Title: The Lighthouse Keeper
Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate a haunting in St. Augustine, Florida. While Mulder has disturbing dreams that might be somehow related to the case.
Authors Notes: While I attempted to stay true to history and accurate on the details of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, I am adding the disclaimer that anything related to Gregory McConnaughy is my creation. He never lived, nor did the events surrounding his life occur. Also, when I visited the lighthouse, I didn't get to go inside the museum (long story) or the lighthouse (lightning). Thus, the interior details of the museum are my own creation. This is just good old fiction! So please, if you are a lighthouse fan, or a student of the St. Augustine lighthouse's history, please don't flame me, I'm admitting now that I'm winging it. :-) Please let me know what you thought!
Flames flickered everywhere Fox Mulder could see. He couldn't remember how the fire had started, but he knew that he had to get out. As he frantically searched for a door, he fought to keep control. Physical injury posed less of a threat that the panic attack he could feel threatening. He kept low to the floor, straining to see through the dense smoke and flame. His anxiety grew exponentially with each moment he didn't discover an exit. Breathing became harder and harder, and he was unsure if it was the soot and smoke or a more personal shortcoming at fault.
Coughing, he plunged forward through the searing heat and darkness. <Why did it have to be fire?> his mind questioned, amid other thoughts of shutting down all together. It was a thin line that held onto his sanity as he grew concerned that he was indeed walking in circles and might never escape. What felt like a lifetime later, he found he could see the outline of a door before him. It seemed to glow white amidst the hellish inferno of reds and oranges. Slowly, he pushed forward toward the salvation it offered.
"Fox!" Her cry cut through both the roar of the flames and the cries in his mind to get out of the house, no matter what. Confusion racked his brain, and he turned to look as best he could, in the direction that the voice had come from. What little common sense still resided in his trauma scarred mind demanded that it couldn't be his Sam, for that had been the cry of an eight-year-old. Yet that voice in his brain couldn't be heard over the den of others commanding him to find her, to save her. He hadn't saved her before, now was his chance. Logic had been replaced with delirium, and this delirium was thriving on his fear and loss of control.
Running head long into the firestorm, his voice rang hollow in his ears. "Samantha! Samantha!" Scant seconds later, he was struggling to not collapse onto the sagging wooden floor. Tears had left whitened streaks down his soot-covered face and coughing had replaced breathing. Forced onto his hands and knees, he again sought the safety of the door he'd left behind in yet another search for the impossible.
It wasn't there. He couldn't find it. The panic he had been fighting ever since finding himself immersed in such a personal hell took control. He couldn't fight it anymore. He had tried and failed, like so many other failures in his life. The flames inched toward him on all sides, and he cursed his weakness. He could feel the boards beneath him start to tremble and weaken against the fire's onslaught. He closed his eyes, pulled his knees up against his chest and wished silently that Scully were there to save him yet again. Suddenly the ceiling creaked and began to collapse all around him. He was trapped.
Mulder's eyes flew open, and he scrambled to make sense of what was going on. He was lying on his couch, covered in sweat. Taking a deep breath, he tried to remember the details of the nightmare that had plagued him for the fourth time in two weeks. The difference this time was hearing Samantha. It was as if all his fears were determined to group together and drive him insane. With a shaky laugh he wondered if they were succeeding. Unsteadily he stood up from the couch and walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water.
The first night after he had woken up from the fire dream, he had tried to go back to sleep. Even though he saw the futility of it, he had given it a shot. Since then, he had grown accustomed to turning on the television and trying not to think about how bad he would look in the morning. So far, he had managed to avoid any concerned questions from Scully. He could only hope the dreams would stop before she noticed the developing pattern.
The remaining few hours of darkness passed slowly. Just when Mulder thought he might resort to dribbling his basketball the clock turned to six thirty. Much to his downstairs neighbor's luck. With that, Mulder resigned himself to getting dressed and heading into work. Their case load had been light recently, but hopefully there would be a mutant or two to chase to occupy his mind. Anything to forget the nightmares about the burning house.
He arrived at the J. Edgar Hoover Building an hour early for work and went straight to the basement. Reaching the small office, Mulder unlocked the door and walked over to his desk. After draping his suit jacket across the back of his chair with a stifled yawn, he went in search of a cup of coffee. After three attempts to get the coffee maker to work, he finally walked back into the office and sat at his desk, leaning back in the chair. While looking over some possible cases, his eyes began to fall closed.
Arcs of flame filled his vision. There seemed to be no escape from the smoke-filled maze of rooms that he found himself lost in. He gasped for breath, but still felt lightheaded. Dropping to his knees, he tried to get below the suffocating smoke to find an exit. Only there wasn't one. There were only the groans and creaks of old wood being consumed by the raging flames.
"Mulder." He stopped his search for an escape when he heard Scully call out to him. There was no reason left in his mind, only the panic filled voices screaming for him to find her. Standing, he began to run through the labyrinth of rooms and corridors. However, the colors of the fire, blended with the thickening smoke served to blind him in his pursuit.
"Mulder!" He again heard her call, but the flames were everywhere. Turning the corner into the hallway he was sure her voice had come from he was brought up short as the ceiling collapsed, cutting him off.
"No! Scully!" His smoke scarred voice echoed along the walls. He turned, searching for another way to get to her, when the floor fell out from under his feet. He fell, dazed and trapped, his panic increasing. "No!"
At his last cry, Mulder toppled over in the wooden chair. Instantly awake, he could not only feel the sweat covering his face, but Scully's gaze on him as well. Looking up into her eyes, he saw her concern filter through them.
