Title: Good-Night
Author: RocketMan
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to CC, 1013, and Fox. No infringement is intended, no money is being made. Written for the I Made This Productions Virtual Season Eight. Places are real, events are not.
Archiving: Two weeks after first appearance, OK to Gossamer, Xemplary and Ephemeral. All others please ask.

Summary: The cemetery is dark. A child's cry echoes across the tombstones, originating from below the ground. She has been buried alive. Her premature burial opens the coffin on a conspiracy of grave proportions, revealing the machinations of a man who will stop at nothing to create a cure for the black oil virus. Mulder and Scully stumble blindly for answers as the Consortium eliminates its mistakes.

My deepest gratitude to XochiLuvr, for a critical and sharp beta-read, and for the support I never deserved.

Clorinda Haywood
St Bartholomew's, Edgbaston, England

Warm summer sun shine kindly here:
Warm summer wind blow softly here:
Green sod above lie light, lie light:
Good-night, Dear Heart : good-night, good-night.


9:39 p.m.
August 11, 2000
Colma Necropolis, CA

The summer sun was late in setting, forcing the lateness of his arrival. He wasn't sure if many kids got their kicks by haunting cemeteries at night, but he knew his time was short. The backpack was heavier than he had anticipated.

The walking stick caught on a flat headstone and he tripped forward, managing to keep himself from falling, but scraping his knuckles against the statue of an angel. He hissed in a breath and sucked on the angry red wound, wincing with the sting of it. Shuffling forward again, he blew out a long breath and shook his head.

At least it wasn't hot, he told himself. The breeze was skittish, tumbling over tombstones and mausoleums, and the night was leaching cool air from the dead. Consulting his directions once again, the hiker turned left along a small row and counted the plots as he moved. Four, five, six, and then a sharp right.

He sighed. Poor baby girl. She was going to be scared to death -- no pun intended, he added mentally, glancing around guiltily. It was just after twilight, when a grieving man could swear the cemetery was giving off darkness to the sky rather than the night falling upon the earth. The hiker was presently in the shadows of two large trees and hunched along the cover of the child's family plot. She had some affluent relatives. Her own stone was two feet high and still the bright white of newness.

Kneeling to the ground, he propped his walking stick against the tombstone and shrugged off the backpack. His breathing sounded too loud in his ears, but there were no longer any mourners in this section of the cemetery. The zipper caught on the edge of the bag, and he growled as he ripped it free, tugging ferociously in his haste.

He was rather close to panic. If they caught him here, doing this...

Best not to think. Concentrate.

The battery-powered drill tumbled from the bag and clinked too loudly against a neighboring headstone. He winced but plunged his fist into the bag once more, coming up with three lengths of three foot metal pipe. His hands were too sweaty. He was going to fumble this if he didn't calm down.

Keep it simple. Concentrate.

He pulled out a schematic from his left front pocket, unfolding it carefully and laying it out along the brown- tinted new sod, still loose in places. The coffin was here, he thought, pointing out the place on the map, outlined in a dark green. The lid of her coffin was about six inches thick, padding and all, and her shoulder should be...

He marked the exact spot with a knife, digging into the sod through the paper. Once a good sized chunk revealed his target area, the hiker quickly folded the paper back up, but put it into the backpack and not his pocket. He would need to burn this later.

Wiping the trickling sweat from his eyebrows, the hiker attached one length of pipe to the hollow drill bit, and then he attached that to the drill itself. The diameter of the pipe was about the size of a hole for a doorknob; it looked ridiculously large to him now. Licking his lips, he rose to his feet for a better angle, then jammed the pipe into the place he had marked.

The hiker paused for a moment, glancing around, then closed his eyes. The drill sounded like the gates of Hell itself had come crashing down, but he only winced and kept drilling. The pipe slid into the ground, down, down into the resting place of the child.

This was taking too long, too long.

He unlocked the first pipe from the drill, allowing four inches to remain above the slightly damp grass. Then he locked the second pipe onto the drill bit and slipped the free end over the exposed pipe. It slid on easily and he smiled crookedly. Easy, easy? this wasn't easy. He was risking his life, digging into graves.

He nearly choked when he heard a car coming.

The darkness was absolute now. Somehow, the night had fallen over the cemetery and he hadn't noticed at all. The car was creeping along the lane, but it stopped far from him and he breathed out, returning to his drilling. It was at the third and final pipe when he heard the change: the pipe had hit the outside of the coffin now, it seemed to shriek painfully in the darkness.

God, oh, God, please.

And then a puff of noise and he stopped the turning motion of the drill to gently prod through the layers of lace and trim and padding that the girl's coffin contained. His muscles were so tense that he could feel tiny tremors racing through his jaw and exploding against his skull. He unlocked the last pipe from the drill and bit, and both slipped through his sweaty nervous fingers. He could hear voices now.

A camera flash.

Oh God, no! He was screwed, he was really screwed. If someone got a picture...

The hiker fumbled in the bag, looking for the bottle and needle, but then he remembered he hadn't shoved the dirt out yet.

Growling curses under his breath, he grabbed his walking stick and pulled the pipe up a bit. He slowly threaded the stick through, shoving the dirt down the pipe, and hopefully, God, hopefully, spilling the dirt harmlessly inside. If he had calculated wrong ... off a few inches and the dirt would be covering her eyes and nose and mouth.

Stop thinking. Concentrate.

Clenching the stick tightly, he pushed the bit all the way through, then hit something soft, pliant, yet firm.

Please, God, let that be her shoulder. If it was her eye...

He shivered as he quickly yanked the stick back up through the pipe. Grabbing the end of his former walking stick, the hiker taped a small tube down its length, then attached the needle and serum to one end, connecting it to the tube. The release pump attached firmly on his end, and the stick went slowly back down the pipe.

Voices. Flashes of a camera.

A woman. God, please.

He hit that same soft, pliant hardness, and at his perfectly vertical angle, the hiker took a deep breath and jammed the needle down into the skin. He hoped it was skin. He hoped.

Wiping his sweaty hands on his pants, he tried to block out the darkness and the two voices getting closer and closer to him. Please not yet. There was him and the little girl down there and he had to do this. He had to do this.

Three pumps to prime the injection. He could hear his heart beating overly loud in the dark, feel his hands trembling with cramps from his tight, clawed grasp on the stick. His breath came in tight gasps as time dragged away, then the spit and hiss of pressure pushing down, down, down the tube and forcing chemicals through the needle just as it sunk in.

10:13 p.m. August 11, 2000
Colma Necropolis

It was dark and thinly damp. A tattered sky misted rain and dewed the grass. When he stepped onto the soft, almost spongy ground of the park, he could almost taste the decay. The arched gates of the cemetery rose before him like rusty trap doors and he licked his lips, frowning.

He hated doing this in the dark. He hated looking over his shoulder every five seconds for the guards or the caretaker, but he couldn't help his nervousness. It wasn't like what they were doing was illegal, but sometimes it got to him.

"Johnny, come here for a second!"

John glanced to his wife and sighed, but dutifully followed her into the cemetery. The darkness was like a green veil over their eyes, the ground was sloping and humped with stones and monuments. It was warm for a late summer night, and the wind from the bay was sharp when it fluttered over them. He could make out the Gothic-like angels and shepherds, the dark stones, the knobs of grass covering the dead.

It was so dark. So dark. Like a tight blanket around everything, around his eyes and suffocating all common sense. His pictures when they came out, they were good, spooky and frightening, just like the graveyard here. He slowly turned with a practiced photographer's eye. He could get some good shots of Joe DiMaggio's tomb tonight, maybe even Wyatt Earp, and sell them down in the Haight for five bucks. Tourists were suckers for freaky things from the Haight.

Terra's hand was warm when she reached for the paper and the charcoal, her fingers sliding past his with possession. He jiggled the camera in one hand and adjusted the lens manually, not leaving it to the whims of automatic focus. The glowering tombstone was crumbling and dingy white in the darkness, like a tooth jutting from an old man's mouth, single and spooky.

"Did you get it?" she whispered.

"Hold on," he muttered and snapped the picture, squinting.

"Okay," she said and kneeled next to the marker, spreading the thin paper over the engraved letters with precision. She rubbed the charcoal lightly and quickly and the words came up in bold white amidst the black of the pencil.

"Matthew Arnold," she muttered. "Wonder if he's any relation to the British poet and critic?"

"Right. And he's buried here in our friendly neighborhood graveyard."

"Died 1932. Oh, too bad. This is an old one. I don't see any of the earthquake graves, though."

"They're over there," John said and pointed to the southern section of the cemetery. The graves from the 1908 San Francisco Earthquake were marked with bright yellow ribbons and the survivors all got together on the anniversary date at five in the morning to remember. Their reunion was getting smaller with each passing year.

A whisper of wind brought a noise to John's ears and he paused, still and breathless in the night. The moon was darkened by storm clouds and the earth was warm beneath his shoes. He gripped the camera tighter and glanced around, listening.

The faint cry came to him again and he felt his blood freeze.

"Terra! Did you hear that?"

"Almost finished, John."

"No. No, stop."

