Title: Dark Memories
Author: Jeanyus
Written: May 1995
Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Cancer Man, Skinner and all other X-Files characters are property of Ten FOurteen, Fox, and Chris Carter. No infringement is intended. However, all the other characters herein are *mine*! No infringement intended.

Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate seemingly "routine" serial kidnappings.

The woman stumbled along the streets of the outskirts of town, not knowing where she was going, not really caring. She just didn't want to be here. That was all she knew.

Those passing by thought her drunk, but that was as far from the truth as you could get. She'd never even been in a bar.

A tear dropped down her cheek for reasons not even known to her as she made a left turn.

She wandered out of the residential areas and headed for the woods. They seemed dark and foreboding. It didn't matter though. This was where she needed to go. What could she do?

She couldn't quite describe how she knew where to go. it was a sixth sense that would be harder to describe than trying to explain colors to a blind man. Yet, it was stronger than anything she'd felt before. She couldn't help but to do as it said.

Mulder sat amongst the clutter of his office and sighed as he popped another sunflower seed into his mouth.

"Mulder, where's the 'Tooms' file?" Scully questioned.

Mulder put his hand into a stack of folders under an "I WANT TO BELIEVE" poster and produced a manila colored folder, identical to the hundreds of others seen throughout the office.

"You know, Mulder, I don't-" but she was cut off by the buzz of the phone as Mulder reached for the receiver and smiled.

Mulder listened to the person on the other end and the smile faded as quickly as it had come.

"All right. I'll be right up."

"What's all that about?" Scully asked.

"Skinner wants to see us. It sounded like he read my report on my last case," he said, flashing another smile.

The made their way through the levels of the FBI building until they made it to the right floor and into his office as the secretary buzzed him.

"Mr. Skinner, Mulder and Scully are her to see you."

"Send them in."

Scully preceded Mulder into the office as if she protecting Mulder from Skinner.

"Mulder, Scully, have a seat," he said, not once bothering to smile or say "Hello."

"I've called you here to give you a new case. There's been a series of disappearances in Anchorage."

"Alaska?" Mulder interrupted.

"Yes, Agent Mulder, Alaska. As I was saying, there's been some murders in Anchorage, and you've been ordered to investigate."

"But why us?" Mulder argued. "What does this have to do with the X-Files?" he said.

"I don't know, Agent Mulder. We all take our orders from someone, don't we?"

Mulder and Scully walked out of the office and made their way back to theirs.

"What's so special about this case?" he asked Scully. "It doesn't sound like there's anything special about them. Maybe it has something to do with Mr. X."

"I don't know, Mulder. Maybe it does. There must be something special about them though. We'll find out soon enough anyway."

"Guess so. You wanna' go to lunch?"

"Sure I'm getting a bit hungry," she answered, as she made her way through the office toward the door. "We need to pick up the file on the case too."

Mulder leaned back in the Boeing's chair as a stewardess walked by. they were only five minutes away from the Washington National Airport and were headed for Cleveland, before taking another flight.

"Coach," he said out loud. "The only way to fly."

Scully sat by the window, laptop computer on sitting on her.

"You know Mulder, I don't see anything strange about this case yet. It seems like an average serial killer."

"Maybe there isn't anything strange about it. Maybe they're just trying to shut us down again."

"I don't know. You'd think if they were going to, they'd just close us right down like they did before."

"I'll be right back," Mulder sighed, as he trailed off toward the lavatory line.

The tall, balding man in front of Mulder turned around and seemed to decide to Mulder in a little conversation.

"I really hate flying," he mumbled. "Cramped spaces, lousy food, and lines at the bathroom."

"Yeah," Mulder said, glancing at his watch. Seven-thirty in the morning. "I think someone's breakfast must not have agreed with 'em. What's holding up the line?"

Mulder waited a while longer and saw that the stewardesses were starting to serve lunch. He could tell this wasn't going to be a good day. He looked up and realized that he was in front of the lavatory door, as the balding man walked out of it and nodded as they made room for each other.

Back at the seats, Scully waited for the stewardess to pull the cart up so she could get something to eat.

The stewardess pulled the breakfast cart up beside her and with the best smile she could fake, asked, "Would you anything to eat, ma'am?"

"Yes. Do you have any bran flakes?" Scully questioned, stretching her neck tiredly, trying to look for herself.

"Sure do. What kind of milk would you like?"

"Skim is fine."

The woman handed her a small carton of milk and a tiny box of cereal.

"Anything to drink?"

"No thank you."

The stewardess moved on as Mulder came out of the lavatory and made his way toward his seat. Trying to make his way around the cart, he asked the woman if he could have something to eat as the stewardess made no attempt to hide her disgruntlement. She pulled a box of cereal and a carton of milk and handed them Mulder as she muttered under her breath.

He mad his way back to his seat and plopped down.

"Service with a smile," he sighed.

They were on their last flight from, which was from Seattle to Anchorage, only ten minutes away from the Anchorage International Airport.

