his mother had left for him. There were other things

to consider, however. She told him what Krycek had

said. And just like last time, there was no

condemnation, no pity in his expression. All she saw

was understanding and compassion.

“We can’t go back home,” she said, taking his hand as

she perched on the edge of his bed. “They’ll be

watching for us.”

“For me, you mean,” he said, absently rubbing his

thumb over the palm of her hand.

“For us, Mulder. I don’t think either of us is safe

from this point on. I think I should call Skinner,

let him know what’s going on and see what we can do

about finding a secure location.”

“I have to read the journal, Scully. We won’t be

safe until we find out what’s in it.”

She nodded slowly. “I agree. But even here, in the

hospital, we’re too compromised. Anyone could walk

in and . . .” She couldn’t look at him, not when she

was thinking of how close they’d come, yet again.

Somehow, knowing that it was her own brother who had

tried to take Mulder from her this time made it a

thousand times worse. How could she face her mother

again, or even her brother Bill? Was there anyone

left she could trust?

“Unless there was a police report, he might not know

I’m alive,” Mulder said softly.

“That would buy us some time. But we still need a

safe house, somewhere only Skinner knows about.”

Mulder nodded. “Call him. Set it up.”

Scully left the room to find a payphone and Mulder

lay back against the pillows. He’d been completely

out of it this time. He couldn’t remember anything

past finding the journal. From the amount of

equipment he’d had around him upon waking, he was

pretty sure it had been a real toss up if he’d

survive. He swallowed hard. There was still too

much work to do, too much to uncover. His hand was

still warm from holding Scully’s much smaller one.

He had everything to live for, and he’d be damned if

anybody was going to take it all away from him.

The door creaked open and Scully entered. “You

should be resting,” she chided, resuming her seat.

“I think I’ve done plenty of that in the past 48

hours,” he replied. “What did Skinner say?”

“I’m to call him back in an hour. He’s going to give

me directions to the safe house. We’ll leave in an

unmarked car from a back entrance to the hospital.”

“Do I get to wear a disguise?” Mulder quipped.

“Yes, I’m getting you a ‘Nurse Nancy’ costume in a

few minutes,” she shot back. “Seriously, Mulder,

Skinner agreed. This wasn’t an accident. It was a

premeditated attempt to take your life and make it

appear a suicide. From the tone of his voice on the

phone, I’m pretty sure the AD is pissed.”

“He just wants to make sure I’m around to kick my ass

when his fantasy football team loses,” Mulder said

with a grin. “So, when do we blow this popstand?”

“The doctor will be around shortly. I don’t think

we’re going to even bother with the paperwork this

time. I don’t want to leave an AMA form with a time

and date stamp lying around.”

“Dear Diary, today Scully flouted procedure and

helped me break out of a hospital. It was almost more

than my poor heart could stand!”

“You’ll think ‘more than your poor heart could stand’

when I get through with you, mister,” she growled in

response. “Oh, another thing. Skinner wants the

journal.”

Mulder held the book possessively close to his chest.

“After we read it, naturally,” she added, and he

relaxed his grip a little. “He wants to make copies.

Several copies.”

“Are we going to hide them among our ‘Native American

Brethren’ again?” Mulder asked.

“And a few well-placed safety deposit boxes across

the country. There will be no chance that this

journal will disappear. Skinner assured me he’s going

to take personal responsibility for its safe keeping.”

The doctor showed up a few minutes later on his usual

rounds, and while he was examining Mulder, Scully

slipped out and made the second call to their

superior. When she returned, Mulder was trying to

get out of bed.

“Take it easy, we have a few thousand things to

disconnect first,” she scolded. With practiced ease

she removed the IV and the heart leads, silencing the

monitors quickly and efficiently. He marveled at how

quickly she untangled him from his web of medical

technology.

“Gee, Scully, I should have you do this every time I

break out,” he said happily. She gave him an icy

glare. “One time offer, huh?” She nodded with

pursed lips. “Well, then, I better enjoy it while it

lasts.”

He was a bit wobbly on his feet, and Scully pushed

him back on the bed while she got out his clothes.

With little assistance, he was dressed and ready to

go. Scully glanced at the clock on the wall.

“Skinner said the car would be there at 3:30. It’s

twenty-five after now.”

“We should take the stairs,” Mulder interjected.

She looked him over. “I don’t want to risk you

falling down them and dragging me along for the ride.

We’ll take the elevators. Just look like you’re a

visitor.”

“Yeah, right, that always works,” Mulder muttered.

Scully shot him another glare and quietly stuck her

head out the door. The nurses’ station was semi-

deserted, just one aide sitting behind the counter.

The hall was empty. After a minute, the elevator

indicator light shone and Scully grabbed Mulder by

the arm, helping him to his feet.

“Move, G-man!” she whispered and together, they

hightailed it to the elevator, slipping inside the

compartment just before the doors slid shut.

They both chuffed out a laugh of relief as the

elevator started its descent. Scully suddenly looked

around. “Oh god, the journal!”

Mulder reached under his shirt, producing the book

with a broad smile. “You need more practice at this

‘escaping’ stuff, Scully. I’ve got it covered.”

Scully looked at the book in his hands and leaned

against the wall of the compartment, relief visible

on her face. “Mulder, what if it turns out to be

nothing?” she said just before the elevator stopped

at the first floor.

“I don’t think Mom would have gone to those lengths

to contact me if it were nothing, Scully,” Mulder

said as they waited for the doors to open. “This

journal is a key, Scully. Maybe a key to

everything.”

Act II scene 1

April 28, 2003

Safehouse, location unknown

8 PM

Mulder got comfortable on the sheet-covered sofa,

Scully settling in next to him. A lone table lamp

cast its circle of light in the otherwise darkening

room. The moment they had both been anticipating and

dreading was at hand. He licked his lips and opened

the leather-bound cover, flipping toward the back to

several handwritten pages. A glance over to his

partner for fortitude and he began to read in a clear

voice.

clip_image007

>>My dearest Fox. I know you will think this missive

too little and far too late, but I hope that someday

you will understand my motives. I wanted nothing

more than to save you, my son. I knew from your

conception that you’d never truly be safe, not safe

in the sense of the millions of other sons and

daughters throughout the world whose lives have not

been touched by the evil of the men I’ve known and

their misdeeds. I know that you, who value honesty

above all else, will find it hard to forgive me. But

at the same time I feel it would be an even graver

injustice to leave you without trying to make you

understand the events in our lives that have shaped

us more than either of us could imagine.

As you know, Fox, your grandparents, the Kuipers,

were not without means. In an era when monetary

wealth was held by a privileged few, they were among

the privileged, and I, as their only daughter,

enjoyed that life as well. My father, in order to

‘fit in’ with the uppercrust social circles he

traveled hid much of his heritage, including our

Jewish faith. When I was little, we practiced our

religion in secret, in our own home. As I grew

older, it became less and less a part of our lives,

until even our servants were unaware of our beliefs.

In this same regard, I was considered quite bright by

my teachers, but my mother schooled me in how to get

a ‘good’ husband, keeping my intelligence under wraps

lest I offend or frighten a prospective man. That

might sound laughable in this day and age, but

believe me, Fox, it was a much different world then,

simpler in some respects but all the more complex in

others. I never grew accustomed to ‘playing dumb’

and that got me in a great deal of trouble later on.

Trouble that I fear I passed on to you and your

sister.

When I was attending finishing school the war was

just ending. Even with our wealth, we were still

involved in the war effort. I left school and became

a secretary for the War Department. That is where I

first encountered Wilhelm Strughold. Remember that

name Fox, keep it close to your heart. It is a name

to be feared. Strughold was a German defector,

working for the Allies. I was amazed at how trusted

he was in the upper echelons of our government. I

was even more amazed when one day he plucked me from

the typing pool and made me his personal secretary.

Do not be misled, I never fully trusted this man.

Although he claimed he came to the United States to

escape the horrors of the Nazi regime, I saw in him

the same ruthlessness, the same disregard for human

life that we were beginning to see evidence of in the

concentration camps in Europe. But somehow, he saw

something in me, something that in my innocence and

perhaps my vanity, I failed to hide from him.

Looking back now, I understand how foolish I was.

I’d been working for him for about four years when he

asked me to stay after work. It wasn’t unheard of

for him to have me take dictation or transcribe a

late meeting. This time, he just wanted to talk.

When he said the words ‘special assignment,’ I have to

admit my heart skipped a beat. I was young,

impassioned. I wanted to do whatever I could to help

my country. I was finally getting the respect I

thought my mental abilities deserved, so I almost

missed what the assignment was about. The War

Department at that time was very much a place of

‘cloak and dagger’, much intrigue. The OSS was

becoming the CIA and Strughold seemed to be playing a

part in that transition. So when he asked me to

‘keep an eye’ on a certain young man, my reason was

replaced by fancy. I saw myself as a modern day Mata

Hara. That certain young man was named William

Mulder.

Strughold gave me very little to go on. Just that a

group of Allies had formed for a special purpose,

beyond that of the dealings of the Cold War. Bill

Mulder was working for that group as a young agent

and a member of our military. I was given a

transfer and went to work the very next Monday as

Bill’s secretary in the State Department.

At the same time I began working for Bill, I met

another young man very close to Mr. Strughold, Carter

Giles Benjamin Spender. Carter had come from a once

wealthy family who lost everything in the Depression.

He was handsome, assertive, confident. Bill, on the

other hand, was quiet, seemingly unaware of his good

looks and incredibly committed to his work. The

foolish young woman that I was, I fell in love with

both men.

To say I took my assignment to heart might be an

understatement. With Strughold’s encouragement, I

found myself spending a great deal of time at the

office with Bill. From a strictly professional

relationship, I grew to care for him. Bill would get

so involved in his work he would forget to eat, to

sleep. He brought out the maternal instincts in me,

assuming I ever had any. Carter, at the same time,

was dark and dangerous. He brought out the same dark

and dangerous elements in me. For a while I thought

I was the luckiest girl in the world. I had an

important job and the attentions of two handsome men.

All that changed one Friday afternoon when Bill took

me to lunch and proposed to me.

I was flattered, of course. But I was also torn. I

begged for time to consider. Always unsure of

himself in matters of the heart, I could tell Bill

was hurt, but he told me to take as much time as I

needed. That night I found Carter in his favorite

bar. We went back to his apartment and I told him of

Bill’s proposal. I guess I expected Carter to make

his own proposal, or at least to beg me to reject

Bill’s. I was horrified when he smiled at me and

told me to accept the offer. I was confused and

hurt. But what Carter said next frightened me then

and causes me great shame now. “Nothing has to

change. Bill doesn’t know about us now, he never has

to learn of us in the future.” I walked to the altar

already intending to commit adultery.

It grieves me, Fox, more than you could know, that I

can’t tell you which man is your father. You have

qualities both men shared. As the years went by, I

prayed that you were Bill’s son, as I learned to hate

Carter more than I thought I could ever hate a man.

Bill was ecstatic to have a son and never questioned

anything about your arrival. And to be perfectly

honest, I grew to believe the lie. Bill was a good

man, he doted on you and on me. It was a perfect

life, except I felt such unbearable guilt at my

betrayal. I tried very hard to be the ‘perfect

wife’. I also continued to focus on my ‘assignment’.

I was still working for Strughold, still feeding Bill

information from Strughold. And, on rare occasions,

I would see Carter, but I found my time with him

devoid of all caring. I met his needs, needs his

wife didn’t meet. Maybe it was just that he held a

part of me that would never belong to Bill.

Through the years I learned a great deal about the

organization, the ‘consortium’ as they called it.

Bill was being used to perpetuate a lie. His job in

the State Department allowed him access to

information the consortium needed, access to the

personal and medical records of every American born

after 1945. He was being used to create the

smokescreen necessary to hide the real project. My

job was to keep an eye on him, to make sure he didn’t

suspect what was really happening and to report back

to the group anything that might indicate Bill wasn’t

accepting the information he was being fed. After a

while, I learned what information to pass along and

what to keep to myself. I was intent on making sure

I had enough information to serve me in the future.

I had no idea that information would be necessary to

keep you alive.>>

Act 2 Scene 2

Safehouse

10 PM

“I need a drink.”

“No alcohol, Mulder.”

“I’m just going for an iced-tea, `Mom'” he said with

a bite that would normally never penetrate their

playful banter.

“No caffeine either,” she called after him as he

rounded the corner into the kitchen. She could hear

him exhale loudly in frustration, then the

refrigerator door slamming shut with a tinkle of

glass objects inside.

“You want some ice water, while I’m out here?”

“You don’t have to yell so loud.”

She came up behind him, and stroked his back with her

fingernails, causing him to jerk in surprise. They’d

just read through some pretty heavy material in that

journal, and Mulder was understandably distracted.

He hadn’t heard her get up from the couch, nor her

footsteps on the vinyl floor of the kitchen.

“Do you want to take a break?” she asked.

“No,” he said softly, but with an edge that spoke of

desperation. “I knew Mom had to have some idea, some

curiosity with what was happening with my father; but

a spy? I never would have guessed she was involved.

I’m reading that whole journal, no matter how much it

hurts.”

He filled two glasses with ice, then ran tap water

into each one, filling them to the rim. He took a

swig out of one glass roughly, dribbles of water

running down the side and pattering onto the floor.

