Title: Bump in the Night
Summary: She felt as if she'd stumbled into an old horror movie...
Okay, the challenge said:
1. Between now and Sunday night at 11:59 p.m., write and post your challenge story. Check! 2. The story must be titled "Bump in the Night." Check! 3. It must include at least a mention of Halloween. Check! 4. It must include an original character named Pogo. Check! 5. It must begin with this paragraph Check! (Can I get away with moving one line at the end to a separate paragraph, I hope??) 6. The story can be of any rating, any genre, any length you choose. Anything goes as long as you have fun! Check and double-check!
Quick thanks to Dreamshaper and Ropobop for the quick betas ...
She felt as if she'd stumbled into an old horror movie. Dust shrouded the neglected furniture, there was a cobweb veil across every doorway, dark stains of long-ago violence were splattered over the walls and tattered drapes. Only the haunting rumble of organ music was missing from the scene, and she would have welcomed it to mask the hollow sound of her footsteps. The lonely echo reminded her that she had come to this place alone.
Or so she thought, until something brushed against her shoulder.
The door behind her was opening.
"Pretty cool, huh, Scully?"
She spun around on one heel, her heart in her throat, to look up into Mulder's grinning face. He was obviously amused at her reaction to the scene, but she couldn't help it; it just reminded her too much of last Christmas Eve and the ... hallucination ... she'd experienced.
"Mulder," she managed. "What the hell is going on?"
Still grinning, he pushed past her into his apartment, unrecognizable but for the general layout and the number on the door. "Haven't you looked at a calendar lately, Scully?" he asked in a teasing tone, lifting the two plastic bags he held and sliding them onto the table in the entryway. "It's the day before Halloween. You know, ghosts and goblins, candy and trick- or-treating, things that go bump in the night." He looked up at her, merriment dancing in his eyes. "All in all, my kind of holiday."
Scully blew out a frustrated breath. "Yes, I know it's the day before Halloween, Mulder," she said, slowly, as if explaining something basic to someone incredibly dense. "That does not explain why your apartment looks like something out of 'Night of the Living Dead.'"
Mulder glanced around, his gaze turning critical as it moved across the scene. "You like it?" he asked, suddenly serious. "I didn't want it to be too much, but if I'm gonna do this, I want to do it right."
Scully frowned in confusion. "Do what right?" she asked.
Mulder's puzzled gaze landed on her, and then his face cleared and he chuckled. "Oh, I guess I never said anything," he said, almost guiltily. "It's a new thing this building and the one next door are doing this year. A special trick-or-treating thing for the kids. Several families have moved in this year, and the managers decided this would be a good 'neighborhood' event. They're having it tonight because it's not a school night."
Scully nodded. "Sounds like a good idea," she said, looking around again at the room. "So you're jumping right in?"
Her gaze came back to meet his, and he shrugged, nonchalant. "Well, these folks have put up with enough crap because of me, so I figured I could do a little something for them," he said. Then he laughed briefly. "Of course, I imagine most of them will be pretty damn reluctant to bring their kids by, but you never know ..."
His voice trailed off, and he turned and starting digging into his bags. "I hope this is enough candy," he said. "Pogo said there should be about eighteen or twenty kids ..."
"Pogo?" Scully interrupted. "Dare I even ask?"
Mulder glanced up, then grinned again, looking like the twelve-year-old Scully knew he still was inside. "John Pogosian, the landlord," he said. "He says he's been Pogo since before he could talk. You know, like that cartoon character, the possum? He's even got the nose for it." He twitched his own as illustration.
Scully refrained from commenting on nose issues and instead just nodded once and said, "Ah." She turned her attention to the bags of candy, now spilling out across the table in all their multicolored, sugar-laden glory.
"Mulder!" she exclaimed as she counted silently. "You've got at least a dozen bags here!"
Mulder frowned at the layer of candy blanketing his table, his hands planted on his hips. He glanced at her. "Too much?" he asked.
Scully raised one eyebrow at him. "You could say that, Mulder," she said. "You could support a whole chain of dental offices with the fallout from this."
Mulder's frown deepened momentarily, but then he shrugged. "You have to admit, Scully, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here," he said, waving one hand toward his candy cache. "Kids are not exactly my specialty."
Scully was by then examining the varieties Mulder had chosen and started reading off the labels. "Miniature Hershey bars, snack-size Snickers, Gummy Bears, Tootsie Pops ... geez, Mulder, did you leave anything for anyone else?"
"Hey, those shelves were already cleaned out when I got there!" Mulder insisted, defensively. "I had a hard enough time finding any at all, considering that all the aisles were full of Christmas candy already!"
Scully allowed a small smile. "You don't get out much, do you, Mulder?" she asked, her tone somewhere between teasing and reproachful.
Mulder faked a silent laugh as he shoved all the bags together in the center of the table. He glanced at his watch and sighed. "Well, now I've got two hours before the hordes descend," he said. Then he looked at Scully in sudden puzzlement. "What're you doing here, anyway, Scully?"
Scully's eyebrow lifted again. "I was wondering when you'd ask," she said dryly. "Actually, I came by to drop off the printout of that report you left on my laptop. I don't want you playing dumb when we talk to Skinner about it on Monday."
Mulder's eyes opened wide in mock innocence. "Me? Play dumb?" He shook his head sharply. "Nah, never happen." He grinned, the mischief back. "Besides, based on your expertise in candy-to- child rationing, I can always mollify him with a big bag of leftover Halloween candy."
Scully ignored that comment, instead eyeing Mulder speculatively. "Mulder, aren't you going to wear a costume?" she asked.
Taken aback, Mulder stammered out, "Uh, well, I don't guess so ... I mean, the costume aisle was even emptier than the candy aisle, and I don't really know of anything I could ..."
"Oh, that's easy," Scully interrupted, waving a hand to dismiss his protest. "You have all the ingredients right in this apartment for a costume the kids will love."
"I do?" Mulder was thoroughly perplexed.
"Sure," Scully replied. "Dark suit and tie, trenchcoat, sunglasses instant MIB. The kids'll love it. They'll think you're Tommy Lee Jones."
Mulder rolled his eyes. "If only the real men in black were like they are in the movies," he groaned out, only half-joking. Then his eyes zeroed in on Scully. "You know, Scully," he said, his voice at once wheedling and goading, "those men in black rarely work alone ..."
Scully caught on instantly and shook her head emphatically, holding her hands up, palms out, as if holding him off. "No way, Mulder," she said. "This is your Halloween thing, not mine."
Reaching into the pile of candy bags, Mulder pulled out the tiny Hershey bars and waved them at her tantalizingly. "I know you love these, Scully," he said, taunting. "I'm way overstocked here, but I'm not sharing a single piece unless you do the costume thing, too. It's all or nothing, Scully."
She wavered; she knew he knew it. She did love the miniatures; he knew good and well she kept a stock at home and at the office for those rare but overwhelming chocolate cravings.
After all, it was Halloween, she told herself. It was supposed to be fun. Calories shouldn't matter just this one night. Right?
She sighed, defeated. "All right, Mulder," she said, piercing him with a look. "But I'm not wearing one of your suits. Let me go home and get some things."
He grinned in triumph. "All right, Scully, but I'm holding these hostage," he said, swinging the candy bag back and forth in the air. "You're not back by six, they go into the freebie pile."
"Okay, okay, I'm going." She pulled her keys out of her jacket pocket. "You be ready when I get back, though, or I'm not staying. Like you said, Mulder, all or nothing."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, shooting her a teasing salute as she headed out the door.