"Mulder, I still don't get why we've been assigned this case," Scully contemplated. It seems to be about as normal as any other crime in its class. No 'paranormal' activity if you will, no ufo sightings. There must be something I'm missing. I've gone over this file a hundred times."

Mulder scratched something onto a piece of paper and handed it to Scully.

"The man three seats ahead of us has been with us since Cleveland."

Scully figured it was coincidence, but knew that it could be something. It wouldn't be the first time she'd been followed. It was anyone's guess by who.

Their thoughts, however, were interrupted by the captain.

"Attention ladies and gentlemen. this is your captain speaking. We are approaching the Anchorage International Airport. Please fasten your safety belts as we approach for landing."

Mulder and Scully both joined the rest of the cabin as the clicks were heard throughout.

They circled the airport and received permission to land and they hit the ground.

The jet came to a halt and were taxied to the side of the airport.

The captain's voice came over the speaker again.

"I would like to thank you for flying with us today. The current temperature is seventy degrees fahrenheight and the sky is clear. No wind. Once again, thank you for flying with us and have a nice day."

People started to stand up all around the cabin and scrambling for their bags to hurry up and get off.

Mulder recalled the last time he'd been to Alaska. Thirty miles from Deadhorse and he'd nearly died. He could still see the lights of the submarine coming down at him as he lay on the ice.

"Mulder," Scully said as she jabbed him with her elbow. "Come on."

Mulder picked up his bag and joined the throng as the pushed to get out the door, people pushing against him and trying to head for the door. One woman bumped into him, almost knocking him over as she was carried by the crowd.

"Sorry about that," she said sheepishly.

Mulder nodded and kept going.

They made their way toward the baggage carousel and picked up their things.

"What hotel did you decide to go to, Mulder?"

"I thought we'd go to the Bear Claw Inn. I already made the reservations."

They rented their car and were on their way to the hotel, taking in the local sights. There were the tiny blue flower in huge bunches that covered the pots until you could swear that there was no pot. There were, of Course, the tourists, the occasional homeless person and a gift shop thrown down in every other building.

Scully took a left turn as Mulder explained, as best he could, where the hotel was.

They made their way past most of the gift shops and found the hotel. Traveling had always made Mulder tired. This was no exception.

They walked up the steps and stared at the faded sign that read "WELCOME TO THE BEAR CLAW INN." The building itself wasn't too rustic looking. They walked through the door and were greeted by a huge stuffed black bear, standing on its hind legs, paws in the air, and its mouth wide open. One tooth was missing.

Mulder walked to the empty counter and rang the bell a few times. A short man, not what one would call lacking in age, came out from the back room and looked up at him.

"May I help you?"

"Reservation for Mulder?"

"Oh yeah. Here's the keys," he mumbled as he handed two pairs of keys to Mulder. Mulder passed one set to Scully and hauled the bags off to his room.

He had a knack for picking those four-star joints. The room smelled of smoke and the walls were a bit dingy.

"At least the bed isn't too soft," Mulder thought as he lay down for a moment. He knew he'd have to go down to the station and announce himself to the chief. What was his name anyway? He should have read the file.

He pulled himself from the bed and went to knock on Scully's door.

"Ya' there Scully?" the door opened with Scullly behind it.

"I'm here Mulder," she announced. "The first thing we need to do," she proceeded, "is go down to the station and announce ourselves. We should do that here pretty soon. Who knows. They might even have some new leads.

Mulder still didn't like it. from what he could tell, there wasn't anything to this case. Just "routine" kidnappings, if there was such a thing.

Mulder walked into the police station, nodding to the receptionist and smiling slightly.

"Agents Mulder and Scully to see Chief MacKay."

"Oh yes. He's been waiting for you for a little while," she said, directing them back to his office.

The chief sat at his desk, dressed in his black uniform. His office was painted an off-white, with pictures of him with previous mayors and governors and a few family photos. His desk was big, made of a dark wood. A filing cabinet sat in one corner and a few padded chairs sat in front of the desk.

"Have a seat. It's good to finally see you both. I've been waiting a while for the FBI to come in. I think we're in over our heads here."

"Exactly what do you mean?" Scully questioned, eyebrows raised slightly.

"Well, we've never had this sort of thing before. Don't get me wrong. We have kidnappings and all. We just don't usually have people disappearing right and left."

"Chief MacKay, have you noticed anything, um, strange about these serial kidnappings?"

"Besides the fact that we haven't had anything like this before? No. Nothing. I just felt we needed some help in this case. Here's a file containing everything we've managed to pick up," he told them, holding a thin file out to Scully. "One of the victims were found at their apartment. She can't remember anything. She doesn't look too good either. She's been getting cold sweats, mumbling, and just acting a little strange like she'd always nervous."

"Has anyone tried hypnotism?" Mulder questioned.

"They tried to get her to, but she wouldn't let 'em. Seems to be scared of what she might find out."

"Well we'll need to talk to her," Scully insisted."

"Of course. Of Course," the Chief said. "I'll have one of my officers take you over there right now if you want." "Thanks," Mulder said.

