Title: Nola
Author: Chris Munn
Category: X-File
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Revelations (sort of), All Souls (kinda)
Feedback: I welcome it all!
Disclaimers: not mine, never will be
Archive: only with permission

Summary: When the patients of a faith healer begin to die, Mulder and Scully must discover the source of the healer's abilities.

Introduction: This story clocked in as episode 15 in the X-Files Virtual Season. Lots of great stories and writers work on the VS, and you can check it out at www.angelfire.com/ky/ixnaysxfiles/index.html

11:30 PM
Glendover, Maine
August 17, 1999

Connie Franklin paced around her living room, screaming into the receiver of the telephone. She was extraordinarily upset, more so than she believed she ever been in her life.

"Don't give me that bullshit, Father!" she exclaimed into the phone, "I know what you did, I know what you did to him!"

She was an older woman, middle fifties, who had aged extremely well. She picked up a picture of her and her husband, Steven, and stared longingly at it.

"You changed him! That man is not my husband!"

With that, she slammed down the phone. Rage poured out of her body, and she could barely contain it. She finished her glass of brandy and walked down the hall, finally stopping at the doorway to her bedroom. In it sat a man, her husband Steven.

"Who are you?" she asked softly.

"Fraulein," he responded, with a thick German accent.

Tears began to stream down Connie's face, and she walked away sobbing. She entered the room at the other end of the hall and shut the door behind her.

Steven sat on the bed, almost oblivious to his surroundings. He was older, also, but had not aged as gracefully as Connie. His gray hair almost sparkled in the moonlight coming in from the window into the dark room.

Suddenly, he stood up from the bed and walked to the window. He opened up the blinds, exposing himself to the dark night. He watched his surroundings, until something odd struck his sight. It was a dog. Not just any dog, though. This one seemed rather large, almost deformed looking. Steven stood, studying the animal, when it began to run at the house quite rapidly. The dog leapt, crashing through the window. Steven screamed as the dog pounced on top of him, chewing at his aged flesh. The creature was relentless, not stopping until Steven's screaming became a faint whine.

Connie bolted out of her room, and entered her husband's room within seconds. Upon entering the room, she found Steven ripped to bloody shreds on the carpet, mangled almost beyond recognition. Her screams filled the air, and a dog howled in the night, far away.

1:30 PM
Glendover, Maine
August 18

"Can you tell us what happened, Mrs. Franklin?" Agent Scully asked.

The agent sat on the Franklin's couch, facing Connie, who sat in her rocking chair. Mulder paced behind his partner, simply observing.

The two had arrived in Maine only a half an hour earlier. Scully was suffering a little from exhaustion, but she was managing okay. It seemed as if they hadn't had time to rest for weeks. Constantly jumping from place to place. Fighting various monsters, aliens, and murderers. Frankly, Scully was beginning to wear down.

"I don't know what happened," Connie replied, "I was only gone for a few minutes. I was right in the next room, and then I heard a crash." She took a drink of her tea and caught her breath. "When I ran into the room the man was dead."

"The man? We were under the impression that the victim was your husband?" Scully interjected. She glanced behind her, looking at Mulder. She knew that he was just waiting for the moment to jump in. He hadn't even told her what this case was about, other than the report he handed her on the drive up.

"Agent Scully, that man was not my husband. In my eyes, Steven died several weeks ago."

"What do you mean?" Scully asked.

"He was different. Not in body, but in soul."

Mulder stopped pacing, and stood behind Scully. She knew that her partner had something to say.

"Mrs. Franklin, your husband had just gotten over an extensive stay in the hospital, right?" Mulder asked.

"He was in a coma, Agent Mulder," she replied quietly, "he had a stroke."

"When did his personality change begin?" he continued to ask.

"Right after he woke up, my husband spoke with a German accent. Steven couldn't speak German, he was from Kansas," she said on the verge of tears. "Listen, I can't talk about this anymore! Go talk to Father Abraham Settles. He'll tell you what he did to my Steven."

