Title: Nobody Home
Author: Gerry Hill
Written: Oct 31, 1999
No spoilers
Rating: PG
Classification: X,A
Disclaimer: This story is based on the characters and situations created by Chris Carter, the Fox Network and Ten Thirteen Productions. As such, the characters named are the property of those entities and are used without permission, although no copyright infringements are intended. The following work is for the entertainment of fanfic members only. Any further distribution of this work without the author's consent is in violation of international law.

Summary: What Mulder always thought was a nightmare may have really happened.

Thanks: To Helen and Ten for quickly beta-reading this story.

Providence, R.I.
October 31, 1999
3:57 PM

The third house they visited that afternoon turned out to be much more than Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully had bargained for.

The two FBI agents had been pulled out of Washington, D.C. and assigned to assist in a massive search for an escalating serial killer in the Providence area. The local Bureau office had set up a task force and all favors were being called in for this effort.

"So we're what? A *favor* to the Special Agent in Charge? What's his name? Oh, yeah, Skinner's old pal, Lieski."

Dana Scully silently agreed with her partner but aloud only said, "You should want to stop this killer, Mulder, no matter how we came to be on the case."

He looked as though she'd slapped him.

She sighed and signaled to turn down a quiet tree-lined street in the older part of town. He was smart enough to know that she wasn't criticizing his humanity. They were both just very tired. Unfortunately, sniping at each other had become routine the past few hours.

The murderer they sought had been raping and strangling young women over a seven month period, never ranging far from the city limits of Providence. At first, only one killing had taken place every ten weeks. That had changed about a month ago, when one woman every week had been found, and in this last week, there had already been two murders.

As Scully again made a left turn, this time to go down a dead-end street toward their destination, she reflected on the fact that neither her skills as a pathologist nor her partner's skills as a profiler had been utilized. Instead, they'd been sent out to check a list of addresses where suspicious goings-on had been reported. Grasping at straws, in other words.

"What's supposed to be strange about this house?" she asked. "You have the list."

In a bad Bela Lugosi accent, he said, "Screams in the night." He shrugged and commented, "Probably dogs howling, since the cops didn't find anything when they answered the call."

A movement from the side of the road caught her eye and she slammed the brakes on, hard, as a couple of children dashed across the road in front of their vehicle. They were dressed as a ballerina and a black cat, and were giggling, seemingly unaware of the close call.

Mulder, caught completely by surprise by the sudden stop and squeal of brakes, was thrown against his seat belt momentarily and then thudded back against the seat.

"Shit! It's only four o'clock. What are they doing out trick or treating so early?"

"They're probably headed to a friend's house for a party. Lots of parents do that now instead of the traditional trick or treat thing. It's becoming dangerous for kids to wander around dark neighborhoods these days, not to mention the joy of biting into a an apple and finding a razor blade."

Mulder winced. "I always knew there were real goblins out there."

She pointed to the end of the street.

"That seems to be our next stop."

Mulder could see two brick posts framing an asphalt driveway that disappeared into a profusion of large oaks. The property seemed to be extensive, perhaps one of the last remaining estates in the area.

But there was something about the place...he shivered, suddenly feeling a reluctance to go up that driveway. The opening reminded him of a mouth, and the strip of asphalt a tongue...

He realized suddenly that Scully had resumed driving toward that menacing opening, and he watched in horrified fascination as they entered. It got darker immediately, with the heavy growth of huge, old trees all around them, even though most of the leaves had fallen. It was a gloomy, overcast day anyway, with a threat of rain to come.

Scully sensed Mulder's stillness and the way he was eyeing their surroundings. So when he gasped and turned pale, she was aware of his reaction to seeing the house. She pulled to a stop in the circular drive and they were able to get an unobstructed view.

The white three-story wooden structure loomed up out of the gloom of the day in the middle of a large clearing. It was truly a mansion, but time hadn't been kind to the old building. The paint was peeling, shutters were missing, some windows were broken, and it badly needed re-roofing.

"Mulder? What's wrong?"

He didn't answer her, and he wasn't losing any of that pallor.

His eyes tracked over the edifice as he considered how the thing seemed to crouch, listening to them.

"I've been here before," he finally murmured, not taking his eyes off the place for a second.


Still staring at the house, his voice cracked as he said, "I...thought it was a dream."

"What happened when you were here, Mulder?"

He took a deep breath and let it out in a harsh sound. "I saw...something."

