Category Archives: Season 12

Cold File

Title: Cold File

Author: Martin Ross

Category: Cold Case/ X-Files crossover

Rating: PG-13 for language

Summary: When the apprehension of a missing ’60s

radical reopens a homicide from 1969, Agents

Mulder and Scully join the Philadelphia P.D.’s

Cold Case Squad to uncover the truth — and

potentially a sinister conspiracy

Spoilers: Cold Case second season; the films

Sixth Sense and Philadelphia; VS11

Disclaimer: As always, Mulder, Scully, and their

comrades are the creation of Chris Carter. Det.

Lilly Rush and her fellow Cold Case cops work for

Jerry Bruckheimer, while Cole Sear (“The Sixth

Sense”) is the brainchild of M. Night Shymalan

and Joe Miller (“Philadelphia”) practices his

profession under the auspices of Jonathan Demme.

July 20, 1969

“There must be some kind of way out of here/Said

the joker to the thief/There’s too much

confusion/I can’t get no relief…”

Hendrix, Billy smiled, knowing suddenly that

despite his reservations, all would be all right.

It was the Age of Aquarius, and he was of a time

and a generation attuned to signs, symbols, and

portents.

He’d grooved on Jimi just a few months ago at the

Spectrum, in South Philly. He and Donna had done

some weed in Rittenhouse Square an hour or so

before the concert and dropped some acid as

Hendrix wailed out “Watchtower.” They’d made

love afterwards, right here in this bed, hanging

one of Billy’s Ts on the knob outside to let the

others know the room was occupado, por favor?

Too much confusion? Right on, Brother Jimi. But

Billy no longer felt confused – the answer had

come through to him like a shaft of purifying

energy, through all the drugs and sex and chaos.

There was a way out of here.

“No reason to get exited/The thief he kindly

spoke/There are many here among us/Who feel that

life is but a joke…”

Billy glanced out the window. The Horseman was at

his old stand on the cracked sidewalk below,

offering Old Testament judgment and hellfire for

anybody who’d listen. The hippies and dopers left

him alone — The Horseman never approached, never

made contact, and anyway, it was his thing, it

was cool, if a little bit of a bummer sometimes.

And even though he was an old dude — 30s at

least — Billy felt a kinship with the man. Out

of the love only St. Lucy in the Sky could

confer, they’d invited him up one night, did some

magic ‘shrooms Max had scored in Tijuana,

listened to The Horseman riff on the old

prophets.

Billy chuckled, alone in the spartan bedroom.

Maybe the old dude had made more of an impression

than he could have imagined. He had seen the

truth, had seen the light. Until this time, all

had been hollow words, about love, peace,

brotherhood. Now Billy was ready to make the

sacrifice expected of him, purge the poison and

the lies…

“Outside in the cold distance/A wild cat did

growl/Two riders were approaching/And the wind

began to howl…”

As Jimi’s strings whined in anguished

accompaniment, Billy’s eyes welled with

happiness, and he reached for the bedside stand,

where the key to his salvation lay. As the man on

the living room TV moved as if through the ocean

along a barren surface of airless rocks and dust,

Billy’s fingers closed on his destiny…

August 13, 1969

Det. Second Gary Schmid grunted as he hauled the

packing box down the bleak hallway. Another dead

hippie, rest in peace, he mused. Schmid was a

father of three, went to Mass regular, coached

Police Benevolence League basketball. He was not

yet inured to the tragedy of youth lost, of souls

damaged and scattered to the ravages of

degradation and death. But Schmid knew everybody

made their choices, made their bed and slept with

whatever fleas or wolves they invited in, however

the saying went. Bullets or needles, all the same

difference, he shrugged, balancing the earthly

remains in his burly arms, and nudging the door

to what he called The Warehouse.

Besides, it wasn’t like Homicide had busted its

hump on this one. There had been plenty of

distractions the last few months in this City of

Brotherly Love (Schmid’s snort reverberated

through the canyons of cardboard, paper, and

memories).

Schmid located the appropriate resting place, set

the box down amid a flurry of dust motes, and

searched for a wax pencil. Crouching slightly, he

neatly inscribed the casefile: “W. McHenry/7-20-

69.” He hefted the remains of the McHenry case

onto a metal rack, alongside those of the others

whose deaths to date had gone unpunished.

“‘Night, kid,” the cop grunted with a hoarse note

that embarrassed him even in the solitude of the

Cold Case archives.

January 2005

Philadelphia

“…Federal authorities may have solved a 35-year

mystery with Tuesday’s arrest of Elijah Fortson,

key lieutenant with the ’60s radical group Fist

of Freedom and suspected mastermind in the summer

1969 bombing of a Philadelphia Marine recruiting

office. Six people perished after a Molotov

cocktail was thrown through the office’s window,

and Fortson, an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam

War, became the object of a massive federal

manhunt.”

The cops of the PPD Cold Case Squad close in on

the small color set, peering at the clean-shaven,

lined face of Elijah Fortson, AKA Samuel Robeson,

framed between U.S. marshals. Det. Lilly Rush

mentally subtracts 35 years from and adds a

Pancho Villa mustache to the financial analyst’s

visage, substitutes a dashiki for his stylishly

conservative Armani and a Panther-approved afro

for his $40 haircut.

“That manhunt ended when an anonymous tip led the

FBI to Robeson, who surrendered to authorities at

the advice of his attorneys but denied his

involvement either in the recruiting office

bombing or the murder of a Philadelphia grad

student three days prior to the bombing. Robeson

and the victim, Billy McHenry, had been friends

and fellow dissidents. McHenry had been stabbed

repeatedly in the apartment he shared with three

other student protestors…”

“Slam-bam,” Det. Scotty Valens states from his

perch on Lilly’s desk. “What am I missing here?

Seems like a no-brainer. Why we reopening this

one?”

Lilly — a paradox of a cop with a blue-collar

hairstyle, mannish off-the-rack suit, and a

seraphic face out of a Victorian oil — merely

smiles and glances toward the metal detectors

that shield the detectives from a dangerous

public. Lt. Stillman, a middle-aged, square-jawed

eagle of a cop, ushers a pleasant-looking younger

man and a somber, diminutive redhead through the

checkpoint.

“Hoo boy,” Nick Vera growls, instantly picking up

the scent every local cop abhors.

“Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, I’d

like you to meet the members of my squad,”

Stillman begins, shooting his underlings a look

of caution. “Lilly Rush; this is Scotty Valens;

Nick Vera; and Will Jeffreys. Agents Mulder and

Scully will be working the McHenry case with

you.”

Scully, the redhead, senses the hostility in the

air. Mulder, who looks as though he’s wearing his

black suit as a joke on his parents, smiles

companionably, neither extending nor expecting a

hand.

“Whoopee,” Vera grunts.

“You, of course, will remain the primaries on the

local homicide,” Scully assures the detectives.

“Agents Mulder and myself have been asked to

provide you any assistance you might need on the

case.”

“What’s the catch?” Valens asks. “Thought you

guys had Robeson pretty solid on the bombing. Or

is that it — case kinda shaky, so you want a

piece of the homicide, too? That the reason

you’re so interested in a 35-year-old hippie

killing?”

“Make sure us idiots don’t futz things up, get

doughnut crumbs all ” Vera murmurs.

“Excuse me, agents,” Stillman interjects, a note

of gloved firmness in his voice. “I’d like to

talk to my detectives for a moment.”

“Got any Krispy Kremes?” Mulder inquires with a

crooked grin, drawing a curious glance from

Lilly. Scully touches his arm, and the pair

withdraws to the squadroom coffee area.

Stillman scans his officers. Valens, the youngest

cop on the squad, appears uncertain and wary.

Vera, a compact forty-something badger, tenses,

irritation and resentment clouding his deepset

eyes. His partner, Jeffreys, a big, graying cop

with a patience that could only have been

cultivated by growing up on — and surviving —

Philly’s meaner streets, looks on impassively.

Lilly is unruffled by the agents’ presence. Her

deceptively porcelain features are calm. Her Mona

Lisa smile invites elaboration.

“I know this is a bitter pill,” Lt. Stillman

acknowledges, “but I’d appreciate it if you’d

work with Agents Mulder and Scully. Their boss,

Walt Skinner, and I go ‘way back. More than 30

years back.”

Understanding dawns in the detectives’ eyes. The

Boss doesn’t talk much about the years before he

took on The Job, and they don’t ask.

“Walt is a valued friend, and he has a deep

interest in this case. Billy McHenry was his

first cousin — his uncle’s kid. The two grew up

together — they were tight. But in the late

’60s, Walt went into the Marines, Billy went his

way.”

“Brother against brother,” Valens muses.

Stillman glances up, nods appreciatively. “That

about sums up the times, Scotty. War in the

jungle and fires burning in the streets and on

the campuses. I dunno, maybe that’s why Walt’s

always been haunted by Billy’s murder. I realize

it’s unorthodox, but I’d consider it a personal

favor if you’d deal Mulder and Scully in on this

one. Fortson’s a federal fugitive, and they have

a jurisdictional claim. But I’m asking you

personally, as a favor to me.”

“Sure, Boss,” Vera mumbles, and wanders out.

Jeffreys, Stillman’s contemporary, smiles with a

curt nod, and Valens joins him.

“Let’s start with the casefile,” Lilly suggests.

**

The dusty cardboard box is a time capsule of

sorts, commemorating Billy McHenry’s untimely

death in yellowing paperwork, fading PPD stills

of the dead hippie and his cheap apartment, and

the sparse belongings of a young man who’d

forsaken the trappings of a materialistic

society. Thousands of such capsules surround the

cluster of detectives, boxes with names and

dates, a virtual mausoleum of paper and effects.

Mulder selects a necklace — a cheap chain

supporting a broken iron cross encircled by

rusting metal. He considers the once-ubiquitous

symbol of an elusive peace. “1969 — The Summer

of Love. Free love, cheap drugs, Jimi Hendrix.

Walter Cronkite, Pol Pot, Neil Armstrong

strolling on the moon. You know, the Apollo

landing was the same day your guy was murdered.”

“July 20. It was a memorable day all around,”

Jeffreys rumbles, his coffee-brown eyes both

searching and troubled. “Middle of a 10-day race

riot, started by a white gang member, ‘sposedly.

Next day, woman named Lillie Belle Allen was

gunned down by a white mob in York, not too far

from here. Twenty-seven-year-old preacher’s

daughter from South Carolina, in to visit some

family. Charlie Robertson was a member of the

York force back then, they brought him up in the

’90s after they made him mayor, said he’d handed

out ammo, told the folks to take out as many

black rioters as possible.” Conscious of the

silence, Jeffreys breaks out of his reverie with

a faint smile. “Lot going on that week — cops

had a lot on their minds. Not surprising Billy

McHenry got short-shrifted.”

“No DNA analysis, forensics must’ve been

prehistoric,” Valens adds, drawing an amused

glance from his older cohorts. “Hey, we still got

the weapon?” The young detective reaches into the

box and pulls out a long and heavy manila

envelope. He gingerly shakes a garden variety

kitchen knife onto the table. Traces of

fingerprint powder cling to the blade and handle.

The wooden handle remains discolored in spots.

“Victim’s blood, AB negative,” Vera reports,

flipping through the lab findings.

“Defense wounds on the vic’s hands, blood on the

blade and the handle,” Valens notes. “Killer

wiped it clean, left it at the scene.”

“Knife was from a secondhand set in McHenry’s

kitchen,” Jeffreys supplies. “Heat of anger?”

“I wonder,” Scully ventures. “Victim’s known

associates?”

Lilly, Homicide’s thin report in hand, picks up

on cue. “Not much there. McHenry shared a second-

floor walkup near downtown with two other men —

Vincent Gillesco, 20, and Ned Squiers, 23. Both

say they were at a peace rally at the federal

building, came home and found McHenry on the

bed.” She displays a faded color crime scene

photo of Billy sprawled on his back on a

threadbare mattress, scarlet spreading like wings

on the sheet around him. Mulder appropriates the

gruesome portrait.

“He was a grad student at the university —

anthropology,” Lilly continues. “His faculty

sponsor was a Frederic Hoesch.”

Mulder’s eyes narrow, then return to the photo.

Suddenly, he displays it to the group. “This void

here, to the side of the body. Yeah, see where

the blood’s flowed around something. What do you

make of that?”

“Looks kinda round,” Vera observes. “Know better

if the blood had flowed all the way around. I

dunno – a bag, a purse, maybe McHenry’s stash. A

bomb?”

“Fortson was strictly a Molotov cocktail man – it

was the weapon of mass destruction of choice for

the fashionable radical back then. But it’s

obvious the killer took whatever it was with

them.”

“Maybe digital imaging?” Scully suggests.

“I’ll send a copy of this to this guy I know back

home,” Mulder tells Lilly. “He may be able to

give us an idea what sitting next to the body.”

“We got computers out here in Hicksville,” Vera

sputters, ending the huddle.

**

“I’m getting an uncomfortable Rodney King vibe

here.” Samuel Robeson/Elijah Fortson’s attorney

scans the quartet loosely clustered about the

prison interview room — Lilly, Jeffreys, Mulder,

and Scully. “This turns into a tag team match,

I’ll shut this down in a second.”

“Relax, Counselor,” Lilly smiles. “Agents Mulder

and Scully are working the recruiting office

bombing. Det. Jeffreys and I are looking into a

local homicide your client may be familiar with.”

For the first time, Fortson regards her with

something resembling real interest. Despite the

prison coveralls, he appears the picture of

middle-aged respectability: Graying temples,

fashionable wire-rims, intelligent mocha eyes

held in abeyance as his lawyer does the talking.

“Homicide?” The attorney’s left eyebrow arches.

“You going to try to pin the Lindbergh kidnapping

on my client, too?”

“You remember Billy McHenry, Elijah?” Lilly

inquires, leaning over the table. Fortson meets

her gaze evenly, his expression neutral.

“Talk to me,” the lawyer snaps. “And we can do

without the use of the familiar, Detective.”

“Sorry. McHenry was murdered only three days

before you blew those people into oblivion. Did

he trip to what you were up to, Mr. Fortson? Or

did he get cold feet before the big day?”

“OK, that’s it–” Fortson raises two fingers to

silence his lawyer. “Sam, you need to…”

“Please, Larry.” The former activist’s voice is

velvet ice. He smiles tightly up at Lilly. “I’ve

already told the federal authorities I had

nothing to do with the deaths of those

unfortunate people.”

“Which is why you fell off the face of the Earth

for 35 years,” Jeffreys suggests.

Fortson glances sideways at the huge cop. “I fled

the jurisdiction for fear of my life, Detective.

The law enforcement community took an acute

interest in my sociopolitical views in those

days, and the memory of what happened to Dr. King

was still fresh in my psyche. Maybe you don’t

remember what it was like in the day,

‘Detective,’ but a young African-American with an

authority problem didn’t get too many invitations

to the policemen’s ball.” A crooked smile forms

on Fortson’s lips, a glint of secrecy sparks in

the eyes. “As for that boy, well, I wasn’t the

only one that fell off the face of the Earth that

summer.”

The room is silent for a second.

“What are you saying, Fortson?” Lilly speaks up.

“Sam,” Larry the Lawyer cautions.

Elijah Fortson leans back, temples his fingers.

“I was Philadelphia Rotarian of the Year back in

2000 — I woke up in a cold sweat for a week for

fear the local newspapers would ask me for a bio.

Got asked to run for City Council a year or so

ago — regrettably, I had to turn them down, you

understand. I have lived for each day of the last

35 years with the decisions I’ve made. But I

don’t intend to live with – or die by — the

transgressions of others.”

“A name, Elijah,” Jeffreys requests, staring

Larry down.

“Old acquaintance of mine, name was Donna when I

knew her. Went underground about the same time I

did, after Billy died. Spotted her on the news a

few years ago, some charity fundraiser, and I

knew it was Donna. You might want to take a

meeting with her.”

“Elijah…”

Fortson smiles beatifically, the radical flashing

through maliciously. “Calls herself Francine.

Francine Topher.”

The room falls silent, and the sounds of felons

and lawmen beyond filter in. Jeffreys looks at

Lilly. Mulder frowns in confusion.

“Hey,” Elijah breaks the silence. “You go talk to

her, tell her I said hi.”

**

Francine Topher acknowledges her frosty martini

with an appreciative nod to the waiter, her

cornflower blue eyes never leaving Det. Nick Vera

and Agent Fox Mulder. “There must be a sound

reason why it was necessary to come to my club.”

It’s framed as a statement of fact rather than an

indictment, but both men detect the tightness in

her already toned face. Francine Topher is

married to Philadelphia’s top neurosurgeon, but

no one refers to her as “Mrs. Topher” or “Dr.

Topher’s wife.” She is one of the city’s most

formidable fundraisers, for mental health, for

lower-income prenatal care, for AIDS research,

and although her tennis ensemble likely cost a

year’s green fees at the adjoining Philadelphia

Country Club course, she is no soft society

matron.

“We called your home, and they said you were

playing a set or two,” Mulder explains, boyish

smile in place. “Detective Vera and I have just a

few routine questions.”

“Regarding?”

“Elijah Fortson.”

Mulder suppresses a wince at Vera’s bluntness.

Topher’s brow rises. “Elijah Fortson. The sixties

radical?”

“That’s the one.”

She smiles in bewilderment. “Perhaps you’d like

to elaborate, Det. Vera?”

“We understand you were in college here in town

when Mr. Fortson disappeared, back in ’69,”

Mulder interjects.

“You understand incorrectly.” Topher sips her

martini with a challenging look that contains a

trace of something else.

“How about Billy McHenry, huh?” Vera asks. “You

remember him?”

Mulder sighs with a smile. The blue eyes above

the glass’s rim lock onto Vera for a second, then

Topher lowers her glass. “No. This is becoming

monotonous, and you’re beginning to become

offensive. Who suggested I have any connection

with these men? Fortson? If so, I suspect you’ve

been duped by a desperate criminal. If it makes

you feel any better, a lot of people were. Now,

if you’ll excuse me…”

Mulder and Vera are silent for a full minute as

Francine Topher weaves her way out of the

clubhouse.

“Well,” Mulder finally comments. Det. Vera shoots

daggers across the tablecloth.

“Hey, I got a rise out of her, didn’t I?” the cop

demands, scowling at the busboy as he removes

Topher’s glass.

“It was masterful. I think you’re right, though.

She knew McHenry. But how to prove it? The lab

found no viable DNA samples for comparison, and

the murder weapon was wiped clean.” Mulder

studies the elegant barroom glumly, then

straightens. “The glass.”

“Huh?”

“Detective, get Topher’s glass, quick, before

they wash it.”

“Why, what–”

“It was the sixties — McHenry was a protester.

Maybe Topher got busted a few times, too. Move,

Detective!”

Vera utters a curse, knocking his chair backwards

and rushing through the dismayed crowd like a

linebacker gone to seed. The cook staff freezes

as he shoulders the kitchen door, glancing wildly

about.

“Police!” he shouts. “Where’s the busboy?’

“Who, me?” Vera follows the disembodied voice

behind a rack of dishes to the rail-thin boy in

the white tunic. The cop’s eyes shift to the pair

of martini glasses in his hands, poised above a

sinkful of steaming dishwater.

“Freeze!” Vera calls frantically. The boy backs

up a step, fumbling one of the glasses. “Don’t

drop it, kid!”

The busboy swoops with an instinctive dexterity

and recaptures the glass. Vera wipes his forehead

with his sleeve and yanks a napkin from a pile

near the stove.

“Gimme,” he pants.

**

“You should pardon the cliche,” Ned Squiers

chortles, “but the Sixties were kind of a blur to

me.”

Presidents Ford and Clinton together couldn’t

forgive all of Squiers’ cliches. Metaphors,

homilies, and nimble twists of phrase are the

currency of the weatherman’s world.

Jeffreys smiles indulgently, as if waiting out a

recalcitrant child. He is the yin to Vera’s hair-

trigger yang. While Squiers assumes his lively

patter about occluded fronts and storm patterns

sparks gales of laughter in 32 percent of metro

Philly homes, he is ill-at-ease with a live

audience.

“Hey, shit, guys, I’m yanking you, you know?”

It’s five minutes after the 5:30 newscast, and

the balding meteorologist is itching to grab some

General Tso’s at the joint around the corner from

the station. He yanks off his crested Channel 3

blazer; sweat rings mar his professionally-

pressed pinpoint oxford. “This’s about Elijah,

right?”

“Elijah?” Jeffreys rumbles. Only his lips move,

but the indulgent smile stays in place.

“Media overfamiliarity, Detective. Yeah, OK, I

knew Fortson slightly back in the day. Probably

made us feel like big men, hanging with a heavy

hitter like that. But that was the Cenozoic Age.

Cops talked to me after Eli-, Fortson blew up

that recruiting office. At the time, I was on a

road trip to Cincinnati with a couple of Deadhead

buddies. Got high on Garcia, then got busted for

a couple of twigs the Ohio troopers found on the

passenger side floor mat. My folks’ lawyer busted

me out, and by the time I got back to town,

Elijah’s — Fortson’s — face was pasted all over

every post office in the country.”

“How about your buddy, Billy McHenry?” Vera

asked. “You found the body, right?”

“Vince and me. We called the cops right away.”

“And your ‘acquaintance’ Elijah? You know where

he was when your friend got gutted like a fish?”

Rather than recoiling at Vera’s blunt query,

Squiers smirks. “Billy was a Boy Scout, always

was. Liked to talk tough about revolution and The

Man and everything, but he practically crapped

himself whenever Elijah was around. Hell, we all

did. Elijah got off on scaring dumb whi–”

He glances anxiously at Jeffreys. The smile has

never left the cop’s face. “Anyway,” Squiers

recovers, “you ask me, the cops should’ve looked

harder at that crazy homeless guy who was always

hanging around the building. Aw shit, uh, The

Horseman. Hell, Billy and Vince even invited him

up once or twice to, ah, to….”

“Keep your powder dry, Weather Man,” Vera sighs.

“We know about your little magical mushroom

tours. We won’t tell the network.”

“The Horseman,” Jeffreys prompted. “You ever

catch his name?”

“Shit, that was 35 years ago. All I know was he

was constantly screaming for everybody to repent,

to give themselves to the Lord. Wasn’t exactly a

seller’s market in those days, but I don’t guess

he cared. He was just part of the whole crazy

scene. I had a hair up my ass, myself. Remember

one time I chained myself to a table at one of

the downtown banks, started hollering about the

moneylenders in the temple or something. Must’ve

caught something from the Jesus freaks.”

July 20, 1969

Here come old flattop, he come grooving up

slowly/He got joo-joo eyeball, he one holy

roller/He got hair down to his knee/Got to be a

joker he just do what he please…

The Beatles tune played in Ned’s head every time

he saw the Horseman at his post in front of the

tenement apartments, spitting sulfur and the

threat of salvation at the working girls, the

potheads, the occasional suit who came slumming

for some acid or to take the edge off.

“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and

Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very

grievous, I will go down now, and see whether

they have done altogether according to the cry of

it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will

know,” The Horseman called, brandishing the

Gideon Bible he’d no doubt lifted from some no-

tell motel. Ned grinned: Even the freaks had to

get some occasionally. Sex was a constant

preoccupation with Ned, though the coarse,

aromatic young man didn’t do that well even in

this age of free and easy love.

He moved to the opposite side of the cracked

sidewalk from the proselytizing bum, keeping his

eyes rigidly in front of him, aimed at a

miniskirted bottom strutting toward the bus stop.

“Ned, man!”

Swallowing his annoyance, Ned turned. Vince was

breathless as he caught up to him.

“Hey, man, I lost you at the rally.”

No, Ned reflected, I lost you. Vincent had become

a real bummer over the last few months – a true

believer peacenik. “Yeah, I looked for you.

Figured you’d scored some weed or something.

Speaking of which…” Ned patted the pocket of his

army surplus jacket.

Vince’s acne’ed face brightened. “Groovy.”

As they ascended the stairs to the apartment,

passing through the urine fumes of the foyer to

the mock oregano-scented upper hallways, Vince

prattled on about capitalism and communism and

about another dozen isms. Ned stepped up his

pace: The sooner he could get his buddy stoned,

the sooner he’d shut his face.

“Shit, man,” Ned whispered as spotted the sliver

of light leaking from their slightly jarred

apartment door. Security was a relative concept

in this neighborhood, and he debated hauling ass

back downstairs in case some junkie or armed

intruder was still making the scene.

The ever-trusting Vincent pushed past him. “Hey,

Billy! You home?”

“Shut the fuck up!” Ned whined, reluctantly

following him into the shadowy living room. Vince

glanced into the kitchen, then Billy’s room.

“Aw, Christ,” Vince wailed, covering his mouth

with trembling fingers. “Aw, shit!”

“What, man? What?” Ned yanked him out of the

bedroom doorway. “Oh, hell.”

The pigs arrived about a half-hour later. One of

the cops, a real crew-cut storm trooper, ragged

Ned out about ralphing all over the crime scene…

**

Jeffreys’ smile flickers for a moment. “You ever

reminisce about the old scene with your buddy

Vince?”

Squiers laughs nastily. “Ah, no. He and I travel

in different circles these days. That it, guys?

Cause there’s a fortune cookie out there with my

name in it.”

“Thanks for your time,” Jeffreys murmurs,

standing.

“Anything for our men in blue,” Squiers calls,

already heading for the studio door. “Don’t

forget your umbrellas tomorrow, fellas.”

“Yeah, I’ll make book on it, Ace,” Vera grunts.

**

“The problem,” Joe Miller begins, regretfully,

“is your colleague here has pissed all over his

evidentiary chain.” The attorney turns to Lilly,

nods. “Pardon my French, Detective.”

When Joe Miller regrets, everybody regrets. It’s

one of the few things the guys at the Cop Shop

and a majority of the city’s Fortune 500 execs

agree on. Ten years before, few cops even knew

the personal injury lawyer, and Philadelphia’s

legal community had considered him a bottom-

feeding catfish in the shark tank. Then Joe took

down one of the biggest firms in town, sparking a

nationwide flood of AIDS discrimination cases and

upgrading Joe from The Men’s Wear House to Brooks

Brothers (despite his largely underdog clientele,

Joe is fundamentally conservative, reads Thomas

Sowell religiously at the breakfast table, and

believes in buying American suits).

“I don’t see it that way,” Vera growls

defensively, but his regret already is seeping

around the edges. He’s been having some marital

troubles and hanging out with his old pals Bud

Weiser and Jack Daniels. “I had my eyes on that

glass the whole time – I could see the lipstick

on the rim a mile away.”

Joe looks even more regretful as he gathers the

empty Styrofoam cups littering the interview

table, digs a quarter out of his tailored pants.

“Kitchen at the country club’s 23 yards, two

feet, and three inches from the table where you

were sharing afternoon aperitifs with my client.”

The attorney deposits the coin on the

interrogation table, over some gangers’ loving

ode to the law enforcement community, and covers

it with a cup.

“It was ginger ale – I don’t do ‘aperitifs’ on

The Job, ‘Counselor,'” Vera’s voice rises as his

jowls quiver. Lilly, standing behind Miller and a

silent Francine Topher, shoots him a nearly

imperceptible warning glance.

“Air quotes duly noted, Detective,” Miller

murmurs with a pleasant smile. He begins

rearranging the cups, slowly at first. Vera

struggles not to look at this feat of

legerdemain. The cups scrape the scarred wood as

Miller’s deft fingers work them. “There’s 10

tables between the kitchen and the table where

you were enjoying your ginger ale. Four waiters

on shift that day, all in the same white shirt,

black slacks, and red coats, and probably all

named Eric.” Miller is not renowned for his

political correctness at the courthouse bars. The

cups are nearly a blur now. “You are a man of

some not inconsiderable girth, Detective, am I

right?”

“It’s all muscle.” The menace in Vera’s tone is

palpable. His eyes narrow, flitting toward the

flying Styrofoam.

“Have a little trouble keeping the muscle off

myself,” Miller chuckles, patting his own middle-

aged spread. “Detective, tell me like I’m six,

please. How did you manage from across a crowded

dining room, in hot pursuit of a waiter named

Eric, squeezing your muscular frame between the

tables, glasses and plates jostling on Eric’s

tray, through a solid – mind you, solid – kitchen

door, around the pots and pans, to maintain

constant surveillance on my client’s martini

glass?” The cups skid to a stop. “You must be

eating your carrots, Detective.”

Vera’s eyes are now locked on the table. He looks

up; Miller beams, nodding back toward the cups

with a challenge.

“Phew, that’s one effed-up evidence chain,”

Miller concludes, grinning. “It’s a problem – I

don’t think any judge in this man’s town’s gonna

trust Det. Vera’s spidey sense. And I don’t see

any judge putting my client here – an upstanding,

charitable, responsible member of the community –

through this kind of sideshow.”

“Why’s your upstanding client all lawyered up,

then?” Vera snaps, face reddening.

“Mrs. Topher has no outstanding warrants, either

under her own name or as Donna Geistner,” Lilly

interjects smoothly, La Giaconda smile in place.

She moves around the table.

“Who’s Donna Geistner?” Joe queries, mock

puzzlement on his face.

“Counselor, we will ID your client, with or

without your cooperation. And you have to admit,

it does look suspicious, a woman with nothing

more than a few civil disobedience busts 35 years

ago hooking up with one of the city’s top

attorneys.”

“My,” Joe whispers, ducking his head in false

modesty. “Dish it up for me, Det. Rush – I’ll see

if I can get it down my gullet.”

Lilly plants a palm on the table. “Immunity for

anything she was mixed up with with Fortson.

We’ve got a 35-year-old homicide we need to clear

and a case to prosecute against Elijah Fortson.

Your client tells us what she remembers about

Fortson and the day of the murder, and she’s back

sipping Cosmos by afternoon tee time.”

Joe chews on it. “My client and I would like a

little alone time, you don’t mind.” He favors

Vera with a benign smile. “And no, we wouldn’t

like any coffee, Coke, gum, cigarettes, or DNA

swabs, thank you.”

Vera’s chair squeaks back. Lilly lightly touches

his arm, and he stalks out of the interview room.

Joe shrugs regretfully up at Lilly, who reaches

across and snatches a Styrofoam cup from the

table. She leaves Joe staring, impressed, at the

gleaming quarter before him.

**

“Billy and I met at the university about a year

earlier,” Francine/Donna begins. “We had an

evening lit class together, and one night, a

bunch of us went for coffee afterwards. I liked

his shyness, his heart, and, yes, his politics.

Back then, that was an important component of any

socially relevant relationship.”

Lilly smiles, encouragingly. Joe Miller pretends

to check his PDA.

“We started going out, then hitting a few

protests and rallies together. Anti-war, pot

legalization, civil rights. We were a couple of

middle-class white kids who were going to change

the world. Then he and his friends, Ned and

Vincent, started hanging out with Elijah,

practically worshipped him. And that’s when it

started getting real heavy.”

“Heavy?”

“Elijah was into the real revolutionary stuff,

talked about burning ‘The System’ to the ground,

blowing things up. I begged Billy to get away

from him, but he kept getting in deeper and

deeper…”

July 17, 1969

The pair fell silent the minute Elijah spotted

her coming down the aisle toward their booth. As

Billy turned, boyish smile tinged with adolescent

guilt, Fortson took a long draw on his cigarette

and stared impassively, clinically at her. Donna

felt a chill.

“What’s up?” she asked, sliding in beside Billy.

Donna didn’t try to conceal the suspicion in her

voice.

Elijah crushed his butt with disinterest. “Later,

man,” he murmured, sliding out. Donna sat rigidly

until she heard the bell above the diner’s front

door signal his departure.

“I hear hurricanes ablowing/I know the end is

coming soon,” the radio behind the counter

blares. CCR’s lyrics seem an omen, a portent.

“What was that about?” she demanded. “What’s he

trying to talk you into this time?”

“C’mon,” Billy mumbled, burying his nose in his

coffee. “We were just rapping, you know, about

that asshole Nixon.”

“You c’mon. Elijah’s bad news, Baby — he almost

got your head cracked open at that sit-in last

week. That cop could’ve killed you.”

“Look,” Billy snapped, with a heat that was

emerging more and more often these days. “Elijah

really cares about all the shit that’s going

around. He’s willing to do something about it,

make some noise if he has to.”

Donna felt her chest tighten. “What kind of

noise? What’s he trying to get you into? He’s

going to get you killed, Billy.”

Her boyfriend slammed his coffee cup on the

table. The kids in the booths around them craned

to stare at him. Billy glared murderously back at

them, then turned to see Donna’s ashen, open-

mouthed expression. He shook his head slowly and

seized her hand.

“I’m sorry,” Billy whispered. “I’m sorry, Donna.

I’m just, you know…”

Donna squeezed his soft fingers. “We have to get

away from all this, Baby. From Elijah, from

Hoesch, all of it. Maybe San Francisco, New York.

We could…”

“No,” Billy murmured softly but insistently. “I

can’t just leave right now.”

She released his hand. “Why not?”

“Just,” he stammered, grabbing his coat, “just

stay out of it, OK. For your own sake. Look, I

gotta get back to the lab.”

“Billy,” Donna pleaded as his narrow back

retreated toward the street…

**

Francine blinks. “When Billy was killed, I knew

Elijah had something to do with it. I didn’t know

what to do, so I split — left town to visit a

friend. And then, when Elijah killed those people

in that recruiting office, well, I knew I wasn’t

safe. Elijah would think I knew something and

come after me. So I just stayed gone. I knew a

guy who helped kids get away from the draft, get

to Canada. He turned me into Francine Topher.”

Lilly leans back in her chair. “Why’d you come

back to town?”

Francine smiles weakly. “I managed to get a

nursing degree and eventually a job in Boston. I

met Gerald, my husband, at St. Eligius Hospital,

and after about four months, we got married. Then

he got a shot at neurosurgical chief at

Philadelphia Memorial, of all places. What could

I tell him?

“The funny thing is, I actually ‘met’ Elijah a

few years ago, at a children’s hospital

fundraiser. He’d become some kind of financial

whiz, was on the hospital board. Hell, he was

funny, charming. We talked for maybe an hour over

dinner, and I had no idea. That it was the same

man who’d forced me to throw my life away.”

**

“Detective?”

Vera glances up, a glob of cheese sauce plopping

onto the open folder before him. He swipes two

thick fingers through the sauce with irritation

at the uniform hovering over his desk, licks his

fingertips, and places his half-Philly steak to

the side. Then, as he spots the figure behind the

officer’s shoulder, his brow darkens.

“He asked for Det. Rush, but…” the lanky uniform

starts to explain.

“Yeah, fine,” Vera sighs. First Miller, now this.

“Whaddya want, kid?”

Cole Sear gives Vera the creeps, pure and simple.

The kid provided a tip on a case a year or so

ago, led Lilly to a body in a cellar and a 25-

year-old patricide. But Sear’s claim to commune

with the dead, his unnerving, unremitting calm

chill Vera’s blood more than just a few degrees.

But Lilly seems to like the boy, so…

“I saw him,” Cole states simply. “The man on the

TV last night. The one who was stabbed a long

time ago.”

“Hold on a second, kid…” Vera stops. He suddenly

recalls last night’s Action Team Philly update on

the Fortson case, the grainy archived photo of

Fortson’s alleged victim. “You mean Billy

McHenry?”

Cole nods. A goose walks across Vera’s grave.

“You saw him? What do you–?” the detective’s

eyes widen. “C’mon, kid, give me a break

already.”

“He said it wasn’t him.”

“What wasn’t him?” Vera’s irritation returns.

“I don’t know for sure. We didn’t get to talk for

long.”

Vera plants his elbows on the scarred wood of his

desk. “Didn’t get to talk? Look, Cole, right?

Cole, why don’t you give me your number? We need

any help, we’ll-”

“Actually,” a polite voice murmurs behind Vera’s

shoulder, “I’d kind of like to hear what he has

to say now, if you don’t mind, Detective.”

Vera wheels around to face Mulder, pushing to his

feet. “Sure, Agent – you two oughtta have a ton

to talk about.” The cop begins to stalk away,

then returns, reaches across the desktop, and

snags his Philly steak.

**

Even Mulder is slightly disconcerted by Cole’s

perpetual serenity, but the teen’s story holds

him rapt. “You literally, physically saw him.”

Cole pauses, then sees something in the agent’s

face that puts him at ease. “I see them all. They

need things; sometimes they need me to help them

make things right, sometimes to move on to the

next place.”

“The dead?” Mulder might as well have said “the

Lutherans.”

Cole nods. “My mom and I have been looking for a

new apartment — we had a break-in three weeks

ago, and she doesn’t feel safe any more. So we

were out looking at places.”

“Including Billy McHenry’s place.”

Cole’s face grows serious. “I got bored while my

mom was talking to the manager, and I wandered

off. He was in the hallway. He was dressed like,

you know, like a hippie. And the front of his

shirt was covered with blood. He looked sad,

guilty. He said it wasn’t him.”

“What do you mean? He was the victim, not the

killer.”

“I don’t know. He said it wasn’t him, that it

couldn’t have been him. He wanted me to tell

somebody named Donna. Then some people got off

the elevator, and he disappeared.”

“What do you think he meant?”

“I don’t know — we didn’t talk any more. But

then I saw him on the news — they were talking

about that man who was arrested for bombing those

people.”

“Elijah Fortson.”

Cole nods somberly. “They talked about him being

stabbed, and when they showed his picture, I

decided I should tell Lilly.”

“Det. Rush?”

Cole smiles, secretively.

**

“The guy’s a certified whack job,” Vera sputters,

rubbing his five o’clock shadow. “He’s out there

talking to the Teen Psychic Hotline, who claims

to have had a rap session with our vic, McHenry.”

Lt. Stillman temples his fingers as he eyes the

agitated badger. “What do you want me to do,

Nick?”

“I dunno, call your old army buddy, see if he

can’t reel Mulder and Scully back in.”

“Deputy Director Skinner specifically assigned

Agent Mulder to this case. He said Mulder had a

‘special perspective.'”

“Oh, he’s special, all right,” Vera snorts. “I

just don’t want Barnabas Collins blowing this

case and leaving us with brown on our faces.”

**

Cole Sear blinks as he steps back into the sunny

street. He likes Mulder, trusts him to do the

right thing as he would Lilly. The fat

detective’s hostility doesn’t bother him — Cole

can read the unhappiness and despair behind the

policeman’s brusque manner.

Just as Cole can feel the man’s eyes on him as he

turns the corner. More curious than fearful, he

meets the man’s look. He’s a soldier, his dress

uniform soiled and scuffed, his face full of

agony, full of questions.

In a second, Cole knows. He waits for the light

to turn, and the soldier waits, patiently, for

him to cross over.

**

“Of course, 1969 was largely a blur for many of

us,” Frederic Hoesch muses, liver-spotted fingers

riffling through a stack of journals on his

vintage oak desk. “But this little federal

intrusion certainly takes me back. In some ways,

little has changed since the Summer of Love and

the days of J. Edgar Hoover.”

A resigned glance passes between Agents Mulder

and Scully. Det. Valens suppresses a smirk.

“Prof. Hoesch, We’re just assisting the

Philadelphia Police in an unsolved homicide

investigation. We’re simply interested in

anything you can tell us about William Ericksen’s

death and his possible involvement with Elijah

Fortson.”

The anthropologist locates the monograph he’s

seeking, one on Meso-American birthing rites.

“Yes, I saw you people had finally run Fortson to

ground. The right-wing media no doubt’s breaking

out the Dom Perignon. Another echo of dissent

extinguished in the Land of the Free.”

“Echo of dissent?” Valens smiles incredulously.

“Elijah Fortson blew up a military recruiting

office, killed five people. Including a couple of

high-schoolers. That’s some pretty heavy dissent,

isn’t it, professor?”

Hoesch beams back with a calculating glint and

dazzling teeth – despite his advancing years and

counterculture patois, the dashing intellectual

about campus shines through. “I wouldn’t expect

the VH1 generation to understand the Fight. Back

then, we didn’t trust anybody over 30. Today, I

shudder to think one day of leaving this planet

in the hands of anyone under. The children in

that recruiting office were as much victims of

their government’s propagandistic imperialism as

they were of a Molotov cocktail. We were trying

to expose the lies, get to The Truth. And the

truth frequently hurts.”

“I’m feeling the pain right now,” Mulder sighs.

“You can see we didn’t bring our Mace or our

nightsticks today. Your former graduate student

may have been murdered, and Fortson may well have

committed that murder. Can we stick to that truth

and save the revolution for another day,

Professor?”

The professor leans back, templing his fingers

and regarding the trio squeezed into his tiny

third floor office. “I’ll let you know if you get

too close to my constitutional rights. The truth

is, I guess I have been plagued by the suspicion

that Billy was mixed up in some skullduggery with

Fortson and his group.

“If you look into my record, as I’m sure you

will, you’ll see that back then, I was far more,

ah, simpatico, with the students than the

university fathers might have preferred. Things

were freer in those days — we were allowed to

live our lives without administration dictates,

and we didn’t live under the oppressive fear of

legal liability. Now, even at 70, I have to leave

my door open when some sycophantic coed comes by

to wheedle a passing grade.

“I maintained a more casual relationship with

Billy and my other grad assistants. We often saw

each other off-campus, had endless debates about

society, the war, the environment -”

“What else you have ‘off-campus’?” Valens poses

with a mirthless grin.

“Ah, the young Republican,” Hoesch cackles. “Do

you even know who Cesar Chavez was, amigo? No

matter. Sure, we enjoyed some mind-expanding

experiences from time to time. Is this when I

piss in a cup, Officer?”

“Billy McHenry and Elijah Fortson,” Mulder

prompts.

“Yes. Well, I’d suspected something was up for a

few months – Billy had a sometimes provincial

sense of responsibility, but the last few months,

he’d started coming to the lab exhausted,

distracted, a little jumpy. And secretive. I

remember wondering if something bad might be in

the air the day he was killed…”

July 20, 1969

Fred Hoesch tossed his faculty-issue corduroy

jacket at the nearest table, barely missing an

Aztec sexual fetish he’d acquired during his most

recent Mexican excursion. His ears buzzed with

rage – he’d just been admonished again by the

department chief, who’d vetoed the next such

anthropological expedition.

Hoesch preferred to attribute his precarious

relationship with the university establishment to

his maverick views on the war, the Sexual

Revolution, and American capitalism. In fact, the

professor’s exploration of new sexual frontiers

with the student populace was near-legend, and

his taste in European loafers and living

accommodations belied his socialistic

proclamations. The university had clamped down on

Hoesch’s frequent south-of-the-border “junkets,”

as that buttoned-down department lackey had

called it.

He’d sat through the scolding in uncharacteristic

silence – Hoesch couldn’t very well explain the

importance of his research, not at this point,

not to these people. He felt he was near a

breakthrough, but this changed everything.

“Yeah, I know it’s important!” Billy’s angry

voice reverberated through the anthro lab. It was

a tone Hoesch had heard increasingly from the

once cheerful, if somewhat naïve, boy. The

professor edged closer; Billy was on the phone,

back to Hoesch, lost in his terse exchange.

“I can’t leave right now – Fred’s got me

cataloguing shit,” Billy whispered harshly.

Hoesch had taught him early on that use of titles

promoted class hierarchy. “I know today’s the

day, you don’t have to remind me. Can’t somebody

else…?” The grad assistant ran his fingers

through his shaggy hair. “All right, OK. Of

course, it’s important. Hang tight, I’ll be over

as quick as I can.”

Hoesch retreated as his prodigy loudly cradled

the phone, hastily grabbing his jacket. As Billy

finally turned, he re-entered.

“Hey, Fred,” the student mumbled, mustering a

smile. “Uh, you mind if I cut out for a while?”

“A while?” Fred inquired casually. In fact, the

cataloguing of Incan potsherds had been busy work

for the grad student, but Hoesch relished the

opportunity to flex his muscles a bit. Radical

rhetoric or not, the draft was still in force,

these punks lived and (quite possibly) died by

academic whim.

“The rest of the day, OK?” Billy sounded frantic,

and this fed Hoesch’s sadistic inclinations.

“I’ll come in early tomorrow, stay ’til I get it

all done. Please.”

“That’s what you told me yesterday, remember?”

the professor challenged. “What’s up, man?”

“I can’t – it’s a prior commitment,” Billy

blurted. “You really don’t want to know.

Seriously.”

Hoesch smiled – Billy was too important to his

work to lose. “Hey, Billy, my man, talk to me.”

The smile faltered as something dark flashed in

Billy’s eyes. Maybe the boy wasn’t as naïve as he

appeared. For the first time in their

relationship, Hoesch’s assurance began to

crumble.

“Look, do what you gotta do,” Hoesch relented,

trying to sound nonchalant. “We’ll get back on it

tomorrow.”

Billy sighed, smiled, grabbing his books and

headed for the door. “Thanks, man. Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” Hoesch echoed hollowly.

**

“Except, of course, there was no tomorrow,”

Frederic Hoesch concluded. “I had my suspicions

about Elijah and the rest of the crowd Billy’d

fallen in with, but in those days, we didn’t

exactly trust the fuzz – the cops. As if they

cared about one dead kid.”

“Yeah, as if,” Valens muses.

“Well, thanks for your time, Professor,” Mulder

smiles, standing. He pauses. “By the way, I

really liked your paper on psilocybic mushrooms.”

A thick silence falls over the office, and Hoesch

rushes to break it. “Why, Agent, I’m surprised a

federal functionary like yourself would be

interested in my esoteric research, much less

willing to dust off old academic monographs. Why,

I haven’t done any work in that area for, what,

25 years or so.”

“Actually, closer to 35,” Mulder amends. He

raises his right hand in a dated ‘V’ formation.

“Peace, Doc.”

**

“What was all that crap about mushrooms?” Valens

demands, ducking a student biker racing across

the quad.

“Dr. Hoesch was being uncharacteristically

modest.” Mulder’s wheels are turning now — his

stride is unbroken. “I thought the name was

familiar. See, I have something of an interest in

anthropology myself. Well, some of the more

arcane aspects, anyway.”

Scully chortles. Valens’ sense of falling through

the looking glass deepens.

“In the ’60s, Frederic Hoesch was one of the

world’s foremost experts in Mesoamerican

religious rites. The Mayans, the Aztecs had some

fascinating spiritual alternatives to bingo and

bar mitzvahs — multiple dieties and universes,

human sacrifices. during the four-day dedication

of the Aztec Templo Mayor in 1487, at least

10,000 captives were sacrificed to the gods. Now

that’s volume. And when it was Miller time, our

Aztec friends liked to kick back with peyotl and

teonanácatl, known as the ‘sacred mushroom.’

Valens perks. Finally, something his cop’s

sensibility can wrap around. “Peyotl? Like

peyote?”

“Shrooms, dude. I’m sure that as the Age of

Aquarius dawned, certain aspects of Hoesch’s

curriculum captured the youthful imagination.

Teonanácatl was the magic mushroom of choice for

Aztec, Nahua, Mazatec, Olmec, Mixtecs, Zapotec,

Mayan and other pre-Columbian shamans across

southern Mexico and Central America. They called

it ‘God’s flesh’ — it contains a compound,

psilocybin, that’s been linked to visions or

hallucinations in those who consume it. The

shamans incorporated it into their rites to

invoke gods and spirits, visit higher planes of

existence, even link consciousnesses, according

to some accounts.”

“Getting a little out there, Agent Mulder,”

Valens cautions.

“The phenomenon’s not confined to Mesoamerican

culture, Detective. Scientists and travelers for

centuries have passed on tales of nomadic Russian

reindeer herders who ritually ingested fly agaric

mushrooms to obtain contact with the ‘spiritual’

dimension. Gets lonely out there on the steppes,

I guess. Actually, the word ‘shaman’ itself comes

from the Siberian Tungus ‘saman’ — diviner,

magician, doctor, creator of ecstasy, the

mediator between the human world and the

supernatural.”

Valens blocks Mulder. “I’m beginning to think I

need a mediator between the human world and you.