He grabbed her arm and hoisted her to her feet, pulling her into his side. His dark eyes seemed to reflect the dark of the night around them and she shivered, pushing a strand of brown curly hair behind her ear.

"What?" she hissed.


The sound was continuous now, a wail almost, heart rending and so cliched for a cemetery at night. But thoughts of cliches vanished as he stood there listening, hearing that frail sound reverberate around the granite and marble markers and deep into his bones.

"It sounds like a child," Terra said, and moved forward.

"What are you doing?" he hissed, and grabbed for her.

"No. It's just a little kid. Probably lost and afraid."

She began stepping through the rows of graves, treading over the bodies of the dead with faultless steps and precise movements. He didn't understand how she could be so relaxed, so intent on finding what was making that cry.

"Terra, I think we should go."

She had stopped at one of the markers, her hands were trembling and he could hear the paper fluttering with the tremors.

"Oh, God," she whispered and he saw a blur detach from the shadows of bush and race for her.

"Terra!" he screamed and ran forward.

The dark shadow of a man pushed into him solid and hard and he felt the sting of something sharp in his thigh, and then the ground was meeting the back of his head. He heard the man running off and scrambled to his feet, groggily shaking the blur from his vision. His head thumped hard with the blood and adrenaline and he crawled to where Terra was sprawled on a granite marker.

"Ter?" he whispered and put a hand to her cheek.

She groaned and pushed herself up with her scratched palms, wincing.

"Who the hell was that?" she asked and angrily swiped at the grass stains on her jeans.

"I don't know," he said and pulled her to stand.

He rocked slightly on his heels with his panting breaths; her hand was still warm against his but her rubbings were ripped and fluttering in the wind that lifted from the bay. John turned and hunted for his camera, cursing the man who'd barreled into them both.

Grass was lodged firmly in the shutter case, but the lens didn't seem to be cracked and the automatic focus still worked. He sighed with relief and glanced up at his wife.

"You hear it?" she asked.

Her face was intent and still again, her breaths controlled to minimize the noise.


But he did, just then. It was less frightening and more heartbreaking.

"It is a kid," he said and crept up next to her, hearing a muted cry just below his breathing.

She started forward again, but he held back, still shaken up by the sudden attack. He could hear it still, the faintness of it like the kid was far, far away. He wondered if the blur that had attacked them had something to do with the crying.

She stopped.



"This is where that man came from. He was behind the bushes, at this grave."

"Yes, but where is the sound coming from?"

"Here, Johnny. I said that."

"There? But..."

"Come here, come here," she said and motioned him forward.

He moved through the graves, being careful not to step where he thought the ground covered a body, unlike her methodical and direct walk through the dead. He could still hear it, and when he came to where she was, he knew she was right.

The ground was fresh with dew, the soil sparkled like tiny diamonds. A mound of earth covered the grave abnormally, and the dirt was loose and freshly dug.

"Is it a ghost?" he whispered.

Her mouth puckered and she dropped to her knees to inspect the tombstone.

"It's a little girl's grave. Madison Hall. Born in 1994. Died ... died two days ago."

John looked down at the grave, but he could still hear the sound of the girl's crying through the ground. Through the ground, like...

"Oh, God," Terra said. "Oh, God, she's alive under there!"

Her face came to look at his, their eyes met across the darkness.

"She's alive?"

John glanced down to the loose sod that stained his jeans with wet dew and dark soil. He blinked, then cautiously touched it with a shaking hand.

"Madison?" Terra yelled.

Shocked from the reverie of it, John grabbed her arm and hissed at her.

"What are you doing?"

"John, she's been buried alive!"

They both blinked, thrown by the reality of it, then began to dig furiously, their fingers scraping through the soil and the wetness. He could hear his ragged breath just above the sounds of the sobbing and at some frightening point, he couldn't hear it any longer.

"No, no, we need help," he whispered. "Terra, go call 911. Call the police, anybody!"

She jerked to her feet and ran for the cemetery entrance, hurtling over tombstones and markers as if the ghosts themselves were spurring her on.

John kept digging, the darkness of the night spread over his maniacal movements like a cloak.

The only sounds were his breath and the dirt scraping through his fingers.

Act I

August 13, 2000
2:37 p.m. Colma Necropolis

Dana Scully fingered the photocopied newspaper article in her hands with a sigh and stepped from the taxi cab into the light of a summer California day. Hillside Boulevard fell away in a long hill of marble and lawn and memorials and she heard the cab creak as she slammed the door. The driver sped off before she had fully moved away, and she frowned to herself.


She glanced up to see Mulder pacing himself as he loped down the hill. His tie flapped in the breeze coming in from the ocean or perhaps the bay, and the smell of salt water and concrete came with him.


"Is your mom feeling better?"

Scully flushed and nodded.

"What are we doing here?" she asked, shading her eyes with a hand.

"Did you know that operating a cemetery is illegal in San Francisco?"

"No, aren't there two cemeteries in the city, now?"

She leaned slightly to the left to look around him, wondering at the absolute stillness of the place.

"Well, yes, but they don't take any more ... ah, bodies. San Francisco bought all this land out here because things were getting crowded. Colma is a necropolis."

"A city for the dead?"

"All the city's cemeteries moved here: Eternal Home, Golden Hills, Olivet Memorial. Wyatt Earp is buried in the Hills of Eternity. His tombstone has been stolen so many times, they had to finally set it in concrete. Hugh O'Brien, the actor, offered a $500 reward for its return in 1957."

She glanced up at him, eyes slanted with silent laughter."Wyatt Earp? Still have some of those childhood OK Corral fantasies, Mulder?"

He tossed her one of those absurd grins and turned back around to the cemetery sloping up before them. His back was broad and dark against the outline of the sun, and the varied memorials offered a backdrop of bizarre reality in the golden dusk.

"Did you read the article?" he finally said.


"This is the Holy Cross Cemetery, where the couple was attacked, and then afterwards they found the little girl." He turned around to look at her.

"Buried alive, Mulder?" she asked gently.

He nodded, squinting his eyes at her, then looking back to the graveyard. The fence was made of stone and wrought iron, with ivy growing thickly all over. The wall rose as the street fell, creating a flat surface for the dead to be interred.

He started for the gate, expecting her to be behind him, as she always was. With a brief rebellion, Scully stayed rooted to the sloping sidewalk, staring at his back, then she sighed and followed him into the relative cool of the shady park.

Huge twisting oaks grew thick and dark, with occasional palm trees that had been planted by the bereaved and the little fuchsia trees that brightened the graves with a flowering cheer. Elaborate meditation circles were clipped into the grass with jade bushes and cinerarias.

High class Catholic graveyard, Scully thought to herself. A huge gaping hole of dark dirt marred the beauty of the place and she followed Mulder over to its side, slipping a little in the damp grass with her heels sinking slightly. He moved away so she could peer into the hole, then raised his eyebrows at her.

"So what are we doing here, Mulder?"

"The girl the Kesslers found, Madison Hall, is now at the hospital, being kept for tests, but seems to be whole and healthy."

Scully only raised her eyebrow.

"They thought she was dead, Scully. The family buried her. The doctor signed her death certificate. What do you say to that?"

"I'm glad they didn't have her cremated," she muttered. He glanced to her with mock-sickened shock, as if amused at this new wicked Scully who had come to meet him.

"How did this happen, Mulder?"

"Her family thought she was possessed."

She glanced up at him through slitted eyes, blinking out the brightness of the day and the absurdity of his claim. "Possessed?"

"Yes. They called the Catholic church and asked them to perform an exorcism. The priest there wouldn't do it, so they went to the Grace Episcopal church."

"And they buried her?" she asked, trying to hurry along his tale.

"No. They performed an exorcism. And they said it seemed to work. She stopped being violent, but she slept all day long, and was wide awake at night. Then she slipped into a coma and died. Well, they thought she died."

"Her family ... called you?"

He shook his head and took the article from her fingers. It was limp and soft from her handling it on the plane, on the cab ride through the crowded, dangerously hilly streets of San Francisco and then down to the City of Colma, south of the bay city. She had asked to drive through the city; she had wanted to see San Francisco one innocent time before the case took over her perceptions of the place.

"This article was email ed to me, Scully. From an untraceable account."

She frowned and looked over the side of the empty grave, down into its cool, dark depths.

"Someone's giving you clues?"

"Looks like. And I only get clues, Scully, when there's something more going on."

She looked up at him finally, the sarcasm, the exasperation gone.

"Here we go again."

Across the large expanse of green was an old and pitted mausoleum, and a shadow seemed to grow from the side of the monolith. In the midst of sunlight and marble, this dark figure watched the pair of agents with calm serenity and keen intelligence. His shoulders were hunched slightly, but he made no attempt to hide his presence or his interest.

Had either Mulder or Scully, perceiving someone was watching them, looked up and across to the low, long house of the dead, they would have most clearly seen the man. However, his dark features and dark clothes and blank average face would neither have interested them nor allowed them to recognize him at a later date.

He was content to watch.

For now.

