Title: Doctor Scully and the Terror of the Brain Sucking Slime Beasts
.Summary: Scully talks Mulder into helping her clear out the spare room. He soon discovers that she has kept the strange book that they last encountered in "Doctor Scully and the Mutant Mega-Mice from Mars". Scully picks the book up, and it changes once again - into another adventure for Doctor Scully, Guardian of the Cosmos.
* * *
- ONE -
Something went Crack!
He heard it quite distinctly. Crack!
Either it was a piece of the bone china tea set that Scully's mother had given to her on her eighteenth birthday, for her to treasure always. Or else it was his back.
He really hoped that it was his back.
Scully rushed into the room. A look of concern on her face. "What was that, Mulder?"
Mulder's face was hidden behind the huge cardboard box that he was balancing precariously between his arms. She rushed to his side and started peering anxiously over the rim of the container. Then she cast a glance over the floor, saw that there was nothing there, and released a sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness," she said. "It must have just been your back."
Mulder groaned. "Scully. Where do you want this stuff?"
"Oh, in the living room."
Mulder started struggling, fighting to keep the box upright and not to empty its contents all over the floor of Dana Scully's spare room. "You know, Scully, when you said 'Do you want to do something today?', this wasn't quite what I'd assumed you meant."
Somehow he managed to get the box out of the room, across the hallway, and into Scully's lounge. All the while she was hovering nearby - which only served to increase his general level of anxiety.
"I thought maybe a nice drive out of town. Or a day at Washington Sea World ..." he continued.
"Mulder. Washington doesn't have a Sea World."
"Uh, just there. Next to the TV."
As Scully carefully directed him to a clear spot, just in front of the TV/Video combination, his right foot found the edge of the rug.
Found it, and got caught beneath it. Even as he started to lose his balance, he was beginning to wonder how he was going to survive the rest of Saturday.
"Mulder. Watch out!"
The box slipped from his grip like a thing alive. For a brief moment he saw the whole episode in slow motion, and his life flashed before his eyes.
Quite what happened next would become one of the greatest unexplained phenomena of all time. As he looked up from where he lay, flat on his back on the floor of Scully's lounge, Dana stood over him. The cardboard box held safely in her hands. She put the box down, exactly where she had intended it to be, and then she helped him to his feet.
"Are you alright?"
"Since you ask. No." He rubbed the back of his head, where quite a large bump appeared to be forming. "I'm pretty sure I've got a fractured skull."
Scully went behind him to inspect the damage. She reached up to examine the back of his head, and he winced as her fingers pressed against his scalp. "It's not fractured," she said. "But you are going to have a nasty bump there."
"What do you mean I'm *going* to have a nasty bump? It already feels like there's a tennis ball growing out of the back of my head."
"Perhaps you've just got a naturally bumpy head." She suggested.
"Anyway, sit down, and I'll get some ice."
"Gee thanks, Scully." What a wonderful Saturday this was turning into! He found his way to the couch.
While she was in the kitchen, he noticed the book that was just lying there on the glass coffee table. He recognised it at once.
Fly Fishing by J.R.Hartley.
Except that it hadn't been called that when he'd first pulled it off the shelf - in that weird curio shop that Scully had taken him to in the search for her mother's birthday present. Either the shop owner had pulled a fast one on them, or something extremely strange had happened.
Scully came back into the room with a plastic bag containing crushed ice. He wasn't used to seeing her casually dressed, and she looked somehow different in the old pair of jeans with worn through knees, and the tatty Simpsons Tee Shirt. Her red hair was tied back in a bun behind her head. She sat down next to him, and started applying the pack with motherly concern.
"You kept it then," said Mulder, holding up the book. He winced, as she touched a particularly sensitive spot.
"It cost $9.99," she said, as if that were reason enough.
"What with all that's happened over the last six weeks, I'd almost forgotten all about it." He took the ice pack from her, and held it in place with his left hand. "Strictly speaking this book should be an X File."
She took the book from him. "Mulder. Some mysteries were never meant to be solved."
"Doctor Scully and the ... what was it? ... the Genetically Deformed Gerbils from Ganymede-"
"The Mutant Mega-Mice from Mars," she corrected him. "As you know very well, Mulder. Since you engineered the whole thing."
