Title: Macabre
Author: beccaelizabeth
Written: December 1997
Spoilers: One tiny mention of Sanguinarium
Rating: probably R.
Classification: X file Some romance with characters I made up

Summary: A small town becomes convinced that one of their own has
made a deal with the devil. Mulder and Scully investigate, thinking it the work of a con artist, until things take a macabre turn...

The old barn on the edge of town was a broken down sort of a building.

It leaned up against the buildings next to it, the walls were patched up with whatever sorts of board or plastic came to hand, and the door fitted so badly it seemed pretty useless to bother with a padlock. Most folk figured it for abandoned, and wondered why it hadn't been torn down long ago. Those as knew whose it was just figured it suited his personality perfectly.

It was Friday night and Zeb was, as usual, on his way home now all the bars had closed. His house was about a mile up the road out of town, but most people would have been surprised to find he had a house, since his performance every Friday was always the same. He would pour out of the Black Cat bar, stumble and bump across the street and around the corner, look at the road home, look at his old barn right next to him, and start fumbling for his key. Tonight was no different, except on the way he knocked over someone's pumpkin lantern, and stomped along for a few steps with pieces stuck to his leg.

He leaned his head up against the barn door, trying to find the big key, and found a little bottle with it. He pulled them out, turned around, uncorked the bottle and waved it vaguely up at the moon. "Happy Halloween!" he yelled blearily, then tipped it back and drank it dry. He looked at the empty bottle sorrowfully for a moment, then chucked it across the street,turned round and, after several attempts, got the lock off and went in, pulling the door more or less to after him.

Inside looked like where bad farm equipment went to die. Most of it was piled up with old, outdated odds and ends of machinery that might one day come in handy, or trunks from the attic back at the farm that had been dumped there by generations of ancestors who'd needed the space. Nearest the door was a heap of feed and hay bales that Zeb's nephew hadn't the room for out at the farm just yet, and up on one wall was a civil war sword that had probably been hanging there since the first owner went back to his fields.

Somewhere between a heap of trunks and the hay bales Zeb had himself a cosy little nest of tarps and old coats and other less identifiable things, where he had spent every night he'd had the money for liquor for the past twenty years.

He settled in to his pile, and rummaged around down the back just in case there was another bottle back there that hadn't mysteriously emptied itself. There wasn't one easily to hand, and as he poked around he managed to knock over the stack of trunks. They crashed and tumbled to the ground, and as they fell more than one or two of them cracked open.

When it had quieted down and the dust settled Zeb spied what looked suspiciously like a bottle of whisky lying unbroken in the cracked trunk. "Ha!" he exclaimed, "I knew it. I musta hidden it there... now what is this?" he muttered to himself as he bent over to get it. 'This' was a book, very old by the looks, with a beat up leather cover that had probably once meant to be black and really thick paper covered in cramped brown writing inside. Zeb settled back with the book in one hand and the bottle, now uncorked, in the other. "Can't make it out.." he muttered, and fumbled around for the lamp he usually used. "Ow! Damn it.." he yelped, as he found it, in three or four pieces on the floor. He sucked his cut thumb and rearranged the collection of stumpy candles the falling trunks had dislodged.

Setting them right side up he lit a few until he had enough light to read by, took another swig, and had a proper look at the little book. "On seeing the unseen... On the power of secrets... On the fit uses of brimstone... Damn funny titles this thing has... On the acquisition of servants who'll bring you all the riches you deserve. Now that one don't sound too bad. let's see... 'May be in the past bad luck or bad men have kept you from what you deserve'... too right, I worked hard all my life, and there's always some bastard waitin with his hand out... 'by these means you might call on those who will get it all back for you'." He took another drink from the bottle and looked thoughtful. "Sounds good to me... let's see... what's it say... looks like a damn recipe book..." he muttered, and flicked through a few pages. "Bottle and mature for at least twenty years... well I ain't waiting that long... let's see, what else... here it is... 'drip some blood inside the circle' well I reckon I done enough bleeding tonight.. 'then read aloud'..."

He scanned down the page and looked at the little paragraph at the bottom of it, then twisted it back and forward a couple of times. "What the hell kind of language is that meant to be..." he muttered again. "Well, if it don't work I ain't lost nothing." He concluded and cleared his throat, then waved his arms about a bit to get him in the right mood and started reading the incantation aloud...

The sounds were harsh and ugly, and he interrupted himself a couple of times with coughing, then lost his place and started over from where he thought he was. Some of the words were just squiggles he couldn't read, and some he just had a guess at, and one or two more he reckoned he recognised from his niece's workshop and her horoscopes and read out, more or less, and he stumbled through the lot of it. Then he looked up expectantly, waiting for something to happen.

And waiting.

"Well, there goes another good idea." he grumbled and tossed the book down, then settled down in his tarps again, tucked the bottle away, and closed his eyes.

"Well?" asked an arrogant voice from behind him in the dark, "You called me here, you could at least stay awake."

Zeb sat up with a start, and peered out into the dark.

"Did you want to make a deal or did you not?" the voice asked.

Zeb jumped up shakily, a bit of wood in his hand. "I'm warning ya, I'm dangerous when I get angry. And I ain't got nothing worth stealing anyways. What are you doin here?" he asked, edging forward out of the candlelight to try and get a view of him.

"I'm not here to steal. I am here, your servant, to get you all the riches you can dream of." said the man, just visible at the edge of Zeb's shadow.

"All that I deserve, like?" Zeb asked.

The man chuckled. "Quite." he replied, not precisely pleasantly. He was a youngish man, smooth faced, more pretty than handsome, with a sharp look about the eyes. He smiled widely. "So, do we have a deal?"

"An what would be your side of the deal?" Zeb asked suspiciously.

"Just the usual. I give you all that you want for the next year, everything you could desire, and in return I get... let's see, what precisely... let's say, Everything that is yours, in this barn." he finished in an offhand way, still smiling.

"What, everything that's mine in this barn?" Zeb asked, lowering his lump of wood and using it to lean on.

The newcomer nodded. "Just think, a year of living like a king if you should so desire. Everything you ask for I will get. What's the price compared to that?"

Zebs eyes went greedy and as he looked around at the rusty equipment and broken boxes you could see the wheels turning. "Now I've got your word on that? Everything I want for a year, for everything that's mine in this barn?"

He nodded, "Exactly so. And a deal once done can't be broken."

Zeb grinned broadly and held out his injured hand. "Shake on it stranger, that deal is made." And the young man's eyes flashed as he took the offered hand and squeezed it hard.

"Done," he said sharply, and grinned.

"Right then. So.. what do I call you?" Zeb asked.

"Oh, just call me.. Luc." The young man shrugged.

"Lucky's more like it. Come on Lucky, the first thing I'm wanting is a room over at the motel for the night. Think you can manage that?"

