Title: Here be Monsters
Summary: It lay at my feet. I didn't know what it was at first; so shocked and surprised was I by the very sight of the monster we had been chasing through this damp, old building.
It lay at my feet. I didn't know what it was at first; so shocked and surprised was I by the very sight of the monster we had been chasing through this damp, old building. Dark and greasy the beast was, with an ugly, huge head and with tentacles or paws seemingly coming out of different holes of its body. Yet its eyes stared at me with the fear that every human had when he or she died. That, at least, we shared, I thought numbly as I watched it die.
I thought I was dreaming. It was the first time I saw a creature like this and in a strange way it shattered my hopes and dreams for a worriless, careless existence from now on. Here lay the final proof that there was something else roaming the Earth apart from us, that we were not alone after all with our humans and thousands of animals. Here lay the creature that one would only see in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or a second-rate horror movie.
Yet it was real. It was no mask, not a hidden abomination inside a human's body. It was unreal. A spook. A monster. An alien perhaps. Sometimes so strange that I could only stare at it, fascinated.
I had to touch it to feel its reality. Its sticky skin felt soft and smooth, as if it had been polished like furniture. It was an odd sensation. I blinked my eyelids several times as my hand roamed over the creature, wondering if this were not part of my own sick fantasies. Perhaps I had watched too many horror movies, I thought. Perhaps It had become part of my imagination after all. If it were a dream, it was the most vivid one I'd ever had.
Its eyes finally closed as it died, giving away its last breath. That too, we had in common. It had suffered severely from two bullets to the chest. It had come down to its survival, or mine; there had been no other choice for me other than to kill it. To destroy it. It had already lived longer than a human would have. It did not cry or beg for help, as a human would do; I did not even know if it spoke or communicated. I just knew it had killed four people during its nightly excursions, and perhaps had left many more maimed or destroyed.
Yet I felt sorry for it. If this creature were part of the underworld that may exist below us, or around us, it was not to blame. I longed for it to stay alive, to be explored and examined and questioned somehow. But I'd had no choice in its destruction. It had lunged towards me with a fierce look in its eyes. It was it or I. It had already knocked out Scully in the other room. There never was a choice.
Scully! Even though I knew she merely had a bump to the head and was probably already coming out of it the way I had left her in the other room, she'd been dazed by the creature's sudden attack - I knew my priorities lay with her now.
Yet I did not want to let this creature out of my sight, terrified that it would vanish without a trace, and I had to keep it. It was the ultimate proof that people needed. Its texture, features and bodily remains would convince others that it was real. I had not dreamt it, and not even the government would be able to ignore this one.
Reluctantly I moved up and away from the creature, aware of the eerie silence that developed us inside this building. This was real and we were alone. I needed to get people in here. But who? The FBI or the cops? No, not the cops. They would freak out. My own people would probably go nuts too. We needed to keep this discovery as low profile as possible.
I put my gun back into its holster and walked towards the door, reluctantly taking my eyes off the creature. At the same time I felt something brush by me. It was a light, fleeing sensation, like wind rushing in my hair. Like something grazing past me, touching me ever so slightly. It sent goose bumps throughout my body and pulsed the blood through my veins.
As I looked up, I saw a shadow I had seen only minutes earlier. They seemed the same. And I realized I had made a fatal error. There was another one. Another one! I reached for my gun at the exact same second the creature or whatever it was threw me hard against the wall, slamming me into the bricks that separated this room from the one where Scully lay.
I fell down but was not willing to give in yet. I struggled to get up, holding the doorpost next to my right hand. The creature attacked me again, grabbed me by the hair and forced me against the door. Its sticky hand grasped my throat and I stared into its fierce eyes. It was all I could see in the dark.
I thought I was a goner until the creature turned its head and spotted its companion or whatever it was on the floor. It let out a strange howling sound and dropped me like a ton of bricks. I saw stars through the haze of extreme pain that rushed through me as my head hit the wall hard.
The creature walked over to its companion and whatever happened next, I do not remember. I saw them, and then they were gone. I kept on seeing stars. There was nothing left for me to do but sink into oblivion and hope that the creature would not come back for me to finish its job.
The shadows moved again within the confined darkness I was in. I heard someone's voice and a set of hands kept on grasping my arm, trying to get me to move. I knew that voice.
"Leave me alone," I slurred, not willing to leave the confinement of my safety net. But the hands kept on tugging and the voice kept on nagging me. Finally I managed to open one eye and then the other one.