Claudete Grutch was a young woman, about 27, who owned a small apartment on the second story of a three-story apartment. Her home was a bit dingy and it was obvious that the previous tenants had had pets and smoked. The whole place was poorly lit and poorly furnished.

"I don't remember anything. I done told all the other police that," she insisted to Scully, pulling her stringy black hair back from her eyes. "there ain't nothin' more I can tell ya."

"Are you sure that you can't remember anything?" Mulder insisted. "A smell maybe? Cold? Warmth?"

"I don't remember anything?"

"Why don't you want to go through hypnotism?" Mulder questioned.

"Personally, Mr. Mulder, I don't think I really even want to know what happened. What good would it do me anyway? It's not as if I could really go out and do anything. If whoever did this can erase my memory, I sure don't wanna know what else they can do."

Mulder and Scully got up to leave, Mulder disappointed, Scully not too surprised. She knew what Mulder would probably say too.

As they walked down the outside steps and got into the car, Mulder broke the silence. "Could be an abduction case. It has all the feel of one."

Scully remained silent, knowing that it wasn't any use arguing. Once he had his mind made up, it couldn't be easily changed.

"So what do you want to do next?" Scully asked.

"I don't know," he grumbled putting his hand in his pocket.

He let out a small dry for a split second and jerked his hand from his pocket.

"I hate paper cuts!"

He pulled the envelope from his pocket and looked at it.

"I didn't put this in my pocket," he muttered as he tore it opened. It contained only a note. Mulder's mind raced back to the balding man on the plane. He felt so stupid now.

He silently read the note before passing it on to Scully.

She took it and began to read it aloud:

Mr. Mulder:

Come to Dimond and The Old Seward Highway at 6 p.m. Come only with Agent Scully. If I see anyone else, I will NOT appear.


Dagonet -- Forrest

"Interesting," Scully commented.

"Yeah. I'll say. I don't know who it is. Course, it could be that DT is back. After all, nothing is just what it seems."

"I doubt it Mulder. Anyway, All we can do is wait."

"I guess you're right. I'm getting kinda hungry again. Guess I'm gonna have to get used to this Alaska time. You wanna go grab a bite to eat?"

"Sure Mulder," she said, smiling. There should be something up at the Dimond Center."

"The what?"

"The Dimond Center. It's the mall up at Dimond and the Old Seward Highway. There should be some place to eat in there."

They drove to the Dimond Center, Mulder cheering up considerably, finding out there was more to this case than met the eye. The woman couldn't remember a thing, and already they could have another witness of some sort.

They pulled into the parking lot and Mulder dug into his pockets and frowned.

"Scully I need to drop by the drugstore in here. I'm out sunflower seeds."

"Okay Mulder. We should be able to spare enough time to pick up some seeds for you," she said smiling.

They got their seeds and made their way toward the bottom corner of the mall where the food court was. All the booths seemed to have big prices and small plates.

They both finally figured out what to get and they sat down at one of the tables.

"Looks like there could be something to this case after all," Mulder said.

"It could be. The woman could have been lying though. Or it could just be that she was hit over the head or that it's all trauma related. Maybe she's trying to deal with it by not dealing with it."

"I don't think that's it, Scully."

They ate in silence and watched the ice skaters in the middle of the mall.

"It's about time Scully."

"all right Mulder. Let's go."

They stepped out of the mall and walked across the parking lot to the corner and waited. And waited.

"Mulder, It's been over twenty minutes. I don't think this mystery witness is going to show," Scully protested.

"You're probably right. Probably just a prank or something," Mulder grumbled as a few pedestrians walked past.

"Look out!" The voice came from behind both of them, and they turned around just in time to see a teenager in roller blades come speeding toward Mulder, futily trying to stop. It just didn't look like he was going to.

"Ouch!" Mulder screamed as he flew backward and hit the ground, the ladder just on top of him.

"Oh man, I'm really sorry," the kid said. "I'm really new at these and, well, I can't stop too well yet."

"Are you okay Mulder?" Scully asked as she came rushing up.

"I think I'm okay. I just hit my head."

She turned toward the teenager and asked him the same thing.

"Yeah I'm fine. I've gotten pretty used to falling over in these. You're Agent Mulder?" he asked as he turned back toward Mulder. "I'm Dagonet."

Mulder just stared blankly for a moment, not sure what to say. It was Scully who spoke first.

"Is this a joke?"

"It's no joke, Mrs. Scully. I was there and I saw some of what happened. Not much, but more than you have now, I'm sure."

"But how did you get in touch with of us?" Mulder demanded.

"Claudete's my friend. I just had her slip the note."

"I think maybe we should go somewhere else and talk."

They walked toward the car and all three got in, the kid in the back.

"So do you have a real name, kid?" Mulder asked.

"Yeah. It's Benjamin Agniton. You can just call me Ben if you want."

"Okay, Ben. Do you know of anywhere where there aren't as many people?"

"Yeah. I know a few. I can even show you the exact spot where it all happened," he said.

They drove out toward the edge of town and drove to the end of a dirt road.

"We'll have to get out and walk from here," he announced.

