Title: Mendocino
Author: afg
Feedback: I'd love it. siggy.63@btinternet.com or www.ofnoconsequence.com
Written: June 2005
Rating: PG13 The F word is used
Category : MA, Post-col, Character deaths(don't be too discouraged.) MSR

Summary: In a lonely world, Mulder lives with his memories.

Thanks: To Tali. For Alan and Ali

'Talk to me of Mendocino
Closing my eyes I hear the sea
Must I wait?
Must I follow?
Won't you say, "Come with me"?'
(Lyrics by Kate McGarrigle)

"Mulder, hey Mulder." Johnny Henson's voice rang out among the redwoods as he ran towards the small cabin.

Mulder emerged wearing a worn flannel shirt and equally worn jeans, his hair shining silver gray in the early evening sun and his face the color of tea and lined with years spent outdoors. "Hi Johnny," he said, raising his hand in greeting.

"I wasn't expecting to see you today."

Johnny reached him panting a little and holding a plate on which rested a large apple pie with a golden crust that still steamed lightly. "My mom made some pies and she thought you might like one."

Mulder took the plate from the boy and smiled. "That's very nice of your mom. She makes the best apple pie this side of the Rockies."

"Mulder, she makes the only apple pie this side of the Rockies." Johnny grinned.

"I guess so, but it's still good. Tell her thanks, would you?"

"You bet. I'll come back and collect the plate in a couple of days, okay?" Johnny headed back the way he had come, turning to wave at Mulder.

"Bye, Johnny." He watched him disappear into the trees, then took the pie indoors and set it on the slightly rickety table.

Johnny was right. This really was the only apple pie this side of the Rockies; Mulder looked at the pie and thought that, as a symbol of the survival of the human race, it wasn't such a bad one. Johnny's mother had arrived a few years ago after a long and fraught journey from San Francisco. Her husband had been killed and she'd run as far as her car would take her, which happened to be a few miles away from Mulder's cabin. They'd helped each other out an a few occasions and as Johnny grew into a young man he did the odd chore for Mulder. There was no one else. The bees and then the Jacks had made sure of that. The Earth had lost most of its human inhabitants and had been left to the trees and the animals once more. Mulder supposed that the numbers would eventually grow again, unless something else happened to threaten them As it was he didn't much care anymore. He'd stopped caring a long time ago.

He remembered the second when it all became meaningless to him. God knows, he'd played it in his head like an old movie reel a thousand times over. It had happened only a few miles away from where he was now. They'd been running towards the truck; himself and Skinner and Scully. Their location had been discovered and the Jacks had arrived in force, tearing through the town of Mendocino where they'd been hiding the last few months. It had been Skinner who had given the Jacks their nickname. Mulder remembered Skinner's face as he'd relayed events from a previous raid.

"Those monsters tore us apart like fucking Jack the Ripper," he'd said, his face white with the memory of it, and the name had stuck.

Mulder had seen the little girl first, her blond hair bright in the morning sunshine. The Jack had leapt out of nowhere and picked her up in its long skeletal arms. The girl was so frightened she couldn't even scream, at least not at first. The Jack had seemed fascinated by her hair and it gripped the top of her skull with one of its clawed hands. The yellow hair started to turn red. Mulder may have seen the girl first but Scully was closer and she ran towards the monster firing her gun. Unfortunately, to fell one of those things you needed an automatic rifle, not a humble handgun.

Scully knew that, of course, but she couldn't have left that little girl anymore than he could. As it was, the girl was dead by the time Scully reached her. Mulder tried so hard to block out those last seconds of his life with Scully but they would come to him in vivid Technicolor and in full Surround Sound.

Jesus, the blood and Scully's scream, "Mulder, Run!" the wet sound of a shredded body hitting the sidewalk and Skinner pushing him towards the truck, shouting "Move, Mulder, just fucking move," Skinner had sounded so frightened. After that, Mulder would never be frightened again.