Look, Mulder — I watched Altered States on HBO a

few years ago. William Hurt eats some bad

mushroom soup and turns into a monkey. This case

is cold enough without dragging in the ancient

Aztecs and the Zappa fans and the Mixalots.

What’s all this got to do with Billy McHenry?”

Mulder smiles. “Most North Americans didn’t even

know about teonanácatl up here until a 1957 Life

magazine article on ethnomycology – the study of

the cultural and historical use of fungi. You

think that wouldn’t have been catnip for an up-

and-coming anthropologist like Fred Hoesch? Back

in ’69, the Lost Generation smoked, ate, snorted,

licked, and injected almost anything that would

blow their collective minds. Even crawdads, if

we’re to put stock in The Beverly Hillbillies.

What better laboratory for a Mesoamerican

anthropologist trying to tap the secrets of the

shamans? A sort of shaman for the 20th Century,

himself, able to influence young minds with his

intellect and the powers of academic life, death,

and military deferment?”

Realization blossoms on Scully’s face. “You don’t

think…”

“Wait a minute, hold on,” Valens murmurs, anger

furrowing his brow. “You think that bastard was

experimenting on McHenry and those other kids?”

He glares up at Hoesch’s office window.

“You heard him — he hasn’t published anything

about psilocybes over the last three decades. You

think a man of Hoesch’s ego wouldn’t have chewed

our ears off about some of his most impressive

academic work?”

“Hoesch would have made frequent trips south of

the border with the university, probably with

federal research money and under the bureaucratic

radar screen,” Scully muses. “It sounds like he

was a mentor, even a hero, to Billy and his other

students. But if this is true, it raises the

question, Mulder: Was Billy McHenry Hoesch’s

innocent lab rat, or was he his assistant in any

experiments? My god, could he have been dosing

his own roommates, even his girlfriend?”

“Not that I’m saying I buy all this,” Valens

drawls, “but what are we gonna do about Hoesch?

Can we prove any of this?”

“First rule of detective work,” Mulder announces

solemnly, surveilling a clutch of passing coeds.

“Talk to the squeeze.”

**

“I never knew who Billy’s dealer was,” Francine

tells Lilly, pouring her another cup of coffee.

“Elijah generally supplied the pot or the LSD for

the group. Billy just turned up with the

mushrooms one night. Said a friend had smuggled

them in from Mexico.”

“We think maybe it was Billy’s professor, Dr.

Hoesch,” Lilly suggests. The team agreed Lilly

and Scully should do the second interview with

the already-wary fugitive, but the agent sips

quietly, giving the detective the lead.

“Hoesch,” Francine breathes, with an intensity

and a venom that sparks a look between her

guests. “I wouldn’t have thought of the great

professor as a drug dealer. I tried never to

think of him at all. He put the moves on me one

time at Billy’s place, when Billy was late

getting home from a rally. I let him know I

wasn’t available. In a very definitive and,

hopefully, painful way.” She and Lilly exchange a

fleeting, sisterly smile. “So he was supplying

Billy with drugs, too. Wonderful.”

“Did you ever take any of the mushrooms, Mrs.

Topher?”

“Absolutely not. Bad enough what the weed and the

acid probably did to our brains back then. I told

Billy he and the guys shouldn’t be messing with

that stuff, but he laughed it off, said I was a

prude.”

“You know how many times the guys took them?”

“At least five, maybe six times. I remember, one

night, when Billy and the boys wanted to show

Elijah how enlightened they were, they invited

this homeless guy up to the apartment and they

all got high together. Some crazy guy, they

called him The Horseman, could’ve freaked out and

killed all of them.” Francine returns to the

present with a defensive expression. “I hope that

didn’t sound racist, but the guys always fell all

over themselves trying to prove to Elijah that

they understood the plight of the ‘brothers,’

that a bunch of suburban white bread teenagers

could identify with decades of oppression and

struggle. Elijah ate it up, even though I think

something might’ve happened, because Billy

avoided the old bum, the homeless guy, after

that.”

“Along with the mushrooms,” Lilly prompts.

Francine nods. “Were you ever there when they

used them?”

Francine shivers, drawing her expensive sweater

about her shoulders. “Just once.”

June 4, 1969

“Shit,” Donna sighed as she juggled Billy’s extra

key and the sack from the market. Milk sloshed

and beans rattled — their so-called “vegetarian”

diet of rice, legumes, and greens was the product

not of ideology but of economics. Billy was too

proud to admit that meat was a luxury on their

meager combined incomes (although he never turned

down the flesh of God’s creatures when it came

with special sauce and an order of fries and

somebody else was buying).

Billy’d been working extra hard and late at the

lab these days — he worshiped that pig Hoesch,

even though if she ever told him how his hero’d

tried to get into her pants… Anyway, she’d wanted

to fix him a special meal — her roommate was

holding down the fort, and maybe Billy might be

back in the mood for love and reconciliation.

But the Stones threw cold water on her hopes for

the evening. Jagger’s voice beyond the flimsy

apartment door taunted her: “You can’t always get

what you want…” The Stones were Vince and Ted’s

favorite mood music for artificial mood

elevation.

Donna considered leaving, but she remained

concerned about the company Billy’d been keeping.

Elijah frightened her — whenever she was around,

he studied her. It wasn’t like Hoesch’s

eyefucking — he seemed to be appraising her, her

intelligence. And what was this heavyweight

militant doing hanging out with children like

Billy and Vince and Ned? Elijah was a scary dude,

but she knew instinctively his wary respect for

her was the key to protecting Billy from getting

in too deep with him.

Donna took a deep breath, sucking in the cannabis

fumes that saturated the hallway, and nudged open

the door. She awaited Billy’s dumb stoned grin of

recognition, Ned and Vince’s lascivious giggles

as they checked her out, Elijah’s reptilian

stare, appraising and challenging. But there was

none of that tonight.

The four men sat in a circle on the threadbare

rag rug in the lotus position, wrists up, fingers

twitching. Their eyes were open, wide open, but

they gazed at nothing, or, Donna thought with a

shudder, something beyond Billy’s shabby

apartment, beyond this world.

“Baby,” she whispered, dropping the bag. A potato

rolled across the floor and ricocheted off

Vince’s right foot. It didn’t register. “Billy!”

Donna gasped, kneeling beside him. He stared

straight ahead, wonder blooming in his

expression.

“BILLY!” she screamed, slapping him hard. She

fell back in terror as four heads snapped. Eight

eyes began to blink, strain against the light of

the hallway.

Donna clambered to her feet, stumbling over a

chair as she backed toward the doorway. Elijah’s

head whipped up, eyes filled with irritation.

Billy’s hand went to his cheek. “Hey, Babe! Hey,

what’s wrong?”

Donna didn’t stop running until she hit the

corner.

**

“Ah, Ned and I travel in different circles these

days,” Father Vincent admits, his battered oak

office chair groaning as he dips back into time.

“I’ve come a million miles from that place,

spiritually as well as physically. I never see

any of them any more — Ned, Donna, Bill-”

The priest’s face fills with pain, and for a

moment, Lilly glimpses the unlined face of the

young man who’d forsaken sex and drugs and rock

and roll for a Roman collar, celibacy, and Latin

homilies. “Sometimes, I forget Billy’s dead,

although I’ll never forget finding him like that,

torn and… You know, beyond the horror of that

moment, I’m haunted by the regret that Billy died

without the rites.” Father Vincent grins

guiltily. “The job, I suppose. It’s just that we

were all so confused, made so many bad choices

back then. But Billy had a certain honor, grace,

I suppose you could say. Love and peace – it

wasn’t all lip service to him. But he was in such

turmoil near the end. I guess I’m haunted by the

idea that he died with his soul still in

turmoil.”

Mulder and Lilly exchange a glance. She breaks

the connection quickly. “What do you think was

behind the turmoil, Father?”

“It was an era of turmoil,” he shrugs, searching

the yellowing ceiling of his office. “He was

under a lot of pressure at school, and, tell you

the truth, Billy never seemed cut out for the

liberated lifestyle of the late ’60s.”

At that moment, Lilly, Mulder, and Scully

simultaneously know the priest is lying. Eyes

down, searching for the truth, eyes up, fishing

for a convenient lie.

“How about Elijah Fortson?” Lilly probes. “Kind

of heavy company for a choirboy.”

The chair creaks as Father Vincent returns to the

present. Again, his eyes betray him, refusing to

meet with the detective’s. “If you think Billy

was involved in any way in that bombing, then you

have no idea how much he revered life, respected

it. To this day, I can’t conceive of any reason

for anyone killing him.”

“There was someone else,” Mulder ventures. “You

remember a man you and Billy used to call The

Horseman?”

Father Vincent chuckles, surprising both of them.

“Sorry. It’s just, well, you’re really barking up

the wrong tree now. Sure, he presented a pretty

scary figure at the time, shouting fire and

brimstone and waving that beat-up Gideon Bible at

the ‘drunkards’ and ‘harlots’ on the street. He

was stoned out of his mind most of the time, full

of his own demons, but he couldn’t have killed

Billy any more than I could have.”

The priest catches Mulder’s small, questioning

smile, and straightens in his chair.

“Homicide questioned him the day of the murder,”

Lilly notes, “But they never got a name. To them,

he was just some crazy homeless guy.”

A smile crosses the clergyman’s lined face. “It’s

astonishing to me the impact God’s humblest

creatures can have. If not for that ‘crazy,

homeless guy,’ I might not be here right now. I

can’t explain how, but somehow, he got to me,

spiritually. You know, it was only a few months

after Billy’s death that I joined the seminary.”

Mulder glances at the Virgin Mary on the wall

behind the priest. “You ever see him after you

moved back to the neighborhood?”

Three decades seem to fall from Father Vincent’s

face as the corner of his mouth twitches. “You

might say so. Follow me.”

**

“The father, he asked the diocese ‘specially to

get assigned to this parish,” Melvin Johnson

explains, polishing the silver candlestick slowly

and lovingly as Mulder and Rush hold down

opposite ends of the front pew. St. Bartholomew’s

sexton surveys his work, a beatific smile of

satisfaction parting his creased, purple lips. He

moves onto a chalice, thumb working the chamois

rag. “By this time, I’d lost my taste for the

Word. Left Alabama in, oh, musta been ’65. I

lived right down the road from where them two

little girls got blowed up – had my own church

then, African Methodist Episcopal, but them girls

dyin’ like that, well, guess it shook me some.

Found I couldn’t climb up in that pulpit no more,

tell the folks about Sweet Jesus’s love and

everlasting light.”

The stooped old man Billy McHenry called The

Horseman stops rubbing, peers at his young

visitors through thick lenses. “Got it into my

head I’d come up north, take the Word to the

street. ‘Cept the body’s weak, amen, and I fell

into some sorry and sinful ways. Spose I was

drinkin’ and druggin’ those children’s deaths out

of my head – I forgot about the love of the Lord

and started passin’ my own prideful judgment on

anybody would look my way.”

He blinks, smils sheepishly. “Got to pardon me –

havin’ one of them senior moments. Anyway, that

poor boy’s murder, it’s like it just stole away

what little scrap was left of my faith. Lost my

taste for the Word, though not for the grape and

the grain and the weed. Didn’t hardly recognize

Father Vincent when he came to see me at one of

the downtown missions, oh my, musta been 30, more

years ago. Offered me some work here in the

church, three squares, and a warm bed where the

junkies couldn’t cut my throat. I told him where

he could put all that, but he kept on comin’ down

and keepin’ at me ’til I came back with him, most

probably just to shut him up.” Johnson cackled,

showing crooked but white teeth.

Lilly leans forward. “And you’ve been here ever

since?”

“The father, he saved my life – have mercy, I

wouldn’ta lasted more’n a few years, way I was

headed.” Johnson replaces the chalice with

reverence, and sat down on the altar step with a

serious expression. “So what do you two want with

Father Vincent? This about that boy’s murder?”

“The homicide report says you didn’t move from

your spot on the street between the time Billy

McHenry entered his apartment and the police

interviewed you about the killing,” Mulder

prompts. “But did you remember seeing anyone else

go in or out of McHenry’s apartment building the

day of the murder?”

Johnson’s eyes flick toward Father Vincent, who

nods encouragement. “Well, I remembered the boy –

he’d always been nice to me, give me a buck or

some supper when he could swing it, even invited

me to come up and visit with his friends once or

twice. And that man, fella on the TV last few

weeks.”

“Elijah Fortson?” Lilly offers.

Johnson’s eyes narrow. “He was the serpent, that

man. Tempted them lost children with drugs and

evil talk about doing violence to others.”

“Did you see Fortson the day of the murder?”

“No, ma’am. Just…”

Mulder cranes forward, eyebrows raised.

“It’s all right, Melvin,” the father smiles.

Johnson nods, relieved. “‘Fraid I wasn’t what you

might’ve called a reliable witness back then. All

I remember was the words of Genesis coming out of

my mouth and the Virgin Mary.”

“The Virgin Mary?” Lilly inquires gently.

Melvin’s face wrinkles with mirth. “Had had me a

taste of the Thunderbird ‘fore I went out to

preach that day. Helped me wind up and give the

folks what-for. Some times, when I’d had me a nip

or two, I’d see the Devil hisself holdin’ up a

lamppost, or maybe a chorus of angels in front of

the liquor store. That day, it was the Virgin

Mary. Mighta been a sign, maybe. Probably the

‘Bird, though.” The Horseman squints lovingly up

at the Virgin Mother, beaming down from the

stained glass at her recovered child, Melvin.

“Praise be.”

“Amen,” Father Vincent echoes.

**

“You got my Liberty Bell shotglass yet?”

Mulder grins, wiping the grit from his eyes.

Scully stirs with a semi-conscious grunt, and he

silently crawls from underneath the covers and

pads to the bathroom.

“It’s two o’clock, you little Neanderthal,”

Mulder yawns into his cell phone.

“Space: Above and Beyond marathon on the Sci-Fi

Network,” Frohike explains. “Now we’ve got some

kinda infomercial for rubber cookware. You want

to know what I found out, or not? I’m probably

missing a Kari Wuhrer flick on Skinemax.”

“Shoot.”

“Disgruntled ex-NSA guy Byers knows says Army

Intelligence was doing some classified field

experiments back in ’71. Real hush-hush, black

ops stuff, but they put it on film, and a couple

years later, he got a matinee showing of a

bootleg copy.

“The movie looked to be shot in Vietnam or

Cambodia, in some little Podunk area. It was a

squad of Special Forces guys on a raid of some

village. Real My Lai stuff, Mulder – some bad

shit. Even Byers’ ex-spook gets nightmares from

it occasionally. These guys wipe out a whole

village – men, women, old folks, even kids.”

“God.”

“Makes you wonder. But what’s creepier, if that

ain’t bad enough, is the way these Special Forces

guys operated. Byers’ buddy says they were

practically like machines, as if they were all

plugged into the same X-Box. Total stealth, no

commands or chatter, but these dozen or so guys

offed everybody in the village, 40 or so people,

in less than 20 minutes, without sustaining so

much as a hangnail…”

Mulder lowers himself onto the toilet lid.

“Mulder? Hey, Mulder?”

“Yeah, sorry,” the agent drawls.

“Here’s the even freakier part. The guy who

showed Byers’ buddy the film, maybe about 20

years ago? He was some kind of researcher our NSA

guy knew from college. Anyway, he said he’d been

involved in the Army thing, but didn’t know until

afterwards about the massacre. Mr. Science wanted

to know if he should take the movie to Mike

Wallace or Geraldo or somebody. Didn’t you say

there was some kind of university geek involved

in your case?”

“I dunno. Sounds like your guy might have had a

rudimentary conscience of some kind. Our guy

makes Rupert Murdoch look like Mary Kate and

Ashley.”

“Actually, my guy’s guy thought breaking the

story on 60 Minutes might be good for a book

deal.”

“That’s our Fred,” Mulder concludes. “I assume

Byers’ guy wised him up, had him bury the movie

under 30 feet of concrete.”

“Obviously. What’s going on out there, Mulder?”

“I think some seriously bad mojo.”

**

“These days, I have trouble enough remembering

when I took my last piss,” Ray Espinshade

chuckles, adjusting his bulk in the sunroom easy

chair to accommodate an ill-concealed colostomy

bag. There is a tinge of green in Vera’s polite

grimace. “But that certainly was one day I’ll

never forget. Just my luck to have stayed late

that afternoon doing the books. Hey, kid, you

wanna hand me that juice?”

The ‘kid,’ Jeffreys, locates a large teal cup,

labeled ‘Property of Liberty Manor Care Center,’

and hands in gently to the elderly ex-jeweler.

Espinshade sucks noisily at his beverage; Vera’s

feels a roll of the stomach.

“I’d finally made everything come out even, and I

was gonna take the late Mrs. Espinshade out for a

steak. That’s when that car came screaming around

the corner like a bat outta hell. When it

screeched to a stop across the street, I thought

maybe it was a heist – I usually kept about a

million in inventory in the office safe. I almost

made in my pants. Back then, it wasn’t as easy as

it is now, eh?” The fleshy old man cackles.

Vera laughs weakly.

“But then I see they’re in front of the

recruiting office.”

“Two of them, right?” Jeffreys clarifies.

“One driving, one with a bottle. It was one of

those Molotov thingies, you know, with the rag

stuffed in the bottle? Well, the passenger with

the bottle, he jumps out, lights the rag, and

flings it through the window of the joint, jumps

back in the car, and they screech off, burning

rubber. I tried to get a peek at the license

plate, but then, whoosh! The front of the

building just blows out, like in a movie, and

there’s fire everywhere. I ran back upstairs and

called the cops. Like I told ’em, though, these

guys had hoods over their heads – I couldn’t see

nothing.” Espinshade places his juice cup on an

end table next to his wheelchair and looks from

Vera to Jeffreys. “Hey, you didn’t catch the

guys, did you?’

“We think we’ve got one,” Jeffreys offers.

“Wow, great, great. Damned hippies, always

blowing up something back then. Burning the draft

cards, burning the bras, while guys like me were

busting our asses working.” Espinshade sighs,

reaches for his cup, withdraws. “Well, I guess it

ain’t any worse than now, with the gang kids and

that hippety-hop crap my grandson listens to. At

least some of the kids had a little respect back

then, a little religion. Like the kid with the

beads.”

“Beads?” Jeffreys inquires, drawing an annoyed

glance from Vera. The clock on Espinshade’s

bedstand indicates it’s Miller Time.

Espinshade suddenly seems distracted. “Beads? Oh,

yeah, the kid with the beads. Yeah, this was

about two weeks after the Army joint went up.

They still hadn’t cleaned up the rubble, and I

was watching for a crew to come around. Well, I’m

working late again – so what else is new? – and I

look out the window and see this hippie kid

standing in front of the burnt-out building. He

like gets down on his knee on the sidewalk where

the door used to be.”

Vera lifts his left buttock from the edge of

Espinshade’s bed. Jeffreys comes to attention, as

well. “Mr. Espinshade, did you tell the police

about seeing this man?” Jeffreys asks, gently.

The old man cackles. “Hell, no. Just some kid

came to pay his respects to the dead. At first, I

thought maybe he was up to something. I yelled

out the window, ‘What are you doing, punk!,’ and

he drops something and runs off. I high-tail it

across the street to see what kind of crap he’s

trying to pull. But all he’d done was leave some

beads in front of the place. You know, like how

they leave that shit where the Twin Towers were?

Wasn’t anything to tell the cops about. Besides.”

Espinshade raises a puffy hand, waves the

detectives closer.

“Besides,” he whispers. “They were a sweet piece

of work, these beads. Antique stuff, Italian, I

made it. So I kept ’em. I’da told those dumbass

cops, they woulda taken ’em for ‘evidence.’ You

know what ‘evidence’ means, right? Some cop buys

his girlfriend a new outfit. Hey, don’t put that

in your article or whatever, OK, guys?”

**

“Antique beads?” Mulder scowled, sipping his

beer.

“Yeah,” Vera chuckles, his goodwill toward the

agent improving with each round. “Tells us flat

out he stole ’em. Sad thing is, he got robbed a

few months later, and they’re long gone.”

A half-dozen similar conversations are drifting

about the pub along with the smoke and the yeasty

smell of hops and malt. It’s a cop bar, and half

the PPD’s first shift is drowning its sorrows

over bad busts, dimwitted perps, liberal judges,

and the new tide of victims the day has washed

in.

Jeffreys plops a bowl of popcorn on the wobbly

laminated table and pulls out a chair. “Thirty-

five years, he’s sitting on a possible lead, all

because he was afraid of a petty theft charge.”

“More likely, Mr. Espinshade didn’t want anyone

to know he’d stolen from a memorial,” Scully

suggests. “You said he saw the hippie at about

the same time the recruiting office had been

bombed two weeks earlier. Don’t you think that’s

an odd coincidence.”

“It was in the papers, on the news,” Lilly notes.

“It could’ve been just what Espinshade suggested

– a simple gesture of respect. But why beads? It

seems like an awfully personal item.”

“Exactly.” Mulder began to tear the label from

his Bud. “Maybe they had some relevance for the

bomber or the victims. In ancient funereal rites,

beads often signified…”

“God, give it a rest,” Vera growls, slapping his

bottle on the phony wood grain.

“Kid psychics who talk to the dead, feds who talk

like some dweeb at a Trekkie convention, freaking

mad scientists. I’m mean, listen to yourself.”

“Nick,” Valens cautions.

Mulder is unperturbed. “In the ’60s and ’70s, the

Soviets conducted extensive experiments with ESP,

with remote viewing, in the hopes of beefing up

military and intelligence capabilities. Why

couldn’t the U.S. military not explore

psychotropic compounds that might enable spies or

soldiers to share their consciousness, their

thoughts? Imagine the implications for ground or

even air combat of those capabilities could be

refined.”

“Aw, Jesus, you’re freaking nuts,” Vera says.

“He’s freaking nuts. I can’t take this crap any

more…”

“Nick, man,” Valens murmurs. “Thought you said

you were gonna take it easy on the stuff, right?”

Vera sinks back into his chair, petulant. “Yeah,

you want me to say a few dozen Hail Marys?”

The silence that ensues is not one of discomfort

or embarrassment. As realization dawns first

Agent Scully’s, then Lilly’s face, Vera blinks.

“What?” he demands.

**

“Was it Elijah’s idea, or yours?” Lilly asks.

When she is greeted by silence, she continues.

“We found out your brother had been shot down

over Cambodia six months before the bombing.

Elijah wanted to make a noise. Did you tell him

where to make it?”

“How did you ever…?”

“I think you were angry and in anguish over your

brother’s death, but I don’t think you’re a

violent person by nature,” Mulder suggests. “I

think this, all of this, was your reaction to

what you did 35 years ago. You were overcome with

grief after killing those people. Fortson

disappeared, but you couldn’t. Your conscience

wouldn’t let you. That’s why you went back, why

you left that rosary at the recruiting office.”

“It was my grandmother’s.” Father Vincent

Gillesco’s tense expression eases. Lilly detects

what appears to be relief on the priest’s face.

“Elijah told me they were responsible for killing

Tony, for killing all those thousands of boys who

went over to fight for God knows what.” He laughs

bitterly at the irony of his comment, and his

fingers stray over his desk blotter. “I shouldn’t

try to dump my responsibility on Elijah – he

simply channeled the hatred that had been boiling

up inside me. Billy’s death had merely added to

my anger, my confusion.

“I had no idea those people were in that office –

it was after hours. We just wanted to make a

statement. I suppose this is my statement, as

well. A hollow one, I suppose, for those people,

their families. I guess taking Melvin in was a

statement, too.”

“Father, we’re going to have to take you in,”

Lilly informs him, rising reluctantly.

The graying priest nods, closing his eyes for

just a moment, then regarding the cross over the

door beyond the cop and the agents.

“Yes,” he finally breathes. “If I could just…”

Because of the Roman collar, the clergyman’s

subdued demeanor, they fail to comprehend what’s

happening until Father Vincent has pulled open

the center drawer and hoisted the blue steel

revolver.

Lilly’s weapon is out in a second and leveled at

the priest. “Drop it, Father!” she yells as

Mulder and Scully draw down.

Father Vincent smiles sadly, his arm crooking and

the barrel dimpling his temple. “It’s a

technicality at best, Det. Rush, but I wouldn’t

want this on your soul.”

“Father,” Scully cautions tersely. “You have to

know that what you’re proposing to do…”

“Is a sin? You know, I took this gun from a young

man, 14 — a member of one of the neighborhood

gangs who’s run drugs since he was nine. He was

going to kill the man who runs the convenience

store around the corner, because he was

disrespectful to his mother. The boy told me this

in confession – wanted me to absolve him in

advance for the senseless act of violence he

intended to commit. Thank God I was able to help

him see, to convince him to give up his gun and

his plan. Now I wonder if this wasn’t part of

some other larger plan…”

“You know that isn’t so,” Scully counters.

“Please, Father. This isn’t part of any plan.”

“Perhaps there isn’t any plan.” The sound of the

hammer cocking fills the room.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have

called you by name, you are mine…” Melvin

Johnson’s words reverberate throughout the room,

enveloping its four armed inhabitants like

amniotic fluid. Lilly’s aim remains steadfast,

but her eyes dart momentarily toward the

arthritic, nearly blind old man. “When you pass

through the waters, I will be with you; and

through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm

you.”

The hand holding the revolver begins to tremble.

Melvin hobbles past Lilly and the federal agents.

Despite the deadly gravity of the situation,

despite he is smiling, lovingly, paternally down

at the agent of his salvation. “You remember

that, Father? You comin’ down there to read

scripture to some crazy old drunk druggie?

Thought to myself, ‘Who’s this white boy try to

tell me the word of the Lord, try to save me?

Who’s he think he is?’ ‘Member what I told you

you could do with your scripture, Father?” Melvin

cackled, turning to Lilly and the agents.

“Goodness, can’t repeat it in polite company. But

you wouldn’t leave me, even with me cussing and

hollerin’ at you to get your white ass outta my

alleyway. Say, why don’t you all put them guns

down? Man my age could have an infarction. You

too, now, Father.”

Eyes ablaze with uncertainty, Mulder lowers his

weapon. Lilly follows, and Scully relaxes her

aim.

Melvin nods. “That’s better. C’mon, now, Father.

No place for this in the Lord’s house. I ain’t

gonna tell that boy you took his pistol away just

so you could shed your own blood. Got enough

bloodshed out there, without you blaspheming His

house.” The sexton’s voice takes on an edge.

“Father? Son?”

“Forgive me,” Father Vincent whispers, easing the

hammer back and placing the gun on his blotter.

“There, now,” Melvin murmurs, gnarled fingers

reaching out to stroke the priest’s graying hair.

“I will be with you, son.”

**

Her eyes aching, Lilly sets aside the thick

McHenry casefile as the doorbell sounds. One of

the “girls” is draped over her thigh; the

detective gentle disengages her and peers through

the peephole.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Detective,” Agent

Scully murmurs as the door swings open. “But I

had a theory I wanted to bounce off you.”

“Sure.” Lilly, confused, steps aside and ushers

her guest into the living room. “I don’t mind,

but why me? And why not in the morning?”

“Well, I think you and I are in a better position

to evaluate my theory, and– Oh my.”

Lilly suppresses a smile as the “girls” greet

Scully, caressing her thigh with low, pleasured

rumblings. The agent stares down at the one-eyed

feline and her three-legged companion.

“Are they, um, are they rescue animals?” Scully

asks, anxiously.

“You want some tea or some decaf, Agent?”

“Ah, tea, but only if you’re having some.” Lilly

notices for the first time that Scully is

carrying a large shopping bag from one of the

major Philly department stores.

Lilly nods and heads for the kitchenette. “And

what is my special position, Agent?”

“Dana.”

“Lilly.”

Scully settles onto the couch as the girls follow

their owner into the galley. “I got to thinking

about Billy McHenry’s behavior and actions in the

period before the murder. His fatigue, his work

in Hoesch’s lab falling off. His erratic comings

and goings and that phone conversation Hoesch

heard — McHenry’s emphasizing his commitment,

his realization about what was ‘important.’ Our

assumption has been that McHenry was involved in

some kind of activity most like with Elijah

Fortson. But there is another possible

interpretation that explains everything,

including the forensic evidence at the crime

scene.”

Lilly emerges, a cup of steaming liquid in each

hand. “And that is?”

Scully reaches into the bag and withdraws a stack

of videotapes. “I wanted to see if I could get

some kind of confirmation, so I stopped by the

local TV stations and had them dub off some news

footage for roughly a year prior to McHenry’s

death. Do you have a VCR?”

Lilly nods. “I guess there goes C.S.I., huh?”

**

” ‘Donna’ came to Philadelphia in October 1967 —

she and her parents had had a falling out, and

she left Bucks County to come to school here.”

Scully punches the “Play” button, and she and

Lilly are transported to a slightly discolored

era of love and peace and discontent. A solid

blue line of uniforms stand rooted silently

before a mass of young people chanting their

displeasure at the war a world away, at the

corruption of absolute power. Scully hits

“Pause,” and the chanting stops. “See, there’s

Donna, Mrs. Topher. In the white tank top and

bellbottoms and the granny glasses. McHenry’s

right behind her. This is in August 1968.”

Lilly peers at the willowy, unfocused young

woman. “OK…”

Scully stops and pops the tape and shoves another

into the Panasonic, glancing momentarily at the

cyclopean creature rubbing her forearm. “This

tape is from three months later — it’s a sit-in

at the university student union. There’s Donna,

next to the man in the dashiki near the bulletin

board.”

“Plumped up some over the winter,” Lilly murmurs.

“Guess the bra-burning must’ve been a huge

success.”

“Remember that.”

“Huh?”

“OK, let’s fast-forward to February 1969 — Nixon

protest at City Hall. Donna’s once again in

attendance, with McHenry.”

“Where? I don’t see her?”

Scully shakes her head. “No, you just don’t

recognize her. She’s changed her fashion

statement and gained some more weight. Look in

front of the podium — the girl in the poncho and

the flower girl dress.”

“She was getting into the role,” Lilly suggests.

“I don’t think so. That’s a heavy wool poncho,

and according to the U.S. Weather Service, this

was one of Philadelphia’s warmest Februaries on

record.”

Lilly sinks back onto the couch, scrutinizing the

flower child who would become a society matron.

“I don’t see where you’re going, Dana.”

Scully pauses the tape and turns to the cop. “I

searched all the archives of the three major

affiliates in town, and this apparently was

Donna’s last on-camera appearance until May 1969,

at a peace rally downtown. Look at her.” She zips

ahead to Philadelphia in the spring.

“Ah, the braless look returns,” Lilly grins. “She

must have shed a few for the tank top season.”

“I don’t think so,” Scully counters quietly.

“That’s why I wanted your perspective. A woman’s

perspective.”

**

“We lost another one last night,” Janice Grey

sighs, riffling through the hospice pantry for

the Celestial Seasonings. She locates the Red

Zinger, and turns to Lilly and Scully. “Twenty-

six, he was. Astonishing. War was killing them

then, now its AIDS and the gangs. If I wasn’t

such a hard-bitten atheist, I’d almost believe

there was a perverse design at work – a sort of

cosmic bent toward our own extinction. Sugar,

Det. Rush?”

“No, thanks, Doctor.” At a crucial point in her

life, Janice was an outlaw, a criminal, in some

people’s view, a villain. She and Lilly had met a

year or so ago, when the latter was investigating

a ’69 double murder linked to Philadelphia’s

underground abortion parlors.

Dr. Grey lowers a teabag into each of the three

mugs on the breakroom table and then her thin,

arthritic frame into a chair beside the cop and

the agent. “I assume you’re here about my former

practice. No violent death here – at least no

violence within the context of your job. You want

to know about one of my girls?”

“This one would’ve been different,” Lilly

murmurs.

**

“It was 1969,” Lilly begins. “Chaos and confusion

everywhere. A war over there, battle lines being

drawn here. People dropping out, running away,

searching for identity. It was a lot easier back

then to just disappear, to fade into the

background. Wasn’t it?”

Francine Topher stares impassively at the

detective across the interrogation table, as

Mulder, Scully, and Valens hang back. She’s come

in without Joe Miller this time, but she’s not

volunteering anything.

“Donna Geistner vanishes, Francine Topher comes

whol into the world. Even today, shredding one

identity and creating another one’s no easy task.

But back then, kids were being shuttled to Canada

under the radar screen, drug distributors and

dealers were networking before Microsoft even

burned its first piece of software, and

underground clinics were popping up all over the

city to clean up after all the free love going

around.”

Francine’s eyes flicker away for a nanosecond.

Lilly kneels beside her. “Something was upsetting

Billy, occupying him, those last few months

before his death. We thought it was something

criminal, maybe something to do with Elijah

Fortson. We were wrong.”

“McHenry was distracted,” Scully takes the ball.

“He was tired, and his studies and work were

suffering. A phone would ring and he’d leave the

university lab, abruptly, with no explanation.

Dr. Hoesch overheard him talking to someone,

agitated, guilty, defensive. McHenry had some

kind of appointment or obligation he clearly

viewed as a burden.”

Lilly rises to her feet, retrieves a folder from

the head of the table, and opens it for

Francine’s inspection. She leafs through the

photos of the girl who would become Francine

Topher, and looks up, baffled.

“We took these from news footage of events you

participated in from August 1968 to May 1969,”

the detective explains. “During that period, you

went from willowy slimness to buxom

voluptuousness to ponchoed plumpness,

disappearing from the public eye for about two

months before re-emerging, once again a willowy

wisp of a girl. You know where we’re heading,

don’t you, Mrs. Topher?”

Francine’s hands are now clutched on the

tabletop, knuckles as pale and exsanguinated as

her face.

“It’s all there in these photos – a gradual

weight gain, increased breast size, the attempts

to conceal your abdomen the last few months,”

Agent Scully murmurs. “With the braless look that

became so popular in the sixties, I can even see

the symptomatic darkening of the areolae

surrounding your nipples. Billy wasn’t

disappearing from the lab to plot with Elijah and

Vincent. He was babysitting.”

The room is still. Suddenly, with a slow,

tremulous expulsion of air, Francine remembers to

breathe.

“Janice Grey helped you give birth in April

1969,” Lilly continues, softly. “Helped you have

Billy McHenry’s baby. It was Billy’s, wasn’t it?”

Francine nods absently.

“You carried that child to term, and went to an

underground abortion clinic to bring it into the

world. You and Billy were living hand-to-mouth,

and yet you kept the baby, worked your schedule

around it. And Billy’s.

“There was an object on the bed when Billy died.

I think it was the baby. What happened to that

child, Francine? Why did you kill Billy?

July 20, 1969

“Billy!”

Billy turned to find Donna towering above the

bed, eyes alight with horror, crocheted handbag

clutched in her white fingers. He smiled,

clutching the tarnished carving knife absently.

“What are you doing?” the girl whispered,

glancing anxiously at the parcel on the bed.

“It’s all right,” the boy assured her in a voice

all the more frightening for its fatalistic calm.

“It’s going to be all right. It’s what he wants.”

“He?” Donna moves forward, cautiously. “Why would

you do this, Billy? You said you were cool with

it. Please, give me the knife.”

“This is the only way out. The only way to save

us.”

“No, no, it’s not. I’ll split, we’ll split.

You’ll never see us again. I promise. This is not

the way, Billy.”

Billy nodded, then turned. The hand rose and the

knife’s blade glittered in the afternoon sun.

Donna lunged, seizing Billy’s arm. He turned,

grabbed the hand clamped around his, and Donna

yelped as he applied pressure.

The weapon slipped, and a thin line of blood

erupted from Billy’s palm. He didn’t seem to

register the pain, and Donna wondered if he was

high on something serious. He yanked at the knife

as Donna twisted it away from her chest.

Her energy was waning as a sudden cry pierced the

stale air of the tiny bedroom. The infant on the

bedspread began to mewl, and as Donna’s attention

was diverted, Billy tugged the knife free.

It sunk to the hilt beneath his sternum. Donna

screamed, but no sound would come out. Billy

looked down, then, with apparent amazement, up at

the mother of his child. His eyes filled, but his

lips spread in a wide, grateful smile.

“Praise be,” Billy whispered before he crumpled

to the mattress…

**

Francine Topher’s immaculately manicured fingers

worries her empty coffee cop. “I took Lucas –

that was what we’d named him – bundled up in a

poncho so no one would recognize me, and

just…left.”

Lilly looks to Agent Mulder, who’d guessed the

truth behind Melvin Johnson’s “vision” of the

Virgin Mary and child outside Billy’s apartment

building.

“I knew I could never give Lucas a good home as

long as there was a possibility you people would

find me, so I left him at a hospital ER and

disappeared. It was easy, back then. The rest?”

Francine smiled wearily up at Lilly. “Well, the

rest just doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

Lilly leans across the table, her hands resting

only an inch from Donna’s. “It was self-defense,

Francine. You were defending your child. I’m sure

the court will understand. It was a long, long

time ago.”

Francine’s smile was bitter. “The Summer of Love.

It was all about freedom. Billy didn’t want any

commitment, any strings. He would have killed our

child, my child, to win his freedom back.”

Mulder comes off the wall, speaking for the first

time. “I don’t believe Billy intended to murder

your child,” he suggests.

Francine’s dead eyes try to focus on the agent.

“He was standing over my baby with a knife,” she

recites dully. He told me it was the only way

out. What do you believe was his intention?”

“I guess what I should say is, I don’t believe

Billy meant to kill your son as a matter of

convenience. In fact, I don’t think he was

capable of thinking rationally at that moment.

What Billy meant was not that killing the boy was

the only way out of an unbearable burden, but

that it was the only way he could gain

salvation.”

“I don’t…”

“You told us Prof. Hoesch was supplying Billy

with psilocybic mushrooms. Remember the night you

walked in on Billy and the others, their odd

behavior? The way they were acting almost as one?

Well, I think Hoesch was experimenting on them.

There have been reports of Meso-American rituals

where groups that have taken fungal extracts

experience a sort of collective consciousness.

They share thoughts, visions, experiences.

“I think that’s what happened that summer. Billy

and his friends began to share a common

consciousness. But Billy unwittingly invited a

diseased, tortured consciousness into the group.”

Francine’s eyes search Mulder’s, then widen. “The

Horseman,” she murmurs.

Mulder nods. “My guess is Melvin Johnson had a

severe case of survivor’s guilt — you see it a

lot in post-9/11 New Yorkers. In 1963, a KKK bomb

killed four young girls in Alabama, near where

Johnson had lived and preached. Johnson was a man

of deep religious conviction, but those

children’s deaths damaged his faith, twisted it.

He came to Philadelphia to get away, but also to

try to change his world. When he found he

couldn’t, he turned to drugs and alcohol, layered

with Old Testament proselytizing. Retribution and

original sin, the fires of Hell burning eternally

for all souls. And sacrifice.”

Francine’s fingers now have stilled.

“‘After these things God tested Abraham, and said

to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here am I.” He

said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom

you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer

him there as a burnt offering upon one of the

mountains of which I shall tell you.’ Genesis 22:

1-2. According to the story, God spared Isaac at

the last moment, but I think to Melvin Johnson,

those four dead girls represented some kind of

blood sacrifice to a dark god, a message of the

world’s growing depravity and inhumanity. I think

that’s how Johnson had come to see the world, and

I think Billy became infected with that world

view when his consciousness melded with The

Horseman’s.

“Look at the other members of Hoesch’s ‘tribe,’

the impact their experimentation had on them that

Summer of ’69. The allegedly atheistic Elijah

Fortson’s social diatribes were sprinkled with

biblical parables and admonitions. Ned Squiers

created a public scene in a downtown bank,

chastising the ‘moneylenders.’ Vincent Gillesco

entered the priesthood, spurred in part by guilt

over his role in the recruiting office bombing.

They were weak young men, directionless and

confused. I think Johnson’s will was too strong

for any of them, especially for Billy, who was

looking for some fundamental answers.”

“And his answer was to murder our child.”

Francine’s response is nearly inaudible.

“He wasn’t himself. Billy was acting under the

unwitting influence of a madman and a

manipulative opportunist. He was insane. I

thought you ought to know that, that it might

offer you at least some solace.”

Francine Topher looks up, meets Mulder’s eyes

with her own steady, critical gaze, causing him

momentarily to glance away. A smile forms — a

mirthless, possibly pitying thing.

“It was a time of madness,” she informs the

agent. “Injustice and violence transformed that

poor man — what did you say his name was,

Johnson? — into a shell-shocked ghost spouting

God’s vengeance. Vincent’s grief over his brother

allowed him to murder those innocent people in

that recruiting office. The madness of war and

intolerance and disillusionment infected all of

us. And even if it’s as you say, that Billy was

trying to sacrifice our baby to redeem his soul,

what solace should that offer me? I killed my

baby’s father, sacrificed my child so he might

have a chance at some kind of better life. I lost

my innocence and a lot more in that apartment

that day. I want that innocence back. Can you

offer me that, Agent Mulder?”

**

Melvin Johnson lowers himself painfully from the

last step of the bus, feeling the unspoken

impatience of the wives, parents, and survivors

behind him. He holds no animus toward these

pilgrims as he moves slowly toward the visitor’s

gate at the Pennsylvania Federal Men’s

Correctional Facility. Melvin knows the Lord

works in mysterious ways and that these walking

wounded must find their own way out of the

darkness of their misery and anger.

The new priest is a kind and charitable – if

somewhat detached — man who wants to continue

the good works of his predecessor. Melvin has

agreed to stay on as sexton — he has known no

other world for three decades. Father Vincent

remains keenly interested in the doings of the

parish and its souls.

Melvin will never know how his moment of madness

cost one life and irrevocably altered at least

three others. It is his faith in a kinder god

that ties him inextricably to St. Bartholomew’s,

that brings him every Saturday to the state men’s

facility and Father Vincent, arthritis and the

mass transit permitting.

**

Ned Squiers doesn’t see her at first: He’s

focused on his single malt Scotch – the first of

his ritualistic evening drinks following the six

o’clock cast.

“I’m sorry.” The woman on the next stool is too

young, with too much of her freshly-scrubbed

flesh oozing out of a black killer dress. Ned’s

eyes adjust about 11 inches to the north and

shows his capped teeth. “You’re Ned the

Weatherguy, right?”

Meteorologist, you empty-headed little tramp.

“Yep. That would be me.”

“Wow, you are soo funny,” the girl chirps. She

wiggles on the stool, and Ned nearly spills his

Scotch. “Hey, you knew that protestor guy, didn’t

you? The guy on CourtTV?”

“Back in the day,” Ned acknowledges, checking his

look in the bar mirror. What he sees brings him

up straight: A lanky, long-locked young man with

the light of rebellion in his eyes and a world

ahead of him. He blinks, and the stool once again

is occupied by a paunchy 58-year-old weather

forecaster who peddles used cars during the break

between sports and the stock report.

“God, this is like meeting some historical guy or

something,” his new friend gushes. “It’s so hard

to believe you used to be a hippie? That’s so-o-o

cool.”

“You want a fresh-up?” Ned asks, too quickly.

She nonetheless beams. “Well, sure. That’s so

sweet…”

“Groovy,” he quips, sucking at his gut.

**

Deputy Director Walter Skinner closes the thick

manila folder, placing it carefully on his

blotter and looking up at the two agents who have

been waiting so patiently for him to study their

conclusions regarding his cousin’s death.

“It’s hardly the outcome I was hoping for,” the

burly ex-Marine sighs. “But I appreciate all the

hard work you two put in on this.”

Mulder nods, and he and Scully rise. Skinner

clears his throat, and the pair freeze

expectantly. His glance moves from one to the

other, across a mental landscape of rice paddies,

jungles, and waves of angry and hopeful faces,

and waves dismissal.

“Thanks — that’s all,” he murmurs, returning to

his desktop.

**

Ted McElvoy glances at his watch: He’s been

sitting at the curb at the edge of the rolling

lawn now for close to an hour. Shelley had warned

him repeatedly this would be difficult, perhaps

even traumatic, but he’d laughed it off. He was a

35-year-old businessman – he’d faced down the

post-9/11 recession, angry clients, takeover

threats.

Ted had stared down two-ton quarterbacks both in

high school and college, hammered a childhood

learning disability into an MBA, produced two

bright, happy children both with two arms and two

legs. He had suspected this day would arrive, and

when the attorney had called, he had been calm,

clinical, rational. Ted had thanked his parents,

his wife for their concern and assured them it

was misplaced.

Ted bolts upright – he thinks he’s spotted some

movement at the front door of the sprawling Tudor

home. Just a cat, he realizes, sinking back into

the driver’s seat.

It’s not that he holds any grudges or misgivings.

He’s read the news accounts, knows what was

sacrificed on his behalf, recognizes the price

she paid those many years ago to assure his

happiness.

But here, in his Maxima at the curb at the edge

of the lawn maybe 50 yards from her, Ted cannot

will himself to move. It has been 35 years; a few

more days, weeks, months, won’t make any

difference.

Abruptly, he jams the key in the ignition. “I’m

sorry,” Ted whispers, the Tudor house and the

manicured lawn blurring. He rubs his face with

the sleeve of his $300 jacket and cruises away

from the curb, failing to notice Francine Topher,

his mother, emerging from the darkness beyond the

second-floor curtains…

**

“You really expect to gain any kind of respect in

the field with this kind of incoherent rambling?”

Frederic Hoesch smirks, tipping his head at the

essay on the corner of his desk. He doesn’t touch

it, doesn’t dignify the girl’s apathetic effort.

The blonde, athletic, a ring through her navel,

doesn’t even look at the paper bloodied by

Hoesch’s scarlet criticisms. “It’s an elective,

and I’m taking it pass-fail. I’ll take my chances

with the anthropological community. And if you’re

thinking at all about failing me based on this

one grade, let me warn you: I’m a law student,

and my dad’s with one of the biggest firms in

Pittsburgh. I’ve heard about you, and if there’s

even a hint you tried anything, it’ll be you

trying to get back your ‘respect in the field.'”

She retrieves her paper, and slips out the

pebbled glass door. Hoesch, dumbstruck, watches

her silhouette as she is joined by a second

figure. The sound of laughter dopplers down the

hall outside.

In the old days, she’d have begged for mercy,

been brought to tears -maybe even her knees – by

his condemnation. Hoesch reaches for his mug; his

hand freezes as he notices the liver spots for

the first time.

His heart leaps nearly into his throat as the

phone warbles. After scaring away five

secretaries in four years, Hoesch now answers his

own line.

“Yeah, Fred?” Gerard, the department head.

Despite his familiarity, his voice is chilled,

threatening. “You need to come down to my office,

ASAP. The Faculty Ethics Committee wants some

answers to some fairly grave charges the FBI has

raised.”

“FBI? Charges.” That man, Mulder. Hoesch gulps

for oxygen.

“Charges you conducted illegal drug

experimentation with students back in the

sixties. Charges you had a hand in developing

some kind of military weapon without the

university’s knowledge. Charges that you may have

some kind of complicity in the deaths of several

dozen Southeast Asian civilians. You may want to

get in touch with your attorney, Fred. In fact, I

would strongly advise it.”

“This is absurd, Gerard. You must know that.”

“Just get down here ASAP,” Gerard murmurs with a

touch of frost.

The phone remains locked in Hoesch’s fingers even

as the dial tone shrills in his ear, even as a

tingly numbness spreads seemingly from the

handset up his left arm…

**

“You keepin’ your nose clean, boy?” Aunt Mary

inquires with a severity that belies her

diminutive size and the sweet smile that once

healed many a scraped knee and bruised psyche.

Will Jeffreys keeps his own smile inside – to

Aunt Mary, this huge, graying detective is still

13, struggling with angels and demons on the

Philly streets, in darkened project stairwells.

“Yes, ma’am,” he responds, dutifully and

sincerely.

He is rewarded with that healing smile, and

momentarily, the smell of urine and

pharmaceuticals, the greenish cast of the

fluorescents, the omnipresence of Death

disappear. Will is one of the last of Aunt Mary’s

nephews to keep up a weekly visitation schedule,

and even if she never sees her 98th birthday, he

will be here every week until her days here end.