Breaking the contact, she began to check for any injuries as a result of his slamming into the hard floor, with Mulder there was never a safety net. She could feel him watching as she checked him out, and then helped him sit back in his seat. As she did so, she tried to figure out what she had just seen. When she had arrived, she noticed that he was asleep behind his desk. It didn't concern her until the phone had rang and she had spoken with AD Skinner. He hadn't even flinched when the shrill tone cut through the office.
At a closer look, she could see the fine sheen of perspiration beading up on his forehead, and his eyes moving frantically beneath his eyelids. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she called his name. Not only did he not answer, but began to jerk around in the seat. In another attempt to bring him out of whatever visions was assailing him she called out his name, louder this time. She was taken aback when he spoke, but what gave her pause was that it had been her name so frantically spoken.
When he cried again, she was startled by the force with which he hit the floor. "Mulder? How do you feel?" She watched as he managed to force his breathing to slow down, and he regained his bearings. She reached to feel his pulse, not surprised to find it still racing. Without a conscious thought, she reached over and brushed back the hair that had fallen down onto his face.
"I'm fine, Scully." She managed to not flinch at his choice of words. Those were the two most often spoken words in their office. And often the two most despised. Seeing her look of disbelief, he continued. "No, seriously, Scully. It was just a dream, that's all."
Leaning against the edge of his desk, she tried a different tactic. "Do you want to talk about it?"
He paused, remembering the vivid images of only minutes before. She saw the look of terror that filled his hazel eyes for an instant before he spoke. "No thanks, Scully. Just a dream." He knew that she would be disappointed that he didn't open up to her, but he needed to make sense of them first. "How long have you been here?"
"About ten minutes," she said without looking at her watch. "Skinner called. He has a case for us, we're supposed to be in his office in fifteen minutes." This time she did look at her watch, "Well, in ten minutes now."
Sitting up straight in his chair, Mulder attempted to straighten up his suit and tie. "Did he say what it was about?"
She shook her head. "No. But Mulder, you might want to run down to the bathroom. You look like you've been sleeping in the office again."
Mulder noted the dry humor in her voice, as well as that in his own. "Well, gee, Scully. At least I have an excuse." Just before leaving the office he saw the cool look she gave him, but it was betrayed by the mirth that shone in her eyes.
Ten minutes later they were sitting in Skinner's office. "Usually I would hesitate to send agents out on a call such as this, but the local police are stumped. The lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida has been the sight of some strange, incidents."
Skinner looked down at the file sitting on his desk. He couldn't believe that this was meriting an investigation. "Yes. Sightings of some sort. Several over the past few weeks. The last one was when part of the museum caught on fire, yet when the firefighters arrived, it looked as if nothing had happened. At the moment your case load is rather light, so I'm agreeing with the field office that you two be sent there to try and discern the cause of these, sightings." Both agents could hear him practically choke the last word out.
Mulder and Scully stood, and Skinner handed her the file he had just been reading. "Thank you, Sir."
While walking back toward their office, Scully could see Mulder growing more and more excited about the case. In fact, if she was asked to describe him, he was acting more like a little boy after hearing a ghost story.
"Mulder," she said after they got back to the office. "Why do you think Skinner is sending us out on this case? I'd hesitate to even call it that. It's nothing more than a local myth."
Mulder laughed. "Well, obviously someone doesn't think so. Besides, think about it, Scully. A real life ghost story. A real life ghost story on the beach."
"Mulder, we're not flying down there to go to the beach. We're going to be Ghostbusters." Mulder began to laugh even harder at Scully's description. Scully sighed, but found his laughter contagious and was herself fighting a smile. "All right, all right. Let's get going."
St. Augustine, Florida Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge
After checking in with the local police, they checked into the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge. Mulder knocked on the door connecting his room to Scully's, and tested the handle. Finding it unlocked, he walked into her room. "Scully, I figured we would start by interviewing the workers at the lighthouse museum. Talk to Mrs. Crandall."
Having finished hanging up her clothes, she turned to the mirror and ran her fingers through her hair. "That would make sense. Exactly what are we looking for?"
Walking past her to sit on the end of the bed, Mulder whispered closed to her ear. "A ghost!" Following the whisper with maniacal laughter.
"So should I call you Ray or Egon?"
"Scully, you wound me. I've always been more like Peter." An evil grin filled his face as a thought struck him, "And since you're Dana . . . " Mulder ducked as a shoe flew over in his general direction. "Okay, so you won't wear that skimpy dress and growl." With that, the left shoe followed the first one across the room.
St. Augustine, Florida St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
A steady rain had been falling the entire time they had been in town. Driving along the wet roads, Scully finally spotted the small sign that marked the road to the lighthouse. Mulder pulled the rental car up into a spot a down from the side of the museum building next to a sprawling oak tree. Walking around the car, he took the umbrella Scully offered and held it over them as they walked toward the red brick two story house.
Once they were up on the covered two story porch, they stopped to close the umbrella and shake off their coats. Entering the old building, they found themselves walking into a gift shop. An older woman was working behind the counter on the left, and a single tourist looked at ceramic lighthouse miniatures on the right side of the small room.
"Hello! And how are y'all on this rainy evening?" The gray haired lady spoke with the slightest trace of a southern accent.
Scully smiled in response to the friendly greeting. "I'm Agent Mulder, and this is my partner, Agent Scully. We're with the FBI. Are you Mrs. Crandall?" Both Mulder and Scully had pulled out their badges, and placed them back into their interior coat pockets.
The woman nodded. "Yes, I am. Are you here about Gregory?"