"Scully. I honestly don't-"
She touched his lips to stop him. "It was a nice afternoon, Mulder. As I said at the time."
Mulder was feeling extremely guilty about the whole affair, because he really hadn't had anything to do with it. The book had just *been* there.
With a look of obvious nostalgia, Dana flipped open the cover of the book. Then a look of surprise came over her face. "Mulder!"
"What is it?"
She showed him the cover page.
Doctor Scully and the Terror of the Brain Sucking Slime Beasts. Another thrilling adventure in time and space, with Doctor Scully, Guardian of the Cosmos.
He took the book from her. Looked again at the front cover. Sure enough it had changed to match the title on the inside page. "But ... I just looked at this-"
"What's the matter, Mulder?" She took the book back, opening it at the first page. "Haven't you ever seen a case of Transbookrification?"
"Transbookri ...?" Boy, this knock on the head was affecting him worse than he thought.
Scully made herself comfortable next to him. Closer than he was used to. All thoughts of tidying up the spare room seemed to have been dismissed, and she started reading ...
"Just five degrees galactic north of the star Xi Cygni III, the Time Ship hung motionless in space. Well, not quite motionless. In fact, it did move. Just a little bit. A very slow movement that was almost imperceptible to the unaided human eye.
"Except that there were no human eyes this far out. Not to see a Passport Photograph Booth floating through the vacuum of space, in a manner not entirely in keeping with the normal behaviour of the majority of Passport Photograph Booths."
"What is it Mulder. Do you want some more ice?"
"If this is going to be another story featuring Billy Mulder-"
"You mean the Doctor's schoolboy companion who's always got his fingers in the sweet jar?"
"Yes, it's just th-"
"You mean the Billy Mulder who walks around with a piece of liquorice string dangling out of one corner of his mouth?"
"Yes, that's him."
"The Billy Mulder who always ends up looking extremely stupid throughout the whole story?"
"Yes, Scully. *That* Billy Mulder."
She glanced ahead a couple of pages and smiled a mischievous grin in his direction. "It is."
"Ohhhhh." He pressed the melting ice to the back of his head and closed his eyes.
Scully cleared her throat. "When Doctor Scully returned to the console room, she was scratching her head and tapping her forefinger against her brow in irritation. She walked around the octagonal console at least three times before coming to a halt in front of the main viewer control lever."
Suddenly she twirled around, sending the ends of her rainbow coloured scarf sweeping around her like a bolas. Billy Mulder, her young schoolboy companion, ducked his head down low to avoid being struck; and he would have succeeded, had he not misjudged and bashed his head on the console.
The Doctor started tapping her fingertips together as if she were frantically playing some unseen musical instrument. "No, no, no. This is just not right at all."
Mulder struggled to his feet, nursing a very large bump on the back of his head.
"What is it?" He asked. "What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" She threw up her hands in exasperation. "He asks me what's wrong!"
The Doctor turned back to the console and starting flipping switches, pressing buttons and pulling levers. Some lights came on.
Others went off. Some even changed colour. The Doctor slapped her hand to her forehead, then looked down at Billy Mulder. "You want to know what's wrong?"
"Um, well yes."
"*This* is what's wrong." She pulled a cylindrical object from the Time Ship console. A long glass cylinder full of tiny mechanical parts. It seemed to glow like the face and hands of an old analogue wristwatch.
"Oh," said Mulder. Then, after giving it some thought. "What's that?"
"This," she said, holding the object between them. "Is the
Nano-Confluic Delta Wave Varactor Sub Assembly. Do you realise how important this component is to the operation of the Time Ship? I mean, can you even begin to comprehend just how important this is?"
"Er, well, no." Mulder started fishing in his pocket for another piece of liquorice.
"Well. It's ... very important."
Mulder popped one end of the liquorice string into his mouth, and started chewing frantically. This looked really, really, bad.
She returned the component to its component-sized hole in the console. "I've got no option," she said. "I'll have to initiate an emergency materialisation. There's no telling where we might end up.
Why, we could solidify inside the burning heart of a supernova ..."
Mulder chewed harder, and more of the black confectionary vanished between his teeth.
"... at the event horizon of a black hole, where we'd be instantly compressed to sub-microscopic particles by the immense gravitational fields ..."