5:39 p.m. August 13, 2000
John and Terra Kessler's home
Pine Street, San Francisco

The apartment buildings on Pine Street were crowded close and tight, like stiff old men hunched together in line outside a soup kitchen. The Victorian architecture was limited by the space available, but the windows had opulent and gaudy moldings, with ledges and trims in a riot of colors. It was one of those cities where pink and red collided and no one really noticed.

The Kesslers lived on the second floor front apartment, so the FBI agents were heard outside before they actually rang the bell. John, who had been people watching at one of the three windows in their front bedroom, called to Terra to buzz them in.

His wife stepped around the corner from the kitchen, bringing her into the small hall that led to their apartment door, then buzzed the agents in. She unlocked the door and opened it a crack, then took two steps back into the living room. The entire apartment had a fraction of the space most people would have paying the same rent in another city.

She sank down on the futon they used as a couch and guest bed, and turned the television off. John slipped into the living room and tapped her head as he passed. She smiled faintly and sighed.

They could hear the agents walking up the narrow, creaking stairs, the soft murmur of their voices carrying through the slightly musty smell of summer in San Francisco. Terra leaned back against the futon and listened to John pour himself a glass of green tea from their plastic pitcher. The windows were all open and a bay breeze meandered from their bedroom into the living room. It caressed her over- heated skin and made her eyes drift shut.


She jumped up at the sound and went to open the door, letting in the two agents.

"Mrs. Kessler?"

"Call me Terra. You're the one I talked to on the phone yesterday?"

Mulder nodded and introduced himself and his partner as the woman led them into the small, tight living room. It was dwarfed by their black suits and serious looks, but John appeared from the kitchen with tea for everyone and the agents seemed to relax.

"This is my husband John," Terra explained, taking a glass from him and smiling.

He sat down on the floor next to the television and the agents took the lumpy futon. Terra was left with the wicker arm chair, which made her taller than everyone else in the room. The agents looked somewhat ridiculous in the cramped apartment, their knees coming to their chests on the low futon.

"Do you mind answering some questions?" Agent Scully started.

"No, go ahead."

Scully opened her notebook and balanced it precariously on one knee. She could feel Mulder's elbow digging painfully into her side as he shifted for more room. She glanced up at the Kesslers.

John was quiet and one of those dark, handsome types, Scully immediately noticed. He sipped his tea and watched his wife talk with Mulder; if he offered any details, he did so infrequently. He looked cool and calm and brooding at the same time. She could see that rebel and good girl attraction in their relationship, but they'd been married for seven years and seemed steady and strong.

"So, when this, uh, dark blur, rushed you ...?"

Mulder gestured at Terra to complete the details.

"Oh, well, I saw him first, bent over in the bushes. I thought it was a kid getting sick. Gross. And we'd been hearing this weird noise, just the kind you expect in graveyards, you know?"

She grinned and sipped at the tea for a moment, pausing in the narrative.

"So I'm standing a little ways away from John and the darkness sort of rippled, and he was a lot bigger than any kid getting sick. I know I screamed. He scared me. And then he knocked me down and I heard John coming up behind me."

"And then it ran into me as well," John added, with his slow cool eyes and beatnik rhythm.

"Did the person say anything? Do anything afterwards?" Scully asked.

"Don't know," John replied. "I went to see if Terra was hurt, and by that time the thing was gone."

"Thing?" Mulder said, tilting his head.

"Whatever it was. I went to get my camera and that's when Terra heard the sound again."

"Yeah. It sounded so frightened."

"It made you afraid?" Scully asked.

Terra turned her head to look at Scully, frowning.

"No. The girl, it was a little girl down there ... she sounded frightened. In my mind, I connected her crying with whatever that man had been doing. I went back to where he'd been bending over or hiding and that crying was coming from the grave."

"It took us a moment to realize the girl was alive. And then Terra ran off to call 911 from the pay phones outside the Colma Museum while I dug."

"Did you dig her up or did the firemen?"

"The firemen. When they came I'd only gotten a foot or two. They had shovels, and eventually one of those machines ..."

"A backhoe?" Mulder supplied.

"Something like that. It'd been in the caretaker's shed. They had to break the lock, I think. We stayed until they got her out. I couldn't go home knowing that girl was still under there."

Scully nodded and turned to Mulder, indicating that she had no more questions. But her partner was looking speculatively out the window and he idly put the tea to his lips and sipped.

"How much do those photos of yours sell for, John?"

Scully was surprised at the question but John just gave a grim smile while the ice clinked against his glass.

"Usually five dollars. The cemetery probably has some kind of rights over them, huh?"

"Probably," Mulder said, noncommittal.

Scully knew he didn't mean the comment as an accusation, but the husband and wife looked nervous.

"Have there been a lot of child deaths here recently?" Mulder asked.

John frowned and took a long draught of the tea. He looked exhausted, and Scully could understand the trauma of their discovery that night. Dark circles looped under his already dark eyes and sallowed his skin. She wondered if he was getting any sleep at night, or if nightmares kept him up. "Actually," Terra said softly. "I remember there being something about a small outbreak at a school near here. One of those private schools. Catholic, I think, but I don't remember which one. I don't think that any children died, but some of them caught one of those old-fashioned diseases."

"Old-fashioned?" Scully inquired, raising her eyebrow. Terra smiled and shook her head. "Old-fashioned. Like polio or whooping cough or smallpox. Something all the children died from in the frontier days. But not now, and certainly not in this country. That's why there was a news story about it."

"Smallpox?" Mulder said, leaning forward. The movement caused his knees to jut out awkwardly and his right leg smacked into Scully's. She stilled him and smiled at Terra as the woman shrugged at Mulder's question.

"Well, thanks. You have our number, should you remember anything, or need our help."

"Yes, thanks," Terra replied and stood as the agents pushed off the futon. John got to his feet slowly and steadied himself against the wall, sipping the tea again. His glass was nearly empty.

Mulder and Scully left more quietly than they had arrived; the near darkness of the setting sun made them hushed and the information they'd gathered tumbled around in their minds. Their rental car was parked two blocks over and on a hill, but Scully followed Mulder in silence, suffering in her high heels.

7 p.m. August 13, 2000
St. Francis Memorial Hospital Room 223

"We appreciate allowing us to interview you so late tonight," Scully said politely, nodding to the couple as they clutched things: plastic chair, each other, hands, their daughter.

They seemed nervous and edgy, their faces lined with something akin to horror or possibly relief, and their movements belied the icy anger churning through their blood.

"They said she was ... gone. They told us that. Are you going to prosecute them?" Kris said in a tight, nearly angry voice.

"Prosecute?" Mulder said, surprised at their closely guarded faces.

"The ... doctors, all of them said she ... It's been a very frightening and horrible ... I don't want this to happen to anyone else, and they caused such grief ... You don't know what it's like to lose a child."

"Mrs. Hall, right now no one is being brought up on charges. But we are here to keep this tragedy from occurring again."

Kris seemed barely holding together her fragmented control. She glanced to her husband, then squeezed her 6-year-old daughter tighter. The girl, growing petulant from all the cuddling and attention, pushed on her mother's shoulder and shrank back into the hospital bed. She looked thin and wispy, as if a ghost.

Mulder smiled softly at her and she looked at him with wide, almost frightened eyes. She was shyly fingering the edge of the white hospital sheet, glancing up at him occasionally only to hide her face again.

"Well, what can we help you with? We're so grateful to God for this miracle. Talitha cumi: Little girl, get up. We know the power, we know it for sure now," Kris said and stroked the top of her child's head.

Scully glanced around the private room and noticed the many lighted candles, the pictures of Christ's Agony, the Holy Cross tacked to the wall, saints' icons displayed on the bed tray, and the rosary hanging like an ornament from the bed railing. Their miracle might have been equal to their faith.

She knew the story the couple spoke of: Jairus' daughter was sick and so the official went to Jesus seeking healing for his child. Jesus was stopped along the way, so that when he arrived at the house, the women were weeping outside and said it was too late for him, that the girl was dead. But Christ went into their house and took only her parents and a few disciples with him into the girl's bedroom. In order to heal her, he spoke in Aramaic, saying, "Talitha cumi." Literally, "Little girl, arise." And the child woke as if from sleep and asked for food and water.

"Do you mind," Mulder was asking as Scully began paying attention again. "We'd like to ask Madison some questions by herself."

"She's been frightened terribly by all this."

"Can I see your badge?" Madison said softly, leaning forward to tug on Mulder's jacket.

They room was stunned for an instant, but Mulder pulled out his badge and flipped it open for her.

She traced the outlines with her fingers, then glanced up at the man before her, sighing softly.

"I can talk, Mommy," she said, although she was looking at Mulder.

"Well ... okay, baby. Daddy and I will be right outside. You don't have to answer any questions you don't want to. Isn't that right, Agent Mulder?"

"That's right, Madison. Just what you feel comfortable with."

Scully watched as the parents left, quite anxiously glancing behind them -- Dave Hall as silent and stoic as before. When they had clicked the door shut, Madison crawled to the side of the bed and rested her head against the sheets. She fingered the badge again and sighed.

"There was an angel with me down there."

Scully quirked an eyebrow at Mulder but answered the girl herself.