The group got out of the car and headed for a small path in the woods.

"I was out here camping," Ben explained, "when I heard footsteps. There wasn't quite half a moon, so I couldn't see too well. I pulled out my flashlight and shined it around and that's when I saw Claudete. I though she'd come out to see me or to talk or something, but when I shined my light on her, she didn't even look at me. She was really white and she was mumbling about something. I got up and followed her for a while. She went back through the woods a ways and finally stopped. I though maybe she was stoned, but she's never done drugs, and she's never been in a bar." He coughed a little. "Then, there was a really bright light, three figures appeared, and all of a sudden, they were gone with Claudete. After that, I don't remember much. I think I passed out."

"*You* weren't drinking or anything that night, were you?" Scully questioned.

Ben looked a little taken back, then laughed aloud. "Me? No. I've never had a drink of beer in my life. I've never even *seen* drugs except on television."

"You didn't see what these things looked like?"

"I could only see their outline a little."

"What did it look like? Were the legs and arms look long, did they look normal? Anything you can remember would be helpful."

"They did look a little long. Do you think they were MIBs?"

"They could have been," Mulder answered.

"What else would they be?"

Mulder looked him in the eye. "Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?"

Scully smiled a little as Ben thought about it.

"No. Not really. Here we are," Ben announced as he stopped. "I was standing right here," he told them pointing to a small stump, "and Claudete was right over her." He walked about twenty feet from the stump and stood near a fallen tree."

"About where did the light come from?" Mulder questioned.

"It came from this general direction," Ben said, pointing away toward a small clearing.

Mulder walked to ward the clearing and looked around not sure what it was he was looking for.

"Scully, we need to get a team out here to test for radiation. It couldn't hurt to get a team out here and comb the area too."

"I don't think Skinner will go for it Mulder."

"I'll be right back, guys," Ben said as he tromped off into the woods.

Scully walked towards Mulder and started talking to him.

"I don't know if we can trust this kid Mulder. I mean, why would he come to us and not the police? What makes us so special in his eyes? It's not as if he knew who we were."

"I dunno Scully, but if it'll make you feel batter, I'll ask him," Mulder said, smiling a little as he chewed a sunflower.

Mulder started looking around more and Scully fingered the chain of her cross necklace as Ben came back from the woods.

"Where ya been?" Mulder questioned.

"Nature called."

"Say Ben," Scully interrupted, "why did you come to us. Why didn't you tell the police about all this?"

Ben sat down on a log as if he felt he'd be talking for a while.

"It's because I don't like the police around here. I told Claudette to use her own judgment. If she thought that you sounded sincere, I told her to give you the note. If not, don't."

"Why didn't you like the police?" Mulder questioned.

"Because," Ben continued, head hanging down as he kicked a small rock. "They arrested my dad for something he never did. They took him away and I didn't to see him for a while. He was ashamed for me to see him in jail. Six months he stayed there, and not once did I see him. Not once. Do you know what it's like to have someone taken away from you?"

"Yeah I do, Ben."

"All this isn't important though," Ben said as he brightened a little. "You didn't come to hear my life's story. You came to try to solve a case."

"One other thing," Scully insisted.

"What's that?"

"How'd you know our names to write them on the note?"

"I just had Claudete fill 'em in.

The group combed through the clearing for nearly two hours looking for anything that might help. Mulder wasn't too surprised that they hadn't turned up anything but still a bit disappointed.

"Your folks going to start worrying about you yet?" Mulder questioned.

"No. They're out of town for a few days. I stay out all day usually anyway. They'll be back day after tomorrow."

Mulder finally gave up, but not before deciding to come back later with a little equipment. Maybe something from the Lone Gunmen. They always seemed to be able to turn up better equipment than Uncle Sam.

They rode back into town while Ben attempted to make idle conversation.

"So what do you think it is Mrs. Scully? Or do you think I'm just lying?" he asked, smiling.

"No, I don't think you're lying. And just call me Scully. It could have been anything. I don't know. Maybe a helicopter."

"What about the figures?"

"Trees maybe."

"What about you, Ben?" Mulder asked. "What do you think it is?"

"You'd think it was stupid."

"Aw, come on, Ben. I told you what I thought it was at the risk of sounding stupid. Everyone has their theories."

"Well," Ben sighed, "There's been rumors and stuff flying around about a UN police force being trained out at Elmendorf, the Air Force base. I've heard that they've been training them like this. I'm probably just paranoid."

Mulder smiled slightly. "A boy after my own heart," he thought.

"This where you live?" Mulder asked, pulling up beside a house.

"Yeah. Thanks for the ride," Ben said as he got out of the car.

"Thanks for the help," Mulder said back.

Mulder waited until Ben was inside, then pulled away.

"What's the matter Scully? You don't seem to trust him at all."

"I don't know Mulder. It just seems that there's something about him that I can't put my finger on. It's not his appearance or anything. He seems like a normal kid. Maybe that's it. Doesn't he seem a little casual about all this, Mulder?"

"I don't know. Maybe a little."