"Your wish is my command." Luc replied, with a triumphant look on his face, and Zeb wrapped an arm around his shoulders and hooted with laughter as they went out.

Behind them the candles all blew out in the breeze from the door, and the books pages flapped as it lay forgotten, settling on 'how to return the servant whence it came from... It is important that this be done on the night of summoning, else its hold be strengthened ...'

X files opening credits here :)

Mulder and Scully were heading along the empty highway towards Olmory on a crisp late October evening, Mulder driving, Scully flicking through a nearly empty folder. All that was in it were three photos, two so blurred you could hardly be sure the man in them was human, and a third a party scene with an enlargement of one man sitting on his own at the back, his face cast into such deep shadow by the lurid neon 'Black Cat Bar' sign behind him only the outline was visible. Then there were a couple of pieces of paperwork, with hardly anything filled in.

"You know Mulder, I don't really see what there is for us to investigate here. This.. Luc Ferris, seems to have committed no crime, or ever even been a suspect. I don't know why the local sheriff even asked for our help. These rumours don't really seem worth the time," Scully said.

"At first glance it would seem so. On the other hand, Sheriff Charnley has been watching this guy for almost a year, and he has a bit more to say about him than he'd be comfortable going on the record with. Apparently he's shot off three reels of film in broad daylight to get some record of this guy, and those shots are the best he has. They always come out with him out of focus, and only him. He says sometimes the guy just looks out of focus, especially in daylight," Mulder said, turning off the highway past a tiny run down motel on the road in to town.

"The party scene was from the local paper. It shows one Zeb Walker, the town drunk to all appearances, celebrating the first thousand dollars profit he and his 'business partner' Luc Ferris made. Only no one, including the Sheriff, seems to really know how Ferris makes his money. They have a little shop on the high street, nothing fancy, hardly anyone ever seems to go in there, but it makes more profit than Microsoft."

"He suspects some sort drugs connection? Organised crime maybe?"

"Maybe, but if so the Sheriff can't get a whiff of it, and this is one of those little towns where everyone knows everyone and probably went to school with them. Neighbourly sort of place, so there's always a neighbour watching whatever you get up to. Real quiet too, up until the last year or so. The Sheriff says when 'Lucky' there hit town all the local malcontents stopped grumbling and started making trouble.

There have been assaults, muggings, arson attacks, you name it. Every sort of violent crime has gone through the roof."

"Incited by Ferris?"

"That's the Sheriff's guess, but if so he's never caught him at it. When he arrived in town most people seemed to really like the guy. They say he's the quiet sort, real polite, likes to stay in the background. Helps old ladies across the road, that sort of thing."

"Sounds like a model citizen," Scully said skeptically, one eyebrow raised.

"As far as anyone can prove. But if that's so, how come he has half the good people of Olmory convinced that he is the devil himself?" Mulder asked, half grinning as he pulled in to the main street.

Scully raised both eyebrows and looked back at the blurry photos, then closed the folder as they pulled up outside the Sheriff's office. Where they found a small crowd had gathered around the door, yelling at the Sheriff as he stood there on the steps.

"He's dangerous!" "He's the devil himself!" "When are you going to stop him?"
"You know when it's happening! What are you going to do about it?"
"You know what he made my boy do last week! He'll take him too, I know it!"

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Please! Return to your homes! The situation is well in hand! Come on Folks, it's late and we're all getting cold now.. If you just move on home.." The Sheriff yelled, or tried to. Then he caught sight of Mulder and Scully getting out of the car.

"Folks, here's the help I told you I'd sent for.You are the FBI right? Mulder and Scully? They'll be assisting me here. Come on and let them through, okay?" he almost pleaded.

The reaction of the crowd was astonishing. They opened up a way through but they kept on grabbing at the two agents, to shake their hands and say things like "Thank you sir!" "You will stop him ma'am, won't you?" "Don't let him take my boy!" "Just keep him away from us Friday night, please!"

The two finally got ushered inside by the sheriff, who yelled "Time to go home now folks. We'll handle it from here." And closed the door after them.

Mulder and Scully straightened their clothes and glanced at each other. Those were very frightened people out there. "Sheriff Charnley, I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder, and this is Special Agent Dana Scully. What was going on out there?"

"Hi, hi. You can just call me Neil. Most everyone does." the sheriff said, shaking their hands. "And that outside... well, Zeb has come up with a pretty fine tale this last week, and now he's got the whole town hysterical about it."

"What did he say?" Mulder asked.

"Well... I think you better hear it from him." Neil replied, waving them back towards the cells.

"You've arrested him?"

"More or less. He came in here white as a sheet, babbling something about his deal with Ferris and how I had to protect him, but I just figured he was drunk again. It's been a while but you should of heard some of the stuff Zeb would come up with when he was tanked up. How he'd just had a long talk with Elvis, or about the month he spent in a flying saucer drinking wine from Venus. That sort of thing."

Scully glanced over at Mulder, trying not to grin. Mulder mostly ignored her.

"Then he went running over half the town, telling all his friends and customers and everyone within three blocks of here how Ferris was the Devil and he would be coming on Halloween to steal all our souls, and how they had to protect him. And when that didn't work, he started smashing windows, until I had to lock him up just to get some peace and quiet. I figured when he sobered up I could let him out again, but as far as I can tell he's a sober as he's ever been and he is still telling the same story." Neil finished.

"So people actually believed him? A man with a reputation like Mr Walker's, telling a story like that?" Scully asked.

"Well, you've got to understand the kind of reputation Luc Ferris has built up around here. They say he knows your darkest secrets, and he can get you anything you want for the right price. Not that I believe it, he's been real careful to be all sweetness and light when I'm around, but he's always about one step further away from trouble than I can rightly arrest him for, if you know what I mean. And then there's his attitude. After Zeb went off like that, some of Luc's hangers on went around asking if it was true, and apparently he just grinned and said 'be in the barn Friday and see'. So those kids told their friends, and their friends told their folks, and then half the town turns up at my door and starts yelling for me to go arrest the guy and won't listen when I say I don't have no grounds to do it. I guess if they get much worse I could call it protective custody, but I don't reckon I could get away with protecting a guy from his own wedding." Neil concluded as he unlocked the door on Zeb's cell.

"The wedding! Oh, my poor Carrie." Zeb groaned., sat on the bed with his head in his hands. "Neil, you got to tell her what he really is. You got to talk to her! Please man, she was nearly your own family, you got to help her! That fiend has her under some sort of spell I swear it."

"Now Zeb you know bad as Carrie wants to get out of this town he doesn't need spells to get her to marry him. I'd like you to meet Agents Scully and Mulder, from the FBI. They want to hear what you told me about Luc Ferris."

"Finally, someone's taking it serious. He's the devil himself I tell you. I called him up last year and now he's going to take us all with him back to hell!" Zeb exclaimed, jumping up.