"Did the angel help you to not be scared?"

"The angel woke me up. He was not white. He was very dark and I only heard his voice."

"Well," Scully said very gently, "it was very dark where you were. Could that have made it hard to see him?"

"Well, yes. That's what I mean. Angels glow, but my angel didn't glow."

Mulder chewed on his lip and touched the girl's knee."What did he say to you, Madison?"

"He told me he woked me up. When I woked up and it was dark down there, I started to cry a little bit, but he told it was okay. He said he was getting me out of there." "Was that John, Madison? The man who found you?"

"No, no. John's got a very low smooth voice. Have you met him? He's got a low smooth voice."

Scully smiled at that description and stroked the girl's hair, smoothing a stray dark wisp. The hospital gown shifted and dropped off her shoulder; Scully pulled it back up gently, but not before noticing a large bruise.

"You're very right, Madison. If John's voice is low and smooth, how did your angel's voice sound?"

"Far away. Like when Micah and I talk through tin cans. It's so cool."

"Micah is your friend?"

"Yup. He lives next door to me, and we both go to Sacred Heart Cathedral. I'm six and I'm going into first grade next year."

She pushed away from the bed and went to the window. Scully noticed that her enthusiasm was flagged by the trauma; she seemed to struggle to move fluidly. Madison touched the pane of glass and her fingers made smeared prints.

"At home, I have a tin can next to my bed and we can talk back and forth -- even when we're supposed to be in bed."

She looked back to Scully and gave her a sly smile. Scully came towards her and looked out the window, then leaned against the sill to see the girl's face. The gown was again slipping off her shoulder, revealing the purple mottled skin.

"When Micah and I were sick, we talked when we were supposed to be resting."

"Micah was sick too?" Mulder said, leaning forward in the chair.

"Yes, but he got better." Madison looked back towards the bed, but she leaned so heavily against the window that Scully had a feeling she was too tired to move. She picked the little girl up and cradled her close as she moved back to the hospital bed, placing Madison on top of the twisted sheets.

Scully sat down on the bed next to the girl and brushed her dark hair from her face. "So, Madison, is that what the voice sounded like? Far away like the tin cans?"

"Yup. He was very nice. But then he stopped talking to me and I got afraid and cried again."

"And that's when John and Terra found you."

She nodded and bunched the white sheets with her thin fingers.

"They digged me up, but the angel woked me up."

Mulder looked at Scully over the girl's head, the questions in his eyes matching hers exactly.

Who was this angel who had awoken the sleeping girl, and was he also the dark blur who had raced at John and Terra?

Mulder laid his hand on Madison's shoulder and the girl winced, dipping away.

Scully frowned and her fingers curled along the bed.

"Can I look at your shoulder, Madison?"

The girl glanced up and nodded, tugging down the hospital gown so that her right shoulder was exposed. The bruise was about the size of a dollar coin, maybe larger, and seemed to form a ring right below her collarbone. Scully carefully touched the sensitive area, then leaned down to see it closer.

A needle mark.

Blinking uncomprehendingly, Scully glanced up at Mulder. She opened her mouth, then stopped and looked once more to the little girl.

"I bet that hurts, doesn't it?" she asked sympathetically. "Yeah."

"It should be better in a few days."

Scully quickly pulled Mulder to the side and licked her lips, her eyes worried and her mind hesitant to explore this new revelation.

"She has a puncture wound on her shoulder, Mulder," she hissed, her eyebrows raised in concern and disbelief.

"In the middle of that bruise?"

"Yes. I'm going to go find her doctor and see if we can get a tox screen done on Madison. They might even have some samples of blood from when she first came in. You can finish up with the parents."

With that, Scully was slipping out the door. Mulder turned back to the little girl and sighed.

Angels and shadowy things, needle marks and premature burials -- and still, his informant had remained unseen and unheard since that first furtive email .

Act II

5:35 am August 14, 2000
Beresford Hotel Room 329

The third floor smelled like mold. He told himself that was why he couldn't sleep. The real reason, he had a feeling, was because of the two agents that slept four doors down from him. He couldn't believe that FBI agents would choose a cheap place like this for their accommodations, but it was just his luck.

Thankfully, he'd heard that the little girl had been brought up safely, without any injuries. He had gone yesterday to the hospital to see her but she was being watched over by her parents; he hadn't felt comfortable in coming closer. It had been a foolish thing to do anyway. As he'd left through the garage entrance, there were three men glancing suspiciously up the stairwell.

He'd been stupid from the beginning. Thinking he could do this on his own.

The girl was still alive. No sleeping sickness, thanks to him.

But the FBI agents. They were going to dig around, they were going to look for things, they were going to find him and then he was dead. Dead.

He should leave. But there were men looking for him, men much more deadly than the agents sleeping peacefully not a floor away from him. Airports were covered, trains, buses; he knew the drill -- that had been him not two months ago. Doing what he was told because he had once believed that this was right.

He was stupid. The ignorance didn't excuse what he'd done, and saving that little girl didn't repay the debt he owed. But there was something about death that was ultimately very real, and very frightening enough to make him want to escape, to run, if only to live the rest of his life in fear.

Pathetic, but he had always been one of those kind. He had about four hundred dollars left of the cash he'd taken from the joint bank account with his wife.*God forgive me, she's very likely dead.*And that was going to run out soon and he'd be on the street. That might be better, but he was going to fade out without effecting any kind of change. That's what made him want to weep. For decades this had gone on, and there had always been men like himself who had managed to save one life, but lost a thousand more. He would die, he would either be shot by the men hunting him or he would kill himself, but he would die.

And nothing would change. The world would keep on turning vainly around the sun while the men beneath it plotted horrible and cataclysmic things.

What the hell. He was a dead man.

5:55 a.m. August 14, 2000
Beresford Hotel Room 335

"You've got to be kidding me!"

They paused -- Scully sitting up straight and still on the bed, laptop balanced on her knees, while Mulder was slouched moodily into the chair, his finger hovering over the mute button on the remote.

Suddenly, he gave her a sly grin and she smiled back. The tension flowed smoothly and quickly from anger and frustration to something like amusement. She brushed her hair back with an impatient hand; he tossed the remote onto the bed and stood up. She was just beginning her argument again.

"If bees had attacked these kids at Sacred Heart Cathedral, there would be something..."

"It doesn't have to be bees, Scully."

She stilled and his hand brushed the top of her bare shoulder. A sleeveless shirt in a San Francisco summer and he was trying very hard not to notice.

"What else then? Why change the mode of attack now?"

"They're ruined -- burned. How many are left? We know Cancer Man is still out there. You take what you can get. Sacred Heart's absence records indicates that a great many of these children were out of school for a two-day period." "Kids get sick. Kids give other kids what they got sick with. It doesn't mean they've been infected with the black oil!"

He shook his head and peered at the laptop over her shoulder. Her bare skin was a bright distraction at the edge of his vision but he ignored it.

"Keep looking, Scully. There's got to be something on Sacred Heart Cathedral."

He noticed that she merely shook her head and kept searching through the FBI database. She had dark circles under her eyes and she was still in her pajamas, but neither of them had been able to sleep. He had stolen into her room earlier that morning, searching for something. Maybe her.

Mulder worked his fingers around his temples, pressing deeply to ease the building pressure behind his skull. "Maybe these kids ... I can't figure this out. What makes Madison Hall so different? Why did she get so sick?"

"It's obvious now that Madison was simply in a coma, and not dead as others had thought."

"A wannabe Juliet?" Mulder tossed to her.

She glanced up, ice in her eyes. A whirring of her computer made her glance down in surprise.


He took two strides and was at her side. "What 'oh'?" "A local pharmaceutical company gave the children of Sacred Heart free immunization shots."

"For what? MMR, boosters?"

She shook her head. "I think hepatitis. There has been some recent outbreaks in Memphis and other cities. I didn't know it was a problem here."

"Free hepatitis shots? Did Madison Hall happen to be absent that day?"

Scully's eyes slid up from the screen to meet his, and Mulder felt a strange chill crawl up his neck and lodge in his brain like a whisper. He didn't like the answers they were finding.

"The records you requested from the school are on the table," she said. Mulder was at the table in seconds, flipping through the sheaves of papers and racing his eyes across the words. Somehow, he knew what the answer was before he found it.

"She was absent. She missed that day of school. She was the only one."

"She's been the only kid to get so deathly sick as well. Her friend, Micah, was sick but he recovered."

Mulder was surprised that she had acknowledged that point, but it was a fact. A solid, provable fact. No other child had exhibited such severe symptoms as Madison Hall, and no other child had been buried alive.

"I think those immunization shots were for more than hepatitis," Mulder said. "And somehow, all these kids were exposed to the alien virus in some form -- this time not by bees -- and Madison nearly died."

"But ... but she was in a coma. She was very, very sick, Mulder. I can accept what you're saying, but what I don't understand is how she woke up. How could she have possibly gotten better on her own if she missed getting innoculated?"

He was grinning at her despite her frustration, grinning because she had accepted it -- maybe not the origins of that virus, but she was beginning to believe. Impulsively, he pushed away a stray hair from where it had caught and clung to her lips, then squeezed her bare shoulder.