Mulder and Scully excused themselves to leave, but Scully lingered for a moment. She hesitated, staring at the crying figure before her.

"Mrs. Franklin," she asked calmly, "how long were you married?"

Connie looked up with tear-filled eyes and responded, "Almost thirty-five years."

"Thank you?" Scully asked. She then turned and walked outside where Mulder was waiting.

"What do you think?" Mulder asked.

"What do I think about what, Mulder," she responded frankly, "You've told me absolutely nothing about this case. A man was killed by a wild animal that broke through a window in his home. Sure, it's strange, but not unexplainable."

Mulder opened the car door for Scully, something he rarely did, and then walked to the driver's side.

"Scully," he said as he slid on his seatbelt, "what about the things she said about her husband being a different person?"

"People often are reported of having personality changes after a traumatic event, and being in a coma is definitely that."

"Scully, no matter what you're feeling about this so far, we still have another person to question."

"This Father Settles?" Scully asked without hesitation, "Who is he, Mulder?"

"He's a faith healer, Scully," he replied, "and he's supposedly the reason why Steven Franklin was out of the hospital."

2:48 PM
Glendover, Maine
August 18

The agents pulled up to the home of Father Abraham Settles, and were a little surprised at what they saw. The house was extravagantly large, almost too large for a priest to afford. They exited their car and advanced up the walk. Arriving at the porch, the door opened before them.

"Can I help you?" the man opening the door asked.

"Father Settles?" Scully asked.

"Yes, who are you?"

"Father, we're with the FBI, Special Agents Scully and Mulder. We would like to ask you a few questions about Steven Franklin. You knew him did you not?" Scully replied.

"'Knew' him? Yes, I know Steven." Settles said with a confused look.

"I'm sorry Father, but Steven Franklin was killed late last night." Mulder stated matter-of-factly.

"Oh dear lord," the Father said, "come in, please."

The older man led Mulder and Scully into the living room of his house, which seemed even bigger on the inside.

"Pretty lavish living conditions for a priest, huh," Mulder said under his breath, just loud enough for Scully to hear. Settles turned and offered the agents seats on his leather couch.

"How...how did it happen?" Father Settles choked out, clearly shocked by the news.

"He was apparently attacked by a wild animal that broke into his home," Scully responded, "He was mauled almost beyond recognition, and the animal escaped undetected."

"An animal? How odd," Settles said after a moment of silence.

"We were told some interesting things by Franklin's wife earlier," Mulder chimed in.

"Interesting things? What kind of 'things'?" Settles replied with a slightly different tone of voice.

"She said that you had changed her husband into another person," Mulder stated. He glanced at Scully, who looked almost embarrassed at Mulder's questioning.

Father Settles sighed, "Connie Franklin has her opinions about me and what I did for her husband. None of them, I'm afraid, are correct. I helped Steven more than anyone else could, the doctors were at a loss. I saved him," Settles hesitated for a moment, "No, I didn't save him. God saved him."

Mulder rolled his eyes in disbelief, a reaction that came almost without conscious thought. Scully noticed, and a fire was lit inside her. Cases of religion had come across the agents more than once before, and Mulder had always met them with the same attitude. Complete and utter disbelief. How could he, who believed in everything from aliens to ghosts to the damn Loch Ness Monster, be so unwilling to believe in acts of God?

"Father Settles," Scully said, "How did God save Mr. Franklin? I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean,"

"Do you know much about faith healing, Agent Scully?" Settles replies, "The laying on of hands?"

"I know a little, yes," Scully responded.

"The power of God flowed through my hands, into Steven's body, healing him of the coma inducing influence of Satan," Father Settles preached, raising his hands into the air.

Mulder decided that it was his turn to speak, turning directly toward the priest, "Father Settles, what kind of relationship did you have with Steven and Connie Franklin?" Scully was almost afraid of what questions were going to pop out of her partner's mouth.

"Quite well, actually," Settles replied, "they attended my service for many years."

