Title: Dark Places
Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate the death of an FBI trainee and find themselves drawn into a conspiracy.
The tiled hallway of the dorm was quiet. The overhead lights had been dimmed at eleven o'clock, just as they had been for the past fifty years. The somber decor consisted of mostly browns and tans. The linoleum was a shining beige. The walls were painted a dark brown from the floor to the midpoint. The rest of the wall, as well as the ceiling, were tan in color, giving the hall the impression of height. Dark oaken doors were positioned along the hallway at regular intervals from one end of the hall to the gloomy staircase at the other end. The only real splashes of color visible were the red metal of a large fire extinguisher and the bright yellow of the girl's blouse.
"Did you see that?" she whispered to her companion. Her quiet voice broke the silence and echoed off the walls of the deserted hallway.
The metallic scraping of a key in a lock was the only response.
"Jerry," she continued, tugging on his jacket sleeve. "I saw someone."
"Who?" the handsome young man asked.
Long dark hair bounced as she shook her head. "I'm not sure, but he looked pale. He might be sick." The pretty girl took a step toward the staircase before a strange scraping sound from above stopped her in her tracks.
"I didn't see anyone," he said teasingly as he turned toward her. The door would have to wait.
"I..." she glanced back down the hall warily. There was a sudden chill in the air and the girl felt the hair at the nape of her neck stand on end. A shiver ran icily down her spine. "I... saw someone go up those stairs."
"Jo," he sighed. "This is the dorm... it could have been anybody."
"Nobody's supposed to be up now." She replied reasonably. Her sudden ire had a calming effect and she glared at the young man beside her.
Disbelieving, Jerry shook his head and gazed at the staircase.
"I'm telling you, it wasn't just anybody... It was *him*." she said with sudden confidence.
"Please," Jerry snorted. "The 'ghost'?" he asked derisively. "That's just some kooky story, JoAnna."
"There've been other people who..."
He cut her off, "Who are pulling a fast one." Jerry faced the door and turned the key in the lock. He glanced back at her. "So... are you coming in or not?"
She looked at him for several seconds, uncertain.
From somewhere on the upper floors, the distant sound of shattering glass reached their ears. Jo jumped at the unexpected, however muffled, noise.
"No," she decided as she shook her head and took several steps away. "Not tonight... I'm outta here." She quickly headed down the hallway to the exit, giving the staircase a wide berth.
"Damnit!" Jerry cursed quietly. He couldn't understand why things had gone so wrong so fast. Having learned from experience that waiting to apologize was a *bad* thing, he relocked his door and followed her.
He had not really known what to expect when he emerged from the dorm into the night. Maybe he'd have to run to catch up to Jo. Perhaps she'd stopped just outside the door, knowing he was coming to apologize. What he saw was definitely not on his list of expectations.
Jo had only gone about twenty steps before she had stopped. Face up, at her feet, lay the form of a young man. His head rested in a dark puddle which steamed slightly in the chill night air. A trickle of blood moved it's way down the side of his cheek from his nose. Glass littered the ground around him.
Jerry stood, unmoving with shock. The face on the young man was familiar to him, and to the girl beside him.
"Christ, Todd." He whispered to the still air.
For a heartbeat of time, there was silence. Then JoAnna gasped, and fell to her knees beside the body. "No, no, no." she chanted, burying her face in her hands.
Dana Scully walked briskly down the hallway toward the victim's room. She had just left the scene in front of the dorm where the body had initially been found. Unfortunately, the body had been removed and the sidewalk rinsed, hours before she and Mulder had been officially assigned the case.
Although it was early, the halls were lined with young men, eager to catch a glimpse of real detective work. Scully wondered how many of these students were currently skipping class in order to gawk at the proceedings.
Scully reached the room in question and took a moment to find Mulder among the handful of police officers. Mulder was busily dusting the room for prints. He had removed his coat and tie, as well as rolled up his shirt sleeves. In one rubber gloved hand, Mulder held a thick brush.
"Why are we looking for prints?" an aristocratic looking young man asked.
Scully smiled knowingly to herself as Mulder shot the kid a look that would shatter glass before saying, "What's your name?"
The man pulled himself as tall as he could and answered importantly, "Jeremy Weissman."
Mulder raised one eyebrow, "You and your girlfriend found the body right?"
"I am NOT his girlfriend." Scully turned and saw a dark-haired girl sitting on the bed. The girl's hair was long, straight and as black as her eyelashes. Her brown eyes flashed with intelligence and strength, even though she had obviously been crying.
Mulder simply shrugged and returned to the job of dusting the computer that sat on the desk.
Scully walked over to Mulder and said, "There's nothing to go on outside. Someone has cleaned up the scene really well. We'll have to rely on the coroner's photographs and whatever evidence security took. We'll just have to hope they didn't botch anything."
Mulder nodded, "No one wants to admit that a FBI trainee would be unbalanced enough to kill himself. Especially when he was rated as one of Quantico's best and brightest."
"Todd didn't kill himself." A handsome, light haired man said from the doorway. His dark blue eyes bore into Scully as though he could see into her soul. "He would never do something like that."
Scully turned to the three younger people in the room and asked, "Did you know Todd Coffey?"
"Sure," the girl answered. "We all did. We were a part of the same study group."
Scully pulled her notebook from her coat pocket and began to write furiously. "What are your names please?"
The girl answered, "I'm JoAnna Kight."
The brown-haired young man said, "I *told* you, I'm Jeremy Weissman. Why all the questions? Todd jumped. He left a note and everything."
"That may be true," Scully replied. "But we still have to write a report. Welcome to the glamorous world of an FBI investigator. "
"It's not all fun and guns, kiddies." Mulder commented, not looking away from the computer screen. "At times it's just as dull as someone taking a dive off of a government owned building."
Weissman crossed his arms and said sardonically, "Maybe you two are just lousy enough to get all the crummy cases."
Mulder looked at Weissman and smiled slowly. Then went back to brushing at the CRT.
"But Todd didn't kill himself." the fair-haired man re-iterated.
Scully raised her eyebrows at him and asked, "And you are?"
"I am Daniel Torrance."
Mulder interrupted Scully's next question. "Scully. Come here." Scully crossed the room and looked expectantly at Mulder. "Officer," he said to one of the uniformed men nearby, " would you take these people to another room please? And round up the rest of that study group. We'll have a few more questions to ask later."
After the students had left the room, Mulder said, "That kid is right. Coffey didn't kill himself."
"But Mulder, he left a suicide note on the computer." Scully looked at the screen which still glowed the words ominously.
The screen read *Forgive me, Mom. I just can't live like this anymore.*
Mulder handed her a magnifying glass. "But in how many suicides does the victim write his note and then wipe his prints off of the power button?"
Scully looked at the computer in shock. In addition to a plethora of smudged swirls, Mulder had found several clear prints on the screen, on top of the CRT and on the keyboard. However, the single red power switch was puzzlingly void of any marks what so ever. Someone had carefully wiped the switch clean.
"There is definitely more to this case than we've been told." Mulder added.
Later, Mulder and Scully sat in a small office. For legal purposes, Michael Bentley, an administrator with Quantico, sat with them as they questioned the first student.
JoAnna Kight was a lovely young girl with long black hair and dark eyes. She was well proportioned, probably serving as a distraction for many of the other students.
Mulder seemed not to notice the young woman's charms. Once the introductions had been completed, he asked his questions quickly and pointedly. "You are JoAnna Mae Kight ,23, from Minnesota, correct?"
"Yes, Sir." she answered with confidence.
"Tell us about last night."
"Well," the girl began. " Jerry and I had gone out. We'd had a nice time and we were going back to his room."
Mulder glanced at Scully meaningfully. "It wasn't like that!" Kight said defensively. "I wasn't going to sleep with him, I mean." She faltered a bit before stating "Is this necessary?"
"Just tell us what you saw," Scully said soothingly.
"I heard a scraping sound and the sound of glass breaking, but I didn't think much of it. I mean, all those men living in that dorm. They can make a lot of noise sometimes, you know?"
"I left and when I got outside I found Todd laying on the concrete."
Scully asked, "Did you hear any yelling or voices?"
"No." the girl said bluntly.
Mulder, who had been silent until now, asked, "Why did you leave? You hadn't been there very long."
Kight began stuttering, "Well, Jerry and I had an argument." She glanced furtively from one face in the room to the other.
"What about?" Mulder pressed.
The girl swallowed hard. "I don't think you'd believe me."
Mulder flashed his most dazzling, manipulative smile and purred, "Try me."
After a moment's hesitation the girl said quietly, "I saw the ghost."
"What ghost?" Scully asked.
Mulder, his eyes flashing with interest, answered. "Come on, Scully. Surely you've heard the story about Arine's Ghost." Scully shook her head. "Paul Arine was a student here at Quantico during the early sixties. He was a top notch student, best of the best. The official story is that he was cleaning his weapon one day when it accidentally discharged. Blew a six inch hole in his head. He was dead before he hit the ground." Mulder paused for a moment to let this information sink in. He continued, "About six months after his death, an ex-roommate claimed to have seen Arine walking down the halls of the dorm, scared the kid so badly that he left the program."
