Title: In My Secret Life
Author: David Hearne
Written: May 20, 2002
Classification: Post-ep for "The Truth"
Rating: PG

Summary: A Boy and his ghosts

He saw his first ghost when he was four years old. The ghost had nice hands and wore a good suit; he spoke advice with a Britsh accent.

"There are stories within stories," the ghost said. "Look for those hidden tales, young man. They will lead you to the truth."

He did. His parents were amused when he started to read the newspaper. He would study it from beginning to end. Mother and father's amusement was due to the fact that he obviously didn't understand what he was reading.

This was partly true. Most of the stories used words too complicated for him. However, an article would occasionally grab his attention. The first one to do so was a tale of a Nigerian oil refinery. Several of the workers had mysteriously disappeared. It was an obscure story located on page twenty.

He didn't understand the special meaning of the story, nor did he understand why other stories would impress themselves on his memory. They would stay in his mind, slowly rearranging themselves into new shapes.

Other ghosts would appear as time progressed. One ghost had a fake arm. He first appeared in a church while a five-year-old boy listened to a minister. The sermon of that day was about the meaninglessness of 'Biblical prophecy.' The boy's parents would laugh at the minister's jokes about preachers endlessly trying to decode the symbols of Revelation.

He didn't understand what was funny, yet he did understand what the ghost told him.

"There may not be any trumpets or horsemen, kid," the ghost told him. "But it will happen. It will go to hell very soon."

When he got home, the boy turned on the television. He watched a news program about an important man. This man was an accomplished diplomat who had already changed the destiny of many countries. Many news commentators were bewildered by this man's limitless access to powerful people.

"He probably knows where a lot of bodies are buried," one commentator said, laughing nervously.

On his sixth birthday, the boy was told about his real mother. His parents decided that this would be a good time for the revelation. What forced the decision was a package sent to them. It contained a present.

"I never met her," the woman who adopted him said, "but I feel in my heart that she loves you."

"You're right," he said, pressing his hands against a baseball. The ball would have a special place in his room; it was located next to a notebook. In a clumsy script only legible to the six-year-old boy, the notebook held comments written about oil, government agencies and lights in the sky.

The country had a new President. It was the diplomat who had amazed the world just a few years ago. "I promise to take this country -- our whole world -- to a bold new era," he declared. "I forsee a future beyond our imagination."

"He underestimates the imagination of others," a new ghost commented. "Especially the imagination of a child, right?"

A seven-year-old boy nodded and then asked why the ghost called himself Deep Throat.

"Because it was the name of a man who also told secrets."

"Why was his name Deep Throat?"

The ghost coughed.

Hardly anyone gave much attention to the death of Eric Gordon. The media was more interested in a strange disease which had infected a small Texan town. While the President assured everyone that FEMA was handling the problem, a FBI agent was being prosecuted for murder.

An eight-year-old boy read about the case. He didn't recognize the name of John Doggett, but he had already known the name of Eric Gordon. He had visited the boy's house as a reporter looking into the issue of adoption. The parents trusted Gordon, but the boy had a suspicion. Gordon seemed a little too interested in the boy's history.

A disfigured ghost explained why. "He was helping others find you. Doggett killed him in order to keep your location secret. Soon he will be dead like me."

The boy nodded with his usual serene nature. It was a calmness which bothered his parents. Their adopted child was introverted but not shy; grave but not fatalistic. He always behaved as if he had something important on his mind. They believed that no child should have such an attitude.

The disfigured ghost was more accepting of this behavior. When he was asked by the boy for his name, he just said, "I'm your uncle, I guess. One day you will meet two aunts, your sister and your grandmother."


"In three years."

The fourth of July was a happy day for the parents. Two concerns had been lifted from them. One was the halt of a virus which had been spreading across the Southwest. They believed the President's declarations of safety.

And as they watched their adopted son play baseball, they no longer felt concern for him. At that moment, he was not the odd boy who watched the stars. He was a normal nine-year-old child having fun in a Little League game. They cheered for him as he stood before the plate. He was also cheered by three men who could only be seen by him.

Then the game was abruptly halted. Important news had been relayed to this dusty field -- the President had been shot.