"Calm down, calm down Zeb! Come on through to the office and have a coffee and we'll talk about it." the sheriff said.

So they moved through to the office, which was just about big enough for the four of them and a coffee machine, and after a while Zeb was persuaded to sit down, at least hold a drink, and begin more or less at the beginning.

"Well, like I said, it's all my fault. I went and called him up last year, and now I'll be paying for it. A year of living like a king, he said, for all that's yours in this barn. well I don't keep much of mine in that old barn anyhow, it's so old it would just fall down on it, so I figure its a deal. I didn't know it was the devil himself.

"That old book said a servant. A servant to get me all I deserve! Not the evil one himself, to take my family for my stupid deal. Well, I reckoned everything was going right, we got money rolling in and the farm is doing great and when my Carrie starts talking about marrying the guy I just figured everything was great, my Carrie was settling down at last. Cus he didn't seem like the devil most days, you know? He set up a shop and he didn't do no magic or nothing, and I damn near forgot how he turned up at all." He took a slurp of his coffee and tried to stop his hands shaking, then gave up, put the drink down and put his hands under the table instead.

"Well, last week, we's got the wedding all set up. And it was going to be great. They were gonna get themselves a marriage license down the road, come back married and have a big party with all the family in the old barn, because there's no use wasting money on a hall when you've got a place that big all of your own, or so he said. Then last Friday, he says to me, 'Zeb, hadn't you better get yourself a moving van?' And I ask him, what for, are we gonna move to a bigger shop? And he just laughs, real quiet, and nasty. And he says 'Zeb, I got your family in the barn for when the deal comes due, don't you think you should bring the rest of what's yours?' And for a minute I'm sure I don't know what he means, and then it all comes back to me. The bottle, the book, the deal, that whole night. And he starts laughing out loud and I feel sick to my stomach, and that's when his face started glowing. Bright red, right there in the bar!

"And I jumped out of my chair and ran out of there fast as I could, and went to warn Carrie. But she don't listen to me no more! She used to be such a sweet girl, til that Luc got hold of her. So I came in here to warn the sheriff, and he won't listen, and I went around trying to warn people but they won't listen either, and I am just so grateful to you that you are finally going to take this serious and do something about it." Zeb finished, reaching across the table to grab Scully's hand and looking into her eyes with real sincerity. Scully pulled her hand away and stood up.

"Well, Mr Walker, I'm sure we'll give this all the attention it deserves," she said. "Mulder, a word?" she asked, and they walked out of the room and closed the door behind them, leaving the sheriff to calm Zeb down.

"Pretty wild story, don't you think Scully?" Mulder asked.

"Mulder, that man is obviously an alcoholic. And the way he looked in there, I would recommend we get him to a hospital before his liver gives up, not waste our time chasing this demon of his," Scully replied.

"I admit, he isn't the world's best witness, but you saw those people out there. Something has this town acting strange, and it just may be that something is Luc Ferris."

"This is a small town Mulder. It wouldn't take more than a second rate con man to start a panic like we've seen."

"But it isn't totally impossible that there is something more going on here. We have come across some pretty strange phenomena and even ritual deaths linked to Satanism before now."

"So we should expect another rain of frogs?" Scully said, as the door opened and the sheriff joined them.

"Well, we had a rain of fish here yesterday." The sheriff said, closing the door behind him. The two agents turned to lok at him.

"No, really. It was the strangest thing. About two hundred fish, right on main street. If it hadn't rained since you could probably still smell them."

"Do you believe in Zeb's theory, Sheriff?" Mulder asked.

"Well... I figure it's my job to stay calm through all of this, but... It's not that he does anything or says anything, it's just... Rachel says he's got a bad aura. I can't put it any better than that. He walks in to a room , and you just feel it."

"And Rachel is...?"

"She's the local white witch, Zeb's other niece. Used to be the scandal of the town until Luc turned up. She does mail order astrology and courses in meditation, you know the sort of thing. Zeb says you ought to talk to her, that she knew what was going on before he did." Neil answered.

"The book he mentioned, do you know where it is now?" Mulder inquired.

"That's over at Rachel's place too. She collects old books, and when she went to tidy out the barn last month she found a trunk full of them had spilled open. I can take you there if you want, it's just across the road." he offered.

"Please do," Mulder replied.

"I'll just go see if the coast is clear, or if we'll have to slip out

the back." Neil said, shrugging on his coat, and led off.

The converted barn where Rachel Walker lived was almost directly opposite the sheriff's office. It was neatly painted with brackets for supporting hanging baskets up that currently held unlit pumpkin lanterns. The outer door was plain red, with a lion's head door knocker. The sheriff used the doorbell hidden beside the door frame.

After a couple of moments the big door rolled aside. Standing in the doorway illuminated by the old lantern she held stood a short but statuesque young woman with very long brown hair reaching down to her waist. She was wearing only an old blue silk kimono, which was not quite large enough for her.

"Oh! I'm sorry, I thought it was just friends. I'm not exactly dressed for company... I'm in the middle of a ritual... Good thing I didn't answer the door skyclad I suppose, but it is a little cold for that.." Rachel exclaimed.

"Hi," Mulder smiled, holding out his hand and getting out his i.d., "I'm Fox Mulder, and this is special agent Dana Scully. Can we come in for a minute?"

Rachel took his hand and held it for just a little longer than necessary, looking into his hazel eyes and smiling. "Sure, please, do come in. And your partner." she stepped aside to let them in to the porch, and said frostily, "Do you really have to be here Neil?"

"Well, I suppose not exactly.." he started.

"Good," she said, and slid the door to in his face, locking it with a big key on a little pentacle key chain. She smiled at Mulder again. "I'll just have to tidy a few things up inside. Carrie might just want to put something on before you two walk in."

"Your sister is here too? I'd like to talk to her," Scully said.

"Sure, just a minute." Rachel replied, and slipped in through the inner doors leaving the lantern with them.

They stood waiting with their breath steaming in the cold air, looking at the inner doors as they glittered in the lamp light. They were covered in silver and gold paint in intricate designs that looked somewhat like celtic knots and a little like leaves, and where there might be porthole windows on ordinary swing doors here there were two large pentacles, silver and gold.

Rachel came back in. "Sorry to keep you waiting." she smiled up at Mulder again, and led them inside.

The big room inside left no doubt this had been a barn. The ground floor was one big open space, with a mostly smooth floor painted white. There were beams visible in the high ceiling, and one end had a second floor with a rail along the edge and access by a spiral staircase. Everywhere was lit up by the hundreds of candles in big iron stands all around the edges of the room.

"Carrie's down the end" Rachel told Scully,"She's about ready to talk.

She might be a bit dreamy still, coming back from a meditation. You

can go ask." Then she turned to Mulder and said "Why don't you and I

talk upstairs?"

"Sounds good," Mulder replied, smiling, and followed her.