Scully nodded. "Mr. McConnaughy, yes. Is there somewhere we can talk?"
"Yes, just a moment." She nodded her head, and walked through a door immediately to her left. She returned followed by a young dark-haired woman. "Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, this is Sam Pruitt. Now, if you'll follow me." Mulder nodded to the woman as they walked by, a somewhat distant look in his eyes. Scully tried to gage his reaction to the clerk's name.
Mrs. Crandall led them into a back room, motioning for them to sit on a plush love seat. Taking a seat across from them, she smiled. "What would you like to know?"
Mulder leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "Mrs. Crandall. You could start by describing any encounters you have had with Mr. McConnaughy."
to be continued in part 2
The Lighthouse Keeper (2/3)
"Call me Annabelle, please. I was closing one night, and when I was checking the lighthouse, I heard a noise. I called out asking if anyone was there, when there was no response I turned to leave. I was almost to the house when I heard it again. I looked up, and I could see the outline of a person up on the observation deck looking out toward the ocean. When I called up to him, his head titled in my direction and he disappeared."
"Disappeared?" Scully's voice held a note of disbelief, but she could tell Annabelle firmly believed what she saw what she claimed.
Nodding her head, she removed her glasses. "Yes, ma'am. It was a clear night, and I hardly even blinked once I saw someone up there. The light beam was on the far side approaching the side I was on, and he just disappeared."
Scully had been writing down some of what she had said, and asked "What made you believe it was Mr. McConnaughy?"
"At the time, it was the only thing I could think of. Later, after he was seen again, I was certain. There is a lot of history at this lighthouse, Agent Scully."
"Mrs. Crandall, Annabelle. Could you tell us something about the story behind Mr. McConnaughy?" He sat up straighter on the love seat, and waited for her response.
She smiled warmly, "Of course. He was the first keeper here after this lighthouse was built in the early 1870's. The house we're sitting in is not the original house that was built to service the lighthouse. That house was burned in 1875, only a year after the lighthouse was first lit. Gregory was in the house when it burned, and the body was never found. His wife and young son were in the town at the time. This structure was built on the same spot after the debris were cleared."
Lightning crackled outside the large window along the back wall as she finished speaking. "How many sightings have occurred?" Thunder rumbled in the distance over Mulder's words. "And how many did you yourself see?"
"Over the past few weeks Gregory has been seen six times. I was there for four of them. Two of those times I was alone, the other two either Sam or Mark Pearson, he's the head handyman. The fifth time Mark was alone, and the other time Sam was talking with two tourists."
Scully had taken brief notes, listing who had been present at each of the sightings. "Could you show us where each of them occurred?"
Standing, she responded, "No problem, Agent Scully. However, it's late and still storming. Why don't the two of you come back in the morning? These storms usually blow out after night fall."
Although Mulder looked ready to protest, Scully agreed with the idea. "You're right. We'll be back in the morning about nine? Will that work for you?"
"That will be fine." Leading them back out through the museum, both Scully and Mulder glanced over the exhibits that filled the rooms. Seeing a seaman's uniform, Scully felt an instant connection to both the sea and her father.
Annabelle walked with them through the gift shop to the front door, "See you in the morning."
Opening the umbrella, Mulder held it over both Scully and himself as they crossed the waterlogged gravel parking area. He unlocked the passenger side door, and continued to hold the umbrella over both of them until she was inside the car. Walking around behind the car, he closed the umbrella and climbed in the drivers side.
St. Augustine, Florida Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge
The ride back in the car had been quiet, each lost in their own thoughts. Mulder was considering what limited information Annabelle Crandall had given them thus far. There were several cases in the x-files that dealt with apparitions, but none of them were very detailed. He found himself compelled to believe what she had said, that Gregory McConnaughy now haunted the lighthouse and museum. What he wanted to know, was why.
Scully, for her part, was less inclined to blindly follow Annabelle Crandall's lead. She smiled to herself when she thought how it wasn't any different from how she and Mulder usually faced a case such as a haunting. It wasn't long before her thoughts drifted to a more personal topic. Being so close to the sea always made her feel closer to her father.
The rain had lightened somewhat by the time they arrived back at the motel. Mulder and Scully each entered their respective rooms, and Mulder soon crossed over into her room.
Dropping rather dramatically into a chair by the window, Mulder whined, "Dinner, Scully. Must eat." She looked over at him as she took off her shoes and noted he had already managed to shed his coat, suit jacket and tie in less that two minutes.
Standing, she walked over to a bedside table and pulled open the drawer. Reaching in for the phone book, she tossed it at Mulder. "Chinese or pizza. Your choice." Mulder caught the book in mid-flight and started flipping through the pages until he found the restaurant listings. "But no pepperoni, peppers and mushroom combinations." Her voice called out from the bathroom. "I can't handle another of your 'Shaft' renditions."
"Who's the man . . . " Mulder's singing filled the small room.
An annoyed laugh punctuated Scully's retort "Mulder . . . I have a hair dryer and I know how to use it!"
As she changed into some sweats and a tee shirt, she heard Mulder call in their order to a local Chinese restaurant. She had just opened the door and was pulling her hair back into a pony tail when Mulder appeared in the doorway. "Shaft!"
"One more word and it's 'Joy to the World.' We are in Florida again after all." Walking past him into the room, she found her laptop and turned it on. Hearing Mulder laugh, she turned to where he was following her path across the room. "As for this case. I'm lost as to why Skinner bothered to send us here."
"Maybe he thought we needed a break. Come on Scully, it's an old-fashioned ghost hunt. We could help him find peace. You know, move on."