Harder and harder, Mulder chewed at the liquorice, until there were just a few centimetres left, all the while his eyes were widening.
"... at the bottom of the boiling lava seas of Volcanicus 9 ... in the matter/anti-matter intermix chamber of a Constitution class starship ..."
The last of the liquorice slipped down Mulder's throat, and he gulped hard.
"... we might even end up somewhere on the M25 just north of Watford!" The Doctor shivered visibly. "Ugh. Horrible."
"Ah, well." She closed her eyes and reached for the materialisation control lever. "As one of my previous selves would have said - braveheart, Mulder."
And then she pulled the Mulder.
"Pulled the Mulder?" Mulder asked. "Scully. Have you been drinking?"
She put down the book on her knees. "Mulder, who's reading this story?"
"Oh, you are," he said, holding up both hands defensively. "Definitely you, Scully."
"... And then she pulled the lever."
The Time Ship shuddered from top to bottom. At least it would have,if the Time Ship had had a top, or even a bottom for that matter. The fact was that the Time Ship was dimensionally transcendental.
Concepts like top, bottom, width, or height didn't really make a whole lot of sense. But, anyway, the Time Ship shuddered - from one point in its continuously variable geometry to another.
It shuddered for a very long time. And it made Billy Mulder's headache get an awful lot worse.
"What's happening?" Mulder asked, holding both sides of his head in an effort to stop his ears from falling off.
"Not sure," said the Doctor, examining instruments on the console.
"Dimensional instability I think. Hold tight, Mulder ..."
The shuddering became at least twice as bad as it was before, perhaps even three times! Even Doctor Scully looked concerned by the behaviour of her Time Ship. And then it stopped. The Time Ship had landed.
She helped Mulder to his feet. "Alright?" she asked.
He dusted down his school blazer, and pulled up his socks.
Without waiting for an answer, the Doctor reached for the scanner control. "Then let's see where we are. Oh!"
"What is it?" Mulder asked, because he couldn't see the screen from where he was standing underneath the console.
"I'm afraid it's rather bad news," said the Doctor, gathering up the folds of her colourful scarf and slinging them over her shoulder.
"What sort of bad news?"
"Where are we?"
The Doctor knelt down to face her young travelling companion. "Mulder, do you remember all of the dreadful places where I said we might end up materialising?"
"They were all pretty awful weren't they?" She put her hands on his shoulders, steadying him for the shock that was to come.
"Well, Billy, I'm afraid we've drawn the short straw this time." She stood up, and stared at the scanner. "Junction 20 of the M25. England. Earth ... just north of Watford!"
"I feel sick."
* * *
"I feel sick," said Bert.
"Serves you right for eating that second chilli sausage roll." His workmate had very little sympathy for him. Well, none at all, in fact.
The two workmen started back towards the trench that they were excavating. Ten metres away, the midday traffic approaching Junction 20 had snarled to what was almost a complete halt, and the miserable damp weather was not helping the frustrated drivers control their tempers one little bit.
Bert put his hard hat back on, the banana yellow one with the Highways Agency logo emblazoned across the front. He liked that hat.
It made him feel important. Like he was contributing something special. Which he was.
Widening the most heavily used urban motorway in Europe was a really important thing to be doing. OK, it wasn't *quite* as important as solving the problems of world famine, or putting a man on Mars, or finding homes for stray dogs. But it was important just the same.
Bert liked to feel important.
He felt really important when he picked up his spade and waded into the damp trench. He even felt important when he brought the tool down and started slicing through the soft and muddy soil. But, when the black slime slithered up his left leg, and made its way rapidly to base of his cranium, he didn't feel important at all.
Because the slime thing had just sucked every last piece of cerebral matter out through a hole in the base of his neck, and now he couldn't feel anything at all. In fact, there wasn't any Bert left *to* feel anything. Just a lifeless corpse that fell face first into the mud.
- TWO -
The Doctor stepped gingerly outside her Time Ship. The toe of her right foot going first. Then the rest of her foot. Her leg. And finally, all of her.
It was damp, and cold, and really quite the most miserable place she had ever been. Certainly in living memory, anyway.
She looked down at her boots, sinking slowly into the brown/grey mud.