Scully looked a little annoyed as she watched them go off, but then

she turned and walked down the barn to the young blonde girl sitting

in a white dressing gown in the center of a big ring of candles,


"Miss Walker?" Scully enquired.

Carrie opened her eyes slowly and looked around at her.

"Could I talk to you for a minute?" Scully asked, stepping over the candles to join her.

"Yes? Can I help you?" Carrie asked, a little distant.

"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully. I'm here to talk to you about Luc Ferris," Scully said, crouching down beside Carrie and showing her ID.

"Luc? We're getting married on Friday. Don't tell me something has happened to him?" Carrie asked, sounding vague but worried.

"No, nothing has happened to him. We are a little worried about some of the things that have been said about him."

"Oh, I know. It's terrible what people will say. And the way they are acting, it's hardly safe for him to leave his house." Carrie replied, sounding more awake.

"You haven't heard him say anything to incite these rumours? Perhaps even something threatening?" Scully asked.

"Luc, threatening? He's the sweetest man I ever met! People say some horrible things about him, but people in this town are always so small minded. You know Rachel had to re paint the outside door when the local kids threw paint bombs at it? They wouldn't quit when the pentacle was still up. She worries now about the wards not starting until you're inside, but what with the preacher going on about her all the time it was just more trouble than it was worth. This thing with Luc, it's just the same. Just because his signature looks a little bit strange they hound him. It's boredom really, there's nothing else to do in this dump. I'll be so glad to get out of here." Carrie said.

"He's promised to take you away then?"

"Oh yes, he won't tell me quite where, but he says we'll go as far away from here as I can imagine." Carrie sighed, dreamy eyed.

"He won't tell you where you are going?" Scully asked.

"No, he wants to keep it a surprise. He knows I love surprises. But he says we have to leave on Halloween, so that's why we can't put off the wedding until uncle Zeb gets over his silly ideas. That's what this is about, isn't it? Zeb's stories? If you'd met him you would know just what those stories are worth." Carrie snorted. "Is there anything else you want to ask? Because really, Luc is just the sweetest man in the world and you simply won't find anyone to say otherwise."

Scully nodded, stood up and said, "Well, thank you for your time." Then walked over to the stairs.

Upstairs Mulder had been getting along rather better with Rachel.

"It's a bit of a mess." Rachel apologised, leading him up the stairs. "I'll have to fold the bed up if you want someplace comfortable to sit, the table is just covered in Samhain treats and decorations."

"That's okay, you should see my place when I'm working on something. You won't find an empty surface anywhere," Mulder replied.

Rachel set the lamp down under a desk covered in bits of paper and computer disks, and folded up the futon she usually slept on to turn it back into a sofa. "Right then,"she said, sitting down, "What can I do for you?"

Mulder sat next to her.

"We're here investigating reports about Luc Ferris," Mulder said.

"Ah yes, Zeb's demon. Is that really an FBI matter?" Rachel asked.

"Well, I take an interest in the unusual." Mulder smiled.

"I suppose this qualifies." Rachel smiled back. "Zeb's got half the town convinced the guy is really Lucifer, come to take them all down to hell with him. Personally I don't precisely believe in the Christian Devil, most of the names can be traced back to perfectly respectable pagan gods, but there's no doubt the idea can stir up quite a fuss. And Ferris is... well, unusual. I rely a lot on first impressions, and Luc Ferris just gave me the creeps from the first moment I set eyes on him."

"I hope I'm doing okay," Mulder said, then got his mind back to the business at hand. "Your uncle mentioned a book he'd used."

"Yes, his little black book. I don't know how old it is, but certainly some of the other books in that trunk were shipped over from Europe when our ancestors came here. Would you like to see it?"

"Please," Mulder replied.

Rachel got up and went over to the bookcases that lined one wall. She pulled on some white cotton gloves lying on the desk there, then bent over and picked up a wooden box about the size of a book from the bottom shelf, and a little key. She brought the lot back to Mulder on the sofa and sat down next to him again. "Here. I keep it locked up because.. well.. it's not exactly a pleasant book. The rituals in here... I wouldn't want anyone to pick it up by accident and think it was my sort of magick." She grimaced as she opened the box, and a peculiar unpleasant smell wafted out. "You know, after a night out, Luc Ferris smells just like that. Not that I'm saying there really is some sort of connection, just that it's strange."

"You don't believe Zeb could have summoned the devil then?"

"Well, like I said, I don't precisely believe in him. But I do believe that there are things, ideas, that get lent so much power by people over time... I guess it's possible that Zeb could have found one of them..," Rachel said in a sombre voice.

"I guess it's a little difficult to believe that a drunk old man in a barn could have called up something generations of black magic never got hold of."

"Actually, that part I can believe. If you were a devil looking to make a deal, would you come for an ambitious man with a mind like a lawyer who had learned every trick and incantation to keep you under control, or an old drunk with no idea what he was messing with who could be fooled by a moderately determined car salesman?" Rachel asked, looking at him.

"I suppose you're right," Mulder replied, a smile in his voice. "Which one of these does he claim worked?" he asked.

Rachel flicked through pages until she came to one titled 'On the acquisition of servants who'll bring you all the riches you deserve'. "He said it was a deal to get him all the things he deserved, so I suppose it was this one. Although how anyone can believe that everything they deserve would mean only good things I don't understand. It's one of those little jokes that whoever wrote this left in here to trip up anyone who tried to use it without proper tutoring. These old spell books were often like that, with extra lines in and symbols you really shouldn't draw, so anyone just copying the thing wouldn't gain anything by it."

"A sort of medaeval anti piracy device," Mulder said.

"Exactly." Rachel smiled.

"Could you show me one? I'm intrigued, exactly what did they do?"

Mulder asked, moving closer to her so he could get a better view of the book.

"Well, most of them I wouldn't know how to work out, but this banishment one is relatively simple. Apparently the writer was less than pleased with the idea of someone calling one up and not putting it back right away. There's just this line, here, that doesn't belong." Rachel pointed out, with Mulder looking almost over her shoulder to read it. "It's in Latin. Translated it means something like 'split,mirror and double', so I suppose it was meant to create two more of them if you read it out wrong. Not very difficult to see why that is not a good idea."

"So all the rest of this is meant to send this servant back to hell?

It's only three lines.. that shouldn't be so hard to do. I don't suppose anyone has tried this on Luc Ferris yet?" he asked jokingly.

"Once," Rachel said, not smiling. "Aaron, a friend of Zeb's, yelled it at him in the bar day before yesterday. Nothing happened then, but nobody's seen Aaron since. Neil put out a missing persons report, but with the town nearly rioting he can't go looking... The trouble is it shouldn't work even according to the writer. He say it is only efficacious on the same day as the servant is summoned, and must be said then. I rather hope it will work on anniversaries too, or we just might be in trouble. I've got my sword ready just in case."

"You need a sword for this?"