The grin on his face told Scully he believed what he was saying, at least to some extent. "Help him move on, Mulder? Watching 'Casper' again?" Pulling on her glasses, she began to transfer some of the more important notes she had taken while talking with Annabelle Crandall.
"Evidence gathering, Scully. Evidence gathering." His eyes were glowing with mischief. "Aren't you just a little curious to know why suddenly a man who died more than a hundred and twenty years ago is suddenly appearing? You strike me as the type who loved ghost stories around the campfire as a kid." Mulder kicked off his shoes and went to read over Scully's shoulder what she had been typing.
"Ghost <stories> yes. I'm just not sold on ghost <reality> yet." A knock on the door announced the arrival of dinner, and for the next half an hour they concentrated on eating dinner and the occasional shop talk. Scully looked down into the now empty Moo Shoo pork container, commenting, "Well, maybe we should call it a night. It's getting late."
Mulder's eyebrow's shot up and Scully could see the innuendo coming from a mile away. "Ohhh, Scully. An invitation? And I didn't bring my nice p.j.'s!"
"And here I'd always pegged you for a boxer man."
"Hey! The one's I've got on are a magic eye print. Wanna look, Scully?" Pretending to unbuckle his belt, he ducked when she threw a pillow at him. "I'm hurt." Giving her his best puppy dog eyes look, he retrieved her pillow, and turned to walk through the connecting door. "And I thought UFO's were bad. Today the problem has been the <identified> flying objects."
St. Augustine, Florida St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
Annabelle was standing on the large front porch at exactly nine the next morning as they walked from the car to the building. "Good morning! It looks as if the weather has chosen to cooperate with us on this fine day!"
"Good morning, Annabelle," Scully said warmly. Although she wasn't sure whether or not to believe the story about Gregory McConnaughy, she found herself instantly taken by the woman's open warmth. "Are you ready to show us the locations of the sightings?"
Mulder and Scully walked up the wooden steps to the porch. "Sure thing. Just let me tell Sam and I'll be right with you."
She walked into the Victorian style home, while Mulder and Scully waited outside. "You've got to admit that it's beautiful here." Scully's gazed around the well cared for lawn as she spoke. "And I've always loved lighthouses."
Mulder glanced over at Scully and could see the far away look in her eyes for just a moment; before she blinked and it was gone, replaced by professional Dr. Scully. "I always liked the idea of living out on a point, alone with the wilderness. Roughing it."
"Roughing it, Mulder?" She asked with a laugh. "Our last experience in wilderness survival didn't go so well, especially considering your status as an Indian man when you were a kid."
Mulder managed a hurt look. "That was the mothmen, Scully. Besides, I was hurt." She could have sworn he was pouting by his last statement. "And then you started singing and the wolves started howling . . . "
He managed to keep a straight face while he was baiting her, and knew she was about to retort when he was saved by Annabelle walking back out onto the porch. "If you'll follow me." The walked off the porch and followed a round stone path around to the area between the keeper's house and the lighthouse. "This is where I was standing the first time I saw him. Gregory was right up there." She extended her arm to point to a particular place on the red observation deck.
"But there was no vocal communication, correct?" Mulder was all business now.
"Not that time, Agent Mulder. The first time he there was any direct communication was the third sighting, but he didn't speak aloud."
"What about the second time he was seen?" Scully referred to her notes. "Again you saw him?"
Annabelle nodded her head. "Yes, ma'am. I was talking with two tourists just before closing time when one of the couple noticed a glow out of the corner of her eye. It was coming from the entrance house to the lighthouse." All three walked over to the smaller white painted brick building, which had the year 1871 written over the doorway. "We walked over from the back porch and entered the building. Gregory was standing over on the right. He looked at us, held out his arm and disappeared."
"After you finish showing us the places where Mr. McConnaughy has been seen, we'll need to speak with Ms. Pruitt and Mr. Pearson." Annabelle nodded at Mulder's comments. "Now, visit number three?"
Several hours later, Annabelle had led them around the grounds, and into the museum. The two most recent occurrences had taken place in the main sitting room inside the museum. "It was you and Mr. Pearson who were present the last time?"
"Yes. We had some flood damage about six weeks ago and he was finishing the repairs. This was the first time Gregory spoke that we were able to understand him."
Scully studied her closely, she could see that Annabelle was observing the event in her mind. "What did he say?" Scully asked, finding herself somewhat spellbound by the story.
Annabelle's eyes flickered across at Scully, a haunted look filling the gray orbs. "'Fire'. He said the word 'fire'. His eyes were tormented, and shone with flecks of red and orange. And he reached out his hand as if pleading for help. Then flames appeared out of no where. He looked frantic to get out, but seemed rooted to the spot. We managed to clear the few remaining people from the house. But when they checked, there was no damage. I'm sorry, it gets to me sometimes."
"That's all right, Annabelle." Scully placed her hand on Annabelle's arm, and caught a glimpse of the distant panic in Mulder's eyes. A tilt of her head asked him silently if he was all right. He responded with a slight nod, unnoticeable to someone not paying attention. Annabelle watched the silent communication in wonder at the way the partners could work without speaking, almost as if each knowing what the other was thinking. "When can we speak with Ms. Pruitt and Mr. Pearson?"
Shaking her head as if to clear it, Annabelle thought for a minute. "Sam is working in the shop, but Mark is in now, and shouldn't be too busy. I mentioned to both of them already that you would like to speak with them. Mark should be out on the grounds."
Shaking her hand, Mulder spoke next. "Thank you, Annabelle. You've been a great help thus far."
"Anything more I can do to help, don't hesitate to ask." She said pleasantly. "Just walk through the back door in the gift shop and you should find him without too much trouble."
