Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the television program "The X-Files" are the creations and property of Chris Carter, Fox Broadcasting, and Ten Thirteen Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringements are intended.
Summary: Mulder and Scully head to the mountains when a gruesome attack spurs Mulder's interest that the murderer could be the legendary bigfoot.
Six Rivers National Forest
Andrew was starting to feel the aching all over his body now. He had been absolutely still for the past four hours suffering the bitter crispness of autumn settle into his old bones. The thrill of hunting seemed to invigorate him in his youth, but for a m an recently turned fifty, the hunt just was no longer exciting, just tiring.
It had been a long time since Andrew had a kill worth bragging about back to his friends at the pub. To be with his drinking buddies now crossed his mind. Plus the thought of being warm again. And upon that note, Andrew cupped his withering hands and blew the warm moisture from his mouth into them to keep them a little warmer. But as Andrew looked up, he could have sworn he saw something up the mountain some ways moving about.
Andrew pulled his scoped rifle close to him and slowly crawled his way behind the base of a gigantic tree. He slowly popped his head around the side to glimpse the mysterious animal he had seen. It seemed to be lumbering around clumisily. It must be a bea r, perhaps a big black bear. That kind of trophy would surely earn the respect of his cohorts.
The large animal was still far away, but the scope on his rifle would account for the long distance. Andrew just had to make sure his one shot at the animal would mortally wound the animal. He pulled the rifle alongside his left arm and lined up the furry creature in the sights of his scope. The creature suddenly stood up to walk, almost human-like. But that didn't stop Andrew from firing. The rifle recoiled with a feriocity that made the whole forest come alive with angst. He saw the hulking mass fall ha rd, probably due to a killshot to the head or neck.
Andrew eagerly jogged over to his prize trophy should the animal still be capable of escaping. He turned the corner through a patch of sticker bushes and into the clearing that beheld his trophy. He jumped through the thicket and was shocked to see the si ze of his kill. The creature had to be at least eight feet tall. But it wasn't a bear. It had long furry legs and arms.
Andrew approached the motionless carcass with caution. No telling if it was just pretending to be dead while waiting for the attacker. He poked the animal with his rifle. It didn't respond. However, something else in the forest did. He heard a loud rustli ng from behind him. He leveled his rifle and aimed at the thick clump of foilage obscuring his view. The bushes seemed to be thrashing and screaming vengeance for the death of the large creature.
Andrew managed to fire off two shots before being knocked back by a force that seemed to hurdle the thicket as if it didn't exist. The rifle fell nearby, but too far away for Andrew to reach. He flipped onto his front and tried crawling to escape the atta ck of the other vicious beast. It was to no avail. The beast picked up a bulky fallen limb and smashed it into the back of Andrew's skull. The ferocious monster continued to beat the limp carcass that was Andrew Foster until satisfied its vengeance was ex tracted.
The creature then grabbed the mutilated body of the experienced hunter and dragged it into the rapid currents of the river. It slowly carried the body downstream back to the evil civilization from which it came. The gory monster wiped the blood from its o versized hands and lumbered back to the carcass of its dead companion. After several moments of cradling its comrade, the beast bellowed out a scream of unmeasurable sorrow and anger toward humanity.
Andrew Foster's body was found a week later amongst the rocks in shallow water. The severe mutilation of the body had prompted the local officials to call the FBI for assistance into this bizarre animal attack. The case was then passed onto the duo who e xcelled in paranormal phenomena, the X-Files.
Agents Mulder and Scully were led down the dimly lit corridor of the basement to where the battered remains of the victim lay. They turned the corner of the hallway and entered the emptiness of the morgue. The smell of death was never a bother to the agen ts, for they had seen enough of it in the field.
Agent Scully prepped herself for the autopsy. Their guide had left them alone due to an overwhelming sensation of nausea. Scully was ready to begin as Mulder pulled the sheet off the victim. He was usually able to handle autopsies, but the absolute mutila tion of the body made Mulder's stomach wrench. He quickly excused himself from the autopsy room.
When he returned several minutes later, Scully was finishing her report into her tape recorder. Feeling bad about leaving her, he tried very hard to maintain his intentions this time.
"So Scully, what did you find out about Mr. Foster?" he asked brazenly.