He scrubbed his hands over his face, as if to wipe away the memories. He was tired and his body ached with the weight of the years. Sometimes, when he caught his reflection in the small, cracked bathroom mirror, he would startle, not recognizing the old man he saw before him; this old man with gray hair and sad, rheumy eyes Thirty years, he'd lived for thirty years without her. He gave a mirthless chuckle when he thought of how short a time he'd had her company and yet how much she had shaped his life. Her death had ruined him.

Oh, he stilled breathed and functioned much as he always had done but inside he was a wasteland. All these years, he'd just been going through the motions. Despite losing Scully, the resistance had been able to put her plan into operation. She'd always been meticulous in everything that she'd done. Her notes had been detailed and specific and the plan had, in the end, gone like clockwork. The planes had been procured and the magnetite particles had been loaded The plan had been in preparation for three years and the network of people had been in place for two. Mulder left the technical stuff to Scully and her little band of scientists. The government eggheads and other prominent scientists had been compromised by the Colonists years ago; so, they'd gathered people from the fringes of the scientific community and they had proved to be invaluable with their off the wall ideas and lateral thinking.

The plan was to seed clouds over the whole of the US with tiny particles of magnetite, that would send the Colonist's instruments haywire. Not to mention, make the whole of North America pretty much uninhabitable for them, with the exception of the places where it didn't rain. They'd even managed to steal a couple of planes capable of flying into the jet stream and released tons of magnetite particles, which would be carried around the world. It had taken a year for the effects to be fully felt, unfortunately by that time the population, already reduced by millions, had been decimated by plague and the general collapse of society. The only people left, were those who were immune to the virus carried by the bees and in the corn products, or those who had already made preparations for the invasion. In other words, very few people indeed.

The groaning call of an elk startled Mulder from his reverie, and he went over to the window to watch the slow procession of coastal elk as they moved into the forest, their breath misting in the early evening chill. Crossing to the coffee pot on the stove, he poured some of the brew into a thermos. It was time for his usual evening ritual. He shrugged on his coat grimacing a little as a dull ache started up along his left arm.

As the days went by he found his body letting him know his age, more and more. Opening the door he left the cabin and set off along the path that led towards the rocky beach.

The few members of the resistance that had been left were based in Cowichan Bay in British Columbia. But, as their numbers had dwindled, cut down by the virus, Mulder had begun to feel restless. He'd only stayed because Skinner had asked him too but, when his old friend succumbed to the virus, Mulder had no reason to stay. He remembered the time he and Scully had stayed in Mendocino and how much she had liked living by the coast. The evenings, when they had taken long walks among the Redwoods or along the beach, had been some of the happiest times he had ever spent with her. She was still there of course; her bones graced the sidewalk of the town along with all the other former inhabitants.

He wanted to go back there, where at least he had some connection with her. It had taken him a long time to make the journey. Some of the roads were impassable clogged up with abandoned cars. Rats were everywhere, rats and carrion birds, they were the true beneficiaries of a war that nobody won. He was amazed at how silent the world had become. Sometimes he felt as though he was driving in a gigantic bell jar. The lack of noise was almost suffocating and occasionally he would have to stop the car and get out and bend forward like a man who'd just run a marathon, to try and catch a decent breath Mulder liked noise; it distracted him from his own internal workings. Now all he could hear were his own thoughts and they were the poorest of company. Skinner had once told him over a bottle of Scotch, how surprised he'd been that Mulder had not killed himself and confessed to him drunkenly, that he and the rest of the group had had him on a sort of unofficial suicide watch for months after Scully had been killed. Mulder had smiled and told Skinner that Scully would have kicked his ass if he'd done such a thing. In truth it had been touch and go. Many a long night, he had sat with his gun in his hand trying hard to think of a reason to stay. He'd failed her on that last day, the least he could do, he thought, was to tough it out until the end. He couldn't light candles or recite a 'Hail Mary' but he could stay alive. It was his penance.