He stared out the window with no regard for the mess.

She watched him breathe and drink for a while,

relieved that he could do at least that. He seemed

normal in all respects, but she mentally promised

herself to keep a sharp eye out for any symptoms Dr.

Rosenfeld had mentioned. It was a long shot, as he’d

recovered quite well after the hyperbaric tank, but

she was always worried about Mulder.

He glanced down at her, finally noticing her

attentiveness. She didn’t falter. It had been a

long time since she’d blushed at being caught

staring. A corner of his mouth twitched in

recognition.

“You up for the next round?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

They made their way back into the living room and

hovered over the open book. Mulder drained his glass

of water before they reached the bottom of the next

page and was up for another as the ice cubes bumped

against his lips.

“Ah, damn,” he cursed under his breath. He pinched

the skin at the bridge of his nose and stood hunched

forward.

“Mulder? What’s wrong?” A sudden panic rose in

Scully’s chest.

“I got up too fast. Head rush.”

“Oh.”

He shook the dizziness out from behind his eyes, and

suppressed a smile as he went into the kitchen.

“Jesus, Scully, don’t you like me when I’m well? I

don’t get hurt on purpose, but if I get this much

concern from you, I’ll be sure to get some kind of

illness at least twice a week.”

“You’ve filled your quota, Mulder. You can be sure of

that.”

When he returned, Scully held the journal cradled in

her lap, flipping ahead through the next few pages.

“What do you say I take this turn reading?”

Mulder plopped into a chair next to the couch, leaned

his head back, closed his eyes, and cuddled a soft

pillow to his chest. “OK, I’m ready for my bedtime

story. You gonna tuck me in?” He feigned sleep, but

cracked open an eyelid to watch for her response.

“Later,” she said flatly. “I don’t want you to get

nightmares.”

Scully began to read.

>>Bill had no problems talking about his continued

work with the consortium. He trusted me, confided in

me, because he thought I could understand having

worked with the same people for a time. It was the

kind of conversation one would have with a coworker

over the water cooler, but a more honest confession

to me as his wife.

I’d of course relay all information to the

consortium. Bill believed that the consortium’s

purpose was to make contact with the aliens. He knew

some of the key players were a little more than

power-hungry, but he `needed to know the truth,’ as

he’d said to me time and again. Sound familiar, Fox?

He was only allowed to gain so much information in

order to carry out his duties, but was cut off,

stopped, or given a barrier every time he ventured

too far above his position.

But even so Bill was getting too close to their true

goal. And I’d seen the lengths to which the

consortium went to combat those who rubbed them the

wrong way. I feared for Bill, as I fear for you now.

I felt compelled to continue working with the

consortium, not only because of curiosity and

dedication, but because of an underlying uneasiness

that I had slowly become aware of over the years.

Something was dreadfully wrong, and I wanted to know

what.

Outside of keeping an eye on Bill’s involvement, and

passing information on to Strughold through Carter,

it was becoming clear to me that extensive

experimentation had begun. Under the guise of

creating a vaccine to protect the world from imminent

alien invasion, samples were being gathered from

every living human being in the form of smallpox

vaccinations…>>

“What?!” Mulder spat out. He sat up in his chair, the

pillow forgotten as it fell from his lap to the

floor. “She *knew* about that?”

“Mulder, it seems like your mother knew a lot more

than she was letting on, at least to you.”

“But if she was so involved she must have realized

what we…”

“Maybe she did. And maybe she didn’t have a choice.

You know what these people are capable of.”

Mulder shifted in his seat. “What the hell else did

she know?”

“Well,” Scully glanced down at the journal, then back

at her partner with a quirked eyebrow.

He leaned back against the soft cushion of the chair

once again. Flipping his hand up in an exhibit of

defeat, he said, “Go on.”

Scully turned the page over and continued.

>>What the consortium told Bill was a lie. As I

pieced together nuggets of information from Carter, I

began to resent the fact that I was being used to

perpetuate it. And not only to the world, but to my

husband.

The consortium knew Bill would find out certain

things; enough to keep him curious, keep digging, and

without him realizing it, leaving trails for

outsiders — skeptics and believers of alien

existence — to feed off. He was a pawn, and I

watched it all happen.

I did love Bill — enough to feel that maybe what I

was doing wasn’t the right choice. I had you and Sam

to think of, besides. And even though I began our

marriage doubting my own feelings for him, we were a

family now. Call it maternal instinct, something

deep and primitive.

I was beginning to have my doubts. I still kept in

contact with Carter, but it was no longer romantic.

He managed to convince himself otherwise, saying he

didn’t want to lose me in this madness. My feelings

were interfering with my work, yes. But at the same

time, I knew I had to do something. *Some way* had

to be right.

All this plotting had me whirling. I needed time to

think. My only comfort was to fall back on raising

you and Samantha. Ironically, that was the very thing

I had wanted to avoid. I yearned for a `freedom’ when

I was young, but instead, had gotten myself into an

entanglement with powerful men.

You’d been developing so fast, Fox. There were

moments when I’d look at you and wonder how I would

have felt about you under different circumstances.

You will always be *my* son. I will always love you.

But back then, I was afraid of what might become of

you. And Samantha being so young… I just hoped to

avoid any confrontations. I didn’t want to get hurt

anymore, and I ended up closing off my feelings to

everyone. For that, Fox, I have regrets.

Especially for you.”>>

Scully peeked up from the pages to check on Mulder.

He held his fist clenched tight and pressed it

against his lips. She quickly picked up by reading

the next line before he noticed her voyeurism.

>>I tried so hard to keep things out of the house,

but Carter would sometimes come to fetch Bill on

important assignments. Worse still, he’d come

straight to me. And I’d find things out I wish I

hadn’t.

I knew the real plan, and I found out that Bill knew

more than he was letting on in casual conversation

with me. They’d been monitoring his actions, and

having me hang so closely to every word because he

had hit on the truth they were trying to cover up.

Their plan to string him along had backfired.

Carter had told me as much one night while trying to

cover up his insistence on my report. He’d begun to

yell at me, and I begged he keep it down for the

children’s sake. He grilled me for information, a

heated angry interrogation that scared me.

Carter always tried to protect them. Nothing about

me. His work and his existence was all for the

consortium’s greater power. The power of a few men,

holding the world for ransom.

There was always that question about the outer forces

beyond our control. How much information were they

gathering, and how far would it go?

How far would the consortium go to keep *their*

secrets?>>

“Stop reading, Scully…”

Scully lowered the book slowly, afraid to see her

partner’s reaction to this multitude of information.

She had good reason.

Mulder got up from his chair and paced the floor

between her and the picture window. His silhouette

grew and shrank as he came closer and moved away,

like he was throbbing from the pain of his thoughts.

“I can’t believe it,” he said, facing her in front of

the luminous windowpane. He wiped a palm over his

forehead and back to slick down his unkempt hair. “I

can’t believe she’d hide all this from me. This whole

time without a word!”

He kicked at the air, squeezed his forearms tight

against his chest. He stood in anguish, biting his

lower lip to stave back the frustration within. He

breathed strong, even gusts through his nose like an

angry bull.

Scully set down the book. “I’ve never heard you say

you don’t believe anything, Mulder. Your mother kept

this information to protect you.”

“Protect me from what? Have you heard my life story

lately, Scully?”

“She obviously had her reasons.”

He chuffed at the comment, turning away from her.

“You’re defending *her*?”

“There’s more left to this journal, Mulder. Perhaps

we should finish reading before we jump to

conclusions.”

She got up and pried the arm with the cast still

binding his wrist out of its confinement against

Mulder’s chest. She held his hand and tried to pull

him back to the couch. When he didn’t give, she

looked up and saw the wet glistening of tears held

back in his eyes.

“Scully, don’t you realize? I–, You–, Saman– ” he

broke off the last syllable, unable to continue

without his voice cracking.

“I know, Mulder. I know,” she consoled, and pulled

him into an embrace. “Let’s just keep reading.”

Act 2 Scene 3

They’d ended up taking a break. Mulder claimed the

need for a bathroom break, though Scully realized he

just needed a moment to get his head wrapped around

everything he’d heard so far.

Scully herself found it difficult to believe that

Teena Mulder was in as deep as she was without ever

giving her son, her adult son who worked for the FBI,

some kind of explanation before her death. If it was

so difficult for her to believe, she could only

imagine what was going through Mulder’s mind.

In the bathroom, Mulder stood at the sink with the

water running, and kept rinsing his hands and face.

For some reason he felt…dirty. It wasn’t as if he

had any choice in any of the decisions his mother

made, but he couldn’t help feeling as if he should

have figured it out. He should have been able to

stop her.

Right. As if he could have stopped her any more than

he could have stopped whoever it was that took

Samantha that night. Realistically he knew that he

had no chance of doing either, but it didn’t keep him

from feeling guilty over his inability to save Sam –

or his mother.

He turned the water off and dried his hands and face.

He stepped back into the room and sat down on the

couch. Scully had gone into the kitchen to get a

glass of water. She offered Mulder the glass as she

sat down next to him.

“Here.”

“I’m okay.”

“I know, but I don’t want you getting dehydrated.”

“Scully, I’m not getting dehydrated.”

“Mulder – just drink the damn water.”

He drank it.

“You read some more while I was in the bathroom,

didn’t you?” he asked with understanding.

She shrugged. “Just skimmed it a little.”

“Give me the journal – my turn,” he said softly.

Reluctantly, Scully gave the book up and watched as

he handled it so gently, almost reverently. Damn,

she thought to herself, this was going to be so hard

for him.

He opened to the next page and began to read.

>>”I’d finally reached my breaking point, Fox. The

day Spender came to me and told me they needed

something more from us; they needed proof of our

commitment. I remember looking at him as if he’d

developed a third eye. ‘What kind of proof?’ I

remember asking. I honestly had no idea, Fox.

I was always a smart woman, but in many ways I was so

na•ve. While I didn’t necessarily trust the people

involved, I did feel an inherent trust that

everything would work out. So, when Spender told me

what it was exactly that the consortium required as

proof, I felt my knees go weak.

They’re shaking now, even as I write this. He was so

calm when he told me, almost as if he were talking

about a shopping list for the local supermarket.

But it wasn’t apples and oranges, Fox. It was more

than just health and beauty aids.

They wanted my child. >>

Mulder looked up from the page. He didn’t look at

Scully; he stared straight ahead. He took a deep

breath and then shook his head slowly, disbelieving.

“I don’t know what to think,” he said.

“Why? You know from Cassandra Spender that loved

ones were being taken, including children,” reminded

Scully.

“I know, but she knew, Scully. She knew all along,

and she still let me continue to believe that it was

all my fault.”

“No, Mulder, we don’t know that.” She reached over

for the book in an attempt to take it from him, but

he shrugged her off.

“No, Scully, I want – I need to read this.” Scully

nodded and he continued.

>>I remember standing there for several seconds

before I asked him, ‘What do you mean, they want my

child?’

I don’t know why I asked him that; it wouldn’t have

mattered. Fox, you have to believe me when I say

that. It wouldn’t have mattered. I was not about to

give you or your sister up, no matter what Spender

said.

Of course his response was even worse then telling me

which of you we were supposed to hand over as a token

of our commitment. He told us that it was our choice

to make.

My jaw dropped in shock. And then I did something

that I believe scared the hell out of him.

I started laughing. Hard. To the point where I

quickly became hysterical. And then I started

screaming at him at the top of my lungs, demanding to

know how he could even think we could make a choice

like that.

Fox, he just stood there and watched me scream. I

started pummeling him and he simply stood unmoved,

until finally, he grabbed my wrists.

It was at that moment that Bill came into the room.

He looked first at me and then at Spender. I guess

we looked suspicious, but it didn’t matter to me.

The man was asking me to do something crazy, insane!

I wasn’t going to do it; I wasn’t going to allow

anyone to take one of my children away from me.>>

Mulder paused to take a deep breath.

Scully looked at him and gave him the glass of water.

“Drink.”

He took a small sip and handed it back to her.

“She wanted to fight for us -” he said more as a

question than a statement. He wasn’t sure; as much

as he wanted to believe that she’d fought tooth and

nail for him and his sister, he still wasn’t sure.

He continued to read.

>>”Bill finally found his voice and asked what the

hell was going on? I remember screaming that he

wanted our baby. Spender shook his head. The soft,

even tones with which he spoke still send chills up

and down my spine, Fox. There was no emotion; he

was so calculating and matter-of-fact.

At one time I thought he cared for you and your

sister; he’d always acted as if he did. However, the

man was a genius at separating business from pleasure,

and this was business. Bill of course looked as

incredulous as I had.

He started ranting and raving as well “How could

anyone expect us to make a decision like this? Could

you? Spender, could you decide which child to give

up?”

Carter shook his head and said, “It’s not my decision

to make. It’s yours.” Fox, he was such a bastard,

but I know he felt relief that it wasn’t his decision

to make. I know it.>>

Mulder brought one hand up to the bridge of his nose

and massaged it. “Can you believe she’s still

defending him, Scully? Why is she defending him?”

“Maybe because she recognized that he was human after

all,” she responded gently.

“No – no way is that bastard any kind of human.”