"From what I found, it certainly seems that Foster was killed by an animal. I found long hairs on the body that look animal, but here's the strange part. I also found splinters of wood inside the cranium. So unless this is some escaped gorilla using logs to kill their prey, I'd say this was a murder by a human to resemble an animal attack."
"Maybe its one of those crazy apes like in 2001: A Space Odyssey" Mulder replied with his usual brand of dry humor.
Scully smiled briefly behind the comfort of her mouth mask. Mulder seemed to know when she needed a little humor. And after this autopsy, Scully surely needed to hear some of his witty comments.
"Well Mulder, I think we should focus our search next at the local FBI field office. There we can have these hair fibers analyzed and look up the possibility of an escaped gorilla from a zoo. Or maybe a murderer hiding in the forests" Scully replied while snapping the gloves off her delicate hands.
"Sounds fine with me. You can do that. In the meantime, I'm heading over to the library to brush up on some local folklore."
"Folklore? Mulder, you aren't thinking what I think you're thinking. Are you?" Scully replied hastily with the hint of cynicism.
Mulder stared at his red-headed skeptical partner with her arms crossed stubbornly. Scully was sexy when she was agitated with him. He liked pushing her irritation buttons. He placed his long arm around her back and guided her out of the morgue without re sponding.
Scully didn't prod her partner into answering the question. She knew the answer. They shared an unspoken communication that mystified other agents as to how well they managed their cases. She didn't mind if Mulder went off on his crazy theories every now and then, so long as he didn't let his judgment become clouded by superstition and wonder.
"I think I'll walk over to the library. I'll meet you back at the motel later tonight. We can discuss the case later on" Mulder stated as he loosened his tie and walked down the sidewalk. Scully admired how well they worked together. She liked it like tha t.
Dana Scully sat indian-style in her sweats on her motel bed eating greasy chicken while watching news reports of Mr. Foster's grizzly demise. She hated eating alone while on assignment. She looked forward to spending time with Mulder, even if it is debati ng his crazy theories on paranormal activity. Scully was sure tonight would be about the existance of the creature known infamously as Bigfoot.
During the commercials, a rap at the door alerted Scully that her partner had returned finally. She lumbered over to door and let Mulder in from the crisp night air. He smiled while removing his black trench coat.
"Hey Scully, I had a pretty interesting day looking up that folklore. Even rented some movies for us to watch tonight."
"Oh really. Anything I'd like by chance?" she retorted with a grin.
"Well, there's Harry and the Hendersons or The Howling" Mulder said while displaying Scully her choice of movie. Just as he guessed, she picked Harry and the Hendersons and put it in the VCR. Mulder turned to the bed and eyed the box of chicken pieces. Be lieving they were intended for them both, he picked up a leg and ate it. Scully turned around to see her gangly partner eating her dinner.
"Hey, I didn't say you could eat my dinner!" exclaimed Scully.
"I'm sorry. I must have you confused with someone else who only eats healthy food. I just assumed this was for me" Mulder replied to her while wiping the grease off his mouth. Scully grabbed the extra pillows off the other bed and built up hers so they co uld relax comfortably during the movie. It wasn't long for the agents to lay on the bed finishing the remains of the chicken.
However, neither agent made it to the end of the movie. Both were still exhausted from the jet lag from the plane ride. Scully noticed that Mulder was asleep half-way through the movie. She was tired herself, but didn't feel like kicking him out. She felt comfortable with him right next to her. Snuggling up next to her lanky partner, Scully found herself entranced by his fragrance and fell asleep momentarily.
Six Rivers National Forest
Jared was having an excellent time with his girlfriend of only two weeks. After finally finding the courage to ask Sarah to the homecoming dance, they decided to go steady. He was all smiles when his father, a park ranger for the mountainside, allowed the two of them to use the emergency cabin for a romantic weekend. His dad was cool, considering he bought his son booze to help make the weekend; memorable.
Upon arriving at the fairly well-kept cabin by hiking, they settled in their luggage and set out for a twilight walk through the forest. They had gotten about an hour's away from the cabin when they decided to turn around because the sun was nearly set. T he forest grew spookier with every passing moment as the trees became absorbed by the darkness. A single flashlight was their only other source of guidance.