"We have to get out of here," my partner insisted and I regained my sight slowly, noticing that she carried a flashlight and was shining it partially away from us so that we would not be blinded by it. She was bleeding. Blood covered her hair, cheek and neck. She'd had one hell of a blow to the head. She carried her gun with one hand, the same hand that tried to get me to move.
"Where are we?" I groaned as I regained my senses.
"The Mill." Her words made me remember where we were and why. The monsters! I turned my head as Scully pulled me up somehow and I stood swaying on my feet while she supported me. They were gone.
Of course they were.
The creature must have fetched its dead companion and taken it away. Great. There goes my evidence, I thought wearily as Scully kept me on my feet. With one of my arms slung over her shoulder, we stumbled towards the hallway of the old, creaking building, lit by her flashlight.
Our feet moved automatically until we reached the exit door. She pushed it open and nearly threw us out. Cold, beautiful, fresh air embraced us. I opened my mouth and sucked in the air, filling my lungs with it until I thought I'd die from sheer happiness.
I sunk to my feet while Scully grasped her cell phone and called for help.
"No," she said, kicking me with her foot. "Don't go to sleep." I groaned and moaned and looked at her wearily, before covering my eyes with my hands to protect them from the bright, hurting light.
But I stayed awake somehow while she called for help. Hell, I even managed to stay alert during the ride to hospital and the ordeal in the ER. After that after puking my guts out for about ten times or so I finally fell into blissful sleep until the very next morning.
Pale but dressed in decent street clothing after her night in hospital, Scully sat at my bedside and watched me eat pudding and toast, as if they had fed me the worst junk in the world. I didn't protest the fact I had to stay another two nights in the hospital, knowing all too well by the feel of hammers pounding into my skull, that it had been a close call. I had a severe concussion that needed mending and nursing, and I was not about to go home too soon this time. I had made that mistake once and had ended up with a second impact-trauma. No thanks. Not me. I learned from my mistakes.
But that of course did not stop me from working. Even from my hospital bed I could choreograph all the on goings of the FBI's most unwanted, and I was not about to let a little head trauma stop me from tracking down Monster Number 2. Now that I knew it was out there, I would hunt it down and get answers from it.
Scully however was not so convinced. She shook her head as she listened to my tale and pulled apart every word I said.
"Mulder, I saw nothing," she said. "Absolutely nothing. There was a man in there, not monsters. A man killed those people. He was sick, yes, and a monster in his own right, but he remained human nonetheless."
"You didn't see that thing, Scully. It was very real and very much out there. It wasn't human. I saw it with my own eyes."
"Before, or after you were hit on the head?"
"After. I told you another one attacked me. There were two of them. One of them is dead but the other one is still out there and I will find it, with or without you. If these were not monsters, what were they, I ask you?"
"Humans preying on other humans. Unfortunately it happens all the time."
"Not in this case."
"What if you saw a mutant of some sort? We've encountered them before."
"That could very well be, but we can only prove that if we find the other one."
"Fine," Scully responded in a friendly tone of voice. "You get well and we'll find it, him or her or whatever you want to call it, and we'll prove each other right. Okay?" She smiled and her nose wrinkled. "What's that smell, by the way?"
She sniffed. "I've been smelling that for some time. It smells like rotten fish or something. Wash your hands, Mulder."
"I was washed from top to bottom by a very beautiful nurse," I protested. "Must be something coming from outside."
"I could swear it comes from you. Ah well," she shrugged and stood up. "I need to file a report for Skinner. I'll leave the interpretation of it open for now. Rest, Mulder."
"Yes, ma'am," I mimicked in a lousy Texan accent.
Of course, she knew I wouldn't do that. My mind despite the throbbing aches was too alert to do anything but think. I turned my hands so I could see the palms and sniffed them. A vague scent came to me. They did smell like fish, only not as badly as Scully suggested. Strange.
I looked up as a sound startled me. Strange sound. I opened my eyes and tried to get my senses alert. Nothing in the room. I stared at the door. It was closed. My hands ached. I scratched the right palm and then the left. The skin hurt and felt reddish and sore.
I shifted myself out of bed, aware of the fact I was ill at ease and hoped that Scully on queue would show up and laugh in my face. She didn't. I opened the bathroom door and peeked inside. Nothing or no one. The closet door. No monsters in there, not even underneath the bed. The corridor then? I opened the door and looked outside, struggling with those damn IV's still sticking into me.