"Yes," the administrator ,Bentley added. "That story has been circulating on this campus for more than 30 years now."
"But I saw him, " Kight whispered, wide-eyed. "A lot of people have seen him lately."
Mulder looked at Bentley for confirmation.
Bentley said, "It's true that several people have claimed to see strange things lately. But you know how ghost stories are. When the story is popular, people can be more easily convinced they are seeing an apparition. Imaginations are running rampant."
After a few moments of silence, Mulder asked a few more questions. "What is your area of expertise, Kight?"
"Balistics, Sir." She answered.
Mulder nodded. "Do you think Coffey was capable of suicide?"
The girl flinched. "He had been acting a little strange lately, secretive." Kight shrugged. "I thought maybe he'd found a girlfriend. But I suppose it could have been depression." Her eyes filled with unshed tears.
Mulder went on. "Describe the others in your study group."
"The guys?" Kight asked in surprise. "They're all okay, I guess. Jerry can get snooty sometimes. Andrew never has time for anything except studying. Danny's really sweet but he's also very smart. He'll be a great agent."
"Have any of the others argued with Coffey lately?" Mulder asked bluntly.
JoAnna's voice grew cold. "These people are my friends, Agent Mulder. I don't think any of them murdered Todd."
"Of course not." Mulder smiled coldly. "You may go. Please do not discuss the case outside of this room."
The girl looked confused for a moment, shook hands with Scully and Bentley, and then left the room.
"What do you think?" Scully asked Mulder.
"She's a nice enough kid." was the only comment he would reveal.
"Weissman. Have a seat." Mulder gestured the young man toward a chair. "I am Special Agent Fox Mulder. This is Special Agent Dana Scully. I believe you know Mr. Bentley."
Weissman nodded to each of the three in turn.
"Jeremy Weissman," Mulder read from a file in his hands, "son of Jonathan Weissman, the Senator from Vermont."
"That's correct." the young man replied haughtily.
"Daddy probably wouldn't like it much if you got involved in a scandal, would he?" Mulder asked condescendingly.
Weissman wisely bit back his reply.
Scully glared at Mulder before asking Weissman, "Could you tell us what happened last night?"
"I finally got Jo to go out with me, after chasing her around all semester long. Everything was going perfect, until we got back to my room. Then she flipped out, let some shadow scare her and she left. That's when we found Todd."
"Did you see anything?" Mulder asked.
"Just Todd laying on the ground and a lot of blood." he answered.
Scully asked, "Did you hear the window breaking?"
"I heard something. It could have been the glass. I wasn't really paying attention."
Mulder interrupted, "You were too busy trying to talk that girl into your room."
"Yeah. Maybe I was." Weissman snapped. "I'm only human."
"Did you see the figure in the hallway?" Mulder asked quickly.
"No, I did not see JoAnna's ghost if that's what your referring to." Weissman sneered. "Look, I know who *you* are. Todd Coffey killed himself. But you're using that as an excuse to go ghost hunting. Just accept the facts and let poor Todd rest in peace."
Scully broke in. "So you think Coffey jumped?"
"Yes," Weissman went on. "He wasn't cut out for this. He was too moody."
Mulder crossed the room to lean nonchalantly against one wall. "What are the other study group members like?"
Weissman shrugged. "Andy is a book worm, a real nerdy-type. JoAnna, you've already met. She is very special. Dan is strange but he is a good guy, I guess. That's a synopsis, you want details?"
Mulder shook his head, "Have any of them argued with Coffey lately?
"Todd and Andy were always arguing over something or another. They thrived off of debate."
Andrew Remmel was a 22-year-old black man from Arizona, specializing in chemical analysis. He was barely 5'10", his curly hair was cropped close to his head. He wore a thick pair of glasses and wrung his hands nervously during the interview.
"I heard a crashing sound as the window broke, I guess." he answered. "Like I said, I couldn't sleep, so I was studying."
"Was Torrance awake too?" Mulder asked.
"No, he was sleeping like a baby. He always sleeps well when he's listening to 'Metallica'."
"Excuse me?" Scully asked.
Remmel explained, "Dan always wears a pair of headphones to bed at night. He listens to different music every night. He turns the volume all the way up so I can usually just barely hear it. Last night he was listening to 'Metallica'."
"Do you think Todd could have killed himself?" Scully asked again.
"I don't know. Maybe. Can you ever really know somebody that well?"
Mulder spoke up again, "Briefly describe the other members of the study group."
Remmel thought carefully for a moment. "Jo is a gem. She deserves better than she thinks. Jerry can be a snob but he'll stand by his friends in a pinch. Todd was my best friend."
"We heard that you and Coffey fought a lot." Mulder interjected.
"We debated." Remmel explained. "That's different. We enjoyed it."
Mulder nodded. "And what about your roommate, Torrance?"
"Danny's got some aggravating habits but, he's a good room mate, a good friend."
Daniel Anthony Torrance was not a big man. He was broad shouldered but lanky. His light brown hair fell across his forehead, giving him a boyish look.
Dana stood and shook the young man's hand. "Mr. Torrance, I'm Special Agent Dana Scully. I believe you know Mr. Bentley."
Torrance sat in the chair Scully offered. He looked up at her with his deep dark blue eyes. Dana frowned slightly. Torrance's eyes were somehow different. As the man gazed expectantly at her, Dana felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
Scully looked away from the troubling pair of azure orbs and straightened some papers on the desk. Mulder had stepped out of the room to get more water for the coffee machine. As a result, Dana had to stall until he returned.
"Mr. Torrance," she began, as she read the young man's file. " You're from Illinois?"
"For the most part." Torrance answered.
"Could you explain that statement, please?" Scully asked pointedly.
"Well," Torrance began. He paused while Mulder, holding a coffee pot full of water, entered the room.
Mulder poured the water into the percolator. Then, without a word, sat next to Scully.
"Please continue." Scully prompted.
"We moved around quite a bit after my father was killed." Torrance answered.
"When did he die?" Mulder asked abruptly.
Torrance stared thoughtfully at the two agents. For a moment, Scully felt a strange sense of awareness, almost fear. She felt the flesh on her arms begin to crawl.
"He died in a fire when I was five-years-old." Torrance answered in a voice little more than a whisper. There was no sadness or emotion in his voice, just the simple statement of fact.
Mulder began to ask Torrance the same questions he had asked the other students. Dana didn't take notes. She knew that Mulder would later be able to repeat, verbatim, the entire conversation, if necessary. For now, Dana wanted to study Torrance more closely.
Something about Torrance seemed wrong, out of place. Dana examined his hair and face. He looked very young. He exuded a relaxed, level charm which effectively hid any true emotion. She found herself perusing the whiteness of his crisp shirt front and wondered idly if he had any hair on his chest. Dana brushed the thought aside quickly and focused her attention on the young man's face again. She felt her face flush as she realized Torrance was smiling at her slightly. Dana had the sudden, uncomfortable feeling that Torrance knew exactly what she had been thinking.
"Do you think Coffey was capable of suicide?" Mulder was asking.
Torrance's expression changed for the first time, becoming cold and hard. "You know as well as I that Todd was murdered."
Mulder leaned closer to the young man and asked seriously, "How do you know that Coffey was murdered, Torrance?"
"I just know." came the reply.
"Did you hear anything last night?" Mulder pressed.
Torrance shook his head.
"Oh, that's right." Mulder taunted. "You were listening to headphones. You couldn't have heard anything." Mulder paused. "Why do you wear headphones every night?"
Torrance's expression remained flat. "In a large, old place like this, noises at night disturb me."
Mulder concluded the interview and stood. Torrance stood as well and offered Mulder his hand, "Agent Mulder." Torrance said formally as the two men shook hands.
Torrance then turned to Dana. As she returned the hand shake, Dana felt the warmth of his hand course through her body.
"Agent Scully." he seemed to purr.
The warm desire within, turned suddenly to ice as Scully finally discovered what had been troubling her. Looking into the deep blueness of Torrance's gaze, Dana found this handsome young man, full of vitality and youth, had very old eyes. Staring into the eyes of Daniel Torrance was like looking into the depths of an ancient pool.
"Strange." Scully whispered aloud after Torrance had left the room.
Mulder nodded. "Almost 'spooky'" he joked, though there was no humor in his voice. "Scully, did you tell him my name?"
Dana, wide eyed with shock, shook her head.
"Neither did I." Mulder mumbled thoughtfully.
"Are you ready to order?" the perky young waitress asked.
Mulder glanced expectantly at Scully who was still perusing her menu. They sat in a booth at a local burger joint. The Amber Pub had been a popular gathering place for Quantico recruits for decades. The mostly leather and oak decor provided a warm and friendly atmosphere that helped to relieve the inevitable tension of the FBI training program.
"Tell me that you still make those incredible chili-burgers," Mulder grinned at the girl flirtatiously.
"You mean the 'Re-run Homerun'?" she returned his smile.
"Yes!" Mulder exclaimed, slapping one hand on the scarred table. "I love those things."