Turning to her, his eyes dark and intense, he continued, "Picture a sullen, thirteen-year-old kid, with a chip on his shoulder. My attitude got so bad that my Mom even noticed, and she sent me to Providence to stay with my cousin Scott for a week. I guess she figured I could be somebody else's problem for awhile."

His eyes briefly fluttered closed, but then he looked down at his clenched fists as he said, "Sorry. You don't need to hear all about my teenaged angst."

Before she could say anything, Mulder's voice took on a firmer tone, as though he was determined to get it all out now that he'd begun.

"Anyway, we were riding bikes down this way one evening and I glimpsed the house through the trees. That was twenty-five years ago, so those oaks weren't so thick and tall, and all the leaves had already fallen. The house was abandoned even then, and to all teenagers, a "haunted" house was the perfect test of one's bravery. Scott dared me to go inside the place for five minutes. He claimed that he and all his friends had passed this test before, and now it was my turn."

Mulder was speaking more rapidly, clearly nervous about what he was relating. "I guess I was more curious than scared, so there was no hesitation as I climbed those rickety wooden steps to the front door. I remember looking back once, just before stepping through the unlocked entry and seeing Scott standing out on the lawn, his eyes big as saucers. I found out later that neither he nor *any* of his friends had ever dared go into this place."

Clearing his throat, he seemed to be seeking strength to continue with the next part. Scully's hand lightly grasped his forearm in a reassuring gesture, and he picked up the tale.

"It was pretty dim in there, but I could make out most things, like the furniture. It was all covered up, and a thick layer of dust was coating everything. I walked through the living room and saw nothing particularly frightening, so I decided to go up the main stairway. On my way up, I noticed there were other footprints in the dust and thought they had been left by Scott and his buddies. I was wrong."

He licked his dry lips and whispered, "Scully. In the first room at the top of the stairs I saw...a monster. It was feeding on the corpse of a little boy. The razor-sharp teeth were dripping blood and I could see strips of flesh hanging from them when it turned to look at me."

A sob hitched in his throat.

"I can still see those awful greenish- yellow eyes seething with hate, boring into my soul. The thing came for me then and I turned and ran. It was right behind me all the way down the stairs. It ripped at me as I flung myself at the front door, snagging my jacket with its claws. Somehow I slipped out of the jacket and made it out that door. I've had nightmares about it catching me ever since."

He covered his face with his hands, murmuring, "I must have repressed the event and dealt with it as a nightmare all these years."

Mulder lowered his hands slowly, staring at the house in front of them. "But that's the same house, Scully, so it had to have been real all along."

With her hand still on his arm, she said, "Mulder, don't you think it probably *was* a nightmare? This house could just remind you of that other one."

He shook his head, and when he spoke, there was no doubt in his voice.

"That outbuilding is where we left our bikes." He pointed to a gazebo-like structure to the right of the main house. It was completely enclosed and had a distinctive octagonal shape.

"And that bedroom is where I saw...what I saw." His gaze lifted to the corner second story window.

Shaking off the creepy feeling that her partner had given her with his horrible story, she unbuckled her seat belt and said, "Well, let's put your childhood demons to rest. This house was assigned by the task force to be investigated, so let's do our job and go in there. Ready?"

When she didn't hear a response, she looked at Mulder and saw a frightened man. His knuckles were white where they gripped the dashboard as he peered out at the house, and beads of sweat were visible on his forehead. He had confronted some pretty terrible things in his lifetime but she'd never seen him like this.

"I'll back you up, partner. Let's go," she said, and got out of the car. Mulder must have shored up his courage, because he, too was standing next to the car a few seconds later.

"Promise you'll protect me, Scully?" He gave a tentative smile as he still watched the house.

"Yep." She ostentatiously checked the clip in her weapon, making his smile more genuine.

"Just on the remote chance our killer *is* here, why don't I go around back, Scully, and see if I can get in that way, while you check the front door?"

She could see that he wanted to save a little face after exposing his demons as he had. Entering the big, bad house alone could shore up his confidence.

Giving him a smile, she nodded her agreement with the plan.

They approached the rotting steps together, and then Mulder swerved to follow the building to the right, soon disappearing around the corner. They both held their weapons in their hands.

Scully was very careful about where she placed her feet as she climbed the unstable stairs. As she stood before the huge door she clearly felt a chill run down her spine and felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. God, I'm letting him get to me, she thought.