"Put on your blackest clothes, Scully. We're going to call on the dead."

7:08 a.m. August 14, 2000
Colma Necropolis

She shivered again and crossed her arms as Mulder led the way from their car to the grassy sloping hill of the cemetery. The sun was just beginning to lighten the sky with a chilled warmth, and Scully could hear birds calling in urgent and reproaching tones. She idly wondered whether the birds were warning her and Mulder or merely acting out their role in nature.

"What are we doing, Mulder?" she asked again, knowing full well that he wouldn't answer her until it was most convenient to him.

"Discovering the real origins of this deus ex machina."

"What?" she asked, bewildered. Latin, she thought automatically. Something about gods and machines.

"It's a term in the theater -- when the conflict is resolved through some outside force: the gods decide to save the hero, the prince grants a pardon, the girl is miraculously raised from the dead."

She nodded. "So, we're looking for evidence of the Shadow Man?"

He shot her an unamused half-grin, then shook his head."It's too early for obscure comedy, Scully."

She had the sudden urge to roll her eyes at him, but of course, she didn't do that. Instead, she walked on just a little behind him, following him up the slope to the rows of graves and family plots. She glanced out across the relatively flat expanse of green grass, black and white marble, and gray granite. The view was interrupted by the four trees on this plot of land, each skinny and daintily shading the deceased, and then the bright yellow police tape, undulating, like thin fingers of the sun, in a slight breeze.

Even if Mulder did not have the way to Madison Hall's former burial plot memorized, it would not have been a difficult thing to find, not with the flapping yellow tape. Scully winced at the discord it caused on a landscape that was vainly trying to remain peaceful and serene. She felt her blood crawl as they came closer, until finally she was shivering again and they were at the edge of the grave.

"What are we looking for?" she asked, trying to hide her discomfort.

"Ah ... I'm not sure yet."

She glanced up at Mulder's grim, yet somewhat amused eyes. This was just like him. She no longer questioned.

"Scully, mind jumping in the hole?"

She frowned ferociously and glanced down into the gaping darkness of the grave. She looked up again, over to where the coffin lay beside the large hole; the ropes used to pull it up were still threaded around its short length.

"Why me?" she asked, glancing suspiciously back to Mulder. "Because it's over eight feet, and while I'm certainly taller than you, it would be difficult for me to get back out. However, I can easily pull you back out of there."

She sighed at the logic of his answer: had Mulder gone in there, he would be unable to simply scramble back out, and she wouldn't be strong enough to pull him out.

"All right."

"Wait," he said, "Let me help you -- it's a long jump."

She scowled at him. "I wasn't about to just jump down there, Mulder."

He smiled winningly and grabbed her waist, then dropped his hands. "How should we do this?"

Scully was glad she'd changed into jeans and a t-shirt: dirt stains like this were not going to wash out easily. "Here, I'll sit on the edge and sort of slide in, while you hold on to my hands and lower me the rest of the way."

It was awkward, but she ended up sliding on her back against the side of the grave while Mulder's large fingers were wrapped around her wrists, letting her down slowly. She had still not touched bottom when Mulder's chest came to meet the ground at the side, so she instructed him to let her go carefully.

"No way, Scully. If I can't reach you, then I can't pull you back out."

"There's rope around the coffin. You can use that. I'm all right."

Sweat was rolling into his eyes as he held on tightly, but he saw the ropes wound around the coffin and licked his lips. He wondered if he was bruising her wrists. This might have been a stupid idea.

"Okay. I'm going to slowly let you go."

He let go of one wrist first, his fingers sliding through hers in a last touch that made him nervous, then he released her other wrist, finally easing the stress on his shoulder joints. She wasn't heavy, but his arms ached now. He laid there for a moment, waiting for her to say something.


"I'm okay. The bottom was about six inches below my feet. What do you want me to look for?"

Mulder pulled his arms out of the dark hole and glanced to the slowly rising sun, whose rays had not yet made it high enough to pierce the grave. He dug a hand into his pocket and came out with a flashlight.

"I'm going to drop the flashlight down to you. Look for anything ... that's not dirt, I guess."

He eased the flashlight down the hole, then dropped it. He heard it clunk into hard packed dirt and then her fingers scrambling over it.

"Mulder, you have a reason for coming out here and dropping me down a grave, don't you?"

She sounded a tad angry and then the flashlight came on and he could see her staring up at him, lips pursed and eyebrow arched.

"Of course. I think our mystery man left something behind. In fact, I'm fairly certain he did."

"Why's that?"

Mulder smiled at their positions; he lying on his stomach talking to her down a hole.

"And, Mulder, my neck's starting to get a crick, so make your explanation fast."

He grinned at that and propped his chin on his fists.

"Well ... in that case. Here are my reasons. One, the Kesslers evidently interrupted the Shadow Man, as you call him."

"Why do you say that?"

"If we stop for explanations, your neck's going to be killing you."

"Okay, okay, get on with it."

"And two, Madison heard voices very clearly. Enough to know that John's voice was low and smooth, that her angel's voice was different. Why is that? She was in a coffin with about eight feet of dirt on top of her."

"Ah ... and her angel, if he's really no angel, must have gotten some kind of medicine down to her. She had an injection mark on her shoulder, Mulder, but she was woken up before the men raised her out of the grave."

Mulder smiled. "Precisely."

"Okay, so let me start looking."

Mulder cocked his head to the side, then nodded, and Scully looked around at the dark dank hole. She could hear her partner scramble back from the edge,and then begin inspecting the coffin. It was very startling how clear sounds came to her through the opening to the sky, how distinct the noises Mulder made unthreading the rope or opening the lid of the coffin were down where she was. For Madison to have heard those voices, there must have been a hole to the outside, to the night air and the living.

"Hey, Scully?"


"There's a hole in the coffin."


8:13 a.m. August 14, 2000
San Francisco Police Dept. #57

After changing from their muddy jeans and shirts, they took a taxi to the police station, feeling ridiculous in her suit jacket and skirt when the temperature was reaching the hundreds and women in bikini tops were threading through the crowded sidewalks in all their golden glory. She wondered if their motel had a pool; a nice cool swim with Mulder would be the kind of relaxation she needed. Scully smiled to herself and tugged at her jacket as the cab pulled to a stop outside station house 57.

Mulder led her around to the back elevators, where they rode up to the fifth floor in relative silence. Her fingers were raw and aching from where the rope had slid through her hands, and she knew that her partner's shoulders had to be sore from pulling her up. But the evidence they had in plastic bags was enough to warrant filing it with the SFPD. A drill bit, about the size of the hole in the coffin, two lengths of three foot pipe bent by the backhoe, and definite prints on both. Obviously, the Shadow Man had been interrupted in his resurrection of Madison Hall and had left behind objects that could implicate him in...

Scully paused in her train of thought. Implicate him in what? The Shadow Man hadn't murdered anyone, and he hadn't even endangered the little girl's life -- on the contrary, he had most likely saved her.

"Mulder, what exactly is the crime in this case?" she asked hesitantly, watching his hand spell out the long lines of his signature. The evidence was placed in double bags and labeled with a neat, secretary's hand, and then put in lockers with a case file code. Mulder was then given the receipts even as he tried to answer her question.

"I think it's plainly obvious that government testing is still going on, Scully."

"To us, Mulder," she hissed and pulled him into a short hallway away from the milling police officers. "Maybe to us this is obvious. But we have no evidence whatsoever that testing is occurring."

"Madison Hall is plenty of evidence."

Scully shook her head. "No, she isn't Mulder. She's a little girl who got very sick, and then was discovered alive and well. There's no hard physical proof."

"The pharmaceutical company that sponsored the shots..."

"I looked. They're completely legitimate. And they have a good reputation for customer satisfaction, which means that it would be difficult to cast any shadows of doubt on their intentions."

"Well ... Scully, you know this is happening. We can't just let it go because you don't see tangible proof. No one in this organization is going to connect the dots for you!"

She leaned away from him, shocked and slightly hurt. But instead of turning away, she merely fought harder.

"Proof, Mulder. No one will be punished if we don't have proof. It's been our constant problem all these years, and you know it. If we had proof of any of this, the men responsible would be in jail."

He turned away from her angrily, moving to leave the police department. She was partly right, and he knew that, but he was also disgusted with her attitude. Couldn't she just back him up for once?

"Mulder," she said softly. "It's not that I don't agree with you. I think you're right; I think they've tested their cure for this on these kids, and then released the bees. Or whatever the carriers were. I know this is what happened. But no one else is going to believe us."

His shoulders slumped and he turned back to her, looking as if he didn't understand her words.

"Believe us?" he asked, and she wondered if her words had shocked him.

"No one is going to believe us. Just like I didn't believe it before. Until it happened to me, until I saw it with my own eyes. We need proof."

"Proof," he repeated, looking dazed. She was beginning to think he had never known of her faith in him. "You know, Mulder, there's a saying: Innocent until proven guilty. I believe that's what the justice system would need to convict these people -- proof."