"Mulder," Scully warned. "Those things kind of repeat on you."
Mulder grinned again. "But they are so good the second time around." He glanced at the waitress. "Make that with extra onions."
Scully groaned. "Remind me to hate you later."
"You won't need me to remind you." Mulder teased. "You could get one too and we'd be even."
Scully answered, "I can't eat that and retain my lady-like composure."
"Who said you were a lady, Scully?"
"Don't make me hurt you, Mulder."
"Promises, promises." then to the girl he added, "Give me a Heinkin with that."
Scully glanced quickly over her choices once more then said, "I'll have the chef salad and a diet soda."
Mulder rolled his eyes at her in a I-went-to-all-that-trouble-to-entertain-you-with-my-creative-order-for-wha t? look.
Scully ignored him, choosing that moment to become engrossed in the file folder by her side.
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, she asked, "So what do you think? Any suspects?"
Mulder shrugged noncommittally, taking a drink from his glass of water. "Do you have any ideas?"
Scully sighed, organizing her thoughts. She knew Mulder had already formed a few opinions of his own. He was just allowing Dana the luxury of voicing her thoughts first.
"Well," Scully began after the waitress had brought their drinks and left again. "I don't think Miss Kight had anything to do with it."
"Why not?" Mulder asked.
"I don't think she could have forced Coffey out a window with out some kind of struggle. He was somewhat bigger than she is. I'm not saying that she couldn't have killed him, just that she couldn't have done it easily."
Mulder took a swig from his beer. "I agree. There would have been more evident signs of a fight. What about Weissman?"
Scully almost smiled. She and Mulder were thinking along the same lines. "He did seem a bit callous about the whole thing didn't he?"
"But Kight and Weissman alibi each other." Mulder observed.
Scully added thoughtfully, "But Remmel alibi's Torrance. He said that Torrance was sleeping soundly at the time of the murder."
"Maybe Remmel is lying." Mulder pointed out. "He may be trying to give himself an alibi in defending Torrance."
They paused for several minutes while the young waitress served their meals. Mulder smiled contentedly as he bit into the large, messy sandwich.
"What about Torrance?" Scully finally asked.
"No." Mulder answered definitively. "He didn't kill Coffey."
Scully frowned at Mulder's complete confidence.
Mulder added, "If Torrance were the killer, he would have wanted the suicide story to stick. That kid is just too intent on the murder angle."
Scully suddenly stopped, a fork-full of salad halfway to her mouth. On the far side of the room, she could see the students in question, gathered around a table. Torrance himself was staring at her intently. Dana had the sudden sensation that she may have missed a button on her blouse, leaving her naked and exposed to this young man's eyes.
"Why else would they send 'Spooky Mulder' and his 'Girl Friday' to work on this case?" Jerry was saying. "I think that they are taking this ghost thing seriously."
"Doesn't that mean that there is some truth to the stories?" Jo asked.
"The only truth to that story is that Arine blew his own head off." Jerry answered viciously.
"But I saw it," Joanna countered. "And it was real. I know it was real."
"Keep it up, Jo." Jerry cooed. "You may be able to convince yourself."
"Come on, Jerry" Andrew said quietly. "Leave her alone. We are all shaken up by Todd's death. We shouldn't start in on each other this way."
"Don't start, Andy." Jerry complained.
"What do you think, Danny?" Jo asked. "Danny?"
Danny was sitting on the edge of his chair staring across the room. His eyes were dull and he was breathing in that raspy, strange way he had when ever he was concentrating.
"Danny?" Jo asked again.
He answered, his voice sounding hollow and far away, "They are talking about us."
Jo and her companions followed Danny's gaze and they found themselves looking straight at the two agents they had met earlier.
"Scully?" Mulder asked.
Scully blinked. How long she had been sitting there, staring at Torrance, she wasn't sure. She carefully set her fork down and wiped her mouth with a napkin. Mulder turned in his chair to see what had so grasped his partner's attention. Mulder saw the four students watching him cautiously. Mulder smiled wryly at them and waved.
Three of the four heads looked quickly away. Torrance, however, continued to stare.
"He gives me the creeps," Scully whispered.
"Why?" Mulder asked. "he's sort of good looking. And he's really not that much younger than you are."
Scully shot him a threatening look.
Mulder couldn't resist. "Maybe he's just got the hots for you, Scully."
"Shut up and eat, Mulder. I want to get out of here."
"He gives me the creeps," Jerry continued making sure he'd turned out of the agents' line of sight so they wouldn't be able to read his lips. "Nobody that unbalanced should be working for the FBI."
"Why do you say he's unbalanced?" Joanna asked, feeling her ire rise.
Jerry met her angry gaze. "Well... because..."
"Because he believes in 'ghosts'?" Jo shot back. She'd heard the stories about 'Spooky' too but that didn't mean he was crazy. "You can't base an opinion of character on hearsay, Jerry. Remember Ethics class?"
Jerry quieted a little under her argument. "But, still," he continued trying to make his own point clear. "They're going on a ghost hunt when it's clear that Todd killed himself."
"Todd was murdered," Daniel's voice broke in sounding certain yet oddly flat.
Three young faces turned to him.
Dana turned to Mulder. She had finished her small salad and was watching Mulder savor the last of his meal. "So if none of those students murdered Coffey, it had to have been someone we haven't interviewed yet."
"Someone or some thing," Mulder said calmly.
Dana sighed heavily, "Don't tell me that you think a ghost threw that man out a window."
Mulder shrugged. "When all rational explanations fail, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Dana cocked one eyebrow at her partner. "Perhaps we should determine if there are any other suspects before we call for Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd."
Mulder rolled his eyes theatrically, "The Ghostbusters aren't REAL, Scully. That's just a movie."
"Its nice to know that you're beginning to grasp the concept of a real world." She teased.
"And somewhere in the world TinkerBell is having a coronary." Mulder deadpanned.
A moment later, the waitress brought the check. As Mulder stood, pulling several bills out of his wallet, he said seriously, "We should talk to Coffey's professors. They may have noticed something."
She nodded in agreement. As she followed Mulder toward the door, Dana glanced back at the other table. The three other students had disappeared but Torrance hadn't moved. The young man's eyes bore eerily into, almost through, her.
She shivered slightly, then quickly followed Mulder out the door.
Danny Torrance sat on the fire escape on the second story of the dorm. He watched other trainees walking across the grass. For the most part, classes were over for the day. Shadows were beginning to lengthen, and many of the students were headed to dinner or to study groups.
Torrance wasn't hungry. He simply sat on the wrought iron, half listening to the passing conversations, and contemplated his dilemma. Danny had known all along that Todd had not taken his own life. Suicide was a concept that had never even entered Todd's mind. However, after going to class this afternoon, Danny now knew who had murdered his friend, thereby causing the dilemma. Danny knew, but he had no proof. Even the motive behind the killing was little more than an amorphous idea, nothing worthy of the required investigation. So now, Danny sat, thinking carefully about his next move.
"Torrance." a voice called from within his room. Danny ducked his head in the window and saw his roommate beckoning to him. "Dan, you have a phone call, in the lobby."
Danny nodded and quickly crawled back into the room. He jogged down the hall and took the stairs two at a time, skidding to a stop at the public phones.
"Hello," he said breathlessly.
"Hi'ya Doc. How goes the G-man training?" a deep and familiar voice said.
Danny smiled affectionately. "It could be better, Dick."
Torrance could almost sense his old friend's sad smile through the phone line. "I had sort'a thought something might be wrong, Doc. What's happened?"
"A friend of mine was killed last night," Danny began. Without hesitation, he then proceeded to tell Dick the major details of the day's events. Danny had known Dick Halloran most of his life. They had met long ago, during that terrible winter when Danny had lost his father. Dick had already been an old man twenty years ago, but he had still saved young Danny's life. In the months and years following the tragedy, Halloran had quite probably also saved the boy's sanity.
Dick hadn't changed much in the past two decades. Over eighty years old, Dick now lived in a very posh assisted living community for the elderly. However, despite his age and severe arthritis in his left knee, Halloran had never really retired. He cooked exquisite meals everyday for the two hundred other residents living in the community.
"I know who did it, Dick. I know who killed him. But I need to prove it." Danny was saying.
"I told you, Doc. I told you this would happen if you chose that line of work." Dick said gently. "There are going to be times when you won't ever be able to prove anything. You will know people are getting away with murder and you won't be able to do anything about it."
"I know. Life's not always fair. Neither is death." Danny had learned that truth many years ago. He sighed and closed his eyes, focusing inward.
"Is there anything I can do to help you, Doc?" Halloran asked.
Behind the closed lids of Danny's eyes, an image formed. He could see two familiar people, a man and a woman, walking across a parking lot toward one of the buildings where classes were held. Both wore overcoats that billowed behind them as they strode purposefully across the pavement. The red-haired woman, shorter by nearly a foot, had to almost jog to keep up with her long legged companion.
Danny smiled "No, Dick," he said reassuringly, eyes still closed. "I think I've already found some help."