They drove in silence, both thinking about the day's leads.

"Could be more to this case than just a few disappearances after all, Scully."

"I don't know, Mulder. It still seems pretty normal. we have no conclusive proof that anything out of the ordinary is happening here."

"Ellens," Mulder said simply.

"Pardon?" Scully asked, a confused look creeping onto her face.

"Ellens Air Force Base," Mulder continued. "Something was there that they didn't want me to know about, Scully. They could have killed me, but they didn't. They must have done some sort of memory clearing. the same thing is happening here. That girl out there can't remember anything, and I think that's why. She would have known something, Scully, and they, whomever they might be, erased it from her head."

"How can we know that Mulder? There's no proof of it. It could just be the stress of all this. Maybe something did really happen out there and she just doesn't want to remember."

"I don't think so, Scully. Either way, with Ben's parent's approval, I want to have Ben go through a little hypnosis. Maybe something happened out there that he can't remember either."

Scully could find no reason to object to this, so she held her peace as they drove back towards the hotel to get some rest.

Ben lay in bed late that night thinking. It hadn't been a boring day. He had to admit that much. It'd almost been fun. Scully and Mulder seemed half way nice, and she wasn't half bad looking either. He smiled to himself and rolled onto his side to look at the clock. One in the morning.

He could hear a few cars driving by outside the house. He sort of wished he was out doing something. He was wasting perfectly good time while his little sister was out of town. Not that he didn't like her. Quite the contrary. He even enjoyed having her around sometimes. Still, she was younger and thus did get on his nerves sometimes.

He heard another car as it stated to drive by the house. It didn't make it all the way though. He could hear it stopping somewhere. Probably an all night party he figured, but he couldn't help getting up to look out. He pulled his covers away, showing his favorite pair of Atlanta Braves sweat pants and a baggy white T-shirt.

He stared out the window and saw a black car with a few men stepping out. He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the light the brightness of the outside light. He couldn't really see their faces since he was staring down on them from the second floor of his house. They all got out of the car while one stood by to watch.

Ben's stomach turned in knots as they neared toward his door and he nearly cursed.

He knew there was something wrong with them. maybe it was the fact that they were all wearing black. He might have smiled at his brilliant deduction if it weren't for his panic. He slipped on his shoes and ran towards his parent's room. He knew what he was looking for.

Panicking, he opened his dad's drawer and pulled a small handgun from it. He knew he kept it loaded. He held onto it tightly and opened the window and as quietly as possible let down the rope ladder that they kept in case of fire.

Still clutching the gun like a dear friend, he slid down the ladder. He could hear the men coming around the side of the house. He dropped to the ground as the first one rounded the corner.

"Hold it," one of them ordered. He didn't sound too rough, yet he didn't sound what one would call friendly.

Ben froze for a moment like deer in the headlights. His mind raced, and he knew he couldn't stick around with these guys.

He shot of for the next door neighbors' yard, barely clearing the hedge as he jumped. He could hear the footsteps behind him, but he didn't dare look behind.

He knew where he needed to go. there was a small patch of what barely passed for woods. They couldn't possibly find him there. He sprinted for the trees, running through neighbors' yards, occasionally stepping in a flower garden. He could see his breath forming in front of him, each one coming a little quicker than the one before.

He came to the woods and didn't even slow down as he entered the bushes. He needed bushes. He found a good one and he crouched down behind it and held onto his knees, his hands shaking as he looked at the gun still firmly grasped in his hand. It shook violently. He swore he could almost hear his adrenaline gushing trough his body.

The men came to the edge of the trees, close behind him as he tried to control his breathing. He kept gasping and they'd find in no time. They looked around for a moment and stared at the ground, attempting to find fresh tracts. One of the men started to follow a set, nodding silently to the other men for them to follow in back of them fell in line, one behind the other.

Ben noticed the silencers on their guns, and he tried to hold his breath. He slowly turned off the safety and, as quietly as possible, pulled back the hammer. It clicked, and it made Ben, along with the other men jump a little.

"Great Ben!" he thought to himself. "A brilliant move."

The men neared a little closer, guns still raised next to their shoulders, uncocked.

"Well, Benny Boy," he thought, "it's now or never. Maybe never again if you don't do something quick."

He quickly raised from the bush, gun at arm's length.

"Hold it!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.

The men's eyes fixed on him, all but one pointing their gun at his head.

"I don't think so," Ben laughed nervously. "See, I know yours aren't cocked. So unless you wish to die here and now, I advise putting the guns down." His hands trembled, showing he was more mouth than courage.

One of the men laughed aloud. It sounded devious. Pure wicked, and it was fixed in Ben's mind forever.

"Shut up!" Ben screamed.

The man just laughed again.

Ben pointed the gun near the man's feet and pulled the trigger as a shot rang out.

"I SAID SHUT UP!" he screamed.

Just then, Ben saw a foot flying towards him as he turned to pull the trigger at it too. It was too late. The gun flew from his hand and one last shot rang out from his gun as Ben hit the ground unconscious.