He shot her a long, slow smile, as if guessing that she was kidding with him. He walked up to her and grabbed her waist, darting down to kiss her lips, quickly and lightly."Thanks," he said and stepped away from her.

Shocked, she opened her mouth to say something, anything, to this sudden public display, but a police officer appeared at Mulder's shoulder.

"Uh, agents? Your Shadow Man has confessed. He's in the detention room."

9:34 a.m.
Holding Room C

"As my partner would say, we don't have enough solid evidence to convict you, Mr. Fitz, other than your testimony. These days, that's easily renounced."

James Fitz shook his head and glanced warily to the glass mirror. He wasn't an idiot; he had seen enough cop shows to know there were police officers, maybe more FBI agents behind it. He had to do this, they had to put him away for awhile. Lock him up where none of*them*could get to him. At least, he didn't think they could. Surely...

Surely their power didn't reach this far.

He looked back to Agent Mulder and shrugged. "It's all I have. I wasn't expecting to turn myself in for crimes against humanity."

Agent Scully glanced to him with a frown, then to the report before her. His 'confession' was all typed out there, neatly and in such precision, despite his rambling and his fear and the attack of conscience he had when he was giving it.

Some of it he had made up to get the officers to pay attention to him.

"So, you're willing to testify that this drug company, Sharf-Appen, sponsored the immunization, but had no knowledge of the contents of the medicine given?"

"Yes, right. It was all the institute." "And this institute is...?"

Agent Scully looked up at him and he sighed. He'd been asked this question four times.

"The Center for Antiviral Drug Design, which is located at UCSF."

"University of California is part of this conspiracy to..."

"No. No, I didn't say that. The institute isn't entirely corrupt. The part that is associated with the university doesn't know anything. It's like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."

"So what is the right hand doing, Mr. Fitz?"

"Experimenting on children. Senior citizens. Whomever they can."

"For what purpose?"

Fitz thought Agent Mulder's face looked like a thundercloud, as if he were ready to storm on the people responsible, hurling down lightning and rain like he was some Roman god. The atrocities that had been done upset him as well, but Fitz was too tired of running, of being afraid, that the horrors done to children just didn't have the same affect as before.

"How did you learn of these experiments?" Agent Scully said, cleanly taking over for her partner.

"I was involved. I'm a scientist. All this sneaking around is too hard -- that's why I turned myself in."

Fitz winced at this near-truth and covered his mouth with his hand, rubbing his chin with shaking fingers. This wasn't going as well as he had expected. He thought they'd be glad to have his information, that they would immediately go arrest those more responsible than he. And he'd be safe.

"How were you involved?"

"Preparing the project. That's what he called it. The project."

"Who called it that?" Agent Scully jumped in, eager now. "The man. He's old ... we all took orders from him. But he didn't really deal with us directly. Just in the shadows most of the time. I ... I was always ... he has power. He could..."

Fitz stopped. There was no use at all. How could he explain to them what he knew about this man? About the darkness that surrounded him.

"Did he smoke?"

Fitz looked up. "Yes. He was always with this man, Allan, who he had healed with the technology we were trying to perfect. Allan used to be really sick. He had lung cancer and miraculously, he was well again. Mr. Walker, the man who smoked, he always lugged Allan around, trying to motivate us."

"Motivate you for what?" Agent Mulder asked, frowning.

"I guess for the job. I mean,*I*knew what we were doing was wrong in some ways, but seeing Allan well again -- it made me stop questioning."

Fitz sighed and rubbed his temples. "He's gonna kill me."

"Why do you think that?"

He looked up at the male agent, shaking his head. If the man didn't understand, there was no way he could explain it. The power behind the old man was enough to keep him cowed and doing the job. It still kept him cowed, but now he just couldn't do the job anymore. He had to stop.*It* had to stop.

"He'll kill me. It's only a matter of time."

10:13 a.m. August 14, 2000

Mulder was still shaking his head over James Fitz's explanation of Madison's resurrection. The extreme attention to detail that this kind of plan must have involved baffled him. He wondered why Fitz had chosen that time to rebel against his captors, to once more be on the side of good. Fitz was the epitome of the absent-minded professor: fumbling manner, intelligence without much common sense, and not a very careful observer.

Fitz had told them that he hadn't known what the Center for Antiviral Drug Design was doing with the tailor-made antivirus he had worked on for ten years. All he had known was that there was a new disease, a lethal disease with certain attributes, and unexplainable behaviors. Even though all the scientists were on a 'need-to-know' basis, the information they did know about the alien virus was very extensive.

Mulder was surprised they had lived this long, that some rebel alien force hadn't wiped them out or the project leaders hadn't long ago decided to eliminate evidence.

"Do you think that the old man Fitz talks about is Cancer Man, Mulder?"

He glanced up to see his partner heading towards him; she had just finished the long interrogation of James Fitz while he had run down some minor details. He smiled briefly at her and sighed.

"Ah, finally, a woman who thinks like I do," he retorted, tapping her shoulder. "It seems too close to be coincidence."

They were standing in the far corner of the large conference room on the fifth floor, Mulder able to see right down the hallway to the interrogation room she had just come from. The observation room, which connected to the holding room by the two-way mirror was a little to the left of his vision. Both doors were closed now, and Scully again came into focus next to him.

She brushed off his comment and continued with her train of thought. "Do you think he's right, Mulder? That it's over now?"

"His story checks out, Scully. The center, or institute as he calls it, does have a contract with the Department of Defense to produce certain Antiviral drugs. Of course, I wasn't given the names, but I talked to Byers and asked him to run it down for me, if he could."

"Mulder, that information is very closely guarded. If they do manage to hack into something like that, there's going to be all kinds of traps."

"I know," Mulder said, shrugging. "I told him as much. I think Frohike is aching for a challenge ever since that video game fiasco."

He leaned against the small desk that SFPD had allotted them, the computer at his back making a tired humming noise. Scully stood just off to his right, her hip pressed against the desktop. He realized that her stance gave her the impression of standing up straight, while his just made him look sloppy and exhausted.

But he*was*exhausted. He hadn't been able to sleep much the night before, and then he'd gone into her motel room to discuss the case at four in the morning. After that, they'd searched the little girl's grave, thoroughly interrogated a suspect, and it was only 10:30. He was needing a second wind desperately.

The beige and blue color scheme of the fifth floor was making him sluggish, and he had stared at the computer for at least as long as he'd talked to Fitz in the holding room. Mulder rubbed his eyes and felt a shadow pass over his face. He glanced up.

"But do you think it's over here, Mulder? That they've run their tests and seen that the drugs work, and they'll disappear?"

He noticed she was leaning in rather close to him, so he hooked a finger in her suit jacket pocket and tugged playfully. She frowned and pulled away, resting against the desk.

"I think they'll disappear, but I don't think this is over," he said finally. "In fact, it feels very unfinished. Lots of loose ends. That's not like them at all."

"Fitz thinks they're going to kill him."

Mulder turned a pale face towards her once more, rubbing his jaw.

"He's definitely a loose end."

She nodded and glanced warily to the holding room, chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip. In a sudden fit, she jumped up and made her way down the hall towards it, Mulder following behind her, his thoughts running in the same vein as her own.

When they reached the door, it was locked. Their eyes met.

"What?" Mulder hissed and rattled the knob. "It's not supposed to lock*us*out."

Scully ran around to the observation room adjoining it, leaving Mulder to find a key for the door. Stepping into the room, she noticed immediately that Fitz was facing away from her, his hands in his lap and his head tilted forward. She couldn't tell if he was being remorseful ... or already dead.

Outside, she heard Mulder berating an officer about the key to the room, and the bewildered answer in the negative. She turned and peered out of the open door to see Mulder searching through a key ring, his hands frantic in his haste.

A scraping wrench of the chair caused her to turn and look at Fitz again, in time to see his body spasm and blood spew from his mouth and splatter the wall like a modern art painting. She froze, her instincts telling her to run, run far, but she could not even speak.

Seizures wracked the man's small frame for a full minute, and then he vomited his intestines.

She prayed he was dead.


"Scully, I've got the key."

"No! No, don't open the door, Mulder."

She hurried into the hallway, yanking the keys from his fingers just as he pulled them away from the lock.


"He's been infected."

"With what?" Mulder said, his face going into that shocked and panicked blankness that she knew so well in him. She knew it too well.

"I don't know. But I think he's dead. Or will be soon."

She tugged on Mulder's hand and he followed her into the observation room.

"Oh, my God. They found him. I don't know how, but they found him."

Scully shivered. "What were you saying about loose ends?" Mulder grabbed her arm and dragged her from the room, she stumbling after him and pulling her arm back.

"Scully, Madison Hall."

"What? What are you talking..."

"Madison Hall is the only loose end left. We've got to get over there right now."

Scully glanced once more to the closed holding room door, and then shook her head.

"You start without me, Mulder. I have to call the paramedics, the CDC, get this contained just in case its airborne. I don't know what they injected him with, but it could be anything. They have the entire arsenal of the institute behind them."

Mulder nodded. "See if you can get the security tapes as well ... maybe we can find out who did this to him. Someone had to have seen a cop or detective enter that room and maybe inject Fitz with something."