Mulder and Scully climbed the cement stairs and entered the brick building. There were a handful of students scattered through the halls. Scully glanced at Coffey's schedule of classes, wondering how many of the professors would be available at this time of day. Mulder walked briskly past assorted classrooms, knowing exactly where he was going. Scully was forced to hurry in order to keep up with him.
Scully sighed loudly. Mulder noticed and took the hint. He slowed his pace just enough so that Scully no longer had to run. Dana didn't mind though. Mulder had spent all afternoon, twiddling his thumbs, while she performed a detailed autopsy on Todd Coffey. Now, with evidence of foul play and an entire afternoon's worth of pent up energy, Mulder was eager to get to work.
"Are the Ethics classes still in the same hall?" Mulder asked.
"I think so." Scully answered. "But I can't be sure. I never had reason to be in that area while I was teaching here."
They turned a corner and found a small sign posted on a simple wooden door. The sign read ' Prof. S. Tang- Ethics.'
Mulder knocked briefly, entering before an answer was received.
"Professor?" Mulder said. "Do you have a few moments?"
The dark haired Asian-American man behind the desk stood and peered carefully at Mulder. "Good grief, Mulder. Is that you?"
"Yes, Sir." Mulder shook the Professor's hand politely.
The older man then turned to Dana and said, "Give me a moment. I pride myself in never having forgotten a face."
Scully smiled. She had always liked Prof. Sam Tang and his classes. The ethics classes were something you couldn't exactly pass or fail. The entire concept was too ambiguous for grades. Prof. Tang's class had only two grades, satisfactory or undesirable. If one's own personal beliefs were too corrupt for even the FBI, you were simply run out of the program. Usually, socio-pathic behavior or a serious disrespect for authority were discovered during initial admission interviews. As a result, Scully could never remember anyone who had failed to achieve a satisfactory grade in the class.
Sam Tang himself was an intriguing man. He was quite tall, nearly 6' 3", and was built like a football quarterback. He had dark hair and well tanned skin. His mixed heritage had given him smooth, flawless skin, giving him a look of undeterminable age. Prof. Tang could be anywhere from 35 to 65 years old. Dana remembered more than one young woman being smitten by the teacher's good looks and intelligent debate.
"Scully!" the professor suddenly exclaimed. "Dana Scully. I knew I could remember. Weren't you teaching over in the forensics department?"
"For a while." Dana admitted.
"Sir," Mulder interrupted, "We are here to ask you a few questions."
Tang nodded seriously, "About Coffey? And his unfortunate death?"
Tang shrugged and sat down at his desk. "There's not much to say really. I had noticed that he'd been a little moody over the past several days. But I had simply attributed it to the nature of the discussions we'd been having in class."
"What was the topic this week, Sir?" Mulder asked.
"Homosexuals and women in the military. Always a hot topic." Tang answered.
Scully asked, "Had you noticed Coffey arguing with anyone in particular?"
"Agent Scully," the professor chided. "You know how this class is set up. Every one argues regularly with everyone else here. But I don't think Coffey had made any enemies during a debate if that's what you mean."
"Exactly what do you think?" Mulder questioned bluntly.
"I think the boy simply couldn't deal with the pressure any longer. His mother was terribly proud of him, to the point of suffocation. That prevented him from simply quitting. He just could not see another way out of the situation." Tang paused sadly. "It's a shame really. Losing a bright young man like that." After another pause, Tang said suddenly, "His father committed suicide too you know, about twelve years ago."
"The only problem with that, Sir, is Coffey didn't kill himself. He was murdered." Mulder stated.
Tang frowned, then raised one eyebrow at them, "You have proof of this?"
"Yes, Sir. We certainly do," Scully said with confidence.
"Dana! Come in. Come in!" The small grey-haired man said.
Mulder and Scully walked into the sterile looking, dissection room to speak with Professor Carl Ryman. The professor was barely three inches taller than Dana. He greeted her with a warm smile and a hug.
"To what do I own this honor?" Ryman asked. "Are you here to teach a few classes for me?"
"Sorry, C.R. We're here on official business." Scully answered. "Do you know my partner, Fox Mulder?"
As the two men shook hands the smaller said, "I'm not sure. Were you ever in my class Agent Mulder?"
"Yes, Sir." Mulder answered. "I had to attend a couple of sessions during your first years as a teacher here."
Ryman chuckled. "That was a rough time for me. No wonder I don't remember you."
Mulder smiled sheepishly, "I'm surprised you've forgotten. I *did* toss my cookies all over your loafers during that first autopsy."
The little man grinned back. "I can't possibly be expected to remember every trainee who pukes on me now can I? Occupational hazard I guess."
Mulder liked this man, in spite of himself, "That's what they get for making all of us watch those things."
"You need to get accustomed to seeing dead bodies, Agent Mulder." The little professor had obviously had this discussion before.
"A dead body is one thing. Cutting it apart and yanking out bits is another one all together." Mulder mumbled.
Ryman ignored the comment and turned to Scully. "So, Dana. To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you?"
"We'd like to talk to you about the death of Todd Coffey." she said simply.
Ryman paled. "What? When?"
"Coffey was killed early this morning. The cause of death was severe cranial trauma." Scully frowned.
"In other words, his skull impacted with the pavement after a three story fall." Mulder reiterated.
"My God." Prof. Ryman whispered. "I didn't know. No one told me." He paused for a moment. "What happened exactly?"
"The incident is still under investigation." Scully replied.
"How could an accident like this have happened?"
"It wasn't an accident C.R," Scully said calmly. Ryman frowned. "I did the autopsy myself." she continued. "I found slight abrasions on each side of his neck."
"Strangulation marks?" Ryman asked professionally.
Dana shook her head. "No. These marks were caused by his shirt collar."
Mulder stepped behind the professor and demonstrated as he spoke. "Someone picked Coffey up by the scruff of his collar and tossed him through the window."
"Those wouldn't have been very visible marks, Dana." Ryman said as he straightened his own shirt. "You must have been looking pretty hard. Did you know that foul play was involved?"
"We had suspected it." Dana confided. "What we need to know now is whether or not you noticed anything peculiar about Coffey lately. Did you notice anyone harassing him?"
Ryman shook his head. "Coffey was a fine trainee. He had a real knack with forensics. He did seem a little preoccupied lately though."
Mulder asked, "Had you seen him arguing with anyone lately?"
Ryman shrugged. He then started as he remembered something. "I did see him at the library the other day, arguing with Jeremy Weissman. It did look like a heated argument. I didn't think anything of it at the time."
"Did you hear anything specific?"
Ryman nodded slowly, thinking. "It was something about someone Coffey was seeing. But I don't really think heresay will go far in court."
"Probably not," Mulder replied. "But, it's a place to start."
"True. Todd Coffey was a bright kid. He was one of the most gifted students I've ever taught."
"Thanks, C.R. Will you be available if we have more questions later?" Scully asked.
"Still in the same office. Stop in sometime," He grinned. "We'll do lunch."
"Oh my God."
Mulder and Scully were standing in the doorway of a spacious lecture hall. At the front of the room were two large black boards, covering an entire wall. Near one corner stood a large oak desk, littered with texts and papers. A dark haired woman sat behind the desk.
"Oh my God." the woman repeated. Her hair was pulled back into a loose bun, several uncooperative tendrils flowed softly against her neck. She looked to be in her mid-forties and was quite good looking, even in her austere suit. "Is this the prodigal Mr. Mulder I see before me?" she sneered as Mulder and Scully approached her desk.
Mulder blinked lazily and nearly smiled. "Hello, Catherine," he said.
"Hm" she huffed in return. She coolly inspected Scully from top to bottom. "And who is this?" she asked.
Mulder introduced the women to each other. "Special Agent Dana Scully, my partner. This is Dr. Catherine Burkett, psychology professor." He then leaned close to the professor and murmured, "Please, Catherine. We're here on official business."
"Of course you are." Burkett replied tartly. "Why else would you bother coming back here?"
Mulder sighed and glanced miserably at Scully.
"I take it you two know each other..." Scully began.
"Certainly, Agent Scully." Burkett crossed her arms angrily. "Mr. 'Spooky' Mulder is the single greatest disappointment to ever walk out of my classroom."
Mulder leaned nonchalantly against the first row of student desks. "You didn't always find me... disappointing," he said deliberately.
"Perhaps I did." Burkett answered. "Maybe I'm just a good actor."
Scully glanced quickly from the flashing, angry eyes of the professor, to the calm expression on Mulder's face. Despite his apparent ease, Dana could still see the tension that her partner was trying to hide. This was *not* an argument Scully wanted to get involved in.
"Dr. Burkett," Scully interrupted professionally. "We'd like to ask you a few questions about one of your students, Todd Coffey."
After glaring for several moments at Mulder, the older woman composed herself.
"Yes," Burkett said, breathing in deeply. "Such a shame. A handsome young man like that. I've spent the entire day discussing suicide and depression with my other students. I need to do what I can to prevent any additional attempts."
Scully was intrigued. "Do you think there will be other deaths, Doctor?"
Burkett shrugged, "It is hard to say. There are well documented cases of one suicide triggering others."