Mulder popped a handful of sunflower seeds as he used his laptop to sign onto his on-line service from his hotel room.

"You have new mail waiting," a perky female voice announced.

He clicked his mail icon and a new window appeared with two messages on it.

The first was from Frohike and the second he wasn't sure about.

He opened Frohike's message first:

Greetings Mulder!

So how's everything going? I wanted to drop you a note to say that I was able to get into the CIA records like you wanted me to see what I could find out about Tooms. I'll tell you when I get back.

Tell Scully I'm still open for next Saturday if she's changed her mind.


He opened the second message and began to read:

Agent Mulder:

I do not advise putting your nose in other people's business. It can be hazardous to your health. Go back to DC


Mulder leaned back in his chair. This meant he was getting somewhere. There was no way he'd back down now. Someone knew that he was getting closer.

Mulder pushed the reply button, but it was no good. The user didn't exist. No surprise.

Richy woke up to see a bright light above him. He sat up on his hard army-style cot. The room had no windows and there was a steel door at the other end of the room. He felt through his pockets, hoping to find anything of use to him. Nothing. Just chap stick and some keys. At least his watch was still on. Five in the morning.

He knew this wasn't going to be on of his better days.

He walked over to the door and knocked.


He looked around him. A toilet. That was what he needed. He ran towards the toilet and promptly bent over and threw up.

He heard the door opening behind and he turned around, wiping his mouth on some of the toilet paper.

There were two men in the doorway. He couldn't see their faces because of the light flooding in, but he was able to tell that one of them was wearing a trench coat and was smoking. It was the other who spoke up.

"Follow us," he demanded.

Ben nervously looked around as if hoping someone would magically appear to help him.

Finding no alternative, except maybe have what was now left of last night's dinner beaten out of him, he obediently walked toward the doorway, squinting from the light.

He was lead down several long hallways, more than once passing an ax in a glass case with the word "FIRE" written on it. Each time he did, the smoking man's hand would grow a bit tighter around his arm, as if daring him to try anything.

Finally, the came to a plain steel door which was opened by a guard. They walked through, and Ben saw a few chairs, a table, a mirror, and another one of those stupid bright lights hanging from the ceiling.

He was led to sit by the table, at which the smoking man left the room, the guard walked over and stood by the door, and a man in a long white lab coat walked in.

The man sat across from Ben and Ben looked over towards the mirror, figuring the smoking man sat behind it staring out with his wicked eyes.

"So Ben," the man smiled, "I understand you've been getting in a little trouble."

"What would make you say that?" Ben snorted. "I just came along for the ride." Ben could almost feel his eyeballs burning in his sockets. Who did these people think they were anyway?

The man ignored the remarks and continued.

"What have you Ben telling them, Ben?"


"Come, come. Don't play games. Agents Mulder and Scully. What have they been asking you about? what have you told them?"

"I haven't told them anything."

"Oh, come on now. Why did you spend so much time with them yesterday?"

"I just told 'em what I saw. I bright light, a few figures, and that's it. Not what you'd call a great lead."

"Ben, we know where you live. We know who your family is. If you wanted, we could tell you what you had for breakfast two days ago. I wouldn't advise telling anyone what you've seen here or anywhere else. It would be downright stupid."

At that, Ben felt a sharp pain go through his leg and he went unconscious.

Ben awoke back in his bed, Braves sweats still on. What time was it? 1:30 p.m.

He sat up in his bed. Oh what a killer headache. What had happened last night anyway? He froze as he remembered.

"Oh man."

He got out of bed. what should he do? He remembered what they'd said. They obviously weren't stupid.

He scratched his arm.

He'd wait. That's what he'd do. He'd wait for Mulder and Scully. No reason to go rushing to them.

His dad would be home tomorrow. Maybe he'd help him.

"Yeah right," Ben muttered

What was he supposed t say? Men dressed only in black cam in a black car, kidnapped him, took him to their secret lair, threatened him, drugged him, and sent him back home. Yeah.

"Let's go grab some breakfast, Mulder," Scully said.

"That'd be fine with me," Mulder said. "I've been hungry for a while now."

They drove down to a small restaurant and walked over to a booth. A young waitress walked over with some coffee menus, eyed Mulder, and walked away.

"So far," Mulder said, going back over their facts, "we have one witness who refuses to cooperate and one who may have seen something and is willing to undergo hypnosis. We've visited all the familiies of all the other victims, and nothing."

Mulder's cellular rang and he pulled it from his pocket.

"Mulder," he answered.

"Mr. Mulder? It's me Ben. I need some help."

"What's wrong Ben?"

"I can't talk about it on the phone. I think someone's following me."

"Where are you Ben?" Mulder asked, a bit of tension building in his voice.

"I'm on the second level of the Dimond Center."

"Stay there Ben. We'll be right over."

Act casual. this was what Ben had told himself when he got up that morning. Go to the mall. Act normal. Maybe a few of your friends will be there. Fat chance of that happening. He'd walked into the mall, trying to act at least semi-normal.

The first thing he'd noticed was that acting normal wasn't as easy had he'd thought it would be. The second was that he was being followed.