Exiting the keeper's house from the back, they began to cross the lawn. They found Mark Pearson just past the wrought iron fence that enclosed the yard. He was working on painting a pair of wooden benches, and stood when he heard their approach.
"Mr. Pearson?" Scully asked.
He nodded and wiped his hands off on a rag that was hanging out of his jeans pocket. "Yes, ma'am." He spoke with a more pronounced accent, stood taller than Mulder and had light brown hair. "You're the federal agents investigating Gregory McConnaughy, right?"
"That's correct," Mulder responded. "We were hoping to get your impressions and memories of the recent events."
Mr. Pearson motioned toward a pair of wrought iron benches that sat under one of the large oak trees on the property. "I tell ya," he began. "I'd heard the story, about Gregory, when I was a kid. Heck his wife is buried in the old cemetery. I grew up around these parts, you see. When Annabelle first mentioned seeing someone on the observation deck, I thought maybe it was just a trick of the eye. The second time, there were two guests there with her. They saw someone too."
"Annabelle said that you and Ms. Pruitt were together at the third sighting. Could you tell us about it?" Scully asked.
Rubbing his hands on his knees before answering. "I saw him. Gregory. I still wasn't convinced until Sam and I were in the upstairs of the house and we heard something fall to the floor. Any other time we might have just assumed one of the displays had toppled over somehow. Still, even though we didn't know what to believe about Gregory, we checked it out anyway."
Scully could tell that he was visibly shaken bu retelling his story. "We turned a corner and came up short. There are two windows along that wall that face the town." He pointed up at two windows in the brick wall behind them. "He was blue, sorta. And he was glowing. When we first saw him, he was looking out the window toward the town. When he heard us, or so it seemed, he turned to face us. Pointing toward the town, he continued to look at us. His lips were moving, but no sound came out."
"Is that when he disappeared?" Mulder asked.
Shaking his head, Mark continued. "No, he kept trying to tell us something. He was getting more and more agitated. If we could have heard him, he would have been yelling. And he kept pointing, each motion more and more, choppy I guess is the best description." He paused, recalling the event. "And then he looked at us, with such sad longing in his eyes and faded away."
The three of them sat in silence for a moment, before Mulder stood and walked to stand under the set of windows. "Which window was it, Mr. Pearson?"
Mark moved to stand next to Mulder, leaving Scully behind at the benches wondering what leap Mulder was attempting to make. "The one on the left," he replied.
"Can you take us up there?" Mark nodded and the trio walked around to the front porch and into the house. They walked in silence until they were walking up the stairs and Mulder spoke. "What do you believe that Mr. McConnaughy was trying to tell you, Mr. Pearson?"
Reaching the top of the stairs, he shook his head. "Agent Mulder, I don't know what to think." Mark led them through the connecting rooms of the second floor, toward the north wall. "We turned this corner in the hallway, and were able to see him in that room." He pointed into what was once obviously a bedroom, but now held a clothing display.
Mulder walked out of the hallway and into the room, crossing over to the window. "But you can't see the town from here," he commented matter-of-factly. "I thought you said he was pointing toward town?"
"He was." Mark walked over to where Mulder was looking out at the oak tree they had just been sitting beneath. "Town is in that direction. And at the time he was here, they had experienced a lot of erosion and the town was easier to see in good weather."
Scully recognized the look in Mulder's eyes which signified he thought he might be onto something. "Mulder? What is it?"
He tore his gaze from the scene outside the window to look over at where Scully was staring at him with concerned eyes. "His family, Scully. He was wanting to see his family. Annabelle said they were in town at the time of the fire."
Scully nodded. "That makes sense." If the air in the room hadn't been so serious, she would have burst out laughing at the look Mulder gave her. She responded with a look of her own, and again the conversation was settled without speaking.
Mulder continued, "Mr. Pearson, Annabelle told us that the fifth time he appeared you alone saw him."
Stepping up next to Mulder, Scully placed her hand on his arm. "Mulder, it's late. Why don't we let Mr. Pearson go home and talk with him tomorrow?" Mulder nodded his head in reluctant agreement. "Mr. Pearson, you'll be here tomorrow, correct?"
"I'll be in about noon, Agent Scully. I've got the morning off, but then I'll be here for most of the day."
They walked back downstairs; it was just beginning to change to dusk outside. Walking out onto the covered porch, Scully said, "Alright, Mr. Pearson. We'll see you after lunch tomorrow. Thank you for your time."
"Good night," Mark said before walking over to where the benches were drying.
Mulder and Scully walked over to where they had parked the rental car that morning and got in. Pulling out onto the small street which led back to highway A1A. "Dinner, Scully?"
Leaning back into her seat, she heard her stomach growl. "Definitely. How did we manage to miss lunch two days in a row, Mulder?"
He laughed, following the road back to their hotel. "Pizza tonight?"
"Sure," she replied, her eyes closed and fighting sleep.
St. Augustine, Florida Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge
While they waited on the pizza, Scully and Mulder debated the facts they had learned so far. They still didn't know what had caused him to suddenly start appearing again. Soon after they had eaten the entire pizza, Scully went into her room, changed and headed for bed.
"Mulder?" She called out from her room. When he didn't answer, she stuck her head into his room only to find he passed out on the bed asleep. Pulling the covers up over him, she went back into her room. She wasn't sure why, but she left the connecting door open and climbed into her own bed. Before she knew it, she was blissfully asleep.