Mulder spoke. "But Coffey was murdered."
Burkett glanced sadly at Mulder. "Over the years, I have heard about your unorthodox theories, Mr. Mulder. Do you really think Paul Arine's spirit killed that boy?"
Mulder crossed his arms defiantly across his chest. "What if I told you, Yes-I think it is a possibility"
"I'd say that your overworked psyche has finally snapped." Burkett answered simply.
Scully stepped forward, "Dr. Burkett, have you noticed anything about Coffey lately. Had he argued with anyone? Had his grades or attention span suddenly dropped? Anything?"
Burkett shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. Todd was an excellent student. He was very attentive and understanding. I'm afraid I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary."
"Was your relationship with Coffey purely professional?" Mulder asked bluntly.
"Totally professional, Mr. Mulder." the professor seethed. "Now, if you will excuse me. I am quite busy."
"That was... enlightening," Scully said cautiously as the two agents left the classroom.
Mulder glared at her.
"So, what have we learned?" Scully wisely changed the subject.
Mulder stood thoughtfully in the hall for a moment and rubbed his chin. "We know that: one," he held up a finger to punctuate his points, "Weissman hasn't told us everything he knows; and two, Professor Tang is hiding something."
Scully looked at him stunned. "How do you know that?" She knew it was a redundant question.
"Tang was *way* to helpful. I mean, he offered the fact that Coffey's father committed suicide. It almost felt like he thought suicide was genetic. He either figured we hadn't done the routine background check or there is something he doesn't want us to know. And he was a little too defensive when we told him we had evidence of murder." Mulder shook his head. "No, there's definitely something the Ethics professor is hiding."
"That's pretty vague, Mulder," Scully commented. "Dr. Burkett could be hiding some things too, you know." she added carefully.
"Probably." Mulder stated shortly. "But not murder."
"Are you that sure of her, Mulder?" Scully asked seriously.
Mulder pushed open the main doors to the building, holding them wide for Scully to proceed. "Catherine Burkett is a lot of things, Scully. But a murderer is not one of them."
Danny stood against a lamp post, waiting for the two agents to come out of the building. It was dark by this time and there were few other people about. A slight chill had settled in the air but Danny barely noticed.
Danny was absently tracking the agents through the building. He knew that they were currently talking to the attractive psychology professor. He could feel tension in the distant room but didn't bother to press for more information.
"Hey, Torrance. What's up?" the sudden voice startled Danny from his thoughts.
Danny turned to find his roommate staring cautiously at him. "Christ, Andrew. You scared the hell out of me."
"Sorry." Andrew said miserably. His dark skin had taken on a vague grayish tinge that concerned Danny.
"Are you alright, Andrew? You look a little pale."
Andrew shuffled from one foot to the other. "You first, Danny. What are you doing here?"
Danny shrugged. "Waiting"
Andrew glanced up at the stone building. "They are in there aren't they?" he said confidently.
"What are you going to tell them?" Andrew frowned.
"Nothing." Danny replied. Andrew was way too nervous. "I'm going to offer my help in finding the killer."
Andrew nodded and crossed his arms. "You're going to tell them, aren't you?" he said, his voice rising. "You're going to tell them what happened last week." Andrew was nearly shaking with frustration at this point. "Well, I'm warning you Danny. I won't back up your story. I'll deny everything."
"Andrew," Danny soothed. "I won't even mention your name. I promise."
"I can't afford to be involved in this thing, Danny. I won't jeopardize my career over something I may or may not have seen."
Danny sadly shook his head. "You just choose to ignore it, eh? Just because you find something extraordinary, it must not have been real. Is that the case, Andrew?"
"It wasn't real!" Andrew nearly cried. "It was NOT real." The other man, though smaller, suddenly grabbed Danny by the shirt collar and shook him violently.
Danny suddenly realized, that for Andrew, the things they had seen had been mere imagination. For Andrew to understand otherwise would cause him to lose all sanity. Danny shook his head sadly. "I'm sorry, Andrew. You're right, of course. I won't say anything about you, honest."
Andrew shook him again. "Swear it." he growled.
"I swear." Danny replied.
The two young men stood glaring at each other when a third voice suddenly said, "Swearing is bad for the soul."
Mulder and Scully stepped from the stone building to find Andrew Remmel yelling at Daniel Torrance and shaking him in the air like a rag doll. Torrance, however, was calm. He spoke soothingly to Remmel, reassuringly.
"I swear." Torrance was saying.
The two men, oblivious to the agents' approach, both jumped at the sound of Mulder's voice. "Swearing is bad for the soul."
Remmel quickly released his roommate's collar. "Danny and I were just discussing a few things. Right Danny?"
"Sure." The two young men glared meaningfully at each other for several moments.
Remmel said, "I've got to go. I have to study." With one last glance at Torrance, he said, "Remember, Danny. You promised."
"I won't forget, Andrew."
After Remmel had disappeared into the night, Scully asked, "What was that all about?"
Torrance shook his head absently. "Nothing important. He gets annoyed when I don't pick up my socks."
The looks on their faces were obvious indicators neither Mulder nor Scully believed the story. Mulder shrugged and started down the sidewalk. Scully quickly followed his lead.
"Wait!" Torrance called, jogging after the two agents. "I was hoping to speak with you for a moment."
Mulder turned to the young man, wordlessly glaring at him. Torrance, admirably, didn't even flinch at Mulder's piercing gaze.
Torrance continued, "I want to help you with your investigation."
"Why?" Mulder asked simply.
Torrance crossed his arms defiantly across his chest. "Because Todd was my friend. And, because I know who the killer is."
Scully eagerly stepped forward. "Do you have proof?" she asked.
"No." Torrance replied.
Mulder leaned casually against a lamp post. "What makes you think you've found the killer, then?"
"I know." Torrance answered ominously.
"How?" Mulder insisted.
"You won't believe me." the younger man replied sadly.
Mulder nearly laughed. "Try me."
The three sat on a stone bench before a small fountain. Black water spewed from a stone sculpture's lips. The moon played hide and seek with mountainous clouds in the sky, plunging the surroundings into nearly complete darkness at regular intervals.
Scully listened with sickened fascination as Torrance calmly related his tale. Mulder was obviously intrigued with the young man's story. Scully hoped her partner would try to be reasonable rather than accepting such foolishness too easily.
"This afternoon, when I went to class," Torrance was saying, "I could feel it. I knew that he had killed Todd." Danny, having told his story, watched the two agents carefully. They were both ridiculously easy to read, as most intelligent people were. The woman was wondering if she should get Danny some mental help. The man was trying to pick the truth from the falsehoods. 'That's encouraging,' Danny thought to himself 'at least he believes some of it.'
"So," Mulder said carefully. "You're saying that you are telepathic."
"Mulder," Scully warned.
Danny Torrance shook his head, "No. No, it's more than telepathy. For as long as I can remember, I *have* been able to hear people's thoughts, but there's more to it than that." Torrance frowned and looked at both Mulder and Scully in turn. Finally he seemed to come to a decision. He took a deep breath and told his rapt audience everything he knew.
"It was once described to me as a *shining*. Its like a light in my head. It can lead me toward things or away from them as I choose to interpret it. I can see into dark places."
"Like a human mind..." Mulder interrupted.
Danny nodded. "Or a human fate."
Scully sighed heavily. "Are you telling me that you can see the future?" she scoffed.
"Not really." Danny desperately tried to explain the unexplainable. "I can ... decipher different pathways, see where those paths may lead. What I see doesn't always come to pass because an alternate path can be chosen."
"How do you do it? Wave your hand over a crystal ball?" Mulder asked flatly.
Danny chuckled. "Unraveling future possibilities is not that easy. I have to really concentrate, even then it won't always work. On the other hand, the easiest thing for me, is to pick up on emotions. The feelings and needs of those around me have almost... an energy that can be difficult to block out at times."
Mulder asked wryly, "Can you read *my* mind?"
Danny sighed, "If I wanted to. Look, many people have the same ability to some small extent. Most women, especially mothers of young children, have at least a twinkle. You both shine more than a little, you know."
Mulder and Scully glanced warily at each other.
Danny plunged on, "Haven't you ever just *known* about something? Have you ever had a hunch that just happened to be right on the mark? Do you think that is always just a coincidence?"
The two agents seemed a bit less skeptical but still not convinced.
"You don't believe me." Torrance said surely.
"You've got to admit Mr. Torrance," Scully said uneasily. "This is a lot to accept on your word alone."
Danny nodded. He stared into the dark fountain, understanding the skepticism of the two agents. Danny knew they would need more proof. The water bubbled soothingly in the small pool. Danny focused on the calming sound. He had known that the others would want more to go on. He had known...
...known that there was something waiting in the reflection of the pool. Waiting... calling to him... --*Danny?*
Scully shook the young man gently. "Mr., Torrance? Mr. Torrance? Danny?" She exchanged a worried glance with Mulder. Torrance's entire body had suddenly gone limp. His head lolled to one side lifelessly.
"What's wrong with him, Scully?" Mulder asked. "Is he having a seizure of some sort?"