The guilty person was called Monica Reyes. She had been killed by secret service agents just after she fired the shot. The country sighed in relief when the President later stepped out of a hospital and gave reporters a thumb's-up.

However, it was deemed odd that no visual record of Reyes' crime could be produced. The President had been shot during a public ceremony with several cameras present, yet not one public image could clearly show the attempted crime. There were rumors spread on the Internet claiming that such images were being suppressed; that they showed the President receiving a clear head wound instead of the reported shoulder wound. Of course, few believed the rumors.

As for the nine-year-old boy, he would be eventually visited by the ghost of Monica Reyes. On that fourth of July, a dark-skinned ghost would speak to him.

"It was a valiant attempt to expose the truth," he said, "but it may have only made things worse. The country now loves this man more than before. They will believe whatever lies he says."

"What's the truth?" the boy asked.

"The truth is in you."

The boy touched a tiny scar on his forehead. "No. It's not longer there."

"The truth never goes away. One of these days, you may chose to release it."

"And then?"

"That is your choice as well."

The virus returned. The President ordered a quarantine of several states. One of those states was where a ten-year-old boy lived. He could hear helicopters as he lay awake in bed.

"They're not taking control. They're hiding." This observation was made by an old long-haired man. He had a smile on his lips and a hole in his neck.

"They're gathering up the most important people and taking them to a secure place. But you knew that already, didn't you?"

"Yes," the boy said, then pointed at a dark corner of his bedroom. "Who is that?"

The ghost turned and saw another old man. This second ghost wanted to say something, but he couldn't speak. The man with the hole in his neck turned back to the boy. He was still smiling.

"He is your grandfather, just as I am," he explained. "You also have two fathers and two mothers. One bloodline is made from power and secrets. The other..."

The ghost struggled to find a word which pleased him. Then he shrugged and said, "The other side is based on love -- a very overrated concept, if you ask me."

"I didn't."

The ghost stopped smiling. "Be smart, boy. Choose the winning side. Otherwise...you're just another dead human."

The boy closed his eyes. In another room, his parents cried.

In the year when the President proclaimed that no new election would take place, an eleven-year-old boy stood in front of a bathroom mirror. The ghosts of four women were at his side.

"Face the truth," an old woman said. "Or it will destroy you as it destroyed me."

"Accept love," a red-haired woman said. "And accept sacrifice."

"We will always be here," a dark-haired girl told him.

The youngest ghost said nothing. She just held the hand of her brother.

The boy pressed a hand against his forehead. He closed his eyes.

Blood leaked out of his ears. He held his head over the sink and let blood drip onto the white porcelain. His face tightened in pain, but he remained silent.

Then he stood up straight. He looked at the mirror again. For a brief moment, he saw himself doubled in the reflection.

He left his parents' house at night. They would find a note explaining his absence. It told an unbelievable story, but they couldn't help but believe it.

Carrying a backpack, he began a long walk along the highways. He would frequently encounter members of the state militia, yet they would forget about him after he spoke a few words. They would return to their search for the terrorists Skinner and Kersh.

As for the boy, he kept on walking until the road split into two directions. He stood at this point, looking from one direction to another.

He reached into his backpack and pulled out a baseball buried under clothes and wrapped sandwiches. As he studied the two roads, he kept tossing the ball straight up. Sometimes he would hold back his arm, but then stop himself before throwing the ball to the darkness. Sometimes he would hold the ball over the opening in his backpack, but then resist dropping it.

Finally he just held the ball in his hand, looked at the stars and asked what love meant to him.

When he got his answer, he chose a road.


I make no promises.

I know people will probably take this moment to announce their departure from X-Files fanfic. I made such an announcement a few years back. It didn't stick.

Honestly, though, I don't know if I will write another tale, despite my boast that I would write a post-ep for every episode. I don't even know if I'll be writing fic in any fandom.

Still, like a song says, it's okay to never say good-bye.

So I won't.

"Hold on, hold on, my brother.
"My sister, hold on tight.
"I finally got my orders.
"I'll be marching through the morning,
"Marching through the night,
"Moving cross the borders
"Of My Secret Life."

  • Leonard Cohen

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