He read:

>>Finally he told us we had to make a decision or the

decision would be made for us. We both implored him

to make them change their minds. Weren’t we always

there to do their bidding? Weren’t we ready to help

the consortium’s cause at any given moment? Why were

we being singled out?

It was then he said that it wasn’t just us; others

were expected to show their good faith by donating

one of their children. It was then that I realized

that he was talking about himself. Carter had a son,

a little younger than Samantha, and he was being

asked to turn the child in, too.

I’m not sure why, but it made me feel better. Oh,

Fox, not because I wanted Jeffrey Spender to be taken

away; I never wanted to see that happen any more than

I wanted you or Samantha taken. No, sadly it pleased

me to know that Carter was going to feel the same

hole in his heart that Bill and I were going to feel.

It was at that moment I’d realized that we were going

to lose one of you, but Spender swore that the

children were going to be returned in a short period

of time. He did, Fox; he swore to me. Why I would

have thought that he would suddenly start telling me

the truth, I don’t know. Oh, Fox, I so wanted to

believe him. I had to believe him, or surely I would

have gone insane.

He finally told Bill to do it. Bill actually shook

his head, and asked him how he could be expected to

do such a thing. Carter told him that if he didn’t

make the decision, the decision would be made for us.

Bill looked at me, pleaded with me, “Who do we pick?

Fox? Do we give away our first born?”

He’d almost started keening at the mention of it.

Then he looked at me and asked, “Do we give them our

baby? Do we give them Samantha?”

I remember crying out “Not Samantha, not Samantha”

and Bill looked at me and asked “What choice do we

have? The orders came down from on high.” He turned

to Spender and began to call him every filthy name

known to man. He was so angry; he was resigned to

the fact that we had no choice, but he was so angry.

Carter said, in that cold, crisp tone, “Plan to go

out tomorrow night for a few hours. Leave Fox home

to babysit Samantha. Everything will be taken care

of.”

We did just as he instructed, Fox. Everything. We

went to the Galbrands to play cards. You were going

to stay home, play a game with your sister and then

watch “The Magician”. It was a nice, normal winter

night.

— Until I’d lost my daughter to a

ruthless conspiracy made up of a maze of lies and

deceit. And it’s only now as I write the words in

this journal, that I realize that I lost my son

that night, too. I tried to protect you, Fox; I

don’t know if you believe this, but I did. Even Bill

did, and to an extent, Carter.

Carter–I wanted to hate him so much, but he worked

hard, when it wasn’t business, Fox, to protect you.

But you kept getting too close to the business. We

were all too close to the business.” >>

Mulder closed the book and looked over at his

partner. “Scully? What is she saying? What is she

saying to me?”

“That you were loved, Mulder. That no matter what,

you were loved.”

Act 3 Scene 1

Mulder paused and stared at the pages. His face

crinkled in concentration, then confusion. He opened

his eyes wide from the strain, almost as if he

couldn’t believe what he saw in front of him.

“Mulder, what is it?”

He shook his head and turned the book at a slight

angle, as if that would help to clarify his vision.

“The handwriting seems rushed here. It’s jagged, not

flowing like the rest of the journal.”

“The” handwriting, he said. Not “her” handwriting.

That meant he was going into analytical mode. Mulder

seemed to have gotten over his emotional attachment

to his mother’s words — for the moment. He was less

angry, and now, more determined to understand his

mother’s motives. Just when had he made that shift?

“Here,” he said, pointing at a section of the page.

“Scully, look at this…”

>>I know I’m being watched. I know too much, and

people are beginning to figure out what I’ve been

doing. Passing along tidbits to you here and there,

trying to be discreet about it — that was all fine

for a while, when I thought I had all the time in the

world.

Now I know I’ve been discovered, because I’ve

contracted this awful disease.

Yes, Fox , my Paget’s Carcinoma was no accident, nor

was it inherited from anyone in my family. It was

purely man-made — and placed into my body.

There are things that I have not finished yet. I’m

sorry I did not have time to explain more, to tell

you all that I know so that you can beat them at

their own game. But it’s a dangerous game, Fox, and

there is so much more than you were led to believe.

Beat them, Fox. You’re the only one left who can.

I’m a ticking time bomb right now. I don’t know when

or how it will happen, but I will die, and in a most

unnatural way, yet it will appear completely natural

on the surface.>>

Mulder’s voice cracked on that last sentence. All of

a sudden he was back in his apartment, begging Scully

to do the autopsy for him. She pleaded with him not

to. She couldn’t handle the thought of detaching

herself emotionally from someone who was so

personally attached to her life. But she did it,

because she knew that it was *his* life that

mattered. It was his life she shared, and loved, and

she would do anything for him, no matter what the cost

to herself.

He snuffled and dragged a knuckle across wet cheeks

and nostrils. Scully laid a hand on his arm, just the

touch of her warm fingers support enough to hold him

against the tide of emotion breaking through once

again.

He cleared his throat, kissed her forehead and

continued on.

>>You’ll find out what they did to me, and you’ll

have to expose them. It won’t be easy. Be careful,

Fox. They’ll do it to others and they’ll try to stop

you. You have little protection left. I don’t know

how much longer I can count on Carter.

If I’ve taught you anything in this life, I’ve taught

you to question everything. That may not have made

you the most trusting of people, but as you got

older, I could see it was for the best.

I never wanted to lose you to them, Fox, though I may

have lost you anyway. I was never there for you

emotionally, as a “normal” mother. I hope you can

forgive the hurt I have caused you. But you must

know that I love you. I would give my life for you.

I think, now, that is exactly what I have done.

If you’ve found this book, the time is right for you

to know my role in this tangled mess — this

conspiracy.

I hope to see you, so that I may tell you all of this

in person. Perhaps when you return from your case

out West. Writing it all down has come so easily, but

to tell you to your face is what I have craved for so

long. Far too long.

Now, I fear, there isn’t time. I know it will come to

an end soon.

I’m going to hide this book in a place where you will

be able to find it. Somehow, I’ll get a message to

you.

Goodbye, and good luck, my son. My beloved Fox.>>

Mulder closed the book, and stared out at the rising

sun. He held Scully’s hand, and they remained there

until dawn rose from behind the trees, and the light

formed its cocoon around them.

Act 3 Scene 2

April 29, 2003

Safehouse, location unknown

6 AM

The only sound penetrating the room was the soft

drone of electrical appliances. The refrigerator

hummed quietly in the kitchen, occasionally breaking

into a shudder as the motor switched gears. Somewhere

in the distance Scully thought she heard the ticking

of a clock, but she didn’t remember seeing one when

they arrived at the house.

When her stomach grumbled loudly, demanding food, she

suddenly realized they hadn’t eaten anything since

grabbing a quick bite after leaving the hospital.

“Mulder? Are you hungry? I’m not sure what’s here,

but I know Skinner wouldn’t have left us without

supplies.”

Mulder sat as motionless as stone, his hand still

nestled in hers but his mind far away.

“Mulder? Did you hear me?”

He jumped as if shocked by an electric current.

“Sorry. What did you say?”

He pulled his hand from hers, scrubbed at his face

and pushed the heels of both hands against his eyes,

prompting Scully to check her watch. He was overdue

for his meds, and after a full might of reading —

having to absorb what his mother had written– it

wouldn’t surprise her if his head was aching.

Scully unfolded her legs and stood. Laying a hand on

Mulder’s shoulder, she leaned in close and said, “I’m

going to go fix something to eat.”

Mulder’s answer was a quick nod, but his hands

remained over his eyes. He listened to Scully

rummaging around in the kitchen.

Amidst the clatter of opening and closing doors and

the scrape of stubborn drawers, Scully called to him.

“Mulder. You have a choice of soup, soup or soup. And

all of them tomato.”

“Soup will be fine, Scully.” He really wasn’t

hungry, and he really didn’t care. There was an

annoying throb building behind his left eye and the

knot in his stomach was so tight, he doubted even

soup would make it down. But he knew that if he

valued his life, he had to appear to be making an

effort to eat.

He must have drifted off. It seemed like no time at

all before Scully was back with two steaming mugs

and a plate of sandwiches. She tapped him lightly on

the shoulder to get his attention.

Placing the food on the coffee table, she headed back

to the kitchen, returning a minute later with a jug

of iced water, 2 large glasses and a bottle of pills.

She shook two out and handed them to Mulder.

He took them, raising an eyebrow questioningly.

“I know how you look when you’re in pain. Tylenol.

For the headache.” She smiled at him.

He grinned back. “I knew there was a reason I kept

you around.”

They ate in silence. After the first mouthful, Mulder

realized he was hungrier than he’d first thought. He

managed to finish off the full mug of soup and a

couple of bites of a sandwich. But the food wasn’t

enough to distract him from his mother’s journal.

He’d known all along that she hadn’t killed herself.

It was a gut feeling that had never really left him

since the day she died, despite the autopsy findings.

Could he have made a difference if he’d done as she

asked?

“I should have called her.” The words were more to

himself than for Scully’s benefit.

Mulder leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees,

absently stroking his bottom lip with thumb and

forefinger as he gazed into the semi-darkness.

“I should have called her when I got back from

California.” Then, more quietly, he said, “She might

be alive today. I might have been…”

“No.” Scully’s voice was firm but gentle. “Don’t do

this to yourself, Mulder. Regardless of the

circumstances of her disease, it was still there and

it was terminal. There was nothing you could have

done to prevent her death.”

Suddenly, Mulder pushed himself to his feet and

strode towards the window, hands propped on his hips

as he stared out at the encroaching daybreak..

“But it was *given* to her. There might have been a

way to…to…Jeezus, Scully!”

He turned abruptly, taking 3 angry paces back to the

couch. In one swift motion he scooped the journal

from the coffee table and shook it in the air. “She

*knew* they would kill her. What were her words? That

she would die in an unnatural way that would appear

completely natural on the surface? She didn’t even

make it that far. They killed her, Scully. It wasn’t

suicide. The pills were a means to an end, but it

wasn’t her decision. Just like those women in New

Jersey.”

Scully reached out and pried the journal from his

fingers, laying it back on the table. Gently, she

pulled him down to sit next to her, turning him so

she could see his face. She lifted his chin with the

tip of her index finger.

“You’re right. It wasn’t suicide. My findings when I

did the autopsy…” She swallowed hard before

continuing. “I was wrong. And…” Scully’s head

dipped, unable to meet his gaze, to bear the raw

emotion she saw in his eyes. “And…I should have

looked further. But…when…Mulder, the cancer had

progressed to such a state that I was sure, under the

circumstances that she wouldn’t have wanted to live.

She was your *mother*. I’m so sorry.”

Mulder huffed a soft mirthless chuckle. “Look at us,

Scully. Blaming ourselves for things that were so far

out of our control it’s almost laughable. All these

years we’ve been manipulated. Pawns in a game. My

father–whoever that might be, my mother, and god,

Scully, even your brother.” He felt Scully stiffen at

the mention of Charlie. “Nothing was left to chance.”

Scully lifted her head, chin thrust forward, a fire

blazing in her eyes.

“Where will it end, Mulder? What is so damn important

that these men feel they can kill with impunity? What

the hell are they so afraid of? What are they

protecting?”

“I don’t know. But I do know one thing.” He picked up

the journal again, weighing it in his hand. “This is

the key to finding out. Everything we’ve been

fighting against for the last 10 years has been a

lie. A monumental lie. And if they have gone to so

much trouble to perpetuate the lie, then the truth

must be something far bigger than anything we can

imagine. And I’ve got to know what it is.”

She’d heard those words before. Ten long years ago on

a rainy night in Oregon. Field work was new to her.

Working with a partner, especially one as eccentric

as Mulder had seemed exciting, exhilarating, but

little did she know what it held in store. And now,

after everything they had lost, and the little they’d

gained, he wanted to start over again. They were back

to square one. And for a second it all seemed too

hard. Scully wasn’t sure she had the energy required

to take on this new quest. But then, she wondered,

did she really have a choice? She looked at the man

sitting beside her. Took in his pale complexion and

pinched features, remembering how close she had come

to losing him, and her lassitude was replaced with a

burning fury. An all-consuming desire to get back at

the bastards who had been controlling their lives all

these years, systematically destroying everything

they held dear to them.

“Scully?” Mulder was studying her, his brow creased

in concern. And then she knew. Of all the things she

had lost in their fight for the truth, there, sitting

beside her was the one thing she had gained. The man

she loved with all her heart. She took his hand in

both of hers, squeezing tight.

“*We’ve* got to know what it is, Mulder. Both of us.”

Mulder knelt on the floor in front of her, leaning

forward and pulling her into his arms. He buried his

head against her waist, holding onto her.

Scully weaved her fingers through his hair. Relishing

the feel of his body wrapped around hers; the soft

rhythm of his breathing as he nuzzled against her. In

her mind’s eye she remembered the sickly red tinge to

his skin when they’d found him in the garage. God, if

she’d been a few minutes later he *would* have died.

Scully hugged him closer. Charlie had done that to

Mulder. Was he the one responsible for Teena Mulder

too? Could he have been the monster who had initiated

the deaths of 11 women simply by making a few phone

calls? Images like a slide show played in her mind.