"Then tell me something," Mulder continued, "Connie Franklin said that her husband spoke in a German accent. He wasn't German, was he?"

"No sir, he wasn't,"

"This event occurred after he awoke from his coma, after your 'miracle' was performed,"

"Agent Mulder," Father Settles interrupted, "I think I know where this is going. My abilities in no way attributed to Steven's death. Agent Scully, you yourself said that he was mauled by an animal. How could I have anything to do with that? And more importantly, why?"

Scully shot her partner a fierce look, cutting off his questioning. "Father, I apologize for my partner," Mulder, infuriated, excused himself from the room.

"Can I ask a favor, Father?" Scully asked.

"What do you need, Agent Scully?" Father Settles responded pointedly.

"Can we have the names of the other people you've...aided? Simply to do a little background checking. You are in no way under suspicion for anything, we simply need to cover our bases."

"Of course, dear,"

A few moments later, Scully came walking out of the priest's house. Mulder was standing by the car, keys in his hand, ready to go. The two agents got in the car silently, and Mulder turned the key and accelerated off.

"Mulder, I'm sorry about what happened in there," she said, breaking the silence, "but your line of questioning was becoming antagonistic. Father Settles has done nothing to arouse our suspicions."

"That's funny, Scully," Mulder responded with a tone of sarcasm, "but it seemed to me like you're unwilling to acknowledge that Settles could know something. Just because he's a man of God doesn't mean that he isn't capable of evil doings."

"Let's just drop this, okay?" she asked sharply, "I got us a lead to check out. Since you're so interested in faith healing, I got the names of the other four 'patients'"

4:18 PM Home of Angela Hopkins
Glendover, Maine
August 18

"Doesn't look like anyone's home, does it," Mulder said after knocking for the fourth time.

"It would appear that way," Scully replied, "Should we try back later?"

Mulder looked inside the home through the glass pane in the door. Scully sighed. Hopkins had been the second of Settle's miracle healings. Comatose from a car wreck, Angela Hopkins was awakened by Settles with no ill effects at all. Scully almost felt that this was an unnecessary lead to follow, but she went along to let Mulder have his way. How many times had she done this? Gone against what she felt in order to accommodate her partner's theories?

Scully's thoughts were interrupted by Mulder, who suddenly pulled his gun from the holster.

"Mulder, what is it?"

"Back me up, Scully," Mulder replied, "I see blood on the floor." With this, Mulder kicked the door in and advanced into the house. Scully pulled her gun and followed, her FBI training kicking in full force.

The agents moved through the house, until they reached the kitchen. The door had been broken off the hinges, and the room had been thoroughly destroyed. A body laid in the floor, mauled beyond recognition.

"Angela Hopkins?" Scully asked rhetorically.

"'Was that Angela Hopkins' would probably be a better question," Mulder replied while holstering his gun, "Better call the paramedics, as if it's going to do any good."

6:39 PM
Glendover Police
Glendover, Maine
August 18

"Thank you Mr. Eliza," Scully said into the phone receiver, "a police escort will be picking you up shortly."

She had been on the phone for the past half-hour, contacting the other three individuals Settles had apparently brought back from the brink of death. Eric Eliza, Sally Backwell, and Thomas Shaff had all been in comatose states of some form, and all had been awakened by Settle's healing touch. She had agreed with her partner that the best route to be taken was that of putting the remaining possible victims into protective custody. She was beginning to see that Settle's was more than likely the connection between the two deaths.

Mulder walked up to her and laid a piece of paper in front of her, "Got a surprise for you," he stated with sarcasm.

"What is it?" she asked while looking at the paper.

Before she could finish reading, Mulder was already explaining. "Fingerprints found at the scene of Hopkin's death, around the door frame. Fingerprints that were unidentifiable."

"What?" Scully asked with a startled expression.

"They weren't in the ICNC files or anywhere else," he replied, "But this tell us that there's a human element involved in this, and that it's not just random animal attacks."