Every week, she asks him the same question, every

week, he respectfully reassures her. Time has

stopped inside the corridors of Liberty Manor

Care Center, just prior to that awful day more

than 30 years ago.

“Talked to your Cousin Helen the other day.”

Helen has been in the ground for 23 years now.

Will smiles encouragingly. “Lillie Belle, you

know, from Carolina on your daddy’s side, is

coming up for a visit. Ain’t seen that girl in an

age.”

Will recalls the preacher’s daughter solely from

an old black-and-white his father had displayed

at the breakfast table that somber morning in the

Summer of ’69, when the world seemed temporarily

to end.

He takes his aunt’s hand, leathery and webbed

with age, and gives it a squeeze, gently.

“That’ll be nice.”

July 20, 1969

The boy turned from the set to which he had been

glued for the last several hours. “Mom!” he

yelled. “Tell her to quit buggin’ me!”

Teena appeared in the kitchen archway, blouse

dusted with Blue Ribbon flour, a pretty smile

brightening her routinely worried features.

“Samantha, are you bothering your brother?”

“I’m tryin’ to watch,” the boy complained. “This

is important!”

Teena suppresses a smile. Everything is important

to seven-year-old Fox, who knows Vulcan

philosophy better than his English homework, who

can name every man in the Apollo space program.

“I wanna play Chutes and Ladders,” his little

sister pouted. “He’s been watching this stupid

show all day, and you said his eyes would go

bad.”

“Show!” Fox mumbled disgustedly.

Teena kneeled before Sam, brushing back a lock of

her long hair. “This is special, Baby. Your

brother’s been anxious to see this. Let’s go in

the kitchen and make some sugar cookies. OK?”

Sam clapped her tiny hands. “Yeah!” She turns to

her big brother, who she normally worships.

“That’s all fake anyway. Linda’s big brother says

they ain’t really on the moon – it’s all a

movie.”

Fox whipped around, a look of sheer malice

passing through his deep, close-set eyes. “Shut

up! Linda’s ree-tard brother got held back twice

in the third grade.”

“Fox!” Teena snapped.

“We went to the moon to build a remote outpost,”

he continued, grinning meanly. “So we can fight

the aliens. You think The Invaders is just a

show?”

“Mom,” Sam whispered, her pretty features growing

pale.

“Fox, stop it this second.”

“They live among us, Sam. They take little kids

like you to do science experiments on. They take

out your eyeballs and – ”

“NOO!!!” Sam shrieked. Her face goes instantly

from white to scarlet, and tears streak her round

face. “MAKE HIM STOP! TELL HIM TO STOP!”

Fox’s face crumpled in alarm. He looked to his

silently reproving mother and his screaming four-

year-old sister in shame. “Hey, Sam, c’mon.”

“NOOO!!”

Suddenly, Walter Cronkite and Buzz Aldrin and

Neil Armstrong were as distant to Fox as the

airless face of the moon. He scrambled to his

feet and seized his sister. Sam fought him, but

soon she surrendered. Fox rocked her, stroking

her hair, tasting his own tears.

“It’s OK, Sam,” he pleaded, suddenly uninterested

in Man taking his first small step on an airless

orb. “It’s not true. I’m sorry, I’m sorry,

please. I’ll never let anything hurt you. Never.

Never…”

**

Lilly spots him on the bus bench across from the

station. Watching her, waiting. Smiling, she

crosses, dropping onto the graffiti-scarred wood

beside him. The Beatles emanate tinnily from a

nearby hotdog stand.

“Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly

melting,” Lennon sings, alive again, voice ripe

with renewal and redemption. “Little darling, it

seems like years since it’s been clear… Here

comes the sun…Here comes the sun…And I say, it’s

all right…”

“Cole.”

Cole Sear glances up, the serene smile

illuminating his cherubic face.

“It’s over,” Lilly reports. “We found out who

killed Billy McHenry.”

“That’s good, really great.”

“You were right. Billy wasn’t himself, I don’t

think. You may hear something different on the

news, but I wanted you to know you helped point

us to the right answer.”

Cole nods, not with vindication, but merely with

a calm acceptance. Unlike the others in the squad

who find the boy’s somber, accepting demeanor

unsettling or sad, Lilly feels a connection with

Cole, who is cursed, blessed, endowed, whatever,

with feeling and healing the pain others can’t

see.

Cole pauses, then looks at her shyly. “That lady,

the FBI agent?”

“Agent Scully?”

“Tell her…” he hesitates. “Tell her Bill wants

her to be happy. She’ll know who that is. He

loves her, and he says he’s sorry for not having

enough faith. He said he couldn’t tell me

everything, but he doesn’t want her to give up.

Her or her friend.”

Lilly is silent for a moment, then nods. She will

never know if Cole’s message is inspired by

insight or insanity, but she will pass it on to

Scully, hoping somewhere inside it will bring

light to dark corners. Even as she looks to her

own communion with the dead to shed some

illumination on her life.

The day is warm, and Lilly lingers on the bench.

Across the street, another boy catches her eye –

the solitary still figure in a sea of late

afternoon congestion. His hair is long, his

clothes bright, and around his throat is a broken

cross encircled by metal.

Lilly smiles at Billy McHenry, at least Billy

McHenry as she sees him in his last summer of

love, of innocence, of life. Smiling, Billy

raises a fist, extends two fingers in a familiar

gesture of peace.

A belching Metro bus passes between Lilly and

Billy, and he is gone. She then remembers Cole,

seated beside her, and glances self-consciously

at him.

The boy is staring across the street, at

precisely the spot where Lilly gave mental form

to Billy McHenry. Not wishing to disturb his

communion, Lilly gathers herself and returns

silently to the world of the living.

*end

Spooky and Pookas

Spooky and Pookas

Author: Pattie

Rated: PG

Categorization: M/S RST Spoilers: None. Wherever you want to set it.

Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate unusual phenomena reported to have occured on an Irish plane bound for Boston. Feedback: Graciously accepted at patfiler@hotmail.com Disclaimer: Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox Studios own them. But they can still come out to play in the land of Fanfiction. Hi, characters.

Spooky and Pookas

OFFICE OF THE X-FILES

J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Spring was quickly approaching Washington and it had become the usual routine. As the sun came up earlier and earlier in the morning, Mulder would get up with the birds. He would go out on his run, shower and disappear before she even opened her bleary eyes to stare at the alarm clock. Scully would arrive at the office at the required time, and Mulder would already be there. Every day, or almost every day, the same greetings were exchanged and then the caseload or lack of such was discussed.

“Morning, Scully,” Mulder said without looking up from a file.

“Mulder, lately I think you’ve decided to live at this office.”

“Nah, I have a hot babe back at my place,” he said with a wink. “Look at this new report out of Boston. Some airline attendant claims the passengers felt as though they were being pushed out of the way when they stood or took a seat that no one had reserved. No one was seen doing any pushing. The FAA was sweet enough to give us this file because they have no idea how to investigate it. Someone apparently heard of our little department and our talent of investigating the paranormal.”

“Ah, yes. To be so revered, yet misunderstood. I think perhaps a few passengers had a few too many drinks. Perhaps even the FAA person who sent this little piece of nonsense to you was corked, as well.”

“Well, it was an Aer Lingus plane. But, I don’t really believe the Irish are any more prone to excess drinking than any other people. So, pack your bag. We are going to Boston.

LOGAN AIRPORT

BOSTON, MASSECHUSETTES

The agents had no problem finding the Aer Lingus service counter. Who could miss the classic symbol of the shamrock, anyway?

“May I help you?” A brunette attendant with long straight hair said brightly.

“Yes. I’m Special Agent Dana Scully and this is my partner, Special Agent Fox Mulder. We understand there was an unusual occurrence on a flight here from Dublin on Tuesday.”

“You’d be wanting to speak with Liz Lamont and Sharon Farrell. They were on board that particular flight. I can ring them at their hotel rooms if you wish.”

“Maybe we should speak to them there,” Mulder suggested.

“Right you are.” The attendant scribbled the hotel name on a piece of paper and Scully took it. “Imagine, that many people thinking something magic was going on in this day and age? Probably some prankster’s shenanigans.”

“Imagine.” Scully echoed. “Have a good day. You were very helpful.”

“Take care now.”

“Thank you.” As they returned to the car, Scully mumbled, “We may as well go see Lord of the Dance, too, while we’re here.”

“Pardon? I didn’t hear you over the planes!” Mulder shouted.

“I said we should speak to them while we have the chance! They might be due for a flight back soon!”

***

As Mulder and Scully listened to the airline attendants’ stories in the sitting area of their room, they heard a rather unbelievable tale. Granted, they had had some rather strange encounters with odd beings before. They had never thought they would be investigating the stuff of which fairytales are made.

“So, what you mean, essentially, is a mischievous spirit?” Mulder asked Liz Lamont, a tall redhead with naturally curly hair.

“That would be it. I’d almost call it a ‘pooka’.”

“A ‘pooka’,” he repeated.

“A mischievous spirit,” Sharon Farrell said. “And it’s an ancient legend in the old country. Sort of like a very naughty leprechaun only not a leprechaun.”

“A naughty leprechaun,” Scully said in disbelief. “Well, I think I’ve heard enough. Let’s go, Mulder.”

“Scully?”

She took him aside and whispered by the door, “Obviously there are two explanations as to what happened on the plane, Mulder: Either there was a prankster on board the plane, or someone, maybe many people, had too much of the bog water on the way over.”

“Scully, this sounds like an opportunity to find out about another culture. Well, I mean, as a profiler, I should be aware of sociological myths and legendary creatures.”

“What do you suggest, Mulder? We interview all the passengers?”

“Well, only the ones who were affected by whatever phenomenon there was at work on that plane.”

“Or, only the ones who had a wee too much of the… ”

“That’s a stereotype, Scully! Shame on you.”

Scully’s eyes rolled. “All right. We’ll get the list of passengers affected and see what we can find out. But I’m telling you, if this is one of your ventures into the ridiculous, you’re doing the entire report. Period.”

“You’re on.”

Apparently, Mulder and Scully hadn’t realized that Aer Lingus had a policy of limited access to alcoholic beverages on their overseas flights. There also proved to be no record of anyone appearing intoxicated while bothered by the mysterious mischief-maker.

Scully had a list of interviewees as did Mulder, and they conferred that night in their motel room.

“Well, I’ve heard everything from leprechauns, to witches to pookas, Mulder.” Scully threw her notepad onto the bed. “So, I did some research on the Web and came up with many theories on the pooka, all regional, differing forms, in Ireland. Some took on the forms of horses, dogs, cats, goats, sheep, even shape-shifting beings. Three people denied there was a pooka involved, and decided it was turbulence. Two said it was a leprechaun. Three told me they hadn’t a clue what it was. The common thread is that all were ousted from a seat or pushed away from a place in the aisle. How was your luck?”

“About the same. Six people told me there was some invisible force, maybe turbulence, two said it was an invisible pooka, one said it was his dead Aunt Betsy getting even for leaving Ireland, and three said a leprechaun looking for a free ride to Lord of the Dance.”

“Mulder… ” That stern tone.

“Okay. Looking for a free ride to America. The point is, with there being more than one opinion here, how do we decipher the truth?”

“I haven’t a clue, Mulder. There is no scientific evidence of any of these beings ever having existed. And even the Churches deny that there were ever Leprechauns, sprites, fairies or pookas. And pookas? Sounds like a nickname for a lover, or a dog!”

“But not both, right? Scully, maybe we should check around for an expert on these things. There’s a Professor of Irish Studies right here in Boston I want to see tomorrow. Then, I guess, we try to find the… whatever it is.”

“I’ll check out the flight log tomorrow. Maybe the pilots and the instruments will give some indication of conditions on the flight over. We’re talking a five or six hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean, with a stopover at Gander, Newfoundland.”

“Could’ve been Screech,” Mulder smiled.

“Doubtfully. North American policy on drink is much the same.”

***

Mulder reached the office of Dr. Michael McDonough at 10:00 a.m. the next morning. The professor was setting a text of Ancient Celtic Traditions on a shelf and answered Mulder’s knock with a cheery, “Come in!”

“Professor McDonough, Special Agent Fox Mulder.”

“Yes, we spoke on the phone. And what would you be after in me office?

Has a lady put a spell on you?”

“Well, I’m not about to answer that at this point. I do, however, have a few questions on some of the Irish Mythological creatures… ”

“Oh, fairies, sprites, leprechauns, changelings, and the like. They’re all very grand fantasies of the pre-Christian Ireland. And there are so many nice stories in Irish Literature, and some hair raising ones, as well. Yet, there has never been any proof that these so-called beings ever existed. Every society has had its legends, myths, explanations for things they didn’t understand until now.”

“What about the pooka?”

“Ya can’t be serious!”

“Only asking,” Mulder shrugged.

“I can tell you that there are so many divergent varieties of the pooka, and never has concrete evidence been put forward on these so-called beings. People used to supposedly offer food and crops to pookas in the promise that their crops would not be ruined, by the pooka. And there are people who have said that the pooka favor the first of November for prediction of the future of believers. This is after All Hallow’s Eve. But this is May.”

“An Aer Lingus flight on Tuesday came over with some very odd explanations for… ”

Scully entered the office unbeknownst to Mulder. “Turbulence. Documented by the flight recorder and the pilots, Mulder.”

“Well, Agent Mulder, may I help you any further?” the professor offered.

“Uh, no. I’d better get going. I have a lot of paperwork to do,” he replied quickly. “Thank you so much for your time.”

As they were walking through the corridors of the university, Scully remarked, “I told you so.”

“Yes, and you were right. Not everything has a paranormal explanation.

How about taking in Lord of the Dance?”

“Well, that’s very sweet of you to offer, Mulder. But it won’t get you out of the report.”

“I know. But you do like Michael Flatley.”

“Only because he has the world’s record for number of dance steps per second, which is twenty-nine, and the way he fixes the girl’s flute in the story.”

END

Author’s note: If you wish to know more about the pooka, visit pages on Irish Mythology, Irish Legends, or type “pooka” on your search page. It’s crazy out there! And yes, I am of Irish heritage.

“I don’t believe in leprechauns, but I know they’re there!” Anonymous

It Was Only Luck

It Was Only Luck

Author: Kathy Foote

Summary: There are two kinds of luck; good and bad

Category: Humor, light ST

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, these characters are the property of Chris Carter, 1013

Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox. I wish they were mine, but they aren’t.

Archive: Two weeks exclusive with VS12, then anywhere is fine by me

Authors’ note: This story was written for IMTP Virtual Season 12, St. Patrick’s Day

Special

Thanks: To Emmy for her encouragement, my Mom for all her wonderful help, and to

Vickie Moseley, my phenomenal beta.

It Was Only Luck

Starbuck’s

March 17th – 8:00am

“I cannot believe you wore that tie today. What’s Skinner going to say?”

“What?” he asks, as he looks down at the bright yellow tie covered in small green four- leaf clovers. “What’s wrong with it? It’s perfect for today.”

“Mulder, it’s hideous.”

“That’ll be $9.87,” said the girl behind the counter at Starbuck’s. “I like your tie.”

He smiled as he handed the girl a ten-dollar bill and then turned to Scully. “See, _some_ people have taste.” He got his change, took the bag of goodies, and turned toward the front door.

Scully walked behind him mumbling under her breath, “Yeah, _bad_ taste.”

He held the door open for her and then followed her out onto the sidewalk. He stood there a moment, looking up into the sky. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day. The sun was shining; the temperature was only slightly cool; spring was definitely around the corner.

“Come on, Mulder, we better get to the office.”

He stopped his appraisal of the sun lit sky and noticed a small man dressed in a green suit, holding a bucket. The man couldn’t be more than three feet tall. He thought it was strange that he hadn’t noticed the little guy when they entered the coffee shop. He must have just arrived. He was staring at him, when the little man looked up and they made eye contact. He winked at Mulder and beckoned him forward with a wave of his hand.

Mulder was drawn by the twinkle in the man’s eyes and walked over to him.

“Good morning, good sir. Timothy Fagan, at your service,” he said in a heavy Irish brogue and bowed at the waist.

“Good morning, Mr. Fagan. What…”

“Tim, please,” he interrupted shaking his finger.

“Very well, _Tim_, what’s in the bucket?”

He looked from side to side and then gestured Mulder to lean down for a private conversation. “They’re lucky shamrocks and _you_ need to buy one. In fact, you need to buy two.”

“Two?” he asked warily, suddenly having the feeling that he was being taken.

“One for you and one for the lassie.”

At the mention of Scully, he looked around and found her standing fifteen feet away. She had a look on her face that, coupled with her hands on her hips, said he had better hurry up. He held up his hand and gave her a ‘wait just a second’ gesture. Of course, she wouldn’t wait there and began to walk back toward him.

He turned back the Tim. “How much are they?”

“Five dollars a piece. A bargain, I dare say.”

Scully arrived back at his side just in time to hear the price. “Five dollars! That’s outrageous. Come on, Mulder. We need to get going.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him away.

“Wait a minute, Scully. I could use some extra good luck…so could you. Besides it’s Saint Patrick’s Day.” He dug a ten-dollar bill out of his wallet. He turned back to Tim and handed him the bill. “I’ll take two.”

“Ah, very good sir. You won’t regret this. I guarantee it.”

Mulder ran to catch up with Scully and showed her what he had bought. He slid one of the 4-leaf clovers into his lapel and handed the other one to her.

“I don’t want that.”

“Oh, come on, Scully. The little fellow said they were lucky. In fact, he guaranteed it.”

She just stood there with her arms crossed across her chest, making no move to take it from him. “Mulder, you’re a sucker. The man saw you coming from a mile away.”

“Fine,” he said as he slid the second 4-leaf clover into his lapel. “I don’t know I just have a feeling about this.” He turned to look back at the place where he had confronted the little man and he was gone…vanished. “Hey, Scully, the little guy is gone.”

“He probably ran off before we arrested him for fraud.” She again began walking toward the Hoover building. He stared at the empty spot another few seconds, then turned to walk with her.

As they walked, Scully stepped onto a grate in the sidewalk and the heel of her left shoe got stuck in it. Mulder was walking and talking with Scully, when all of a sudden he realized she was not there anymore. He turned to see her trying to wiggle her heel out of the grate. Finally, she stepped out of the shoe to retrieve it, but being a gentleman, Mulder reached down and freed the shoe from its snare. As he was bent over, he noticed a ten-dollar bill lying on the ground next to the grate and he snatched it up.

“Hey, Scully, look what I found.” He held up the bill for her to see. “Ten bucks! How lucky is that. It must be the 4-leaf clovers; the _free_ 4-leaf clovers now.”

She just rolled her eyes and held out her hand for her shoe, which he gave her. She examined the shoe and found a large cut in the leather on the heel. “Great! These were brand new.” She slipped the shoe onto her foot.

“I don’t know why you wear shoes like that anyway.” He knew he had nothing to do with it, but he felt he should apologize anyway. “Sorry about your shoes. You know if you were wearing your shamrock that might not have happened. You want it now?”

She glared at him for a moment, then spun on her heels and headed for the Hoover building. He walked with her in silence.

When they got back to their basement office, Mulder removed the items from the sack and placed them on Scully’s desk. He pulled the lid off the first cup and inhaled the aroma. “Smells like heaven.” He looked into the first wrapper and spotted his favorite cheese Danish. He grabbed his items and went to his own desk. He took a big bite out of his Danish and a sip of his cappuccino. “Mmmmm. White Chocolate Mocha and Cheese Danish. Breakfast of Champions.”

She almost choked on his last statement. “Breakfast? That looks more like dessert.”

“Jealous?” he mumbled as he took another bite.

“Not in the least,” she said smiling, as she pulled the lid off the remaining cup. Instead of her typical low-fat latte, she was in possession of another White Chocolate Mocha Cappuccino. Her smile quickly vanished. Opening the wrapper expecting to find her banana nut muffin, she spied another Cheese Danish. Her former smile had now been replaced with a frown. They had doubled Mulder’s order.

He noticed her sitting there wearing a frown. “What’s wrong?”

“Mulder, they left my stuff out and doubled _your_ order. I can’t drink this. You want another White Chocolate Mocha Cappuccino?”

“Really?” he said with a big grin forming on his face. He jumped up and practically skipped over to her desk. “Man, I am so lucky today. First, I find ten dollars and now I get a free cappuccino. Must be the shamrock.”

“Give it a rest, Mulder,” she threw back over her shoulder as she went to fire up their coffee maker. She stood there disgusted, watching the coffee brew, thinking how good that latte would have tasted. Now she would be stuck with regular coffee. It just wasn’t fair.

Armed with a fresh cup of coffee, she returned to her desk to finally eat her breakfast.

She removed the sticky Danish and took a big bite. She had to admit it was good. She looked around her desk for napkin, but Mulder must have taken them all. She pulled open her lower drawer to get one from her stash and rammed the desk drawer into her shin. “Oww!” she yelped.

“What’s happened?”

“I hit my leg with the desk drawer.” She leaned over to examine the spot and noticed a run in her hose. “Dammit!” she exclaimed.

“What’s wrong now?” he asked sounding a bit exasperated.

“It’s nothing. I just got a run in my hose.”

“Gee, Scully, you sure are having a run of bad luck. Perhaps you should reconsider taking this 4-leaf clover.” He held out the shamrock toward her. She gave him a smirk and made no move to accept his offer. “Fine,” he said as he put it back in his lapel.

They spent an uneventful hour reading through files when suddenly he broke the silence.

“We’ve got a meeting with Skinner in fifteen minutes. What do you say we gather our reports together and head on up?” He put on his jacket, picked up the folder that contained his report, and headed for the door.

He was at the door; ready to leave, when he noticed Scully wasn’t with him. He saw her searching for something at her desk. “What’re you looking for?”

“My report!” she said a little too loudly. “Sorry. I can’t find my report. I could’ve sworn I put it in my briefcase this morning, but now it’s not there. Do you have it?”

“No. You must’ve left it at home. Look, there’s nothing we can do about it now. You can explain it to Skinner and tell him you’ll bring it in tomorrow.”

“I guess you’re right. Damn. I hate going up there without my report.”

“We better get a move on. He’ll be even madder if we’re late.”

Ten minutes later, they were directed into Skinner’s office and Scully took her usual seat.

Mulder placed his report on Skinner’s desk and then sat down. Skinner looked at the report and then at Scully. “Did you forget something, Agent Scully?”

“Yes, sir, I’m sorry, but I seem to have left my report at home. I didn’t have time to go back home to get it before the meeting.”

He actually looked shocked by her statement. She had never been unprepared for a meeting…ever, but he couldn’t let it slide. “I expect to see you…and your report…in my office…tomorrow morning…at 7:00am sharp.”

7:00am? She usually didn’t even get to work until 8:00 or 8:30. She figured this was punishment for being late with her report. “Yes, sir.”

“Agent Mulder, thank you for the timely submission of your report.” Scully flushed with embarrassment at his statement. They sat in silence as Skinner reviewed the report.

Finally, he closed the folder and leaned back in his chair. “This is an excellent report, Agent. Your conclusions are sound and well thought out. Your corroborating evidence is properly catalogued and attached. This is one of your best reports; I’m very pleased.”

Mulder simply looked at him for a second. He was not accustomed to such praise.

“Why…Thank you, sir.”

“By the way, Mulder, I _love_ that tie. It’s perfect for today. Where’d you get it?”

Mulder looked at him as if he had grown a second head. He was shocked that he liked his tie. He had actually expected Skinner to hate it. “I…I actually got it at Spencer’s, sir.”

“Well, I love it!” he said with a chuckle; an honest to goodness chuckle. “And the shamrocks, Mulder…where’d you get them? Are they really 4-leaf clovers?”

“Yes, sir, they are. I bought them this morning from a man in front of the coffee shop. He said they were lucky.”

“I wish I’d seen him. One can always use some extra luck.” Mulder gave Scully a side- wards glance at his last comment. She did not return his look. “I guess that’s about it, Agents. You’re dismissed.” They were at the door when he added, “And Agent Scully…

I look forward to seeing your report first thing tomorrow morning.” She gave him a nod and rushed out the door ahead of Mulder.

Mulder was practically glowing all the way back to the basement and Scully was fuming.

She punched the button to call the elevator and they waited. When the elevator didn’t arrive, she punched the button again.

“Here, let me try,” Mulder said. As soon as he punched the button, the doors opened. He gave her a sheepish grin and got in the car. “I guess I just got lu…”

“_Don’t_ say lucky!” she yelled as she turned to take the stairs instead.

He stepped out of the elevator car and followed her into the stairwell. “Come on, Scully, don’t be mad at me.”

She didn’t acknowledge him and continued down the stairs. Half way down the last flight of stairs, the heel on her shoe broke and she tumbled down the remaining steps. The hose were now a total loss, as were the heels. She had a large bruise forming on her shin.

Mulder rushed to her side, a look of concern on his face. “Scully! Scully, are you all right? Do you think you broke anything?”

“I’m fine, Mulder,” she said sharply. Seeing the hurt look on his face, she tried again.

“Nothing is broken, except for my heels. Nothing is hurt, except for my pride.” She placed her hand on his cheek and said in gentle tone, “I’m okay. Really. How about helping me up?” He smiled and gave her a hand up.

As soon as they entered the office, he whirled on her. “This is ridiculous, Scully! If you would just take the damn shamrock, this would all end.”

“I will _not_ give credence to your ludicrous theory about lucky shamrocks by wearing that stupid thing. Just.Drop.It.”

“_Fine_,” he said. “I won’t mention it again.”

The second half of the day was about the same as the first half. Bad things kept happening to Scully and Mulder seemed to be having remarkably good luck. By the end of the day, she had a huge coffee stain on her skirt, ink on her new blouse, and had lost two buttons on her jacket. Mulder had retrieved her overnight bag from the car, so she could change shoes, but refused to change clothes, because she couldn’t afford to ruin anymore. She had to change shoes, since she couldn’t walk around in her bare feet. He hadn’t brought up the subject of the shamrocks again, even though it was eating him up inside not to do so.

Finally, the day from hell was over. Mulder suggested they go straight home and order in Chinese food. She agreed that that was a good idea and further suggested that they stop and pick up a nice bottle of wine on the way. She could sure use a drink after this day.

They stopped at a liquor store not far from their place. As soon as they walked in, they immediately realized they were in trouble. There was a young couple cowering in the corner by the refrigerated cases amidst a bunch of broken bottles and spilt liquids. There was a man pointing an automatic rifle at the terrified couple.

Before they could do anything, they were face to face with a second armed man. This one was armed with a 9mm handgun.

“For God’s sake, could this day get any worse,” Scully said, clearly tired of her string of bad luck today.

“Shut up!” he demanded and pointed his gun directly in her face. “Don’t you try anything.”

“Calm down…it’s okay,” soothed Mulder, as he and Scully slowly raised their hands in submission.

“Dammit! I thought I told you to lock that door!” he screamed at the trembling manager.

“Get over and lock it. NOW!” He turned back to his two new hostages. “You two, get over there with the others.” He motioned toward the other couple with his gun. “Jake! You watch these two.”

Jake turned as he heard his name and pointed his rifle at Mulder and Scully, as they slowly made their way across the store.

“Hurry up!” urged Jake, “I ain’t got all night.”

They took a position next to the other couple. Mulder quickly assessed the situation.

Two men, both armed with automatic weapons, obviously not professionals, which made them even more dangerous. Jake, the one armed with the rifle, looked ready to explode.

The other man, his name unknown, had returned to badgering the storeowner into opening his safe, which the owner seemed to be having trouble with.

The two men seemed unstable and were clearly agitated. Mulder had a very bad feeling about the whole situation. He couldn’t go for his own weapon, while Jake had his rifle pointed at them. The gun wouldn’t even clear the holster before he would be shot. He realized that this might not end well and considering Scully’s luck today, it might go worse for her.

“Psst…Scully…take the shamrock,” he whispered.

She turned to him and gave him a look that clearly said she thought he was crazy.

“What? I can’t believe you thinking about that at a time like this.” she whispered back.

“Take the shamrock, please!”

“Hey! You two shut up!” Jake yelled at them.

“Scully, please.”

“Mulder,” she whispered low and menacingly, “you’re going to get us shot.”

“Please…I’m begging you.”

“Fine…give it to me,” she agreed, just to shut him up. He was obviously not going to drop it.

He removed one of the four-leaf clovers from his lapel and held it out to Scully, who snatched it from his hand.

The first gunman noticed the exchange. “Hey! What’re you two doing?” he yelled as he rushed toward them with his gun aimed in their direction. Jake turned his rifle on them also.

Mulder debated with himself whether or not to pull his gun; this might be their last chance. Before he could decide, the first gunman hit the spilt liquid, lost his footing, fell onto his back, hit his head on the hard floor, and was out cold. As he hit the ground, his finger tightened on the trigger, firing the gun. The bullet hit his partner in the chest and he too went down, his weapon falling from his slack arms.

Mulder, Scully, and the other couple were completely stunned. They couldn’t believe what had just happened. They finally broke from their stupor. Mulder pulled out his cell phone to call 911 while he secured the weapons. Scully checked out the condition of the two gunmen. The one seemed to be unconscious, while the other was dead from a gunshot to the chest. She cuffed the unconscious prisoner and then they all waited for the police to arrive.

Later, Mulder and Scully were standing on the sidewalk in the front of the liquor store.

They had already given their statements and were waiting to be released.

“I’m so glad you finally decided to take that shamrock, Scully,” he said, “It probably saved your life.”

“Oh, please! I only took it to shut you up, Mulder, before you got us both shot. It was just a coincidence that that man slipped and shot his partner.”

Mulder snorted and stared at her unbelievingly. “I cannot believe you said that. That little man this morning sold me those shamrocks on purpose.”

Now it was her turn to stare at him in disbelief. “I cannot believe _you_ said that. There is no way that man could have known we would walk into that robbery…it was just luck, Mulder.”

Mulder rolled his eyes and turned away. He couldn’t understand why Scully always found it impossible to believe. He looked up the street and spied the little man from this morning standing on the corner not thirty feet away. Mulder and Tim made eye contact and stared at one another for several moments. The little fellow smiled, gave Mulder a wink, and then disappeared. Mulder continued to stare at the empty space, once occupied by Timothy Fagan and then finally turned back to Scully.

“You know, Scully, you’re right…it was only luck.”

The End

An Dullahan

An Dullahan

Author: Skinfull

Rated: PG 13

Categorization: M/S RST Spoilers: None.

Summary: An Irish castle has been transported to Chicago where the haunting still continues.

Feedback: skinfull@undergroundtales.com Love all feedback. Thanks in

Advance!

Authors Notes: An Dullahan is an old Irish folklore, messenger of death.

http://www.dullahan.com/ (Can you believe he has his own site! LOL)

Irish Ghosts and Castles: http://www.nzghosts.co.nz/

irish_ghosts.htm

Irish Names I used:

Eoghan Darby – Owen Darby

Aodh Ó Duibhdíorma – Ay (Meaning Fire) Darby

Óisin Ó Cearbhaill – Oisin (Meaning Deer) O Carroll

Eabha Ní Tuama – Eva Toomy

Thanks Lisa for all your help. (Dr Lisa Comma Transplant Specialist.)

An Dullahan

O’Hare International Airport

Wednesday March 16th

10.15AM

“Just because it’s folklore doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” Mulder hefted both of their cases off the luggage rack and followed her through the bustling airport crowd to the car rental desk. Her silence was beginning to rattle him and he knew she was storing a big

reply, waiting till they were alone before she would offload on him completely.

Scully signed for the car and took the keys with a smile. She still offered no reply and simply preceded him out to the carpark and quickly found the car. As she sat into the passenger seat, Mulder placed the cases into the trunk and finally claimed the seat

next to her. The keys jangled off his knee as he reached for his seatbelt, but he didnt turn the ignition yet.

“Say it. Please just say it now, you’re driving me crazy with the anticipation!” he muttered between gritted teeth after too much silence, and turned to face her after slipping his belt lock in.

“Mulder, this is a legitimate case, three murders last year, including one federal officer. What do you want me to say?” She opened the brown manila folder that rested on her lap and flicked through the pages.

“But…” he urged her to continue.

“But nothing.”

“Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day Scully…aren’t you even a little bit excited?” he gunned the engine and slowly made his way through the traffic.

“Is there going to be a parade?” she joked and he smiled in return.

“Don’t you believe in the stories Scully?” he asked lightly as he pulled out into the traffic and accelerated with it.

“Mulder, do I ever believe in these stories?”

“This could be a first Scully. There are numerous eye witnesses corroborating the”stories” this time,” he smirked, making air quotes to humor her.

“Eye Witnesses?” she scoffed flicking through the file to the back page where the witness accounts were. “Michael Reilly, Groundskeeper. And Eileen Murphy, hotel receptionist.”

“Who better to see the haunting?”

“Never the less,” she continued. “There are three unexplained murders, three unsolved crimes.”

“They were all found dead at midnight on St Patrick’s Day. So we have…” he checked his watch. “Just under 38 hours?”

***

Leap Castle

Wednesday March 16th

12.20 PM

Mulder pulled off the main road and was immediately gratified by the sounds of crunching gravel under the wheels of the car. Slowly he drove up towards the main entrance and pulled the car up outside the sweeping steps that led to the front door.

Stepping out into the cool spring sun, they looked up at the formidable building before them.

A soft wind blew in from the north rustling the ivy that clung to the castle walls, adding its foreboding ambience. The bricks were grey and showed signs of battle damage in parts beneath the old cannon slots at the top of the castle turrets.

“Hello, and welcome to Leap Castle.” Mulder and Scully turned to the stairs where a small man was approaching them eagerly, his smile wide with pride as he noticed their eyes traverse the walls of his castle in awe.

“Mr Eoghan Darby?” Scully extended her hand and he shook it vigorously.

“Yes, yes, that’s me!” he turned to Mulder and shook his hand with just as much gusto before ushering them up towards the castle door. “Come now, you are just in time for lunch!”

“Our bags-” Scully protested but Eoghan shuffled on, a hand pressed to each of their backs.

“Never mind them! Patrick will collect them and bring them to your rooms.”

They entered the castle door and moved through the brightly lit hall. Scully was surprised to feel the heat, expecting it to be cold or draughty, not brightly painted and carpeted with a wide screen TV and several couches lining the walls.

“It’s for the guests,” Darby explained as he spotted her looking at the television. “I’d prefer to keep it draughty, with stone floors, tapestries and huge open fireplaces but my paying guests do expect the comforts of home during these Irish winters.”

“Irish winters?” Mulder queried, exchanging a quick glance with Scully.

“We like to think that when we brought this castle over we imported a small piece of Ireland with us.”

“The castle was brought over from Ireland?” Scully looked around at the walls with new ardor. “Not just the materials?”

“No not at all. We brought the complete castle over eight years ago, lock, stock and barrel; every single brick and even a lot of the surrounding land. The Peat Bog and Turf were part and parcel of this restoration. It took four years to get it restored here in Chicago and we’ve been open for business ever since.”

“Until the murders?” Mulder said as they were led into a large banquet hall.

“The murders seemed to have heightened our guest list.” He pulled out two chairs near the end of the large table that was laden down with food and urged them to sit.

“As you will see when they join us for lunch.”

Their host grabbed a plate of turkey and helped himself to a few slices before passing it to Scully. She placed a small piece on her plate and passed it on to Mulder.

Suddenly the double doors at the end of the room opened to let in a small group of people that greeted Eoghan cheerfully. They pulled up seats at the table and soon plates were being filled and wine was being poured.

“No thanks,” Scully said covering her glass before it could be filled.

“Sure you’ll have a drop,” the stranger persisted with the large bottle of white wine.

“No, I’m fine thanks.” With relief she watched the server pass on to the next glass and pour out more wine and she turned to Eoghan. “How did you manage to acquire the castle Mr Darby?”

“Call me Eoghan, please.” He dropped his hand onto hers and patted it gently. “My great grandfather, Aodh Ó Duibhdíorma, grew up here. He married on these very grounds to the love of his life, Eabha Ní Tuama.” He paused to take a sip of his wine and Scully suddenly had the feeling she was speaking to a true storyteller.

Eoghan looked around the table and glanced at all his guests who slowly took notice of the story they were about to hear.

“But it wasn’t to be happy ever after. Shortly after the wedding he found his bride murdered on the doorsteps, the very doorsteps outside right now. She had been stabbed through the heart by a scorned lover.” The rapt audience stopped eating as the story curled around them and Scully had to admit he was good at this. “The killer

was a man named Óisin Ó Cearnhaill. When Aodh found this out he went mad and plotted to get revenge.”

Pausing again for affect, Eoghan smiled enigmatically and Scully glanced around the table at the guests hanging on his every word. Even Mulder seemed more then a little interested.

“Every night Óisin used to ride through the forest on his black steed to tend the livestock. One night Aodh waited for him. As Óisin rode past Aodh took a mighty swing of his axe,” Eoghan slammed his fist down unexpectedly onto the table making several diners jump. As a trickle of nervous laughter circled the room and Eoghan waited for silence before he continued.

“He took his head clean off and burned on a spike it in the centre of town as symbol of his lost love. The fire burned for seven days and seven nights. No water could extinguish the flame until eventually a local butcher emptied a bucket of blood over it.”

Scully couldn’t help the smile on her face and she nodded slowly at him as a job well done. The story had it’s desired effect as the conversations around the table started again with vigour.

“Good story Mr Darby,” she said but he shook his head with a smile.

“Not a word of a lie Agent Scully.” He sipped his wine again. “Needless to say my uncle was incarcerated for his crimes and the castle was lost to the family. A series of unfortunate and extreme accidents made sure the occupants didn’t stay for long.”

“It’s haunted?” Her eyebrow arched quizzically and Mulder sat forward with his elbows on the table.

“By the murdered bride?” he guessed.

“No. By Óisin.” Eoghan let his words linger and turned back to his lunch.

The rest of the meal finished without a mention of the story. Gentle conversation about the festivities that would be on for St Patrick’s Day circled the room. After all the food had been eaten and the bottles of wine drank the crowd dispersed in different directions, leaving only Mulder and Scully standing in the main foyer.

“What do you make of that?” Mulder asked, nodding his head over his shoulder towards the lunch table.

“The story? It was a good one. And he has the routine down pat. But I’ve heard better from my father.”

“You father was partial to the ghost stories?”

“Yes. Loved to scare us with them.”

“The story I wasn’t too interested in, but the details. The bucket of blood, the horse.”

“The headless horseman?”

“At the second murder, the amount of blood on the victim didn’t correspond to the blood loss. There was nearly seven litres of blood in the surrounding area.

Depressions from horse shoes were found in the soil surrounding the body.”

“What about fairy rings? Pots of gold?” She crossed her arms and sighed. “C’mon Mulder.”

“Well as usual we’ll have to agree to disagree, but lets take a look at the facts-” he began, angry at her blatant dismissal but before he could count off his points Eoghan arrived from a door beneath the staircase.

“Agents, let me show you to your rooms.”

They followed him up the wide curved staircase and through the darkened halls that were lined with maple wood panelling and old oil paintings of various figures. One painting caught Scully’s eye; a beautiful lady dressed in a white dress. A blue shawl

barely covered her shoulders and deep red locks of hair partially covered her face. Her eyes were a piercing green colour that drew Scully in, even though the painting was old and faded.

“Beautiful isn’t she?” The voice of Eoghan right behind her startled her out of her reverie.

“Yes.”

“That’s her, that’s Eabha.”

Scully stared at the picture for a moment longer then slowly took a step back and waited for Eoghan to show them to their rooms. With large ornate keys he turned each of the locks and pushed open each of the oak doors.

“Dinner will be served at 7pm. I understand you are just here for the investigation and will not be partaking in the activities we do have planned, but please feel free to join us.”

“We will need to speak to you about the murders and the crime scenes,” Mulder mentioned before Eoghan could walk away.

“Of course. I will be downstairs in my office when ever you need to speak to me.”

“Thank you.”

Once he had left them, they entered their separate rooms and found their bags had been left on the beds awaiting their attention. Mulder walked around the large poster bed and patted the soft mattress. The open fireplace held logs ready to be lit, and the old style votive candles on the lockers added to the atmosphere.

He pulled loose his tie and slipped out of his jacket. Dropping it on the chair beside the dressing table, Mulder located the adjoining door and pushed it open to find Scully staring out the window at the lawns below. He took a moment to notice her room was almost a mirror opposite of his own

“Scully?”

“It’s amazing what people can do nowadays,” she muttered without turning around.

“To take each brick from Ireland and bring it over to Chicago of all places and rebuild it.”

“They did it with the statue of liberty in 1885.”

“The statue of liberty was designed to be dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t think this castle was.” She turned in time to see Mulder lifting one of the paintings off the wall. “What are you doing?”

“Old castle, old paintings, moving eyes…”

“It’s not a “Scooby Doo” movie Mulder!” she exclaimed indulgently smiling as he replaced the picture.

“Okay, I’m off to get showered and freshened up.”

“I’ll meet you down stairs in 20 minutes.”

***

Leap Castle

Wednesday March 16th

7.30 PM

Dana Scully released an audible sigh and sank back into the soft cushions of the chair.

Mulder looked up from his end of the desk and smiled. Her red hair was hanging loosely around her face and her cheeks were reddened from the heat in the room.

“Scully the longer we stay in this castle the more your Irish heritage comes to the forefront.”

“Irish heritage?” She pulled off her glasses and raked her fingers through her hair, causing the locks to bounce onto her shoulders.

“Red hair, the cute freckles, the rosy cheeks!” he joked dropping his pen onto the table and leaning back into his own chair.

“Shut up Mulder!” she laughed touching her warm cheek with the back of her fingers.

Looking down at the list of notes they had made she couldn’t help but sigh again.

“This is getting us nowhere.”

“The trail is cold,” he admitted with a sigh as he stood up from the table and walked over to the window. A light rain had started to fall against the glass and he rested his palm against it, enjoying the cold sensation on his skin. “Lets go over it once more.”

“Mulder it’s the same as it was last time and the time before that. It’s not going to change…” she said even as she was shuffling through her notes to the first victim.

“Indulge me.”

“Shawn Pearson. Found dead in his bed, decapitated, with a hot blade; a single blow and with both his eyes missing.” Scully scanned through the rest of the page but flipped it over instead of reading more.

“Witness report said that a horse could be heard racing across the grounds that night but there was no sighting,” Mulder added.

“Margaret Gorman was discovered in the bath, decapitated in the same manor with her eyes missing.”

“Again horses were heard the night of the murder.”

“Why the horses Mulder?”

“The horse prints found at the site of the third murder have a significance. There are no horses kept at this hotel or near it’s grounds. In fact the closest stable lodgings are 120 miles away.”

“Ok so the murderer is arriving on horseback, with a sword of some sort, then chopping the heads off?” even as she said it aloud she was shaking her head from side to side, realising all of a sudden where he was going with it.

“Headless Horseman,” Mulder said in a low comically sinister voice as he walked slowly around the room towards the back of her chair and rested his hands on her shoulders. “Seeking revenge on any who dare to stand before him.”

“An Dullahan!”

They both spun to the doorway face the where Eoghan was standing with a tray of drinks. He set down the drinks onto the table between them and smiled broadly at them.

“Dullahan?” Scully asked.

“It’s an Irish word. There is no direct translation but it means the without a head.”

“Headless horseman,” Mulder completed with a gratified smile in Scully’s direction.

“His head has a large mouth and huge eyes that dart around like flies. He holds his head firmly tucked beneath his arm. The head of the black horse has flaming eyes and short-cropped ears. The horse’s head is longer than the body by six yards or more.”

“Sounds like a poem,” Scully said her lips curving slightly, until she noted the serious look on Eoghan’s face.

“In fear of the headless rider;” Eoghan continued as if she hadn’t spoken, “men alone in the fields at night cower behind the bushes because of his reputation with a whip.

With his whip he can accurately remove the eyes of all mortals foolish enough to spy on his ventures.”

“Sounds like our guy Scully.” She rolled her eyes at him in response.

“Don’t be fooled by his existence in folklore.” Eoghan said as he walked away from the table and towards the heavy oak door, “Clichés and stories have to begin somewhere.”

Leap Castle

Thursday March 17th

3.20 AM

Mulder leapt out of his bed and charged towards the adjoining door where Scully’s insistent banging was emanating from. In his haste his feet tangled in his bed sheet and he fell to the floor with a loud crunching thud, trapping his arm across his ribs and knocking his head on the corner of his suitcase.

“Mulder!” he heard her yelling. “Mulder! Hurry!”

With a groan and a dizzy spell he manage to scramble to his feet and grab the door handle. Unsure of why it had been locked he fumbled with the old style circular lock, his head still smarting from the encounter with the case.

“Mulder!”

“Scully!” He yelled back, his ears ringing in pain and his eyes wide with the shock of his rude awakening. Eventually he heard the lock click and he pushed the door open.

Scully stood at the end of her bed, her hands covering her ears as if there were speakers blaring out music next to her head.

“Scully?” he croaked out, rushing over to her and grabbing her arms. But she wrapped them steadfastly around her ears, her eyes screwed tightly shut and her teeth clenched together. “Scully!” Shaking her a little, she managed to open her eyes to slits and he saw the pain behind the bloodshot organs.

Then as if she were waking from a dream her features relaxed and he felt the muscles in her arms go limp. She blinked a few times and looked at him wonderingly.

“Mulder? What are you doing in my room?” she queried with a crooked smile as she noticed he was wearing only a pair of flimsy boxer shorts.

“What am I doing here?” he replied, frustratedly. “You were yelling out my name, banging on the door.”

“Was I?”

“Yeah, I fell out of the bed, bashed my head off my case then couldn’t get the door unlocked,” he grumbled, rubbing his head where it had connected with the metal corner of his case.

“I don’t remember…” she looked around the room confused for a moment before taking a closer look at his injury. “Does it hurt?”

“Yes it bloody hurts!” he moaned as her fingers pressed on the small bump that was already forming behind his hairline.

“I don’t know what happened…maybe I was sleepwalking,” she muttered.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” he asked.

“Horses…loads of horses…” Her voice was low and she closed her eyes as the remains of her thoughts faded beneath her scrutiny. “They were charging all around me, circling me…”

“Scully,” Mulder said softly touching her arm to take her back to the room and out of her head.

“It was the strangest dream.”

“Dream?” he queried. “That dream had you banging on that door, and yelling out my name like a banshee. That dream had you standing in the middle of this room holding your head like it was about to explode.”

“Powerful stuff eh!” she said lightly but he caught the quiver behind her voice and pulled her into a tight embrace. But she wouldn’t let him hold her for very long. After a few shaky breaths she extracted herself from his arms and backed away.

He let her move without protest and watched as she walked to the bathroom to splash some cold water over her face. When she returned to the bedroom she was looking fresher and her questioning frown was back in place.

“Why did you lock the adjoining door?” she asked suddenly.

“I didnt, I thought you did.”

As Scully shook her head Mulder went immediately to the adjoining door and examined the lock.

“Has it been tampered with?”

“No…But there is something else.” He stood away form the door to let her have a better look.

“What?”

“There is no lock. It’s just a simple door knob.”

***

Leap Castle

Thursday March 17th

9.45 AM

“Sure we thought you had died up there!” Eoghan roared at them delightedly as they sauntered into the dinning room where breakfast was being served. Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance before sitting down to the large banquet table. “Help yourself to whatever it is you want.”

Mulder piled his plate with each of the choices the table had to offer but Scully settle for a bowl of flavoured porridge and half a grapefruit. Eoghan who was sitting across from them sipped on his cup of tea and basked in the morning sun that was streaming through the wide windows.

“How did you sleep last night?” he asked stretching his legs out before him and crossing them at his ankles.

“Not too bad. Woke up at around 4 though,” Scully ventured carefully, watching his face for a reaction. “I heard a noise and it must have woken me.”

“What did you hear?” Scully looked over to the man who was sitting a few seats away from her. His eyes were bleary and tired as if he too had trouble sleeping.

“Horses,” she replied bluntly.

Mulder noticed as Eoghan’s tea seemed to go down the wrong way and he coughed to regain control of his airways.