Charlie. Her kid brother. Holding a gun to her head,

shooting Mulder in cold blood. She couldn’t

reconcile the man she’d seen that night with the

cheeky-grinned boy she’d grown up with. Scully

shuddered, the temperature suddenly feeling as if it

had dropped 10 degrees.

Mulder lifted his head. “Scully? What’s wrong?”

She brushed her hand over his hair, mustering a

watery smile. “Nothing, Mulder. I was just thinking

about Charlie. It’s all so crazy. Your mom, my

brother.” She shook her head. “Both claiming to have

been looking out for us, and yet…I don’t know. How

do we deal with something like that?”

Mulder pulled himself up so he could see her clearly.

“By fighting back, Scully. By beating them, like my

mother said in her journal.”

Scully nodded slowly, wishing she shared his

confidence.

Epilogue

42nd Street High Rise

New York, New York

The mahogany wood and the years of cigar and

cigarette smoke cast a pallor on the room that its

sole occupant didn’t seem to notice. He was sitting

with his back to the door, an unusual occurrence for

one so generally suspicious. The brandy snifter on

the table next to him hadn’t been touched, ignored.

The framed photograph in his hands held his

attention.

It was the photo of a young woman, a dark haired

beauty of no more than 20 years of age. She wore a

sweater with an underlying blouse adorned with a

Peter Pan collar. She could have been a co-ed at

Wellesley, Vassar, or Sarah Lawrence. She was so

smart, so pretty. Her eyes, it was always her eyes

that held him. So deep, like dark pools. He

remembered how, late at night, he would drown in

those hazel eyes. A single tear burned at the corner

of his cheek and he let it fall, as ignored as the

room, as the brandy.

With a wizened finger he traced the contours of the

image before him. He remembered every curve, every

dimple. He remembered where she was ticklish, where

she would moan with ecstasy at his touch. He chewed

absently on his lip, trying to remember the feel of

her mouth on his.

The phone that sat next to the brandy rang, startling

him. He grabbed at hit hastily, almost dropping the

photo to the ground. He caught it just in time.

“Spender, I hear you’ve been trying to reach me,”

Strughold’s voice came faintly over the line. “I’ve

been in the field. What is it you want?”

“I want you to call off your dog. He’s been digging

in my yard.”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

“It’s my understanding that _your_ pet has been

causing some destruction on my property. Finding old

bones that were better left buried. He’s a nuisance.

He should be put down.”

Spender bristled, but let none of it color his tone.

“That’s your opinion. Mine is that he merely made a

connection with his roots, his mother’s past. There

was nothing that is a danger to the project.”

“She knew too much,” Strughold said tersely.

“Which is why you had her killed,” Spender calmly

replied. “Yes, I said I understood. But this is

overkill. He found nothing that would lead him to

his precious truth. He found only a link to his

parentage. I dare say it might lead him directly

where we want him to be.”

There was an ungentlemanly snort from the phone line.

“You are such an idealist, Spender. That’s a

liability in our line of work, you know.”

“I really don’t think you want to test my resolve,

Strughold. Especially over something as trivial as

an old woman’s dying confession of infidelity.”

Again, silence was the reply. He waited, wanting

nothing more than to light up a cigarette, give his

hands something to do. Finally, there was a grunt on

the other end of the line.

“Very well. If you’re convinced nothing will come of

this, I’ll call off my dog. But remember, we can’t

allow them to come too close. We are on the very

brink, and one false move . . .”

“I understand,” Spender said gruffly. “If it comes

to that, I’ll put him down myself.”

“I intend to hold you to that,” Strughold said and

abruptly disconnected the line.

Spender put the receiver back on its cradle. Again,

he held the picture in both hands. He caressed it

once more, tears making the image blurry.

“You can still count on me, Teena. You can always

count on me.”

* * *

End

The 25th Hour

The 25th hour

By Humbuggie

(c) 2003

san@sv-tales.com

Written for the Halloween challenge for IMTP

Virtual Season 11

Rating: R for some explicit language, and

perhaps some gory details, but nothing too

serious, MSR (but only a tad, no smooching going

on), MT.

Story: On All Hallow’s Eve, all the children

disappear in Old Town. Guess who

disappears too?

The 25th hour

The shit hit the fan, and all Mulder could think

about was the box of Halloween Candies

still tucked in his pocket; and the fact that

Scully had eaten all his liquorice bats. In real

life, Mulder detested those grisly black suckers

that left a foul taste in his mouth, but

right now they represented food. Or at least

anything else but the taste of bile in his

throat. Of all the things in the world she might

devour at such an untimeley hour, why

the hell did she have to go and devour these?

They seemed so perfect to eat right now.

“I’m dying, Scully. Can’t you at least wait

until I’m cold and stiff to start stealing from

me?” Mulder groaned, startling his partner by

stirring at the same time.

“Oh, you’re awake. Good. Feeling better?”

He pulled a face. Scully knelt down beside one

of the large oak trees roots that formed a

circle, in the centre of these dark and

dangerous woods. Somehow the clump of trees

offered them some shelter from the danger that

surrounded them. It hid them from plain

view, and all those creepy crawlers that wanted

to devour them, as he had wanted to

devour his liquorish bats.

Her mouth still full with the gooey black stuff,

she turned to him, her face still splattered

with his blood, and her hands and arms covered

in scrapes and scratches, coupled with

some of her own blood.

“Of all the things you have to complain about

right now, you’re whining about candy?”

she mused. “Interesting.”

Mulder tried to sit up straight, and groaned out

loud when the stake protruding out of his

shoulder prevented him from getting into a more

comfortable position, or a full breath.

“Well, there’s nothing else to whine about, is

there?”

“Use your brain for a way to get us out of this

mess, Mulder. With your eidetic memory,

you should’ve at least memorized where we

started from, how we can get back there,

and where we last saw the children.”

“I told you that I don’t know. There isn’t

exactly a manual accompanying this temporal

plane, you know. I don’t have a map of these

creepy woods either. For all we know, the

Blair Witch could be walking about. I have no

idea why the bushes seem to grasp at our

legs, or why the flowers sting and try to hurt

us, or even why nothing is as it seems. This

is not our usual zip code, Scully. There are no

laws of physics here.”

“Oh god.” Scully wiped her mouth with the back

of her hand and stood up, dusting off

her pants. “You sound delirious, and I feel like

Alice in Wonderland. No, make that

whatever-her-name is from the Wizard of Oz.”

“Judy Garland?”

“Funny. Now, what do we do? Sit around and wait

for the enemy to sniff out the scent of

our blood? Or try to do something useful, like

saving our ass’s and finding those

children?”

“I was thinking more in the lines of you leaving

my ass behind, and getting the hell out of

this hell.”

“Oh, and then who’s going to warm my bed at

night?”

“A hot water bottle. What else?” Mulder groaned,

as he tried to adjust his sitting position,

but anything he did sent swirls of pure pain

through his body. “If this is a dream, Scully,

as you insist on calling it; it sure feels

rather too vivid. I don’t think I’ve ever topped

this

situation, have I?”

“I don’t know what to call this place, and I

don’t know why we’re both experiencing it at

the same time,” she retorted, “and frankly I

don’t want to find out. I just want to get

back to where we belong, and get this over with,

not to mention get you to a hospital.

That’s a nasty wound. I’m not eager to explore

this strange new world, you know.”

“I wish you were.”

She knelt beside her partner and helpt him to

sit up straight. “Try not to move that

shoulder too much. And for goodness sake, keep

that sling in the right position. You don’t

want to damage yourself any further than you

already have.”

“Did you see that the grave was open? Huh? You

would have fallen in too had you walked

in front of me.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t and I wasn’t as stupid as

you to carry a stake. This isn’t Buffy, the

vampire Slayer, Mulder. This is the real life,

whatever it is. You didn’t slay a single

vampire. You just angered them and they could

have killed you.”

“Sucked our blood and turned us into the undead

huh? Hmm, I wonder what it would be

like to live forever.”

“Oh please. You’d have let out a girlie scream,

and would have gotten the hell out of

there.”

“So it’s not a dream anymore?”

She sighed. “I’m not going to argue over the

details. All I want is to get us out of this

predicament, and you into a hospital. Do you

think you can walk?”

A huge crackling sound behind them startled both

agents. Suddenly the peace and quiet

of the moment was over, and they realized they

were back in business. Out of the woods

came the eeriest sound either of them had ever

heard. They both knew what it meant.

Run, baby, run.

“We’re not back in Kansas yet, Toto,” Mulder

groaned. “Let’s get moving.”

Scully helped her partner to get up, as he

scrambled to his feet. Panting and heaving as

he rested against the ancient oak tree, he

watched her gather up the few things they

had: their guns and her flashlight. His was left

behind in the grave that had nearly

become the end of him. She shivered once again,

when she recalled the sickening sound

of flesh ripping upon sharp, piercing wood. A

few inches to the left and … When she had

lowered herself into the grave to find him, she

had found him impaled on his own

weapon, and for a second, she feared he was as

dead as a doornail.

She recalled exactly how he had fallen into the

grave, and what had brought them there.

Their first arrival in the underworld brought

them in eye-to-eye contact, with creatures

that Mulder insisted were classic vampires.

“The undead, Scully. You know! Brad Pitt’s

Louis, Tom Cruise’s Lestat, that Angel dude –

Vampires!”

“Yes, I know what vampires are,” she retorted,

“but those things are not them.”

The second she pointed at the creatures rushing

towards them, she paled. Their faces

were distorted, their glistening fangs hung out

of their mouths as if they were starving.

“Uh oh,” she said, “I might be wrong.”

“Run, Scully!” He’d grasped her hand and pulled

her towards the woods, going over a

path that seemed as dreadful flimsy as the rest

of the world, but they had no choice

whatsoever. They could hear the vamps rushing

after them; not panting or wheezing, but

running with ease at an alarming rate. They were

fast. She could feel them brushing her

clothes right on her heels. Just a few more

inches and –

Mulder stopped dead, and then pulled her to the

right, to the left; again to the right until

they were deep in the woods, and the noise of

footsteps stopped.

“Quickly,” he had whispered. “Get some branches

off the ground, the sharper ones.”

And there she stood. “Scuffy, the vampire

slayer”. And she lifted her stake and waited.

So did Mulder.

“There!” he cried, and before she knew it, he

was the one rushing after them. Next she

had heard an almighty crash, the unmistakable

sound of someone falling, and the girlie

scream. No, it was more of a high-pitched, male

scream, yet loud enough to chase off

any creeps.

“I’d make a crappy vampire killer,” he had

grunted after she had crawled down into the

opened grave, and the coffin that rested six

feet under, open and empty. The stake was

impaled through Mulder’s flesh, and the

surprisingly white satin. His eyes had fluttered

open painfully. “I can’t even get the stake into

their hearts.”

But all she could think of at that point, was

his possible close call with death.

No! She stopped herself mentally from thinking

about the What-if’s. All they could do

now, was try to find the way out of this

nightmarish dreamscape, and return to the living

where they belonged. In the real world, there

were no real vampires and creepy beings,

deadly creatures and monsters, despite some of

the stuff she’d seen with the X files. This

was all part of the Halloween illusion.

“On All Hallow’s Eve anything might happen,”

Mulder had warned her. “The 25th hour is

upon us, and you can’t go back if you’re in the

wrong place at the wrong time. That’s the

truth, baby.”

“Oh Mulder, stop believing those children’s

stories you heard in Old Town. It’s not true.

It’s an illusion. Time cannot be changed.”

“Oh yes, it can,” he groaned as he tried to move

faster than ever.

What if Mulder was right and they couldn’t go

back? What if they were already trapped

inside this world forever? What if all that

waited for them was blood and death; gore,

terror and darkness? What if they became one of

them, forever seeking solace for a

restless soul?

Oh god Scully, she thought. Get a grip. This is

not real. It’s the most vivid nightmare

you’ve ever had, but that’s all. It’s. not.real.

Okay?

She picked up her gun, stashing it between her

sweater and trouser waistband. She put

Mulder’s gun back behind his belt too. “Don’t

use it unless you absolutely need to,

alright?”

“ Would I be a bad person if I said that, that

turned me on?”

“Yes, you are.”

“Oh, I love being naughty,” he wheezed through

his pain and discomfort as she helped

him up, supporting him on his right, uninjured

side that was still in one piece.

The left side of him was a total mess, and one

she dared not to look at right now. The

arrow-sharp piece of wood that had lanced right

through his flesh, dangled on both sides,

having been frayed in the final proces of

piercing his shoulder. She knew he wouldn’t die

from the serious injury, but he was hurting

badly. There was much blood loss and muscle

damage that would need a heavy repair too. Any

slight movement jarred the wound,

threatening to send him into a world of

oblivion. He’d already passed out twice en route

to temporary safety.

Yet she couldn’t get the wood out all the same,

not safely, that required a hospital trip. If

she pulled it out, she might cause his shoulder

further damage than it had already

sustained. It was better to immobilize the

shoulder with an improvised sling, and hope

for the best. This way at least it would not

allow him to bleed to death. Shock was a

constant spectre she’d have to keep an eye on

with him.

But what good was Mulder in his current state?

He could barely stand up straight, let

alone go hunting for the missing children and

their abductor. The perp had taken them

god-knows-where throughout this freak world,

where every shadow could mean death.