"Well, I have a sword for other ritual work, but for this you are supposed to get a little of your blood on the blade and point it at the servant, then say the words.This book does seem rather preoccupied with blood." Rachel scowled, and put the book back in it's box and locked it. She looked around at Mulder, whose face was only an inch away from her.

"Mulder, I don't think we are going to get anything on Ferris from Carrie Walker," Scully said as she came up the stairs. Mulder moved back towards his end of the sofa.

"Carrie's besotted with him," Rachel said to her as she came into view. "She won't hear a wrong word against him, and everything he does

is 'obviously' for good reasons even if the rest of us can't see them.

You might want to talk to Caleb though. He's her twin, and until Luc

came along they were real close, though you won't hear it like that

from Carrie."

"Thanks," Mulder said to her. "We'll talk to him next."

"You know, I have quite a lot of books here that you might find

interesting," Rachel said as Mulder got up to leave. "You could

come back later and take a look around."

"We will probably be busy with the investigation," Scully said.

"Tomorrow evening then?" Rachel asked, still looking at Mulder.

"Sure, I'd love to." Mulder smiled warmly.

The two agents returned to the Sheriff's office, which was more or

less quiet now.

"Mulder, I don't suppose I can convince you that this is just a case

of mass hysteria?"

"I'd like to have a bit more of a look around before I decide that

Scully. It's still too early to tell."

"None of what I've heard sounds particularly convincing to me." Scully


"Well, Rachel had some pretty interesting things to say."

"Hmm, I'm sure she did," Scully said. Mulder glanced at her, but she

continued "Did you see the infamous book?"

"Yeah, a little black book apparently written in blood. It's in a

sort of occult code, with little bits of english or latin here and

there. Interesting."

"But not particularly rare."

Mulder just shrugged.

Inside the sheriff's office they found Caleb Walker had come to pick

up Zeb.

"He's agreed to go, on the condition that he gets to keep hold of a

bible the whole time." Sheriff Charnley told them.

"Could we have a word with Caleb before they go?" Mulder asked.

"Sure, they're just out back. But if you keep them hanging around too

long we'll never get Zeb moving again." he warned, only half grinning.

Caleb confirmed Rachel's and Zeb's stories, saying he'd never liked

Luc and he had noticed a change in his sister since she met him. He

seemed a practical sort, more reliable than the rest of his little

family.He drove home with Zeb hiding down low in the cab of his truck,

clutching a bible, a crucifix and a bottle of whisky.

Then the agents got rooms out at the motel, where they heard more

stories about Luc and Zeb. Apparently news of what they were

investigating had spread already.

The next day they were kept busy by a steady stream of townsfolk

coming in to the office to tell them more about what strange things

they'd seen Ferris do, how he knew your secrets and never lost at

cards and could set men to fighting just by looing at them. Or more

often, how a friend of theirs swore they had just seen him do it. Not

that they wanted to name names, and get their friends into trouble.

Then around mid morning the events of the day took on a more macabre


Sheriff Charnley got a call that a body had been found out in the

fields between town and the motel, and it looked like it was Aaron.

The sheriff and Scully and Mulder headed out there in the Sheriff's

truck to see what had happened.

In the middle of an empty field the old man's body lay stretched out,

with a bottle in one hand. You could almost have mistaken him for a

man asleep, until you moved around and could see his face. Then you

realised that the carrion eaters were hungry this time of year.

"How was the body identified Sheriff?" Scully asked, pulling on her

gloves and examining the blue, half frozen remains.

"Well, the man that found him saw Aaron in the bar that night, when he

disappeared. He reckons that this man is wearing the same shirt, and

this could be on his way home, if he decided to try and take a short

cut in the dark. And, well, everyone knows what happened, and how he

went missing.. I guess that's not exactly a positive identification,

but we're working on it. Can you tell what killed him?" the sheriff


"I'm not sure. No remaining obvious trauma, except the facial injuries

which probably occured after death. It could have been the his heart,

or the drink, or quite possibly the cold but I won't find out anyn more

until I do a full autopsy." she concluded, standing up and peeling off

her gloves with a snap.

"I suppose you'll want the body sent somewhere?" he asked.

"No, if you can arrange the facilities I'll conduct the autopsy

myself," Scully said.

"Meanwhile I think I'll have a little talk with this Luc Ferris."

Mulder decided.

That turned out to be far easier said than done.

The shop was closed, and his flat was empty except for the furniture

that came with it. Carrie told them it was always like that, and gave

them the names of a few places he often visited. She was staying with

her sister still, who was doing er best to persuade her to put off the

wedding for one more day, and with the news of the body that had been

found Rachel was having some success.

Ferris' haunts werelikewise empty, and most people said that he

usually visited at night. By late afternoon, they had found a lot of

places that he wasn't and none that he was. Scully had finished her


"I hope you had better luck than we did. If the man isn't hiding he

is doing a very good impression of it," Mulder said when they met up

to compare notes.

"As far as I can tell, the man currently thought to be Aaron Ries

died of natural causes. I'm waiting on the lab reports of couse, but

what I found seemed to indicate he had a heart attack on his way home.

His doctor reported that he had a cardiac incident last year and his

general level of health seemed very low. I would say it is very likely

that this death is a coincidence."

"A pretty badly timed one. But I might agree with you, IF we could

find Luc Ferris," Mulder said, frustrated.

"Mulder, with all the rumors going around about him, I think he's more

likely to be hiding from his neighbours than from the law." Scully


"Maybe." Mulder sighed, and went back to the search.

Then that evening Carrie came in looking a bit sad. "I've just talked

to Luc," she said. "He said he didn't know you were looking for him,

and he wouldn't tell me where he was but he said he'd be here soon."

She paused, and sighed. "I told him I was delaying the wedding. He

didn't like it, but with Aaron gone, and all this fuss from our

neighbours, and Uncle Zeb acting so strange, I just couldn't face it.

Rachel's right, I shouldn't have to worry about all that on my special

day." She sighed again. "They'll all feel like fools day after

tomorrow when nothing's happened, and then we can have our wedding

right out in the open instead of sneaking around looking over our


"That's great Carrie. You know you've made the right decision.

Everything will calm down by next week." Neil said, patting her on

the back.

"Yes, that's what Rachel reckoned. And she's right, as always." She

sighed again,this time perhaps a bit more dramatically than necessary.

"Oh, Agent Mulder, I nearly forgot. She says you could drop by around

seven and she'll have something for you to eat while you look at her


Neil looked a little pained, but Mulder looked pleased and thanked her

for the message.

That evening Mulder decided he really ought to go check out Rachel's

library. In case there was anything useful to the investigation.

Scully agreed to phone him if and when Luc Ferris turned up for

questioning, and so he crossed the road and rang Rachel's bell.