The next thing she knew, Scully was awakened by a strange noise. Her sleep riddled brain couldn't quite place where it had come from until she heard it again. A stifled cry. It came from Mulder's room. She was out of bed in less time than it took for her to process the thought, and ran across the room and through the still open doorway.
She found him wrapped up in the cover she had recently placed over him. His forehead was covered in sweat and he continued to thrash around. Crawling up onto the bed, she felt his pulse only to discover it racing. "Mulder?" He continued to be lost in the grip of his nightmare, and Scully could make out his muttering several words. No. Scully. Susannah? "Mulder!" She called his name louder, but still his dream state wouldn't break.
Shaking him by the shoulders gently, she called his name again. "Mulder!" He gasped loudly, and shot up in his bed. A difficult move considering how tightly he had wound himself up in the bed covers. Groggy eyes searched all around, settling on Scully. She saw a look in them similar to when Annabelle had spoken of the mysterious fire. "Mulder?"
Working on controlling his breathing, he managed a hoarse whisper. "Scully?" She nodded and found herself receiving a tackle bear hug. His grip on her shoulders was intense, and she could hear him still struggling to regain his breath.
Pulling back out of the embrace, she again felt for his pulse. It was still fast, but gradually slowing. "Okay, Mulder. Tell me about it. Tell me about the dream. Was it the same one from the office yesterday morning?"
"Scully . . . "
"Mulder, talk to me. Please."
Looking into her earnest blue eyes, he took a steadying breath and tried to decide where to begin. "Fire, Scully. The house is on fire."
Concluded in part 3
The Lighthouse Keeper (3/3)
"What house is on fire, Mulder?"
Shaking his head, he continued. "I'm not sure. But I'm lost among a maze of rooms and hallways. I can hear a woman's voice, or I think I can, I don't know. Your voice I think. I can't get out, and I can't get to you. Then the floor collapsed beneath me, and I fell. That part changes, though."
"How many times have you had this dream, Mulder?" She searched his eyes, seeing the barely controlled panic that filled their depths. She had known of Mulder's fear of fire for years. Phoebe Green and the case that she had brought to Mulder had revealed many things to her about her new partner.
"A few weeks. It's been changing some over time. The ceiling collapses one time, the floor collapses the next, or both. No matter what happens, I'm never able to get out."
Softly, she questioned. "Who's Susannah, Mulder?"
"Who? I don't know a Susannah, Scully."
"You called for her in your dream. You called out for me, and then you called out for a Susannah."
He shook his head. "Scully I have no idea. But these nightmares are different. They're too real."
Neither agent got much sleep the rest of the night.
St. Augustine, Florida Anastasia Island Diner
Scully found herself drinking a third cup of coffee the next morning in an effort to wake up. Mulder looked to be shaken by the events of the night, but he was more accustomed to sleepless nights than she was. He, on the other hand, was still nursing his first cup of coffee. A waitress brought them their orders, a bagel for Scully and scrambled eggs and bacon for Mulder.
They ate in silence, each lost to their own thoughts. Until Mulder broke the uneasy quiet. "You don't really believe in this ghost idea, do ya, Scully?"
"Everything comes back to science, Mulder. Although, if working on the x-files has taught me anything, it's to expect the unexpected." A grin lighted Mulder's face at even such a small victory. "Come on, we're going to be late to meet with Sam Pruitt."
Scully settled the bill while Mulder went to get the car in the drizzly parking lot. A steady rain had moved in from the north overnight. Picking her up in front of the door, they left to return to the lighthouse. Because of the overcast weather, they were able to see the lighthouse's light rotating in the sky as they drove.
St. Augustine, Florida St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
Once there, they spoke with Sam Pruitt. She had seen the ghost of Gregory two of the six times. Once with Mark upstairs, and once with a guest on the back lawn. He had been standing on the upstairs porch, gazing toward the lighthouse. He didn't attempt to talk with them this time, just turned his attention toward the two women, shook his head slightly and disappeared while walking through an open door.
After speaking with Sam Pruitt, Mulder and Scully sought to do some searching on their own. They were walking around the main room of the museum, actually taking the time to look at some of the exhibits. Scully was looking at several old faded photographs that were framed and hanging on the wall. "Look, Mulder." She called. "The caption reads 'Mr. and Mrs. Gregory McConnaughy and son. Taken 1874.' There's the lighthouse in the background. She was beautiful."
Neither had heard Annabelle walk into the room behind them. "Oh, that's Susannah, his wife. And the little boy is Harry." She continued on her way, walking to the back room where they had spoken two days before.
"Scully?" Mulder asked. She was staring at the photograph, her eyes staring. "What is it?"
She blinked, and turned to look at Mulder. "Susannah," she stated simply.
"It's the name you said in your sleep."
Since there wasn't any lightning in the area, they were allowed to go into the lighthouse. They had already been in the entrance house once before, with Annabelle the previous day. Walking on into the lighthouse structure itself, they were presented with a majestic wrought iron spiral staircase that wound its way up the more than one hundred and seventy feet to the top of the tower.
After climbing several of the flights of stairs, they stopped to catch their breath and admire the tile work on the floor far below. A checkered black and white pattern filled the circular floor. Continuing to climb, they eventually reached the furthest point. Stepping out onto the observation deck, they found themselves facing a spectacular panoramic view of the land surrounding the tower, including the city of St. Augustine.
"Look, Scully. You can see the Castillo de San Marco over there." He pointed in the direction of the St. Augustine fort. "It's hard to believe this is the oldest city in North America."
"As every sign in town strives to remind us," she said with a grin. "'Founded 1565,'" she quoted. "I've read about this place, but I'd never had the chance to come here until now. Did you know that the oldest wooden school house in the states is not far from the fort? It's pinned to the ground with a large anchor."