They’d followed him, and the voices of the

captured children they had heard shouting and

yelling throughout the forests. Suddenly, they

had lost sight of everyone and their world

had turned pitch black.

She didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all.

It seemed as if all the trees had eyes, as if

the rosebushes that grew unnaturally in

strange shapes and forms, were out to get them.

It was as if every single creature that

passed them had an unnatural form. This world

was out of place, and they didn’t belong

in it. As much as she wanted to deny it, she

knew this was the truth. They were alone.

Nothing. Not a single sound. Not a single soul.

Not human, anyhow.

Beady eyes staring at them. Shadows moving,

stirring. Leafs rustling through the trees.

No moon, no stars. Nothing. She looked up to

found two beady eyes staring at her. She

squealed, groaned and moved away, almost tearing

Mulder’s sleeve in the process. He

cried out in pain.

“Oh sorry.”

“That was a bat, Scully. A live one!” he

muttered through gritted teeth.

“I said sorry, didn’t I?”

She regained her posture and stretched her back.

“Grow up, Agent Scully.”

He laughed, despite everything. “Are you

chicken?”

“Of course I am. I’m peeing my pants here.”

“Goodie. Thanks for that piece of information.

Watch out for real life killers now, not

harmless little bats.”

The second he’d said it, hundreds of bats seemed

to fly into their faces, sending them

careening backwards onto the ground, and Mulder

into a series of fresh agonized gasps

and grunts.

“Oh god!” Scully cried as she felt something

crawl over her bare ankle. She batted it

away, and then laughed hysterically when she

discovered it was a snail. “Fuck this.”

“Fuck me,” Mulder agreed, rolling to his right

side where the pain felt less. “Let’s get the

hell out of here before the ground opens up and

something black and ominous comes

crawling out.”

Then started a walk into nothingness. They had

no idea where they were. Scully just

knew they had to return to the path, which

somehow ran across the forest.

“We are drugged, Mulder,” she groaned after a

while as they made their way through the

frightening darkness. “We ate something

poisonous, a hallucination inducing poison.”

“No, we didn’t.”

“Those spare ribs were off. I told you they

tasted funny.”

“Then how come I’m sweating like an ox, and

panting like Elizabeth Taylor?” She shot

him an incredulous look.

“Because we’re living a vivid dream. Remember

those mushrooms?”

“That was different. We were on a case, Scully.

Remember that? The Rat Catcher.

Remember the legend? We chased him into this

world, and now we have an hour to get

out of this hell.”

“That hour has long since passed, Mulder. The

25th hour, or whatever you call it is over.

We’re stuck here, trapped.”

“In this world it may be, yes, but not in ours.

I have the feeling that time is of no

importance in this place, Scully. Don’t you see?

We stand a chance to escape. I’m sure

we do.”

“Ever hopeful, hey Mulder? And yes, I remember.

We came to Old Town because of the

legend. Because they have children that go

missing every year during Halloween, and

that there were reports of a man, playing the

flute to lure them, just like in the legend of

the Rat Catcher. I know the tale.”

“He punished a village because they wouldn’t pay

him for getting rid of all their rats, by

taking their children,” Mulder groaned. “And you

and I both made the link to the current

day, and to that village. Remember what old Mrs.

Whittle told us? On this night; All

Hallow’s Eve, the 25th hour comes. That’s when

he takes them away, leaving one hour for

everyone to find them, and an eternity for them

to find a way out. Unfortunately she was

stopped from telling us anything else.”

“I don’t remember getting here though,” Scully

sighed as she tripped over a branch. “I

recall falling, after we chased that man towards

the paddock, and then we were suddenly

here.”

“Alongside the geeks, the monsters, the

creatures, and vampires.”

“Yes.” Scully felt dreadful, suddenly realising

this wasn’t a dream. More like the worst

nightmare she’d ever experienced. She would give

her right arm to be back in the

comfort of her home right now, watching 24,

sipping a glass of Chardonnay and

munching her favorite chips.

“Scully!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Mulder’s petrified cry shook her out of her

reverie. In a flash, she saw how something

coming towards them. It was pitch black and

seemed to consist of nothing but shadows.

She couldn’t make anything of it; just that it

was strong and very powerful. It seized

onto them, swaying past them as if it had

appeared from nowhere.

She felt Mulder let go of her, and she dropped

to the ground, pushed aside, smacking her

head against the cold ground. Bushes seemed to

strangle her, their branches crawling

over her, holding her down. She cried out and

struggled, fighting against them. She saw

Mulder take on the shadowy thing that seemed to

be all over him. He landed with a

strangled cry and thud too; she heard him shriek

in agony. His hand reached for

something. A weapon. Anything. His ruined

shoulder made it impossible for him to reach

for his own gun. He was trapped.

Scully managed to pull out her gun, despite the

strong forces that held her down. She

pulled and broke free, fought and wriggled from

its grasp. Then she fired twice at the

thing. She spotted its contours clearly. She

knew her partner wasn’t in any danger, as he

lay immobile underneath the thing. The shadows

squealed like a banshee, stopped

fighting and then, was eerily still in the dark.

She couldn’t hear a single sound now. The

silence had returned. Even the leaves had

stopped rustling in the breeze.

The bushes released her suddenly. She struggled

to her feet, crawling over the ground to

her partner, who lay motionless underneath

whatever had attacked him. She pushed the

thing off him, almost puking her guts out, as

she took in its horrible consistency of

strange pungent gel that now stuck to her hands.

It didn’t have a face or appendages;

nothing discernable she could recognize. No form

to it. It was just … black goo. She

rubbed her hand onto her pants instinctively;

wanting to be rid of the horrible substance

and the feeling of dread it gave her.

“Mulder?” Her partner didn’t move. His face was

turned towards her, but his eyes were

closed. She could see the black goo smothered

all over his throat and chest. The thing

had tried to strangle him. She pushed away her

repulsion and touched two fingers to his

throat.

“Oh god,” she muttered as she couldn’t get a

pulse at first, horrified that he was already

gone. But at her frantic touch, he coughed

roughly and exhaustedly opened his eyes in

his attempts to breathe. Relief surged through

her, as she helped him to turn on his right

side. He heaved dryly. The taste of bile in his

throat returned. She held him closely,

waiting for the attack to subside, patting him

on the back.

“You’re okay,” she spoke soothingly. “ Deep,

even breaths. Think like you’re going into

labour.”

“F – Funny,” he choked, and as soon he had his

breathing under control again,

continued, “What the hell was that thing?”

“I don’t know. It seemed like liquorish. A

liquorish bat.”

“Oh Ha.Ha. Even better. Attacked by giant

confectionery. Great.”

“All I know is, we have to get out of here now.

I can feel them watching us.”

“Not without the children, Scully.” Mulder

crawled upward so that he sat on his ass, and

could dab tentatively at the damage to his

throat, that felt raw and squeezed.

“There are no children here, Mulder. They’re

gone. We don’t know where they are. Were

they even here? Perhaps it was all an illusion

too. And even if there are, where are we

going to start searching? I mean, look at us!

We’re two, battered wrecks trapped in some

situation we can’t get a grip on ourselves.

We’re putty in their hands, meat ready to be

sliced and diced. Ala Carte Food for creepy

crawlers.”

“Has there ever been a controllable situation?”

he asked wryly. “Now get a grip. You can’t

give up hope now. We’ll find the exit of this

place; wherever it is. It has to be around

here somewhere. We didn’t go that far. If we

find the gravesite again, we’ll find our way

back too.”

“Yeah, if we’re not devoured by vampires, or

gooey stuff, or whatever.”

“I thought you said they were insane humans?”

“Whatever. Humans don’t seem to exist in this

place. I never thought you’d be attacked

by some Star Trek-like black goo creature

either.”

“So what then?” Mulder shrugged. “Pretend this

didn’t happen, try to go to sleep and

wake up dead? I’ll take my chances with the

vamps then.”

“Okay,” she sighed. “We’ll trace our path back

and see what happens. But you’re not

getting a new stake. The last one ended up

sticking out of you.”

“Yes mother. Let’s go.”

Scully was amazed to find her partner had

renewed energy, after his close encounter of

the pointy wooden kind. She helped him up again,

but he leaned more heavily into her

body than he should have. When he bumped into

her and muttered a sorry, she grinned,

“I’m not.”

After that, they made their way back through the

forest, using the same path they had

come through the first time. Then, several

abhorrent creatures had been chasing them,

but this time round it seemed awfully quiet. Too

quiet for Mulder’s liking.

He sighed, ears adjusting to the sound of

silence; he thought he could hear something

suddenly. It was only faint but he detected it

anyway. Then he turned to his partner.

“We’re in trouble.”

“Why?” she asked, by now worn out.

“They’re watching us.”

She felt shivers run down her spine and turned

around to look for them, but saw nothing.

It was pitch black in those woods, and all they

had was the single flashlight she’d used to

see their path with earlier. It was growing dim

to both their dismay. She knew they

should wait until morning, but they couldn’t

risk it. If the portal, or whatever it was that

had brought them here, closed, they would never

get back. For the first time in her life,

she felt a despair that washed over her, like a

wave of dark fetid water she couldn’t

avoid. It was the most horrid feeling ever.

Nothing had ever prepared her for this.

Please, let someone wake us, she prayed silently

before returning her focus on Mulder,

who was staring intently at the darkness, which

didn’t even reveal shadows anymore.

There was just … the dark.

“Keep your gun ready.”

Scully found herself propping Mulder against a

tree, and digging his gun out of the belt;

handing it to him armed and ready. She held her

own weapon and flashlight over each

other, shining it through the trees. She felt

every hair on her body stand up, and a deep

fear rushed down her spine.

They were everywhere at the same time. She could

feel their hands on them before she

even saw them. They pulled her backwards, trying

to force the gun from her. They

attacked her from behind, trapped her and drove

her away from Mulder. She turned and

turned, seeing a sea of eerie faces, contorted

in their uglines. Some were missing eyes,

others the nose. Some had no lips, or ears. She

thought she was in a Michael Jackson

video, but their touch was icy cold and very

real. She could see the veins ripple

underneath their skins. They seemed to be

lighter than the night. She could make out

each and every one of them. Vamps, zombies,

creeps, gooeys and a plethora of other

nastiness that crawled around her.

“’Cause this is thriller,” she squeaked out

softly as she tried to force herself loose. Her

partner was in the same predicament, and winked

at her all of a sudden.

“So you wanna play, hey?” Mulder groaned. “Well

then, let’s play.”

Scully didn’t need another signal, and started

kicking ass. She kickboxed, belted, hit,

punched, and shot her way through at least ten

of the ungodly creatures. Heads flung

everywhere. Arms and legs followed. She laughed,

as she kicked ass against another one

coming at her.

But Mulder did almost as good. Even with his

left arm in the sling and in pain, he only

needed one arm to fend them off and kick some

serious zombie ass.

“Zombie nation!” Scully squealed as she

pretended to be Scruffy, the vampire slayer

again. Mulder laughed as he dove at his next

opponent.

And all of a sudden, it was over. The zombies

pulled their pieces together and rushed off

into the dark, aided by the vampire nation and

all the rest of the nightcrawlers. Scully

almost laughed when they saw them part as if the

lord of darkness itself was after them.

“High five!” Mulder grinned as he dealt a

winning blow to the last creep standing. His

smile faded a bit when the returned silence

again, made way for something or someone

else to find them.

This time, it was someone familiar.

The Rat Catcher stepped into the light and

raised his arms. In one hand he held a flute.

His body was very tall and skinny. His eyes were

large and bulging out of their sockets.

He had a large nose, big ears and a hairdo that

desperately needed a cut.

“Who are you?” Mulder asked, wincing in pain,

even though he already knew the answer.

He smiled and shrugged. “You are not supposed to

be here. It’s not my fault you’ve

suffered.”

“Where are the children?” Scully asked, keeping

her gun ready to go.

“They’re safe. In fact, they’re back where they

belong.” The man spoke with a soft,

almost gentle voice that seemed out of place

inside his body. It didn’t seem to belong to

him. Mulder felt a surge of trust going through

him. He liked this guy. He felt comfortable

here, almost content to be in his vicinity,

although couldn’t understand why. The agent

lowered the gun.

“Mulder, what are you doing?” Scully’s desperate

voice betrayed that her own active

mistrust in their situation. Yet strangely

enough, she too felt the urge to trust this man

beyond anything. She forced herself to keep the

gun up straight, aimed at his chest. Her

fingers trembled. It took every effort from

within to protect herself and her partner.

“Please, Agent Scully,” the man said, offering

his hand to her. “I am not here to harm

you. I want to take you back to where you

belong, just like the children.”

“I repeat: who are you?” Mulder asked in her

place.

“I am the man that gives every child in this

town a happy Halloween, Agent Mulder.

That’s my job and my only business. After that,

I retreat to this ethereal world for a year,

and live happily until the next.”

“You take the children away from their homes,”

Scully protested. “They never return!”

The stranger sighed. “Agent Scully, I wish you

were a child still, so you would know what

it’s like for children to see the world through

their own eyes. Every boy or girl wants to

live a dangerous, fearless life. They cannot do

that in real life. Real life means school,

homework and chores. I can take them away from

that, if only for a short while. I bring

them to this world, where they live the life

they’ve always wanted to live. The boys are

princes and fierce dragon warriors. The girls

are princesses waiting for their savior. They

can play pretend for a whole hour that lasts

almost a lifetime for them, and when they

are weary of it, they return to the real world.”