"I'm not sure." Scully loosened the young man's collar and felt for a pulse. She sighed in relief when she found a slow but strong beat.
"Gaaaa..." Torrance said throatily.
Mulder and Scully watched helplessly as Torrance started to speak.
"REDRUM..." he said clearly. "One heartbeat...one breath..." Scully flinched suddenly at Torrance's words. "One eye..." he went on obliviously. "One green eye... in the dark. Starbuck !.." Torrance suddenly yelled. "...Watch your back!"
Scully's breath came in ragged gasps. Mulder grabbed her shoulder. "Scully?" he whispered with concern. "Are you alright? What is he doing to you?"
Scully shook her head slowly in disbelief. Her eyes grew even wider as she watched Torrance lifelessly slip off of the bench and slam heavily against the stone walkway.
(End Part 2)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (XFC SciNut) Newsgroups: alt.tv.x-files.creative Subject: NEW: "Dark Places" 3a/3 by Michele Blankenship Date: 22 Nov 1995 13:11:16 -0500
Okay, this part is longer than I remember. I had to split it.
I didn't write this.. just posting it. All comments to Michele at Phenyx@aol.com
First off- The characters in this story are based upon the characters created by Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions, and the Fox Network. All Characters are used without permission, solely for entertainment purposes. Any sale of this story for profit is strictly illegal. -Enjoy.-
"DARK PLACES" 3/3 By Michele Blankenship AKA Phenyx@aol.com (with editing contributions from Karen Enriquez) started 6/27/95 -completed 11/05/95
Daniel Torrance sat on the ground with his back propped against the low wall surrounding the fountain. He held a red- spattered handkerchief to his nose to stop the flow of blood that had resulted from his untimely encounter with the stone sidewalk. He had his head tilted back slightly as he stared calmly through the darkness at the two federal agents before him.
Mulder sat on his haunches in front of Torrance, frowning with concern over the amount of blood appearing on the piece of white cloth. "Are you *sure* you're going to be all right, Torrance?" he asked again.
The younger man waved him off. "I've had worse."
Mulder nodded slowly. He then stood and moved to the stone bench where Scully still sat. Mulder felt a swell of panic rise in his throat as he studied her. Scully was sitting rigidly on the bench, staring blindly toward the fountain. Every muscle in her body seemed tense. She sat with her arms wrapped tightly around her body in a manner that Mulder found quite alarming.
"Scully?" he whispered, placing one hand on her shoulder. Mulder's concern increased when he realized that his usually unflappable partner was shivering. "Scully? Talk to me. Are you okay?"
She nodded jerkily in response.
"What did I say that frightened you, Agent Scully?" Torrance asked as he stood.
Scully suddenly came to life, flying at Torrance. "Who told you about us?" She yelled. "How did you get such detailed information about me?"
Torrance calmly wiped the last of the blood from his face and answered, "No one told me. I just know."
"Scully..." Mulder said softly. He grabbed Dana's elbow and gently turned her to face him. "What is going on with you?"
Scully stood silently for a moment. Mulder could see her battling her emotions for control. A moment later she won the fight. Scully looked fiercely up at Mulder and said simply, "He's telling the truth."
Mulder and Scully drove back to D.C. in silence. Neither spoke for a long time. They had left the exhausted Torrance at his dorm, agreeing to meet with him after classes the following day.
For now, Mulder's main concern was with Scully's current state of mind. She had not uttered another word since declaring Torrance's story fact. Mulder was worried.
Finally, they pulled up in front of Scully's apartment. Mulder turned off the ignition and turned to her. He put one hand on Scully's shoulder, caressing the muscles there.
"Talk to me, Scully." he whispered gently.
Scully closed her eyes for a moment and sighed heavily. After a long moment of silence she began, "He knows things, Mulder. He knows about the nickname my father always used with me. He knows things about me that I have never told anyone... Never." She paused and looked seriously into Mulder's eyes. "He could not have faked those things, Mulder. I believe him."
Mulder gazed in wonder at Scully's face. Even in the darkness of the car, Mulder could see her eyes shining brightly. "But he only spoke two or three sentences, Scully. I've never seen you so sure of anything like this before."
Scully shivered again. She looked warily at Mulder for a long moment before saying, "There are some things I've never told you Mulder." After a long pause, she added "I think I'd like to talk about it now."
They went into Scully's apartment. While Scully changed, Mulder heated some soup in the kitchen. By the time Scully returned wearing a comfortable sweat suit, Mulder had two steaming mugs ready.
Mulder sat on the couch, waiting patiently for Scully to begin talking. For a long time she simply stared into her soup. There was only the one table lamp on. The shadows made it difficult for Mulder to read her expression.
Scully started talking suddenly. "I still don't remember anything from the period of time when I was gone." She looked up at Mulder cautiously. "I don't know where I was or how I got to the hospital. The first thing I *do* remember is Nurse Owens."
"Owens?" Mulder asked with a frown.
Scully held up one hand to silence him. "Please, let me tell this in my own way."
Mulder nodded, grasped her extended hand and curled it protectively in his own.
"I was partially aware of being in the hospital. I was wearing a medical gown. Nurse Owens was there, taking care of me. I dimly remember you and Missy standing nearby. So, I was in the hospital, but not in the hospital at the same time. It seemed very peaceful there. Very calm. It was very much like floating." Scully's face had taken on a rapt expression as she stared off into space at something Mulder could not see.
Scully went on. "It was very tranquil. I could have easily stayed in that place. But then my father came to me. He was real, Mulder, as real as you are now." Scully's bottom lip quivered slightly. "I remember him telling me how short his life had seemed. His life had seemed to be only the length of one breath, one heartbeat. He said that we would be together again someday but not at that time." Scully paused sadly for a moment. "Then I woke up in intensive care. You and Mom and Melissa all came to see me. But Mulder, there was no Nurse Owens at the hospital. Never had been. She had been part of that other plane."
The two of them sat for a long time. The only sounds were the metallic clank of spoon against cup and soft sipping sounds as they drank their soup.
Mulder finally murmured. "*One breath. One heartbeat.* That's why you believe Torrance."
"There's no other way he could have known about that phrase, Mulder. He must have some kind of heightened mental abilities."
It was after four A.M. Mulder was stretched out on the couch in Scully's livingroom. He and Scully had spent the last few hours debating their next move on the case. They had finally decided, nearly an hour ago, to get some sleep. Mulder would go home to shower and change in the morning. Unfortunately, sleep didn't seem to be forth coming.
Mulder's feet hung over one end of the couch. A blanket only half covered his bare chest. His hands were behind his head as Mulder stared thoughtfully at the ceiling. He mulled over the things Dana had told him earlier. There had been so many questions he had wanted to ask. --Who was Nurse Owens? Where was this other place? Had there been a bright light? Were there other people there or had she been alone? Had she ever regretted coming back?-- In the end, however, Mulder had just kept quiet. He didn't want to interrogate his partner about this, regardless of his own curiosity.
Mulder sighed loudly. *This must be how she feels* He thought to himself. *Whenever I go to her with some far out theory, and she doesn't believe me,...this is how she feels.* Mulder wanted very much to believe in a peaceful afterlife. He wanted to think that when his present existence ended, he would find tranquility. But somehow, he just couldn't accept the philosophy. It all made death seem so easy. ... too easy.
Mulder abruptly turned and pounded in frustration at the pillow Scully had given him. It was obviously going to be a long night.
It was 5:30 on a Friday afternoon. The dorm's study room was nearly deserted. The only three occupants of the room were huddled together at one table. The wooden surface between them was covered with photos and manila folders.
"You couldn't find *anything* on Tang?" Torrance was saying.
Mulder tossed a file across the table top. "Nothing to indicate that he's a murderer. We can't just implicate him in this without some type of evidence."
Torrance rubbed thoughtfully at his chin. "What about last night?" He asked. "Agent Scully? What did I say that alarmed you so?"
Scully frowned. "Don't you remember?"
"No." Torrance shook his head. "I vaguely remember the images I saw but I have no recollection of saying anything."
Mulder flatly recited the words, "Red drum. One breath. One heartbeat. One eye. One green eye in the dark. Starbuck, watch your back."
Torrance nodded. "Redrum," he said. "Redrum not red drum. That's murder spelled backward. It has always meant danger, possibly murder."
"But the murder has already taken place." Mulder pointed out.
"True," Torrance agreed. "The rest... I'm not sure of the meaning yet."
Scully spoke quietly. "I understand some of it. One breath and one heartbeat mean that time is very short. We'll have to move quickly. The last bit, about Starbuck, that is a warning to me personally."
Torrance accepted all this information in stride. "What about the green eye?" he asked, looking from Scully to Mulder expectantly. Both agents shrugged. "Well," Torrance went on, "I guess we'll figure it out later."
Scully suddenly changed the subject, "Did *you* find out anything about Tang today?"
Mulder stared at Scully. She was accepting Torrance's story so readily, Mulder wasn't sure if he should be frightened or amused. Mulder felt an unsettling feeling in his stomach as he noticed how close Dana was sitting to young Torrance.