The door slid open, and there stood Rachel, in a long green silk dress

with a silver belt and wearing her hair piled up on her head and

spilling down over her shoulders. The effect made Mulder rather

conscious that although he had tried to tidy himself up there is only

so much you can do for a suit you have been wearing for two days.

"Welcome," Rachel said, stepping aside and letting Mulder in.

This time the barn was mostly dark, with only the candles in the

upstairs lit. The air was scented with vanilla and incense. Upstairs

the table was set for two, and elegant pink candles on thin silver

candlesticks were lit. All around the edges of the room there were

white or pink candles of all shapes and sizes, burning bright but


"If you would like to share some supper with me, it is nearly ready."

Rachel said.

"That would be great," Mulder replied.

Mulder sat at the table and Rachel brought the first course through,

a pasta dish with fish and herbs, and apple juice to drink with it.

The conversation was halting at first but although they came at the

subjects from very different angles the two had many interests in

common. They both loved folklore and urban myth, and Rachel listened

to Mulder's story of his encounter with the Jersey Devil withn great

interest. They both had an interest in the extraordinary powers the

human mind might possess, and by the time they got around to desert,

a rice pudding with cinnamon, the candles were mostly burning quite


Eventually the conversation got back around to ritual magick. "I do have quite a collection of books on the subject, most of them quite old. And although older does not always mean better some of them can be quite poetic. Would you like to look at a few? That is after all why you came over here," Rachel said smiling wryly.

"I'd love to," Mulder replied, smiling warmly and just touching her hand as it lay on the table.

Rachel smiled back for a long moment, then blinked and got up to go over to her bookcase. "It might be easier for us both to read this on the sofa," she said as she bent down to pull out a slim golden leather bound book. Mulder brought their glasses over to the sofa, and Rachel came over with the book and sat next to him.

"Here," she said, opening the book on their knees and taking her glass from his hand. "An old spell book I found, full of gentle magic."

"Gentle magic, like white magic?"

"White and black are just colours Mulder. There is magic that is harsh and tries to force the world and Her people to bend to it's will, and there is magic that is gentle, and tries to work in harmony with what She wishes."

"Well, it is always a good idea to pay attention to what a woman wants." Mulder smiled.

"Indeed. Things do tend to work out better that way." Rachel smiled back, then took a sip of her drink and turned back to the book, turning pages idly and scanning through the titles.

"So, what gentle magick could I learn from here?" Mulder asked and moved up next to her to see the book better. He put his drink on a side table.

"Well, let us see," Rachel said, finishing her drink and putting the glass down next to the sofa bed. "Rituals for spring planting, spells for ripening, thanks for the harvest... it's a very practical book. Mostly concerned with the wheel of the year."

"The witches sabbats. Solstice, Equinox, Samhain, Imbolc, Lammas and Beltane," Mulder said softly.

"Yes... the Goddess and the God... death, birth, growing, celebrating their love..." Rachel replied equally softly, looking into his wonderful eyes.

Mulder slipped his arm around her, drew her to him and gently kissed her.

Rachel closed her eyes and let the book fall forgotten to the floor.

She moved her hand to touch his face... his chest...

Mulder's cell phone rang.

He tried to ignore it but it kept on ringing, so he leaned back and said "Just one moment, okay?" and leaned over to get the phone out of his coat pocket. "Mulder."

"Mulder, it's Scully. I'm at Carrie Walker's apartment. She's been kidnapped."

"What?" Mulder asked, sitting bolt upright. "When?"

"About five minutes ago. She phoned the sheriff's station to say Ferris was banging on her door and wouldn't leave, then the phone went dead. By the time we got here she was gone. Mulder, the place is a mess. She must have been really fighting."

"Well do you have any idea where she is now?" Mulder asked, picking up his jacket and putting it back on.

"Mulder, what's..?" Rachel started to ask but Mulder waved her quiet.

"None. Sheriff Charnley is getting search parties together now, but nobody saw them leave and we have no idea which direction they were headed in," Scully said, frustrated.

"I'll ask Rachel if she has any ideas. We'll be right there," Mulder finished and put the phone back in his pocket, finished pulling his coat on.

"What's happened?" Rachel asked.

"It's your sister, Carrie. She's gone, we think taken by Ferris."

"Oh no. How could he? That bastard. You don't know where he'd go? I have no idea, we didn't exactly move in the same circles." Rachel said angrily.

"You're sure? No ideas? Even a little thing might help."

"Agent Mulder I had as little to do with that... man.. as was humanly possible. My sister was always prattling about how he'd take her as far away from here as she could imagine. I've always been a little worried about that. I mean, the next life is pretty far away, right?"

Mulder took hold of her shoulder's gently and looked her in the eyes. "Rachel, we will do all that we can to get your sister back safely. Believe me."

Rachel looked at him a moment, then nodded. She broke away and brushed her hand across her eyes. "You'd better get going. I'll try my best from here," she said, keeping her back to him and starting to push the remains of their meal out of the way roughly.

Mulder looked at her a moment, then nodded. "Okay. I'll call you," he said, paused another moment, then left.

It seemed like half the town turned up in response to Sheriff Charnley's call for search parties. He stood in his office over the map and directed various groups to check this little wood or that old building, but no one found anything.

Then about an hour into the search Rachel walked in carrying a crystal pendulum.

"You found anything yet?" Neil asked her.

"Carrie's in woods somewhere, in the dark. Caleb says she's freezing cold. Now I've got myself in the right mind I thought I could borrow your map," Rachel replied, all business. Neil stepped aside and gestured for her to help herself. Rachel stepped forwards, closed her eyes, and dangled the crystal pendulum from one hand while she moved the other slowly across the map.

"Sheriff, what exactly is going on here?" Scully asked quietly.

"Oh, Rachel always helps with missing persons cases this way. Sometimes she finds them, sometimes she can't get anything. This time it's family, so there's hope. We haven't anything else to go on anyway," Neil replied in a hushed voice, watching carefully. Mulder looked on, interested.

They stood that way for a moment, then Rachel paused over the map.

The pendulum, which had been swinging front to back, started moving side to side. She moved her hand back a fraction, and the pendulum started moving in circles. She opened her eyes. "Morgan's Copse, up towards the Old Ries place," she said firmly.

"That's near where we found Aaron." Neil supplied for the two agents, then glanced over at Rachel who had obviously made the connection too and was looking very afraid. Neil grabbed his jacket and torch and radioed for a couple of groups to be sent over that way, sending Rachel back to her place until they knew it was safe.

They arrived up near the little group of trees, as did Caleb in his truck with a bunch of blankets and hot food and drink. Those that had arrived before them reported that they had seen a light for a moment in there and they had the place more or less surrounded.

Mulder and Scully took their torches and, keeping the beams low to the ground, they headed in, with the sheriff right behind them.

It was a nerve wracking few minutes covering the open ground between them and the dark under the trees. They didn't know if Ferris was armed, or how desperate he was. When they were near enough though they heard him talking to Carrie.