Armed with the blanket warrants issued by the judge, she didn't have to knock but did anyway. The sound made by the heavy knocker was strangely muffled, as though it were coming from under water. A stray thought struck her suddenly: Now it'll know I'm here.

Still feeling strangely off-kilter, Scully turned the knob and pushed the unlocked door inward, which obligingly creaked and groaned as it swung open. Then she moved over the threshold and into the house.

Mulder found a large door built diagonally against the back of the house, slanting over a basement entrance. He lifted the heavy door and hooked it into the metal eye above so it would stay open. Then he took his flashlight, playing the beam over the steps into the dark hole in the ground. An aroma of decay was immediately evident.

This was always the part he hated. If there was a bad guy around, Mulder would be helpless during those first steps into the pit below.

He made it down to the third treacherous, steeply-sloping step before the world exploded on him.

When he could move and think again, the intense pain in his shoulders and his head made him wish he were still oblivious. The pitch-dark surroundings told him that he was either blind or that the door had fallen shut. The obvious answer, he realized, was that the hook which had held the door open must have pulled out of the rotten wood, allowing the heavy door to slam into his head and back. He was dizzy, hurting, and wasn't sure how long he had been unconscious, lying on the cold, uncomfortable dirt floor.

Something lightly scuttled over his hand and he shook it, figuring it had to have been a spider. A large spider. He retrieved his still-working flashlight and gun after reluctantly feeling around in the dark. A quick check of his surroundings revealed that there was no way he could get into the house from the basement...someone had thoroughly boarded up any access.

Waves of pain suddenly shot through his head and shoulders and he had to sit down on the steps for a minute. The nagging bad feeling he had about Scully being left alone up in the house pulled him back to his feet, however. He managed to lift the heavy door again, nearly blacking out in the process, and made his way to the front of the house. As he approached the front, a hopeful glance at their car revealed no partner in sight.

Mulder found the door of the house to be locked and wondered if Scully had managed to gain entry. He peered into the side window and could see nothing of the dim interior at first. Then he saw movement and tried to focus on what it was he was seeing.

A gasp was torn from his chest as he recognized the creature from his past memories. The image was blurry, but he could see that it had Scully in its scaly grip.

He shouted her name but the thing only looked over at him with a menacing grin, sharp teeth catching the dim light. Scully was limp in its grasp.

Mulder was beyond frantic. Not wasting another second, he reversed the grip he had on his gun and forcefully hammered at the glass and wood of the multi-paned window, ignoring the cuts his hand was receiving.

Impatient with the time it was taking to get to Scully, he ducked his head and dove through the partially cleared window. Glass and splinters shattered, raining down into the room along with his body, all coming to rest on the dusty wooden floor.

The unspeakable horror was now in the corner near the fireplace, holding a finger against his partner's throat. But that finger possessed a three-inch long razor-sharp claw. The curved tip was piercing the side of her throat and a drop of blood made its slow way down that white column and into the collar of her jacket. Her eyes were wide and unblinking and, for the first time since he'd met her, he couldn't read anything in those blue depths.

"Don't...don't hurt her," Mulder managed to say.

A dry, cackling sort of laughter filled the room.

Mulder wondered what kind of demon this might be. Or maybe it was simply another mutation like the flukeman. Whatever it was, it seemed deadly serious, and dangerous as hell.

"Disarm yourself," came the hissed demand.

As Mulder laid his weapon on the floor and shoved it aside with his foot, he thought about how this creature was fearful of his gun. So it wasn't some kind of spirit or demon, then, and it could be damaged or killed. He realized in some back corner of his mind how crazy that would sound outside this situation.

He tentatively took a step toward the pair in the corner, but drew in a sharp breath at the pain that encompassed his left leg. He realized as he glanced down that there was a deep gash in the thigh from when he'd plunged through the window.

This apparently amused the creature, for it whispered, "That's nothing. Wait until I get hold of you."

And it quite easily pulled its claw all the way across Scully's throat. A jet of dark blood arced out into the air, her strong, throbbing heart pushing the life out of her body with every beat. She made an awful gurgling sound and slumped to the floor, the blood nearly a lake now all around her.

"Noooo!" Mulder screamed. "Sculleee!" His knees hit the hard surface of the floor, knowing with deep despair that there was nothing left for him but to let the creature put an end to his life, too.

A voice kept calling his name and he moaned his irritation. When he sneezed from the dust, his head felt as though someone had slammed it with a board.

"Ohhh, God," he groaned. "Why aren't I dead?"