"Mulder, maybe someone's training an animal, such as wolf or a dog, to kill people. It would make some sense," she said almost verbatim. Why did she always have to come up with a counter theory to Mulder's?

"That's a possibility," Mulder muttered, "but I'm convinced that Settles has something to do with this case."

"Mulder, why did we get this assignment? That's the one thing you haven't shared with me. Why were we asked to investigate an animal attack?"

"It would seem that Connie Franklin has to do with that," he replied, "She apparently has friends in the government. She also just put a lawsuit out on Settles, expecting him to take responsibility for her husband's death."

"That's interesting," Scully said under her breath.

"Listen, I think I'm gonna go take a look at the safe house the police are putting the three "saved souls" at. You wanna come along?" he asked.

"No," she said after a second's thought, "I think I'm gonna stay here and do a little research on something."

"Okay, see you in a few hours," he stated. Mulder then walked to the door and exited the police station.

Scully sat down at a desk and began to collect her thoughts. Why was Connie Franklin so convinced that Father Settles caused her husband's death? She sat for a few minutes, until she was startled by her cell phone ringing.

"Scully," she answered.

"Agent Scully? It's Father Settles," the caller said, "I hope I'm not catching you at a bad time."

"No, Father, not at all. What can I do for you?"

"I wanted to extend an invitation to you. I want you to witness God's work, tonight at St. Francis Hospital at 7:00."

"I can't speak for my partner, Father, but I would be very willing to attend," she replied.

"I'm not inviting your partner," Settles responded right before hanging up.

7:06 PM
St. Francis Hospital
Glendover, Maine
August 18

Scully exited the elevators and walked toward the hospital room of Alicia Whales. Whales was in a coma after a tragic car accident, not unlike Angela Hopkins. Whales' husband, Alan, had requested Settles aid after the doctor's had exhausted all resources.

"Ah, Agent Scully, so good of you to make it," Father Settles stated as she walked into the room. Whales laid in the bed, eyes closed. The only other people in the room were Alan Whales and Settles. "We're ready to begin, then."

Settles turned the lights out, and the only source of light came from the machines keeping Alicia alive. Settles walked to the bedside, and put his hand over Whales' forehead.

Suddenly, Whales began to glow with a holy incandescence, irradiating the room. Scully had to shield her eyes, the light was so intense. When the light faded, Whales remained in the bed, her eyes shut.

"What did you do?" Mr. Whales whispered softly. At that moment, Alicia opened her eyes and coughed.

"Oh my god," Scully said under her breath. The doctors rushed in from behind her, pushing the three out of the room. Whales sat down in a chair, unbelieving of what he had just witnessed. Father Settles was beaming.

"How did you do that?" Scully asked him.

"This is the power of sweet Jesus!" Settles exclaimed while raising his hands into the air, "Now do you understand, Agent Scully? I do no harm to these people, I only help God do his work."

Agent Scully was awestruck, unable to process what had happened, "Father, I need to go. I need to find my partner."

With that, she turned and walked away from the priest.

Scully sat in her car outside of the hospital. What had she just witnessed? Her every thought told her that it had been a miracle, an act of God. The rational side of her offered no differentiating opinion, therefore making her desire to disbelieve stronger. She sat in the car, stunned, until the silence was broken by her cell phone.

"Scully," she answered.

"Scully, it's me?" he asked, "Where are you?"

"Outside St. Francis Hospital," she replied.

"What are you doing there?"

"Mulder, I can't talk about it right now," she answered shakingly, "Why are you calling me?"

"They autopsied Angela Hopkins, and they found something quite strange. Some type of liquid substance in the wounds. I had it analyzed, and there were traces of sulfur and brimstone in it. Does that have any significance to what's at the hospital?"

"Mulder, Father Settles asked me to come here," she confessed. "He wanted me to witness one of his faith healings."

"...And," he prompted after a pause.

"Mulder, he brought a car wreck victim out of a coma. I witnessed it with my own eyes. I don't know how to explain it."