He'd stopped to call Mulder at a pay phone, pulling his card from his wallet. He turned around to see the man walking into a shop. He'd be back out.

All Ben could do now was wait anyway. Wait for Mulder and Scully.

Mulder flew around the curves, angry drivers shouting and cursing at him. He didn't really care though. He had to get to Ben before someone else did.

He turned onto Dimond, barely missing a bicycle rider. The man fell to the ground, he hit his brakes so hard.

Mulder stared into the parking lot, flying over a concrete island in the road. An angry taxi driver screeched to a halt and yelled at him. Mulder ignored th ecursin gand pulled up next to the door, running in.

"Second level," he said to himself, Scully close behind.

He remembered where the stairs were, an dran towards them, occasionally pushing people out of the way.

He ran down the length of th ehall, and turned when he got towards the end. Boy, there never were too many people up here.

A man stepped from one of the corners, a terrified Ben in his grasp. A gun to Ben's head, the man greeted them jovially.

"Ah, Agent Mulder! I see you have Agent Scully with you also. I'm truely glad you came. No you see that this is no game as this young man here has mistakenly believed. Quite the contrary. We're very serious. I'm capable of killin, you know. Ben here means nothing to me."

With that, the man pulled the gun up, and he slammed the butt into Ben's head. He ran an exit, and Mulder and Scully moved forward.

"Scully, you stay and see if Ben's okay."

Mulder took off toward the man. He was wearing a black treanch coat and wingtips shoes. A rather well dressed John Doe.

Mr. Doe ran out of one of the exits, Mulder close behind. He rounded a corner and headed for a car.

Before Mulder realized what had happened, th eman ran to the car an dwhipped around, gun aimed at Mulder's forehead.

"Agent Mulder, it wouldn't be a wise thing to try to follow me." With that, he slipped into the car, never taking the gun's sights off Mulder.

Mulder helplessly watched as the man pulled away an dinto the street. He'd got the plate numbers, but they'd no doubt turn up nothing. He knew from experience.

He ran back to where Ben and Scully were, cursing his luck.

Ben sat on a bench. hand on the back of his head.

"He gonna be okay, Scully?

"He will be if we can get him back to his house. He just needs to lay down for a while. He'll be okay after that."

"And here I thought the fun was just starting," Ben mused. "You didn't manage to gett th eplate numbers did you?"

"Yeah. I got 'em, but they won't turn anything up."

"How do you know?" Ben asked.


Ben lay on the couch, remote control cluched in one hand possessively as he watched the tv.

Mulder sat on the couch waiting for the policeman to show up so he could leave.

Scully sat at the kitchen table, tryin gto think of anything tha tthey might not have thought of. As much as she hated babysitting the kid, she really hated to leave him. He'd witnessed the kidnapping of his friend, kidnapped himself, at least this was what he'd told them on the way back, early that morning, and held hostage that afternoon. That was quite a bit for anyone ot go through.

The local policeman arrived, and Mulder and Scully left. There had to be something they'd missed. Why all the attention if they weren't getting close, or at leastif someone thought they were getting close? And these people weren't stupid. If they figured the two were close to something, there had to be a reason. Unless it was Ben. That had to be it. Everything seemed to be revolving around him, but th ething was that he couldn't remember any of what had happened that night. At least not for now. If his parents let him go through hypnosis, that could all change.

Ben woke up, still on the couch and looked at his watch. How long had he slept? Ten a.m. He looked to his side and noticed the policeman sittin gin on echair, readin ga magazine.

"Hey," Ben said.

The man looked up, a little startled.

"Finally up, eh? Wonderin' if you ever would. What time are your folks supposed to get here?"

"Any time."

Ben heard a car pull up, an dhe looked out the window. Mulder and Scully both got out and were headed for the door.

Ben thought of what he must look like and headed for the bathroom to comb his hair.

The policeman opened the door for Mulder and Scully and walked out to his car, tipping his hat as he walked out the door.

Ben emerged form the bathroom, hair combed, face washed.

"Why are you guys here?"

"We figured it might help a little. It would seem a little more believable to your parents if you had two federal officers to back up your claims," Mulder told him.

"Yeah, well my parents whould be here any time. There shouldn't be too long of a wait."

Ben sat on the couch and flipped on the tv.

"Next up," it announced, "we have a man who the entire OJ murder. We'll let our audience ask him questio..."

Ben flipped the channel.

"I love each and every one of you. Heehee."

Ben flipped the channel again. What was that thing supposed to be anyway? A giant purple blob of cellulite?

"Oh, John. I promise I'll never do it again. I don't know how I could have gone out with Tom."

Ben flipped the tv off.

"You guys want anything to eat? We've got plenty of stuff in here."

"No that's okay. We already ate," Scully said.

Just then they heard a car pull up into the driveway. Mulder looked out the window and saw a couple getting out of the car with a hyper eight-year-old daughter.

"Looks like they're home," Mulder announced.

The trio walked up to the door and opened it. th eman was a little startled when he saw Mulder and Scully standing beside Ben.