Mulder jumped out beside her, landing feet first in a huge puddle of extremely dirty and muddy water. The inevitable tidal wave of rainwater drenched the bottoms of Doctor Scully's colourful flared trousers. She looked at the little boy for a moment.
"Um, Sorry," said Mulder, backing cautiously away until his back made contact with the side of the Time Ship.
She gathered up one end of her scarf in her hands and started wringing the rainwater from it.
Just as she opened her mouth to deliver what would undoubtedly have been a significant quantity of invective - most of it not the sort of thing that a respectable Time Lady should even be thinking about saying, let alone delivering to an eight year old schoolboy - the Foreman came right up to her and tapped her on the shoulder.
"'Ere. Can't you read, love? This is private property. Who the bloomin' 'ell do you think you are then? Agent bloomin' Scully or something?"
The Doctor looked at her companion, muttered something under her breath in a language totally incomprehensible to the inhabitants of the planet Earth, and then released a long sigh.
She took the Foreman's hand and started shaking it vigorously.
"Hello, I'm the Doctor, and this is Mulder."
The Foreman, who was a big man, with a big fat gut, and the remains of some tomato sauce around his mouth, was about to say something, but then it clicked.
"Doctor, did you say? Well, come on then." He turned away and started marching across the muddy waste ground, sloshing mud and filth everywhere.
"Never rains but it pours," said the Doctor, as she produced a full-sized golfing umbrella from her left pocket. She set off after the man, Mulder following close behind her.
When they reached the trench, it was obvious that all was not well.
Mainly because there was a dead body lying in it.
"Sir, what happened here?" asked the Doctor, as she scrambled down into the trench to examine the mud-drenched corpse.
"Er, well he was with me, see," said one of the other men.
"Hello there, I'm the Doctor ... And who might you be?" asked Doctor Scully, tendering her hand, a beaming smile creasing her face.
"Fred's the name," he said, wiping his right hand on the back of his trousers before taking hers. "Fred Butler. I'm the chief Trench Digger."
"Chief Trench Digger First Class." Added the Foreman, as if that information had some particular relevance. He was standing at the edge of the muddy ditch, smoking a cigarette.
"Really," said the Doctor, interestedly. "Do you know that's absolutely fascinating. Isn't that fascinating, Mulder? I've never met a Trench Digger before. At least not in this lifetime. Or, cometo think of it, not in any of my lives, but then I'm only on my ninth, and that's not really very much for a Time Lady ..."
Mulder pulled a packet of wine gums from his blazer pocket, and started poking around inside, looking for a black one.
"Oh, my gawd," muttered the Foreman. "We've got a right one 'ere. Why does this always happen just when it's knockin' off time?"
"Er, would you like a wine gum?" Mulder asked him.
The Foreman just stared at poor Mulder.
Doctor Scully went down on one knee and began examining the body.
After a moment, she brushed back the hair at the base of his neck, to expose the puncture wound there. A round hole, about the size of a 5 Euro Cent piece.
"Curious," she said, peering closer.
"What have you found?" The Foreman clambered down into the ditch with her. She pointed at the bizarre wound.
"This man has lost his mind," she announced.
"Well, he was always a bit of a weird one alright, but-"
"No, no, no." She shook her hands at him, and then tapped the sides of her own forehead. "I mean he's *literally* lost his mind. It's been sucked out!"
The Foreman's mouth fell open, and the cigarette dropped to the ground, where it fizzled out in a puddle of gritty rain water. "What, sucked out through that hole?"
Doctor Scully started looking around the body, extending her search to cover an area of about two metres either side of Bert's body.
"Stone me," said the Foreman. "'Ere, lads, did you 'ear what the Doctor just said?"
When he looked up, he saw that the rest of the work crew were busily collecting up their things, and moving away from the edge of the trench. "'Ere, 'old on. Where do you lot think you're goin' then?"
"Knocking off time, Boss," said one of them, tapping his Rolex Oyster perpetual wristwatch, and then he wandered off nonchalantly after the rest of them.
"Oh, let them go!" Said the Doctor, more concerned with a nasty suspicion that was taking shape in her mind. "This is much more serious."
"Well, what do you think it is then, Doc?"
"I have a nasty suspicion," said the Doctor, as she started looking further afield. "That your Chief Trench Digger (First Class) has had a close encounter with a non-terrestrial organism."