"Now I'm not an unreasonable man. You know that. We had something, you and I." He was saying, as the agents crept closer. "We had a deal. You would become my wife tomorrow afternoon, and tomorrow night I would take you as far away from here as you can imagine, just like you always wanted."

The agents were under the trees by now, and they could see firelight just ahead in a small hollow.

"And you know, with me, a deal once made cannot be broken!" he said angrily and raised his fist to hit Carrie where she lay bound and gagged by the fire. In that moment he noticed the approaching officers and changed the gesture to fling something in the fire, which exploded with a flash and temporarily blinded them, leaving them alone in the clearing with Carrie sobbing and mist lapping around their ankles.

"Damn," swore the sheriff, then got on the radio to those watching, "He's escaping on foot, don't let him get away."

But those outside the woods had seen nothing, and there was no trace left of Luc Ferris.

Carrie was untied and led back to her brothers truck, where she was wrapped up warmly. He drove her back into town, where she decided to stay the night with her sister Rachel.

The sheriff and some of his search parties along with the two agents kept on looking for Ferris, but by dawn there was no trace and so

Mulder, Scully and most of the searchers got some sleep, while Sheriff Charnley co-ordinated the wider search.

It was just getting dark on Halloween night when Rachel went out for groceries, so she lit the lanterns on the way. They looked spooky but reassuring gleaming in the dark. Carrie stayed inside, curled up in a blanket sipping a hot drink.

When Rachel returned she was loaded down with bags. She had to put them down on the street to get her keys out and slide the door open, and when she picked up all the bags again she dropped the little pentagram key ring. She crouched for a moment and tried to pick it up again with a spare finger, then just scooted it towards the inner doors with her foot.

Right then the lanterns dimmed and something cannoned into her back, knocking her halfway through the swing doors.

Her shopping smashed all over the floor, and when she tried to twist around to see what had happened she saw Ferris, who grabbed her and twisted her arms behind her back. She screamed as loud as she could and kicked up at him but he grabbed her by the hair and slammed her face into the floor hard until she was still.

"Oh my god, Rachel!" Carrie yelled, spinning around to see what had happened and then turning to run. Ferris lunged after her.

Sheriff Charnley came running out of his office pulling his gun out and saw Ferris lunging in through the doorway. he brought up his gun, but Rachel pulled herself up by the edge of the door and blocked his shot. He ran in as Rachel tried a step forward and fell again, but he couldn't look to see how she was right then. Ferris had hold of Carrie and they were rolling around on the floor, so Neil dropped his gun near Rachel and dived in to the fight.

He pulled Ferris away from Carrie, who was pushing and kicking at him, but then Ferris twisted round and locked his hands around Neil's throat and it was all he could do to hold them enough apart he could breathe. Carrie grabbed a candle stand and whacked Ferris round the head a couple of times, then dropped it and ran again as he turned around and tried to grab at it. Neil tried to get up and follow him but he could barely catch his breath.

"Neil!" Rachel croaked woozily, and slid him his gun. He grabbed it up and brought it to bear and fired, twice.

Ferris froze a moment then fell.

Carrie sobbed hysterically and stumbled back towards them. Neil rubbed his throat a little and then levered himself up and went to check on Rachel.

"Oh, Goddess. Rachel, Rachel. How could I have let him do this to you?" he sobbed when he saw her. Her face was a mass of scratches, two black eyes seemed to be forming already and her nose looked broken. Neil gathered her up and hugged her.

"Not your fault." Rachel mumbled, putting an arm up around him.

"Remind me to paint some wards on the porch floor next time."

"Rachel." Neil whispered into her hair. He picked her up gently and started carrying her over to his office. "Come on, I'll get you fixed up," he said. Carrie sniffled a bit and followed them over the road.

Once there Charnley called medics for Rachel and phoned Mulder to tell him what had happened. Carrie phoned Caleb and told him Ferris was dead.

When the two FBI agents arrived though that suddenly became much less certain.

The doctor was in the office with Rachel and Neil was hovering to make sure she was okay. When Mulder and Scully arrived he took a last anxious look and then led them over the road to see for themselves.

The barn was dark, the candles and lanterns gone out. The sheriff stepped over the spilled grocery bags and said "He came right in here, right under my nose, to try and get Carrie. Damn near did too. That man is strong! But all the muscle in the world won't stop a bullet..." he concluded as he flicked the light switch and turned to gesture to where Luc Ferris.... wasn't any more. "What on earth?" he exclaimed.

There were marks from where Ferris had stepped in the spilled shopping, all around the area the fight took place, but there was no blood. And the only footprints leading out were those made by Charnley and Carrie.

"He was right here, I swear it. I shot him twice at point blank range. There is no way he could havesurvived that!" Charnley swore.

"You didn't check?" Scully asked, pulling out her gun and quickly looking around the room.

"Well, no. The man went down. I saw it."

"Down does not always mean dead sir. Get some searchers in here.

I'll check towards his place," Scully said, moving out of the door and heading down a side alley.

"I'll go check out the barn. If he actually believes in this deal it's where he is sure to turn up," Mulder said, running off. Charnley stood for a moment then hurried back in to his office to call out the help again.

Scully headed down the darkened alley looking carefully for any signs that Ferris had been that way. An occasional streak of white on the walls could have been flour from his jacket, but she didn't see him.

The alley came out onto second street and Scully turned right, towards both Luc's apartment and the alley the black cat bar was in.

As she approached that alleyway, she thought she saw a shadow move in a doorway. She brought her gun up.

"FBI! Come out with your hands up!" she shouted, stepping towards it slowly.

The shadow resolved itself into a bruised and beat up looking Ferris, who looked at her then took off down the alley. Scully gave chase immediately. She had to dodge around some trash cans and for a moment he was out of sight but she kept up with him. He ran down the dark alleyway towards the glowing neon of the bar sign for the Black Cat Bar. There was a bouncer on the door, but he nodded and waved Ferris in. As Scully came running up the bouncer stepped in the way "Sorry lady, private party.. hey, what are you..?" He exclaimed seeing her gun and grabbing for her.

"FBI!" Scully yelled, yanking out her ID. He let go of her in a hurry and she pushed past as he tried to step out of the way.

Inside the light was even dimmer than usual, as the room was hung about with orange and black paper and little glow in the dark skeletons. The place was full of vampires dancing with ghouls and zombies to the booming music, and for a moment Scully couldn't see Ferris through the crowd. The a gap opened up and she saw him running towards the back. She brought her gun to bear yelling "FBI! Stop where you are!"

Ferris got to the back corner of the bar near the flashing light of the sign and saw the fire door was chained shut. He spun around, saw Scully in the doorway with her gun aimed right at him, and started to reach into his coat. Scully fired.