A nurse saw me. "Is everything okay, Mr. Mulder?" she asked. I wondered how many times she'd come into my room. I couldn't remember any. And yet she knew my name. Good nurse.
"No, I'm fine," I said and closed the door again. I sighed and leaned against it, wondering why I felt so ill at ease. I could swear there had been someone in here, watching me as I slept. I could sense it.
I sighed and returned to the bed. I sat on top of it and stared at my hands. The scratching feeling was gone. Good. I slid underneath the covers and tried to get back to sleep. Nothing worked of course.
Finally I made mental notes on all the points we had on the creatures. Like any other animal, it could be a creature of habit and would return to its habitat, despite the fact one of its mates had died there. Or, if we had bad luck, we would find nothing and it would vanish forever until it killed again.
I went over the four victims again: four innocents with no known connection, but who all lived in the same area as the one focal point. The creatures had not wanted to go out of their way to find food. But why had they not eaten the victims completely? Now they had only killed them, leaving their bodies to be found.
I had told Scully that I believed the monsters would not kill for food, but out of self-protection. They were afraid whenever someone came too close to their home. All four victims had been reported near the abandoned old building, The Mill. We had found the creatures there. There was no other place to go for the surviving monster, except perhaps for another place where more of its species could live. And that could be anywhere.
Scully, in her own right, was convinced the killer(s) were human and murdered because they liked it. But she had not seen them as I had done. She had not seen those strange eyes staring at me in shock and pain after I shot the creature. Those eyes they were the only thing that haunted me. I had killed it and it had forgiven me for that, because it had found peace. What was it? What had it been? A mutant? A monster-surviving civilisation? Or an abomination of what was once human life? Perhaps I would never know. It could become my own personal haunting for the next weeks.
I sighed; feeling bored and suddenly realized I wasn't suffering from headaches anymore. Strange.
I slipped off the bed, walked into the bathroom and looked at my face in the mirror. Did I dream it or was the wound to the side of my head smaller? It certainly seemed that way. I reached forward to touch it. I looked at my hands. I looked back up.
And then I saw it.
Instead of hailing a cab or using any other public means of transportation, I became a user of the underground. It felt awkward and strange to be a part of the shadows. For now, it could not be helped.
I was not alone. The creature had come for me. It was near me, and I didn't fear it. It was strong and strange and willing me to go with it. I knew why; the scent that was on my hands was its mate's. It had picked up that smell, probably using it as a means to track down its fellow companions, or other prey. It came to me in that hospital, using its own senses to hunt me down.
I saw it in the mirror of my hospital bathroom and turned towards it, ready to attack it if necessary; but it made no move to harm me now. If it remembered it had tried to kill me before, it had lost that sense now. Or perhaps it just wanted to kill me somewhere else, at the site where its mate had died.
I shook my head as we wandered through the streets on foot. It would have killed me. It cannot think. It doesn't have senses. It acts on instinct. It believes that I am its mate now because I carry the scent. If I did what it wanted, it would not kill me. And I was fascinated. Lord, was I fascinated. I wanted to see where it came from, what it did and why it did it. I wanted to know its origin and then decide if I should destroy this strange creature too. I knew I couldn't. I had no right to. It had to be brought in for science, to explore, examine, and to find out what it was. That was my job.
It used the staircase in the hospital to move downstairs, all the while its ugly and fearful body moved as swiftly as anything I had ever seen. It had to wait for me to reach the basement before it pushed me inside a room that seemingly didn't exist to the outside world. It knew secrets no one else possibly knew.
It moved so fast that I had to hurry to keep up with it and I was exhausted yet enthralled that my body would keep up with it. It had done something to me, or something had somehow helped me. I felt better and recovered quickly. Was that the touch too? Were these creatures saviours instead of killers? Had they tried to help the ones who died, instead of killing them?
We went to places I had never seen before, used alleyways I didn't know and always stayed in the shadows. It did not like the light. And still it did not do anything to hurt me. What was I to do? Whenever I tried to get my cell phone out of my jeans pocket, it would look at me as if it knew what I had planned.
But it would not harm me. I knew that.
Suddenly we stopped. We were back at The Mill, but didn't go inside. We stared at the sealed doors. It sniffed and seemed to sense that its privacy had been invaded. Its nest was forever disturbed.