“You lie,” Scully, said, “not a single child has

been returned.”

“Oh yes, they have, Agent Scully. The men and

women you’ve seen in that town, whom

you have investigated and talked to, all protect

this secret because they want their own

children to experience it too. They didn’t want

to answer your questions, or listen to your

banter. They wanted you out of town before the

time was near, but instead, you meddled

into business that was not your concern, and

were accidentally sucked into this world.

Only, you didn’t know that this world – safe as

it is for children – does not welcome

adults. It is not made for you and it does not

need you. ”

“You’re lying,” Mulder spoke hoarsely as beads

of sweat danced on his forehead; he was

starting to go into shock. “The children didn’t

come back.”

“You believed a stupid story told by a woman

full of envy, jealousy and anger; an

outsider who wanted to punish the people of Old

Town for keeping their secret. You

didn’t know what you were getting yourself into.

I can reassure you that by the end of

the 25th hour, the children will all be home

again.”

“And what about us?” Scully asked. “What about

my partner, who was hurt and is in

need of aid?”

“You can return now, if you are willing to trust

me. I can guide you through the evil and

mischief that haunts all adults here, and

release you.” He smiled. “But you have to lower

your gun.”

Scully’s fears were replaced by uncertainty and

distrust, but for Mulder’s sake alone, she

wanted so badly to be able to trust. They didn’t

have any choice in the matter; Mulder

needed urgent hospital care. Every line on his

face spoke of agony. This stranger had

brought them here; he could damn well take them

back.

“Okay,” she said, knowing her partner was at the

end of his rope. He had been attacked,

staked, attacked again, and then – just for a

change – once again been attacked. Life

was more fun in the other world.

The tall man turned, and began to make his way

through the woods, beckoning them to

follow. The trees and bushes seemed to move for

him. Somehow the path broadened,

and led them straight through the dark woods.

Mulder clung onto Scully, his movements

becoming much slower as the pain wore him down.

“We’re almost there,” Scully whispered. “I

guarantee it.”

He smiled wearily, knowing she was resisting the

urge to sing songs again to keep him

awake.

Everywhere they passed, they saw dark shades and

images, willowy figures and

enemies, darkness and evil. Yet in the far

distance, the images became a cascading

world of light and somehow, bliss.

“Look, the children!” Scully almost cried it

out; relieved now they had taken the plunge

and trusted the Rat catcher. “They’re alive.”

Yet they were surrounded by the same black

shadows, which had threatened the agents

before. The Rat Catcher turned and smiled at

them. “You’d better go now or you’ll be

here for another year. I wish I could tell you

that time goes by faster here, but it’s the

opposite. Every hour lasts twelve in your

reality. You wouldn’t live to see daylight.

These

creatures don’t like adults in their world.”

“What is this place?” Mulder asked tiredly. “A

playhouse for bored kids?”

“Yes. You could call it that.” The Rat Catcher

bowed his head. “And I am their referee.”

“So this is real?” Scully asked breathless.

“Only during the 25th hour, Agent Scully. Only

then. And only in Old Town. Goodbye.”

The children waved excitedly at the creatures

that – strangely enough – waved back.

Mulder was startled to observe happy faces,

strange, awkward grins and a lot of

friendship between the children.

“If this were any other place, I would be

euphoric with joy,” Mulder spoke dryly.

The Rat Catcher waved at the agents, as they

were swallowed into some sort of light. It

swirled around them, catching them in its beams.

“I’m getting woozy,” Scully whispered, and

suddenly she was sucked into a void where

she saw or heard nothing anymore. If she died

now, she could not have stopped it, but

somehow she sensed she wasn’t going to. She felt

safely back where she and Mulder

belonged.

As she woke up, she found herself on top of a

bunk in a cabin where she’d been before.

No, not a cabin, but the Bed & Breakfast room

where they had rested yesterday too. It

felt strangely familiar, and almost homelike.

“Mulder!” She was startled to find herself alone

at first, and then realized her partner was

in the en-suite kitchen rummaging. She jumped

off the bed and went to look for him. To

her amazement and shock, the stake and damage to

his shoulder had gone; he looked

healthy.

“Hey,” he said. “Coffee?”

“What?” she asked wearily, scanning his

reassuringly undamaged torso? There wasn’t a

mark on him. Then she realized she was fine too.

All the scrapes and scratches were fully

gone. He wore just a towel around the waste,

leaving her enough space to check him

out.

“I don’t have any bats left, you know,” Mulder

smiled. “You ate them all.”

“So it wasn’t a dream?”

He smiled. “I guess not.”

“But –“

“Scully.” He moved forward and placed a finger

on her lips, pushing a hot steaming mug

of coffee in her right hand. “Be grateful that

it wasn’t. And be happy that we’re no longer

trapped. We are back where we belong, and we

shouldn’t wonder about it too much. I

did a check-up. All the kids are safely at home.

The people of Old Town all knew we were

there. They consider us their friends now. We

can stay as long as we like.”

“But Mulder.”

“What?”

“I don’t know! How, why, what?”

“It’s over, Scully.”

“But –“

“No buts. Just us.”

“Your butt then?”

“My butt is fine by me.” He sat down next to

her with a leer.

The End

Nightmare on Helm St

Title: Nightmare on Helm Street

Author: Waddles 52

Summary: An evening of Halloween fun doesn’t go as

planned.

Rating: PG13

Category: MT

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Just

for fun. Not for profit.

Archives: Two weeks exclusively for the VS11

Halloween Special, after that please ask.

Feedback: Sure. Waddles52@insightbb.com

Thanks: To Satchie for her skillful beta and

encouragement.

“Well, we managed to get another expense report in

under the wire,” Dana Scully announced as she breezed

into the basement office she shared with her partner.

Fox Mulder looked up and continued to read the

pamphlet in his hands.

Leaning over his back, she read aloud, “Industrial

Nightmare. The mother of all haunted houses.

Guaranteed to make your worst fears a reality. Open

October 3rd through November 2nd, 7-12 PM. Come if

you dare.”

Scully couldn’t help laughing. “Why are you so

interested in this? Is the haunted house actually

haunted?”

“Not that I’m aware of. The guys went the other

night and said it was awesome.”

“Now, that scares me. Are you going to go?”

“Yeah, I’m considering it. What exciting plans do

you have for this Halloween evening?”

“Just the usual Halloween stuff. Hand out candy to

the three or four kids that knock on my door, then

eat the rest of it myself.”

“Wanna check out the haunted house with me?”

Scully thought it over for a few seconds. “Why not?

Besides, you’ll need someone to hold your hand when

you get scared.”

“Yeah, right. It’ll probably be the other way

around,” Mulder teased.

“Oh yeah? Put your money where your mouth is,” she

challenged. “The first one who screams buys dinner.”

Mulder stood up and looked down at his petite

partner. “Bring plenty of money because I’m

starving.”

“So am I and I want to eat in a nice restaurant. No

take-out, so be sure to stop by an ATM on the way

home,” Scully countered.

Mulder grabbed his suit coat from behind his chair

and shrugged into it. “I’m sure I’ll be picking out

the restaurant, but I need some money for the weekend

anyway, so I’ll hit an ATM just to make you happy.”

“So, what time should I be ready?”

“How about seven o’clock?”

“I’ll be ready and waiting,” she agreed.

“And I’ll be there along with my appetite.”

Scully picked up her purse and briefcase and Mulder

locked the door. They made their way to the

elevator, each anticipating a free meal.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

At 10 o’clock, Mulder pulled into the parking lot of

the Helm Street Shop and Go and parked in front of

the door. “I’m going to get some aspirin before I

buy your dinner, under protest I might add. My ass

really hurts.”

Scully tried very hard to keep her laughter under

control. “Mulder, I’m really sorry the guy with the

chain saw jumped in front of you and made you loose

your balance, but you did scream.”

“No, you’re not sorry. You just love it when you win

a bet.”

“Well, that too,” she chuckled.

Out of habit, Mulder surveyed the store before he

left the car. It wasn’t crowded, just the cashier

and a customer dressed like Freddy Krueger. “Looks

like he escaped from the haunted house,” he thought

as he opened the door and gingerly slid out of his

seat.

Scully had also observed the shopper in the popular

costume. “Do you need me to protect you from big,

bad, Freddy?” she teased.

Mulder leaned back in the door. “Nah, I think I can

handle a guy in a crappy looking costume with plastic

blades on his hand.”

“Well, give a shout if you need any help.”

Mulder closed the door and limped inside. So far,

the evening hadn’t gone as planned, and he knew he

would hear about it for days to come. To top it all

off he felt the beginnings of a headache behind his

eyes. “Happy Halloween,” he muttered under his

breath.

He found the aspirin quickly and took his place in

line behind Freddy Krueger, who was purchasing a 12

pack of beer and a carton of cigarettes.

“I’m sorry, mister, but the law says I have to see

some ID before I can sell you this stuff,” the

cashier explained.

“I don’t need no ID, ’cause you’re gonna give it to

me, along with what’s in that safe and the cash

register.”

“Shit, what’s with this guy? He doesn’t even have a

weapon.” Mulder was tired and sore so he decided to

see how the cashier was going to handle the problem

before he stepped in.

The cashier began edging toward the phone. “Mister,

why don’t you just leave and we’ll forget this ever

happened. If you don’t, I’ll have to call the law.”

“No cops! Just do what I told you!”

“Okay, this has gone far enough,” Mulder interjected.

“I’m a federal agent. Now, you can either do what

the cashier suggested, or I can hold you at gunpoint

and wait for the police to settle this.”

“No cops!” the Freddy look alike screamed as he

turned to face Mulder.

Mulder automatically reached for his weapon. In that

split-second, the costumed man stretched out his arm

and raked the blades across Mulder’s chest and

stomach. A look of surprise, then pain flashed

across his face. As he looked down he saw the torn

fabric of his shirt, blood quickly turning it

crimson. His legs gave way and he landed hard on his

already bruised ass, then slumped over to rest on his

left side. Mulder’s last conscious thoughts were of

the haunted house. Why did he wait in line for an

hour and pay to have a scary experience when he

seemed to encounter enough weirdness on his own?

In the car, Scully had pulled the visor mirror down

to check her lipstick. Deciding that she didn’t need

a touch-up, she flipped the visor up just in time to

see the disguised man slash Mulder’s chest and

abdomen.

“Son of a bitch!” she screamed, as she pushed her way

out of the car and drew her weapon in one fluid

motion.

The cashier quickly met the robber’s demands as

Mulder lay bleeding on the floor. In the meantime,

Scully positioned herself outside the exit, out of

the thief’s line of vision.

As the man burst through the door, Scully shouted,

“Federal agent! Put your hands on your head!”

The Freddy look alike waggled his bladed fingers and

took a step toward her.

“Don’t come any closer,” she ordered. “I will

shoot!”

The robber ignored her and continued to advance,

slashing at her. Knowing she had no other choice,

Scully fired her weapon and watched as the man

dropped to the pavement. Blood began to trickle from

the neat hole in his forehead above his right eye.

Scully knelt beside him and extended a shaking hand

to his neck. Feeling no pulse, she leapt up and

pushed the door open. “Call 911! Get an ambulance

here on the double!”

Before the cashier could punch in the numbers, she

was beside Mulder, checking his pulse. Although very

fast, it was there. She breathed a sigh of relief

and began to survey the damage from the blades.

Mulder’s ribs had protected his chest to a certain

extent, but those three, long slashes would require

sutures even though Scully was sure that there wasn’t

any major damage. The two cuts across his upper

abdomen were another matter. They were quite deep

and would probably require surgery.

“Help is on the way,” the cashier reported, handing

her a first-aid kit. “What can I do to help?”

Scully opened the first-aid kit and found a few gauze

pads and some antibiotic ointment. “Useless! Get me

a package of maxi-pads, super if you have them.”

“I’m on it!” he exclaimed, running to the back of the

store.

Scully looked around and spied a stand holding free

publications. She quickly dumped the newspapers out,

and after turning Mulder onto his back, put the stand

under his feet to elevate them.

The movement elicited a moan from her partner. His

eyelids fluttered, then opened, just as Scully was

tearing open the package of maxi-pads that the

cashier had just handed her.

“They’re absorbent so they make good bandages,” she

explained, anticipating his question. “I have to put

some pressure on those gashes. It might hurt a

little.”

“Okay,” he agreed, then moaned loudly as she pressed

them firmly on the wounds.

“Sorry, but I need to slow the bleeding down.

You’ll do anything to get out of paying up on your

bets won’t you?” she teased, hoping to keep his mind

off the pain.

“No, I’ll pay up,” he gasped as she applied more

pressure to his wounds. “You pick the restaurant.

Anywhere you want.”

Scully reached for more pads to replace the ones that

had soaked through. “I intend to pick a very

expensive place, one with plates and silverware

instead of wrappers and paper cups.”

“Okay, as long as knives aren’t required.”

“Well, I’ll think it over and let you know later.”

Scully breathed a sigh of relief as the ambulance and

police arrived simultaneously.