“I heard them too.”

“You heard the horses outside?” Mulder asked leaning forward to get a better view of the man.

“Well,” he scoffed. “They sounded like they were in my room. I woke up my wife with all the trashing I did…the weird thing is…she didnt hear a thing.”

12.10 PM

“Okay guys, I see it, now how can it be activated?”

Scully walked into her bedroom and dropped her notepad onto the desk. She spotted Mulder crouching by the adjoining door and was about to speak to him when she noticed he was on the phone. Instead she slipped out of her shoes and sat on the bed.

“Yeah, I see that…yeah…yeah…where?” He stood up and pinned the phone to his shoulder with his ear as he twisted the screwdriver on the handle to loosen it from the wood.

“Mulder, you can’t do that!” She protested when he dismantled the doorknob.

“Okay I have it out, now what.” He listened to the voice at the other end as he spread out the bits of the door onto the floor. “Yes there it is…thanks Frohike.”

Mulder switched the phone off and dropped it to the floor before rummaging through the small bits to pick up the black piece.

“What is that?” Scully asked

“An RF receiver.”

“And what does it do?”

“Receives RF signals!” He said smartly smiling broadly at her frown.

“Okay…what did Frohike think it was doing in the door lock?”

“When you were off talking to the other guests I had a closer look at the door, and noticed the lock was a bit heavier than normal and longer too.” He picked up the piece he meant and showed it to her. “I called Frohike and explained about the door last night and he said it may have been locked remotely. So he asked me to look for a

receiver in the lock.”

“So someone locked this door on purpose last night?”

“The same someone who was transmitting the horse sounds into your room last night.”

“Sounds? The horses?” Confused she looked around the room, half expecting to see a large concert speaker in the corner. “Why didn’t you hear them though?”

“I don’t know Scully. Everyone has his or her own bandwidth. Maybe the sound was transmitting on a frequency that I couldn’t register.”

“Oh c’mon Mulder. Like a dog whistle?”

“Exactly like that.”

“You can’t turn this case from one unexplainable paranormal theory to another at the drop of a hat.”

“There is nothing paranormal about this door Scully. These electronics were placed by

someone in this hotel.”

“In every room?” She reached for the pad and flipped through the pages to find what she was looking for. “I interviewed 8 of the guests and only two of them heard noises last night. Two of them recognised them as horses and the third couldn’t pin it down to a specific recognisable sound. And they all admit to having quite a bit to drink the night before.”

“You weren’t drinking last night.”

“No but I was dreaming, and after all the talk of the headless horseman is it inconceivable that I would have a nightmare involving horses?” she argued walking away and pouring a glass of water from the decanter.

“No not inconceivable. But we didn’t mention the horseman to the other guests and it’s highly unlikely you all just happened to have nightmares involving horses.”

“Maybe there were horses outside last night!”

“I checked the grounds after breakfast and there is no evidence of that.” He dropped all the bits to the door lock onto the table and walked over to her. “Admit it Scully, you were spooked last night.”

“Of course I was spooked Mulder, but that’s not the point. Just because I was, doesn’t make it real.”

Mulder opened his mouth to argue when a spine-chilling scream rattled through the halls. Without hesitation they grabbed their weapons and raced through the corridor to the source of the sound.

Mulder held his gun rigidly by his side as he turned the corner and spotted the slightly open door. He gestured for Scully to take the other side and waited till she was ready before pushing the door carefully open.

Crouching low Mulder aimed his gun out before him and walked into the room slowly. Behind him Scully followed but they both stopped short at the body that lay before them. The remains were splayed out as if dropped from a height, the limbs bent and twisted unnaturally and the head was missing. Mulder pulled a face.

As Scully stepped closer she recognised the clothes belonged to one of the guests she had spoken to earlier about the horses.

“I spoke to him earlier.” She said softly crouching down to examine the body closer as she slipped her gun back into its holster.

“About the noises last night?”

“Yeah. He said he heard them too.” She stood abruptly away from the body and crossed her arms over her chest. “I need examine him closer.”

“Scully?”

“I’ll call the hospital and arrange a lab.” She was bustling out of the room but he quickly followed her and stopped her march by grabbing her elbow and forcing her to turn back to him.

“Scully…three murders…three victims…three witnesses to the sounds last night.”

“Oh Mulder please. Don’t start with the wild conjecture yet,” she blurted tersely.

“Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence?” he said, stealing the words from her mouth.

“Coincidence, Mulder, is just a layman’s term for conspiracy.”

Shaking her arm loose she turned on her heel and walked briskly through the hall without waiting for him to follow.

6.40 PM

Tired, frustrated and still with no clues Scully pulled the car up outside Leap castle and killed the engine. The outside lights were casting eerie shadows on the old stonewalls and she knew if she were here under different circumstances she would be enjoying the atmosphere, but not tonight, she admitted with a wry smile.

After spending the whole day at the morgue examining the body, the cauterised wound across the head and neck where they had been severed, the gaping and bloody sockets where his eyes had been, she wasn’t sure she could appreciate any of the scenery surrounding her. Or dinner tonight.

She basked in the silence that surrounded her for a moment before she could face the party that she knew was happening in the castle. St Patrick’s Day at an authentic old Irish Castle. She smiled at the idea and was reaching for the handle when she heard it.

At first it was faint, as if it was far away but it was definitely getting closer. Horses, running, galloping or sprinting towards her. She twisted and turned in her seat as she checked outside all the car windows but there was nothing to see.

The noises were getting louder, the horses nearer. She pushed the door open and pulled her gun from the holster that nestled at the small of her back. Crouching low by the front wheel she held her breath in an effort to hear better but there was no need.

The noises were so loud that she was sure there would be a team of horses passing by on the front lawn any second. Peering over the top of the hood she saw only the other parked cars, the trees blowing in the cool night air and the cold unwelcoming darkness. The sounds exploded into the night before the silence was restored.

Baffled even more Scully slowly stood up and backed away from the car towards the castle door. Stumbling over the steps she hurried up and barged through the door, eager to find Mulder.

Everyone turned to see her panting in the doorway, her eyes wide, her breaths shallow and her mouth slightly open.

“Scully?”

Her head whipped around to see Mulder walking towards her, his arm outstretched to grasp her shoulder, a worried look across his face. She closed her mouth with a pop and took a steadying breath as she turned to him.

“Are you okay?” Mulder asked, his hand on her shoulder as he turned her away from the on looking crowd.

“Yeah. Yes, I’m fine.”

“You look a little shaken,” he noticed, stepping back a bit from her frosty response. What had gotten into her this trip?

“I just…” she shrugged and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ears. “I just thought I heard something outside.” She looked away from his inquiring face and only then noticed the decorations in the room, the food laid out on the buffet table near the fire and the traditional Irish music that was playing in the background.

“What did you hear?”

“Horses, I heard horses as I was walking in.” She caught his eye and saw no derision in them. With relief she let out a sigh and stepped closer when suddenly the door burst open and one of the guests came barging in. She stumbled over a floor rug and fell to the ground. As she rolled over onto her back everyone saw clearly the blood covered

clothes and the look of horror on her face.

“Oh my god!” Scully exclaimed as she rushed over and began checking the guest for injury.

“Is she okay?” Mulder asked stooping by the head.

“I can’t find anything…I can’t find any injuries…”

“It’s not mine!” the lady on the floor screamed fighting away from Scully’s touch, but the agent held her down by pinning her shoulders to the ground. “It’s not my blood. It’s Ronan’s! It’s Ronan’s blood!”

“Ronan?” Mulder queried.

“Her husband.” Eoghan was standing in the kitchen doorway. His face was deathly pale and a film of sweat marred his brow. Shakily he walked forward and left the tray of drinks on the table. The glasses clattered against each other as his hands trembled and he shoved them into his pockets to keep them steady.

“Eoghan?” Mulder asked stepped forward and touching the smaller mans elbow. “Are you alright?”

“I thought they were just stories…I thought…it couldn’t be true…could it?”

“What? What did you hear?” Mulder persisted ignoring the glare of blue eyes he could feel burning into his head.

“When we bought the castle back into the family there were so many rumors.” He wiped his brow with the hankie he pulled from his shirt pocket. “The previous owners came to an untimely demise…and it seems they weren’t the only ones. But I didn’t think anything of it.”

With a shaky hand he reached out to the back of the chair and lowered himself into it.

“When we decided to bring the castle over to Chicago, I thought the rumours would die, the haunting stories could only enhance my business.” He scoffed a little, wiping his brow again. “And they did. Better than I could have imagined.”

“Until the murder,” Scully said softly.

“When the police could find no forced entry, no clues, nothing except for the reports of the noise of horses rampaging, I thought the worst but even then I didn’t really believe it.”

“We don’t know what happened here yet Mr Darby,” Scully began as she turned her attention back to the lady who was weeping on the rug beside her.

“It’s him! You heard them yourself!” Eoghan yelled angrily his fear swiftly turning into rage.

“What I heard and what is happening to these people may not have anything in common.”

“Oh c’mon!” Eoghan stepped towards her, “You know it does!”

“Calm down!” Mulder said holding Eoghan back and pushing him into a chair. “I’m going to call the coroner again and get some back up out here.”

“Mulder, Can I have a word?” Scully said softly before he could make the call. She grabbed a cushion off the chair behind her and placed it beneath the lady’s head and draped a blanket over her. After asking one of the other guests to sit with her she followed Mulder into the hallway.

“What?” he said after a moment of silence where she just looked at him deploringly.

“Why do you insist on encouraging him?”

“Encouraging him to admit the truth.”

“Listen Mulder I did hear horses outside, I heard them getting nearer and nearer and I thought…” she hesitate, ducking beneath his gaze and leaning back against the wall. “I thought…for a moment…I thought they were coming for me.”

Sensing the fear in her voice he waited for her to continue. Waited for her to regain control of her breathing and face him fully again.

“It was terrifying.”

“Last year there were three murders. Then this morning Jack Smith was found dead in his room, the very man who heard the horses last night.”

“I know where you are going with this Mulder,” she said trying to interrupt him but he wasn’t going to let his train of thought be dispersed.

“Right now we have another body, to look for.” He paused and watched her eyes close over slowly. “He was the other person who heard them last night wasn’t he?”

She simply nodded, her eyes still closed.

“So that leaves…”

“Me.” She completed his sentence when he couldn’t.

“I’m calling for back up.”

11.30PM

The ambulance arrived shortly after Mulder’s call and hot in its wake was the back up from the nearest FBI Field office. Several swat members had scouted various locations throughout the castle to offer the maximum protection and the remaining agents were camped out at the front reception hallway.

After Ronan’s body had been located and transported to the morgue, Sarah, his wife who had stumbled bloodied and shocked through the door earlier, was taken to the hospital for shock treatment. Mulder spoke to the remaining guests about what had happened and Scully was glad he refrained from explaining the full extent of his theory. He asked if everyone would mind staying in the lobby for the rest of the night and offered them transportation to a different hotel if they preferred, after they had all given statements and alibis.

Much to his surprise they all declined the offer of transportation and rallied together to get the fire lit. Through the entire organisation, Eoghan Darby sat still in his seat by the kitchen door, where Mulder had placed him earlier. His eyes glazed over and his mouth was agape as the bustling moved around him.

Scully claimed a seat by the fire and still felt a chill. She was about to reach for a blanket when a thick woollen one was draped over her shoulders. Looking up she saw Mulder standing over her and she scooted up to let him sit down.

“You looked like you needed it.”

“Thanks.”

“You okay?”

“Spooked.”

“Nothing is going to happen to you Scully,” he said as he pulled her closer and kissed her temple. “I won’t let it.”

“Do you believe it Mulder?” she asked faintly and he felt her body tense against his as she waited for his reply.

“You know me Scully. I believe in everything,” he said flippantly.

“Seriously Mulder.”

“Whatever is out there, who ever is doing this, it was a man who put that electronic lock on the bedroom door last night. I checked the other doors today and found the same locks on two other rooms too.”

“Whose rooms?” she asked but he didnt need to voice it, she already knew.

“Tá sé ag teacht! Thogh sé tusa!” Eoghan jumped up out of his chair and stared at Scully. In his hand he was holding a knife, the blade short but sharp, held out in front of him as he pointed across the room at her.

The agents behind the door heard the screaming and barged in, their weapons trained on the threat immediately.

“Put down the knife.”

“Get on the floor.”

“Hold up your hands!” They shouted commands at him but he was staring fixedly at Scully and heard none of it.

“Níl me bheith fiáin gan rud ar bith,” he yelled taking a step closer and wielding the knife higher.

“Eoghan…we can’t understand a word you are saying.” Mulder said back as calmly as he could but the foreign words were instilling more fear then any English rambling ever did.

“He said…he said “he is coming and he has selected you” The man standing near the fire translated for them, pointing at Scully. “he said he isn’t prepared to die for no reason.”

“No one is going to die Eoghan.” Mulder said and looked to the stranger for help.

“Níl aon duine chun bás Eoghan.”

“Calm down.”

“Ciúnaigh!”

“Mulder!” Scully said suddenly gripping his arm tighter and looking towards the front door.

“What is it?” he immediately turned his attention back to his partner. “Scully?”

“Can’t you hear it?” In the tense silence of the room her voice boomed out. But as he knees started to buckle and he hands instinctively reached for her ears she crouched as low as her body would let her and tried to block out the sounds of the hooves pounding over her head. “The noise? The horses?” she shouted over the sound only

she could hear.

Mulder looked up at Eoghan who was staring at her his concentration focused so completely that he was unaware of his surroundings. His eyes had closed to mere slits as he took another step closer.

“Stop him!” Mulder yelled bending down to Scully and trying to pull her arms away from her ears. “Scully, listen to my voice…Scully.”

The agents stormed over to where Eoghan was standing and brought him down to the ground. They were trying to cuff him when all of a sudden the doors of the castle shook with an almighty bang that nearly took the door off its hinges. Scully jumped up and stared at the door.

“Tell me you can hear that!”

“I heard that alright.” Mulder turned to see Eoghan still staring at Scully. He was lying on his chest with Agent Denny holding him in place with a knee in his back.

“Stop him!” Mulder yelled.

But before the agents could react Eoghan rolled over knocking the agent off balance and managing to scramble to his feet. The knife was still in his hand as he charged across the room towards them with murderous intent. The banging on the door became louder and more persistent.

Mulder held up his arm to protect himself as his other hand fumbled to get his gun out of his holster. Scully cowered beneath him the unbearably loud sound of the hooves trampled across her mind leaving her bounded in pain.

The sharp sting of the blade cutting his skin wasn’t enough to deter Mulder as he pushed Eoghan away and managed to get his gun out. He held it in place and aimed at Eoghan as he found his footing.

“Agent Stringer, get Scully, take her out of here!” Mulder yelled over the ruckus at the door, and never took his eyes off Eoghan who was still staring menacingly at Scully. As Agent Stringer walked around Mulder to help Scully off the floor, Eoghan yelled out as if in pain and lurched towards them.

The banging on the door was constant now, mixed with Eoghan’s feral scream as he raced across the room. Then the crack of Mulders gun was followed by silence, broken only by the sound of Eoghan’s body hitting the floor.

Everyone in the room seemed to hold their breath waiting for the door to be broken in. Slowly Scully sat up, her eyes red rimmed and sore. It was then she noticed the blood running down her partner’s arm.

She uttered as if coming to from a trance. “Mulder, you’re bleeding!”

“Oh, don’t worry, its nothing. I’m worried about you.” He lifted her chin up so he could smile at her and then swiped at the bloody mark his fingers made against her pale cheek. She smiled back and let him pull her into his arms. He bent to kiss her. Whatever odd mood she had been in all this weekend seemed to have vanished with

death of the castle owner. Like she had been under a weird influence.

“This place…it’s really gotton under my skin,” she admitted looking up to him and seeing him as if for the first time all weekend.

He held her tighter. “It’s okay Scully, but just let me say this. I never want to so spend a night without you again, even on a case. deal?”

“Deal! ” She pulled him close for a long kiss. ” Do you think this was a hoax Mulder, that man seemed…possessed? He had been drinking but…”

“He may have been, How knows. I think he used the stories from this castle to help business. Placing those devices to scare his guests, perpetrating the story further, lending further credence to the tales.”

Mulder glanced over to where Eoghan’s body lay motionless. “Maybe he gave it power by believing in it, by telling the stories and creating the fear. Whatever secret he had or reason for doing this, be it his complicity and exposure in or something paranormals was at work died with him.” He stood up and stretched a hand out to help

her up and pull her against his chest. “I think it will just come under another tale of St. Patrick’s Day lore and remain…. unsolved.”

“Here’s something for the shock.”

They both turned to see one of the other guests passing them pints of gren Guinness.

“Guinness?” Scully said sceptically.

“What else on St Patrick’s Day!” Mulder smiled as he took his pint and tasted a mouthful.

They finished their drinks and Scully took the glasses and left them onto the small table beside the fire. Already the room was emptying as people filled out and went to their rooms.

“C’mon Mulder, time to start making up lost time.” Taking his hand she led him towards the stairs.

“Really Scully?”

“Oh yeah. In the spirit of my ancestor’s saint’s day, I brought something skimpy and green and I would like to see if you approve. You know what they say…Guinness Give you strength. What do you say we grab a few bottles and escape upstairs?”

“Ohhh I’d love to agent Scully,” he said snatching the bottles from an ice bucket as they passed. “I feel lucky already and I have no need of a shamrock.”

The end.

Skinfull

A Kiss for Luck

A Kiss For Luck

Author: Erin M. Blair

FEEDBACK: Yes, please.

DISTRIBUTION: This story belongs to Virtual Season 12 for two weeks. After that, it will be OK for archival at Gossamer, Ephemeral, and the like.

RATING: PG.

CATEGORIES: SR — Story, Romance.

KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully Romance.

SPOILERS: Up to Je Souhaite. There’s a spoiler for VS11x23, “Displacement.”

DISCLAIMER: Mulder and Scully belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and the FOX network. “PG” is trademarked by the MPAA. I’m not making any money from using the above.

SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully discover that they are truly lucky to be together.

NOTES: I would like to thank Devin and Lisa for their lightning fast beta while my regular beta was busy thoughout this week. I would like to thank them as well as Jen for their support of my writing.

A Kiss For Luck

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

There was not a cloud in sight on this gorgeous summer-like day during the third week of March. After the recent rains, the ground was finally beginning to dry out, leaving the grass looking greener than usual.

Scully was outside, breathing in the fragrance of the blooming flowers in the planter. She looked over at the man, who returned her love a thousandth fold, was sitting on the plastic, white chair. “Mulder, I didn’t know you were out here.”

“I’m just enjoying this shamrock that I found today.”

She smiled. “It’s convenient that you found it just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.”

“I discovered it when I was walking home from running the track this morning,” he said smiling.

“You’re lucky, Mulder.”

“No, Scully, I think you have it wrong.”

“I do?”

He nodded. “We’re both lucky.”

“And how do you figure that, G-Man?” she asked teasingly.

She gave him an adoring smile and looked deeply into his eyes.

“When I came close to losing you, I felt as though I was going to lose the half of my soul,” he said as he was gazing into her eyes. “You have always completed me whether or not you knew it at the time.”

Her eyes became misty as his words sunk into her soul. She leaned down towards him and she kissed him. This time, she didn’t let him be the one to initiate this special moment.

She wanted to show him just how much his words meant to her. She murmured into his hair, “Mulder, I’ve always known. I remember what you said to me in the hallway before the bee stung me. You told me that I keep you honest, that I made you a whole person. What I didn’t tell you at the time was that you completed me in more ways than one. We’re connected like two sides of the same coin. I know I never believed in soul mates before, but you’re mine.”