"Scully?" he asked with a sigh, "Can you set up an interview with this person? The one you saw 'healed'?"

"I can try," she responded.

"Okay, then I'll be there as soon as I can." With that, Scully heard the click signaling Mulder's hang up.

9:18 PM
St. Francis Hospital
Glendover, Maine
August 18

"You're not gonna be happy," Scully said to Mulder as he got out of the car.


"We have been denied access to Alicia Whales, the person Father Settles healed tonight. Her husband forbids it," she said.

"Just great," he said, obviously frustrated. "Well, at least let me tell you why I'm late. I had the liquid substance found in the victim's wounds analyzed further. This is the kicker, Scully, it was canine saliva."

Scully's eyes bore a look of confusion, "Canine? But how could canine saliva contain traces of sulfur?"

"I don't know," he answered, "but I know of someone who might."

Scully followed Mulder into the hospital, and ran smack into Father Settles.

"Just the man I wanted to see," he said to the Father.

"I'm a busy man, Agent Mulder," the elder replied, "What do you want?"

"We discovered the method used to kill Franklin...death by wild dog."

"I'm truly sorry to hear that, Agent Mulder," Settles said sadly, "but do you see now that I had nothing to do with this tragic event?"

"We'll see." He then turned and walked back outside, with Scully again following.

"That man knows something he's not telling us," he said infuriated.

"Mulder, we have no way of proving that," Scully said, attempting to calm her partner down.

"Scully, can you please humor me," Mulder asked, "and do me a favor?"

"What kind of favor?" Scully asked cautiously.

"Follow Settles for me,"

"What? Where are you going?"

"To the protection house," he replied, "I want to see what these other people have to say."

11:58 PM
Glendover Police Safe House
Glendover, Maine
August 18, 1999

Mulder pulled up to the safehouse, unsure of what he would find when he arrived. Scully had seriously been pissing him off ever since they left DC. Why does she contradict everything he says? When he finds something that's obviously paranormal in nature, she's right there to slap down his theory with her 'rational explanation'. But, when he comes across a case that has nothing to do with the paranormal, she believes whole-heartedly. Frustrated, he exited his car, unaware that he was being watched from the treeline.

The police guards let him in after a flip of his badge. Inside sat the three remaining people that Settles had 'healed.' Each one had no loved ones, no family of any kind. Therefore, there was no one to block his questioning of these witnesses.

First up was Mr. Erica Eliza, a cancer victim who had been left a vegetable by his disease. A visit from Settles cured him, or so everyone believed.

"Mr. Eliza, my name is Agent Mulder. I'm with the FBI. I'd like to ask you a few questions about Father Settles," he asked the man.

"I can't talk about that, Agent Mulder," he responded.

Meanwhile, outside, Officer White stood at the door. He finished his cigarette, stomping it out on the ground. He looked up, and saw a large, almost mutant-looking, dog standing before him. The dog leapt, catching White off guard. The officer was dead before he could utter a sound.

Back inside, Mulder attempted to push Eliza's questioning further. "Why can't you talk about it, Mr. Eliza? Are you afraid for your life?"

"Agent Mulder, I have an obligation to Father Settles. He did more for me than I can ever re-pay, in my former life or this one."

"What?" Mulder asked, pouncing on the statement Eliza had said.

Suddenly, Mulder heard gunfire in the adjoining room, followed by screams. He jumped up and upholstered his gun. He ran into the room, and found the police officers engaged in a firefight with a dog of some kind. Three officers were dead, mauled by the animal, and two remained standing.

The dog had blood running out of numerous bullet wounds, but it didn't even slow down. Its eyes glowed a demonic red, and it almost appeared to have sharp spikes protruding from its spine. Mulder watched the dog pounce on another officer, biting his face. Mulder began to fire, as he slowly backed into the next room. He looked around him, and saw that there were no exits from the room. He and the witnesses were trapped.