“Dinner, dancing . . .” Mulder’s voice trailed off

as his eyes closed, oblivious to the bustle around

him as the paramedics moved in and took over.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Mulder’s eyes didn’t open again until the next day.

He recognized the sounds and smells of a hospital,

then remembered how he came to be there. He took

stock of his situation as his eyes scanned the room.

Several bags of fluid were hanging from the IV pump,

and he observed wires running to a heart monitor. He

was relieved to find that he wasn’t intubated, but

was quickly dismayed when he swallowed and felt an NG

tube. He guessed there was a Foley lurking under the

sheets, along with several other tubes that he wasn’t

familiar with.

“Yes, partner, you have quite a few tubes and wires

this time,” Scully supplied when she noticed him

looking over the medical equipment.

He turned to his left, happy to see her smiling face.

“How bad?” he croaked, wondering why she wasn’t

giving him ice chips as she usually did when he

returned to consciousness. He glanced at the bedside

table, hoping to find the plastic pitcher that was

usually standard equipment.

“Sorry, Mulder. Your stomach has to get a little

better before you can have anything to eat or drink.

You had surgery to repair the deepest lacerations,

but you should be able to return to your regular,

disgusting diet as soon as they’ve healed.”

“You okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine. I had to shoot him when he advanced on

me, but he didn’t touch me.”

Mulder was relieved that she wasn’t injured, but he

knew that she would agonize over killing the

assailant. He reached for her hand and squeezed it

gently.

“So, how are you feeling? Are you having much pain?”

“Some,” he answered as he tried to find a more

comfortable position.

Suddenly, he gasped and froze, his face contorted in

pain. “Oh, shit!”

“Mulder, what is it?” Scully asked, springing to her

feet in alarm.

“Hurts!” he managed to answer through gritted teeth.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Later that afternoon, Mulder was back in his room

after a series of exams, x-rays and consultations.

He was resting on his left side, wondering how he

always managed to get hurt without putting any effort

into it. He sighed loudly, causing Scully to look up

from her magazine. “Welcome back partner. You kind

of gave me a scare.”

“What happened?”

“After you passed out from the pain, the doctor

ordered a very thorough examination and various

scans. The best we were able to figure, your tumble

at the haunted house and your subsequent fall when

you were slashed caused a fracture to your tailbone.

Since you were unconscious until this morning you

were unable to tell us that there was a problem.”

Mulder groaned.

“I’m sorry. You’ll be pretty miserable until it

heals.”

“I guess I’ll live up to Skinner’s pet name for me,”

he deadpanned. “A real pain in the ass.”

“Well, maybe this will help.” Scully grinned as she

presented him with an inflatable ring.

Mulder snorted in disgust.

“Since you’ll be tied to your desk for a while,

you’ll be able to work rings around everyone else.”

Mulder groaned again, more a reaction to the bad pun

than physical pain.

“Next year, Mulder, why don’t we just stay at home

and hand out a few pieces of candy? I can fix some

cider, we can make popcorn balls and watch a scary

movie.”

“You have a deal.” He reached for her hand and gave

it a squeeze. “As long as we don’t watch ‘Nightmare

On Elm Street’.”

Scully squeezed back and leaned over, pushing back

the lock of hair that always seemed to fall across

his fore head. “But I haven’t forgotten. You still

owe me a dinner whenever you can sit comfortably.”

Mulder smiled and closed his eyes. Even though he

lost the bet, he felt he had come out ahead with the

promise of Scully in his life for another year.

Sometimes losing was worth it.

End

Halloween Eve

Title: Halloween Eve

Author: Girlie_girl7

Email: Girlie_girl74@yahoo.com

Date: 10-30-03

Rating: PG

Category: bit o’fluff

Spoilers: VS 11, anything up to JS

Archive: Anywhere after two weeks at VS 11

Disclaimer: Fox owns ’em

Summary: Mulder’s paranoia takes over on Halloween.

~ Halloween Eve ~

Mulder and Scully were standing in line at Grover’s

Market in Georgetown. Scully was in need of groceries

and as much time as Mulder spent at her place, she

figured he might just as well come along to pick out

his own junk food and carry the bags.

Mulder was leaning over the cart while standing on the

bottom rung, much like a small child would. “Scully,

did you buy any caramels and apples? The best part of

Halloween is eating caramel apples.”

Scully checked her grocery list one more time to make

sure she had gotten everything. “Yes Mulder, I bought

apples and caramels. I always give out apples to the

trick-or-treaters.”

Mulder wrinkled up his nose, “Apples, plain old

apples? Scully kids hate getting apples.”

Scully had finally made it to the end of the conveyor

belt and placed the little divider between her

groceries and the customer’s ahead of her. “Mulder, I

am not contributing to the poor eating habits of

children.”

Mulder looked around and mumbled, “I’ll bet your trick

or treaters wonder where you park your broom.”

“What?” Scully asked.

“Nothing,” Mulder answered.

Scully was getting exasperated with her partner,

“Mulder, will you stop climbing all over the cart and

help me unload it.” Scully could have sworn she heard

him whine. He began to put the groceries on the belt

when he stopped and stared at the clerk, then pulled

on the hem of Scully’s sweater. “Mulder, stop that!”

She said as she batted his hand away.

Mulder looked down at his partner with his back to the

clerk, “Scully, who does that checkout look like?”

Scully tried to look around Mulder but he grabbed her,

“Don’t look, don’t look!”

Scully got up in his face, “Mulder, how am I supposed

to look at her, if you won’t let me look at her!”

Mulder glanced up then looked back down, “Okay, but

look really quick.”

Scully turned her head slightly, as she put a head of

cabbage on the belt, “So.”

“So?” Mulder repeated while he looked at Scully in

amazement, “Don’t you see it?”

“See what?”

“Don’t you think she looks like Eve 6?”

Scully whipped her head around to look at the woman

who was currently scanning a case of Yoo-hoo. “No, I

don’t think she does,” Scully whispered while she

placed the last of her groceries on the belt and began

to dig out her coupons.

“Scully! She looks exactly like her.”

Scully laughed, “She does not.”

“Scully look again, she is even chewing her gum in the

same manor as Eve, when she showed us how she bit that

poor guards eye ball.”

Scully stared at her partner, “Mulder, are you sure

the spirit of the holiday isn’t getting to you?”

Mulder was busy rearranging the groceries on the

conveyor belt, trying to act nonchalant while he gave

the clerk the once over.

He leaned against the counter and whispered in

Scully’s ear, “It’s an Eve, same dumpy posture, thick

thighs, round face, it’s gotta be.”

Scully glanced up from straightening her coupons,

“Mulder, I’m sorry but I just don’t see it.”

The clerk began to scan Scully’s groceries, “Do you

have any coupons ma’am?”

Mulder was leaning against the counter mouthing, “It’s

her.” Scully frowned and hit him with the back of her

hand. He huffed out a lung full of air and moved to

stand behind her.

“Yes, I do,” Scully said, as she handed the Eve clerk

her neatly clipped little pieces of paper.

Mulder walked around Scully and began to pick up the

bags and drop them into the cart when she frowned at

him, and he carefully placed the next bag in. “So

have you worked here long. . .” Mulder looked at the

clerk’s nametag and swallowed hard, “Evelyn.”

He looked over at Scully; she raised her eyebrow in

fact she raised both, he knew now her interest was

peaked.

“You worked here long, Evelyn?”

The clerk continued to scan Scully’s groceries, “About

a month, I moved here from San Francisco.”

Now Mulder’s eyebrow raised, as he spun a can of cream

of mushroom soup Scully had placed on the counter,

“Nice area to live, why’d you move?”

Evelyn shrugged, “I lost my husband.”

Mulder stopped the spinning can, “You did, how did he

die?”

Evelyn scanned Scully’s bag of apples, “He didn’t, he

run off with a twenty year old nurse.”

Mulder looked over at Scully, who shrugged her

shoulders. He grabbed another bag of groceries and

placed them into the cart. “Halloween’s tonight, I

love Halloween.”

“Me too,” Evelyn chuckled in what Mulder would

describe as an evil chuckle, “I’m going to a party.”

“Oh really,” Mulder feigned surprise, “what are you

going as?”

“A mad scientist.”

Mulder was not feigning surprise now; even Scully’s

little ears had perked up with that last statement.

“That will be 68.52,” Evelyn told Scully.

“What?” Scully replied, lost in the thought that an

Eve might be bagging her avocados.”

“68.52,” Evelyn said, as she snapped her gum.

“Oh right,” Scully got out her credit card and ran it

through the terminal.

Mulder placed the last of the groceries in the cart

and waited for Scully next to the exit while he never

took his eyes off Evelyn.

Scully walked over to him and looked back at the

clerk, “I have to admit Mulder, she does sound a lot

like Eve.”

Mulder’s eyes narrow, “I’m getting to the bottom of

this.”

Scully looked around as they walked to her car,

“Mulder are you sure this isn’t just a machination of

your imagination gone wild?”

Mulder opened the trunk and began to put the groceries

into it. “Scully! You said yourself, she sounded a

lot like an Eve.”

“A lot, not exactly,” Scully responded.

Mulder slammed the trunk lid shut and set his jaw,

“I’m going back in there.”

“And do what?” Scully sarcastically asked, “Buy some

Halloween candy?”

“Good idea!” Mulder said, as he turned on his heels.

“Well, aren’t you coming with me?”

“No, my feet hurt, but if she turns on you and takes

your Goobers, you yell.”

Mulder tossed back his head in a silent laugh. He

walked back in the store and grabbed a cart. He eyed

Evelyn as he walked to the candy section of the store.

He tried to keep his eye on the evil clerk as he

tossed bags of M&M’s, Tootsie Rolls, Dumb-Dumb’s,

Sweet Tarts, and Candy Corn into the cart. He picked

up the bag of Candy Corn, wrinkled his nose and tossed

it back on the shelf, then he added a bag of bubble

gum and Hershey’s Kisses.

So far Evelyn hadn’t done anything extraordinary

except shift her underwear out of her crack. Mulder

pretended to be reading the nutritional information on

a box of Milk Duds, while he continued to surveil the

evil clerk. A boy around fourteen had been digging

through the candy section next to Mulder, he looked at

the older man and said, “Hey, if you got to check out

the fat content, you’re to damn old to be eatin’ that

shit.”

Mulder looked down at the pimply faced kid and

frowned, “Go away.”

The little geek wasn’t deterred, “Oh yeah,” he stuck

out his pointy chin, “what cha gonna do to me old

man?”

Mulder pulled out his badge, “Well, I could run your

ass in for that bike you stole or get you for smokin’

weed in the school crapper.”

The kid looked wide eyed at the agent, “How’d you know

about that stuff?”

Mulder towered over the little punk, “I’ve got my

sources.”

The kid backed away from Mulder and started to run for

the entrance. “And get a haircut!” Mulder yelled after

him.

He pushed his cart of candy to Evelyn’s checkout but

another clerk was waving the good-looking agent over

to her aisle. He tried to ignore her. “Sir, sir, I’m

free if you would like to step over.”

Mulder coughed and looked down at his shoes and

coughed again, nearly winding himself on that last

one. Figuring he must be a carrier of walking

Pneumonia the clerk finally gave up. He moved a

little closer to the head of the line and picked up a

National Star Midnight News and pretended to glance

through it. He watched her slap a calf’s liver on the

scales and weigh it then she pulled a tissue out of

her bra and blew her nose. Finally his turn had come.

“Hello again,” Evelyn said.

“Hello,” Mulder smiled, as he tossed his bags of candy

on the conveyor belt. He looked up at the clerk; “We

forgot to buy candy for trick-or-treat.”

Evelyn frowned, “I thought your wife said she was

giving out apples.”

“She is,” Mulder said struggling to rationalize his

purchase, “but these are for me to give out. She is

highly allergic to candy so I have to buy it when she

is not around.”

The clerk raised her eyebrow, “You each give out

treats?”

“Yeah,” Mulder lied, “she gives out apples to the

unhealthy kids and I give out candy to the healthy

ones.”

“Okay,” Evelyn frowns.

“Since I come in here a lot and will probably be

seeing you, let me introduce myself, “I’m Fox Mulder,

and you are?”

“Evelyn Lichfield.”

“Lichfield?”

“Yeah, from the Marin County Lichfields,” Evelyn said,

while she cracked her gum.

Evelyn scans Mulders candy; “You sure must have a lot

of trick or treaters in your neighborhood.”

“Yes we do,” Mulder lied, “we have a family with eight

girls.”

“That’s a lot of kids,” Evelyn said, as she hoisted up

Mulder’s first shopping bag of candy.

“Do you have any siblings, Evelyn?”

“One brother Adam.”

Mulder very nearly dropped his second bag of candy.

“That will be 40.15.”

Mulder pulled out his wallet and gave her two bills

and a handful of change. “Thanks, Mr. Mulder.”

“You’re welcome Evelyn.”

Mulder grabbed his last bag and started to head for

the door when Evelyn said, “tell your wife I hope her

feet feel better.”

Mulder looked at her, “How. . .”

Evelyn gave him an evil grin, “I just knew.”

Mulder nearly ran into a patron while leaving the

store. “Hey watch it!” The man frowned. “Mulder?”

“Sir?” Mulder looked up to find he was staring at

Walter Skinner.