His face brightened up with his smile. His lips tenderly grazed hers for a few seconds, and then he finally returned a more passionate kiss. “We believe the same thing.”

~~~ The End ~~~

Vacation at Hall Manor

Title: Vacation At Hall Manor

Date: Feburary 5, 2005

Author: Kathy Foote

Spoilers: None

Summary: Mulder and Scully enjoy a restful vacation at Hall Manor…or do they?

Rating: PG

Category: Adventure, MSR

Disclaimer: Fox and Carter own the characters. I don’t make any money off this (who

would pay me anyway), but I sure did LOVE playing with them for a while.

Archive: This story belongs exclusively to the Virtual Season 12 site for two weeks; after

that, I’d be honored, but it would be nice if you dropped me a note letting me know.

Acknowledgements: This is for Vickie Moseley who encouraged me to write it and whose

wonderful ideas helped make this story. And, as always, thanks for her splendid beta

work. I also want to give a huge thanks to my Mom for all her fantastic help; she is my

silent collaborator. Last, but not least, I want to thank Emmy, my biggest fan and best

friend.

Feedback should be sent to kmfoote@charter.net.

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Vacation At Hall Manor

TEASER

Hall Manor Bed & Breakfast, Norwich CT

Spring – 2000

Eric and Michelle Young are a young married couple who had come to stay at the Hall

Manor Bed & Breakfast for a much needed vacation. They had been there for three

days and Eric was becoming increasingly agitated. It was the night of the third day and

the young couple were getting ready for bed.

“I want to leave, Michelle. Now…please,” begged Eric, obviously upset.

Michelle stared at him incredulously. “Leave? Why? I thought you were having a good

time. It was your idea to come here in the first place.”

“Yeah, I know…and I was having a good time until…until…”

“Until what?”

He stalled before giving her the answer to the question. He knew it would not make her

happy. “Her! I saw _her_ again!”

“Her who?” she queried, completely at a loss as to what he was talking about.

“The ghost! The ghost who lives here at Hall Manor.”

Michelle rolled her eyes at his statement. “Please…you can’t be serious. I thought you

had given up on that.”

“Michelle, I’m telling you she is real and I saw her…again. This afternoon, while you

were napping, she visited me in the den.”

“And what did she have to say?” she asked him sarcastically.

Eric was dead serious as he looked at Michelle. “She said she loved me and that we’d

be together soon. She said she’d take care of everything,” he said in an even monotone

voice.

“This is just your imagination. You’ve been spending all your free time listening to Mr.

Chambers filling your head with all those ghost stories.”

“What about the tree branch? My God Michelle, it could’ve killed you.”

“The woods are old. Tree branches weaken from years of weather. They break. What

do you want me to say? It was just poor timing on our part to be there when it broke. I

don’t _think_ it means anything.”

“I think someone or something broke that branch as we walked underneath it.” Michelle

huffed unbelievingly at his statement. Eric grabbed her hands in his own. “Please,

Michelle,” Eric begged, “I want to leave. We could drive to Mystic or even New Haven.

We can find a nice place to spend the rest of our vacation. I’d feel so much better if we

go. Please!”

She could see he was very upset by all of this, real or not. She didn’t really want to

leave this lovely place, but how could they enjoy their vacation when he was so

distraught? “Well, we can’t leave now, it’s already 11:00. The owners are in bed, but we

can leave first thing in the morning. Happy?”

Eric wrapped his arms around her pulling her into a tight hug. She could feel his body

trembling slightly in her arms. She had not realized how scared he was. “Yeah, I guess

we have to wait until morning. But we leave first thing and head to the coast.”

She gave him a quick peck on the lips. “Agreed. Now come on let’s get to bed. I am

dead on my feet,” she said with a grin

“Dammit, Michelle, that’s not funny,” he said angrily as he pushed her away.

She giggled lightly and held her hands up as if surrendering. “I’m sorry. Geez, where is

your sense of humor. I’ll be glad when we leave. Hopefully, you will lighten up.”

Michelle had fallen asleep almost immediately. He could hear her deep slow breathing.

Eric had lay in bed replaying what the ghost had said to him. He was nervous about

what she had meant. Finally, the sound of Michelle’s breathing and his own exhaustion

lulled him to sleep.

A few hours later, Michelle climbed out of bed. She walked out of the room and out of

the house, as if she was in a trance. Her eyes were closed, but she had her hand out in

front of her as if someone was leading her by the hand. She stumbled through the

woods in her bare feet, following this unseen person. She was oblivious to the pain in

her feet from stepping over such rough terrain.

When she arrived at the cliff, her hand dropped to her side and her eyes slowly opened.

She looked around not knowing where she was or how she got there. She realized that

she was at the cliffs at the back of the property. She was suddenly scared and turned to

go back to the house, when she came face to face with the translucent vision of a

woman.

Michelle stared unbelieving at the ghostly figure in front of her. Her first thought was that

Eric was right. The ghost moved forward toward Michelle and she took a step backward.

The ghost moved forward again and Michelle retreated until she was balanced on the

edge. The ghost stood directly in front of her. She was paralyzed with fear.

The wind began to strengthen and gusted as it blew around the cliff edge. The form of

the ghost began to change, as she seemed to solidify. “He is mine…I will not lose

another lover,” the ghost explained to her. The ghost continued to move forward as an

extremely strong wind gust pushed Michelle back and she fell off the cliff to the rocks

below.

Eric awakened suddenly, unsure of what had startled him. He quickly realized that

Michelle was not in bed. Panicking, he got up to search for her. He noticed the ghost

standing at the door to their room.

“It’s all over, love. Now we can be together,” the ghost said to him.

Terrified by what she meant, he rushed out of the room, calling out to his wife. He

checked the bathroom, but it was empty. He ran downstairs crying out her name, but

there was no answer. He noticed that the front door was standing open and he knew

where she was. He raced through the woods to the cliffs. He looked over the edge and

there in the moonlight, lay Michelle’s broken body on the rocks below. At that moment,

his heart shattered. He dropped to his knees at the cliffs edge and wailed,

“Noooooooo!”

ACT ONE

En Route to Norwich CT

February – 2005

It had been quite a while since they had taken time off for a real vacation. The kind of

vacation where you relax, sleep late, sight see, and eat too much; a _real_ vacation.

They had been very busy lately and both needed some downtime. They didn’t want to

spend their time off in Washington. They needed to get out of the city.

They had decided to not go too far from home, but far enough to get away from

everyone. Scully remembered when Mulder had suggested the Hall Manor Bed &

Breakfast in Norwich, CT. He was so excited.

“Scully!” yelled Mulder, “I found the perfect place. Check it out!”

“I’m warning you, Mulder. It better not be near any UFO hotspots, like those last two

places.”

“Scully, you wound me,” he said as he placed his hand over his heart. “You’ll like this

one. I promise.” He pulled her onto his lap, so that she could read the description on

the screen.

She began reading the description and was pleasantly surprised. It was an old house

that had been built in the 1950’s and transformed into a charming Bed & Breakfast in

1992. Large bedrooms, private baths, situated on 10 acres of wooded land along the

Yantic River, complete with garden and walking trails. He was right, it sounded perfect.

She continued to read with a widening smile. Half through the description, she stopped

and her posture stiffened instantaneously.

She turned to glare at him, her smile gone. He had the good sense to duck his head.

“Haunted?” she asked him. “Is that why you picked this particular place? Because it’s

haunted?’

“Ah come on, Scully. Why can’t we stay in a haunted house for vacation? There won’t

be any UFOs.”

She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Like ghosts are supposed to be better than UFOs?

“Look…there are lots of things to do in the immediate area, it’d be a great home base for

exploring all parts of Connecticut, and…the best part is…it’s haunted. It’ll be fun.

Please!” he pleaded as his lower lip jutted out giving her his best pout.

She could never deny him anything when he resorted to his patented pout . He looked

like a little boy when he did that. “Ok. _But_ I am _not_ spending my whole vacation

ghost hunting and neither are you.”

“Agreed!”

Now here it was two months later and they were on their way. After the horrible winter

storm the area received in January, they had been concerned they would be forced to

cancel their vacation. Mulder had said they were going, even if they had to rent

snowmobiles to get there. Luckily, that hadn’t happened. On the contrary, the weather

was amazing; unseasonably warm for this time of year. The weather forecast was

calling for the possibility of showers later in the week, but that wouldn’t stop them. It was

a perfect time to get away.

They had left DC early this morning and had stopped at some roadside diner in New

Jersey for lunch. They crossed into the city limits of Norwich around 3:00, right on

schedule.

They drove straight through the town, eager to get to their destination before they went

on any excursions. They found the turnoff to Hall Manor without any problem. It was a

small country road, barely wide enough to accommodate two cars at the same time.

The road dipped down and crossed over a creek, before it rose up the hill, to disappear

into the trees. The trees were bare due to winter and you could see some walking paths

weaving throughout. The above average temperatures had melted all evidence of the

terrible snowstorm that had occurred the previous month.

As the road continued to rise, they finally broke through the trees to see Hall Manor in

the center of a large clearing completely surrounded by woods. It was a large well-

cared-for stately Manor. It looked to be three stories or perhaps two stories with an attic.

The lawns around the building were beautifully landscaped and a gazebo could be seen

in the back in the middle of a garden, from the looks of which, in summer would be full of

flowers and colorful bushes.

“Oh my God, Mulder, it is absolutely beautiful. I can understand why they don’t have a

lot of vacancies.”

“Yeah, the pictures really don’t do it justice. No wonder the ghost chose to live here,” he

quipped. She merely gave him a look that said she was not amused. “Ok, Ok. What do

say we get checked in and go see the town?”

She smiled, “Now _that_ sounds like a plan.”

They parked in the small lot at the side of the house. Mulder snagged both their bags

before Scully could take hers and hauled them up to the front door. Neither of them

noticed the ghostly figure watching them from the attic window.

A bell chimed as they pushed open the front door and walked into the foyer. The house

was warm and inviting. There was a wonderful smell of something being baked; cookies

maybe, or bread. He put down their luggage and they both inspected the place that

would be their home for the next few days. There were dark wood floors and straight

ahead of them was a staircase made of the same dark wood that led to the second floor.

The wall at the side of the staircase was covered in paintings and framed pictures. To

their immediate left was what appeared to be a small office. It was complete with a

beautiful Queen Anne reception desk and several high backed chairs. There was an

antique grandfather clock chiming 3 o’clock just inside the entrance to the office.

Beyond that, they could see the entrance to a much larger room. From what they could

see, the walls were lined with bookshelves; probably a library. On the right, was a dining

room. A large table that could seat at least ten was in the center. A matching china

cabinet could be seen against the far wall and the room was lit by two brass chandeliers.

As they were peering into the dining room, they saw an older woman with snow-white

hair coming toward them. She had entered the room from the doorway on the far side,

which obviously led to the kitchen. She wore a warm friendly smile and an apron, which

she was diligently using to clean her hands. She looked like she could be anybody’s

grandmother.

“Oh my, I thought I heard the door chimes. Welcome, welcome. Let me guess…you

must be Mr. and Mrs. Mulder.”

Scully looked questioningly at Mulder with a raised eyebrow. He responded with a

shrug, indicating he didn’t know where she got the idea they were married. “We’re not

married,” corrected Scully.

“Yet!” he blurted out. “I’m Fox Mulder and this is Dana Scully. You must be Mrs.

Chambers.”

“Oh, please, call me Mary, short for Meredith. No one around here calls me Mrs.

Chambers. Let me get Maurice and we’ll get you folks checked in.” She turned to yell

up the stairs, “Maury!” She turned back to address them, “He’s always running around,

fiddling with this and that. You’re going to enjoy your stay here. As soon as you get

settled in, come back down and have some coffee and fresh baked cookies.” She

leaned closer and whispered conspiratorially, “I don’t want to brag, but my oatmeal

cookies have won first place at the State Fair for three years in a row.”

“Yummm…that sounds great, Mrs….” Scully stopped short at the woman’s scowl. “I

mean, Mary.” The woman’s scowl turned into a smile at Scully’s correction.

They all turned to look in the direction of the staircase when heavy footsteps were heard

descending from the second floor. An older man wearing overalls and a worn Red Sox

baseball cap was coming down the stairs towards them. Mulder, a confirmed Yankee

fan, cringed slightly at the cap.

The man stepped onto the first floor. Mary reached out and grasped his arm, pulling him

closer to the small group. “This is my husband, Maury Chambers, owner and handy

man here at Hall Manor. Maury, this is Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.”

“Oh well, it’s nice to meet you young folks,” he said as he removed his cap revealing a

head of snow-white hair like Mary. He wiped his hand on the leg of his overalls, before

extending it towards Mulder, who gave it a firm shake. He then offered his hand to

Scully, who likewise gave it a firm shake.

“Step over to the desk and we’ll get you checked in.” He motioned for them to

accompany him to the office. “I’m sure you’re tired from traveling and would like to

relax.” He looked through the reservation slips on the desk and found the one that bore

Mulder’s name. “Ah, here we are. Looks like we have you two in the “Blue” suite. It’s

the best room in the house. King-size bed, fireplace, private bath with a huge claw foot

tub, cable TV/VCR, separate sitting room, and a double Jacuzzi.” Scully’s smile

widened when he described the fireplace and the claw foot tub, and Mulder got excited

about the cable TV, and they beamed when he mentioned the Jacuzzi.

“Breakfast is served from 6:30 – 10:00 every morning in the main dining room. Mary

always puts out cookies and pastries with tea and coffee every afternoon. We have

menus from all the local restaurants in the library. We can help with any reservations

you might want to make for meals or local attractions. Just let us know. Here’s keys to

your room and to the front door. The other guests are all out right now, but you’ll meet

them later. We want your stay with us at the Hall Manor to be one you won’t soon

forget.”

“Thank you so much, Mr. Chambers. I’m sure we will have a wonderful time.” Scully

grabbed Mulder’s hand to lead him back to the foyer to gather their bags, but he didn’t

budge. She turned to see him address their host.

“Mr. Chambers…Maury…I read that the house is haunted. Is there any truth to that?”

“You bet it is, son. I’ve seen the ghost many times myself.”

“Really?”

“Sure and I’m not the only one. Even Mary has seen her, but she likes to pretend it was

something she ate or some other rubbish. I think she’s just afraid to believe.”

Mulder turned to look pointedly at Scully. “Sounds familiar.”

“I usually see her in the attic window or out in the gardens. The rumor is that she tends

to take a liking to some of the men that have stayed in this house. I guess it’s lucky for

me that I’m too old, because she’s never bothered me. I’ve heard she can be quite

possessive.”

Scully looked at Mulder and saw he was mesmerized by what the man was saying. She

herself was skeptical to say the least.

Mary entered the office, “For goodness sakes, Maury, you’re not going on about the

ghost are you?”

“The young man asked me. What was I supposed to say?” He turned back to Mulder,

“Listen, if you want to know more, ask Wilma Starnes, the local librarian. She’s been in

this town all her life and knows everything about this house. If you’re so inclined, there

are boxes of stuff in the attic that have been there for years. You’re more than welcome

to look through them. The door to the attic is at the top of the stairs on the right.”

“Oh, enough about the ghosts. These folks are exhausted. Let’s show them to their

room, so they can relax and freshen up. Come on, Dana, I’ll show you to your room.”

She put her arm through Scully’s arm and led her back through the foyer and up the

stairs.

“Thanks for the information, Maury.” Mulder grabbed their luggage and followed the

ladies up the stairs. There was a hallway at the top of the stairs that went straight to the

back of the house. There were doors on either side of the hallway that obviously led to

the other rooms.

“The Blue suite is the second door on the left. You’re just going to love this room. It’s

situated in the corner of the house, so you have views of the woods on one side and

gardens on the other.” She opened the door and moved across the rooms to open the

curtains. The room was instantly flooded with light. The rooms walls were covered in a

light blue cloth, which matched the bedspread on the king size four poster bed. The

room contained antique furniture like the mirrored dresser and more modern furniture

like the entertainment center that housed the TV.

Mary went about pointing out the amenities. When she got to the TV, she held out the

remote control, which Mulder was about to take, but Scully snagged before he had a

chance. “I’ll take that,” she said as she glared at him. He gave her his best pout, but

she just smiled and said, “You won’t need it I have other plans for you.” She gave her

eyebrows a little waggle hoping he took the hint. He, of course, having a brilliant mind,

had no trouble grasping the meaning of her statement. He smiled and returned the eye

waggle, indicating he fully understood what she meant and he whole-heartedly agreed.

Mary could barely hear herself think with all this unspoken communication going on.

She took this opportunity to make herself scarce. “Call me if you need anything.

Anything at all.” She closed the door behind her as she left the room.

Mulder stepped forward and slipped his arms around her waist. “So what are these

_plans_ you have?”

She rose up on her toes and gave a quick kiss on his lips. “You’ll see,” she said

secretively, as she spun out of his arms and walked over to the window.

Mulder was not satisfied with her answer, so he joined her at the window. He again

encircled her in his arms, nuzzling her neck. “Can you give me a hint?” he whispered

huskily.

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“Isn’t it just beautiful?” she commented as she looked out over the gardens. “Maybe we

could come back in the spring when the gardens are full of color.” There were small

pathways that wove between the hedges and shrubs radiating from the gazebo in the

center.

He was entranced by her neck and was not really paying attention to what she was

saying. He heard the word beautiful and that got his attention. “Yes, you are,” he

mumbled against her skin.

“Mulder!” she said firmly. At the mention of his name, he stopped his assault on her

neck.

“Yes?” he asked somewhat bewildered by her tone.

“I _said_ aren’t the gardens beautiful.”

He raised his head and looked out the window. “Yeah, Scully, they’re gorgeous…simply

gorgeous.” He paused a moment and then returned his attention to her neck. “Now

about those plans.”

“Mulder, I’m hungry.”

“Ohhh, me too, Scully,” he groaned as he began kissing her neck in earnest.

She turned in his arms, so that she was facing him. “I mean food. I’m hungry for food.

We haven’t eaten since lunch and _you_ are going to need your energy. Let’s get

unpacked, head into town, and grab some dinner. Afterwards, we can come back here

and I’ll enlighten you concerning my plans.”

“You got a deal,” he answered. He gave her a final squeeze and they turned away from

the window to unpack their luggage. They never noticed the ghostly vision watching

from the gazebo in the garden.

They went into town and had a relaxing dinner at a small family-owned Italian restaurant,

complete with checkered tablecloths and drip candles. Mulder had the lasagna, while

Scully had a seafood pasta dish, and they both shared a bottle of red wine. By the time

dinner was over, they were both very tired and very relaxed. They returned to the bed

and breakfast and retired to the room. Scully enticed Mulder to join her in the claw

footed tub and after a long and romantic soak, they crawled into bed, relaxed and sated,

and fell right to sleep.

ACT TWO

The next morning Mulder woke when the sunlight came streaming in their east-facing

window. He was never much for sleeping late anyway; years of getting up early for work

prevented that. He felt great. That had been the best night of sleep in years. It must

have been the bed or the wine from last night or the soak or the company

He looked down at the mane of auburn hair that was resting against his right shoulder.

That made his smile widen more. He loved waking up with Scully in his arms. It was the

perfect way to start every day.

He kissed her on the head. “Morning sunshine!

She rubbed her head against his shoulder and made a sound like a purr. Yes, she

actually purred. “I’m so comfortable. Just five more minutes.”

He tightened his arms around her sleep-warmed body. “Babe, we got things to do

today. You know vacation things. We can’t waste our time lying in bed all day. Come

on, let’s shake a leg.”

She just rolled her eyes. Only Mulder would think lying in bed all day was a waste of a

vacation. Some people would think that was the perfect vacation. “So, what’s on the

agenda for the day.”

“First, breakfast. I’m starved.”

“After that huge slice of lasagna last night? How can you be hungry?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, but I am. Maybe the vacation is making me

hungry. Anyway, after breakfast, I thought we could explore the grounds, you know

explore some of the trails. After that, we can head back into town. I want to go to the

local library and have a chat with this Wilma.”

She rose up on his chest, so she could look him in the eye. “All right, but we are not

spending all day listening to ghost stories. Thirty minutes tops.”

“Scullleee,” he whined, “that’s barely enough time to make introductions. Two

hours…please.” He begged her with his puppy-dog eyes.

“Fine. Two hours it is, but after that you are taking me to the Slater Memorial Museum

for at least two hours.”

He frowned, “That’s an art museum, isn’t it?”

“Yep.”

“Two hours? In an art museum? How can anyone even look at art for 15 minutes, let

alone two hours?”

“It’s up to you. Two hours in the library for two hours in the museum.”

“I got it. You could go to the museum, while I go to the library?” he suggested hopefully.

“No way. We are on vacation and we are spending it together. You are not ditching me

for some librarian. I don’t care how good her ghost stories are.”

He thought about it a moment. “Fine. You win. Equal time in the library and art

museum. Now let’s get up, get dressed, and get a move on.” He rolled her off of him

and bounded from the bed, heading toward the bathroom.

Half an hour later, they walked into the dining room. The aroma Mulder had smelled

from upstairs had grown exponentially until he was overwhelmed by it. He

absentmindedly wiped has hand across his mouth, as he feared he had been drooling.

Platters of fresh fruit and cheese, pitchers of juice, and a multitude of covered serving

trays were on the bar. They started at the beginning where there was a stack of plates

and made their way to the end. Scully filled her plate with fruits and snagged a container

of yogurt. Mulder passed up the fruit and went straight for the covered serving trays.

Each one was filled with a breakfast dish. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage,

home-fried potatoes, pancakes, and more. He piled the food on his plate, regretfully

stopping when it was filled to capacity. There was another couple already seated at the

table, indulging in the feast before them. Mulder and Scully took seats opposite the

other couple.

“Good Morning,” Scully said cheerfully.

The woman perked up at Scully’s greeting, sensing the opportunity for conversation.

“Morning,” the woman answered with a warm smile on her face. “Did you two just get

here? I don’t believe we’ve seen you before.”

“We arrived yesterday afternoon. I’m Dana and this is Mulder.”

“Nice to meet you Dana…Mulder,” she nodded in Mulder’s direction. “We’re Rob and

Laura.”

Mulder’s head snapped up. “Petrie?” he inquired.

Rob snorted as if he had heard that before. “Tanner!”

“Never mind him. So have you guys been into town yet?” asked Laura.

Scully really didn’t want to be having this conversation. She hadn’t realized what she

had started with her simple greeting. “We did have dinner there last night, but it was

dark, so we didn’t see much. We’re heading into town after breakfast.”

“You _must_ go see the Slater art museum. It is fantastic.”

Scully turned and pinned Mulder with a “I told you so” stare. “Thanks, Laura. We

definitely plan to visit there.”

“Sorry, buddy, ” Rob said sympathetically, “What is it about women and art museums?”

Mulder started to respond, but thought of it and simply shrugged his shoulders

noncommittally.

Laura continued, “There are plenty of other interesting sights to see in Norwich. You can

pick up a visitor’s guide in the office.”

“You want juice, Scully?” Mulder asked, trying to rescue her from the conversation.

She smiled at him, silently thanking him for the overture. “Sure. That would be great,

but I’d kill for coffee,” she answered. He couldn’t help but chuckle at her statement. He

knew how much she loved her coffee in the morning. As he was retrieving the juice,

Mary came into the room with a steaming pot of coffee.

“Did I hear someone say they wanted coffee?” She must have overheard the

conversation, because she headed straight for Scully and filled two cups.

Mulder brought the glasses of juice back to the table, setting one down in front of Scully.

“Thanks, Mary, you are a lifesaver,” he said, “You don’t how dangerous she can be

without her coffee in the morning.”

Scully turned to pin Mulder with a stare. “Watch it, Mulder, I still haven’t had any yet. I

could crush you with my bare hands.”

“Lands, you two are so funny,” commented Mary and she moved around the table to the

other couple, “Refill?” The other couple declined. They were obviously finishing up and

getting ready to leave. “Did you two introduce yourselves to the new folks?” Everyone

nodded that they had. “Good. You know, we want everyone here to feel like a part of

the family.”

” Listen, we gotta run. We’re heading down to the Mohegan Sun casino to win a

fortune,” Rob said.

“Or lose our _ass_,” Laura said contemptuously. It was obvious she was less than

thrilled about visiting the Mohegan Sun.

“Come on,” he pulled her toward the door. “It was nice to meet you folks.” When they

reached the door, he turned. “Oh, and Mulder? Enjoy that art museum,” he added

sarcastically. “Look, I told you, I have it all worked out. I have a plan,” he began to

explain to Laura as they left the room.

“Hey, Scully, maybe we should visit the Mohegan Sun. I would love to win a fortune.”

“You know, Mulder, the odds of winning big at a casino are…” she began to explain.

“Please don’t quote statistics. I was kidding!” he interrupted. “Let’s just eat, so we can

get out of here.”

After breakfast, they left the house through the back door, directly into the garden. The

sun was shining and the temperature would rise quickly today. There was a light

southerly wind that should bring in the warmer weather and perhaps, some rain showers

later in the week.

They walked through the garden and entered the woods following one of the well-worn

trails. It was beautiful in the woods. They walked along, hand-in-hand, deep within their

own thoughts. They were comfortable in this silence; there was no need for

conversation as they strolled. After about fifteen minutes, they left the woods and

stepped into a clearing. There was a rail that ran along the edge of the clearing on the

far side. As they neared the railing, a roaring could be heard, getting louder the closer

they came to the rail.

When they reached the railing, they realized that it was separating them from a sheer

drop-off. They leaned over the rail and could see the river rushing over the rocks below

them.

“I guess this rail is for safety. Wouldn’t want your guests to get a little too close to the

edge,” Mulder ventured, “that could be bad for business.” He looked around the clearing

for a moment, but seeing nothing of interest, he said, “Come on, let’s get back and head

into town.”

“Ok.”

“Besides, we got an art museum to visit. I for one can’t wait,” he added sarcastically.

She responded with a smack to his arm.

By the time they made it into town, the library was closed for lunch. They decided to visit

the museum first and then return to the library later that afternoon.

Mulder could never remember two hours passing so slowly. How could anyone look at

paintings and sculptures for two hours? He checked his watch every five minutes and

the second the two hours were up, he let her know it.

“That’s it! Two hours. Time to leave,” Mulder happily exclaimed. Scully could swear

she heard him add a ‘Thank God,” under his breath. She had said two hours and that

was what he gave her, two hours; not a second more. He practically dragged her out of

the museum to the car. Anyone could tell he was chomping at the bit to get back to the

library.

There were no other cars in the parking lot when they arrived at the library. There was a

small woman working behind the counter, completely engrossed with stamping books.

They walked to the counter and tried to get her attention.

“Ahem…ma’am? Are you Wilma Starnes?”

She looked up from her books at his question. “Yes, I am. How can I help you?”

“Mary Chambers suggested I speak with you about the history of Hall Manor.”

Wilma’s eyes widened at the mention of Hall Manor and then narrowed in suspicion.

Hardly anyone ever asked about Hall Manor, especially strangers. “Who are you? You

a ghost-hunter?”

Mulder smiled at her accusation. “No ma’am. Actually we’re FBI agents, but we’re here

on vacation. I’m just fascinated with the paranormal and was hoping to hear some more

about Hall Manor and their ghost.”

Wilma continued to stare at him, trying to determine if he was being truthful. She

addressed Scully, “What about you, young lady? You interested in ghosts too?”

“That’s his thing. As for myself, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Wilma’s voice became chilling, “You will. After you hear my story, you _will_ believe in

ghosts.” She motioned for them to follow her. “Come on, let’s go to the office. It’s a lot

more comfortable and I just made some fresh coffee.”

After everyone had a cup of coffee, they sat in the small cozy office. Mulder and Scully

sat on the small sofa, while Wilma sat in the chair.

“So you want to hear about Hall Manor, do you?” Mulder nodded enthusiastically, as he

leaned forward in his seat. “I was just a young woman when it happened. The Hall’s,

Julia and Albert, were the richest folks in town. They bought that land and had Hall

Manor built in 1952. I’m not sure where they lived before they moved here. He was

some kind of banker or something; I never knew exactly what he did for a living.

Anyway, his wife, Julia, was a hateful, shrew of a woman who only loved Albert’s money

and the stature that his wealth provided her. She was always spending time in Hartford

or New York City; rarely spent time in the house. In 1964, a beautiful woman named

Lucy Miller moved to Norwich and opened a small restaurant. Since Julia was rarely at

home, Albert used to eat in her restaurant all the time. He would show up for dinner and

stay until it closed. Albert fell in love with Lucy Miller. He decided to divorce his wife and

marry Lucy. When Julia found out, she refused to give her husband a divorce. When

Albert told Lucy that they could not get married, Lucy killed herself in a fit of despair.

She jumped from the cliff at the back of the Hall property to the rocks below in the Yantic

River. Of course, the story was that Lucy decided to take her life if she couldn’t have the

man she loved, but everyone suspected that the wife had killed her; although it was

never proven. Albert was distraught over the loss of his love and ultimately committed

suicide a week later, by leaping from the same spot. Julia sold the property and moved

to Hartford where she lived happily alone until she died in the late 80’s.”

Mulder was so mesmerized by the story, he hadn’t noticed she had stopped, until Scully

spoke up. “So who is supposed to haunting the house?”

“Why, it’s Lucy Miller, my dear. Evidently, she feels that it is her house. It would have

been, if she hadn’t died.”

“Have _you_ ever seen her?” Mulder asked the librarian.

“I’ve seen her a few times at the house. I go visit Mary every month or so and I’ve seen

her in the gazebo several times. She seems to like the gazebo. Once I saw her on

Highway 2 between the Manor and town. I was driving home one night from a visit with

Mary, when I noticed her walking down the shoulder of the road.”

“You expect me to believe that you saw the ghost strolling down the road. Did you offer

her a ride?” Scully asked sarcastically.

“You’re being facetious, young lady. I know what I saw. And there’s more.”

“More?” Mulder asked.

“Tragedy has befallen many who have stayed in the house. Three families have lived in

the house since Julia Hall first sold it in 1967. The husband of the first family reported

that he saw the ghost many times at the house. Most people didn’t believe him, but a

few did; the few that had seen her themselves. Two years later, the man’s wife killed

herself by jumping from the cliff. The man took his family and left the house

immediately. He never returned. A couple of years later, another couple bought the

house. He and his wife said they both saw the ghost. They thought it was neat that their

house was haunted by a benevolent spirit. That is until, his wife was almost killed when

a tree fell on her in the woods and crushed both her legs. She was in the hospital for

several months and upon her release, the couple left town. The house stood vacant for

several years, when a couple, with their two young daughters bought the house. They

thought it was a perfect place to raise their family. They had heard about the suicides

and were not the least bit concerned. They got a great deal on the house. Everything

seemed to be going well for the young family, when one night the husband called the

sheriff’s office. He said they needed help. When they arrived at the house, the front

door was standing open. The man and his wife were missing, but they found the

daughters asleep in their beds. They searched the house and the grounds. They finally

found the broken bodies of the couple at the base of the cliff.”

“And you think the ghost is responsible for the deaths?” Mulder asked when she finished

the story.

“Yes, of course. Everyone does,” Wilma answered him confidently.

“Mulder, this means nothing. Suicide is not uncommon among young families. Do you

realize there were upwards of 33,000 suicides last year and that suicide is now among

the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44?” Scully points out.

He turned to look at Scully. “Don’t you find it the least bit convenient that the suicides all

took place at that house? The _same_ place where Lucy Miller committed suicide or

more probably was murdered 40 years ago.”

“Yes, but that is all it is…a coincidence,” Scully explains. “What about the Chambers?

Has anything ever happened to them?” she asked Wilma.

“Mary and Maurice Chambers have lived in this town as long as I have. Maury used to

be a real-estate agent; a very successful real-estate agent. He was the one that sold

Hall Manor each of the three times. Anyway, after the last family left, the house stood

vacant for over ten years. When Maury decided to retire from real estate, he and Mary

bought the place and decided to turn it into a Bed & Breakfast. They renovated the

place and it opened for business in 1992.”

“He says the ghost has never bothered him. I wonder why that is,” Mulder pondered.

“Well,” responded Wilma, “I have wondered about that too. I figured either he was too

old, not her type, or she wasn’t interested in anyone that lived in town. She has never

bothered anyone who lives in the town, with the exception of the three families that lived

in her house.”

Mulder thought about Wilma’s reasoning. “So, there hasn’t been any more deaths since

the last family lived there?” he asked her.

“Now, I didn’t say that. Seems Lucy isn’t interested in any of the men or women living in

town, but she has taken an interest in some of the couples who have stayed at Hall

Manor. There has been a string of strange injuries that seem to plague some of the

guests at the Manor.”

Scully heard the word _injuries_ and perked up Injuries and Mulder did not mix well.

“What kind of injuries?”

“Most of them have been pretty minor; scratches, scrapes, a few broken bones. Mostly

caused by things falling on people. Of course, there could be logical reasons for these

things to fall, but most people think it’s Lucy’s doings.”

“But, have there been any more deaths attributed to the ghost of Lucy Miller?” he

restated his question to Wilma.

“Not officially, no,” Wilma says as she shakes her head. She stops shaking her head

and stares at Mulder, “but, like I said, most people think it’s Lucy. There was a young

couple named Andy and Sharon Sutten. They stayed at Hall Manor a year or two after it

had opened for business. They had recently had some personal tragedy in their life and

needed time to recover. They had been there for about a month, when Andy came to

see me and asked me about the ghost. He said he kept seeing her all the time. At first,

he only saw her in the garden, but recently, he had started seeing her in the house, even

in their room. He said she would talk to him and tell him that she wanted them to be

lovers. Of course, Sharon thought he was seeing things. Two days later, the bodies of

Andy and Sharon were found at the base of the cliff behind Hall Manor. Their death was

ruled a suicide and maybe it was. But, if that is true, there is something at Hall Manor

that makes people want to kill themselves.”

When Wilma finished her latest “ghost story”, Scully decided to take the opportunity to

try and make their escape before she could start another one. She looked at Mulder and

could tell that he believed every word Wilma had said. She could tell from the

expression on his face, that the wheels were turning in his mind. He was staring at

nothing, absently rubbing his fingers across his jaw, obviously deep in thought. It was

time to put an end to this.

“Well, that was very interesting Ms. Starnes,” Scully said as she stood to leave.

“Mulder? Are you ready to go?” When he didn’t respond to her question, she figured he

hadn’t heard anything she had just said. He kept staring into space. “Mulder? Mulder!”

“Huh?” He looked up to see Scully was talking to him. “What? Sorry, did you say

something?”

“I _said_ it’s time to go. Your two hours are up and we need to get going. Thanks for

your time Ms. Starnes.”

“Yeah, thanks for the information, Ms. Starnes.”

“Please, call me Wilma,” she corrected him with a smile.

“Ok, _Wilma_, thanks for the stories. They were extremely interesting. Perhaps, I could

come back later and talk…” Scully interrupted his statement by snagging his arm and

pulling him toward the door.

He pulled her up short. “Scully! What the hell are you doing?”

“Two hours. You promised. Remember?”

He remembered and she was right. He had promised two hours, no more. He turned

back to address Wilma. “I’m sorry, we really have to go, but thanks again for your time.”

“You’re quite welcome young man,” she said in response. Then her voice took on a

serious tone. “You be careful out there at the Manor. You’re just Lucy’s type.”

“What?” but Mulder didn’t get a chance for a response, because Scully was dragging

him out the door.

Once they were in the car, Mulder turned to ask Scully, “What do you think she meant by

that last statement?”

“Nothing, Mulder. She was playing with you. It was obvious you believed everything

she told you.”

“Why wouldn’t I? You do admit, it does sound like something funny is going on at Hall

Manor.”

Scully looked up at the ceiling of the car, as if she could find the answer there. After a

moment, she returned to looking at him. “You know, you never cease to amaze me.

There always has to be _something_ going on. Perhaps, she tells these ghost stories to

bolster the tourist trade. Look, I’m hungry. Let’s grab something to eat and head back to

the Manor. It’s been a long day and I’m looking forward to a nice long soak in the tub.

Care to join me again?”

“Huh, yeah Scully, that sounds great,” he answered her absently. She wasn’t sure if he

even knew what he was agreeing to.

That night, after Scully fell asleep, Mulder slipped out of bed and made his way to the

attic. Mary had said there was a light switch inside the door at the foot of the stairs. He

found it after only a few seconds of fumbling. The light from above lit the steps to the

attic floor. The attic was full of stuff. There were boxes, trunks, luggage of varying

sizes, old furniture covered in sheets, and an old dress dummy. The dress dummy

startled him at first, thinking it might be the ghost.

He decided to investigate the boxes first. They were covered in dust. He opened the

first box and found that it was full of old newspapers. He flipped through the papers,

noting the dates, 2000, 1998, 1994. He pulled out the paper from 1994. The headline

read “Out of Town Couple Found Dead”. The story was about the Sutten’s. Family

members had said the couple was distraught over the unexplained death of their young

daughter. They assumed that’s why the couple killed themselves.

clip_image006

He opened the second box and found that it contained even older newspapers than the

first. He flipped through the papers, noting the dates, 1984, 1979, 1976. He pulled out

the paper from 1976. The headline read “Suicide Leap Claims 2 More Victims”. He

scanned the story. It was about the last family that lived in this house. It was just as

Wilma had said.

He flipped through a few more papers, until he found one from 1967. The headline on

this one read “Prominent Citizen Takes His Own Life “. The article was about the death

of Albert Hall. There was a picture of him and a woman on the front page. He was a

handsome middle-aged man. The picture said the woman was his wife Julia. They

didn’t seem very happy with forced smiles. He thought it looked like a lot of the pictures

of his parents. The story said there was a note found, where Albert confessed to being

unable to live without Lucy and how he wanted to join her in death. His wife had sold

everything and moved to Hartford.

The next paper was from a week earlier. The headline read “Local Woman Found

Dead”. There was a picture of a beautiful young woman on the front page. She had

long flowing dark hair and a cheerful smile, that even encompassed her eyes. Her

whole face seemed to smile in happiness. Not the kind of woman who you would expect

to commit suicide. He was reading the article when he got a feeling that he was being

watched. He looked around the room and spotted the dress dummy. He chuckled to

himself, at how caught up he was getting. Still, the feeling was there, stronger now. He

turned suddenly to look behind himself, where he saw the translucent vision of a woman

with long dark hair. She was floating in the corner staring at him.

ACT THREE

He stared at the ghostly apparition with his mouth agape. He couldn’t believe what he

was seeing. He then realized that he did believe what he was seeing. At that moment,

he was sure that this was the ghost of Lucy Miller.

“Who are you?” Mulder asked the ghost, although he had a pretty good idea already.

“My name is Lucy Miller and this is my house,” she told him.

“Your house? I thought it belonged to Albert and Julia Hall?”

“It would have been my house…it should have been my house, but Albert’s wife took

care of that.”

“How?” he asked curiously.

She floated out of the corner to the center of the room, so that she was only a few feet

from Mulder. He could almost see straight through her. It was like looking through a

puff of smoke.

“Julia had asked me to meet her at the Manor. She said she wanted to talk about Albert.

It was just a ruse to get me there. We walked the trails talking about Albert. She

seemed so friendly to me. She didn’t seem like the woman Albert had described. I

should have heeded Albert’s words. He said not to trust her.”

“What happened?”

“When we finally got to the cliff, she changed. She became hateful, saying she would

never give up Albert’s money; not to some tramp. She said she had one favor to ask of

me.”

“What favor?”

“She said she wanted me to die! She pushed me off the cliff and I died on the rocks

below. I remember my body floating up and I saw Julia run back to the house. Later

that day, they discovered my body. Albert was heartbroken. I wanted to go to him, but I

couldn’t. He couldn’t see me. Seven days later, I watched Albert jump from the same

cliff. I thought I would see his soul then and we would be together, but I never saw it. I

don’t know what ever happened to him. After that, I moved into the house and I have

been here ever since. Tell me your name.”

“Mulder.”

“Mulder? That’s a strange name. What is your last name?”

“That is my last name. My first name is Fox, but I prefer to be called Mulder.”

“Fox! What a wonderful name. I love it,” she said with the same smile as in the picture

in the newspaper. Her whole face seemed to smile. “Why are you not afraid of me?

The others were.”

“I came here because of you. Well, partially. We’re actually on vacation, but I was really

hoping to see you.” She seemed to brighten even further when he mentioned he had

hoped to see her.

“Can I ask you something, Lucy?” When she nodded, he continued, “Did you have

anything to do with the suicides?”

Her smile vanished. “I loved them, Fox, I really did. I had to do something.”

“What do you mean? What did you do, Lucy?”

“I knew their wives wouldn’t let them go; let us be together, as it was meant to be. I had

to protect the men I loved, before their wives betrayed me…us. I had to get rid of them.

I couldn’t let them prevent us from being together.”

“So you…killed them?” She nodded at his question. “But, how?”

“I tried to run them off, at first, but they just wouldn’t take the hint. Eventually, I pushed

them off the cliff, just like Julia had done to me. I figured if I got rid of them, the man I

loved would stay with me and I wouldn’t be lonely again. Unfortunately, they were not

what I thought they were. They either left or chose to join their wives. I have been

looking for someone for almost 40 years. Someday, Fox, I will find the right man. One

who will love me and stay with me forever.”

She floated toward the door to the attic and turned to address him once more. “Perhaps,

I already have.” Before he could respond, she vanished.

Mulder couldn’t believe he had sat and carried on a conversation with a ghost. Scully

would never believe it. He thought about her final statement and wondered what she

meant. Maybe she had already picked out another couple to harass. He and Scully

should investigate the other couples staying here. Perhaps, they could prevent another

so-called suicide.

He put the newspapers back in the boxes as he had found them. He turned out the light

and left the attic, returning to his room. Scully was still sound asleep, so he slipped into

the bed beside her. She immediately snuggled against him and he put his arms around

her. He lay there thinking about what the ghost had said. Finally, sleep overcame him.

The next morning, he told Scully what had happened in the attic.

“Are you sure you didn’t dream it, Mulder? I mean, after all of Wilma’s ghost stories,

perhaps it was just your imagination.”

He was getting annoyed with her for always doubting him, but of course, why would he

have expected her to believe him now. She rarely believed in things, even when she

saw them. She hadn’t seen the ghost and even if she had, she would have explained it

away.

“How would I know that the suicides were actually murders, if she hadn’t told me?” he

asked with irritation.

“And that proves what? Are you saying you believe that this _ghost_ pushed these

people off the cliff?” He nodded. “Mulder, only in movies are ghosts considered

dangerous. Even those who believe in ghosts feel the most they can do is move small

objects and scare people.”

“But, she confessed.”

“So what if you saw a ghost and she confessed to murders. Are you going to reopen the

case? Investigate the murders? Mulder, these suicides took place years ago. I know

there is no statute of limitation on Murder, but it would be extremely tedious to track

down the individuals and the evidence, if any, would be long gone. There is nothing you

can do. Just drop it.”

“She said she had found another man. We should talk to the couples staying here; it is

probably one of them.”

“No! Positively not! We are not going to question the other guests, to see if any of them

are seeing visions of a ghost.”

“But…”

“No buts, Mulder!” she said loudly. She took a deep breath. She didn’t know how the

conversation had turned into an argument, but she was going to stop it now. “Look, I’m

sorry I shouted. We’re on vacation. Can’t we just enjoy ourselves and forget about the

ghost? Please.”

His rigid posture softened. He held out his arms and she walked into them. “I’m sorry

too,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her. “Let’s forget about the ghost and head

down to Mystic like we’d originally planned.”

They ran into Maury as they were leaving. He seemed to be his usually cheery self.

“Where are you two headed today?”

Scully fielded this question. “We’re headed down to Mystic.” Maury’s smile

disappeared. “Why? What’s wrong?”

“It looks like the weather is starting to turn. It’s started drizzling and we’re supposed to

get a lot of rain over the next day or two. You folks be careful.”

Scully nodded and started to leave, but Mulder hung back a moment. “Hey, Maury, have

any of your guests reported seeing the ghost recently?”

“Mulder…” Scully warned.

“You said I couldn’t question the guests. You didn’t say anything about the owner.” He

turned back to the owner. “What about it?”

He shook his head. “Not that I know of. Why? Have you seen her?” Mulder shrugged

noncommittally. “Well, you stay away from her, Mr. Mulder. She’s nothing but trouble.”

Scully grabbed his arm and pulled him out the front door. The skies were overcast and

there was a light mist falling. They left the property and headed south on Highway 2

toward Mystic. Neither one said anything after they left the Manor. The silence was

making him nervous.

“I’m sorry I mentioned it to Mr. Chambers. No foul. Come on, don’t be mad at me.”

“Under one condition. You will not mention the ghost for the rest of the day.”

“You got a deal. Scout’s honor.” He mimicked the pledge by holding up two fingers.

When his eyes returned to the road, there was someone standing in the middle of it. He

slammed on his brakes and turned the wheel to the left to avoid the person. The mist

had made the roads slick. The tires lost traction and the car began to spin toward the

shoulder of the road. Unable to control the car, it came to an abrupt stop when it

sideswiped a tree a few feet off the road surface. Mulder’s last thought before he lost

consciousness was that the person in the road had been Lucy Miller.

He awoke to someone calling his name. It was Scully. She had unbuckled her seatbelt

and moved next to him in the front seat.

“Mulder? Are you okay? Where are you hurt?”

“My head and my left side.” He looked around trying to get his bearings. The driver side

window was smashed. Probably why his head was pounding. Right outside his door

was a tree, which is obviously what stopped the car. “What about you Scully? You

hurt?”

“I think my wrist may be sprained. Mulder, what happened?”

“Didn’t you see her?”

“Who?”

“Lucy Miller. She was standing in the middle of the road. I thought it was a person at

first, but it was her. You didn’t see her?”

“All I saw was the scenery fly by as we spun out of control.”

“Well she was there Scully. I saw her. She was standing right there in the middle of the

road,” he repeated angrily.

Before they could say more, a car pulled onto the shoulder of the road ahead of them. A

man wearing a slicker got out and ran back to their car, banging on the passenger

window. Scully rolled down the window with her good right hand.

“Are you folks all right?”

“Yes, we’re fine,” she replied. “Well, nothing life-threatening.”

“You two just sit tight. I’ve already called the police.”

“Did you see what happened?” Mulder asked the stranger.

“Nope, sure didn’t. Sorry. I was just driving by when I saw your car smashed up against

this tree.”

Sirens could be heard in the distance. Within minutes, a police car and an ambulance

pulled up. The EMT’s helped them out of the car and checked them out in the back of

the ambulance. They confirmed that Scully’s wrist was probably sprained, but it should

be x-rayed to be sure. Mulder definitely needed to be checked for a concussion due to

his head injury. The scratches on his face and neck were no longer bleeding, so they

left them for the hospital to clean.

The police officer stepped to the back of the ambulance to ask them what had

happened. “I’m Officer Rains. Can I get your names.”

Mulder took the lead answering his questions. “Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.”

The police officer wrote their names on his report. “Address?”

“We actually live in DC, but here on vacation, staying at Hall Manor.”

He added this to his report. “Can you tell me what happened?”

Mulder looked at Scully and saw the look on her face that pleaded with him not to

mention the ghost.

“There was something…a small animal…in the road. When I swerved to miss it, I lost

control on the wet pavement and hit the tree.” Mulder said.

“That happens. There are a lot of animals in this area.” He looked up to address the

EMT. “You going to take them to the hospital?”

“Yeah. They need to be examined by a doctor.”

“Fine.” He turned back to Mulder. “We’ll get your car towed into town. I’ll come by the

hospital to finish your statement and let you know where you can find your car.”

The ambulance took them to the Emergency Room at Backus Hospital. They were there

for a couple of hours. Scully’s left wrist had been x-rayed and it was only sprained. Her

wrist was placed in a splint and she was given a sling to keep it elevated.

Mulder had a sizable lump on the side of his head where it had hit the window. Since he

had lost consciousness, a CT scan of the head was indicated. It turned out negative and

neurologically he was normal. There were bits of glass in his hair and a few embedded

in his neck and cheek. None of the scratches required stitches, so the nurse cleaned

them and applied an antibiotic cream. His left shoulder, arm, and hip were bruised from

where they hit the door at impact. He would be sore, but other than that, there was

nothing to be done.

The doctor gave them both a prescription for a pain reliever in case they were

uncomfortable. The nurse gave them their discharge orders and they left the Trauma

Room together.

When they entered the Emergency Room waiting room, they saw the police officer from

the accident. He was sitting in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs that seemed to be

standard issue for a waiting room. He stood as they approached.

“Mr. Mulder, Ms Scully, how are you feeling?”

“I believe we’ll live; albeit painfully for the next few days,” Mulder said with a strained

smile.

“Do you mind if we sit here and finish your statement? After that, I’ll give you folks a ride

back to Hall Manor. You’ll probably want to rest for the rest of the day. Maury can

probably give you ride into town tomorrow to take care of your car. Which, by the way,

was towed to Norwich Ford on North Main.”

“Mulder, why don’t you finish with Officer Rains and I’ll run to the hospital pharmacy to

get this prescription filled. I _know_ will be needing it later.”

Mulder answered, as Officer Rains asked questions and transcribed his answers onto

the accident report form. They were just finishing up the report, when Scully came back

from the pharmacy.

“Come on. Let’s get you folks back to the Manor, so you can get some rest. You both

look very tired.” He would get no arguments from them.

It had begun to rain a little harder. No longer the light mist they had experienced earlier.

Twenty minutes later they turned off onto the drive to the Manor. As they crossed over

the creek, the officer noticed the water was higher. He commented on how it would

most likely flood if the rain kept up much longer. They really weren’t listening to what he

was saying. They were thinking about how much they wanted to lie down and sleep.

The officer pulled up to the front of the Manor and let them off. He said he would call to

check on them tomorrow. Before they made it to the top of the steps, the front door was

thrown open startling them. Mary was standing there wearing a very worried look.

“Oh my God, you two look terrible. Come in, come in. Jerry…Officer Rains, called and

told me what happened. Are you two okay?”

“We’re better than our car,” said Mulder. “Perhaps, Maury could drive us into town to

tomorrow to check on it. We need to make arrangements to get a loaner.”

“Sure, that won’t be any problem. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea?”

“No thanks, Mary,” Scully said, “we just need to get some rest.”

“Of course. If you need anything, you let me know,” Mary offered. “You two come down

later if you feel like it and I’ll make you up some dinner.”

“Thanks, we just might do that,” replied Mulder. They made their way up the stairs to

their room. Mulder couldn’t help but let a few groans slip through as his left hip protested

the climbing.

Scully removed her clothes, slipped into her pajamas, and crawled into bed. Mulder

stripped down to his boxers. His left side was beginning to turn several shades of

purple. She asked him to get her a glass of water so she could take the pain pills and

suggested he do the same. He usually didn’t like to indulge in pain medication, but he

had a feeling he would not be able to sleep without it.

He crawled into bed next to her. Soon the pills took effect and they were both sound

asleep.

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Mulder was standing in the clearing between the woods and the cliffs. Scully was

standing at the edge of the cliff in her pajamas. Floating between them, was the ghostly

vision of Lucy Miller. They were talking, but he could not hear what they were saying.

Scully’s expression was one of anger. He realized that the wind had suddenly picked

up. He started running towards them. Lucy moved closer to Scully. Mulder was scared

and ran as fast as he could, but he seemed to be running in slow motion. Lucy moved

again and Scully fell backwards off the cliff. He screamed her name and suddenly his

legs closed the distance in record time. When he got to the cliff’s edge, he looked down

and saw her broken body on the rocks below. He was sure she was dead. He was

broken-hearted. What would he do without her? He heard a noise behind him and

turned to see the ghost of Lucy Miller.

“You killed her!” Mulder said angrily

“It’s over, Fox. Now we can be together…forever,” she told him soothingly.

“NO!” he yelled at her. “I love Scully. I could never love anyone else but Scully. She

was my heart and soul and now she is dead.”

Lucy’s expression turned angry. “I thought you were different, but you’re like all the

others. I thought you loved me…loved me like Albert. I thought you were the one, but I

was wrong.”

The ghostly vision transformed into a hideous creature and she let loose a terrifying

scream. A huge gust of wind suddenly blew and pushed Mulder over the edge of the

cliff.

“Nooooooo,” Mulder screamed.

Scully awakened at the sound of his scream. She turned to see him sitting up in bed,

drenched in sweat. His eyes were wide and frightened.

“Mulder. Are you okay?” she asked as she ran her hand up and down his arm in a

soothing motion. He nodded, but didn’t look at her. “Did you have a bad dream?” He

flinched at the mention of the dream, but he again nodded. “Do you want to talk about

it?”

“No!” was the first verbal response he had given since he had awakened. “I don’t want

to talk about it. I’m fine.” He rolled onto his side facing away from Scully. She watched

him for a few moments, but decided he would talk about it when he was ready. She lay

back down and was soon asleep. Mulder lay there with his eyes wide open. There was

no way he was going back to sleep.

ACT FOUR

Scully awoke sometime later that afternoon when she realized she was all alone in the

bed. She sat up and saw Mulder sitting on the couch in the sitting room off the main

bedroom. He was wearing his jeans and a worried expression on his face.

“Mulder? What are you doing up? Couldn’t you sleep?” A shake of his head was his

only acknowledgement to her questions. “Is it because of your dream?”

He turned his head to look at her. “I had a dream about Lucy. She pushed you off the

cliff.”

“Mulder, you just had a bad dream and that’s quite understandable.”

“Oh yeah, why is that?”

“Think about it. You’ve been inundated with ghost stories over the last few days and

you’re exhausted. Add to that the effect of the painkillers. It’s little doubt that’s what

caused your nightmare.”

She always had an explanation for everything. “It was _not_ the drugs or the ghost

stories,” he firmly stated. “I believe it was a warning.”

“A warning?”

“Yes, Scully, a warning.” He was becoming flustered. Why must he always defend his

theories? He tried to calm himself before he continued. “Look, I told you she said she

had found another man, right? Well, I think that man is me.”

“Oh, please…”

“Dammit, I have seen her,” Mulder shouted, leaping to his feet. He moaned at the pain

that caused his hip. He brushed off the pain and continued, “She told me that she killed

those women, so she could be together with the men. I believe she means to do you

harm…like all the other women.”

“Calm down, Mulder.” He rolled his eyes at her attempt to change the subject. “Let’s

just say that is true. What do you want us to do?”

“Leave,” he said flatly.

“Leave?”

“Yes, leave. We can drive down to Mystic and get a hotel.”

“Drive? How can we do that without a car?”

“We can get the Chambers to drive us into town. We can stay at the Marriott tonight and

get a car in the morning. I just don’t want to stay _here_ another night.”

She could see he was upset and arguing with him only made him more upset. She

couldn’t believe in the terrorizing ghost theory, but Mulder did and if leaving this place

would ease him mind, then she would do it.

“Fine. We can leave.”

He stared at her as if he wasn’t sure he had heard her right. “Really?” She nodded. He

visibly relaxed. “Oh, thank you. I’ll go ask the Chambers to drive us into town. You

pack. Oh, wait! I’ll ask them to drive us into town and then _I_ will pack. You just sit

there.” He raced out the door before she could respond.

He ran downstairs to track down the Chambers. In his haste, he had forgotten to put on

his shoes and a shirt. He was in too big of a hurry to turn back. He found Maury at his

desk in the office.

He stepped into the doorway and shouted, “Maury!”

Maury was startled by the sudden intrusion. He turned and saw Mulder standing there in

his jeans. His bruises were really starting to stand out on his skin. He suddenly became

worried. “Mr. Mulder? Is everything all right?”

“Yeah…well, no…Maury, could you drive Scully and me into town?” He didn’t want to tell

him about his nightmare.

“Now?”

“Yeah, now. How about it?”

“Well, son, I wish I could.” Mulder’s face fell. “It has been raining all afternoon and the

creek has overflowed its banks and flooded the road. I’m afraid we’re stuck here until

the rain stops. Why is it so important you get into town tonight? You don’t need the

doctor again, do you?”

“No,” he answered in a defeated voice, “we’re just fine. Thanks anyway.”

Mulder slowly ascended the steps to the second floor and returned to their room. When

he entered, Scully knew something was wrong. “What’s wrong?”

“The rain has flooded the road. We can’t leave until the water recedes.”

“Well, that’s it. I guess we will have to stay until morning.”

“No. We can’t stay here.”

“What do you suggest? We could swim across the creek and hike into town,” she

suggested sarcastically.

He slumped heavily onto the couch in the sitting room. “Of course not.”

“Then I suggest you calm down and try to relax. Hopefully we can leave first thing in the

morning.”

He knew she was right, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. He would try to relax, but

he knew that would be impossible. At least he would try not to get on her nerves.

They sat in silence for a while, each deep within their own thoughts. Mulder thought that

if they couldn’t leave, then they should be around other people. They should go down

stairs with the other guests, or at least, where the Chambers were.

“Scully?”

She started at the break in the silence. “Yeah?”

“I’m starved. Let’s go see what Mary has to eat.”

She thought about it a minute and decided that she was hungry too. They hadn’t eaten

anything since breakfast and it was now evening time. “Sounds good. I’m hungry too.

Let’s get dressed and head down stairs.”

Mulder jumped and moved to the dresser to fish out socks and a t-shirt. He was so

relieved that she had agreed to go downstairs. He didn’t want them to be alone.

Mary was so happy to see them coming down the stairs. She ran up and grabbed both

their arms and pulled them toward the kitchen. The kitchen was warm and inviting. She

ushered them to the small table in the corner and beckoned them to sit.

“Can I get you something to drink? I got some fresh-brewed iced tea?”

“Oh yeah, Mary, that sounds great,” Mulder replied.

She got two large glasses from the cupboard. She filled them with ice and tea and

placed them on the table before them. “I bet you two are hungry. Let me fix you

something for dinner. I could make you a couple of club sandwiches, complete with

fresh sliced turkey, cheese, crisp bacon, on toasted bread, with a side of my fresh potato

salad. How does that sound?”

Mulder was salivating from her description. “That sounds great. I can practically taste it

from your description alone. You should do commercials.” She laughed at his

assessment of her persuasive speech.

They sat there at the table sipping their tea as Mary moved about the kitchen preparing

them dinner. She made it seem so effortless. She kept up a nonsensical one-sided

conversation the entire time. Mulder even began to relax in the warmth and safety of her

kitchen. Within fifteen minutes she placed a sandwich in front of each of them and they

dug in with gusto. They hadn’t realized until now how hungry they were.

After eating she urged them to go into the library with the other guests. There was a

roaring fire in the fireplace and its golden light bounced off the walls. They sat on the

cozy loveseat in front of the fire away from the others. He could almost forget about

Lucy when he was this happy and felt so safe, but he knew she was there…just waiting

for the right time.

A big yawn escaped from Scully as she stretched. He could tell that sitting here was

going to put her to sleep and then they would have to go back to their room.

He glanced around the room trying to find a reason to stay here, when he noticed the

pile of games. “Hey, Monopoly! Come on, Scully, let’s play a game.”

“Oh, Mulder, aren’t you tired?”

‘We slept all afternoon. Oh please, just one game?”

Mary came in with a pot of coffee and a plate of cookies. “Anybody want a snack?” She

placed the tray on the table in front of them.

“Yes!” Mulder blurted out. Perfect. Coffee would keep them awake. He poured her a

cup of coffee and then snatched the game from the shelf. “How about it?”

“Okay. One game only.”

He set the game up and they played, while they drank coffee and munched on oatmeal

cookies. The game lasted for a couple of hours and Scully’s yawning was becoming

more and more frequent. Mulder was feeling more and more guilty. It was obvious, that

Scully was beyond tired and he needed to put her to bed. He couldn’t keep her down

here all night.

She let out another jaw-cracking yawn and he took action. “Okay, that’s it, Scully. I

concede defeat. Time for bed. You can barely keep your eyes open.” She didn’t argue,

she was exhausted. “Let me put this stuff away and we’ll go up to our room.”

She changed into her pajamas and crawled into bed. Mulder got her a glass of water so

she could take her pain medicine. She watched him as he put the glass back in the

bathroom, retrieved his gun from the dresser, and then made himself comfortable on the

sofa in the sitting room. She stared at him until she realized that he planned to stay

there.

“What are you doing? Aren’t you coming to bed?”

“Nah, I’m not tired.”

“Who are you kidding? You were yawning as much as I was downstairs. Mulder, you

need to rest.”

A yawn slipped past his defenses. “No, really. I think I’ve gotten my second wind. I’m

just going to sit here and…watch TV.” He jumped up, flipped on the TV, and grabbed the

remote. He couldn’t tell her he was waiting up in case Lucy made an appearance. She

would have laughed at him.

“Fine. Suit yourself, but I’m going to sleep.” She turned off the bedside lamp, rolled over

facing away from the TV, and was soon asleep.

He sat there on the couch, with his gun in his right hand, absently switching channels

with his left, watching Scully sleep. He was really tired. That nap this afternoon had

been anything but restful, but he would not let himself fall asleep. Scully may not believe

that she was in danger, but he did and he would not let the ghost get to Scully.

A few hours later he felt the call of nature. It must have been all the coffee he drank

trying to stay awake. He didn’t want to take his eyes off of Scully, even for a few

minutes, so he waited, but by 3:00am, he couldn’t stand it. He decided he would run to

the bathroom and back…maybe a minute…two at the most…he would hurry.

He ran into the bathroom and relieved himself.

Moments after he left the room, Scully rose from the bed and headed for the door. She

had her hand in front of her as if she was being led by someone. She was being led by

Lucy Miller out of the house. In her mind, Mulder was leading her and she was

following. They left the house through the front door and walked across the yard and

disappeared into the woods.

Just as he was finishing his business and was prepared to return to the room, Lucy

Miller appeared in the bathroom. She was hovering at the open door. “Don’t worry,” she

said, “I’ll take care of everything. We will be together now.” She vanished and the door

slammed shut in his face.

He panicked and grabbed the knob to open the door, but it was locked. He pulled and

pulled, but it would not budge. He banged on the door shouting Scully’s name. Nothing.

He looked for something to break the door with…nothing. He was terrified now, banging

on the door, yelling for help. He screamed for Lucy not to hurt Scully, tears were

streaming down his face. He tried throwing his body against the door, which only

bruised his other shoulder.

Suddenly, the door was flung open and he was face to face with the Chambers who

were standing there in shock.

“Where is Scully?” he yelled, as he raced past them into the room. The bed was empty.

She was gone.

“Mr. Mulder! What’s wrong?”

He didn’t stop to answer them, but rushed past them, down the stairs. The front door

was standing wide open. He knew where Scully had gone. He raced out the front door,

through the woods, towards the cliffs. It was still pouring down rain and the wind was

blowing. The trails were slick from the rain and he slipped several times as he ran over

the trails.

When he entered the clearing, he saw Scully standing by the edge of the cliff looking

down at the rushing river. The ghostly vision of Lucy Miller was hovering between her

and Mulder. Scully was soaked; her hair plastered to her head.

“SCULLY!!” he screamed.

She seemed to snap out of her trance. She turned towards the sound of her name and

came face to face with the ghost of Lucy Miller. Mulder yelled for her to run and again

began to run towards them.

“He is mine,” Lucy told her as she moved closer to Scully.

Scully was backed up the edge and could not move back any further. She steadied

herself and confronted the ghost. “No! He is _mine_. I will not let him go,” she said in a

firm steady voice.

At first, Lucy’s expression turned to one of disbelief. No one had ever attempted to

challenge her before. Who was this woman, who tried to stop her from taking what was

hers. At this thought, her face turned angry and the wind started to blow harder.

Mulder noticed that the wind had picked up. He ran even faster. When he was near

Lucy, he took a flying leap. He tried to tackle her before she could push Scully over the

cliff, only he had forgotten she was an apparition. He flew right through the vision.

Wildly he tried to grab at something to stop his flight. His hands made contact with the

rail, which slowed him down.

As the rail slowed him down, he was spun back and slammed into the side of the cliff.

The railing was wet and he could not hang on. His fingers slid off the wet rail and he slid

down the cliff face. He flailed his arms, trying to grab hold of anything. He finally came

to a thudding stop on an outcropping of rock about twenty feet below. He managed to

snatch a handful of roots before he could slide off the ledge into the river below.

He could hear the deafening roar of the Yantic River as it rushed over the rocks; any

white-water rafter’s dream. He realized that he had stopped short of being crushed to

death on the rocks below or being swept away in the treacherous river current. He also

noticed that the gusting wind had stopped and that the rain had slowed to a steady

drizzle.

It took him a moment to get his bearings, when he suddenly remembered Scully. Where

was she? Was she okay? “SCULLY!!” He called her name over and over, but there

was no answer. He had to get back up there. He began to look for a way.

As soon as Mulder went over the side of the cliff, the world seemed to stop. The

expression on Lucy’s face instantly changed to one of shock and then slowly melted into

one of sadness. Finally, the gusting wind dissipated and the ghost of Lucy Miller

vanished. Scully stood there stunned for a moment, unable to comprehend what had

just happened. Suddenly, she remembered seeing Mulder fall off the cliff. She ran to

the cliff’s edge and looked over. She couldn’t see anything, but she could hear the roar

of the rushing Yantic River below.

She called out his name over and over, but there was no answer. She came to the

realization that he might be gone. He obviously fell into the river and was being rushed

downstream by the mighty current. He might still be alive, that was if he hadn’t been

crushed on the rocks below. At that moment her heart broke.

Scully didn’t know what had just happened, other than seeing Mulder fly off the cliff.

Was that real? Did she really confront the ghost of Lucy Miller? Was this a dream?

Was she sleep-walking? She was so confused. At that moment, the Chambers burst

through the trees into the clearing.

Mary Chambers rushed to wrap her arms around Scully. “Oh, my dear. Are you all

right? Where is Mr. Mulder?”

Scully buried her head into Mary’s shoulder and cried. “He went off the cliff. Oh my

God, I saw him go over the cliff.”

“I should call the sheriff. He needs to get a Search and Rescue team to check the river

downstream,” Maury reasoned.

Meanwhile, Mulder had managed to inch his way along the outcropping about twenty-

five feet around the edge of the cliff. Here the cliff was not quite as sheer and there

seemed to be much more vegetation. Using the vegetation, he managed to pull himself

up the face of the cliff and over the edge. His arms were trembling from the effort and

he was exhausted, but he had to find out what had happened to Scully. He noticed

several people in the darkness about thirty feet way. He could hear that one of the

voices was Scully’s

“Come on child… _you_ need to get out of this rain. We need to let Maury call the

authorities and get them to check the river.” Scully didn’t want to leave the cliffs, but she

knew they needed to form a search party, even if it was only to retrieve Mulder’s body.

“Scully?”

Oh God, now she was hearing things. She looked up and saw Mulder coming toward

her. At first, she was sure this was a continuation of this nightmare, but he looked so

solid…so real.

When he got close to them, he asked, “Hey, Scully, what happened to the ghost?”

She stared at him, having trouble believing it was really him. That he hadn’t gone over

the cliff. That he wasn’t dead. Scully threw her arms around his neck and kissed his

face.

“Mmmm…missed me huh?” She burst into laughter. Tears of joy mixed with her

previous tears of anguish.

“All right you two,” Mary interrupted, “you can continue this reunion back at the Manor.”

She marched off into the woods.

Mulder and Scully gazed at each other, both had been convinced they would never see

each other again. After a moment of unspoken communication, they broke into huge

smiles, and then headed off in Mary’s direction, arm in arm.

EPILOGUE

From the Journal of Fox Mulder

What makes a soul not want to leave this earthly plane, even after death. Lucy Miller

would not let herself leave. She was looking for something she felt was robbed from

her…Love. She felt her logic was perfect, however, it was flawed. She didn’t expect that

these men, once rid of their loved ones, wouldn’t want to spend eternity with her. She

had not even considered it a possibility. How bad can one want love, to sabotage

another’s relationship to get it?

Scully cannot be convinced of what really happened, insisting that she was not attacked

by the apparition of Lucy Miller. She blames it on the pain medication that she and I

were taking for our injuries. I don’t know if she really believes that, but that is the only

way she can explain it without admitting she had a paranormal experience.

As for me, I believe that even though she disappeared after our confrontation on the cliff,

she still haunts Hall Manor, waiting for her next victim. I can only hope that someday

she will choose to move on and perhaps, be reunited with Albert Hall.

Scully and I have decided to spend the last two days of our vacation at the Mohegan

Sun casino at Maury’s insistence. He knows the manager there and arranged for a limo

to pick us up at the Manor the following morning. At Maury’s request, they put us up in

one of their best suites. At one point, I wanted nothing more than to be all alone with

Scully, but we’re still pretty bruised and sore. Now, I’m enjoying the feeling of safety

being lost in the crowds. Who knows, maybe I will even win a new car at the slots.

THE END

Puppy Love

Title: Puppy Love

Author: Vickie Moseley

Artwork: MerciMulder

Summary: Not your usual Valentine’s Day story. Here be werewolves.

Written for Virtual Season 12’s Valentine’s Day Special.

Category: X, MA

Disclaimer: Rights to all characters save Sheriff Hardy and the deputy are the property of 20th Century Fox and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement intended.

Additional Disclaimer: No real animals (or mythical creatures) were harmed in the production of this story. There is a disturbing death, but it was a righteous shoot, I swear.

Archives: VS 12 two week exclusive, then all others as requested. Tamra, you know it’s

yours, sweets.

Thanks to Lisa and Sally for once overs.

Feedback: Better than conversation hearts! vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com

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Puppy Love

Burkesville, Kentucky

February 13, 2005

Dana Scully held the cell phone to one ear and tapped her foot impatiently. “So you’re telling me it’s impossible,” she said flatly, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. “Yes, I know what day tomorrow is. It just never occurred to me that Valentine’s

Day would be a major holiday for airport travel.” She dug at the worn shag carpet of her motel room with her shoe. “Yes, I imagine a lot of businessmen need to get home on that day, but you’re telling me every single flight to DC is booked through Tuesday. Now,

surely, there are two seats, somewhere?” The answer made her cringe. “Yes, well, thanks for your help.” She clicked off the phone, not looking at all grateful.

“No go on changing our flight?” Mulder asked from the other side of the room. He was sitting at the lopsided desk, scribbling on a yellow legal pad. When he heard her heavy sigh, he looked up. “Hey, Scully, no harm, no foul. We can celebrate Valentine’s Day here.”

“Here?” she asked, waving one dainty manicured index finger to encompass their surroundings. “Mulder, this place makes some of the flea bags, or rather, some of the _other_ flea bags you’ve put us in look like the Ritz!”

“Hey, it’s not that bad,” he countered, immediately regretting his unconscious need to defend a choice that was not his in the making. “The sheets are clean,” he pointed toward the bed.

“It’s a double bed. Your feet hang off the end. When you aren’t lying at a diagonal, so that I have to curl up in a ball to keep from falling off,” she volleyed back. “And what about our reservations for dinner tomorrow night?”

He had no answer to that one. For once in his sorry existence he had actually remembered a major holiday in advance and had made reservations at the trendy new restaurant down from the Hill that Scully had been dying to try. Not to mention the diamond and emerald earrings he’d purchased for the big day were safely hidden in the

back of their bedroom closet at home.

“We may just have to postpone Valentine’s Day this year, Scully. It won’t be that bad. I’m sure the dinner special over at the diner will be, um, romantic?”

“Provided your wolfman doesn’t make another appearance,” Scully replied dryly, crossing her arms. “Werewolves, Mulder. Really?”

“You saw the body of that bartender, Scully. You were the one to tell me that the deep lacerations on the torso of Mr. Billy Bob Cravens had to have been made by a creature at least 6 feet tall with long claws. What do you think it was? And don’t mention that ‘b’ word again, because as the state Department of Natural Resources told us, they are all still hibernating.”

“Mulder, a bear that happened to wake up early is far more believable than a man who takes on the form of a wild animal just because the moon is full.”

“Dwight Millford is still missing, Scully. And seventeen witnesses at the Du Drop Inn are willing to testify to the threats he made against Cravins.”

“Dwight Millford might have been eaten by the same bear, Mulder,” she exclaimed as she smacked her arms to her sides in exasperation.

“Then we should be finding Dwight Millford’s remains _somewhere_,” he countered and stood up, almost knocking the desk chair over in the process. He grabbed his suit jacket off the back of the chair and slipped into it, then checked his gun. “The Sheriff is coming

by to take me back to where they found Cravins’ body. Apparently Millford has a hunting cabin in the woods near there, we’ll check it out. Any chance we’ll get the results back from the lab on the DNA samples from the body?”

“I asked them to rush it, Mulder, but I wouldn’t hold my breath,” she said with a sad shake of her head. “Maybe I should go out to the drop site with you,” she added, chewing on her lower lip.

“It’s muddier than all hell out there, Scully and they’re predicting more rain and possibly snow this afternoon. Besides, I’ll have the Sheriff with me. Stay here, wait for the lab. If they send you anything — damn it, there’s no cell phone reception out there,” he

remembered angrily. He ran his hand through his hair in frustration, then thought of something. “If the lab does email something, call the sheriff’s dispatcher and have them radio us. If the saliva found in the wounds matches Millford, I want to know about it as soon as possible.”

She looked more nervous as he reached for the door. “Mulder . . . please — ”

He smiled at her, and then took her in his arms. After kissing her lightly, he ran one fingertip across her lips. “I’ll be careful. I promise. Cross my heart and hope — ”

She stopped him with her own index finger touching his lips. “Don’t say it. Not even the part about needles in eyes,” she warned, giving him a faint smile. She hugged him fiercely. “Don’t forget your hat,” she said, scooping the watch cap up from its resting place near the window heat/air conditioning unit. She glared at him until he pulled it

over his ears.

“Gonna put on my mittens for me, too,” he growled, but she wasn’t concerned. She continued to glare until he put on his overcoat and buttoned it up to the neck.

“When you get back, we’ll go find something to eat,” she told him. With a last longing glance, he turned at the sound of the sheriff’s car horn.

“Love you,” he whispered quickly before running over to the squad car.

“You too,” she said to his back as she closed the door, trapping the little heat the room held.

Woods near Burkesville

4:45 pm

In true Weather Channel fashion, it had rained steadily all afternoon until a bitter north wind turned the raindrops in sharp little points of ice. Mulder turned his collar up against the wind and wished he had remembered his mittens. His leather gloves were more for

driving than for tramping through the Kentucky backwoods. He glanced down at his boots. At least he’d had the presence of mind to pack suitable footwear, something he knew his partner had not. “If combat boots make a comeback on the fashion scene, she

might get with the program,” he muttered to himself as he followed Sheriff Hardy through the snagging underbrush and tall pine and oak trees.

“Millford’s cabin’s right up there on that knob,” Hardy assured Mulder. Mulder squinted into the distance, wondering not for the first time what the difference was between the top of a hill and a ‘knob’. He had only a general idea of where they were headed and relied

on the Sheriff to lead the way.

After huffing and chuffing up the side of the hill, a small wooden cabin came into view. Mulder had to stop his automatic reaction — the place was a dead ringer for the down and out cabin that featured prominently in the movie ‘Deliverance’. The only things missing

were the hound dog and the toothless kid with the banjo. Sheriff Hardy didn’t put him at ease as they came within fifty feet of the porch. “Hold up a minute, Agent,” Hardy said, raising one hand and unholstering his weapon with the other. “Might wanta arm

yourself,” he cautioned as he waited for Mulder to unclip his holster and ready his Smith and Wesson.

Hardy took two steps and stood with his gun extended. “Millford — it’s Sheriff Hardy from Burkesville. C’mon out with your hands up!”

The silence of the woods was punctuated by the sound of the sleet hitting tree limbs and the coats of the two men.

“Dwight Millford. This is your last chance. Come out with your hands up!”

Again, only the sleet and the howling wind answered.

Hardy looked over toward Mulder and motioned toward the back of the cabin. Mulder nodded once in understanding and carefully moved to the left side of the structure and around back. He could hear Hardy’s heavy boots on the small front porch. Mulder found

a door in the back and with gun at the ready, reached out to take the handle.

All of a sudden the agent was bowled over by a highly charged force of brown fur. Finding himself flat on his back, the wind knocked out of him, Mulder looked up into the rimy eyes of a large dog. The dog’s teeth were bared and standing on Mulder’s chest it would be an easy movement for the animal to lean forward and take a bite out of his

neck.

Dog and man regarded each other silently over several heartbeats. Mulder fought to get his breath back, but the dog was perched directly on his diaphragm and ribs. The dog was huge. The beast weighed at least 100 lbs, or so Mulder surmised from his precarious

position on the ground. The dog seemed to have enough of the silence because the lips pulled back more than Mulder thought possible and the animal let out a low, deep- throated growl. The agent was trying to figure out how to bring his gun hand up under

the dog without having it attack when the decision was taken from him. The dog lunged forward, teeth clamping on Mulder’s neck at the same moment a loud explosion resounded through the air.

With his eyes clamped closed in anticipation of having his throat ripped out, Mulder felt the large animal crumple to his chest and then roll off his body. The teeth had managed to scrape the skin on his neck, but not take hold. When Mulder was able to pry his eyes

open, he saw the dog laying still, a bullet wound to the head. It was everything he could do not to lose his lunch.

“You awright there, Agent Mulder?” Hardy asked anxiously, dragging the dog more completely off the fallen man and offering a hand up. Slowly, still watching the dead animal for possible signs of life, Mulder made it to a standing position.

“Thanks, Sheriff. I think he mistook me for a chew toy,” Mulder quipped, but it was only to deflect the tremor he felt in his hands and heard in his own voice.

Hardy cocked his head toward the back of the house and then walked over in that direction. “‘Pears he weren’t a he,” the Sheriff said cryptically until he reached a hand under the steps to the back door and withdrew a puppy by the nap of the neck. “Was just

protectin’ her pup.”

“Damn it,” Mulder cursed with a grimace. “Are there others?”

Hardy traded his gun for a pocket maglite and investigated the crawlspace under the cabin. “Nope. Jus’ the one. Musta lost the others or maybe this was just a single. Happens sometimes with dogs been whelped a lot.”

The puppy squirmed and Hardy put it down on the ground. It bounded, stumbled and leaped its way over to the mother. Nosing at the fur, the pup attempted to wake the mother up, whimpering for attention. Instinctively, Mulder scooped the puppy into his

arms. “Sorry, little guy. You have no idea how sorry I am,” he soothed to the inconsolable handful of fur.

While Mulder tried to console the pup, Hardy checked the cabin. He came back out with a towel and a coffee can. “No sign of Millford. Doesn’t look like he’s been here for a while, either. Sure didn’t see no dog food. The momma was probably makin’ do with what she could find in the woods.” He dipped the end of the towel in the coffee can,

twisted the cloth loosely and brought it to the pup’s mouth. Hungrily the little furball latched onto the cloth and sucked freely. “Sugar water,” Hardy answered Mulder’s questioning look. “It’ll keep him for a bit.”

Mulder took the towel, dipping it again in the can while Hardy took a look at his neck.

“You got some scratches there. We’ll have to have the vet take a look at the body. We got rabies in these woods.”

“But it’s just a scratch.”

“Germs are in the saliva, Agent Mulder. Even a scratch can transmit the disease. We’d best get the dog’s body tested.”

Mulder sighed but nodded in agreement. “What’s going to happen to this one?” he motioned to the puppy in his arms.

“Want a huntin’ dog?” Hardy asked with a grin.

“Sheriff, I live in a duplex in the city. If this one grows up to the be size of the mother . . .”

Hardy nodded. “I understand. I’ll turn it over to animal control in town. Maybe someone will adopt it.”

Before Mulder could answer, the two men heard an earsplitting howl. Mulder shifted the pup to his other hand and produced his gun. Hardy switched out the maglite for his weapon and stood silent, listening to the woods.

“Do you think that was Millford?” Mulder asked.

“I know it t’weren’t no bear,” Hardy replied. Another howl caused both men to jump and the puppy to burrow into the crook of Mulder’s arm. The next howl was much closer.

“He’s comin’. Get in the cabin, at least we’d have a little protection.”

With the puppy firmly in his arms, Mulder ran up the three steps to the back door of the cabin, right on Hardy’s heels. While Mulder slammed and bolted the back door, Hardy did the same to the front. Hardy took up a position at one of the front windows, Mulder

at a small window in the back.

“Should we radio for back up?” Mulder was asking, just as something large and dark hurled itself against the back door.

Hardy smashed the walkie talkie against his palm. “I’d like to, but the battery’s dead,” Hardy shouted back. “I dropped it when I saw you about to get mauled. That might happen again if we don’t get these doors secured.”

Mulder put the puppy down and grabbed anything that moved to prop against the door. A table, a chair and a load of wood were soon stacked as obstacles to any intruder. Hardy had been similarly busy at the other door, moving a wooden box and some remaining

chairs to block the path. There was another crash at the back door and Mulder’s furniture tower shook with the force of the blow.

“Damn it, Scully keeps reminding me we need to attend that teambuilding conference,” he said to the puppy that cowered at his leg. “It’s OK, fella. Just your kindly owner turned into a vicious beast out there. Nothing to worry about.”

“Too dark to see anythin’ out there,” Hardy shouted. “I think — ” The beast threw itself at the front door. “Never mind. I was thinkin’ we could get out this way while he’s occupied out back.”

“I think he can smell us, Sheriff,” Mulder said. Hardy snorted and checked the clip in his gun, a Glock 9 mm. “Unless you happen to have some silver bullets in that clip, it’s not going to do us any good.”

“You been watchin’ too many creature features, Agent Mulder. This baby’ll blow his head plum off.”

“Not if we can’t see well enough to aim,” Mulder said pointedly. Outside the window, night had fallen. It was pitch black.

“Damn. Guess I shoulda called for back up earlier,” Hardy mused.

The being outside had given up trying to crash through the door. It now scratched and sniffed at the windows, once pressing a wet snout to the glass. Hardy took aim but the creature moved out of the way before he could get a bead.

“Damnit all. We’re stuck here.”

“Scully is gonna be so pissed,” Mulder moaned as he slid down the wall to the floor. The puppy scrambled over and started to chew on the agent’s shoelace. “And I bet you’re getting hungry,” he told the pup.

“I know I am,” replied Hardy.

“It’s getting pretty cold in here, too,” Mulder answered. “Maybe we should start a fire.”

Hardy reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter. “Go ‘head. I’ll keep watch,” he promised. Soon Mulder had a small fire going, enough to take the edge off the cold in the room. He didn’t want to make a large fire because they needed the wood to pile against the doors.

It was pretty unnerving, as they sat in the darkness. The beast outside would slam itself against one door and then the other, but never figured out that it could break the glass.

Maybe it feared the fire it could see from the window, but not enough to turn it away from the cabin. Just when they thought it might have gone, it hurled its body against the wood door and the hinges would groan with the stress.

A few hours later, the puppy had curled up between Mulder’s legs and fallen fast asleep. Absently, Mulder rubbed the baby fine fur on its head and ears. From what he could see of the mother before they’d run into the cabin, it was at least part German Shepherd.

“You’ll make somebody a great watch dog, I bet,” he murmured softly. Picking up one tiny leg, he squinted at the toes. “And with feet this big, you’re sure to be a brut. Nobody’s gonna mess with you.”

“Agent Mulder,” Hardy called from his place against the far wall. “No sense in both of us being awake. Why don’t you try and get some sleep while I take watch. I’ll wake you up in a few hours.”

“I don’t think I can fall asleep, not with that — ” Mulder admitted, jerking his thumb toward the sound of the latest impact between wolfman and cabin.

“Still, stretch out, get a little rest,” Hardy advised.

Mulder had just lain down when the fire collapsed and left only the embers. The room was plunged into darkness. Apparently, it was just what the monster was waiting for. With a shattering of glass and broken timbers, the wolf creature came through the window.

Hardy took aim and fired his clip but the creature flinched and yet managed to stay on his feet. Slowly he looked around and with glowing red eyes, he found his target. He headed straight for Mulder. One long arm slashed through the air, Mulder could feel the

sharp claws come within a hair’s breath of his skin. He jumped back, pulling his weapon.

Although he knew it was useless, he fired four rounds in succession. They were all direct hits, but it didn’t faze the creature at all.

From the floor, Mulder caught sight of the puppy. Suddenly awakened, he expected the pup to scurry closer to him, seeking protection. Instead, something amazing happened.

The little dog bared its teeth and with a tiny imitation growl, flung itself at the ankle of the creature. The wolf being howled in pain when the needle-like milk teeth of the pup sank into its flesh. It kicked the leg with the puppy attached and swatted at the dog. The

pup went flying a few yards away. The pup rolled like a little fur covered ball, scrambled to its feet and tore right after the creature again. Mulder watched in awe as the puppy attacked the beast, distracting it enough for him to find one of the logs from the pile

behind him. He brought the two-foot of tree limb crashing down on the monster’s head.

The impact was enough to stun the creature. It fell to its knees, almost landing on the puppy. The pup scrambled out of the way, but went back in for the ‘kill’. The wolf gained its senses slowly and made a swipe at the pup just as a gunshot came through the window. A second round followed and unlike previously, the monster’s eyes glazed and he crumpled to the floor, right on top of the puppy.

Mulder raced over and rolled the beast off the puppy. The little scrap of fur lay motionless. He picked it up gently, tears forming in his eyes. As he cradled the little dog close, he half heard the Sheriff taking down the barricade and admitting his deputy and Scully.

Mulder was stroking the tiny back when Scully made her way over to him. “Mulder, are you all right?” she asked, side stepping the creature at their feet.

“It was protecting me,” he said in a hoarse voice. “It went after that thing. Scully, why in the world would it do that?” he asked her, looking into her eyes, showing plainly the anguish in his own.

“Mulder, it’s an instinct. Protection is bred into dogs and . . .” As she spoke, the little legs moved and the tiny head gave a shake. Mulder’s agonized expression turned to one of pure joy as he held the puppy up close to his face and the little spotted tongue came out to lick wildly at his nose.

“You’re OK! You made it! You’re some fighter, for a light weight!” Mulder crowed as he held the puppy close to his face and showered it with kisses. Scully couldn’t help but laugh at him, but it was a joy-filled laugh.

the next evening

“So tell me again, how did you get the silver bullets. Or better yet, _why_ did you bring silver bullets?” Mulder asked his partner as he put down his wine glass and took her hand across the candle lit table.

“Elementary, my dear Mulder,” she said with a cheshire cat grin. “You’d be surprised what you’d find in the tool shed of your typical Kentucky boy. The deputy didn’t even blink when I asked him where I could find silver bullets to fit my gun. He just told me he’d pick me up in a squad car and when he arrived at our door, he handed me the clip already loaded.”

“But Scully, earlier you were convinced we dealing with a, dare I say it, bear.”

“Right up until I got the lab reports, yes, I did think we were likely dealing with a bear. A brown bear, to be exact. But when I opened the email and found that there was human saliva in the wounds . . .”

“You realized we were going after ‘the wolfman’,” he finished.

“And when you didn’t come back and it was getting late, I called the Deputy, who knew exactly how to find Dwight Millford’s cabin — ”

“In the dark, during a sleet storm,” Mulder interjected.

“And he didn’t argue at all when I asked for the silver bullets. Seems it’s been a legend around these parts for some time.”

“Well, I am certainly relieved,” Mulder sighed. He took her hand and kissed it lightly.

“And see, we still get to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

Scully looked around the darkened room, lit only by four or five votive candles. “Yeah, with take out pizza and a bottle of red wine of indeterminate vintage,” she said with a smirk.

“Ah, but it’s who you celebrate with that matters,” he told her, dishing up a piece of the pizza from the box and putting it on a paper plate in front of her.

“Speaking of which,” she said with a grimace. Leaning down, she picked up a small bundle of fur with a long tongue. “The motel is going to charge us extra for the little puddles this one has been leaving behind,” she noted.

“Let ’em. I don’t care.”

“Mulder, what are we going to do with a dog? As you so rightly pointed out when I acquired Queequeg, we’re on the road a lot, we have no way to care for a dog — ”

“Scully, I have an idea. Just wait till we get home.”

Tara Scully’s residence

Fairland, MD

Tara stood at the top of the stairs, watching her son roll on the floor, playing with his new pet.

“I haven’t seen Matty this excited — well, since . . .” she let her voice trail off. It had been no secret that Bill’s death had almost crushed his son. “But really, Mulder, from what you told me, are you sure you want to give him up?”

“We don’t have room at the duplex, Tara. I gotta warn you, he’s gonna be a bruiser. But he’ll be a great watchdog. And he’s very protective. I really think he’d be better off with you.”

The slim blond leaned over and gave Mulder a hug around the waist. “I just wish Billy had given you a chance,” she said with a sad smile.

“He wasn’t completely wrong, Tara. I’ve done things — ”

“Shhh, none of that,” she said, a finger to his lips. She dropped her hands and combed her fingers through her now short hair. “We wanted to get Matty a dog. We just wanted to wait until we had a bigger yard than we had in base housing.”

At that moment, Matty came flying up the stairs, the puppy hopping and leaping to follow. “What’s his name, Mr. Mulder?” he asked.

Mulder winced, he really hoped one day the boy would drop the Mr. part. “We’ve been calling him ‘wolf’ but he doesn’t really come to it yet. I guess it’s up to you to name him, Sport.”

The boy thought for a moment, and then reached down and picked up the puppy, looking it in the face. “Wolf. Wolf. Wolfy.” He looked up at Mulder. “I kinda like that name, Mr. Mulder.”

“Then Wolf it is,” Mulder said with a grin.

“C’mon Wolf, I’ll show you my room.” Matty carried the puppy up the other flight of stairs toward the bedrooms.

“Keep him off the bed,” Tara warned. “At least until we get him housebroken.”

“Mulder, I think that’s our cue to leave,” Scully said with a wink. After kissing baby Claire and giving Tara a hug, they walked out to the car together.

When they reached the passenger side door, Scully pulled her partner down and gave him a sizzling kiss. He returned the favor, but eventually, the need for oxygen won out. When he reluctantly pulled back, he gave her a curious look. “What was that for?” he asked.

“The best Valentine’s present I ever got,” she said and kissed him once again.

Mulder smiled all the way around the car and was still smiling as he eased himself into the driver’s seat. “Does this mean I can take back the earrings?”

“Not on your life, Mister,” she replied.

His grin got even broader. “Didn’t think so.”

the end.

Enchanted Shores

Title: Enchanted Shores

Author: Truthwebothknow1 dragonrider1@ntlworld.com

Rating: PG. One or two naughty words and lascivious thoughts. In the romantic sense.

Category: MSR, FLUFF, MILD MT A, X

Spoilers: None really, various stories from the Virtual season. IMTP

Feedback: Yes, love it but after two exclusive weeks on the VS Circuit.

Disclaimer: CC and FOX owns the whole kit and caboodle. I’m just having fun with them for my own amusement and no profit. I send them home clean to Chris. LOL

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Enchanted Shores

Blue anchor Bay Shore. Early morning.

White horses lapped the shore as the stiff early breeze hurried it along, licking foamily over rocks and at exposed timbers of the old quay. Bringing with it a delightful spray of salt breeze and ozone. Scully inhaled it all in as she watched Mulder pick up rocks and tried to hit the red and white buoy, bobbing just a few yards out in the shallows. Even though it was cold, she felt a sudden warmth flood her soul.

She smiled at the ever-present kid that hovered just below the surface of the man she loved. He liked to take her away from the bustle of D.C. as much as he could and Valentines Day was no exception. They had both needed to get right away this year with all the bad things that had plagued their lives; the revelations in his mother’s journals, their own brushes with death, Charlie’s dark complicity within the consortium and the untimely death of her only other sibling she felt she still loved, Bill.

So this was what Mulder had been planning for more than a month, his secretive behaviour worrying at times, but when she found out that his treat this year was a weekend in an old colonial lighthouse in Maine, she almost jumped for joy. Just the two of them away from crowds, endless sea and sky, great food, a real log fire and just each other’s company. He called this The Enchanted coast and it certainly was. Just natural beauty that made her feel fresh and alive and whole again. Miles from anywhere and filled with all the peace and solitude they could handle. Together. A celebration of what they had become to each other.

She adored the sea of course, but as he had been raised in small towns in various old money places all up and down the New England coast she knew it pounded calming surf through his heart too.

The soft crunch of feet through wet sand broke her out of her reverie as her partner approached her, grinning like a little boy bringing her a natural sea treasure.

The man with the child in his eyes.

“Look Scully, a horseshoe crab. Must be a really early spring this year.” He hefted up the cumbersome creature so she could have a better look.

She smiled at him broadly, wiping her wind blown hair from her eyes and running slim fingers over the smooth rounded shell of the crab.

“Mulder I love your impromptu show and tell but he really looks like he might pee on you or snap off your finger. ”

Mulder laughed, “Nah, he’s reaaaal laid back, kinda smooth like Skin man’s head…sorta looks like one of those German soldier helmets from “Hogan’s heroes”, don’t it?”

“Umm Nazi helmet with attitude…” She giggled as the predicted crab pee suddenly cascaded all down his best Levis.”

“Aw shit Scullee!” Mulder yelped jumping back in alarm and falling on his ass with a soft thud in the sand.

” That could be his encore. Best let the angry little fellow go back to the sea.” She did try to curb her giggles but he looked so funny hopping up and down with wet sand encrusted denims and the errant crab scuttling to get out of his grip, it was near impossible.

To his horror she produced her digital camera from her coat pocket and snapped his misfortune while he struggled to stand on the uneven sand, the odd little crab’s legs flailing about with him.

“Hey not fair,.. What the f…Ow!!” he yelled as it suddenly latched onto his little finger with extreme gusto. “Damn thing”, he cried dropping the crab like a hot potato and stuffing his abused finger in his mouth and sucking hard. Eyes looking watery and childlike.

“Oh Mulder, you dropped the poor thing, look there he goes, back to the sea.” Mulder scowled still nursing his finger as they both watched the newly liberated crustacean scurry down the sand in readiness for the next waves to take him away from his abuser.

“Poor thing my ass, look what it did to my finger.” He stuck it under her nose so she couldn’t miss it, or the pout that had taken form on his bottom lip.” Look”.

“It’s a good job we are not on an actual case. Just love to see you fill in a medical insurance form that says, ” Finger snacked on and lacerated by an angry Limulus polyphemus.”

” Ha, ha. Clever clogs, Bob Ballard. They’re not supposed to bite!!” he whined, cringing as she poked at it.”

“Well this one certainly did. Be glad it’s too cold for sporting your Speedos. A nasty nip elsewhere might have ruined our romantic weekend plans. ”

“Hmmph!….ouch!”

“Sorry, now hold still.”

Scully attempted to pull her face into doctor mode as she carefully inspected the now swelling pinkie. It did look painful. She stifled another giggle as she chanced another look up at his face. Yes the pout was still there. So irresistible and sexy. At least it was only his finger and pride that was hurt. She had plans for him later with certain un-abused extremities. Her tongue flicked over salty lips with some unbidden erotic images. At the same time she heard Mulder take a deep breath but that could have been due to her ministration of his finger.

“There, there, G-man, be brave. I have some ointment I can put on this once were back at the lighthouse. You did piss it off you know. Teach you to put your fingers where they shouldn’t go.”

His face broke into a smile at that, humor and innuendo warring within his hazel depths. Scully snorted. “Don’t even go there.”

“What? What did I do? ”

“It’s not what you did, its what is going on in that unscrupulous mind of yours. ” He was about to make a suitably solicitous retort when the sun suddenly blazed through Scully’s hair and lit her eyes a riot of blue fire that almost stopped his heart. She looked like a sea siren and he felt a magical lure to disappear into her and never come out again.

His feral grin melted into one of awe and he suddenly leaned over, took her head in both his large hands and pressed his lips to hers. First her lips, which she opened to accommodate his questing full mouth and then peppered tiny kisses all down her neck along the curve of her jaw. She tasted like heaven and salt and he loved every inch of her. For a second his eyes levelled with hers as she opened them again, making his catch fire almost with the love they seared into his own.

They stayed like that for a long time, letting the rising sun warm them and breathing in the tangy air, arms entwined around each other like two last limpets clinging to the shore. The bells and mournful horns of fishing boats farther out at sea still touched by a fog shroud resonated through them both. They were a world away from their normal lives but Mulder had found his safe harbour, it was always Scully; his best friend his, lover and his whole life. He would never again put to sea without her.

As if approving of their union, a crescendo of small waves came in to lap at their naked feet, two successive ones suddenly fuelled by the changing tide breaking against the sandy promontory with force enough to soak them up to their knees.

“Oh god, Mulder… that water’s cold.” He laughed, pulling her further up the beach, his big arms around her shoulders and shielding her face from the worsening wind. The air tasted gritty and he got the distinct impression it was brewing for a storm.

“Put your head on my chest Scully, I’ll keep you warm.”

“I love you so much Mulder, do you know that?” He gave her an Eskimo kiss, and grinned at her nodding. She tucked her head against his warmth just he leaned in to claim her deliciously salty mouth again.

A lone gull cried out above them somewhere and the wind whipped up like a sudden wraith appearing,, blowing a swirl of sand right over them.

Startled, Scully broke the kiss but Mulder kept his arms encircling her, smiling, unwilling to break the spell and let go. Scully held onto him tightly, laying her head against his pounding heart, which seemed to be in sync with waves and in that moment, wished she could dive into his fathomless depths and stay there for all time, away from the constant nemesis of harm, death, sorrow and frustration that had moulded and shaped their existence for longer than she could fathom.

Mulder always knew there was something magical about this coastline, steeped in mystery and lore. Of Ghostly sightings, strange lights and unnatural shipwrecks. A few years ago he might have been tempted to explore its hidden phenomena but this weekend was about them, not any X file and more importantly, it was about pampering Scully. Loving, quality time, with no phones, no TV, no work to interrupt their valentine celebration. Just soft light, sea air, candles and a lot of time just spent exploring each other, finding new facets of their love, experiencing the joy of life for a change, and giving them both back that faith that they could as a couple enjoy the normal things other lovers took for granted.

This last year they had almost forgotten how to laugh and the overwhelming weight of tears and personal loss had almost crushed their spirit. The X files were a world away and Scully’s smile and loving caress was the only magic he needed to experience this romantic long weekend.

“Time to get out of these wet clothes Mulder.. And though I hate to say it, you smell….” Mulder gave her bemused look as she sniffed at him and wrinkled her nose up. “…Fishy.”

Mulder scooped her up all of a sudden, making her shriek and giggle, her voice all but stolen away by the wind. “I’ll give you fishy my little Scully sea nymph,” Mulder laughed in his best Charles Laughton voice. ” Lets get back, get naked and have some seafood and wine while I tell you fishy tales of Poseidon and you can quote the naughtier tales of Ahab.”

“You nut, there are no naughty tales, just the Moby Dick innuendos stored in your lascivious Muldermind.”

“Yeah?”

And he took off with her, big feet pounding up and over the sand dune with ease while she clung on and giggled for all she was worth. Her laughter gave him a strength he didn’t know he had and he felt almost like he was walking on air.

“Yeah!”

“Riight!”

He squeezed her ass as he ran faster, eager to get out of the rain that was pelting their faces. He loved how her laughter was all juddery as he pounded up the sand that led to the little lighthouse garden gate.

“Okay you win, Mulder, but only if you draw me a bubble bath and you know, arrange some candles and wine. ”

” I’ll do better than that,” he waggled his eyebrows in a parody of Groucho Marx. “I’ll even scrub your back and show you my sea serpent.”

“Can’t wait.” She swiped at his ass as he put her down finally and then raced, still laughing up to the white washed clapboarded lighthouse.

XXXXX

The mid February storm raged on into the morning, the beach deserted now, all but for the cry of gulls huddled in the dunes to escape the worst of the wind among the sparse patches of sea grass.

A small metallic box lay damp, and speckled with sand in the footprints of two lovers. Two violet eyes shifted like the wink of a butterfly, curious, wanting to touch this little shiny object. Questions, a thousand questions sifted through an ever-questing intelligence. Eyes darting, sniffing at the ozone heavy air, curiosity won over apprehension and 6 tiny pointed green fingers moved tentatively, tracing the sandy footprints still warm from their makers feet and closed over it’s prize, slowly, slowly…until it snatched it away as the wind snatches a thought.

Blue Anchor Lighthouse. Sunrise.

Two bodies glowed in the full moon’s gossamer blanket; an unearthly, almost ethereal atmosphere fell over the lighthouse and surrounding beachhead. No one saw the strange mists, the color of the shifting sea, glittering with gimlet diamonds gifted by the moon that rose and waned around the promontory and up across the windows of the lighthouse.

The tides caressed the beaches as Mulder hands caressed his lover and partner of 12 years with as much reverence as the first time. Sighing breaths drawing in and out with the waves that crashed on the beach a few yards from their window, while small inquisitive eyes looked on at the two figures nestled in the old bed, tiny fingers and breath making silver condensation trails on the trembling glass. Like the physical prescience behind those eyes by morning all traces of silver would fade away.

Scully slept curled against Mulder’s heart and dreamed on in his protective embrace, despite the window being open just enough to let in the healthy sea air, warmed by the vision of her partner sprawled over the sofa in just his skin and a those tatty thin yellow pyjamas he loved and she never had the heart to throw out. He just looked so …at home in them like a second skin and they left nothing to the imagination.

The day before when rain had sent them laughing towards shelter from the storm, they hadn’t been in the door more than five minutes after getting back from the beach before divesting themselves of their wet sandy clothing and tumbling to the floor in a wave of touches and kissing and sensations that left them both gasping from helpless giggles. Giggles gave way to real passion as they gave in to everything they had desired and wanted, what they had come here to this deserted haven to enjoy. They fell into an easy sleep staring at patterns in the flames of the open fire.

Later they had eaten lobster and salad, feeding each other and enjoying the good food and wine, sheltered from the worsening storm. Mulder told tales of his and Samantha’s adventures on New England beaches, memories of careless days and sand all through his mother’s house. A simpler happier time. Scully worried a little that he would get all melancholy but she tried to steer him on to happier subjects. Stories about her father, his life on an open sea and the way her mother handled four feisty and very different children while Ahab was away. And they laughed into the night at each other’s anecdotes and jokes.

After Mulder had drawn her a hot bath and lit what looked like a hundred candles all around the beautiful period bathroom, the heat and the scented aroma mingling to make the room look like a fairytale setting. Naked and gorgeous looking, he’d brought with him a bottle of claret, two crystal glasses and a small box of hand made chocolates. Then he surprised her by climbing in with her and pulling her up against his strong soapy chest. She had sighed and leaned back. This was heaven. Who needed anything else but this.

“Well did you like that special agent Dana Scully?” Mulder purred against her ear with his lips just feather brushing, ticking the sensitive skin there.

“Oh yeah Mulder, brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Free Willy,” she giggled as they’d both got tipsy from the wine and the tranquillity of their surroundings.

“Better believe it. I only perform my repertoire of tricks for you.”

“I’m a very lucky g-woman. Could I have some more wine please kind sir? ”

“Don’t you mean sex slave? Scully, and yes, you can certainly have some more wine. I brought a whole case. ” He nuzzled her hair and stroked it with one hand, haphazardly pouring wine into the glass dangling from her fingers with the other, getting more over her fingers and in the bathwater than he actually did in the glass.

She gave him her fingers to lick clean and smiled at him as he obliged with a leer. He’d looked younger in the last few hours than she had seen him in a long time. He looked…achingly beautiful; her whole life was here in this room. For a few seconds they just studied each other’s faces, caught in the amber of the moment in mutual appreciation and love.

This was what it was all about. The universe dissolved down to just the two of them. The way it should be. “Thank you for this Mulder. Words can’t express how much it means to me to be here with you like this. Makes me remember just for a while how much life there is out here, and how we can just do normal for a while.”

His hand found hers in the water and squeezed her fingers gently.

“I love you Scully. This is nothing less than you deserve for putting up with me all these years. A small expression of my love for you. I did good huh?” The child was back in his eyes, ever seeking approval. Approval that she wanted him to have in spades.

“You did good Mulder, ” she stroked the six o’clock shadow with pad of her thumb, “you did real good. You always do…. even when you fall on your ass in the sand. You even wrestled that poor crab for me,” She laughed, lightening the moment.

“Always looking to impress you agent Scully. ”

” Everything you do impresses me Mulder. Didn’t you realize that by now.”

“Really? Even when I expound weird untenable theories?” He had the sweetest smile on his face, one he got when he thought people were teasing him, a look she had seen too often out on cases when some of the other agents or cops were making fun. It made her a little sad and she tried not to let him see it on her face. After all this time could he not cast off the doubt of her love and devotion?

“Especially then.” And she’d tilted her head back a touch so she could kiss him.”

Lets take this to the bedroom agent Scully; I want to try out that four-poster.” He’d waggled his eyebrows at her and as fast as it had shifted like a cloud across his eyes, the rueful resignation she’d seen there a moment ago had disappeared behind the twinkle now in his eye. “It looks seriously sensuous and besides, we’re going to wrinkle like prunes if we don’t get out of this tub soon. After you.”

He’d pulled her out of the water and immediately transmuted that into a kiss as he melded her against his bath fresh skin.

“Speaking of impressing me Mulder, I want to look at that photo I took of you.”

“Oh, the one of me making an ass of myself with the terror of Davie Jones locker. The one you’re going to have blown up and put on the bureau notice board?”

“Well I wouldn’t go that far Mulder, as tempting as it may be. But I’m sure my mother would get a good laugh out of it. Besides, I bet that poor creature was more afraid of you, ya big bully.” She giggled smacking at his bare ass as he held her.

“You…”

With that Mulder had grabbed her legs and had thrown her wet body over his shoulder while she screamed for mercy between hiccupping and laughing. He’d deposited her still laughing on the bed. Some joyful fumbling around the sheets for a few moments wore them both out and they gave in to the sleepiness of just having shared a warm bath filled with aromatherapy oils. Her photographic handiwork had been forgotten as they’d curled up together like two perfectly interlocking jigsaw pieces.

Next Morning.

“Mulder, did you see my camera anywhere? ” Scully asked next morning as she fixed them OJ and muffins for breakfast. Mulder was padding around in his PJ bottoms, looking more edible than the food. Scully stared on appreciatively. Funny how being by the sea made you think of nautical euphemisms for everything, even when it came to her partner’s finest features.

Must stop that, Scully thought to herself as she picked up their discarded sandy clothes from the day before, rifling in the pockets of her coat for the compact metallic gadget. It had been a present from her mother after she and Mulder moved into the duplex together.

Coming up empty she frowned just as Mulder caught the look of consternation on her face. He came over and draped his arms over her smaller form like a boa constrictor.

“Huh?”

“My camera, its not here. Damn, ”

Mulder smirked, coming at last out of his sleepy bubble. “Divine retribution for filming me in all my misfortune. My finger still smarts like a muth…”

“Mulder!”

“Sorry. Still does hurt too. See, kiss it better.” She did and then looked him in the eye, her gaze growing steely.”

“Mulder, did you hide it?”

“Moi? You wound me Scully, I’m soo crushed.” He clutched at his chest in mock offence. “Not me, Indian guides honor.”

“Umm…..if you didn’t then where could it be?”

“The Beach!” they both said in unison. And Scully’s heart sank.

“Oh Mulder, there was a storm last night.”

“It was in its silver case wasn’t it?”

“Yeah but…….”

He grabbed hold of her hand and they went for the door. “Come on.”

“Mulder, hey, wait up, it’s not that warm out there. Don’t you want to change.”

“Ahhh….” And he looked down at his flimsy PJ bottoms.

Scully threw him a sweater and they opened the door. They never got further than the step. They both stopped dead in their tracks, Mulder half in and out of his sweater. Both of them stared open mouthed.

“Oh my god!! Mulder?” he blinked and opened his mouth to say something but for a second or so felt his mouth paralysed in shock.

“What the…..”

Suddenly finding their senses they crept through the dawn air down to the lawn, white swirls of breath coming out as fast pants as they tried to assimilate what they were seeing.

“Scully what’s that? Is that your camera?”

“Yeah, Yeah it is.”

Scully bent down to retrieve her camera, looking none the worse for its night left out in the elements. But the most startling thing was that whoever had been good enough to return it had left them another gift. Sometime during the night someone had been busy on their lawn.

There in the middle of the grass was a perfect outline of a heart made entirely from shells…..and in the middle was an outline of them…as they had stood in relief on the beach like a silhouette against the rising sun.

“Scully,….its….”

“Us. ” She finished for him. ” Its beautiful. Exquisite.”

“Yeah.”

And then they both scrambled to look at the display on the camera, almost dropping it again in their haste to check the pictures stored on the smart card.

The digital viewer on the back flickered to life and she saw firstly the humorus shot of Mulder from the day before. As they clicked next they both held their breath. A face like nothing they had ever seen winked into place and smiled at them. It was so beautiful like an elfin child, white translucent skin with a hint of blue and green. Six tiny little fingers held up in entreaty or greeting…..until it faded from view like a passing thought seconds later.

“What the hell was that?” Scully turned to look at her partner whose face bore all the excitement of getting new X file case, his brain already racing along on the tide possibilities despite the shake of his head. He looked back at the camera and tried to get the picture back, but to no avail. It was wiped clean, the only one that had been on it to vanish. Mulder stared down at the beachhead seeking…whatever had done this but the beach was empty.

“I don’t know what that was Scully, that’s no child like I have ever seen the like of before. Looks like an extra from a ‘Midsummer night’s dream’. Perhaps we can put some candies out in case he comes back to thank him for bringing your camera back…and this little gift of romantic shell art.”

“What,.. You mean like the kids in ET who left a trail of M&Ms for the little grey guy?” Mulder closed his eyes on a smile and opened them again, giving her a lopsided grin.

“Yeah, something like that.”

Scully gave a nervous smile, still unsure of what had really happened here. Like the coastline itself it was strange wonderful and magical, and yet it made her nervous to think they had been observed in this way, by all intents and purposes, a child.

“Well I guess it’s a trip into town to pick up some goodies for our honest little friend.”

“And some for us.”

“Yeah.” Mulder took her hand in his warm one and held her close. “I dunno about you Scully, but I think we have been given a very special valentines gift.”

“Yeah. Its an X file Mulder, but a nice one.”

She took one last look out onto the beach. The waves rolled in, and the sun was just cresting up over the surf. The storm was over and they could explore later. Maybe eat out at one of the many seafood places Mulder had raved about.

Just under two days left here; what other magic could this place reveal to them? As if reading her mind Mulder leaned down to kiss her and she melted into his warmth.

“Come on my sweet valentine, we have a candy trail to organise. Call it a spooky hunch but I don’t think we have seen the last of our enigmatic little friend.”

“No, me neither.”

And she returned the kiss.

The End.

Because…I Love You?

TITLE: ‘Because…I Love You?’

AUTHOR: XSketch

Art by Mercimulder

EMAIL: XSketch@hotmail.com

WEBSITE: http://

thesketchfiles.bravehost.com/ SPOILERS: Up to Je Souhaite and then AU. There’s a brief allusion to my VS11 ‘Love’s A Beach’, and Waddles52’s VS10 ‘A Night To Remember’ Valentine’s Specials

RATING: PG-13, I guess

CATEGORY: X, S, MSR, MT, A

SUMMARY:

FEEDBACK: FEED ME! Make a sick, lowly gal happy 🙂

DISCLAIMER: CC, 1013, Fox etc own ’em 0 I just like to play with ’em…and maybe torture them a little bit <EG>

ARCHIVE: Exclusive to IMTP’s VS12 for two week’s, and then the kid can be yours for adoption as long as you drop me a line to let me know where 🙂

DEDICATION: To all the lovely folks at Mulder’s Refuge, who I’m missing greatly at the mo while I’m still ill 😦 Praying to be back ASAP! HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY, MR!!!

clip_image001

Because… I Love You?

The roses had been a sweet surprise – the large, poorly scrawled on card even more so – and yet the surroundings she had literally been forced to ensconce herself in on this cold but beautifully sunny Valentine’s Day came as no surprise at all – far from…

Yep, they were back at D.C General Hospital, and just as

unsurprisingly she was sat at the bedside of her injured, sleeping partner…

“Only you, Mulder…Why is it always only you?” she sighed

solemnly, outstretching a hand to rest on his arm.

“B-b–…Because…y-you l-lo-ve me?” came the dry, drug-addled voice from the bed.

Dana Scully’s head snapped up to lock eyes with him, and – despite how tired and angry she was – a small smile lifted the corners of her mouth. “It’s not funny, Mulder!”

“Made y-you smi–…smile, though, d-d-didn’t it?”

Fair play.

After swallowing hard several times to try clear his throat did

very little – if anything at all – Mulder uneasily turned his head a fraction to glance at the glass of water on the nightstand… which was too far out of reach. “Scu–”

She saved his voice by quickly picking up the glass and holding it to his lips so that he could sip from it. “You shouldn’t– *we* shouldn’t be here – we were supposed to be going out for a meal!

Skinner could’ve gotten the situation under control without any–”

A hand raised to indicate he’d finished with the water, and she took a quick, deep breath as she put the glass down. “There would have been no casualties!” Cue raised eyebrow and pointed glances at the bandage round his head, and his strapped right shoulder.

“Instead, you had to put your big feet in and now another

Valentine’s Day has been laid to waste.”

“You didn’t l-like the f-flow-ers?”

Silence.

“And, hey, we had a good time last y-year at that beach c-c-club, didn’t we? I-I know I’d ditched you earlier that mor-ning, but I made up f-for it, just as I will this time – I promise.” He made a painful attempt to reach for her, but the movement of his right arm was a little too restricted for his liking, and outstretching his left any further only threatened to disconnect the IV and monitor lines.

“The year before we were – surprise, surprise – in a hospital with you incapacitated…I thought it’d be different this time…”

Scully trailed off and shook her head. She knew he didn’t get

injured on purpose, and that he had been desperate to make everything special for this day (praying hard that it would work out, considering it never did when he tried every normal day), but, God, she was angry at him for his anal-retentive need to keep his nose in where it was hardly ever needed, let alone wanted…

Basically: stepping blindly into a situation that would, without a doubt, always result in his being badly hurt. Yesterday’s stupidity had almost claimed his life, and she was too tired and emotional to joke about any of it. “With the house…I just dreamt it would be different…I-I know I shouldn’t, but…I dreamt about us going out for the candle-lit dinner at the restaurant, and then coming home, sitting in front of the fire and sharing a glass or two or three of champagne, and then…Well, retiring to the bedroom…”

Mulder watched her for a moment and then let his eyes slip shut as he pictured the things she was describing in his head (thankfully the pain meds still swimming around in his body stopped him becoming too aroused, though only just). He understood that her anger matched his frustration at the whole injustice, but he’d had to do what he’d done – he’d just had to; for the little girl, for Scully…for the safety of them all…

XxXxXxXxX

24 HOURS EARLIER

FBI HEADQUARTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C

Scully was preparing their reports for the meeting with Skinner when Mulder hung up the phone and moved to snag his coat from the stand by the basement office’s exit.

“Where are you going?” she frowned, resting back in her seat and folding both arms across her chest.

This ought to be good.

“That was Kim,” he mumbled rather distractedly and not meeting her eyes as one arm waved dismissively in the general direction of the phone on his desk, whilst the other fumbled through the pockets of his coat til he found his car keys. She waited patiently for him to continue, but he looked as if he was working something out in his over-active mind.

“Mulder?”

“Hmm? Oh, uh, she said our meeting with Skinner’s cancelled…The case he’s been involved with has hit a head, and he’s had to go out…”

“Mulder?” The cautionary tone worked, and he finally stared at her. “Is this the kidnapping case you’ve been using the computer to hack into and take a look at Skinner’s files on?” She’d had a stern word with him about it two weeks ago when she’d realised he was reading reports by Skinner, not them, over the network, but had said nothing more – at least he’d kept his distance, and that was always for the better when it came to child abductions – if he wasn’t reading about it, he’d have only been hounding the A.D to let him in on the investigation. “The Orlowski case?”

The story was that six-year-old Sarah Orlowski had been snatched from her mother’s grasp whilst they were out on a shopping trip in downtown D.C. A couple of notes had been sent to the parents, warning them that a high ransom would be wanted in exchange for their daughter back, but there’d been nothing else – no amount, no date of exchange – and the local law had no clues to work with.

Skinner had only been called in because the family were friends of the Director’s wife. And so the hunt had begun, with a lot of frustrated waiting involved. Three days ago, Forensics had managed to finally lift some of the kidnapper’s DNA from the second letter, and a match had been found in the shape of escaped mental patient Matt Gout…

…who’d been untraceable, until now.

“Yeah. Somebody reported seeing suspicious activity at a derelict, burnt out building…turns out it was Gout. Don’t know anything else, except that the situation became hostile, and Skinner’s gone to help.”

Still frowning, Scully continued to stare at her partner as he

relayed the facts Kimberly had passed on to him, and then

realisation dawned – no wonder he hadn’t wanted to make eye contact with her…

“Oh, no you don’t!” she exclaimed, quickly raising to her feet and moving to stand in front of the open doorway with hands firmly on hips. “You’re not going down there, Mulder – for a start it’s not anything to do with us, and secondly we have plans for tomorrow, remember? Special plans? Plans you promised wouldn’t be jeopardised this year?”

“I know, I know! Valentine’s Day…” He paused and smiled.

They’d been ‘lovers’ (Jeez, he hated that word) for several years now, but this year was very different due to the simple fact they were properly living together, in *their* own home. The thought of returning to that after a beautiful meal to continue the romance by the open fire made him warm inside – he couldn’t believe how far they’d come…or even how far *he’d* come along since those first days of their being partnered together.

There was a job to be done, though – a little girl was in danger – and although he knew it wasn’t his to do, he couldn’t let it go.

“I promised, and I’m gonna keep that,” he swore, cupping her chin in the hand he’d used to point at the desk. “How can I pass up on the opportunity to share a tub of ice cream with you by firelight?” Both of them smiled, but too quickly the seriousness returned to his face and voice. “But I gotta do this. Something just tells me I gotta be there…if not for the girl, then Skinner.”

She couldn’t believe she was actually listening to his excuse, and that tub of ice cream suddenly looked as if it was rolling away, further and further.

“You better not get injured, Mulder, because if you do I guarantee I’ll hurt you twice as much when you’re recovered,” she growled, snatching up her own coat. A placated Mulder was much easier to deal with than one that disappeared against her will, so the best answer was for her to go with him.

The opportunity to make a leery innuendo had stepped forward, but he let it slip as she turned away and he rested a hand against the small of her back. Pushing his luck was not a good idea, especially considering she hadn’t put up an argument.

XxXxXxXxX

H STREET

FEBRUARY 13th, 2005

2:13 PM

“GET AWAY FROM HERE, OR I WILL – I’LL KILL HER!”

Walter Skinner pinched his temples between thumb and forefinger.

The negotiator they’d sent in had only infuriated Gout even further and forced him to a higher floor in the unstable building. On the positive side, they knew the girl was still alive, but for how much lon–

He saw movement through the corner of his eye and turned to see Agents Mulder and Scully approaching.

“What the hell are you–” He frowned and glared at Scully –

silently reprimanding her for letting Mulder anywhere near here. “What is he doing here?!

“Playing a hunch,” Dana shrugged. Their boss knew as well as her about Mulder’s obsession with these kind of scenarios, so no further explanation was really necessary.

Mulder wiped a sweaty hand down his face as he looked up at the building surrounded by the local PD and SWAT teams.

“I GOT A GUN, SO JUST GIVE ME THE MONEY AND LET ME ALONE AND SHE’LL BE OKAY!”

There were gasps from the crowd that had congregated at the road block, and a few more officers quickly ran over to help the couple already guarding it.

“We have a visual on the suspect,” a voice crackled over the radio in a nearby police car. “Need– Wait! No, that’s a negative – repeat, *negative*…The suspect has moved and we have no clear shot.”

The annoyance began to bubble inside Mulder.

“What are his demands?” Scully queried the assistant director as she shot a concerned glance at her partner’s back.

“There’s been nothing definitive – he just keeps rambling on about getting money,” the police chief cut in from behind her. “Must have watched too many movies before they carted him off to the nuthouse.”

Mulder listened to it all until he couldn’t take it anymore and

decided he had to do something. He gave one quick glance at the two familiar figures behind him and then – drawing his weapon – ran toward the building’s entrance.

“At any rate, we’ve got snipers strategically placed, and they’ll move in as soon as the slightest opportunity arises.”

Scully nodded, and turned back to stare at Mulder…

…only to just catch a glimpse of his back before the tall, dark

looming tower swallowed him into its depths.

“*Mulder*!”

Skinner sharply turned in the direction she was facing and then stared at her. “You knew he’d do it – why did you let him come?

There was a reason I didn’t want him knowing anything abou this, Agent Scully!” He paused and a look of puzzlement creased his features. “For that matter, how *did* he know?”

Well, she couldn’t exactly say ‘he’s been reading your private

files’…could she? “Uh…” She continued to stare at the

entrance to the burnt out structure – her mind working to worry more about her partner’s safety than why they were here. “We got a call from your assistant to cancel the meeting we were supposed to have with you earlier.”

Technically, that didn’t really answer the question at all, and yet the assistant director pushed no further.

She let out a sigh and weighed up the options of following Mulder in or waiting.

*I promise nothing’s gonna get in our way this year – it’s just

gonna be me and you.*

She had thought it better to wait until there was a sign or

something to say she should do otherwise, but with his words still echoing in her head the reality struck that he would be injured for tomorrow unless she intervened, and so quickly moved to follow.