Mulder walked along the track to the coast. He could hear the sounds of the sea and the cry of the gulls as he neared the beach. He'd made this walk every evening for twenty-five years. Every evening he would walk to the beach and sit on the sand with his back against a rock and watch the sun go down over the horizon. Rain or shine, calm or storm he'd be there as regular as clockwork. This evening he was finding it particularly hard going. He couldn't seem to catch his breath and his feet felt heavy as they trudged along the sand to his usual resting place. He reached the big slab of rock and gratefully sank down to the damp sand and rested his back against its solid surface; his chest still burning from exertion.

He watched the wind skitter across the surface of the gray, green sea and he whispered, "I'm here, Scully."

When he'd finally arrived in Mendocino he'd looked for Scully's bones. In his mind he'd imagined them lying on the ground mixed in with the bones of the little blond girls. He'd envisioned them being a chalky white, stark against the gray of the sidewalk. Reality, however, had been very different.

He'd found the place where she'd fallen, but there was nothing. No bones or shreds of clothing, absolutely nothing remained of her at all. He assumed that she'd been carried of by animals; dogs maybe. After a while the empty town started to feel oppressive so he left and discovered some cabins nearby, that had been used by holidaymakers He chose one as near to the beach as possible and settled in and never found a reason to leave.

Mulder's hand shook as he poured himself a cup of coffee from the thermos. As he slowly sipped at the warm liquid he watched the colors of the sky change as the sun sank lower.

From delicate shell pinks and duck egg blues to deep magenta and rich purple. It was a glorious sunset and to his immense surprise Mulder found that he was crying. He hadn't cried a single tear from the moment Scully had died.

A normally sensitive man, he had not been able to let go and it had been a subtle form of torture for him. Now, as hot tears streamed down his cheeks dripping off his chin to land as dark little stains on his jacket, he felt as though a long locked door had been opened. He threw back his head and howled his pain at the dying rays of the sun. A sharp cramping pain gripped him and he bent forward his fists pressed to his breastbone. He could feel his old heart laboring and he found himself chanting, "Please, please, please," until he couldn't find the breath to speak. He lifted his eyes to the horizon as the last golden strands melted into the sea and he didn't hurt anymore.

"Mulder, it's me."

He shot to his feet far more quickly than his age should have allowed, and there she was, beautiful and whole and smiling at him.

"Are you going to stand there with your mouth open or are you going to say hello?"

"Hello," he said still staring.

"You know, Mulder, I remember you being a little more eloquent." Scully smiled and reached out her hand.

Mulder watched as his hand reached automatically to take hers; he suddenly noticed that his liver spots had gone and the skin once papery and heavy veined had become the taut flesh of his youth. He looked behind him with sudden comprehension and there he was, slumped against the rock his eyes still looking towards the horizon.

"I'm dead."

"I see those razor sharp skills of deduction haven't deserted you, Mulder."

Scully's hand felt soft and warm in his. He drew her to him and took her face in his big hands and kissed her. It was a kiss that held the pain and loss of thirty years without her, she held him tight in her strong arms and he felt as though all the layers of guilt and hurt had been peeled from him. He felt healed. After what might have been an eternity they parted and just spent a while looking at each other Scully surprised him by suddenly reaching round and pinching his ass.

"You took your own sweet time, Mulder," she looked a little indignant.

"What can I say? I have good genes." He grinned at her feeling as though he could do anything. "Scully, I feel fantastic."

"I know, just wait until you find out what you can do."

"What? Tell me?"

Scully laughed.and slipped her arm around his waist. "Later, Mulder, we have plenty of time. Frohike mentioned something about going out for cheese steaks."

"Frohike? He's here?"

"Everybody's here, Mulder. We've been waiting for you."

They started walking along the beach, their arms around each other.

"Cheese steaks, Scully? I though you didn't approve of those."

"Well, my attitude to cholesterol has mellowed somewhat. I mean, it's not as if they 're going to kill you."

The night breezes carried the sound of their laughter over the sand and the ocean and on to forever.

The end

End Notes:

The science in this story is complete tosh. I did however, check with a real mineralogist about the cloud seeding with magnetite particles and was told that it would be quite feasible. My thanks go to him and to the nice people at Ask A Mineralogist.


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