Mulder regarded Scully, whose gaze never left the sprawling landscape around them, while she spoke. "I remember something about that." Scully cut him a look, implying she didn't know whether or not to believe him. "I'm hurt, Scully," he said with a grin. "Actually, I used to be something of a history buff when I was in high school. I read a lot."
"And remembered a lot," she interjected with a laugh.
"But of course," he attempted with his best French accent, at which Scully really did laugh. "Okay, Ms. Laugh-at-my-Partner. Just wait a minute . . . " Scully turned to look at Mulder when he didn't finish his statement, and followed his line of sight down to the ground. "Mark Pearson just got here," Mulder said. "Looks like its time to do what we get paid for."
"Who ya gonna call?" Scully quipped.
"Yeah?" She managed around a laugh.
He leaned over to where his face was inches from hers. "Get some new jokes," he dead panned. With that, he turned and started down the steps leaving a still chuckling Scully standing with her hair flapping in the steady breeze.
The trip down the winding staircase took half the time of the walk up. Before long, they were exiting through the entrance house, and Mark Pearson walked up to meet them. "I was just coming to find you, Annabelle said that you had gone to explore the lighthouse."
Mulder nodded. "You were going to show us the location of the last sighting."
"Yeah. I've got some repairs to do, but they are in the same room."
"The basement?" Scully asked as they walked toward the keeper's house.
Mark held the door open for the two agents. "Yes ma'am. We've had a very wet winter this year and as a result we've had some flood damage in the basement." He led them down the small stairway to the lower level, which was actually still above ground. "Annabelle had come down to check on how the repairs were coming along, and we were talking when he appeared."
Mulder was drifting around the large room, examining its contents. "He just appeared?"
"Yes, sir. I was looking in that direction." He pointed to a spot along the back wall. "And he sort of materialized. I can still remember the sound of his voice, the way he said 'fire' before reaching out his hand to us. Then the flames began and we ran toward the steps. I looked back from the stairs and he was still there. He looked scared."
"But there was actually no fire," Scully commented. "Annabelle mentioned that, and there is no sign of scorch marks." She was kneeling in the spot where Gregory McConnaughy was supposed to have appeared amidst the flames.
Mark had been working while they were speaking and stopped, looking over at Scully. "Ma'am I have no idea how it happened. All I know is it did." Scully nodded and continued to look around the spot.
After finishing her examination of the final sighting location, she turned around to find Mulder. She saw him standing at the far end of the basement, facing the north wall. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was missing something. The look on Scully's face when she mentioned Susannah had been one of needing a scientific explanation, but not having one. Had he called out the name of Gregory's wife? How had he known? The longer they were at the lighthouse, the greater a connection he felt. But to what he did not know.
"Mulder?" Scully's implied question pulled him away from his thoughts of Gregory and his life.
Mulder turned and walked back toward where Scully was standing. "Find anything, Scully?"
"No. What were you looking at down there?" She motioned toward where Mulder had been standing, but was unable to see the place she was talking about because Mulder was blocking her view.
Mulder turned, "I'm not sure, Scully. I . . . "
When Mulder didn't continue, Scully was about to ask what was wrong when she walked around him and saw where his gaze was transfixed. Mark, too, had turned from where he was working to look at what had gave Mulder pause. Scully couldn't blink, couldn't breathe. This should not be happening.
For standing less than ten feet in front of them was the blue glowing form of Gregory McConnaughy.
Both Scully and Mark were rooted to where they stood, neither making a move. Mulder, however, took a tentative step toward the apparition. Then another, and another until he was a mere two feet from the soft form.
He dared not blink, and stood in wonder as Gregory spoke. "Flood." With that, he reached out toward where Mulder stood transfixed. Making an arc with his arm, he pointed at the floor. His eyes were pleading with Mulder. Continuing to point at the floor just in front of where Mulder had been standing only moments before, he spoke again. "Flood." With that, he faded away. The last Mulder was able to see of him were his eyes. They shone with hope.
Slowly, Mulder turned to look over to where Scully and Mark still stood. Scully was the first to speak. "Fire? Flood? What does he mean? What is he trying to say?" She was struggling to find a reason for what she had just seen. Only she couldn't.
"I'll go get Annabelle. She'll want to know what happened." Mark then walked to the stairs and disappeared into the upstairs.
Scully walked over to where Mulder stood. He had turned and was focusing on the place that Gregory had pointed to. "Mulder?" She saw the distant look in his eyes and knew something the apparition had done or said had connected in Mulder's mind. She placed her hand on his arm, "Mulder?"
He tore his gaze from the floor to meet her concerned eyes. "I'm fine, Scully."
The sound of feet on the stairs caused Mulder and Scully to turn, Mark had returned with Annabelle. "Mark told me you had a run in with Gregory."
Mulder nodded. "Tell me, Annabelle. Is there anything under this spot?" He pointed at the same place that the ghost of Gregory McConnaughy had.
Annabelle walked over to Mulder had pointed. "Sorry, Agent Mulder. Nothing that I know of."
"There has to be," Mulder muttered. Kneeling down, he found a loose edge of carpet and pulled up on it. It tore loose from the floor, and Mark was about to object when Annabelle motioned with her hand to let Mulder continue. Laying the section of carpet aside, Mulder began to probe along cracks in the floor with his fingers. "Here!" The others were made aware of what had caused the note of excitement in his voice when he wedged his fingers down in a wider crack in the floor and pulled up.