~~~~~

Mulder carefully climbed the flight of stairs – being sure not to

step on any of the ones that looked ready to collapse and perhaps take the rest with them. He could hear Gout’s voice from somewhere above him, broken once by the sound of Scully calling from below, so onward he went, until he reached the top, fourth floor.

“Mulder?”

The familiar, hushed voice made him pause and turn briefly. Surely she hadn’t followed…

“Mulder?”

Yep, she had, and when her small figure came into view, he wasn’t sure if he should jump for joy or have a panic attack.

“You promised!” she whispered sharply, approaching quickly with her own drawn weapon held low.

He only had chance to reply with a shrug before Gout yelled out again from down the hall.

“COME ON! WHERE IS IT?”

The two agents glanced at each other and then slowly stalked toward possibly the only room still with four walls standing – as destroyed as they were.

They found him huddled in the corner in his asylum-issued pyjamas with one hand holding onto the small girl, and the other gripping onto a revolver as if it were a lifeline. He raised his head to stare at them as they entered, and sharply raised the gun.

“It’s okay, Matt, we’re here to help,” Mulder started, gently.

“I just want my money,” the other man whined like a ten-year old – the gun beginning to waver. “But they won’t give it to me!”

Scully nodded and took a step forward, hoping to help calm the crying child. But the floorboard creaked under her weight, Gout panicked, the revolver fired, Orlowski screamed, and with an “Oh, crap,” Mulder collapsed.

~~~~~

The sound of gunfire set everybody into action down on the street, and a woman bystander fainted. Skinner immediately pulled out his cell phone to dial 911, whilst the SWAT team ran into the building.

“Those your agents?” the police chief sniped, grabbing Skinner’s arm. At the assistant director’s nod, the other man finished, “You better pray that ain’t the little girl that’s been hit, otherwise your head’ll be had.”

~~~~~

As chaos assembled downstairs, Scully quickly knelt beside her partner to examine the wound to his shoulder.

“I…I’m sorry,” he choked through grit teeth, staring up at her with pleading eyes. “I prom–…promised…”

Lifting him slightly to search for an exit wound that it turned out wasn’t there, she shook her head. “You never keep them, Mulder Dammit, the bullet’s still in you…”

“Sculleeeee…”

“It’s gonna be okay. Relax and stay still – I’m sure an ambulance is on the way.”

“I’m sorr–”

“Shh…Just stay with me. That’s all I ask.” Feeling a tear roll

down her cheek, she reached out to brush a few errant strands of hair away from his face. “I need you with me every day, not only tomorrow.”

Gout watched with his head cocked slightly to the side – the girl sliding out of his grasp. She immediately ran toward Scully, who gathered her up in her arms, but then the pyjama-clad man realised what had happened and lunged for them both.