"What's going on here?" he demanded.

"I'm sorry sir," Mulder started. "Your son has witnessed a crime."

"What are you talking about?"

"He was the witness to the kidnapping of Claudette Grutch."

"Is this true, Ben?"


His dad walked over to him. "Why didn't you call us or anything? You should have contacted us."

"You didn't leave a number. The only time you called was when you first got there."

His father face changed from a look of concern to a look of shock. "I thought I left the number right over on the ecounter."

"You didn't."

"Mr. Agniton," Mulder interrupted. "Ben can't remember much of it. We'd like to take him in for hypsosis."

"Well I don't know. I'd have to talk to my wife and to Ben."

"We understand," Scully said. "Here's a number where you can reach us."

She handed him a card with a number on it.

Scully sat eating her lunch in a little cafe, off in a corner booth with Mulder when he rcellular phone rang.


"Hi. this is Mr. Agniton. I've talked it over with my wife and Ben and we've decided to go through with the hypnosis."

"Alright. We'll set up an appointment with a doctor. When would be a godd time for you?"

"The sooner the better."

Mulder and Scully walked to the front door of the Agniton's house and rang the doorbell.

They'd talked to the families of all the other missing people, but it had gone no where quick.

Mr. Agniton opened the door.

"I'll go get Ben."

Ben soon walked around the corner with his dad, and they got into their own car, while Mulder and Scully drove in theirs.

They headed for downtown, where the doctor held an office.

"So you're sure you want to go through with this?" Ben's dad asked.


They arrived at the office, and pulled up the curb, Mr. Agniton pumping a few quarters into the parking meter. He only knew too well how the Anchorage Parking Authorities lurked around every corner waiting to punce on your car the moment the meter expired. Sometimes even sooner.

Dr. Byrne's office was on the fifth floor, so they all took the elevator.

"Hello there," the nurse greeted. "You must be Ben. The doctor's ready to see you any time."

Ben and the rest of the group walked into the office where the doctor sat behind a large desk with a huge padded leather chair.

"Ah, you must be agents Mulder and Scully. I'm ready to start the session right now."

Ben sat in a chair and Dr. Agnito pulled one up directly in front of him so that they were facing each other.

"Okay Ben, I want to to just focus on the pen. Take deep breaths and clear your mind. You will go to sleep at the count of five. One. Two. three. Four. Five."

Ben's eyes slowly closed as Scully watched with fascination.

"Ben, I want you to go back to the time when you saw Claudete Grutch dissapear. Where are you?"

"I'm camping in the woods."

"Is there anyone else there?"


"Who's there?"

"Claudete's here. She doesn't look very good though. She's pale."

"What's she doing?"

"She's walking through the woods. I'm calling her, but she won't respond." At that, Ben reached up and scratched his arm.

"Now what's happening?"

"There's a bright light. Some men are coming out of the woods."

Mulder pushed up towards the doctor.

"I *have* to ask him some questions about these men."

"All right," the doctor sighed.

"Ben, what do these men look like?"

"Black. They're dressed totally in blaack."

"Are they human?"

"They look like it."

"What's happening to Claudete?"

"AHHHHH! NO! KEEP AWAY!" Ben screamed.

"Ben's father started to push forward, but the doctor held him back, telling him he'd be okay.

"Ben! What's wrong? What are they doing?" Mulder questioned.

"They're taking me and Claudette."

"Where are they taking you?"

"It's the light. It's some kind of a ship! There's more of them. It's not them though! They're different. They aren't human!"

"What do they look like Ben?"

"They're tall and white. They have black eyes and... NO KEEP THEM OFF OF ME! They're strapping me down!"

"Where are the humans, Ben?"

"They're just in the corner watching! They won't even help me! They're the ones who brought me here. I hope they die! YOU HEAR THAT? I HOPE YOU *DIE*!"

"We have to bring him out of it," the doctor said. "He can't handle much more."

"Just one more question," Mulder demanded. "Ben, why did the humans bring you here? why not the aliens?"

"They've agreed to swap people for technology. I can hear them in the background. They're still talking about."

"Ben," the doctor said, pushing Mulder away, "when I count to five, you will wake up. You will remember only what you wish."

"One. two. Three. four. five."

Ben opened his eyes and looked around.

Mulder sat in another chair, thinking. Scully was looking at Ben, but she was obviously thinking too. His dad was just staring straight into him.

"What happened?"

"I'll tell you on the way home," Mr. Agniton said.

"Well Ben, I'll see you some time soon," Mulder said.

"Yeah. You care if I write you a letter?"

"Not at all," Mulder replied.

"Take care of yourself," Scully smiled.

"Yeah. You too."

Mulder and Scully both boarded their plane.

"Guess it'll be a long time before I get to see either of them, eh?" Ben said to his father.


At the top of a ramp, a man watched them, listening to their every word. A Marlboro cigarette hung from his lip and he pushed his part off to one side again.

"It could be sooner than you think."

The End

-- Forrest

It's better than a stone behind the ear.

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