Jared didn't mind having Sarah hold onto him tightly as she grew scared of the impending nightfall. He figured it would just make her want him more upon returning to the cabin. But then out of darkness arose the scariest howl of terror imaginable. Sarah s creamed at the closeness of the howl, and even Jared was terrified of the nearby animal.
"Oh shit Jared! I'm really scared. Let's get out of here now!" Sarah cried with fear while tugging Jared's shaking arm.
"It's too dark out to run. We'll trip over something if we do" he replied to her hastily. However, they both changed their minds upon hearing the next howl, significantly closer to them. The young adults made a mad dash through the dark woods, with only t he dancing ray of the flashlight to provide them any guidance for their sprint.
He could hear the beast closing in, crashing throught the woods while in hot pursuit. He couldn't see the ground as he ran, only the outlined silouettes of the trees. Suddenly, Jared's foot caught onto a hard object, throwing the teenager five yards into the abyss. He crashed on his right arm, breaking it with a painful snap.
Jared moaned in agony, but searched the darkness for Sarah. He could see her still running scared through the blackness, screaming loudly. Suddenly, Jared watched in horror as the silouette of the grizzly creature engulfed the figure of Sarah. Silence ens ued just as quickly. Jared found enough strength to hobble over to where Sarah disappeared, but found no trace of his terrified girlfriend.
Admitting temporary defeat, Jared determined he couldn't help her now. He needed to call his father for help. Jared held his broken arm as still as possible as he cautiously traced himself back to the cabin. He tried not to think about Sarah's fate, not w anting to blame himself.
The ringing of a cell phone brought the sleepy agents out of their restfull slumber. Mulder was surprised to see Scully curled up alongside him, but thought it was just accidental. Reaching over for his coat, he pulled out the annoying cell phone and laid his head back on the pillows again.
"Agent Mulder. My name is Frank Perkins. I'm a forest ranger for the Six Rivers National Forest. The local police said you're investigating a recent grizzly attack" the harried man said to Mulder.
"That's right. Has something come up?" Mulder asked the man. Scully awoke from his talking and lumbered into the bathroom to freshen up.
"You could say that. My son, Jared, went up to the mountains with his girlfriend for the weekend. I got radio contact from him an hour ago. He and Sarah were attacked last night. Whatever or whoever attacked them broke his arm and took Sarah away. I need your help."
"Yeah, Scully and I will help. When and where should we meet you?"
Mulder and the ranger exchanged information and agreed to meet at the ranger station at the base of the mountain. It would be a long hike up to the cabin. When Mulder ended his call, he quickly exited Scully's room, feeling as if he had broken her trust b y accidentally sleeping in the bed with her. He knew they had a strong bond together. Mulder just wasn't sure what the boundaries were concerning Scully and their platonic relationship.
Six Rivers Ranger Station
The agents pulled into the entrance to the ranger station and saw their guide ready to go. Frank was leaning against the stone wall of the station puffing heavily upon a cigarette, obviously very concerned for safety of his son. Three loaded backpacks lay near his feet for the investigating agents. The burly man stomped the cigarette butt away and greeted his fellow travelers.
"Thanks again for coming so quickly" Frank breathed smoke from his nose.
"That's okay. I just don't understand why we leave this up to professional rescuers?" Scully opted her opinion.
"Well, I've been able to delay the search and rescue operation until 11:00 am tomorrow. I don't want anybody else to be in those woods to end up like poor Andy. I figure we can get to the cabin before it gets dark and conduct our own search at the crack o f dawn tomorrow. With any luck, we can find the kids before the search parties start."
"What do you think that thing is out there, Mr. Perkins?" Mulder asked.
"Call me Frank. And truthfully, I think its a goddamn grizzly. I saw the news reports about Andy's death last night after my son left for the cabin."
"Maybe we'll find out. Hopefully not like Mr. Foster did."
"Yeah, that's why I'm bringing my shotgun with and lots of extra ammo. I take it you feds are armed as well."
Mulder shrugged at the comment and picked up the first backpack. He handed it to Scully with a sly grin, then got his own sack. When they were all set with their backpacks, the trio set up the mountain trail.
The group didn't speak much on the way up to the cabin. Casual comments about the scenery were not on their minds, only concerns of their safety and for the safety of Jared and Sarah. The rocky trail was well marked by paint marks on the trees. The group took short breaks every hour to rest their aching backs. Scully decided to break the silence by questioning her partner about his thought on the case.