“Scu–”

Before she had chance to raise her gun, it was knocked from Dana’s grasp and she was being held against the kidnapper by a large arm.

“I got me two now!” Gout giggled, keeping a tight hold on the two struggling females as he turned to look out the window at the figures below. “YOU BETTER GIVE IT TO ME NOW!”

The sharp pain tearing through his shoulder, the nausea and light- headedness were all forgotten as Mulder lifted his head slightly to stare at the back of the man keeping his partner and the girl captive. Getting himself injured due to his own stupidity was one thing, but he couldn’t let anything happen to her – anybody but Scully… Shakily, he struggled to his feet – hissing at the pain that threatened to send him hurtling into darkness – and then moved toward Gout.

“Hey!” he started. When Gout turned, he struck out and hit him directly on the jaw. Scully and Sarah broke free and quickly moved out of arm’s reach. Mulder wavered on his feet – completely drained and unable to fight anymore. But it didn’t take long for Gout to regain his senses, and once again made for the two women.

*How can I pass up on the opportunity to share a tub of ice cream with you by firelight?*

Drawing on the power of his emotions, Mulder dived for Gout – not registering the loud creaking floorboards under his weight.

“*Mulder!* No!”

As the SWAT team burst into the room and Mulder’s arm wrapped around the madman, the floor finally gave way and the two men dropped down.

“Everybody out!” one of the uniformed men ordered, waving to his colleagues and moving to carefully guide Scully and the little girl out. Scully stood frozen on the spot, though, staring with horrified, wide eyes at the hole her partner had fallen through.

“Ma’am, we need to get out of here before the whole thing

collapses!” He grabbed her arm in one of his hands, but she

abruptly shook it off.

“That’s my partner!” she finally snapped, taking a tentative step forward to look into the hole and see how far he’d dropped.

There, on the second floor, she could see the two bodies lying motionless. She didn’t care about the injuries Gout had sustained, but the blood pouring from Mulder’s gunshot wound and what looked like an injury to his head was enough to make her fear the worst.

“Oh, my God….no…”

The team leader looked down also and shook his head. “We need immediate EMT help on the second floor,” he barked into his headset, reaching for her arm once again and succeeding this time in pulling her out of the room. “We have two men down.”

She refused to go any further than the second floor, though,

despite the warnings, and stayed by the unconscious-but-alive Mulder’s side until he was wheeled into the operating room at the hospital.

XxXxXxXxX

D.C GENERAL HOSPITAL

FEBRUARY 14th, 2005

4:22 PM

Mulder woke up and weakly looked round til he noticed his partner napping in the seat beside his bed – the memory of yesterday’s events continuing to haunt him. He’d asked for flowers to be delivered for her when he’d first regained consciousness early this morning, and had struggled to sign a Valentine’s card the Gunmen had brought in at his request, but he wished he could make it up properly. So much had been lost and destroyed this past year, he marvelled at her resolve whilst worrying how much more of a beating

it could take.

“Scully?” he whispered.

Immediately, she snapped awake and leaned forward to rest the back of her hand on his forehead. “Mulder, are you okay?”

He chuckled, coughed, and then smiled. “I feel like I lost my

happy thought and fe-ell quite a way, but you’re helping to b-bring it back. How about y-you?”

“I’m fine.” At his frown, she quickly added, “really. Not a

scratch on me. Sarah Orlowski was checked, cleared and returned to her parents, and Matt Gout was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Meanwhile, Skinner’s not sure if he should congratulate you or wring your neck.” Uneasy pause. “But you had me so worried, Mulder… I thought…I really thought–…Dammit, Mulder, you shouldn’t have done it! Why? You knew the risk…You knew the

cops would move in as soon as they heard the gunshot – why couldn’t you have waited those few more seconds?”

He stared into her eyes, hoping that she would see the answer reflected in his, but when the well-exercised eyebrow raised higher, he tenderly replied, “Because….I love you? Because I didn’t….I didn’t want to see a-anything happen to you? I screwed up and broke my promise, and I-I’m p-p-paying for that, but…” He paused to reach up and pull her hand away from his forehead so that he could place it over his heart. “I won’t ever let anything happen to you as long as there’s a single b-breath in my body – that I s-swear.”

The tears broke free and trickled down her cheeks as she stared at him a moment longer and then bent to place a kiss on his lips.

“The same vice versa,” she whispered, lingering there. “But I

don’t know how much more I can take of this, Mulder. I don’t know if I can take almost losing you again…I love you too much to–”

“Shhh.” The hand covering hers lifted to cup her cheek, and

somehow – using their silent communication – it was agreed nothing else needed to be said.

She nodded and lowered her head to lay on his chest. It didn’t take long for the sound of his steady heartbeat to help her drift back off to sleep.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, S-Scully. I’ll make it up to you as soon as I get out of here…and then we’ll see about your punishing me for g-getting in-jured,” he whispered with a smile, kissing the top of her head before he too gave into the exhaustion and medication.

“Mm.”

XXXXXXXXXX

THE END

Seems to me, seems to be

you’re the reason

Why I live, try to give

all I can.

Can’t you see, that for me,

life’s worth living.

When you’re near, I know you’ll

understand.’

~’You’re The Reason’ by Gene Pitney

AUTHOR’S NOTES: So, what’d’ya think? Not very romantic, I know, but this has to have been the fastest fic I’ve ever written LOL I saw Vickie Moseley’s request for VS stories by Wednesday on Monday, dismissed it, then got an idea in my head the following day and spent the next 24 hours writing to get it done on time! Whew *thud* Whatever you think, though, please drop me a line at XSketch@hotmail.com 🙂

Finding the Future

FINDING THE FUTURE

By: Traveler

Rating: PG-13 for a few nasty words and a little MT.

Classification: X-File

Summary: The question of mankind’s fate is explored

when Mulder finds himself looking through a window to

the future.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully and the other characters

are property of FOX and 1013. I borrowed them Chris,

you haven’t been doing anything with them lately so I

hope you won’t mind.

Archive: Exclusive to VS12 for two weeks, please write

if you’d like to archive this elsewhere.

Feedback: iluvxf@hotmail.com

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ANCIENT DIG SIGHT, WEST AFRICA

A commotion of voices brought her awake. Diggers

working in the ruins in the early morning light had

discovered something that had frightened them. She

heard one voice among them ask to see her,

demanding that she see what had them all so upset.

Gathering up some clothes she dressed quickly,

emerging from the tent to find a familiar face connected

to the voice. She recognized the man. He’d worked

with her several years ago on the coast during one of

the most frightening experiences of her life.

“Professor Ngebe,” he said, coming forward now, his

hands extended towards her, asking her to take the

object from him. She accepted it, looking down at it in

recognition. It was a tile, a flat irregular shaped tablet of

some sort of stone material filled with glyphs. Glyphs

she recognized all too well, glyphs she knew were not

meant for her.

X-FILES OFFICE 9:13 A.M.

Scully was surprised to find the office door partially

open as she came down the darkened hallway juggling

her briefcase, a bakery bag and a tray carrying two

large coffees. Kicking the door open farther with her

foot she was twice as surprised to find Mulder seated at

his desk engrossed in something he was viewing on the

computer monitor. The noise startled him but he got up

quickly to grab the tray from her hands.

“Thanks,” she said as he took the tray and set it on the

corner of the desk. “I didn’t expect to find you here. I

thought you had a meeting with Skinner this morning?”

“Well I’m here and I did and which one of these is that

low-fat latte crap you like to drink?”

She turned at the sound of aggravation in his voice and

took in his already haggard appearance; tie askew, his

shirtsleeves rolled up almost to his elbows. Peeling out

of her coat she walked over to where he was perched

on the edge of the desk and grabbed her drink, curling

her chilled fingers around the hot cup.

“Mulder, you left the house at 6:30 in a fairly good mood,

it must have been a hell of a meeting.”

He picked up the other cup, inhaling the nutty hazelnut

aroma as he popped off the lid and then got to his feet,

wandering over to the row of files cabinets and leaning

against one as he sipped the drink. “Wait until you hear

this. He wanted my opinion about adding some agents

to the department. Do you believe that? How long

have we been fighting to keep the X-Files open and

now they want to add more agents to the department?”

Scully’s eyed him as she blew on her drink. “What did

you say?”

“Among other things, I told him electronic bugs were

bad enough, we didn’t need live ones crawling around

down here.”

She rolled her eyes, “And?”

“And then he got frustrated because he said he was just

trying to help us out. Made some crack about my age

and still being out in the field; that my time was too

valuable to be spent running across the country. Then

he suggested that maybe if we had a couple pair of

agents down here it would give us more time–more

FREE time we could spend on research. And then he

ragged on me about our reports being late, that we

could use some clerical help. To that I basically told

him we’ve worked together for 10 plus years without any

help and we didn’t need any now. And then he said he

wanted to talk to you.”

“Now?”

“As soon as you got in-but first,” he set the cup down

and took her by the arm to steer her around the desk. “I

want you to open this package from Africa with your

name on it,” he finished, motioning with his head toward

the chair in front of the desk, the one on which she had

dropped her coat.

Following his gaze she noticed the brown box hidden

beneath her coat. She set her cup down while Mulder

cleared a spot on the desk so she could set the box

down on it. It was addressed to her, care of the Federal

Bureau of Investigation with a return address from West

Africa. She looked at him, puzzled; he caught her eye

and reached over the desk to extract a box cutter from

the top drawer. “Mulder” it came out apprehensively. “I

haven’t had any contact from anyone over there in

years. Who would be sending me something?”

“Maybe you should open it and find out,” he said as he

handed her the cutter.

The box wasn’t that large or heavy and when she got

the flaps open it was stuffed with straw type packing

material; an envelope with her name on it was lying on

top. She took the envelope and slid the note from it not

noticing that Mulder had moved the box from in front of

her and was digging through the packaging.

DR. SCULLY,

IT SEEMS OUR PAST HAS ONCE AGAIN COME

BACK TO HAUNT US

AND WE FIND OURSELVES QUESTIONING THE

ORIGIN OF OUR

EXISTENCE. THIS I FEEL IS MEANT FOR YOU TO

EXPLORE

NOT I. I HOPE THIS WILL HELP YOU FIND THE

ANSWER.

A.N.

“A. N.? Mulder, I think this is from professor Ngebe, the

woman….”

Mulder was standing next to her. In his hands was a

large piece of tile filled with inscriptions like the ones

she had seen on the craft in Africa, like what had been

on the copy of the rubbing Skinner had given him, the

one that several years ago had almost driven him

insane. She watched as he gently caressed the script,

his fingertips running across it almost reverently, his lips

whispering something she could not hear. He looked

up at her with a look of understanding and amazement

but said nothing. As realization hit her she went to grab

it from him but it suddenly fell from his hands, his entire

body contorting from the spasm that wracked it. He

stood frozen in the moment and then another spasm

racked his body and he dropped so fast Scully had little

time to react, his head meeting the edge of the desk on

his way to the floor.

Scully followed him down; the head wound already

bleeding when he hit the floor. She rolled him onto his

back. “Mulder? Dammit, Mulder!” He was

unresponsive, his eyes glazed. Unable to palpate a

radial pulse and feeling no respirations she bolted for

the phone to dial 911.

“This is Agent Dana Scully with the F.B.I. I have an

agent down! Forty-three year old male in cardiac and

respiratory arrest, I am a doctor, I will start CPR,

basement offices, tell them to come in through the

garage!”

She dropped the phone on the desk, returning to the

floor with Mulder. Tilting his head back and opening his

mouth she blew a deep breath into his lungs and then

clutched her hands together and started CPR.

“1..2..3..4..5…”

NORTHEAST GEORGETOWN MEDICAL CENTER

Scully had resuscitated him in the office before the

paramedics had arrived. His heart rate had been

thready, erratic and on advice from the hospital the use

of a defibulator had stabilized him. By the time they had

reached the hospital his vitals were almost normal but

he had remained catatonic on the way in.

The results of an EKG showed that his heart had been

subjected to some sort of electrical trauma. “You’re

certain that he hadn’t touched anything, that he didn’t

receive any sort of electrical shock?” The young ER

doctor asked her.

Nothing earthly Scully thought to herself. “No, I was

standing right next to him. He had some sort of seizure

and then just dropped to the floor in arrest.”

She caressed Mulder’s arm, watching his face for some

response as the doctor continued to study the test

results, his glazed eyes staring back at her but seeing

nothing. “There’s nothing in the tests we’ve run that

indicates any type of cardiopulmonary cause here. I

think maybe we need to do a CAT scan and an MRI.

His BP is good or I would suspect an aneurysm but

there are also other possibilities in the form of a stroke

or some sort of neurological disorder. I could

recommend a neurologist.”

From somewhere, the mention of a neurologist hit home.

Something she had read recently about a friend from

med school who had been named the head of the

Neurology Department here. “Um, yes, I understand Dr.

Jason Leonard is head of the department now, I went to

med school with him, if you could let him know I’d like

him to take a look at my partner…”

“Yes, certainly. You’re a doctor?” the young doctor

asked somewhat surprised. “I’m sure you’re aware then,

there is a very real possibility of brain damage due to

oxygen deprivation. You have medical power of

attorney?”

Scully looked up from her study of Mulder’s frozen

features. She had only half listened to what the doctor

had been telling her. “I’m sorry, what?”

“You’re not his wife but I see you listed on his chart as

the emergency contact.”

Scully tried to make it sound matter-of-fact, “Yes-we

work for the F.B.I. We’ve been partners a very long time.

It’s easier that way.” It was more than obvious to the

doctor as he watched Scully thread her fingers through

Mulder’s unresponsive ones, that these two were much

more than partners. She turned to look at him then,

meeting his eyes, “He wasn’t out long enough; I refuse

to believe this is caused by brain damage.”

Somehow this all felt like deja vu only this time she was

present to see the effects. This time however, Mulder

was not raving about in a padded room. This time, his

mind was somehow frozen in that moment when he

touched the artifact back in the office and she was at a

loss at how to bring him back. Still wearing her coat,

she pulled it more tightly around her, her hand sliding

into the big pocket to worry the surface of that very

same artifact in some hope she would find an answer

there.

Within a half hour, they had stitched up Mulder’s head

wound and had him on an IV drip. The heart monitor

showed a steady reassuring 74 beats per minute. As

they were preparing to take him down for tests a nurse

came in to inform her that there was a Walter Skinner in

the ER waiting room and that he wished to speak with

her. She leaned over the gurney, caressing Mulder’s

cheek, his eyes still lifelessly gazing up at her. Placing

a gentle kiss on his forehead she nodded to the orderly.

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She found Skinner in the waiting room as the nurse had

said. At the moment he was standing at the window,

his back to her with his hands on his hips, his dark

trench coat giving him a menacing look from behind.

Seeing her reflection in the glass he turned as she

approached his eyes catching the worry lines that were

as much in evidence on her face as he knew they were

on his own.

“I got word that Mulder was rushed in here in cardiac

arrest. What happened?”

Scully met his eyes; he could see the resignation in

them. The oversized coat she still wore made her look

so much less than her usual self. “I don’t know” she

almost whispered. “They don’t think it was a heart

attack. He just literally dropped dead right there in front

of me.” He watched as her eyes welled with tears, the

shock now wearing off to become grief.

Skinner reached out to touch her shoulder in an act of

reassurance. “The nurse said his vitals were normal

now, how’s he doing?”

She looked away, brushing angrily at the tears that

threatened to spill from her eyes. Skinner was the last

person she wanted to see her like this. “He’s

unresponsive, catatonic, the ER doctor is afraid there

could be brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his

brain.”

“A stroke?”

She shook her head, choking back the sob that

threatened to burst from her. Skinner fought the urge to

wrap her in an embrace, not certain that she would

welcome it especially in this public place. He looked

around, almost suspiciously. “You know, this is the

hospital they brought him to before. Are you okay with

him being here?”

She nodded a small smile, realizing what he reference.

“They-they just took him for some tests. I have a friend

from med school, a neurologist who is on staff here now.

I’ve asked for him.”

Skinner shuffled his feet, looked down and slid his

hands into the pockets of his coat. “You know-we had

this conversation this morning…”

“I know, he told me. He said you wanted to see me

because you weren’t getting anywhere with him and you

won’t. He’d never be happy behind a desk sir; you

know that as well as I do.”

“Agent Scully?” They both turned at the sound of her

name, one of the ER nurses was approaching her with

a somewhat distressed look on her face. The nurse

pulled them aside so she could speak somewhat

privately. “They need your help down in imaging. Mr.

Mulder seems to have regained consciousness but he’s

being quite uncooperative.”

“Oh God,” Scully glanced quickly at Skinner and then

turned to follow the nurse. A few steps down the hall

she hesitated. “Sir?” She fumbled with her coat,

tugging on something she had stuffed into one of the

large pockets. Pulling out an object wrapped in a

leather covering she handed it to Skinner. “Could you

see that the Gunmen get this?”

He took the object from her with a puzzled look.

“I think that is the cause of Mulder’s illness.”

**

Standing on a high point of land, the city stretched out

below him. Built by their own hands, it was an

incredibly intricate labyrinth of buildings and temples.

The houses were arranged in long terraces and simply

built. The temples, on the other hand, were elaborate

masses of monolithic block faultlessly cut with razor

sharp edges that integrated completely into each other.

Intricate carvings decorated the exterior of many of the

temples. The whole city had been neatly terraced and

carved into the mountainside.

Lush greenery surrounded the city on all sides, hiding it

from all but the sky above. The combination of stone,

foliage and water made it a work of natural sculpture, a

place where man and the earth lived in harmony, a

heart-achingly beautiful place.

But now it had become a city in turmoil and fear. Failed

crops and hunger gripped the people and the demand

for sacrifice grew. The gods were angry the priest had

told them and the king had ordered that blood needed

to be spilled to appease them. Warriors had raided the

outlying villages, dragging off those chosen for sacrifice.

He’d come here to hide and to watch as below him the

blood of many of his fellow villagers spilled down the

steps of the temple, their screams echoing off the faces

of the other buildings and up into the heavens above

him.

Fear griped him, making it hard to breathe, how could

this carnage make the gods happy? His friends were

being taken from their homes and slaughtered, many of

them attempting to flee into the jungle only to be

brought back by the king’s warriors. He was one of

them, his flight instinct urging him to run but he found

for the moment he could not take his eyes from the

scene below him.

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Behind him he heard the rustling of foliage. He froze,

knowing for certain that when he turned around death

would be staring him in the face. More thrashing filled

the jungle behind him and when he did turn he found

himself face to face with two of the king’s warriors. He

bolted, dashing off into the jungle, knowing that if he

were caught his heart would be added to those already

piled on the sacrificial alter below. He ran, down the

hillside, brushing aside vines and stumbling over

exposed roots, his heart pounding in his throat with the

sound of the men behind him. Crashing on through the

dense foliage, branches cutting at his hands and face,

he thought for a time he would elude his captors. But

then he fell, coming down hard, his arms out in front of

him in some feeble attempt to prevent himself from

being injured. He was going to die, what did it matter?

Strong arms grabbed his upper arms pulling him almost

to his feet. He struggled, trying desperately to shake

the men off but he was no match for their strength and

soon found himself being dragged back through the

jungle, across the courtyard and up the many steps to

the altar. His eyes scanned the people below

desperately searching for one, the woman he loved,

screaming her name as they pinned him to the alter.

The village priest began to chant, standing above him

holding the sacrificial dagger. Pain lanced through his

body as the sheath cut through his chest and he

remembered nothing else.

**

“What’s going on?” Scully hurried after the nurse who

now stood before the elevator angrily punching the

DOWN button as if it would encourage the elevator to

arrive more quickly.

“I don’t know. I picked up the call from imaging. There

was a lot of yelling in the background, they just said to

get you down there STAT — come on, come on!” She

continued to smack the elevator button.

When the elevator doors opened on the diagnostic level

another nurse was nervously pacing the hallway. “Are

you Dana Scully?”

“Yes, where is he?” Before the nurse could answer

they both heard him screaming; the nurse bolting for the

exam room with Scully right on her heels.

Stepping into the technician’s office Scully could see

through the glass window to the exam room. Three

orderlies had Mulder pinned to the wall. His face was

beet red as he tried to fight the men that held him. He

continued to scream, terrified of the restraint, his voice

growing hoarse. It sounded like he was saying “Asordo”,

over and over but she had no idea what the word meant

or why he was screaming it.

Someone came through the door behind her, a doctor,

pushing past her as she entered the exam room. She

saw the needle in his hand and knew immediately that

they were about to sedate Mulder.

“No, wait! What are you giving him?” The needle went

into Mulder’s hip before she could get the doctor’s

attention. “Dammit it, what did you give him?”

“Five milligrams Haloperidol, he almost killed the

technician,” the doctor answered angrily motioning to

the young woman who was being attended to on the

opposite side of the room. Scully turned back to Mulder,

the fear draining from his face as the drug took over.

He slid to the floor with the aid of two orderlies. “Oh,

Mulder,” she stooped to touch him but he shied away

from her.

“Ego indeo asordo…” he all but whispered as his eyes

drifted shut.

“I want him in the psych ward, five point restraints!”

Scully stood and turned to the doctor who was barking

orders. “Who the hell are you?”

As Scully squared off with the offending doctor the

orderlies had strapped Mulder onto a gurney and were

in the process of wheeling him out of the room. She

turned around again, “Just stop right there!”

“I might ask you the same thing. Who gave you the

authority to just come barging in here?” The doctor was

a big man, brusque, probably mid 50’s.

“He’s my-I have legal medical power of attorney over

this patient, I’m his personal physician.”

“And you have the authority to practice in this hospital?”

“No…”

“Then they’ll take him where I tell them to take him. Fifth

floor, restraints!”

Scully knew how Mulder hated restraints, she didn’t

want him waking up in them, not again. “He’s not

violent, that’s totally unnecessary.”

“Yeah, well tell that to Ms. Ellis…” The doctor stormed

out of the door after Mulder’s gurney.

Scully looked around at the shambles of the exam room.

A young nurse was being attended to by another

physician. She made her way across the room and

squatted down next to the young woman. She noted

her name tag, KATIE ELLIS. “Katie, I’m so sorry, are

you alright?”

The doctor looked up from his ministrations for a

moment, “Looks like she might have suffered a minor

concussion, I’m going to have her admitted overnight.”

Scully turned back to Katie, “Can you tell me what

happened?”

“He came too during the scan, I think he was just

frightened, but I’ve never seen anyone that frightened.

He was terrified. We shut it down, tried

to talk him down, get him out but I guess he just didn’t

understand. Doesn’t he speak English?” Katie asked.

Scully looked back at her confused, “What do you

mean?”

“He was chanting or something, I couldn’t understand

him. It was like he didn’t know who I was or what I was

telling him. Then he just grabbed me and pushed me

back against the wall, then the guys came in, he yelled

your name a couple times, you’re Dana right? And then

he started yelling something like ‘asordo’ and you know

the rest. I’m sorry it got so out of control but I didn’t

know how to calm him down.”

“It’s not your fault Katie,” Scully stood and helped the

doctor get Katie into a wheelchair before leaving the

room in search of Mulder.

GEORGETOWN PSYCHIATRIC WING

It wasn’t hard to find the psych ward on the east wing of

the fifth floor, she’d been there before. When she

stopped at the desk to ask for Mulder’s room number

the nurse asked her to have a seat in the small waiting

room across the hall, explaining that Dr. Leonard was

on his way in and wanted to talk with her immediately.

The room was small, about the size of an average

hospital room. It was carpeted with two nicely

upholstered sofas, a lounger and a small kitchenette

with coffee. She poured herself a cup and sat down

hard on the end of one of the sofas. Cradling the cup in

her hand she took a sip, tilting her head back to inhale

the pungent aroma. It was the first chance she’d had to

relax since she’d gotten out of bed that morning.

She continued to sip her coffee lazily, thinking hard over

the events of the day. What had brought this all on?

Was Mulder’s condition truly a reaction to the artifact?

She’d denied it all the first time around, running off in

search of answers and leaving him behind to be

drugged into a stupor; she would not be fool enough to

do it again. She needed to get a hold of Amina Ngebe.

Find out if it was really her that had sent her this artifact.

If so, she needed to know how Amina had come to be in

possession of it and if the ship had reappeared. But first,

she needed to get Mulder some help; she would not let

him go through that hell again.

Someone cleared their throat on the other side of the

room. The sound startled her from her thoughts. She

looked over in the direction from which it had come.

Jason Leonard, Dr. Leonard now stood in the doorway,

he smiled tentatively at her, “I didn’t mean to startle you

Dana.” She started to get up but he waved her off,

coming over to sit on the opposite end of the sofa. “I

have to say, I’m surprised to see you here — in another

role, that is. How are you?”

Jason Leonard had been a classmate in med school.

He was probably Mulder’s height with a slightly heavier

build, short cropped curly hair and dark eyes that were

now hidden behind wire rim glasses. He’d been a

member of the little clique she’d hung in with until they

all branched off into different fields.

“I’m not the one you need to be asking that question.”

“So I understand. Dr. Kelley filled me in on what

happened down in Imaging.”

“Is that who that idiot was? I want the restraints off,

Jason.”

“Dana,” he reached over to touch her hand. “I think we

should leave them on, at least until he’s lucid. Until we

run some neurological tests, we don’t know what we’re

dealing with. He has a history of violent behavior from

what I’m reading here about the last episode.” He

flipped casually though a thick file she knew instinctively

was Mulder’s.

She set her coffee cup down with a shaky hand. “He

was frightened Jason, he didn’t understand what was

happening to him. There was no need to drug him like

that, if they just would have let me talk to him. He won’t

hurt anybody. I know he won’t hurt me. Please Jason,”

why was she begging? She could just go in there and

take them off herself. “I’ll sit with him until he wakes up.

I don’t know how to explain it; I won’t have him wake up

restrained Jason, not again.”

Jason took in her haggard appearance. According to

the file, she was his F.B.I. partner and legal power of

attorney but it was painfully obvious they were much

more to each other. She was just as strong willed now

as he had remembered her and he wasn’t about to butt

heads with her. It had never worked before. He’d wait

it out. Let the guy wake up and take it from there.

7:22 A.M.

She awoke to someone stroking her arm. She raised

her head from the edge of the bed and looked into

some slightly groggy hazel eyes, a gentle smile curving

his dry lips. Taking his hand, she brought it up to place

a soft kiss on the back of it. “Good morning, sleepy.”

Pulling his hand away he stroked her hair, pushing it

away from where it had stuck to the side of her face in

sleep. “Who’s the sleepy one?” He’d drifted in and out

all day yesterday but this was the first time he’d been

lucid enough to speak to her.

She sat up and looked at him, really looked at him. He

was pale, the dark circles under his eyes giving him a

hallow look. He looked confused and a little

apprehensive. “Do you know where you are?” As he

glanced about the room, she noticed him fiddling with

something on the other side of the bed, the restraint

strap she realized. Then he turned to her, “It looks

alarmingly familiar. I’m in the nut ward again,” he

sighed. “Do they just automatically send me here now

when I’m admitted?” There was resignation and a little

disgust in is scratchy voice.

“I’m sorry Mulder, you shouldn’t be here.”

“Why am I here?”

“You don’t remember?”

She watched him think for a minute, a moment of fear

passed across his face, he touched his chest, “I only

remember — we were in the office, you had opened that

package from Africa-I remember…”

“What?”

He hesitated, the memory of his dream coming back.

He felt a little unsure of what to admit and what was

best to keep to himself. This was nothing like he’d

experienced in ’99 or recently in North Dakota for that

matter; the details of which he hadn’t shared with his

partner. “Nothing-just weird dreams I think,” was all he

would admit. He reached for the water pitcher but his

movements were still sluggish. Scully had seen

something pass across his face, worry or fear, she

wasn’t sure but got up to pour him a glass of water,

which he took from her with a shaky hand. She knew

he was keeping something from her.

He sipped the water, holding it with both hands to

steady the glass. He felt loopy; shit what had they

given him? “What was in the box?”

She sighed, giving him that “What are you not telling

me?” look. She knew he got it loud and clear but

answered his question anyway. “That was the day

before yesterday Mulder, it’s Sunday. There was

another artifact in the box, Professor Ngebe sent it,

similar to the one the rubbing was produced from, the

markings were the same, I recognized them.”

His face lit up immediately, she could almost see the

cloud lifting from his brain. “From the ship? The ship

you told me about in Africa? Do you suppose it’s

reappeared on the beach?” He was already fumbling

with the covers, sitting up in an attempt to get out of bed.

She jumped back as he swung his long legs over the

side but stopped immediately when a wave of nausea

swept over him. She watched as his face went white

and grabbed him to hold him steady.

“Dammit, Mulder, you’re not going anywhere! Not until

we find out what’s going on. Put your head down.”

He pushed her back gently when the dizziness had

subsided then raised his head slowly to meet her eyes.

“What is going on?”

All the fight went out of her when she saw the worry

reflected back in his. She raised the head of the bed

and helped him settle back into it, sitting down next to

him. “You collapsed in the office yesterday, cardiac

arrest,” she said as his eyes grew alarmed. “You were

holding the artifact when it happened.” When he

attempted to say something she shushed him with a

finger to his lips. “You were catatonic and unresponsive

by the time we got you here. Your heart is fine, no sign

of any cardiopulmonary disease or damage. They took

you down last night for a CT scan and MRI; you came

to during the MRI and attacked the technician, that’s

how you ended up here.” He searched her face with

that same

“What are you not telling me?” look. She sighed,

“Mulder, what does ‘asordo’ mean?”

He shook his head ever so slightly; she could imagine

the thoughts running though his mind. His eyes closed

and tilted his head back against the pillows. Was it

happening all over again? He knew that’s what she was

afraid of. “There’s no oral dissonance, no voices Scully,

I feel fine.” She ignored him.

“You were shouting it, they hit you with some

Haloperidol, you looked at me and said ‘ego indeo

asordo’.”

“I need help.”

10:13A.M.

A light rap on the door startled her. She had spent the

last hour gazing at her sleeping partner. He’d fallen

back to sleep, still fighting the effects of the Haloperidol.

She’d gotten him to tell her a little of the dream he’d had.

Though it was frightening in its intensity what scared her

more was the way his actions had paralleled it. Right

down to screaming the name of the woman he loved.

She looked up to find Jason standing in the doorway.

“How’s your patient?”

Scully pushed herself up from the uncomfortable chair,

patting Mulder’s arm reassuringly, “Still snoozing off the

dope.”

Stepping away from the bed she motioned to Jason and

they both stepped to the other side of the room. “You

look beat Dana, why don’t you go home for a while?”

“I can’t Jason; it’s a long story…”

“Yeah, I gather from the size of this file I’ve been

carrying around.” Jason hefted Mulder’s medical file

and then flipped it open. “The good news is his CT

scan and MRI are clean but there are some anomalies

on the EEG that concern me.”

“What type of anomalies?” Scully glanced at the bed

and then back to Jason.

“Unusual activity in areas we don’t normally see it.

From what I gather this is similar to what put him here

back in ’99. The guy ended up in a padded cell

Dana. If we can’t determine a physical cause for this

then I think you need to consider a psychological one.”

“What do you mean, from what you gather? Can’t you

compare the test results?”

“Yeah, I could, if I had them but they don’t seem to be

anywhere in this hospital.”

She didn’t like the sound of that. “They’re gone?”

Jason didn’t either, “Dana — what’s going on here?

Who is this guy?”

“Yeah, Dana, who is this guy?”

They both froze as Mulder’s dry voice came from behind

them. Turning around they found him sitting up in bed.

He did not look happy. Scully touched Jason’s arm,

guiding him towards Mulder’s bedside. “Mulder, this is

Jason Leonard, he’s a Neurologist, we went to med

school together. Jason, this is Fox Mulder my — my

partner.”

Mulder gave her a look she couldn’t quite comprehend.

“You know Scully, one of these days you and I have to

sit down and determine just exactly what we are to each

other.”

Scully ignored the rub. This was no time to get into a

discussion of their relationship, especially not in front of

Jason. “We were just discussing the results of the

tests…”

“Like hell, what you were discussing was the fact that Dr.

Neurologist here thinks I’m delusional, that I belong

here.”

Mulder’s behavior was beginning to infuriate her; he

was acting like she’d gone behind his back to discuss

his medical care. For now she was going to ignore it.

“…we need to determine the cause of what happened to

you yesterday, Mulder.”

Mulder glared at her. “You know what caused it Scully;

the problem is none of your damn tests are going to

prove it for you so when can I get out of here?”

Jason cleared his throat. “Look, you two can get into

your own debate on your own time. I’d like to run some

neurological tests, and a PET scan Fox, if I don’t see

anything there that causes concern, I see no reason to

keep you. The cardiologist might want to send you

home with a 24 hour monitor though. Dana cares about

you, she and I just want to be sure what happened

yesterday doesn’t happen again. Agreed?”

“Fine.”

“I’ll go see what time I can get you scheduled.” With

that Jason ducked out of the room, pulling the door too

as he left.

When they were alone again, Scully moved closer to

the bed, crossing her arms in front of her she almost

hissed at him, “Dr. Neurologist? What the hell was that

all about?”

Mulder tilted his head back against the pillows, covering

his face with both hands; he let out an exasperated sigh.

“Look, I’m sorry, I was out of line.”

“Yes, you were. I’m sure Jason wonders why I’m

wasting my time with you at this point.”

“Jason, huh? Was he before or after Daniel?”

“What?” This confrontation was suddenly escalating

into something that would end up with one of them

being hurt. She had no idea what had brought on this

hostile attitude of his all of a sudden and she wondered,

for the first time if what Jason had said to her might be a

possibility. She didn’t answer him and when he realized

it was probably for the better he changed the subject.

“What happened to the artifact?”

She sat down, God, she was tired. “I gave it to Skinner

to take over to the Gunmen.”

He wasn’t angry at her, just at her attitude. She knew

damn well what he believed had happened to him

yesterday. What had influenced the dream or vision

he’d had? It was happening all over again only this time

something was different. He felt different. This time

there was no noise, no pain, no voices in his head, he

felt enlightened or-or illuminated with something

unknown. The urge to move on it was becoming

overwhelming and the longer they kept him here the

more frustrated he knew he would become. He needed

her help not her medical expertise. “We need that

artifact, Scully. That’s where you’re going to find your

answers. We need to find out where it was found, if

there are more pieces. You told me before you thought

it had led you to a key, the key to all the questions

we’ve been asking; a piece of a puzzle that was left for

us to put together. After what happened to me

yesterday, I think I know how to put those pieces

together.”

No, despite how angry it would make him, she was not

going to believe what he was suggesting. “Mulder, what

are you talking about? Please-don’t sugg…”

He reached for her, caressing the side of her cheek,

she was scared, scared for him. “I’m OK, I’m not crazy,”

he chuckled briefly. “Just trust me, Scully.”

GEOREGETOWN IMAGING DEPARTMENT 3:40 P.M.

They had come up and gotten him about an hour after

Jason had left the room. The PET scan would alert

them to any usual brain activity. The same test they

had run on Gibson. Leaving Mulder in Jason’s care she

made a quick trip home to change and bring Mulder

back some clothes. She knew the moment she stepped

into the exam area that things had not gone well. Jason

and two technicians hovered over a lighted screen

conferring over Mulder’s scans.

Mulder was nowhere in sight.

“Geez — will you look at this…” one of the technicians

tapped his co-worker on the arm. “You ever see

anything like this?”

“He must have been having a hell of a dream,” the other

tech commented as he used his finger to highlight the

areas he was referring to. “I’ve never seen activity in

these areas either.

Jason caught here eye, “Dana, come here, you need to

see this.”

The concern evident on his face, she moved to stand

next to him. What she saw on the screen brought back

memories immediately, of a twelve-year-old boy and his

incredible abilities. Her hand went to her mouth as a

small gasp escaped her. Mulder believed that Gibson’s

abilities were attributed to something akin to alien DNA;

something that despite her beliefs she had proved was

a part of every human being.

Jason caught her reaction. “What?”

“I’ve — we’ve, Mulder and I have seen this before. A

young boy we had contact with several years ago.”

“He had this same heightened activity in the temporal

lobe?”

“Yes, very similar.”

“How did you treat him? The human brain normally

functions at 5 to 10 percent of its capacity. What we’re

looking at here is at least 50 percent; I couldn’t even

begin to tell you how to slow this down.”

“We didn’t. He was just a normal kid-only…”

“Only what?”

She turned to look Jason right in the eye. “He was

clairvoyant, he could read minds Jason.”

“Dana, that’s not possible.” He touched her shoulder as

if asking her to get a grip on herself. “Those are just a

cheap parlor tricks. Look, I know Mulder is your friend

but you’re a doctor, you know what the human body is

capable of and what it’s not.”

“Jason, I’ve seen things that 15 years ago I wouldn’t

have believed either. You have no idea what the

human body is capable of.”

Jason smiled at her hesitantly. “OK, so what happened

to this kid?”

“We don’t know.” Mulder’s voice came from the

doorway. He walked over to stand next to Scully so he

could see what they were looking at. He leaned down

and in a soft voice meant only for her he whispered,

“What more proof do you need?”

At this point she didn’t know whether to be upset,

worried or scared to death. She had seen scans done

before on Mulder and they had never looked like this.

Jason was right, neither of them had any idea how to

treat this or even if it needed treating. Mulder actually

seemed fine now. “Mulder, I…”

Mulder stepped back a few steps, the irritation again

evident on his face. “Look, you two can stand here and

debate what you see for as long as you think it’s

necessary, I’m going upstairs and find my clothes.”

“Mulder — this could be dangerous, maybe you should

stay here until we know what to do about this,” Scully

pleaded with him.

“You’ve already decided you don’t know how to treat it

and there’s no way I’m going through that hell again.

You,” he pointed to Jason, “can find me some discharge

papers or I’m walking out of here AMA. And you,” he

pinned Scully with a warning look, “can take me home

or I’m calling a cab.” He then turned, making sure he

mooned them both as he left the room.

Scully turned back to Jason. “I’m sorry, he’s usually not

like that. Please, can you write up those papers?”

Jason signed heavily. “I don’t like this Dana. I know

you’re worried about him, that you want to do what’s

right, but I’m also worried for you. This behavior could

be a sign that we’re dealing with some mental disorder.

He could get violent.”

She looked down, her fingers nervously playing across

the screen in front of her and then looked back up to

Jason. “Truthfully, I’m more worried that it’s not some

mental disorder, at least that I know we could treat.”

GEORGETOWN PYSCHIATRIC WING

He’d pulled on the clothes that Scully had brought and

gone into the bathroom to throw some water on his face.

He leaned over the sink, letting the water run a few

minutes until it was at least lukewarm. He cupped his

hands under the stream and splashed the water on his

face several times. He then propped his hands on

either side of the sink, standing there to let the water

drip from his chin. God, what was going on? The vision

he’d had, it had been so real. He remembered the pain

lancing through his chest; his own life coming to an end.

Somehow it had felt so much larger than that, like it was

the death of thousands he’d experienced, not just his

own. He remembered holding the artifact in the office.

The characters suddenly conforming to reveal a

message that he couldn’t quite read at the time but

thought he understood. He needed to see it again. He

groped for a towel and raised his head to look in the

mirror. His movements freezing at what he saw

reflected there.

The image that stared back at him was not his own.

What he saw before him was the image of an older man

with a flowing white beard and hair, dressed in a white

cloak. He rubbed his eyes in frustration but the image

remained. A sudden chill wracked his body and he

reached out a shaking hand to touch the glass before

him. When his hand made contact with the mirror, the

image disappeared.

“Mulder?” Scully’s light wrapping on the door startled

him and he found he couldn’t make his voice utter an

acknowledgement. She pushed the door open gently to

find him leaning against the sink, white as a sheet. A

worried look immediately crossed her face, he looked

like he was about to pass out. “Are you ok?” she asked

with concern, moving into the room to take his arm.

He yanked it away from her, “Yeah,” he said as he

pushed past her and made his way unsteadily across

the room. She turned around and followed him.

“Mulder, I don’t like this.”

He sat down on the edge of the bed and grabbed a

shoe, jamming his foot into it and tying it angrily. “I

know you don’t but I gotta get out of here Scully, or

I might really go nuts.”

MULDER’S TOWNHOUSE

There hadn’t been much conversation in the car on the

way home. She’d finally gotten him to tell her a little bit

about what had caused him to hare off during the tests.

When they got in, Mulder headed right for the study and

had been there ever since. He was working on the

computer; she could hear the keys even through the

drone of the basketball game he had put on to cover it

up. By 8:30 he still hadn’t made an appearance outside

the room. She had thrown together a small supper of

grilled chicken and pasta and headed up the stairs to try

and entice him into eating some of it. The television

was still on but the room seemed quite. Maybe he had

fallen asleep.

Pushing open the door she found the room empty.

Knowing he hadn’t left the house, she made her way

across the room to the desk, curious as to what he’d

been so engrossed in all afternoon. On the monitor was

a web site detailing Mayan culture, there were also

several other windows opened to Egyptian mythology,

star charts and human evolution. She glanced down at

the desk and began to thumb her way through the

papers that were strewn across its surface. He had

printed out pages and pages of reference material but

what fascinated her most were the pages of hand

written notes and incredibly detailed mathematical

calculations.

The sound of the water in the bathroom startled her,

she felt like she was eavesdropping on him and yet she

couldn’t pull herself away from what he’d been doing.

Moreover, she was in awe of the work he had done.

She’d never known Mulder to be a great mathematician;

he refused to balance the checkbook. But this was the

work of someone not only knowledgeable in

mathematical calculations but also astrological

projections. Her little calculator was still in the drawer,

he’d done this all this in his head.

“See, I was right all along, you were sent to spy on me.”

His voice behind her made her jump. But when he

came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and

pulling her back against his chest she relaxed and

leaned back into him. “I was just wondering what

you’ve been doing up here all evening?” She continued

to page through the papers he’d been working on.

“What are you trying to work out?”

He nuzzled her neck, something she found incredibly

distracting. “What do you mean?” He’d asked the

question like he didn’t know what she was referring to

and continued his ministrations. She had the distinct

impression he was either trying to change the subject or

he really had no idea what she was talking about. As

good as his lips felt, she really needed to know.

“Mulder, stop that!” she pulled herself out of his arms

and turned to face him. “What are all these calculations,

this date, 2,012; look, you keep coming up with it over

and over?”

He actually looked totally confused and leaned over the

desk to page his way through all the papers there. “I —

was just looking for some information on what I might

have seen in that vision. I think it had something to do

with Aztec or Mayan sacrifice. Here,” he grabbed up a

few pages on Mayan culture. “This mentions how they

felt the need to sacrifice not only animals but humans

as well to appease their gods.” He looked at her at last.

“I think that’s what I was experiencing…” He could tell

she didn’t buy his weak attempt to cover his confusion

when she slammed the papers she held down on the

desk in front of him. He stood up and stared at the

sheets covered in his own scratchy penmanship.

“You have no idea what you were working on, do you?

I know you’re not a math wiz, Mulder. This is calculus —

I don’t know what else. You did it in your head.” The

wind went out of her sails when she realized from his

panic face, he really didn’t know either. “How?”

His eyes came down to meet hers, she watched him as

he wrapped his arms around himself, rubbing his arms

briskly as if he was suddenly cold. Truth was he

couldn’t really remember much of this afternoon from

the point where he’d sat down to do just what he told

her, looking for some information on the Maya. That

was three hours ago. “I don’t know Scully, I honestly

don’t remember…”

Her heart ached for him and as she stepped towards

him, opening her arms to him, he came willingly,

stepping into them and pulling her tight relishing in her

warmth. “I made us some dinner,” she mumbled into

his shoulder. “Please come down and eat with me.”

7:05 A.M.

She awoke the next morning alone in bed with the

unmistakable aroma of coffee filling the house.

Downstairs she found Mulder seated at the table in his

work clothes, tie strung about his neck, buttering a

muffin he had just taken from the toaster.

“What are you doing? I hope you’re not planning on

going to work?”

He looked at her as if she had just asked the most

ridiculous question he’d ever heard. “It’s Monday, why

wouldn’t I be going to work?”

She shuffled across the floor and slid into the seat next

to him, placing her hand on his arm. “Mulder, a few

days ago they took you out of the office in what for all

intents and purposes was cardiac arrest, you were in

the hospital for two days, you’ve been having waking

dreams, hallucinations, lapses in memory. I don’t think

it’s a good idea, not until we know what’s causing this.”

“You were planning on going in weren’t you?” he asked

around the bite of muffin he’d popped into his mouth.

She didn’t really acknowledge him but she didn’t need to,

he knew she was. He got up from the table then, went

over to the coffee maker and poured another cup

adding the condiments the way she liked it. Ambling

back across the floor in his socks he handed her the

cup. “Well, then if I come too you can keep an eye on

me there.”

Her shoulders slumped as she let out a sigh. There

was no use fighting him when he was right.

FBI HEADQUARTERS

Scully made her way down the hallway with a tray from

the cafeteria; a sub for Mulder and a salad for herself,

and two bottles of water. She had almost made it to the

elevator when a familiar voice stopped her. “Agent

Scully?” Skinner’s deep voice resonated behind her

and she turned to find him approaching her. He gave a

quick glance in several directions as if looking to see if

the coast was clear then he grabbed her arm gently and

steered her into an adjacent empty hallway.

“I understand Mulder came in with you this morning.

What the hell is he doing here?”

Scully sighed in resignation. “As he put it, Sir, the

doctors didn’t exactly say he couldn’t come in to work

and since I was planning on coming in anyway, I could

keep a better eye on him here.”

“Is that your opinion also?” She could hear the concern

in his question, see it in his face.

“I don’t know what to tell you. They released him from

the hospital because basically they couldn’t find

anything wrong with him and yet we both know there is.”

“What to do you mean?”

“He’s having visions, waking dreams; Dr. Leonard

prefers to call them delusions and thinks he should be

treated for schizophrenia. Mulder, on the other hand, is

certain that what he is experiencing is directly related to

his exposure to that artifact I gave you to take to the

Gunmen. He says it has his name on it.”

Skinner frowned, remembering the sight of Mulder in a

padded room, his inability to help him when he asked

for it. “Is this the same thing that happened to him

before?”

Scully sighed, “No, I don’t think so, the effects are very

different. The scans show activity in the brain similar to

back in ’99, much like what we saw in

Gibson, a capacity beyond what we normally see in the

human brain. He insists he’s not in any pain; there’s no

dissonance, nothing like he experienced before, he just

zones out. Yesterday I found him in the study working

on some mathematical equations even I couldn’t figure

out and that he has no recollection of doing let alone

what he was trying to calculate with them. Byers just

came and picked them up to analyze them for me. I

think that’s what happened in the hospital…he was

mentally somewhere, someone else.”

Skinner glanced around again, smiled agreeably at a

couple of agents who passed by. “Scully, if you need

any help, if there’s anything I can do you know I’m

here.”

Scully gave him a hesitant smile. “I will, thank you,” she

said as she stepped away from him.

“Dana,” she turned at the use of her given name. “Just

be careful, I know it’s a whole different ballgame now.”

X-FILES OFFICE

She found a desk full of papers and an empty chair

when she entered the office. Setting the tray down she

briefly paged though the drawings and written text that

littered Mulder’s desk. What the hell was he working on

now? A noise from behind her made her turn around.

Mulder was standing in the back of the office, his arms

braced on the table his head bowed. “Mulder?” When

she got no response she approached him cautiously.

“What is it?”

He looked up suddenly, the anguish on his face making

her heart suddenly ache. He stood up and turned

towards her. “What the hell is that?” he demanded,

motioning to the papers she had been sifting though. “I

find myself working on this shit and I don’t even know

what it is or why I’m doing it.”

He walked passed her and stood with his hands on his

hips, a stance she recognized as very much his. His

hands came up and he buried his face in them. Scully

walked over to stand in front of him. “I think I should

take you home…”

His hands dropped immediately, “I don’t want to go

home!” he grabbed his jacket off the back of the chair

and attempted to pass by her but she snagged his arm

and held on tight despite his attempt to shake her off.