Scully watched him hurry down the hallway, his tie flapping behind him as he ran for the elevators. She was partially in shock after this, not having expected something so violent and final to happen to their only witness. And their only proof of hard evidence. She frowned and pulled out her cellular phone, herding people away from the door and the sight of the man's guts splayed along the opposite wall in vivid reds and purples and pinks. She was about to call the CDC for a containment and clean up team, when she remembered.

Madison's blood tests were due back that morning. And while these men were tying up their loose ends, or rather, obliterating the loose ends completely, those tests could be solid proof of experiments. Madison's blood contained both the disease and the antivirus; those results were crucial.

10:58 a.m.
Hall Residence

Mulder was surprised they had released Madison Hall from the hospital so soon, but the nurse he had talked with on the phone had alluded to a fight between her parents and the doctors. He could understand though. The girl wasn't sick any longer and all the doctors did was order more tests. So when the taxi pulled up to her house, he was pleasantly surprised to find her outside helping her parents with their car.

As he paid the driver, Mulder watched the little girl deliberately soak herself with the hose and then run around the car, splattering the sides with sudsy water and her smiles. Her parents seemed to be indulging her today, and he hated to intrude on their family moment. Madison's bright purple swimsuit was an odd spot of brightness in the horror of this case.

"Mrs. Hall?" he asked loudly, to be heard over the spray of water and the bass line of some song on the radio. The heat was oppressive and he wiped his hand across his forehead, regretting the suit. His jacket was back at the station house, draped over a chair. He wondered if Scully would remember to bring it with her when she caught up to him.

"Oh, Agent Mulder. How are you?"

Mulder nodded to the still tense woman and fondly patted Madison's head when she came to inspect him.

"Not so good, Mrs. Hall. Can I talk to you and your husband alone?"

The blind fear that raced explosively across her face made Mulder wonder what was going on in this family.

"Uh, actually, I'd rather not.," she said softly, and her tone seemed desperate. She dropped the hose to the sidewalk and rubbed her forehead. Finding some new strength, she called to her husband and he came over to sit next to her on the front steps, rubbing her back. Madison continued to dance around the car in time to the music tumbling from the portable stereo.

"Is this okay?" Kris said, and her words were low and defeated.

"It's not ideal, but it will work. Can you tell me your reasons for taking Madison out of the hospital?"

Kris bit her lip and shook her head fiercely. "No reason."

She should have made up some kind of excuse, elaborate or not. Her terse reply told Mulder for certain that something had happened, that they had been threatened into keeping silent for some reason.

Dave seemed to recognize this and he shook his head. "We just wanted to get out of there, Agent Mulder. You understand that, right?"

Mulder nodded slowly, thinking quickly.

"Hey Madison!" he called then, and she came prancing over to him, her face no longer the ghost white as it was at the hospital but a gleaming healthy pink.

"Yup?" she asked and grabbed his hand, swinging it and hanging on to him.

"Madison, don't pull on Agent Mulder," her mother chided. "Madison, do you remember the day all the other kids got the shots at school?"

"Yes. I stayed home."

"Why did you stay home, were you sick?" Mulder asked softly, bending down to look into her face.

"No, Momma made me."

11:28 a.m. SFPD

"What do you mean the results have already been picked up?" Scully shouted, one hand pressed against her ear so she could hear the medical technician's voice on the other end.

The CDC had completely taken over the fifth floor, and after all the officers and personnel had been thoroughly decontaminated, herself included, she had gotten a long- winded and cruel lecture for letting Mulder run out of the building. She knew that Mulder was not infected, and she had tried to explain her theory, but no one was listening.

She had just now gotten a chance to call the lab. "Agent Scully, the woman who came in showed proper identification and had the right to take the test results. There's nothing we can do about it."

"What was her name?" Scully asked, with a sinking feeling.

"Kris Hall. The girl's mother."

11:28 a.m. Hall residence

They were still outside, the water still running and the suds a little flat, the music loud and tinny sounding, but Madison was inside the house, in her room. Her parents still sat on the stoop, Mulder towering over them, but now he knew and understand more than he did before.

They were talking outside because they claimed their house was bugged, and the running water and the loud music were good at covering whatever they might say. Dave and Kris had been washing the car as a pretext for discussing their options; they were considering running away. Mulder wondered bitterly if his parents had ever done this -- recognized the trouble they were in and held secret conversations while their children were oblivious to the danger. Somehow, he didn't think so. He wasn't sure his mother knew that much about the project, and his father hadn't cared that much for keeping him out of trouble.

Dave had told him the long, miserable story of their involvement with the project, of the man in the shadows who had proved his power to Dave by healing a co-worker after long months of illness. Mulder was sure the 'kind' old man was Cancer Man, the same man that James Fitz had seen.

Eight years before, Dave Hall had been a contract worker, a specialist in computer imaging but not making much money because he was hired only for occasional jobs by Bay Area companies. One of those companies was the Center for Antiviral Drug Design, and his work was so good that he was noticed by Cancer Man, who called himself Mr. Walker. "He healed a man, my co-worker Allan, who had cancer. He and his wife would come by the offices, telling everyone that Mr. Walker had healed him. It impressed me. It also kind of scared me," Dave said.

Mulder looked to Kris, who was angrily and shamefully looking at the concrete underneath her feet. She seemed defeated.

"He told me that he knew that Kris and I were having trouble getting pregnant, and he knew we didn't have much money at all. Not enough to live in San Francisco. He offered to sponsor us as candidates for a new kind of fertilization method. He said it was the same kind of research that had made Allan well again."

"Just out of the blue like that?" Mulder asked. "No, no. This was after I'd been there a year I think. He also said not to worry about money, because I'd have the imaging job permanently. He was being generous, I thought. He talked and acted like he was my father, like he was looking out for me. The institute doesn't have a need for a full time design imaging operator, but he was promising me a place in his company."

"So he offered you a permanent job and money and a chance to have the child you always wanted?" Mulder said softly. Dave nodded. "We talked it over and eventually agreed to it. It was a new method, he said, and just approved by the government. He said it was a pet project of his. We soon discovered that this project was a lot more than just helping women get pregnant."

He elaborated on some of the details, about how they had gotten slowly sucked into allowing tests and other things on their child, a little girl whose 'grandfather' was always there watching. Dave explained that recently, the tests had made Madison come home crying and they just couldn't allow it any longer. So they had kept her home from school, the private school paid for by Cancer Man, on the day the other kids were to have shots.

"And that's how this all happened. I don't know what exactly they've done to her, but she's ... not like other kids. She's very special. We just wanted to keep her safe." This was sounding a lot like what he and Scully had discovered about Emily Sims, about the tests she was subjected to and her adopted mother's fight to keep her child away from the doctors. He wondered how many of these children existed.

Mulder sighed just as his cellular trilled anxiously from his pocket.

"Excuse me," he said and turned to answer the phone.


"Mulder, it's me."

"Where are you?" he asked, looking at his watch.

"On my way. Listen, Mrs. Hall took the blood test results. You have to be careful."

"Don't worry. They've kind of confessed."


"I'll explain when you get here. I'm at their home. Madison was released from the hospital. Do you know what killed James Fitz?"

"Not yet. The CDC is all over the place. They want you to come in and get checked out."

"Did you tell them I wasn't infected?"

A sigh came over the line. "I tried. Look, I've got to let you go, Mulder."

"All right. I'll be here."

She hung up and he shook his head, sliding his phone back into his pocket.

When he turned around, he felt the hard press of a gun to his neck and saw the fearful, sickened faces of the Halls before him.

"Walk inside the house," came a cool and precise woman's voice, and Mulder knew there was a lot more to this than he had been told.

It was Marita.

11:35 a.m.
Hall residence

Madison looked like she was either going to run screaming out of the room or break down in sobs. Mulder knew the feeling. She was held tightly by Marita, her hand pale and bloodless in the woman's grip. The little girl was barely moving, her eyes wide and frightened and locked on Mulder. Kris Hall was openly sobbing for her child, leaning into her husband and crying entreaties to the cold Marita. Mulder had bound her and her husband with duct tape while Marita held the gun on the little girl; he had done the job right. He didn't need the two of them trying to be heroes. Slowly, he stood up again, then laid the tape on the end table next to the couch where the girl's parents were sitting. Madison was staring up at him as if he were betraying her, and Mulder softly shook his head.

"Why is she so important, Marita?"

The perpetually calm woman merely looked at him. "Stalling for time, Agent Mulder?"

Mulder opened his mouth to deny it, then shook his head. She was clever and not prone to making many mistakes. She had nearly died once, he knew that much, and she was not willing to take the stupid chances any longer. She had learned a lot from Cancer Man and Krycek. Krycek...

"Did Krycek put you up to this?"

"Poor Krycek. He has no idea whose side he should be on," she said softly, and knelt down next to the little girl."Madison, please go over there with Agent Mulder."

The child ran to him, and buried her head into his legs. He sank to his knees and hugged her tightly, trying to calm her down. Mulder realized that by placing Madison with him, he could not very well rush Marita. Not without risking the girl's life. Marita was very smart in this game.