"Mulder, do you still think this is Bigfoot were dealing with?"
"Well, you might be curious to know that this is the same mountain range of the famous Patterson/Gimlin video footage from 1967. That footage was never officially disproved, and no significant sightings have occurred since. Until Foster's grizzly slaying . Perhaps the population spread over the past 30 years has forced the mysterious creatures of the forest to fight back."
"But Mulder. They've never been seen before. I don't want you to be disappointed if this just turns out to be a wild animal."
Mulder knew his skeptical partner would rebut his theory. Instead of arguing, he just gave her his telltale wit and a wry smile, "Maybe we should call Marty Stauffer for his opinion."
It was nearly 4:00 when they reached the cabin without incident. However, dusk was setting in soon. Jared emerged from the cabin, with a shoddy makeshift sling around his broken arm. Frank dropped the rifle and gave his son a half-hug. He could tell his s on was still shaken by the whole ordeal. Scully shrugged herself from the tight straps of her backpack to examine Jared's injuries. Minor cuts and bruises adorned his forehead, and Scully fixed the sling to help the ailing youth.
Meanwhile, a curious Mulder crept into the nearby woods to look for some clues to the attacker. Frank followed the wary agent, hoping to kill the monster that hurt his son and kidnapped Sarah.
"Frank, come over here. I found something" Mulder yelled to him.
Frank was stunned to see Mulder gracefully handling a fallen branch with a deep claw mark engraved in it.
"Holy crap! I've never seen claw marks like that before. This monster must be huge. Look at the separation between its digits."
Mulder turned away from the branch to the sandy clay soil. And then he saw what he was looking for. Imprinted in the soft earth in a pile of moist leaves was the largest foot print he'd ever seen. Frank stood next to him, his mouth ajar with amazement and fear.
"I think we're gonna need some more help" Mulder thought out loud.
Perkin's Mountain Cabin
The spacious cabin was adorned with animal trophy heads and wilderness paintings. It contained two bedrooms with two bunks in each, and a small kitchen and den. It was dark by the time the four worried people ate their dinner consisting of canned soup and sandwiches. When they finished and cleaned up, Frank unrolled a map of the mountain range to plot their course of action for the next morning.
"Okay, we're right here. To the west of us about three miles is a river. I presume this monster lives near it. I suggest we split into two groups. There's a marked trail not to far south of here that'll lead to the river. The other group wll take this unm arked hunter's trail to the north of us."
"Alright, but I should go with your son because of his injuries" Scully ushered in her opinion about her group.
"Okay. You and Jared take the marked trail. When you reach the river, wait for me and Mulder. If you find anything or get lost, yell for help or just fire a shot into the air. I'm pretty familiar with these woods, so we shouldn't have any trouble with any one getting lost."
"What do we have in the case of ammo?" Mulder asked inquisitively.
"Well, we have one shotgun, one pistol, and your two handguns. All fully loaded. And let's hope we don't have to use them" muttered Frank.
They had decided to take turns on watch during the night, in case the monster returned. During Scully's watch sometime in the early morn, she could've sworn she heard the beast howling from far away. The shrill sent shivers down her spine. The ferocity of the monster scared her.
Scully fumbled her way back to her shared room with Mulder by candlelight. She didn't want him to wake up and see her shaking. But she couldn't help it, she was only human. She needed comfort and reassurance too, instead of constantly trying to appear str ong and independent.
Scully slowly crawled next to her sleepy partner. She laid her arm across his chest and held him close to her. He released a low moan and a slight twitch. Scully closed her tired eyes and relaxed with Mulder's warmth against her.
The next few moments of Scully's rest were unclear. She didn't know if she was dreaming or not, but she could've sworn she felt Mulder gently rubbing her hair as they slept peacefully next to each other.
Perkin's Mountain Cabin
Mulder and Scully awoke bruptly to the loading and checking of weapons. They found Frank ready to start the search for the missing teenager. Jared sat nearby attempting to tie his shoe strings tight. The group ate a quick breakfast of warm pop-tarts and c old cereal. It was 7:45 when they emerged from the cabin, fully armed to find Sarah. Or the monster. Frank gave his son the pistol to use with his good arm if they should find trouble. When all was set, Jared led Scully down the slope to the well-marked t rail to the river.