"Not much." the younger man was saying. "He's hiding something. More than just his relationship with Todd. There is a lot more to this."
Mulder cocked one eyebrow at his companions. "More?" Mulder deadpanned. "This just keeps getting better and better."
If Torrance noticed Mulder's sarcasm, he ignored it. "Tang is a dangerous man."
"Dangerous or not, we need evidence before we can charge him with anything." Mulder pointed out. "Do you think you could prognosticate some fingerprints, fibers...anything that places Tang at the scene?"
"Mulder," Scully reprimanded. With a smile she added, "stop giving off such negative energy."
"I thought we could check out Tang's office. Look around a bit, see what turns up." Torrance suggested.
Scully nodded. "It is federal property so, technically speaking, we don't really need a search warrant."
Nearly a hour past while the three warily made their way into the deserted lecture building and Sam Tang's personal office. They searched the office meticulously. They found nothing. The office was very tidy and well organized. There were no scattered papers or books tossed about. It seemed that Tang was very systematic and business like. After a fruitless search of the office, the three investigators went to the room where all the ethics classes were held.
The lecture room looked like all the other lecture rooms. Rows of old hardwood seats faced toward the front of the room. Located at the focus of attention was a large oak desk with nothing but an overhead projector on its surface. The standard green chalkboards covered one entire wall from the floor to a point about eight feet up.
Mulder began searching the desk, finding nothing in the drawers but broken chalk and non-permanent markers. Scully and Torrance, starting on opposite sides of the room, searched the student desks for possible clues. Scully was in the process of opening a wadded piece of paper she'd found beneath a chair when she suddenly froze.
"Did you find something?" Mulder asked when he noticed her startled expression.
Scully stood motionless and her eyes grew wide as she stared past Mulder in wonder. Mulder looked over his shoulder at the source of her amazement.
"Jeez!" Mulder gasped. He flinched away from the figure behind him and began back-peddling away. In his haste to retreat, Mulder succeeded only in tripping himself, and fell heavily to the floor.
"Mulder!" Scully broke from her trance and rushed forward, pulling her gun as she moved.
Mulder continued to frantically back away from the horror facing him.
Less than three yards away, there stood a very young man. He wore brown suede loafers, well-pressed cotton pants and a shirt that had once been white. The man had short, fine blonde hair. The pale right side of the man's face was totally expressionless, a blue eye stared blankly at Mulder. The left side of the face was gone, replaced by a mottled mass of blood, brain, and bone. His left eye socket was moist and empty.
Mulder crab crawled away as quickly as he could until he bumped into Scully's legs.
Scully, scientifically wondering how anyone with such a wound could be walking around, leveled her weapon in warning. At the same moment, Torrance reached from beside her and put his hand over the gun.
"Wait." Torrance said quietly. Scully slowly lowered her arm and stared. "Hello Paul." Torrance said to the blond man.
The man stood motionlessly staring at Torrance as reddish ooze began to flow from the sightless eye socket like tears.
"Paul..." Mulder breathed in awe. "Paul Arine."
Torrance nodded. Not taking his eyes from the apparition, Torrance helped Mulder to his feet. "I told you," Torrance stated calmly. "I can pick up this kind of energy very easily."
Mulder whispered excitedly, "That's why so many have seen the ghost lately, your presence has made him appear."
Torrance shook his head, "No. No. Paul and the others have always been here. I just magnify that energy somehow so that they become visible more easily."
"Like shining a light at them..." Mulder noted excitedly.
"Others...?" Scully whispered.
Torrance was about to answer her unfinished question when the ghost of Paul Arine suddenly turned and began to walk away from the trio. Mulder and Torrance were quick to follow.
Arine walked calmly to the front of the room and disappeared through the chalkboard. By unspoken consent, Mulder, Scully and Torrance all began a close inspection of the large slate board.
Mulder looked down at Scully with concern and asked, "Are you okay, Scully?"
Her answer was a wide-eyed nod. Mulder shook his head sadly. Scully was beginning to accept strange things all too easily. After all they had been through together, Mulder knew that her fundamental philosophies of life were being constantly challenged. He worried about her continuing ability to accept it all. He feared that, strong as she was, Scully might just wake up one morning and have a nervous break down.
"Ah!" She suddenly exclaimed, pulling Mulder from his reverie.
Scully had found a loose screw on the far right chalk tray. Upon pushing the screw, there was an audible click and the chalk board began to swing open. Scully grinned at Mulder in triumph then peered cautiously into the dark aperture in the wall. Scully reached into her coat pocket, pulled out her flashlight and plowed into the darkness.
"Scully, wait!" Mulder called.
Torrance placed one hand on Mulder's shoulder and said simply, "She's going to be fine. You know that." Then, the younger man followed Scully into the darkness.
Mulder sighed, clicked on his own light and quickly went after his partner.
They found themselves on a dark and very narrow metal stairway. The crumbling stone walls were slick with condensation. The passageway was quite old but obviously well used. The stairs curved slightly where the passage of feet had worn at the steel. Mulder and Scully's flashlights cast eerie shadows as the trio followed the winding staircase downward.
Upon reaching the final step, they found a large room, poorly lit and damp in a cellar-like fashion. Mulder could see florescent lights in the ceiling but couldn't seem to locate the required switch to activate them. The room itself was filled along every wall with large metal filing cabinets. Near the center of the room, was a utilitarian desk, covered with papers and a single computer terminal.
Torrance whispered, "I've got a BAD feeling about this place."
Mulder snorted back, "Doesn't take a psychic to figure that one out."
Scully moved over to one of the cabinets, pulled open a drawer at random and began surveying the contents. "These are personal files, Mulder. Must be thousands of them."
"Any medical information?" he asked, looking over her shoulder.
Scully shook her head. "They look like psychological profiles. Psycho/social reviews. Some of them are pretty old."
Mulder quickly calculated the alphabet and pulled open a drawer. He found the folder marked "Coffey, Todd" rather easily. Torrance was similarly scanning another drawer.
"Why do you suppose some of the folders have this red sticker?" the younger man asked quietly.
All three were quickly going through separate drawers, searching for some clue as to the purpose for this information, when Torrance gasped. "Torrance, Daniel Anthony. This one is on me!" he exclaimed.
Mulder glanced up at Scully. She could tell by the look on his face that an idea was forming. "Mulder?" she asked. "What is it?"
Rather than answer, Mulder dashed across the room and yanked open another drawer. A moment later, he found a red marked folder labeled 'Mulder, Fox William'. Flipping quickly through the folder he found references to some of his recent encounters with a certain cigarette smoking acquaintance. The earliest notation in the file was a copy of his application to the FBI academy at Quantico.
Slamming the file back into the drawer, Mulder angrily began flipping through other folders. He soon found what he'd been looking for. 'Krycek, Alexander.' This folder was marked with not only a red sticker but also a green one. Mulder's face paled as he read the last few entries aloud.
"April 20, 1995 This operative was terminated for failure to perform his duties in an expedient fashion. The merchandise was unfortunately lost during this termination." Mulder glanced wide-eyed at Scully.
"What is going on here?" Torrance asked, confused.
Scully quickly found her own corresponding file. She also read aloud as she pulled the folder from the drawer. "Scully, Dana Katherine. August 13, 1994 Subject was held for questioning." She paged quickly through the next few pages looking for more information about the *questioning* but found nothing.
Mulder slammed a drawer shut and looked cautiously around the room. Scully and Torrance were still going through various drawers, pulling out the files of names they recognized. Mulder went to the desk and began searching the papers there. He quickly realized that these were essays written by the ethics students. On a whim, he turned the computer screen on. A moment later, a single green cursor blinked against a black background.
Mulder's fingers froze over the keyboard. As he stared at the cursor, the hair on the back of his neck began to rise. In the dim light of the room, the cursor winked like a green eye in the dark. "Scully!" Mulder yelled in warning just before a large heavy object struck him behind the ear.
Scully turned just in time to see a strange man in a black suit club Mulder over the head with the butt of a revolver. Mulder fell to the ground without another sound. At the same moment a second man was attacking Torrance in the same manner.
Scully quickly pulled her weapon and took aim at the first of the two men. The sound of the gun seemed an explosion in the stone and metal enclosed area. Scully's aim was true. The man who attacked Mulder dropped his own weapon in pain and alarm as a round pierced his shoulder.
Torrance was rolling on the ground rocking his head in his hands as blood quickly began to flow down his face. His attacker nonchalantly stepped over him and fired at Scully. Scully, however, had already begun to move. The bullet whizzed past her and hit a cabinet with a metallic thunk.
Before either could fire a second time, Torrance sat up. Scully could see his eyes staring wild and unfocused from beneath his blood soaked brow.
"NO!" he yelled in a voice that Scully did not recognize.
"no." Danny whispered at the strange man. Danny felt the throbbing in his head. He knew that he was badly hurt. He had to do something or this man would kill them all. "no." Danny whispered again... He felt the power of the shining rise up within him. Danny mentally gathered all the power he could muster and, in an act of self-preservation, abruptly threw that force at the assailant.