"Well, blimey!" The Foreman found it hard to believe. "I mean, he did 'ave some strange habits, but -"
"This -" said the Doctor, her voice ominous and dark. "- is far more serious than a case of bad personal hygiene. This -" She leant closer to him, sniffing his breath. He looked somewhat taken aback. "- could mean the end of life on this planet as you know it!"
The Foreman searched his pockets for another cigarette, which he frantically popped into his mouth and lit. "Strewth!"
* * *
The Foreman and Billy Mulder sat inside the Time Ship, watching Doctor Scully as she beavered away with a pile of electronic apparatus. She was almost completely surrounded by the untidy heaps of wires, transistors, valves, solenoids, baked bean cans, lengths
of rubber hose, and several Cross Tangential Phased MatAntiMat Transduction Inducer Arrays.
"Hmmmn," she said, adjusting a component with her Polymorphic Pliers.
The Foreman looked at Mulder. Mulder offered him another wine gum.
He shook his head.
"Ah -" said the Doctor, holding up a length of rusty bicycle chain.
"Er, Doctor -" said the Foreman, wondering when he would be able to go home for tea.
She poked her head over the top of the mountain of bits and pieces.
Her red hair was ruffled and untidy, and she had a smear of oil on her left cheek. "Yes, what is it?"
"Well, only I just wondered how long this was going to take-"
She came around to stand face to face with the man, the bicycle chain dangling around her neck, staining her rainbow-coloured scarf with more oil. "You just wondered how long it was going to take, did you?" She glared at him.
"Well, it's just that it's Friday. And Doris does sausage and mash on a Friday-"
Mulder popped the last black one into his mouth.
"Sausage and mash." Sighed the Doctor, her hands clasped behind her back. "So a nice plate of cholesterol-rich dead animal is more important to you than the fate of the entire world, is that what you're saying?"
"Well - er - not in so many words, no."
"Good!" Said the Doctor, returning to her work.
"- But she does make a really good sausage and mash, my Doris."
A low growl escaped Doctor Scully's mouth, and she buried herself once again in her work.
"What are you doing, anyway?" Mulder asked her.
She looked up again, this time there were a couple of silicon diodes between her teeth, so she found it difficult to talk.
"I'm -" She spat out the components. "- *trying* to finish a High Frequency Dark Matter Shift Transduction Engine with a Polyectomorphic Transcendental Gravistatic Field Enhancer."
"Oh," said Mulder. And, after a moment. "Why?"
She popped her head over the mountain of components. "Mulder, go and look after the sweet jar, there's a good fellow."
Sulking, Mulder went off to find the sweet jar, and then he remembered that the Doctor had replaced and replenished it during their recent visit to Candyplax 11, the home of the finest confectionary makers in all of the known galaxies. And they made really super liquorice sticks.
* * *
Outside the Passport Photograph Booth, the two Traffic Police were scratching their heads. They'd already walked around it once, and now they were about to call it in.
Constable Prewitt pulled the microphone from the front of his jacket, and he was just about to speak, when a really gorgeous red-haired woman, wearing some kind of fancy dress, stepped out through a door that hadn't been there before.
"Yes, Gentlemen?" She said, smiling.
"Ah. Well," said Constable Prewitt. "Is this your Passport Photograph Booth then, Madam?"
"It is," she said, her hands clasped behind her back.
"I see." Prewitt took out his small black notepad. Sergeant Ramsbottom came and stood beside him.
"It's just that, well -" Sergeant Ramsbottom was lost for words. It wasn't that Passport Photograph Booths were particularly odd, it was just that one didn't tend to find them at the side of the M25, next to a muddy ditch with a dead body lying in it. "- Um, excuse me, Miss, but don't I know you?"
"Highly unlikely," said the Doctor, pulling out her pocket watch, checking the time, then tutting impatiently.
"Yes, hang on one minute, it'll come to me -"
"I sincerely hope not," said Doctor Scully, looking beyond the two police officers at the seething, writhing, mass of slimy black things that were slowly oozing over the lip of the ditch.
"Yes, of course. You're that Gillian Anderson bird, aren't you. You know out of the ... something ... files. Prewitt, what is that program?"
Prewitt shook his head. "Don't know, sarge. I only watch the Open University."