Frank and Mulder proceeded to climb up the mountain to the hunter's trail. They found the travel fairly easy since most of the foliage of the forest was gone for the upcoming winter. Damp leaves covered the ground everywhere, making it hard to keep track of their location. After about an hour's travel, Mulder noticed a flock of vultures circling over a nearby area of the forest. Fearing the worst, the men steadied their weapons as they checked it out.
In the center of a glen next to a large boulder lay the decayed carcass of an enormous furry creature. The two curious men circled the dead beast, covering their noses against the foul smell of death. Mulder was astounded to discover it was truly the lege ndary sasquatch.
"What do you think, Mr. Mulder? Is this the same beast that killed Andy."
"I don't think so. Judging from the leaf patterns, I'd say this body was dragged to this spot. Maybe this area is some sort of sacred spot for the bigfoots" Mulder questioned his own logic and reasoning.
"This thing was killed by a gunshot to the head. Maybe Andy managed to get one before they mutilated him. Poor guy. Never had a chance" Frank said obstinately while puffing on the remains of his cigarette.
"You're such an asshole, Frank. Don't you get it. Foster blatantly killed one of the rarest species on earth. For sport and publicity. Look, the gunshot is to the back of the head. These weren't violent creatures until he came along. I'm supposing this wa s the mate of the one we're looking for. That would explain why it took Sarah" Mulder corrected the arrogant outdoorsman.
"So you're saying Sarah's still alive because this monster wants a mate."
"That's my guess. Get some dried wood off the ground. Let's make a quick bonfire for this poor creature" Mulder ordered him.
"How come?" Frank objected notably at the commands.
"A funeral pyre. It's the least we can do."
The pair quickly tossed a few logs and branches over the carcass. When he felt they were ready, Mulder used Frank's lighter to spark the fire. He watched solemnly as the corpse of the elusive giant burned before them. A small tear escaped Mulder's eye as he watched one of mankind's greatest mysteries conclude in tragedy.
Scully brushed a strand of her red hair behind her ears to keep it away from her face. Jared was slighty ahead of her, his ears atune to the sound of the nearby river. Their trek through the well-defined path had been uneventful. Scully feared more with e ach passing moment Sarah's gruesome fate. She tried not to think about it, and managed to keep her mind busy with the hike.
"Do you hear that Agent Scully? That's the river. We'll be there in a few minutes" Jared motioned to her to hurry up her stride.
Scully found the increasing rockiness of the landscape a nuisance, constantly checking her footing so she wouldn't trip. She was relieved to see giant boulders, easy to jump across and land on. She found her way onto a gigantic rock that overlooked the fa st-flowing river. Cupping the morning sun from her eyes, Scully scanned the riverbed for Mulder and Frank. Nothing.
"Agent Scully, do you hear something?" Jared yelled to her from his perch.
Scully tuned out the river momentarily and listened closely. She heard the very delicate echoes of rocks and screams. The faint sounds subdued, and Scully looked over to the anxious Jared.
"Its Sarah! Its gotta be. She sounds close" he exclaimed to Scully. The pair maneuvered toward the soft noise re-emanating somewhere beneath the giant boulders. Within moments, they discovered a crevice between two massive rocks. With the aid of her flash light, Scully illuminated the darkness. The small opening led downward beneath the rocky bed into a very deep cave. Scully was then amazed to see a silouette enter the light. The figure was that of Sarah, battered and bruised from her strenuous ordeal.
"Sarah. My name's Agent Scully. Are you hurt? And alone?"
"It's gone. But my leg's broken" Sarah muttered with discomfort and nausea.
"I'm a doctor. I'm coming down to help you now. Stand clear."
Scully removed her backpack and took out the first-aid kit and some makeshift splints. She nervously prepared for the dark descent.
"You're not going down there are you? You won't be able to get back up here. The wall's too high to climb" Jared beckoned for her not to go.
"Don't worry. Your father and Mulder should be here soon. They have a rope. You can pull us out then" Scully reassured the concerned boyfriend. And with a breath of luck, Scully tumbled gracefully into fifteen feet of oblivion.