He heard the screams from the last officer die down, and the dog made it's way into the room. Mulder emptied his clip into the dog's torso, but it refused to drop. It jumped at Mulder, who barely managed to get his arm between the massive canine's teeth. The two fell back, and Mulder hit his head on the floor...hard. He could feel his world spinning, and he fell limp. The dog, however, did not advance on its attack. Instead, it turned toward the three witnesses. It mauled Backwell and Shaff, almost to the point where they were unrecognizable. Mulder, fighting for consciousness, heard Eliza as the dog attacked.

"NOOOOO!!!! I don't want to go back!" Eliza screamed. Then, there was silence. And with that silence, Mulder lost consciousness.

3:28 AM
St. Francis Hospital
Glendover, Maine
August 19, 1999

"Mulder?" Scully asked with concern.

"Where am I?" Mulder asked groggily. He opened his eyes, and saw that he was in a hospital bed. Bandages covered his arms, evidence of the dog bite that he had received. "The witnesses, Eliza, where are they?"

"Mulder, you were the only one to survive," Scully responded, "The three witnesses were dead, along with six police officers. You were lucky to make through as well as you did."

"It was a dog, Scully, a dog unlike I've ever seen!" he exclaimed. He attempted to sit up, but the room began spinning. He promptly fell back onto the bed.

"We know Mulder, there was a surveillance camera in the building. It showed everything,"

"Agent Scully?" a voice said from the door. It was one of the hospital orderlies, "We've been looking for you."

"Why," Scully said as she turned around.

"The patient you were here to see earlier tonight, Alicia Whales, is asking to see you," he replied.

Scully walked out of Mulder's room, and followed the orderly to Whales' recovery room. She entered, and was stopped by Whales' husband.

"Agent Scully, thank god," he said.

"What is it, Mr. Whales?"

"Question that woman, Agent Scully," he ordered "She is not my wife! Talk to her, find out what that priest did to her, please," he pleaded.

Whales' exited the room, and Scully slowly walked in. Alicia sat in the bed, with a wild look in her eyes.

"What do you want?" Alicia asked.

"I want to ask you some questions, I'm Agent Scully with the FBI. Your husband is worried about you, Mrs. Whales," Scully responded.

"I'm not Mrs. Whales," the girl stated quietly.

"I don't think I understand," Scully said as she pulled a chair up to the hospital bed.

"The priest told me not to say anything, or he'd send me back,"

"Father Settles threatened you?"

"Can I trust you, Ms. Scully?" she asked.

"Of course, I want to find out what's going on,"

"My name...my name is Abraham Blanken. I was born in 1963, and I died in 1982," she stated with a little hesitation, "I died, and I went to Hell."

"You went...to hell?" Scully asked, almost rhetorically. Her skepticism was shining through, no matter how hard she tried to hide it.

"Hell is unimaginable, Ms. Scully. Imagine your worst fears constantly bombarding you. Time has no meaning there, but last night, I saw a bright light above me. A hand extended from the light, and I reached up and grabbed it. I woke up in this bed, in a this woman's body."

"Father Settles did this?"

"Yes ma'am," Whales/Blanken replied, "He told me to simply enjoy my new life, and that if I told anyone he would send me back and give his gift to someone else."

"I'll be back in a moment," Agent Scully said as she stood up. She walked out the door, and stood for a moment. Father Settles was taking condemned souls from Hell and placing them into the bodies of coma victims. Scully was surprised at her thoughts, that she felt compelled to believe in extreme possibilities only when Mulder believed the opposite.

She looked up, and saw a man walking down the hallway. She started down the hall back to Mulder's room, passing the man. She got farther down the hall, and turned back around. The man entered Whales' room, and screams promptly erupted. Scully pulled her gun, and ran back to the room.

She flung open the door, only to find Whales' mangled body lying on the bed. The window had been broken out, leading to a three-story drop. The man was nowhere to be seen.