“Sir! Am I glad you’re here, I have discovered an

escapee from a mental hospital working in this store.

I’ll need your help in apprehending her.”

Skinner shrugged in his trench coat, “How do you know

she’s an escapee?”

“Because years ago Scully and I apprehended two of her

sisters.”

“Triplets?”

“No octuplets but each one was mad and

institutionalized.”

“And just where is this escapee?”

“She’s the third clerk from the end.” Mulder pointed

her out.

Skinner stared at the woman and then looked out over

the agent’s head, “Mulder that’s my cousin, Evelyn

Lichfield. Her husband left her a few months ago, so

I got her to move to DC from San Francisco, and I got

her this job.”

“So she’s not a genetic scientist?”

“Mulder, she’s not even a good clerk.” Skinner looked

down at his shoes; “Does Scully know you’re here?”

“Yeah, she’s out in the car.”

“Then I suggest you join her.”

“Right sir, I don’t suppose she comes from a family of

eight girls and eight boys?” Mulder was grasping at

this point.

“Nope, only a brother Adam.”

“Thank you sir,” Mulder dejectedly said.

He pushed his cart full of candy toward Scully’s car

and pulled out his keys, unlocking the trunk and

tossed in his bags of candy.

He climbed in the passenger side and slumped down.

“Mulder, what happened?”

Mulder sighed, “It wasn’t an Eve, Scully.”

“How do you know?” Scully asked, without humor in her

voice; she sensed that he was upset.

“Because she’s Walter Skinner’s cousin, Evelyn

Lichfield,” Mulder muttered as he looked out the side

window.

Scully laughed and Mulder glared.

“Sorry Mulder, but you have to admit that is pretty

funny.”

“Can we just go home?” Mulder pouted.

Later that night a small child dressed as a pirate,

rung Dana Scully’s doorbell. Mulder pulled the door

open as the kid yelled, “Trick-or-treat!”

Mulder handed him a grocery bag full of candy.

“Gee thanks mister!” The kid said, as he tried to

drag the heavy bag down the hallway.

“Yeah, yeah,” Mulder grumbled as he shut the door.

~ The End ~

All the King’s Men

Title: All the King’s Men

Author: Vickie Moseley

Written for Virtual Season 11 Halloween Special

Rating: G

Category: V, X, MSR

Archive: Two weeks exclusive property of VS 11, then

anywhere.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully are the property of

1013 Productions and 20th Century FOX. Fort de

Chartres is the property of the state of Illinois,

managed by the Historical Preservation Agency.

Prairie du Rocher is a real town along the

Mississippi River in Illinois.

Please see notes at end.

Merci beaucoup to all the dear readers who have stuck

by us these past three years. We hope to dish up a

great season for you this year.

Feedback to vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com.

All the King’s Men

by Vickie Moseley

Prairie du Rocher, Illinois

October 31, 2003

11:21 pm

The dark blue Ford Taurus pulled down the gravel

road, coming to a stop at the edge of a field of

corn. The moon shone brightly over the field, until

a cloud covered it for the length of a breath, only

to scuttle away.

“Mulder, is _this_ what you meant by ‘let’s go check

out the sights’?” Scully asked with more than a

little annoyance in her voice. They had just

finished up a particularly dissatisfying team

building conference in St. Louis, just across the

river. Since their plane didn’t leave from Lambert

International Airport until the next day, Scully had

envisioned a night on Laclades Landing by the river,

sampling some of St. Louis’ finer restaurants, maybe

even catching the Blues play hockey at the Savvis

Center. Much to her dismay, Mulder took the rental

car out of the hotel parking lot away from Downtown

St. Louis and across the mighty Mississippi and

south, into the boonies.

“Mulder, is this private property?” she asked,

glancing around the deserted landscape. A stand of

trees bordered the field directly to the north, the

gravel road bordered it to the west. To their backs,

Scully could almost hear the rush of water that was

the longest river in North America. If she

concentrated, she could smell the moisture coming on

the autumn wind.

Mulder was sucking on a sunflower seed, which he

absently spit out the open car window. “County road,

Scully. Albeit slightly less developed than we’re

used to back east, but pretty pragmatic when you

figure the only vehicles to travel this way are

combines and equipped with tractor tires.”

“OK, so you’ve now shown me that you have at least a

passing knowledge of agricultural implements.

Mulder, what the hell are we doing here?” she asked

crossly.

He smiled at her, his expression just visible in the

light of the dashboard. “A picnic?” he offered and

jumped out of the car, striding purposefully to the

trunk where he withdrew a hamper, a camp light and an

old blanket.

She got out of the car slowly, closing the door

against a gust of wind. Leaves from trees she

couldn’t even see in the dark skittered over the hood

of the car and danced near her face before chasing

each other through the skeletal stalks of corn.

Mulder was walking away from the car, next to the

field. He finally settled not far from the trees,

which, in the light of Mulder’s lamp, Scully could

now see were a mixture of maple and oak. She watched

him spread the blanket out on the dry grass, brushing

off a couple of leaves that clung stubbornly to the

fabric. He settled down on the blanket on his knees,

opened up the picnic hamper and started taking out an

assortment of containers.

“Where did you . . .”

“The hotel offers ‘tailgate packages’,” he announced

proudly as he fished around and pulled out a bottle

of wine and couple of plastic glasses. “You’ll have

to excuse the screw cap on the wine. I thought about

getting something more expensive, but figured a

corkscrew would be too cumbersome out here.”

Scully shook her head and after a few minutes sat

down on the blanket next to him. She picked up a

container and opened it, discovering chicken salad on

a tomato. A second container held a roast beef

sandwich on marble rye bread. Mulder elbowed her arm

and she looked up to find him handing her a glass of

wine. “Eat up, Scully. The show should start soon.”

He handed her a fork and she balanced the wine glass

on a level spot near her foot. Taking a bite of the

chicken salad she smiled. It was quite good, with

walnuts and grapes, an indulgence she rarely got for

herself, but one her partner of 10 years knew was a

secret craving. “This is really good,” she told him,

just to let him know he was at least partially

forgiven. They ate in silence for a few minutes,

Mulder polishing off the roast beef in his usual ‘eat

it before it eats you’ manner. He was sipping his

wine when she put her fork inside the Styrofoam

container and placed both in the hamper. “So, what’s

for dessert?” she asked.

In the glow of the camp light, he leaned forward and

captured her lips in a sweet, heady kiss. Not one to

let him get the upper hand, Scully ardently returned

the kiss. A gust of wind came up again and caused

her to shiver, breaking the spell.

“Here, bundle up. It shouldn’t be long now,” Mulder

told her, taking off his jacket and wrapping it

around her shoulders. The day had been warm, but the

temperature had dropped and she wasn’t prepared for a

picnic in the moonlight.

“You keep talking about this ‘show’, Mulder. What,

exactly, are we here to see? Isn’t this the part in

the movie where the children of the corn come out

carrying scythes and kill the two young lovers?”

“I don’t think I saw that one, Scully. Was that

Children of the Corn III or IV?” he shot back, but

finally set down his glass, a sure sign that he was

about to embark on a Mulder story. “Do you know that

we’re sitting on a part of history here, Scully?”

“Do tell? Of course, find me a square inch of land

in this country that isn’t a part of history, Mulder,

but please, go on with your story.”

He shook his head and muttered something that sounded

amazingly like ‘damned skeptic’, but flashed her a

smile and continued. “Right down this road,” he

said, pointing south along the line of corn, “is Fort

de Chartres. It was one of the first forts along the

Mississippi. King Louis the XV built it in 1756,

back when this land was held by the French. Did you

know that many of the names of the towns and streets

in St. Louis come from the French, Scully?”

“I think names of towns like Creve Coeur, Frontenac

and St. Louis itself that sort of gave it away,

Mulder. But don’t let me stop the story,” she

encouraged with a wave of her hand.

“Show off,” he muttered. “Anyway, as I was saying,

Louis the XV commissioned the fort. It was essential

to the fur trade that came down the Missouri to St.

Louis and down the Ohio to the Mississippi, then

further down the river to New Orleans, another major

French holding, and eventually, the civilized world,

which was considerably east of this river,” he

explained.

“Some might be so bold as to say it still is,” she

interjected.

He faked a silent laugh.

“Mulder, the show?” she prodded.

“I’m getting to that,” he told her patiently. “So,

the French had this fort. And one day, one of the

king’s emissaries turned up dead, murdered,

presumably by a disgruntled resident of the fort.

The murderer was never apprehended, but the

townspeople were more concerned about what to do with

the body of a prominent person so far away from the

Court in Paris. A delegation made the trek to

Kaskaskia, the site of the regional government, later

to become Illinois’ first capitol, to determine what

they should do.”

“I’m definitely getting the ‘historic’ part of this

story, Mulder, but it still doesn’t answer my

question. Why are _we_ here?”

“So, it’s said that every year that Halloween falls

on a Friday, and there’s a full moon, you can see . .

.”

At that very moment, a dark cloud obliterated the

moon and a strong gust of wind blew up and knocked

the camp light over, causing it to turn off, plunging

them both in darkness. Mulder instinctively reached

for his gun, Scully coming up with hers almost at the

same time. Both agents peered anxiously into the

near pitch-black darkness.

As suddenly as the moon had vanished, it reappeared.

Scully blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light.

Then, off in the distance, coming down the far side

of the gravel road, she saw them. Horses, at least

two dozen of them. The riders were in tandem, as if

on parade. But no sound came from the hoofs, only

the sound of the wind and the unsettling brush of

leaves on the tall grasses. As the horsemen drew

closer, they turned and headed into the cornfield

across the road, but the corn didn’t part in their

passing.

Soon, wagons came into view, and the two agents sat

in stunned silence. Then Mulder began a whispered

count. “Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two . .

.” Scully thought her heart could be heard a mile

away when the last wagon came into sight and she

heard him breathlessly murmur “Forty!”

And then they were alone. The horsemen, the wagons,

all disappeared into the corn. The wind howled

through the trees and rattled the stalks like bones

as the chill and something else tore at their veins.

Scully shivered, as much from what she’d seen as from

the sudden drop to near freezing temperatures.

Mulder was scrambling to toss objects in the hamper,

tugging at the blanket before she’d come back to

herself enough to rise. He hooked the hamper on his

arm, grabbed the light with one hand and her arm with

the other and hurried back up the road to the waiting

rental car. Tossing the hamper and light haphazardly

in the backseat, Mulder tore open the door and Scully

crawled through to the passenger side, too shaken to

walk around the car to her own door. Mulder crawled

in after her, jammed the key in the ignition and to a

peel of gravel, they sped off down the road.

The lights of Prairie du Rocher were fading behind

them, and the Mississippi River Bridge was coming

into view before Scully found her voice. “Mulder,

what the hell did we just see back there?” she

demanded.

“I didn’t think we’d see it, Scully. Honest, it’s

been years, several years, since the last reported

sighting. I figured it would just make a really cool

spooky way to spend Halloween,” he panted.

“Was that what I think it was?” she asked, shaking

her head in disbelief.

“That was the King’s emissary’s funeral procession,

Scully,” Mulder said firmly. “It’s been viewed in

the past, as I said, but mostly in the late 1800s.

It was seen a couple of times in the 20th Century,

but just once in the past 20 years.” He pulled the

car onto the bridge and Scully was relieved to see

that even at that late hour, there was traffic

crossing the river.

“So, if you didn’t think we’d see it, why on earth

did you drag me all the way out there?” she asked,

struggling to get the muscles in her back to relax.

After being tense for so long, they were screaming

for relief.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 11 years,

Scully, it’s that when I’m with you, spooky shit

happens.” He gave her a grin in the dim light of the

dashboard.

“Actually, Mulder, I think _you’re_ the spooky

magnet,” she said with a sigh, forcing herself to

relax into her seat. For a while they just drove,

the sound of the tires on the bridge reassuring them

that they were safely in the 21st Century. Scully

thought back to the cornfield and the funeral

procession and shivered again, but this time, it

carried a delicious tingle.

Reaching over, she clutched his hand where it picked

at the fabric of his pants. Slowly, she rubbed her

thumb across his knuckles, eliciting a smile from his

lips.

“What?” he asked, glancing over at her before turning

his attention back to the road.

“Where are you taking me next Halloween?” she asked

coyly.

His smile grew brighter. “Have you ever heard of the

ghost woman of Paris, Missouri, Scully?”

the end

Author’s notes: Inspiration for this story was found

in the book _Haunted Heartland_ by Beth Scott and

Michael Norman, Published by Barnes and Nobles Books.

It is based on real sightings of the funeral

procession near Fort de Chartres along the

Mississippi River in Illinois. The actual

processional is seen at midnight on July 4 in years

where the 4th falls on a Friday and there is a full

moon. I moved the date to Halloween because it just

seemed more suited there. The last acknowledged

sighting (and the one recorded) of the funeral

procession was in 1986. The town of Prairie du

Rocher almost joined the provincial capitol of

Kaskaskia at the bottom of the Mississippi River

during the 500-year flood in 1993. The townspeople

and a lot of sandbags saved the town. Fortunately,

the cool heads at the Illinois Historical

Preservation Agency saved the Fort and its contents

from destruction by the floodwaters.