After that, we moved to another building in the same area, only five houses away from The Mill. It seemed to know its way inside, using a backdoor passage. I followed it inside and stared at the nest it had made. It was the exact same nest we had seen before, the one Scully could not believe was a nest.
I looked around me. Was this where it wanted me to stay? Or would it use me as food now?
The creature seemed to ignore me and pushed its heavy body against a creaking door, smashing what remained of it as it proceeded into another room. I followed it, only to see the other creature's body lying on the floor. It could not be anything else but the monster I had killed yesterday. I felt regret surging through me again.
The live creature suddenly turned towards me and I could actually see human emotion in its eyes! My god, what was this thing? Was it truly just a monster? Or had it feelings and thoughts like us?
I felt fear, regret and most of all sympathy for these things that were obviously forced to live in the dark. What was I to do now? Should I help it? Or should I run for my life? No, I had made my decision. I could've run at any time, even if it would have killed me. I wanted to stay. To help.
"What do you want from me?" I asked hoarsely. "Please, just tell me somehow. Let me know. I want to help you."
The thing's paw now I saw that it seemed more like a paw than a tentacle pointed towards the corpse lying on the floor. It wanted to communicate! Excited I gazed from the living creature back to the dead one. I stretched out my hands. It smelled the essence of its mate upon me.
"Let me help," I said. "I cannot make it right again, but I won't let them take you too. I promise. No one knows you exist. They believe you are only inside my imagination. You can get out of here and live your life again."
The creature's eyes focused on me. I could smell it as strongly as I had smelled the first one right after I had killed it. It was a strange, uncomfortable scent. I felt sick as the nausea that came with my concussion suddenly returned. Whatever strength it had given me, was slowly taken away from me again.
"Let me help," I repeated weakly as I sought something to sit down on. I found nothing. The creature came towards me. It was much faster and stronger than I. It seemed much larger now too. My god, had I made a judgement error? Had I allowed myself to be lured into its trap, only to be punished now? Had it profited from my genuine interest and compassion to destroy me at long last?
No, that could not be.
But as it grabbed me by the arms and pulled me forward, abusing my sudden lack of strength, I feared that it was too late. I would become a feeding source after all. And no one would ever know.
"No," I whispered as it pulled me off my feet and laid me on the ground, next to the creature. "Don't."
I closed my eyes as I felt something sharp cross the palms of my hands. Blood trickled out of them. The creature grasped my left hand and laid it on the head of the dead creature. Then it took my right and again I could sense blood dripping out of me.
And then, as I looked aside, to my astonishment the dead creature seemed to come alive again. It opened its eyes and slowly moved like a sleepwalker. It looked at me and as the blood stopped dripping, I closed my eyes and let myself be lured into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Inside my head I heard a voice right before I passed out. *Don't betray us. Don't betray us. Don't betray us.*
"Breakfast time, Mr. Mulder!"
I opened my eyes startled, and stared at the blonde nurse I vaguely recognized. She smiled broadly and placed the tray on my bed, hardly waiting for me to reach up.
Wait a minute. I was in hospital? How could that be? I had left the hospital last night. The creature had taken me. No, that could not have been a dream. It was real. I remembered every vivid detail. The way my strength had returned long enough for it to take me with it. The way I had been forced to give blood to resurrect the creature. That was not a dream.
I opened my hands. Two marks ran across the palms. Light, healing scars. Not a dream. I sighed.
"Are you okay, Mr. Mulder?" the nurse asked worriedly. "You seem better than yesterday but confused somehow."
I smiled. "I'm fine."
Scully came in just as I finished breakfast. "That's a first," she smiled. "Mulder enjoying his breakfast without complaining. How are you?"
"Are you ready to leave hospital and chase monsters?"
"You know," I said. "I've changed my mind."
"There were no monsters there. It must have been a couple of beggars, homeless men. They must have been terrified that we intruded their privacy to chase monsters. I was wrong."
She looked at me suspiciously. "Mulder, what happened?"
"Nothing!" I smiled, regaining my calm. "Sometimes you are right, Scully, and I can admit to it. That's all."
She laughed. "Wow."
I smiled. "Next time we'll find monsters. I'm sure there will be a sign out there reading here be monsters' sooner or later. And when we find that sign, we'll find them too."
She grinned broadly. "I'm sure you're right, Mulder. I'm sure you're right."
"I'm sure I will be," I whispered as I closed my fingers over the palms of my hands.