5:02 AM Home of Father Settles
Glendover, Maine
August 19, 1999

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Father Settles said as he raced to the door. He opened the door, finding Scully at his doorstep.

"Agent Scully, what are you doing here at this hour?" Settles said with an agitated voice.

"I'm sorry, Father," she responded, "but this is urgent. Besides, you don't appear to have been asleep," noting he was still dressed in his clothes and shoes.

"Agent Scully, I'm busy," he said while attempting to shut the door.

"Father, please," Scully said as he shut the door. She looked in the crack, and caught a glimpse of a man. The same man that she passed at the hospital.

Scully pulled her gun and kicked the door, knocking it open before Settles could latch it. She moved inside, holding the priest at gunpoint. She searched the room, and the man was nowhere to be seen.

"Who was that man? What do you know about these deaths?" Scully asked loudly.

"Please, Agent Scully," Settles pleaded, "you're in over your head. There are forces at work you can't begin to comprehend."

"Try me," Scully replied while waving her gun at him, motioning him to sit down. She backed against a wall, fully aware that the second man could still be in the house.

"Who is the man I saw a minute ago?" she asked.

"His name, or so he told me, is Nola Sticks. He appeared at my service one day, and offered me a gift. He told me that he was a messenger of God, and that he could empower me with the ability to heal the comatose. That 'man' was a liar, I just recently found out."

"Go on," Scully said, keeping her senses alert.

"Sticks killed my patients, Agent Scully, he wanted their souls. He's a demon, and he can't be stopped,"

"We'll see, Father," she said.

"Shall we?" a voice said. Sticks walked up, with the demonic dog following behind him.

"Stop right there," Scully said, pointing her gun at him.

Sticks continued to walk toward her, "Have you figured it out yet? I gave this poor pathetic priest a gift. He took souls from Hell, and transplanted them into new bodies. The former residents of these bodies became mine. My pet here killed the escapees, sending them back to me."

"Oh Lord," Settles whispered, "I condemned those people."

"Stop!" Scully yelled. Sticks walked closer, and Scully opened fire. The bullets hit him square in the chest, but he kept walking. He swung his arm, striking Scully's gun with the back of his hand. The gun flew wildly, and Sticks grabbed Scully by the throat.

"You should have left well enough alone, girl." He then threw her against a wall, knocking the wind out of her.

"Stop, demon," Settles said. Sticks turned to see the priest holding the gun on him.

"What are you going to do, old man?" Sticks asked, "Your soul was mine the second you agreed to our deal. You're my property, now."

With that statement, Settles whispered a prayer to himself. He then turned the gun on himself, firing into his temple. Sticks screamed with fury, "NOOOO!!!! His soul was mine!!!!"

Scully, unable to keep consciousness, blacked out listening to Sticks' cries.

9:38 AM
St. Francis Hospital
Glendover, Maine
August 19, 1999

Scully sat in Mulder's room, waiting for him to come out of the bathroom. She heard the toilet flush, and Mulder exited the room.

"Ain't nothing more refreshing then your asscheeks on cold plaster," Mulder joked.

He sat down on the bed, keeping watch not to hit his arm, "So Settles is dead?"

"Self inflicted gun-shot wound to the head," Scully replied.

"And his accomplice?"

"Gone, we haven't been able to track him down. The name Sticks is more than likely an alias," she replied.

"An alias?" Mulder questioned, "Scully, Settles told you what he was."

"I don't know if I can accept that, Mulder," she said softly.

"Well, taking Settle's account into play, I can at least explain the dog," he stated, "Cerebus; guardian of the gates of Hell, also know as the Nola. The name 'Nola Sticks' comes from that and the River Styx, which supposedly leads people into Hell."

"Mulder, why did all of this happen? What purpose did it serve?"

"I don't know,"

"The only result was the corruption and death of a once faithful follower of God," she said, "It wasn't his fault, Mulder."

"I know, Scully,"

"But, maybe that's what the 'demon' wanted," Scully said, sending both of the agents into a silence.



The End

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