"STOP!" Torrance's voice echoed powerfully throughout the room. Scully stared in awe as her surroundings began to change. The slab of concrete at her feet writhed and contorted like a worm in the sun. The vertigo that ensued forced Dana to fall to her hands and knees. Beneath the flesh of her palms, she could feel the coldness of the slab floor change into the warm fabric of carpeting.
Scully stared in fascination at the design that suddenly appeared in the deep pile fabric. She could feel the thick carpeting with her fingers and wondered at the blue and black pattern that snaked across the floor like a living thing. Scully heard a strange gurgling sound and forced herself to look away from the altered floor.
The second attacker stood rigidly between Scully and Torrance. His arms and legs twitched in an obscene sort of dance. The man began foaming bloodily from the mouth. As the man fell and began convulsing on the floor, Scully realized that it was , incredibly, snowing within the room.
Danny felt the power of the shining as it flew across the room. Like a tangible object, it struck the other man in the forehead just above the eyes. The power crawled across his frontal lobe like ants, invading the Dura mater and peeling it away from the tender grey matter beneath.
The attack continued across the brain to the medulla oblongata and the spinal cord where the huge surge of bioelectrical energy over loaded the neural ganglion, causing system wide paralysis. The energy flashed down the thoracic spinal nerves, popping the sympathitic ganglia like small balloons.
Energy continued to course through the unfortunate host's body. It raced along neurons and leapt across the dendritic spaces to burn paths along the fragile dendrites, destroying the synaptic contacts.
As the power reached the atrial receptors around the heart, the myelinated fibers began to fry and become crisp. The atrial chambers, in response to over stimulation, continued to fill spasmodically with blood. The ventricular muscles however, responsible for pumping blood out of the cardiac muscle, chose that moment to cease functioning. The end result occurred only moments later when the heart, straining against the fluid built up within, simply exploded.
Dana stared at the body on the floor. The man had stopped his violent twitching and was now motionless. Blood oozed from his ears, nostrils, and wide open eyes. He was undoubtedly dead.
"Scully?" Dana jumped as Mulder grasped her shoulder. "We have to get out of here."
Mulder was cradling his head with one hand, grimacing in pain as he hauled Dana to her feet.
"Mulder?" she asked shakily.
"I'll be okay. Let's just get moving." he staggered slightly and Dana was forced to steady him before they both toppled into a heap.
The two agents moved toward Torrance. Dana quickly inspected his wound and knew that he would need to be hospitalized. By concentrating on the medical emergency before her, Dana was able to pull her mind away from the fact that the floor was, incredibly, a concrete slab once again. The carpeting and strange walls were gone. The only indication of things out of the ordinary was the dead man in the middle of the room and his wounded, dazed partner in the corner.
"Unmask." Torrance mumbled in a disoriented fashion. "The Red Death held sway!" His hands fluttered before his face for a moment.
Dana forced Torrance to his feet. She half dragged, half carried the young man toward the stairs while Mulder followed. Between the two of them, Mulder and Scully managed to get Torrance back up the stairwell to the hidden door with out much difficulty.
As they re-entered the lecture room from behind the chalk board, Scully shifted her weight to push the door closed. She suddenly found herself grappling with renewed panic as she stared in awe at her overcoat.
On the right sleeve of the coat, Dana Scully could readily make out several snowflakes slowly melting on the tan nylon.
Daniel Torrance woke with a throbbing Grade A, Three- Execedrin Headache. After much contention from the rest of his body, Torrance finally managed to open his eyes and blink at his surroundings. It was morning.
Agent Scully sat nearby, silhouetted by the rising sun. The early light caught in her hair and turned her auburn locks to a fiery red color. She sipped gingerly at a very hot cup of coffee.
Torrance watched her quietly, squinting slightly through the pounding of his head. She looked beautiful. The wrinkles in her clothes and the haggard look on her face indicated that she'd not slept. But, she still looked great. She took another tender sip at her cup.
*Please, please don't get hurt.* Torrance heard the thought clearly, even through the hammering in his head. She was worried. She was worried because Agent Mulder had gone to see someone very dangerous and he had been gone a long time.
Scully turned and saw Torrance staring at her. She smiled reassuringly at him. "Good morning." she said cheerily. "How are you feeling?"
Torrance's smile was more of a grimace. "I AM feeling. So I suppose I shouldn't complain."
"You've got a serious concussion," Scully said, rising to stand at the bedside.
Danny nodded. "Was Mulder hurt?"
Scully shook her head. "Not badly."
At that moment, the subject of their discussion walked through the door. Mulder looked very tired, dark circles were forming under his eyes. Without a word he went to a nearby chair and sighed heavily as he eased himself down.
Torrance carefully pulled himself to a sitting position. He politely asked Scully to pour him a glass of water as a wave of nausea washed over him. After a few minutes, the dizziness subsided slightly and Torrance turned to Mulder.
"Well?" the younger man asked.
Mulder raised an eyebrow and said curtly, "It's over."
"You've arrested Tang?" Torrance asked excitedly.
"No." Mulder answered in defeat. "It wouldn't do us any good. We won't be allowed to press charges." He looked sadly at Scully with knowing eyes. "He works for Them. In the recruiting department, I gather."
"Them? Them who?" Torrance asked.
Scully shook her head. "It's a long story." she then asked, "But Mulder, what was so important about Todd Coffey that They would want him dead?"
Mulder shrugged. "Nothing. I don't think They knew anything about it before this morning. I think that Coffey and Tang were lovers, just as Torrance said. I think that there was an argument, perhaps Coffey was going to leave, who knows? At any rate, Tang got upset and Coffey went out the window. Tang then used his abundant resources to hide the crime."
Torrance was livid, "So why can't we arrest him?"
Scully patted the young man's shoulder, "Tang has powerful allies that will not permit any further action on our part."
Mulder nodded knowingly, "They aren't going to be too happy about those two men that Tang sent after us, either. Unauthorized action. Got at least one man killed. Very unpleasant."
Torrance looked from one agent to the other. "So what are we supposed to do?" he complained. "Just sit back and watch Tang get away with murder?"
Mulder leaned back and stared at the ceiling with resignation. "Not much else we *can* do I'm afraid."
Torrance threw back the bed sheets and started to get out of bed. "Well, I can do one thing at least." He growled. "I'll be damned if I'm going to let them keep that file on *ME*."
"Torrance!" Mulder warned. "Look, you've got a career to think about. Don't do anything that will get you black-listed. You are going to be one Hell of an agent some day. I plan on working with you again in the future, so don't screw it up now!"
"I appreciate your confidence, Mulder. I really do. But I *have* to do this. I have to *try*." Torrance exclaimed as he pushed past Mulder shakily.
"Danny!" Scully pleaded. "Please, you should stay in bed."
Torrance was struggling, trying to stand and keep his hospital gown closed at the same time. "Either help me or get out of my way."
Mulder rolled his eyes in exasperation. "You're just being stubborn and unreasonable."
"Remind you of some one we know?" Scully pointedly asked Mulder.
"Just help me find my pants, will you?" Torrance moaned.
Just over an hour later, the trio walked openly into the deserted lecture room. Due to the weekend, there were no classes currently being held. For the most part, the room looked exactly as it did the night before. However, the long green slate boards were gone. Bare white walls stood in their place.
Torrance and Mulder both inspected the new, solid wall carefully. The scent of recently dried paint was still heavy on the air. Torrance put his forehead against the wall and sighed dejectedly. "They move quickly, don't They ?" he asked.
"Very quickly." Mulder agreed sullenly.
"DAMN!" Torrance yelled and strode rapidly toward the door.
Mulder and Scully glanced at each other ruefully. They each understood the young man's frustration all too well. Both agents knew Torrance was headed straight for Professor Tang's office. Without discussion, the two agents followed their younger companion in order to offer whatever support they could.
When they reached the office door and found it locked, Torrance pounded at the frame loudly. "Open this door or I'll break it down, I swear!"
"Daniel," Scully soothed, "He may not even be in there."
"He's there." Torrance said surely. "The light is on," he said, pointing at the shaft of light peeking from under the door.
Mulder motioned Scully and Torrance back. With one swift kick, Mulder broke the lock, shattering the wooden frame. The door swung open to reveal Tang's body as it hung from the overhead light supports.
Sam Tang seemed to have hung himself with his own neck tie. He had not died quickly. His eyes bulged hugely out of his purple face. Stapled to his shirt front was a piece of paper with two hand written words. The paper read simply *I confess*.
"I guess it really is over," Torrance stated flatly.
"I knew They wouldn't approve of an unauthorized use of man power," Mulder commented dryly.
Author's Note--I must attribute the characters of Danny Torrance and Dick Halloran to the great author, Stephen King (used without permission). If you are a King fan, you will recognize these characters and some of the obscure references readily enough. However, if you missed it, I highly recommend Stephen King's "The Shining", one of his earlier works. REDRUM, snow, The Red Death, and the blue carpeting mentioned in this story are all direct references to King's book. The novel is NOT a prerequisite to this story, just a suggested reading if you'd like to learn more about The Torrance family and The Terrible Winter referred to here.
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