Ferris jerked from the shots then fell with a crash, knocking down a table. Scully saw him on the floor in a heap and moved towards him but then the costumed people started screaming in panic and running for the door, and she got pushed aside. She got her cell phone out to call Mulder.

The barn doors were open as Mulder approached. Caleb's truck was parked outside and as Mulder neared Caleb came out carrying a box full of brightly wrapped parcels. "Agent Mulder, what's happened?" Caleb asked, seeing Mulder had his gun out.

"It's Ferris, he's alive. Have you seen him?" Mulder asked urgently.

"Ferris? But Neil said he'd shot him! Caleb exclaimed, dropping the box and heading back in to the barn. "Carrie! Carrie, come on, we're getting out of here. You too Zeb."

Inside the barn a big table had been set up to hold the presents and food for the wedding. The whole place had been cleaned and covers put over the hay bales and the messier equipment. There were streamers hanging from the roof and the old sword up on the wall had been polished up and had a couple of streamers tied to the hilt. Carrie and Zeb were busy filling boxes.

"What are you doing back in here? I thought you'd agreed not to come in here tonight. this is the first place Ferris will come," Mulder said, moving in to the barn and looking around into the shadows.

"Luc is dead, isn't he?" Carrie asked.

"Not no more it seems." Caleb answered grimly. "Come on, we're leaving."

"But the drink.." Zeb said, grabbing for a bottle. Caleb got him by one shoulder and started trying to move him.

Mulder's phone went. He reached into his coat and got hold of it.


"Mulder, it's Scully. I got Ferris, out in the alleys. I had to shoot him."

"He's dead? You're sure of that?"

"Of course I'm sure Mulder. I hit him at least twice," Scully said, moving back in to the bar now the rush had cleared. "Wait a minute. Mulder, he was.." and abruptly the phone went dead. "Mulder?

Mulder!" Scully said, and started to run towards the barn. The bar was empty. Luc Ferris had gone again.

In the barn, just as Scully discovered the 'body' was gone, the doors slammed shut behind them and the electric lights all went out, leaving only a dim glow from the now flickering lanterns. Mulder spun around and raised his gun, but it was knocked out of his hand by some force before he could bring it to bear on the figure in the doorway.

It was Luc Ferris, beat up with holes in his jacket but very much alive.

Around his feet a mist appeared, and started moving up to cover the doorway, glowing green.

"Hello Zeb. I told you this deal could not be broken." Luc sneered quietly.

"Demon! Devil! you get away from my family, you hear. I never agreed to this!" Zeb yelled, shaking his fist and stepping between Ferris and the twins.

Ferris glided forwards trailing mist behind him. "Everything that is yours in this barn tonight. That was the deal. And you can't say I haven't kept up my end of the bargain." He hissed. Zeb swung at him, and Ferris caught his arm and twisted sharply. The snap echoed through the room as Zeb's arm broke, and he howled in pain. Ferris pushed him back, where Zeb fell in a heap.

"Now, Carrie. I think we have a deal of our own to consummate." He leered, and moved towards her.

"Get back where you came from!" Caleb yelled, and grabbing a pitchfork from under a tarp he ran forward to try and impale Ferris.

Meanwhile Mulder had seen the sword up on the wall and he climbed up to grab it. Without letting himself think about it he swiftly cut his arm and let the blade get red, then turned just as Caleb yelled and started reading the incantation from memory.

"Foul rebel spirit, turn back! In the name of the holy I exhort you!"

Mulder declaimed, jumping down a level on the hay. Ferris had grabbed the pitchfork and snapped it in two, flinging Caleb back in a heap against the wall. now he turned and hissed, his face twisted and hateful. "Abhorrent creature of hell, Nature rejects you!"

Mulder continued, "Begone, Go back, Return, Depart!" And on this final word he leapt down just as Ferris leapt for him, and for a moment all was confusion as Luc Ferris' nails scratched at Mulder's face, then he fell back, a look of surprise on his face as he looked down to see the sword had run him through. He looked up at Mulder one last time with hatred in his eyes, then dropped to the floor dead.

Right then the lamps steadied and Scully burst in through the barn doors, gun drawn.

"It's all right Scully. This time he's not coming back," Mulder said, cradling his injured arm and looking down at the body, it's face still twisted into a sneer.

"Mulder! What's happened to you? Here, come out here into the light and let me take a look. I'll call an ambulance," Scully said, concerned, and led him out of the barn.

Caleb and Carrie followed them, leaning on each other. Carrie stopped for a moment next to the body, and spat on it. Then they limped out.

Zeb was left lying there, unconscious.

After a moment, when the barn was empty except for Ferris and Zeb Walker, a rush of flames sprang up around Ferris' body. They quickly spread through lamp oil spilled in the fight until they reached about where Zeb was lying and then suddenly there was an explosion of flames, filling the barn instantly with a large boom. The shock knocked those outside to the ground.

"Zeb!" Caleb yelled, trying to get back in for the old man, but the fierce heat drove him back. The fire truck was there in only a few minutes, but they couldn't get the fire under control and by morning it had burnt itself out, reducing everything but the metal in that barn to a fine ash, though curiously the adjacent buildings never caught light.

Later, when Scully was typing up her report, she noted that 'although there is little or no evidence that Luc Ferris was anything other than a small time crook with a big attitude, the people of Olmory are already turning his story into local legend. The fire at the old Walker barn was so intense, fuelled no doubt by forgotten chemicals stored there, that only a few fragments of bone could be recovered, not enough to make any sort of identification. Rumours persist that the fire was started when the gates to hell opened in that barn, to take Zeb Walker and the demon he had made a deal with.' When the two agents were getting ready to leave the sheriff's office to go home, Rachel Walker came out of her house holding something long and metallic.

"Mulder!" she called across to him when he was about to climb in the car, and ran round to meet him. "I thought you might want this. For later," she said, and held out the old sword he had used in the barn.

Although the streamers had burnt away it otherwise looked if anything better for it's stay in the flames.

Mulder lifted his hands to hold it in front of him. He looked at it thoughtfully.

"You think I might need it again?" he asked, looking into Rachel's eyes.

She held his gaze for a moment, then dropped her eyes to look at the blade. "Well..," she said, tracing a finger along the flat, "I don't want to believe... but.. better safe than sorry." She finished, looking back up at him, and closing his hands around the sword so he had a firm grip.

Mulder nodded solemnly, then leaned forward to kiss her on the cheek.

"Thank you," he said, then got into the car. Rachel watched for a moment, then as the car started up she turned and walked in to the sheriff's office, blinking hard.

"You don't really think you'll need that?" Scully asked as she moved off and Mulder tried to store the sword on the back seat.

Mulder remembered the boy he had helped with the exorcism of, and the cases of doctors killing their patients whilst apparently possessed, and shuddered. "You know Scully," he said, turning to watch the road ahead, "I think that is one thing I don't want to believe."



This story was first written for the SPCDD short'n'spooky halloween competition

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