He forced his eyes to open slightly, and saw an angel caught in a beam of light.

The angel spoke. "Mulder? Can you hear me?"

He started to speak, cleared his throat, and tried again.

"I saw you die, Scully." His voice was filled with wonder.

"Sorry; you're still stuck with me, Mulder. You've had a hell of a blow to your head, you know. You're the one who came close to dying."

He was more confused than ever, and the massive headache wasn't allowing much sense to seep into his traumatized brain. All he knew was an overwhelming urge to weep in gratitude with the realization that Scully wasn't lying dead in all that blood....

Scully's flashlight probed the dark basement and she sighed.

"I had better call for an ambulance. You're in no shape..."

"No. You can check me out once we're at the car. I don't want to go to a hospital unless it's really necessary."

There was a long silence, but finally she agreed and helped him to his feet. She put his gun and flashlight into his hands as soon as she was sure he could stand up okay.

"I doubt that those crappy steps you came down will withstand another trip, they're so rotten," Scully said, after inspecting them with her flashlight. "We'll go up into the house instead, and out the front way to the car. Think you can make it?"

"But..." The formerly boarded-up access to the house wasn't blocked in any way now, he saw. All of the events since he had been whacked on the head must have been imagined. Nevertheless, there was a great reluctance to enter that creepy place.

Scully saw that he still seemed disoriented, and took his arm as she moved him gently toward the stairs.

"I've been all over the building, starting with the attic," she said, taking the steps very slowly for her partner's sake.

He hoped he sounded casual when he asked, "Did you find anything?"

"Nope. Lots of dust, though." She paused for a moment before adding, "Other than the monster hiding in the hall closet, the place is deserted."

Because the flashlights were aimed at their feet, she couldn't see the change in his face, but felt the muscles of his arm tense. She felt immediately contrite, since she knew how this place affected him.

"I was kidding, Mulder," she said, and tugged on his arm to keep him moving. They finally reached the door to the kitchen and halted for a minute once they were standing in the spacious room.

"It got dark," Mulder commented. The windows might normally have let in some moonlight, but not with the overcast conditions outside.

As he pulled his coat tighter around his body with a shiver, he noticed in the glow of the flashlights that Scully was doing the same. It hadn't seemed that cold in the basement, but up here, the chill went bone-deep.

Scully led the way down a corridor that passed several closed doors and then they dodged covered furniture as they passed through a spacious dining area. At last they reached the front of the house. Mulder immediately recognized the living room from his nightmare. It was the same, down to the stone fireplace and glass on the floor.

Glass on the floor?

His flashlight beam frantically swept over the front window, only to find it intact. Now very puzzled, he used the light to expose the corners of the room but found no one crouched there as he had feared.

Scully was at the front door, looking back at him, wondering what he was doing.

"It's still here, Scully," he said.

She immediately knew what he meant.

"I've checked this house thoroughly..."

"...and didn't find anything, I know. Nevertheless, that thing is here. Can't you feel it?"

Not one to admit easily to 'sensing' something, she firmly said, "No. Now get out here to the car so I can examine your injury, Mulder, or so help me God, I'll leave you here for the goblins."

She yanked the door open and walked out onto the porch, a little uncomfortable with being so sharp with him. But there *was* something about the house that disturbed her, and even standing outside didn't relieve the feeling.

Finally she could hear reluctant footsteps and soon Mulder was following her down the steps.

The creature watched from an upstairs bedroom window as the man and woman walked back to their car. They seemed to be arguing the entire time and continued the disagreement while the female examined the man's head, neck and shoulders in the back seat by the glow of the vehicle's overhead light.

She looked exasperated as she left him in the back seat. The woman got out of the car, slammed the door, climbed into the driver's seat, slammed that door, and then drove none-too-slowly off the property.

With a ghastly grin the creature clicked its claws against the windowsill for a moment, imagining how he would greet the man next time. Oh, the human would return, of that he was certain. Maybe even later tonight. A string of drool fell slowly to the floor at the thought.

The creature sensed not only the strength of the man's soul, but also his overwhelming need to find answers and to right wrongs. An evil, cackling laugh disturbed the silence of the room as it remembered seeing the man as a young boy the first time. Not much had changed. He still defied authority and recklessly endangered himself.

With a slithering sound, the thing moved slowly away from the window, sought out its nest, and settled down to wait.



P.S. I've been told that I don't normally receive feedback for my stories because I don't ask. This time, I'll try asking. :-)


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