Jared zipped up his jacket feeling the cool breeze of the nearby river. He tried to peer in and see Scully, but there just was not enough light. Suddenly, Jared heard the faint sound of leaves being walked upon off in the distance. He spun on his foot and pointed the pistol to the spot where the noise came from. Large trees and boulders blocked most of his view. Damn.
Jared climbed to the nearest high rock to get a better look for the odd disturbance. Still nothing. Suddenly, a stone came hurling out of seemingly nowhere. It missed Jared by inches, but surely scared the hell out of him. Figuring he could scare the beas t, Jared fired two shots close to the rock's origin. Puffy smoke rose from where the bullets struck.
Jared didn't have time to even breathe as a cascade of solid stones came flying through the air at him. He luckily dodged the first two, but the last one collided with his broken arm. He uneasily dropped the handgun to cradle his arm while screaming in pa in. He had one choice now to survive the monster. Suppressing the pain, Jared jumped down back to the crevice opening.
Taking a deep breath, Jared forced himself into the dark lair where an armed Scully and Sarah were. The force of the him hitting the ground knocked the wind out of Jared's sore body. Scully was startled by Jared's unexpected fall, and hurried over to chec k his injuries. Both arms were broken now and he really needed to get to a hospital. Scully just wished that Mulder and Frank heard the gunshots and were on their way.
Mulder was off like a fox when he heard the two successive gunshots. Frank quickly stamped his cigarette and tailed behind Agent Mulder for the first fifty yards, but then he bent over next to a tree, wheezing and coughing.
"Oh shit. I gotta stop smoking" Frank muttered to himself in between breaths.
Mulder was an avid runner and had no trouble finding his way to the river by himself. Frank was far behind him, too weary to move. Giant boulders created an uneasy path for him to follow. He proceeded to follow the river current in hope of getting to Scul ly and Jared in time. It had been almost five minutes since the gunshots. He silently prayed to himself they were safe.
Gun poised straight out, Mulder became worried as he observed no signs of life. Just the flowing sound of the coldwater river nearby. He yelled for them, hoping to get some response.
Suddenly, a large stone landed behind him along the river. Startled, Mulder turned around to investigate the disturbance. Mulder didn't have time to turn back around to react as the enormous beast came hurling at him at an incredibly vicious speed, scream ing wildly.
The hairy mammoth caught Mulder's right hand before he could bring it back around. The handgun flew from Mulder's grip as the ferocious intensity of the beast's attack sent Mulder flailing backwards onto the uneven rocks next to the river. He was too daze d to think straight, possibly a concussion from the fall. Mulder was helpless now.
The angry sasquatch grabbed Mulder's jacket and tossed his beaten body into the rocky shallow river. And with mortal intensity, the monster choked the air from its prey by holding Mulder under the cold currents. He was already unconscious by the time he h it the water. Mulder would be dead momentarily.
Suddenly, the loud echo of a shotgun blast ended the struggle between Mulder and the last remaining sasquatch. The creature oozed blood and tissue from a large wound to the head, killing it instantly. The currents carried the carcass downstream as Frank P erkins pulled Mulder back to shore.
Mulder sat by himself on a rock, silently watching the river flow by. He hoped the serenity of the water would forgive him for the gruesome events earlier that day. Spitting out another sunflower seed, he pulled the thick blanket tighter around his aching body.
With earnest and caring, Scully silently came up behind him and sat closely next to him watching the same rippling currents. Scully hesitated momentarily before detailing Mulder the final facts of the case.
"Sarah's doing well. The bigfoot didn't hurt her. Just some minor cuts and bruises. Jared, however, has broken both arms and is currently being choppered to the nearest hospital with his dad. And three teams of searchers are searching downstream to find t he..."
Scully paused in midsentence to look at her injured partner. She saw a tear in his eye, something he never allows anyone to see. With a warm hand, she wiped it away from him and smiled.
"Are you okay, Mulder?"
"Yeah, its just not easy being responsible for the extinction of the world's most elusive and mysterious creature. It makes me wonder if humanity could have learned something about its past. We're just as vicious as the bigfoot, killing innocent creatures for sport. Hell, we're worse than them. At least they can justify their killing for survival."
Scully listened with patience as Mulder let his heart strings be felt. She knew it was tough for him.
Mulder uncurled the blanket and included Scully in its soft embrace. She sincerely snuggled up close next to him. With their heads tilted together, the tender couple watched the wavy ripples of the water.