"Why don't you just let the family go, Marita? And then you and Cancer Man get off clean and easy," Mulder said soothingly.

"You don't understand the game any longer, Agent Mulder." "So explain it to me," he said, hoping that when Scully arrived, she would provide enough of a distraction to let him take Marita down.

"This isn't just colonization anymore, this is war. And we need all the weapons we can get."

Mulder held Madison tighter in his arms, certain that he was not about to let this little girl go. He had lost too many children to them.

"Why is she a weapon? A child isn't a weapon."

Marita was busy doing something with the laptop computer she had brought in with her; it was plugged into the wall outlet beside the couch, where she could keep an eye on both the parents and Mulder and the girl. Her back was to the front door, and Mulder could see outside through the curtains on the front picture window.

"She's a step in a long staircase, Agent Mulder. Just as your sister was a step, as Gibson Praise was a step, as you were a step. We have moved beyond mere telepathy, beyond limited physical and mental abilities."

"But Madison doesn't display these abilities. She's not telepathic."

"Not yet," Marita said and cast a bitter look to the Halls. "Her parents interrupted the program we had her on. She's more important to us than anyone else, Mr. Mulder, for precisely the reasons you said. She was not born with these abilities."

Mulder felt the blood drain from his face.

"She's valuable because she's proof that with a minimal amount of genetic tampering, humans can*grow*the necessary abilities. Humans can adapt into hybrids. And survive the colonization."

Madison was crying softly into Mulder's shirt and he had not noticed until now. He didn't know what to do, but rub her back and awkwardly smooth down her hair.

"Someone will be here to pick us up shortly, Agent Mulder."

"What? Why am I going?"

"Like I said, you're a step in this great staircase to the stars. You're a portion of our Tower of Babel, and we're going to need you."

Mulder shook his head, refusing to believe that colonization could be so close, that Cancer Man's horrendous plots could still be going on, despite the fire at El Rico, and despite the many losses the project had taken. It was more extensive and far-reaching than he had initially assumed.

And they needed him.

His phone began to ring.

11:41 a.m.
Hall residence

When the taxi pulled up in front of the Hall's small house, Scully had a feeling that something was dreadfully wrong. It looked deserted, as if the entire family had dropped everything and run. The stereo was outside and blaring Backstreet boys or some similar pop group, and the water was creating a river of the driveway. No one was around.

She paid the taxi driver and checked the address again, then walked dutifully up the sidewalk. She peeked into the garage first, but saw no signs of life. She pulled out her weapon and checked to make sure the safety was on, then kept it at her side as she walked back to the front.

There were curtains pulled over the front windows, but she could detect hazy outlines through their white silk layers. It looked like they were talking, on the couch or something, but it stilled seemed very odd to her. Things in the air just seemed out of place, and besides that, Mulder was not answering his cell phone.

She walked back to the side of the house, not wanting to be seen on the street, or from the house, just in case. She pulled out her cellular and called Mulder again. After five rings without an answer, she assumed the worst and headed back to the front again.

Weapon drawn, she climbed the front steps and licked her lips. There was no storm door, only the old wooden portal that looked as if it had weathered far fiercer storms than the ones she was imagining. She put her hand to the knob and took a deep breath, then shoved it open. Dark. She couldn't see.

"Scully, get down!"


She dropped and felt something hot and terrible tearing into her. Then the explosions of sound that meant shots were being fired at her. The darkness was more than just lack of sunlight, it was enveloping her in a thick fog of confusion. She rolled to the side, grunting when she hit a wall, but feeling relatively little.


"Here..," she whispered and moved to pull herself up.

When she had banged open the door and come in, weapon drawn and ready, Mulder had tackled Marita, yelling for Scully to drop to the floor. Marita had gotten off three shots before he had wrestled the gun from her, managing to knock her unconscious as he did so.

He had never punched a woman in the mouth before. It felt vaguely dishonorable, but he was worried more about Scully. She was crumpled against the wall, her weapon loose in her fingers.

"Scully?" he asked, hoping to hear her answer him. He grabbed the duct tape from the end table and quickly ripped off a long piece, fitting it tightly around Marita's wrists. He then jumped up and ran to Scully, his hands shaking.

"Scully?" he asked and lifted her upper body into his lap, looking for blood.

She moved against him, then hissed in a breath.

"Mulder ... Mulder, stop!"

He moved away, and saw that her thigh and shoulder had been grazed by bullets, and her face was growing rapidly pale. His trembling fingers grabbed for his cell phone and called for paramedics and the police, then loosened her suit jacket to staunch the flow of blood.

"I'm okay," she said and winced as she tried to lean against the wall in the entryway. "They almost missed me."


"Really, I'm okay," she said, but gritted her teeth. He frowned, but ran to the Halls and ripped the tape from their wrists. Madison crashed over his legs and climbed onto the couch with her parents, receiving a desperate embrace. Mulder extracted himself and rushed back to Scully. She was slumping down, her eyes closed as if in concentration. He cradled her head, helping her stay upright along the wall, then brushed his bloodied fingers over her cheek. She smiled brokenly at him.

"I'm okay."

He leaned down and kissed her lips very softly. "Looks painful," he whispered.

She curled her lips and clutched his shirt with her good hand, shaking her head.

"Only you..."

Mulder gave her the best smile he could and glanced up to the Halls, watching them cradle their daughter in relief. He heard the sounds of squealing tires and glanced through the thin gauzy curtains to the road in front of the house. A car was speeding away just as three police cars with their lights on lumbered up the street, an ambulance coming in fast behind them. "Looks like her ride left her," Mulder said and moved to open the front door.

The sun shone in brightly from overhead, hot and thick in the air. The heavy rays illuminated the dark red stain of Scully's blood and the white blonde hair of Marita Covarrubias. Mulder wondered if it was truly over now, or if he would always be following the wake of the project as it sped through the waters of the world.


1:07 a.m. August 15, 2000
Saint Francis Memorial Hospital

Consciousness dashed into her like a cold ocean wave; she was drowning in unfamiliar sounds and feelings and impressions. She ached, she wanted to cry, she couldn't feel her hand at first, her leg felt thick and swollen and dead.

She turned her head to the side, fighting tears of frustration and pain and... and...


It was one in the morning, she could tell from his watch, and he was crouching next to her hospital bed, fearful of waking her. Too late.

"Mulder, what are you doing?"

"Marita is gone. Looks like her ride*didn't*leave her. She was in the hospital's security ward, but someone got her out. There's a man on the security tapes, coming in to see her. . .I think it's Cancer Man."

"Cancer Man got her out?" Scully asked, feeling sore and confused and tired.

Mulder nodded grimly and pulled a chair up to her bedside, taking her hand between his two warm palms. He looked out of breath and just as exhausted as she felt.

"What about Madison? She could be in trouble again."

"I sincerely hope not. Her family decided to enter Witness Protection. The city is charging the institute with about six hundred counts of criminal negligence, voluntary attempted manslaughter, and some others. One for each child from Madison's school. Her family will testify."

Scully nodded. The feeling of needing to cry had passed for the moment; it was only the pain and the grogginess of waking up in darkness and fear. Mulder's hands felt calming, but sweaty.

"Did you discover what killed Fitz?" she asked, looking toward the window and the dark night beyond it. "Yeah. The autopsy showed strains of the ebola virus, in a mutated form. The CDC found out that Fitz had been working on this prior to his death, so it's being assumed that he contracted the disease at work."

"That's ridiculous," Scully said, disgusted. "He didn't..." "Well," Mulder said softly, smoothing a piece of hair along her forehead. "We know that, and the CDC probably even knows that, but the city wants to quiet this aspect of the case. They can't have people afraid that ebola is going around."

"Yes but..." she sighed again and looked back to the window. "Cancer Man has escaped prosecution, I don't doubt." "Yeah. They can't even issue a warrant for his arrest, since there's no record of a Mr. Walker, and the people who work at the institute are mostly innocent. Nothing's going to change, really, but at least this is better than before."

Scully sighed and closed her eyes.

"Oh. You probably want to get some rest."

She shook her head and tugged on his hand as he attempted to leave.

"No, not yet."

He looked at her for a long moment, then sat back down and leaned in close. She smiled softly at him and glanced down to her thickly-bandaged leg.

"Any surgery?" she asked softly.

He shook his head. "Just stitches. For both. You were lucky -- the bullets only scraped past you."

She licked her lips. "Still hurts."

He laughed and leaned forward to kiss her forehead very gently.

"I'm sure it does. You've got a massive bruise on that shoulder."

Her smile unfurled slowly from her lips, causing her entire countenance to transform, almost magically. He grinned back and couldn't help pressing a kiss to that smiling mouth. Scully brought her hand up to caress his cheek, and when he pulled back, her eyes were closed. "Sleep, Scully," he whispered and leaned back in the plastic, scratchy chair to keep his silent vigil.

The darkness was relieved by a full orange moon peeking in through the hospital room window. It framed the bed and bathed Scully's face in fiery fingers, soft and delicate as she slept.

"Goodnight," Mulder whispered, and the room and the moon seemed to echo it around him.


Return to Bump In The Night