“Let go of me!”

“Where are you going?” Scully demanded.

“To see the Gunmen — the answers are in that artifact

Scully, I keep trying to tell you that!”

“I will not pick you up off the floor again, Mulder…”

He finally succeeded in yanking his arm from her grasp.

“It’s not going to happen again…”

“How can you know that?”

He rolled his eyes; a huge annoyed sigh escaped his

lips. “I just do. Just like I was calculating the

procession of equinoxes yesterday, the astronomical

variances of planets and constellations and their

alignments within a given century and comparing them

to ancient calendars and even though I don’t have a

clue as to why I was doing it I discovered that every

single one of them came up with the same date,

December of the year 2,012. The Mayan calendar, the

most accurate calendar in the world, one that has

existed for centuries ends in December of that year.

The Egyptians worked it out too. There’s got to be

some significance. And that, whatever I was working on

there,” he said pointing to the papers on the desk, “has

something to do with an energy source. Chemistry,

astrophysics, Scully, have you ever known me to know

anything about that? It’s like I suddenly have this

knowledge and its here in my fron for a reason and I’m

more certain than anything that the answer to why is

written on that artifact and I’ll know how to read it.”

She was certain he hadn’t taken a breath in that long

tirade and now he just stood there in front of her waiting

for some form of acknowledgement from her that she

understood what he was trying to tell her. She didn’t

know what to say to him. Somewhere in there he’d

dropped another word that didn’t make sense, fron?

What did that mean? In the context it was used she

had assumed he’d meant his head and yet that’s not at

all what he’d said. All she was certain of was that he’d

almost died three days ago and without any other

explanation somehow that artifact had contributed to his

collapse. She would not let him touch that thing again.

“Okay, look,” he said wiping his face in frustration.

“There have been a lot of recent discoveries in the fields

of archeology and geology that indicate that the many of

earth’s early civilizations were tied together somehow;

that they all came from a common ancestral past. The

names have been changed but their stories are all

pretty much the same. Written in these myths and

legends is the history of mankind on a global scale.

The ruins and artifacts that have been discovered are

full of clues to a past we’ve only just begun to

understand because the ability to understand them has

been lost to us. Somewhere in our past is the key to

our future. What if someone had a connection to that

past, could understand what was written?”

“And you think that it’s you?”

Mulder shrugged into his jacket. “Do you remember

what Chuck said about the characters on the rubbing?

What a Magic Square is-a way of trapping power to the

person whose name or numerical correlative exercises

the power written there?”

Scully closed her eyes and then opened them again to

find Mulder standing there still waiting from some

response from her. “Mulder, that rubbing was a fake.”

“You believe that?” He swung away from her and then

turned around, using his hands to animate his speech.

“Then why did it affect me the way it did? What about

what happened the other day? Or hell, why did you go

all the way to Africa for God’s sakes? You told me that

what you found there were not only religious texts but a

map of the human genome; a key to life itself. Maybe

that rubbing of that artifact wasn’t meant for me, on the

other hand, maybe this artifact is. Maybe it maps my

genome or somehow altered my genetic code. You

remember what we saw in Gibson.”

“So you’re telling me that you think this little piece of a

greater whole that Ngebe sent me — she sent it to ME,

Mulder, has somehow given YOU some super power

to connect to another civilization or whomever or

whatever created that artifact?”

Mulder shrugged, spread his hands in supplication.

“See, it’s like I told you years ago, we don’t need to

work on our communication skills, you understand me

perfectly.”

Scully crossed her arms across her chest, “That is

ridiculous, Mulder.”

“What? The part about you understanding me or me

being a super human?”

Scully turned away from him, dropping her arms down,

“Dammit, Mulder, you can’t just flip a switch and change

someone’s DNA, it doesn’t work that way. Many people

who have returned from a near death experience

believe they’ve acquired some sort of psychic ability…”

“NDE? Oh, that’s good Scully; let me get out my diary.”

“But, I think what you’re experiencing has to do with

what happened to you the other day, your body went

through a very traumatic event and you need rest. I

think these hallucinations of yours are more of a post

traumatic stress syndrome than anything else.”

He glared at her suddenly. “You know, I used to enjoy

this technique you have of always trying to rationalize

everything I say, but right now I think it’s a bunch of bull

crap.” He stalked back to the desk and picked up a file

and thrust it at her. “You remember this? Those are

the DNA results from the claw we found in Arizona.

DNA you told me matched the alien virus, the virus you

were exposed to. The same DNA you found in Gibson.

Junk DNA that is found in all of us, what you called a

genetic remnant that in Gibson was turned on. What if

that artifact turned something on in me?”

“Mulder…” She wasn’t sure whether he was just being

thickheaded or he really had gone over the edge. “First

of all,” she shook the file at him. “This only proves that

it’s a common trait in all of our DNA.”

“A common ancestral past.”

“It doesn’t prove you can turn it on and off. It’s not

possible.”

He grabbed the file from her and threw it back on the

desk. “You want proof, well then fine,” he grabbed her

hand and started to pull her towards the door but she

stood her ground.

“We are not going to see the Gunmen!”

“I know, we’re going up to the lab, I want you to run a

PCR.”

“Mulder…”

Not letting go of her hand he turned back, “I need your

help here Scully. I need you to help me prove the

impossible. Have a little faith.”

His last comment made her angry. “Don’t question my

faith, Mulder.”

He dropped her hand, his eyes met hers and a gentle

smile curved his lips. “Faith is believing in something

when common sense tells you not to.” He turned and

took a few steps towards the door, “You coming?”

She stood there watching his back disappear out the

door. “Isn’t that from MIRACLE ON 34th…?” Her

shoulders slumped again, damn him. She turned and

grabbed the papers from the desk.

F.B.I. LABS

She placed the last vile of blood in the container and

gently pulled the needle from his arm, placing a cotton

ball over the puncture wound. “Hold that for a few

minutes.” Mulder watched her label the vials in

preparation for the test. No one had questioned them

when they had entered the lab and even though they

were getting a few questionable looks from the other

technicians, most of them seemed to accept that this

was just another round of far out investigations from the

pair in the basement office. She turned around and

without saying a word angrily placed a Band-Aid over

the cotton. He started to roll his sleeve back down.

“How long will it take?”

“I’m going to call you a cab. I want you to go home like I

asked you to before.”

As she started to step away he quickly grabbed her,

sliding his hand down her arm making her turn back to

him. “I don’t want us to argue over this Scully. I know

you’re concerned. Jason thinks I need a shrink but as

far as I’m concerned you’re the only doctor that can help

me here. That’s all I’m asking.”

She finally looked at him. With her standing and him

still sitting on the table where she’d drawn his blood

they were eye to eye. What she finally saw in those

eyes shocked her. He was frightened, literally scared to

death and he knew she was the only person who could

understand that fear. With a quick glance around the

lab she placed her hands on either side of his tired face,

stroked his cheeks with her thumbs. “We’ll get through

this Mulder, I promise you this.”

She watched him close his eyes, his dark lashes

coming to rest against his face. He turned his head a

little and as his lips came into contact with her right

hand, he gently kissed her palm. “I’m going to believe

that,” he whispered.

MULDER’ S TOWNHOUSE 8:10P.M.

**

The sun beat down overhead, a relentless heat that

never seemed to end. The work was laborious, cutting

the limestone to precise measurements required

intricate skill if it were to fit in its place on the pyramid.

The tools they used had been given to them by the

gods and possessed a magic he didn’t understand

anymore than he understood why they had all been

assembled to build this great monolith; a huge square

that, as it rose steadily from the sand, tapered into a

point aimed at the heavens.

Unlike other temples that were being built to

commemorate gods or pharaohs; this one was to be

different. Larger than anything else on the plateau, it

dwarfed the men who worked on it. Travelers from

other villages said it could be seen far off into the desert,

its golden tip like a beacon in the sun. Within its walls

chambers were being cut but their purpose was as yet

unclear. No pharaoh would make his trip to the next

world from this place. Its purpose remained a mystery.

He was hungry and thirsty now. The water bearers

didn’t come often enough in this heat and the sweat

dripped from his brow, his hands throbbing from broken

blisters. As he worked on the block near the edge of

the quarry his footing began to slip, the block tilting ever

so slightly in his direction. The huge block of limestone

could crush him in an instant if he were to become

trapped beneath it. He continued to work; shaping the

block into the precise measurements he’d been given.

More gravel slipped from beneath his feet and he

scrambled for better footing.

Fear griped him as he realized the more he scrambled

the more the gravel gave way cascading down into the

quarry below. The block leaned more precariously in

his direction and then suddenly let go. His arms came

up to brace against the block in a feeble attempt to stop

the monolith from crushing him. He screamed for help

but all his co-workers could do was watch as he and the

huge stone tumbled down into the quarry together.

**

Scully could hear the television as she opened the door.

It was dark in the room with the exception of the light

from the television, a couple of men droning on about

basketball on some sports talk show. She was about to

toss her keys onto the table when she noticed Mulder

sitting in the armchair, one leg on the ottoman, his head

thrown back, asleep. She set her things down on the

table and walked across the room. As she approached

him she could see his face was somewhat flushed,

sweat beaded his forehead. Sitting down on the

ottoman next to his leg she gently rubbed it to wake him.

She wasn’t sure who was more startled when he awoke

with a gasp and sat up abruptly, his eyes wide. She

dropped the envelope she had brought home with her,

placing her hands on his shoulders.

“Oh God, Mulder, I’m sorry,” touching him she could feel

him trembling under her hands.

Realization finally crossed his face and he dropped his

head, running a hand through his hair, “Shit.”

“You were having another dream, weren’t you?”

He sat back, “Yeah, you could say that.” She watched

him as he inspected his hands and then his head went

back against the back of the chair and he closed his

eyes again. “What did you find?” As she bent to

retrieve the envelope she realized that he had asked

almost as if he already knew the answer.

She slid the PCR results from the envelope, biting her

lip as she did so. What she now had in her lap was

something she had told him was impossible only hours

ago. He didn’t wait for her to say anything. Reaching

over; he slid them from her grip and held the first one up.

It was dated a few years ago though he couldn’t

remember the reason it had been done. When he

placed the current one on top of it and held them up

together the evidence of what he believed stared right

back at him. There were obvious anomalies in the

latest scan. “It’s just like Gibson, Mulder.” Her voice

was hesitant, barely above a whisper. “I don’t

understand it, but you were right. It’s as if somehow

inactive DNA has suddenly been turned on.”

“So I’m no longer a DNA match for myself huh?”

She smiled a little, “Something like that. Mulder

whatever is causing this; we have to find a way to treat

this, these delusions of yours. Look at you, you’re

exhausted.”

A sudden look of disgust crossed his face. “Pump me

full of Thorazine? I don’t think anything your doctor

friend has in his medicine chest will cure this.” He sat

up a little, looked down at the films he still held in his

hands. “I’m not delusional, Scully. It’s something else.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know,” he said looking up to meet her eyes. “It’s

like I have this connection to something — something

ancient. I think these dreams are clues –clues to

answers you and I have been searching for all these

years. I just need you to bear with me a while, stop

being my doctor. I need you as a friend

Scully.”

As frightened as she knew he still was, as worried as

she was for him, she understood how he felt. “Mulder,”

she rubbed his leg that still extended across the

ottoman. “I have been and always shall be your friend.

What do you need me to do?”

Pulling his leg from beside her and placing both feet on

the floor in front of him, Scully watched as Mulder took

the envelope from her lap and without a word slid both

the films back into it. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“Has anyone else seen these?”

“No one, I ran the test myself. I have the only results.

When I knew what I was looking at I destroyed the rest

of the blood samples.”

“Good because I don’t want to end up as a test subject

for anyone but you.”

5:14 A.M.

He came awake in a cold sweat. The dream from

earlier had come back with a vengeance only now he

was fairly certain of where he had been. Egypt, for

centuries it had been the Mecca of culture. Home to a

civilization as old as creation itself, the birthplace of a

library of wisdom and knowledge so complete it would

today awe any scientist. He’d stood in the great Library

of Alexandria, its halls filled with ancient scrolls and

texts said to have been the greatest collection of

scientific knowledge in the ancient world. Many today

wonder what science would be like had the contents of

this great library not been destroyed.

He had then found himself in a great labyrinth,

incredible underground chambers filled with

breathtakingly colorful paintings and connected by

intricate hallways filled with ancient Egyptian

hieroglyphs. His hands had scrolled down the text,

reading stories from civilizations older than the

Egyptians themselves. Stories of a people who came

from another land bringing with them their mathematical

and scientific knowledge, architectural knowledge, star

charts, maps and the formulae for sources of incredible

energy that made it possible to travel from one world to

the next.

Within these walls were written the history of the world,

not as he knew it but as it had actually happened,

secrets of a civilization that had flourished on a global

scale thousands of years ago, before recorded history

and that had vanished in the blink of an eye leaving little

evidence of its existence. What he knew without a doubt

was that this incredible place contained more

knowledge than his muddled human brain could ever

begin to assimilate. It made his head hurt and he sat up

quietly, putting his feet on the floor and resting his

throbbing head in his hands.

He’d been here before, he realized, on this bridge

between two worlds where he had to decide between

life and death. This however was not a choice between

life and death; it was a different bridge, one that in one

direction would lead him back to a time when the world

was a different place, one that even the history books

failed to mention. He could feel the pull like a magnet,

almost as if it were beckoning him to come back to a

place he’d been before, perhaps were we’d all been

before-on the brink of the future. Something pulled at

his memory, a date he’d seen calculated in the drawings

within the labyrinth, a date he’d calculated himself only

days ago, 2,012; the date the Maya believed signaled

the end of the present world. He closed his eyes in

resignation. He’d once told Scully that life wasn’t

governed by fate, that we had the free will to choose

and that it was those choices that ultimately determined

our fate. What would happen if he gave in to these

ancient memories? Would he lose himself or become

gifted with their knowledge? With every choice you

change your fate he’d told her. He realized he now had

a choice to make.

He pulled at the tee shirt that stuck to his chest; he

needed to get out of the room, to think out what he had

just experienced.

As he moved to get off the bed Scully’s hand came to

rest on his back, her sleepy voice questioning his

movements. “Mulder?”

He hadn’t realized he had awoken her and he turned

around to find her looking at him with concern. “Hey,

I’m sorry,” he brushed her shoulder and took her hand

in his. “I can’t’ sleep, I’m just going to go downstairs for

a while. Go back to sleep.” He leaned over, kissed her

softly and started to slide off the bed.

“You won’t tell me what’s troubling you, will you?”

Standing up he looked down at her. “I will, I promise

you, when I can figure it out for myself.”

She listened to him pad down the stairs, heard the

refrigerator door open and close, the television come

then muted? And finally, she heard the unmistakable

opening and closing of the front door.

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Despite the chilly morning he’d already worked up a

sweat by the time he reached Georgetown’s athletic

field. Dawn was barely breaking the eastern horizon

and he found himself alone on the track. He made the

first few laps at his usual pace and then the scenery

around him began to change. He felt the earth shudder

beneath him and looked down to find the track’s surface

had changed to cobblestone. As he ran he realized he

was no longer running on Georgetown’s track but

darting through ancient village streets as structures

crumbled around him. The sounds became deafening,

a thunderous roar came from the earth and the people

that ran with him screamed. The ground continued to

tremble, huge fissures opened, ash fell like snow

coating him and sucking the air from his lungs. He ran

harder but there seemed to be no escape from the

terror as the world fell apart around him.

Hundreds of people filled the streets, running together;

many of them falling only to be crushed beneath the

feet of fellow villagers. He ran with them, a terrified mob

running down the hill to the harbor below. When they

reached the sea, people were scrambling to get into

anything that would float, while others just swam out

into the churning waters. Mulder could feel himself

being pushed along with them.

The ground shook again, pushing up and then dropping

from beneath him as he tried to outrun the surge of

people who were carrying him into the sea thrashing

and clawing at each other in fear. He found himself

being carried out with them away from the sinking land,

hundreds of people seeking some sort of safety in the

familiar waters. As they drifted out many of them clung

to boats and rafts as the water frothed and churned

around them. A hand reached out to grab him and he

took it. The arm pulled him tightly against the boat’s hull

and he clung to it desperately as the boat drifted away

from land. Other boats gathered with them, the

screaming had now stopped and silence fell over the

scene as they all watched their home sink beneath the

sea.

**

Scully hadn’t waited long before she dressed and

headed out the door after Mulder. She knew where

he’d go, one of the reasons he’d moved here,

Georgetown University’s athletic field. She spotted him

on the track, not running at that easy jog he was

comfortable with but running as if the hounds of hell

themselves were after him. The closer she got she

could see him glancing back, his face an image of terror

from the unseen force that she knew he imagined was

after him.

He was on the other side of the track and she yelled his

name but got no response. There was no point in

chasing after him; she’d never catch him until he fell in

exhaustion so she waited until he came around the

track.

His shirt was soaked with sweat; rivers of it ran down

his face, his hair plastered to his head. She waved at

him trying to gain his attention but he ignored her, she

could hear him panting as he approached her. At a loss

as to what else to do she made the only move she knew

would stop him, she tackled him bringing them both

down in a heap on the rough surface of the track. He

started to thrash about, gasping for air and kicking as if

he were trying to swim away from her.

“Mulder! Mulder!” She crawled on top of him, pawing at

him as she tried to pull his arms to his sides to calm this

irrational fear he was enveloped in but he continued to

fight her. “Mulder, stop! It’s me, Scully! You’re okay,

you’re safe! She grabbed his head with both hands and

forced him to look at her. “Stop it, relax, it’s over.” She

tried to be calm but the truth was her own heart was

pounding almost as fast as the one she felt pounding in

his chest.

She watched his face as he came back to her, his

breathing slowing a little. She was still sitting on top of

him. “Take it easy, just breathe Mulder.”

He took a huge gulp of air. “You know,” he gulped

again. “Any other time I’d — I’d find this position

incredibly erotic.”

She rolled her eyes and then closed them in submission

before gently climbing off of him and helping him into a

sitting position. “Just sit for a minute, I’ve got some

water.” Patting him on the shoulders she got up and

went to get the backpack she’d dropped.

He was trying to wipe the sweat from his eyes with his

soaked shirt when she got back, handing him the towel

she’d brought along. He looked up with a thankful

expression and took it. Neither of them said anything

for a while. Mulder drank the water she’d offered and

slung the towel over his shoulders, he was actually

starting to feel cold as the sweat began to dry. When

Scully saw him shiver she produced a sweatshirt from

her pack and offered it to him.

“You wouldn’t happen to have an ounce of sanity in that

pack would you?”

“I wish I did Mulder. Come on…”

He chugged the rest of the water before letting her help

him stand and pull the sweatshirt over his wet head.

“You need to get dry and warmed up and then we need

to get you some help.”

“I don’t need a doctor, Scully.”

She paused for a moment, reluctant to agree with him

but knowing now that it was the only way. She faced

him, took his hand, “I know, I’m taking you to see the

Gunmen.”

OFFICE OF THE LONE GUNMEN

It took Frohike several minutes to open the assortment

of locks that secured their door. He smiled when he

opened the door to find the two of them standing there.

“Mulder my man, you gotta stop scaring us like this,” he

quipped in reference to Mulder’s latest hospital stay as

the agents passed by him.

“Yeah, another trip back from the dead. We’re

beginning to wonder if you don’t have some biblical

power.” Byers said as he gave Mulder a friendly hug.

“Don’t encourage him boys, he’s doodling again,” Scully

did not sound amused as she handed Byers the latest

of Mulder’s writings.

He took the papers from her and leafed through them.

“You know, I think I can tell you what this is — or at least

the theory behind it.”

“You’re kidding right?” Mulder seemed somewhat

astonished that Byers was able to make anything out of

his drawings.

“No, not at all. I think what you have here is a power

source, one that has baffled scientist for centuries with

its simplicity. It was nicknamed

Brown’s Gas because a scientist in California, Yull

Brown actually built a generator using it.”

“What sort of a power source?” Byers’ comments had

gotten Scully’s attention.

“It’s a combination of hydrogen and oxygen that burns

at a low temperature and yet can burn holes through

bricks or weld different types of metals together.

Basically water, when decomposed into its primitive

elements by electricity, produces a clean, limitless,

pollution free energy source.” Langly piped in.

“So this is no scientific breakthrough then?”

“Actually Jules Verne alluded to it in THE

MYSTERIOUS ISLAND back in 1874. If you remember,

the characters in the story end up on a remote island

when their balloon crashes. At one point in the novel

they’re all sitting around the campfire discussing what

will happen when the world runs out of coal. Harding,

the book’s scientific genius exclaims, water! And then

goes on to explain how one day the engine rooms of

steamers and locomotives will be stocked with these

two condensed gases which will burn with immense

power…it will be the coal of the future.” Leave it to

Frohike to add a little color to the conversation.

“But seriously Mulder, the history dates back further

than that.” Byers continued. “It’s believed that the

Egyptians and Mayans used something similar to

electroplate gold. There have been many discoveries of

ancient batteries that would have supplied the electric

current. All I’m saying is that what you have here is

something using that theory but in a much more

powerful sense.”

“When you combine hydrogen and oxygen you get an

explosion, remember the Hindenburg?” Scully asked.

“That’s the thing; it took years for Brown to figure out

how to combine the gases to prevent that. What he

eventually discovered was that by combining them in

the exact same proportions as they are found in water

you get an implosion not an explosion. Add a little

flame to it and you get something similar to a welder’s

torch.”

Scully was intrigued. “So how does this produce an

energy source?”

“There’s the mystery, Agent Scully. Nobody knows for

certain. It has something to do with how the

combination reacts with the material it’s being used on.

The Chinese actually used a similar generator in their

submarines to dispose of nuclear waste because of the

gas’s ability to detoxify it. The possibilities would be

endless if we could understand the chemistry.”

“Do those diagrams help you understand the

chemistry?” Mulder asked.

Langly, who’d been sitting at one of the workstations

suddenly jumped away from it as movement caught his

eye. “Hey! Watch out!” Both Mulder and Scully turned

as Langly cried out. He’d been working on the artifact,

attempting to decode the writings on it when it had

suddenly begun to turn, rotate of its own accord, lifting

from the table and flying across the room in the

direction of his friends. Byers’ and Scully’s natural

reaction was to duck, it sailed right over Frohike and

they all watched as Mulder stabbed it like a line drive.

“Mulder!” Scully voice pierced the silence.

He looked up at the sound of her voice, caught her face

alarmed with fear, at the look of astonishment on the

faces of his three friends and then they all faded from

his vision. He now found himself in the midst of chaos.

Hundreds of people, but not human, running and

screaming as heat and smoke consumed them; a world,

much like our own, dying in an instant. And then he

was somewhere else, another world. Grays, as he’d

fondly always called them, their eyes even larger than

he thought possible, their long slender finger tips

pressed against a glass, gripping it in some attempt to

reach out to a world they would never see again.

More visions passed through his mind. Other worlds,

light years from here all being consumed by a force

their inhabitants could not fight; something greater than

them, something greater than he. It was he realized the

natural, universal force of the cosmos that had lasted

since creation and would continue for all time. A force

that made this fight he and Scully had been consumed

in feel suddenly silly and absurd.

Mulder’s heart pounded in his chest. Was this earth’s

future he was witnessing? What possible recourse

could any of them have? From somewhere he heard a

familiar voice, felt the touch of a warm hand on his

trying desperately to bring him back.

The visions continued. The earth, he recognized; as

seen from above. Flashes of stone temples, monolithic

statues, laid out in patterns across the landscapes;

artwork etched in the plains, reminders of a civilization

the world knew little about, left as a warning. Voices

now filled his head, ancient languages he didn’t

recognize but understood. Whispering to him of

voyages across the vastness of the universe, of finding

a new home on a small green planet, and using a highly

technical knowledge to influence the peoples they found

there. His head was filled with a consciousness of the

ages, voices of the past whispering to him a warning for

the future.

The images changed again, to driving rains, torrents

that swelled rivers and oceans consuming the entire

planet in an endless sea and washing away the

evidence of these mysterious visitors. He found himself

panting for breath, unable to suck enough air into his

lungs it made him dizzy. Then a voice came again, a

familiar one, warm and reassuring, “Mulder…”

“Do you want me to call 911?” Another voice, familiar to

his ears broke through the haze of visions. Frohike and

the others had watched while Scully tried to reach

Mulder. He’d stood there frozen in place, holding the

artifact. His eyes glazed over, pupils dilated and

unresponsive; his breathing erratic.

“Mulder, please, give it to me,” she pleaded with him,

her palm outstretched.”

She reached to take if from him but he waved her off;

turning it over in his hands, caressing the face with his

fingertips. He was back now, in the present. “I’m okay,”

he whispered softly to her; moving a few steps away in

order to read the script. “I WILL DESTROY MEN,

WHOM I HAVE CREATED, FROM THE FACE OF THE

EARTH, FROM MAN EVEN TO BEASTS, FROM THE

CREEPING THING EVEN TO THE FOWLS OF THE

AIR, FOR IT REPLENTETH ME THAT I HAVE MADE

THEM.”

No one said a word. Scully met Mulder’s eyes, “The

Bible, Mulder?”

“No, Scully,” Mulder said, shaking his head ever so

slightly. “It’s from them, a warning maybe,” he looked

up. “A story passed down through the ages.”

He finally handed her the tile. No, she did not believe

this. The genesis of the human race was not alien

despite what she knew Mulder believed. But what if

there had been alien intervention somewhere along the

way? This virus they’d chased across the world, could it

possibly be evidence of an ancient civilization…a far

more advance civilization that once flourished here?

Did that explain the sudden advancements in evolution

and technology that have yet to be explained by

science? More frightening yet was what if Mulder was

right, that this artifact was somehow linked to it and

somehow it did trigger something in his DNA, turned

something on in him like they’d seen in Gibson? It was

Byers who broke the silence.

“We — ah — haven’t been able to identify the material.

Jesus, Mulder, you can read that?”

“A passage from The Bible,” Frohike took the artifact

from Scully. “What would a verse from The Bible be

doing on-on something…?”

Mulder turned around, his eyes glistened. “Something

alien,” he nodded towards Scully, “She doesn’t believe it

and yet she found evidence of it in Africa.

Religious texts from The Bible, The Koran, human

genetic codes; the power of God himself inscribed on a

ship that washed ashore on the Ivory Coast. You’ve got

to get in touch with Ngebe, Scully, find out where she

got the piece she sent you. Maybe she knew how it

would affect me. The falatus came from that artifact; I’m

not cruvus about this.” He stood there while four pairs of

eyes looked at him like he’d grown another head.

“What?”

“What did you say?”

“I said the ability came from the artifact. I know I’m not

wrong about it.”

Scully shook her head wearily. “No, that’s not what you

said the first time. You said something like ‘the falatus

came from the artifact…’

“What the hell does that mean?”

“I don’t know, you said it!”

Frohike was hacking away at one of the computers, “It’s

similar to Medieval Latin. You take Latin in school

Mulder?”

“NO, I did not take Latin in school!” he swiped angrily at

his eyes, destroying the evidence of just how upset he

was becoming over this. “Look, are you guys gonna

help me here or not?”

“Hey,” Frohike approached his friend. “Just tell us

what’s going on, what you need, man.”

Mulder’s eyes flashed to Scully. “I’m not real sure I’m

Fox Mulder anymore.”

1:15 P.M.

Mulder had explained what he’d seen in his earlier

visions; in the hospital, at home, the terrifying escape

he’d experienced on the track. How he’d felt himself

become a part of them. How he was sure the first one

had something to do with the Mayans and that in the

second he had found himself in ancient Egypt. He had

no recollection of where he was in this last one but had

proceeded to draw a map of a landmass that Byers was

now studying along with all the other drawings and

calculations Mulder had been working on the past few

days.

Langly and Frohike had gone off to another workstation

to go over the PCR results and scans that Scully had

brought from the hospital. The four of them had been so

busy that none of them had noticed that Mulder had

plopped himself on the couch in exhaustion and

eventually drifted off to sleep.

**

Around him lay the ruins of a ravaged civilization he

recognized all too well. Monuments he’d passed

everyday, buildings whose purpose now seemed

incidental. Visions of the world he knew that suddenly

seemed to be no more. But it was not the desolate

wasteland he had assumed it would be. Instead it was

alive, green and filled with the voices of the future;

people, hundreds of them. Who had picked up the

pieces of a shattered lifestyle and rebuilt them into

something new and different and better than before. It

felt peaceful here, simpler; as if the earth had been

cleansed, the sky brighter, the water clearer, the air

fresher. A new world, risen from the old much like what

he now knew had happened before.

His eye caught a movement to his left, he turned. A

man was standing next to him, a man he also

recognized. The man whose image he’d seen in a

bathroom mirror a few days ago. They stood there

together watching a new life being recreated from death

of the old. It was that same universal force engaged in

it’s never ending cycle. The man said nothing to Mulder

but somehow an understanding grew in his mind; an

understanding that he’d just been given a sneak peak at

the future and a very real message of hope.

**

“This is a map of Antarctica,” Byers said turning to

Scully who had been sitting with him.

“How can that be?” She felt a sudden chill. “What

Mulder described sounded almost Mediterranean. Why

would he be drawing that? Antarctica is a frozen

wasteland.”

“That might not have always been the case. Do you

know what earth-crust displacement is?”

“The theory that the earth’s crust is in constant

movement?”

“It’s much more than a theory. Every time you have an

earthquake, it’s an example of displacement. There is

however, a theory that at one point in the earth’s history

Antarctica was much warmer that it is today. That at

one point parts of the continent were located some

2,000 or so miles further north, outside the Antarctic

Circle in a more temperate climatic zone. Ever hear of

the Piri Reis Map?”

“An ancient map of the globe?”

“An extremely accurate map, here look at this,” Byers

clicked into a website that brought up the map he had

been referring too. When he and Scully compared the

map to the one Mulder had drawn they found them

alarmingly similar. “Reis was a sixteenth century

Turkish sailor and the author of a sailing book filled with

comprehensive descriptions of land masses, ports and

harbors of the Mediterranean. His source maps were

probably housed in the Imperial Library at

Constantinople and may have originally come from the

Library at Alexandria.”

“How would such a library contain maps of Antarctica?”

“Better yet look at this,” Byers acknowledged. Clicking

into yet another website, he continued, “This is a current

geological survey map of the Antarctic continent under

the ice. When I transpose them all together…” Scully

watched as the three maps came together in an almost

identical fashion. “There were no geological surveys of

the planet in the sixteenth century Scully, as far as we

know the people of the Mediterranean didn’t even know

Antarctica existed, let alone how to map it. Only

someone with an aerial view of the planet would be able

to map this so accurately.”

“I don’t understand how this relates to the vision Mulder

had.”

“Maybe it’s where he was in the vision.”

“Hey, Agent Scully, you should take a look at this.”

Langly called from across the room. She and Byers

came over to look at the images displayed on the

screens in front of the two men. “These are the PCR

scans of Gibson you brought us a few years back,”

Langly pointed to the right screen. “And these are

Mulder’s,” Frohike said pointing to the other screen.

“You can see the similarities in the areas we highlighted.

We all know by looking at this older scan of Mulder’s

that these anomalies didn’t exist a few years ago. “You

said that Mulder had been exposed to a virus years ago.

Viruses are known to leave markers in DNA, you’ve

heard of gene therapy…” She looked at him in disbelief,

he sighed. “Well, then you explain it.”

“I can’t explain it! I was also exposed to a virus guys

and I’m not experiencing any of these visions.”

“You know we all assumed that Gibson had been born

with his abilities but this indicates that it’s possible to

literally turn genes on with the right stimulus. What we

see here are active genetic remnants, genes that

science will tell you there is no explanation for.”

“Maybe because we have no use for them anymore?”

Scully questioned her mind suddenly drifting back to

what Mulder had said in their office about us losing the

ability to understand the words of our ancestors.

“Sadly, you’re probably right. As we’ve advance

technologically, we find we no longer need our instincts

to guide us. Look at all those people who perished in

Asia and yet the animals had the good sense to run for

higher ground.” Langly was not amused. “Millions are

spent each year on warning systems set up to warn us

of danger because it seems we no longer have the

ability to sense it. We’ve lost touch with the earth

around us because we sit inside watching television

instead of watching the sunset.”

“You should talk.” Frohike quipped.

“Hey, I didn’t say I wasn’t just as guilty as the next

person but it’s the truth. Mulder’s afraid he’s become

some sort of super human when maybe all he really is,

is more human than the rest of us.”

“But why me, what are these visions trying to tell me?”

They all turned at the sound of Mulder’s voice. He’d

been so quiet they’d almost forgotten he was there. He

didn’t move to get up from the couch; he just continued

to sit there slumped against the back cushion with his

legs spread, his mind still reeling from his latest dream.

“If we’re to assume that this artifact came from the same

ship as the rubbing and it’s some sort of key to

unlocking human potential then what is the likelihood

that Ngebe would find the piece that was meant for

me?”

“I’d have to say highly unlikely Mulder.”

“Have you been able to reach her?” Mulder asked,

getting up to get a closer look at what they’d all been

working on.

“I called the university, she no longer teaches there,”

Scully answered.

“So the answer to that question is, no.”

“No, I have not been able to reach her.” Scully’s reply

was curt.

“I think we might have an answer to your question

though Mulder,” Byers motioned for him to join him at

his computer.

“This man you saw in the mirror, the pale figure with the

white beard?” Byers questioned. “Legends of the

Andes people describe a similar figure. He has different

names in different places but he’s always recognized as

the same figure, a tall bearded pale skin man wrapped

in a cloak of secrecy. Viracocha, Foam of the Sea, a

master of science and magic who wielded terrible

weapons and who came in a time of chaos to set things

right with the world.”

Byers clicked a command into his computer and the

image Mulder had seen in the hospital appeared on the

screen. “As the legend goes he appeared when the

world had been inundated by a great flood and plunged

into darkness; society falling into ruin and disorder.

With his powers he created hills and valleys of lush

earth from the destruction and taught the people how to

live with love and harmony.”

“Similar legends exist in other cultures,” Frohike took up

the narrative. “Quetzalcoatl is the Mayan equivalent;

he’s credited with the invention of the advanced

mathematical and calendrical formula that the Maya

used to create their calendar of doom. Similar I might

add to what you used to calculate the very same date,

2,012. There’s Kon Tiki and Isis and Osiris; Native

Americans speak of the White Buffalo Woman, even

Christ can be seen as this figure.

clip_image008

A quick search or mythology from around the world

reveals other striking similarities. Legends from

different peoples all living in different corners of

the earth seem to tell the same essential story-that

somewhere in humanity’s past certain individuals with

godlike powers were responsible for shaping mankind

into a civilized state.”

“Wait a minute,” Mulder turned to Frohike in shock at

what he assumed his friend was referring to. “I don’t

have any godlike powers and I’m certainly not the

reincarnation of Jesus Christ!”

“Hey, easy man,” Langly patted his friend on the

shoulder and walked around to face him. “For a long

time these stories have been dismissed as myth but

with the advances in geology and archeology

researchers are starting to realize that there is a lot of

truths in the ancient myths. Evidence is coming to light

of the possible existence of a highly advance civilization

that once flourished here on earth. You know the story

of Atlantis, right, the mysterious continent whose

civilization was swallowed by the sea? There are a lot

of similarities in the Mayan and Egyptian cultures

leading to a very popular theory that these people are

the descendents of Atlanteans.”

“It’s a story, Langly, a myth.” Mulder said with disgust,

he stepped a few feet away and then turned around.

“There’s no evidence that Atlantis has ever existed. If,

as you’re suggesting, this highly advance civilization

lived on this mythical continent; how is it possible for

them to disappear so thoroughly that even with our

modern scientific knowledge we can’t say for certain

that they ever existed?”

“You’re not listening, Mulder.” Byers came over and

gently steered Mulder to a stool and made him sit on it.

“Maybe they just haven’t found it yet. The Bible is filled

with myth. Do you know that the story of Noah, the

great flood, exists in almost every culture on the globe?

It predates The Bible. Natives believe that the earth

has passed through different ‘worlds’ in its history. Hopi

myth tells us that the first world was destroyed as a

punishment for human misdemeanors by an all-

consuming fire. The second by ice and the third world

ended in a universal flood, that very same Noah story.

They believe the fate of the present world depends on

how the people behave in accordance to the Creator’s

wishes.

There is other evidence, a lot of it; written in the codes

of ancient civilizations all over the world, codes which

are only now slowly coming to light. Discoveries in

archeology have found that many sacred sites across

the globe like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid and other

mystical structures scattered across the globe might

have been built to preserve and transmit the knowledge

of an advance civilization. Some have even suggested

these sites are a warning system left behind for future

reference if we could only figure out how to use them.”

“Listen to this.” Frohike added as he watched Mulder

roll his eyes. The guys were on a roll and all he and

Scully could do was listen as they continued to weave

their tale. “Egyptologists continue to insist the Great

Pyramid was built as a tomb but just about any

archeologist will tell you now that it is a lot older than

originally perceived and that no pharaoh was ever

buried in it. It’s an incredibly sophisticated design.

Each of its four sides aligns almost perfectly with points

on a compass. The height is proportional to the radius

of the earth and its perimeter to the circumference.

Measurements of its base halves yield the numbers

365.256 and 365.259, the number of days it takes for

the earth to orbit the sun. Back in 1957 satellite

technology was able to establish that the polar radius of

the earth was something like 150,265,030.4 inches.

One ten-millionth of this distance would be roughly

25,026 inches. This exact measurement is found at

least three times within the pyramid. The number

25,000 also happens to approximate the number of

years in the processional cycle, the time it takes for the

earth to pass through the twelve zodiacal constellations.

And here’s one more mystery for you. This 25,000-year

measurement is the most complex measurement we

know. It’s been shown that the shafts if the Great

Pyramid align perfectly with key stars of the Zodiac at

major changes in the houses of the Zodiac, like when

the earth passes from one sign to the next along the

line of procession. When you look at star charts from

the age of the last global catastrophe, they are

alarmingly similar to the charts you will see in the year

2,012. Mulder has them all printed out. Somehow, who

ever built the Great Pyramid was able to calculate this,

align these shafts so that they and the Zodiac would

come into alignment in much the same way once

again.”

“Procession of the Zodiac?” Scully asked. Mulder had

mentioned this in his own explanation of what he’d been

working on, she, needed some clarification.

“Here…” Frohike grabbed some of the papers from the

table Mulder was sitting at and handed them to Mulder.

“Mulder calculated it himself. Basically the

constellations of the Zodiac form a ring around the solar

system. Each year on the Spring Equinox the sun rises

within a particular constellation. Right now, it’s Pisces.

This goes on for around 2,000 or so years and then the

earth processes into the next constellation, this being

Aquarius. I know that sounds backwards, but trust me

on this. It’s called Procession, it takes about 25,000

years for the earth to pass though all twelve signs of the

zodiac and what’s remarkable is many of the ancient

civilizations were able to calculate it long before modern

day astronomers ever figured it out.”

“It’s a clock.” They all turned to Mulder who had been

studying the calculations.

“What’s a clock?” Langly asked.

“The Great Pyramid, a doomsday clock.”

“Ticking down to what?”

“You saw what happened in Asia, the terrible tsunami; it

was caused by a violent quake beneath the ocean,”

Frohike said. “Imagine if that happened on a global

scale. Geologists believe we’re on the verge of some

violent changes in the earth, a cataclysmic destruction

of the world as we know it. Numbers are a universal

language. If these calculations Mulder has worked out

are some kind of code, a way to determine the exact

date and moment of this catastrophe, think of the lives

that could be saved.”

“December, 2,012,” Mulder looked up at his audience,

“The beginning of a new age, the age of Aquarius.”

Three pairs of eyes seemed to believe him, the fourth,

those piercing blue ones, the only ones he had faith in,

did not.

“You all weave a clever story of gloom and doom here

but how does this all fit in with Mulder?”

“I think he already knows.” Frohike motioned with his

head towards Mulder who had stepped off the stool to

reach over and pick up the artifact again. “And I saw a

new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and

the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more.

They’re right Scully. The earth is covered with clues to

our past, the answers to where we’ve been and where

we’re going aren’t going to be found in the science of

the future. You said it yourself, the answers are there,

you just have to know where to look.

I don’t know if we’ll ever know who our progenitors were

or what happened to them, but a whole legacy of their

knowledge has been left for you to find. You have the

key now,” Mulder hefted the artifact. “That’s why Ngebe

sent this to you, I’m your key.”

She stood there looking at him, the boyish enthusiasm

he’d always possessed clearly evident in his eyes. Was

this truly his destiny? To be some conduit to the past

that would guide them to the future? She walked slowly

over to where he stood, wrapping her hand around his

wrist to find the pulse point and the evidence of his

excitement that she found there. He knew exactly what

she was doing; she could see it on his face. “Mulder,

listen to yourself, even if this were true, how do we

possibly find this information, how do you prove that this

knowledge of yours actually allows you to understand

any of it if we did?”

He pulled his hand from her grasp and flashed the

artifact in her face. “You’ve got to believe it, Scully. Nou

ani anquietas. Ego indeo navo locas hic qua videum.

You just won’t give up on this proof thing of yours will

you? I’ve been fighting this battle with you since I’ve

known you. You can accept the idea that God exists

without question but suggest that maybe we weren’t first

on his list and you need a room full of evidence. We’ll

here’s your evidence

Scully, it’s staring you right in the face!” He put the

artifact in her hand and then turned and walked to the

door, letting himself out as they all stood silently and

watched.

She stood there for a few minutes looking at the piece

of tile. The truth was she did believe where it had come

from. It was believing in how it had affected him that

frightened her most.

“We are the ancients.” Byers had been typing as

Mulder spoke, “Looking for a new location for our

legacy.”

“Do you want us to go after him? Frohike asked.

“No,” she shook her head with a small smile at his

concern.

“For what it’s worth Dana,” Byers came over to stand

beside her. “There’s a lot of truth in what he’s related to

you. The things he’s seen, the theories. The world is

filled with mysteries Scully. Thousands of books have

been written on the subject. The research continues.

Through it we’ve come to realize that early man was a

lot more advance than we ever imagined he could have

been. Proof? Maybe you only need to prove something

if it’s first been disproved elsewhere.”

“You shouldn’t believe everything you read, John.”

“No, but you should believe in him.”

“I do, I wish he understood that. I’m just afraid to

believe it could be true. I’m afraid of what this ability

could do to him.”

Langly came over and took the artifact from her. “He

seems okay now. It doesn’t seem to be affecting him

anymore.”

“Yeah, maybe it’s already worked its alien magic,”

Frohike made a vain attempt to lighten her mood.

“Mulder is NOT an alien, Melvin.”

“You know what one of the definitions of the word alien

is?” Byers asked. “Unlike one’s own, different. I think

that describes Mulder pretty well. I want to read you

something.” He leaned over and picked up some of

Mulder’s papers from the table, shuffling through them

until he found the one he was looking for. “I am the

Highest of All, the First, the Creator of Heaven and

Earth; I am the molder of the human bodies, and the

supplier of the Spiritual Parts. I have placed the sun

upon a new horizon as a sign of benevolence and proof

of the Alliance. In order to do so, the Commandments

of the Creator, verified by the

Highest of All, were, acting via the Souls of the

Ancestors, transmitted to the Youngest Ones.”

Frohike looked at Scully’s puzzled features. “It’s a

translation from the Egyptian BOOK OF THE DEAD; the

passage of knowledge from something far greater than

us. Ancient rites and wisdom coded in secrecy and

passed down through ancestral lines to a new place for

the legacy. History is filled with these inventive and

insightful individuals who are responsible for some of

the greatest leaps in our development. Mulder

understands this Scully though why he’s been selected

remains a mystery.

Why indeed. “Dammit Frohike, the Rosetta stone has

enabled the translation of hieroglyphs for years.” Scully

was not going to buy this sales pitch the guys had taken

up in Mulder’s cause.

“You’re right,” Byers acknowledged. “But most of the

time the translations are so filled with flagrant errors and

misinterpretations that nothing is left of the initial

meaning. To be able to understand their true meaning,

to interpret the messages that have been left for us as

Mulder believes he is able to do is a gift Scully; a gift

that maybe we should just accept without question.

“Oh God, John, if only it were that easy.”

“Well whatever has him reciting ancient scripture I don’t

think it’s something you want to broadcast to the world.

Somebody might lock him up and not because they

think he’s crazy.” Frohike walked back over to the table

he and Langly had been working at and picked up an

envelope which he proceeded to hand to Scully.

“You said someone took his old test records. You

better make damn sure they don’t get a hold of these.”

MULDER’S TOWNHOUSE

Scully finished putting away the dishes and turned the

lights off in the kitchen. Mulder had been sitting in the

car when she had left the Gunmen’s’ and they had

driven home in silence. They’d engaged in some off

topic conversation over dinner and then he’d

disappeared. She was still worried about him. How

would she convince him to seek medical help if these

dreams of his continued? Would he even tell her if they

did? Langly was right, he’d seemed fine when he left

their office. Could this nightmare finally be over? She

found Mulder stretched out on the couch in the living

room with a book of mythology propped on his lap. She

smiled and walked over to him. “Find any answers?”

Mulder put the book down, looked up to meet her eyes.

“You still think I’m nuts don’t you?”

“Actually I’d prefer that you were because it scares me

to death that you’re not.” She sat down next to him as

Mulder moved his legs over to make more room.

“All that gloom and doom stuff?”

“I believe in you Mulder, I always have. I want you to

know that even though I don’t know if I can believe what

you’ve been trying to tell me. Visions of the past,

ancient astronauts, the end of the world; two thousand,

twelve, Mulder, that’s only seven years away. It’s safer

not to believe any of it. Even if the answers are here

and by some miracle we could find them do you

honestly think that you and I can could convince a world

of non-believers in their authenticity?”

The truth was sometimes an ugly thing, especially when

you thought you knew what it was. “No, probably not;

they’d lock me up faster than your doctor friend was

threatening to do. But I think with the right information

your science could. It’s all about finding the future

Scully before the future finds us. Oo ya wolin wolin we

tayil” Mulder watched her freeze and then he smiled.

“That’s Mayan, says it right here, the enemy of my

enemy is my friend.” He closed the book and let it drop

to the floor beside them, reaching up to pull her close.

She settled in next to him and he wrapped his arms

around her. “Would it help if I told you that even though

the signs might point to the end of the world as we know

it, the next one will be a much better place?” She didn’t

look convinced. “Maybe we should have paid a little

more attention to all that harmonic philosophy your

sister used to try and pass off on us.”

Scully smiled into his shoulder, “She liked you Mulder.”

He hugged her closer. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to know her.

Now that I think about it, we had a lot in common.”

“Mulder?”

“Hmm?”

“Promise me I won’t lose you to these ancients?”

“You mean if I find myself reliving ancient history again

I’ll let you know?”

He felt her shiver in his embrace. She clutched at his

shirt. “I’m not kidding. That if you feel yourself slipping

away again you’ll let me help you hold on? If seven

years is all we have, if it’s all the time I have left to

spend with you I don’t want to think about living them

without you.”

He cuddled her closer and kissed her gently. “Then

don’t think about it, Scully. Carpe Diem”

“Seize the day?”

“Every minute of it.”

AUTHORS NOTES: This story is purely fiction. Not

being a scientist or anything remotely close, you’ll have

to accept my artistic license and conjecture.

There are a few facts thrown in for your enjoyment and

to get you thinking. I remember a television series that

was very good at that. If you’d like to explore some of

the ideas put forth here, take a trip down the New Age

aisle of your local bookstore; you’d be amazed what you

might find there. Reading about some of the earth’s

mysteries I’ve come to the conclusion that there truly

are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand.

Special thanks to all my ebuddies out there, Chris for

her constant poking, Vickie for her help, encouragement

and some great ideas and to Chuck for his beta help;

couldn’t do this without you.

And yes, there is a quote from Star Trek in here

somewhere.