"Yes, well this is all very interesting -" said the Doctor, producing a huge piece of electronic apparatus from her right coat pocket "- I'm The Doctor. This Passport Photograph Booth is my Time Ship in which I travel through the limitless vastness of time and space with my schoolboy companion. And this is a High Frequency Dark Matter Shift Transduction Engine with a Polyectomorphic Transcendental Gravistatic Field Enhancer!"
"Oh, really," said Ramsbottom, reaching for his handcuffs. "Well, if you'd just like to come along with us, Madam. I suppose it must get a bit stressful for you big stars - so why don't we take you down the station and get you a nice cup of hot sweet tea."
"Imbecile!" she snapped. "Do I look like I want a cup of tea?" She started adjusting controls on the apparatus, a mounting whine began to rise in pitch, and all sorts of coloured lights started flashing on and off.
"Now, now, Miss." Ramsbottom moved one step closer, his hand outstretched. "There's nothing to be afraid of. We'll take good care of you."
And he meant it too, but, unfortunately for sergeant Ernest Ramsbottom, he had reckoned without the brain sucking Slime Beast that had begun to crawl up his left trouser leg.
"Constable Prewitt," he said, cautiously, out of the corner of his mouth."
"I can feel something crawling up my leg."
"Well, don't just stand there, Man. Do something!"
"I wouldn't do anything if I were you," said the Doctor. "The small slimy creature that is slowly working its way up your left leg, towards the base of your neck, is a Bondarisian Slimoid, a slug-like alien organism with a particular fondness for the raw brain matter of primitive species."
"Oh my God," said Ramsbottom, slowly.
Prewitt and Ramsbottom both looked down at the ground, to see themselves surrounded by the slimy black slugs.
"Keep perfectly still," said the Doctor. She raised the instrument to her shoulder and directed the horn-shaped orifice at one end towards the creatures.
"Absolutely," said Ramsbottom and Prewitt together. "Absolutely we'll keep still."
She flipped a switch, and then a powerful jet of grey-white foam came streaming from the nozzle, expanding as it hit the damp ground and washing all over the Slimoids. In seconds, the slugs started fizzling and popping and bursting - and ejecting copious quantities of a foul-smelling brown liquid. After a few seconds the two policemen were standing in what looked like a very large cow pat.
And it smelt almost as bad.
"There. You can relax now," said the Doctor. "All done. That wasn't too bad, was it?"
Ramsbottom looked at his Constable. They stood there with their mouths open, speechless. As the Doctor walked past them, she paused to push up each of their chins in turn. Then she crossed to the ditch and activated the device again.
And all manner of nasty horrible sounds and smells started coming up from down there, as the last of the Slimoids were despatched with ruthless efficiency. "Never did like slugs much," said Doctor Scully, as she walked back to the Time Ship. "Horrible slimy things. Give me the creeps."
* * *
"Well, goodbye old chap." She shook the Foreman's hand one last time, as she ushered him outside the Time Ship. "It's been a real pleasure and - oh look -" She showed him her pocket watch, which displayed seven hands rotating around a dial engraved with nineteen digits. "You'll still get back in time for tea."
She shut the door and marched back to the console. Seeing her coming, Mulder put the sweet jar back.
"Ah, well." She sighed, contentedly. "Once again, the entire world is saved from total and utter armageddon."
"What is it Mulder?" she asked, flipping switches and reaching for the dematerialisation lever.
"It's just that you never got around to fixing that Nano-Confluic Delta Wave thingy-"
"Ah -" Said Doctor Scully, patting him on the head. "- but that's just where you're wrong, Mulder."
"Well, you didn't really think it took me all *that* time just to make a little old Shift Transduction Engine did you?"
Mulder looked very confused.
"After all," she said, enigmatically. "I am *The Doctor*."
"Out there. Out amongst the limitless vastness of time and space. Out amongst the endless worlds of the known galaxies," said Scully excitedly, placing her hand on Mulder's knee. "The Time Ship rolled ever onwards, here and there passing through the halo of a comet, or grazing the atmosphere of a moon; taking Doctor Scully, Guardian of the Cosmos, towards her next exciting adventure."
She slapped the book closed.
Mulder looked down at her hand on his knee. "Um, Scully. You don't think this Doctor Scully thing is starting to ... affect you?"
She grinned. "Absolutely."