It revealed a two-foot square hole in the floor, which opened up into a small room. Dust flew in the air from the door being dislodged, and a closed-up, musty smell emanated from the room below. "Well, I'll be," Annabelle said.
Scully had moved to kneel by an edge of the opening. "Annabelle, do you have any flashlights?"
"I'll get some," Mark answered.
Very little light filtered into what appeared to be a sub-basement, making it impossible to tell how large it was. Within just a few moments, Mark returned carrying four large flashlights. Scully, Annabelle and Mark shone their lights down into the room while Mulder carefully lowered himself down into it. In the light provided, Mulder clicked on his own flashlight and looked around the room, which was half the size of the one above it.
He turned when he heard Scully and Mark also climbing down into the room. Annabelle had stayed upstairs, should they need help. "Mulder? Have you found anything?" Scully's voice echoed somewhat in the quiet room.
"Not yet," he replied.
"This is amazing!" Mark exclaimed. "This room seems to have been cut right out of the coquina that the jetty was constructed out of. There's still wood on the walls and it appears to have been sealed with something to keep water out. How did the fire not get in here?"
"Was it part of the original house?" Scully asked.
Mulder was looking at some crates in the far corner. "It looks like maybe it meant to be a storage area." Brushing off the dust that had collected on one crate, he continued. "I would hazzard a guess that the flour in these containers isn't any good anymore, though."
Mark was running his fingers along one of the sealed seams in the wood. "Looking at the amount of leakage through these joints, I'd have to agree. And there are marks on the walls that show that there's been standing water in here."
"I'm sure that's happened numerous times since this room was built. Especially since the room was closed up. But why was there a door included in the new basement, but no one knew about it?" Scully was walking around the damp room, looking around at its features.
Her curiosity haven gotten the better of her, Annabelle also dropped into the sub-basement. "The time at which the fire occurred, Agent Scully, was a chaotic one. The south was still under Reconstruction, and most records from that time are sketchy at best."
"And this room was just forgotten." Mulder commented.
Annabelle had walked over to look at the containers next to Mulder before she continued. "Mark, we'll need to get these containers checked out by the archeology people. Who knows what they might still hold." She turned to Mulder and addressed his statement. "From what I do know, originally the floors of the basement were hard wood. But were covered with carpet at some point. Over the years, it's possible, that it was as simple as that Agent Mulder. After the mid-1950's the light was automated. After that, keeper's didn't live here and the house began to deteriorate. It's sad really. And in 1970, this structure also caught on fire. However, due to its history, it was restored over the next fourteen years. If you noticed, the door was well disguised into the wood work above. Intended for use, but not used. This room was forgotten."
"Until someone who knew of it showed us the way," Mulder said. "Gregory led us here, but why?"
"Mulder!" Scully called out from the far back corner. "I've found something." The other three occupants of the room hurried over to where Scully was kneeling. "The floor has rotted through here, and the water has washed up something interesting."
"It's a body!" Annabelle exclaimed, her hand over her mouth. "Is it . . . "
Looking down at the skeletal remains lying amidst the rotten wood, Mulder whispered, "Gregory McConnaughy."
"Everyone assumed he died in the fire," Mark said. "But his body was never found."
"The dream makes sense, Scully." Mulder said. "Running through the hallways, searching. Trying to get out. The ceiling collapsing. Falling through the floor."
She turned to look at Mulder, his face pale. "Mulder, I don't know. It seems a stretch, but so much does with you." She managed a smile, and turned her gaze back to the floor. Seeing something glint in the light of her flashlight, Scully reached into the dirt a foot or so away from the remains and pulled out a chain with a cross on it. Even after so many years, the gold glittered in the light. Holding it up her eyes shaken, she questioned, "Annabelle?"
The older woman looked at the treasure Scully held before her. "Susannah's diary is upstairs in the museum, it was discovered among her things in town after she died. I remember that Susannah wrote of her cross necklace. She had given it to Gregory, so that they would be together even when they were apart."
"The recent flooding must have finally finished breaking up the rotten wood," Mark said.
Mulder, his gaze never leaving the dark earth, finished. "And it had begun to wash away the necklace at the same time." Scully looked over at where Mulder was kneeling, his eyes shadowed. "He wants to be with Susannah again."
Final Field Report Special Agent Dana Scully
During the course of our investigation at the St. Augustine Lighthouse, Agent Mulder and I were told a fascinating ghost story. To go beyond that, would be to cross into the realm of the unexplained. However, working with Agent Mulder has taught me that sometimes we must look into this realm with open eyes. For sometimes, simple answers aren't an option.
While there, we were witness to what Mulder calls an "other world visitation." The event remains unexplained. However, it was this event that led us to the remains of Gregory McConnaughy which had been unaccounted for since 1875.
Annabelle Crandall had since petitioned for the remains to be buried at the town's old cemetery along side his wife, Susannah. The bones were been exhumed by a local archeological group. The petition was approved and his remains were transferred to the St. Augustine National Cemetery. Susannah's necklace is now held by the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum, and is on display.
Since this time, there have been no additional reported sightings of Gregory McConnaughy. In a related side note, also since this time, Agent Mulder has not suffered from any more 'fire' dreams. The dreams, which had began around the time the bones were believed to be uncovered, were of what Mr. McConnaughy most likely experienced on the night of the fire which took his life.
Gregory and Susannah are together again, and this case is closed.
Additional Disclaimers: The motion pictures Ghostbusters and Casper aren't mine. Neither is the song Joy to the World, or the theme to Shaft. I have no idea who owns them, but tisn't me. :-)
If you've made it this far, please email me and let me know what you thought of my first attempt at a case file. Thanks a bunch!