Summary: Mulder and Scully get involved in one of their strangest cases ever. The sighting of a strange, man-shaped, winged figure causes Mulder to believe a lot of people are in grave danger on Martha's Vineyard. But does anybody really believe him?
Background: This story is slightly based on the movie The Mothman Prophecies, and the legend that tells the story on which the movie is based. It is a legend that has lived with people for nearly fifty years now, and keeps on interesting people all over the world. This fanfiction begins almost the same as the movie started, but then I have given it my own little twist XF-twist. This is NOT a crossover. For those of you who you are not familiar with the story, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/mothman/ where you can find a lot of information on the whole legend, and the movie. But don't worry, I'll explain it all as the story progresses. Type: MTA, MSR, lots of Angst First person, told by Mulder
"The first Mothman sighting came in early 1964. A woman, prominent in civic affairs in the town of Point Pleasant, was driving along Route 2 near the Ohio River with her father. As she neared the Chief Cornstalk Hunting Grounds, a large man-shaped figure walked out onto the road. Not knowing if he needed help, the woman slowed her car, when the figure spread two large wings and took off." - Extract from the Mothman Prophecies website
Prophecy Part one
1 I had never seen Scully this happy before. She was excited, thrilled even, at the prospect of being able to afford the super deluxe apartment we had just visited in Arlington. I had no idea that she was planning to move, until she called me early this morning to ask if I felt like going for a ride this
evening. Since I desperately needed a break from work even though I would never admit that to myself I agreed.
I offered to drive, as I usually did, and on the way over she told me she had been looking into a new place, since she was growing tired of her own place. I was surprised to hear that, since her apartment especially in comparison to mine was heaven. She only had the whole thing repainted a few years ago. Every single piece of furniture had her name written all over it. It was her haven. Her safety net, so to speak. But it was her choice of course.
"I always planned on staying there just for a short while," she explained as we drove towards Arlington. "It was always a bit too small, you know. With work and everything, I just had stopped planning on moving. My mother called me yesterday and told me about this condo. Friends of her are living there right now but they are moving to the Cape in a few months time. " I smiled at her story; surprised at the excitement she had felt. I knew of course Scully had too little time on her hands to do everything she wanted in life and I often felt guilty about it. I should not feel that way, I knew, since she was old and wise enough to take care of herself. But still. Perhaps, if she had not been working with me, she would have time to do everything she ever wanted.
By the time we arrived, evening fell and the street and house we were heading to, were both engulfed in darkness. The streetlights were down and the street felt cold and abandoned. I felt as if we were being watched. A few dogs barked and most of the houses were clearly inhabited. Hardly anyone walked down the streets. A quiet, calm neighbourhood it seemed. Safe, and perfect for a single woman. Guarded by the neighbourhood watch and men who wanted to protect their property. Scully held her breath as her mother's friends invited us in. They were a couple in their late fifties, moving to the Cape. The condo had friendliness and comfort written all over it. I loved it, even at first sight. And I knew my partner did too. I watched her as we were shown around the spacious living area with separate kitchen, the two large bedrooms, the beautiful bathroom and the terrace. Her eyes showed how much she liked it.
The price was steep of course, as could be expected in this area and for such a condo. She had to think about it, and get her money issues in order. But she was eager to continue this pursuit.
Outside I could feel a chill run down my spine. The streetlights were still out and one could actually feel the quietness fall like a blanket over us. Strangely enough, I Spooky Mulder felt uncomfortable too. I wanted to get in the car and drive off, towards the light. My god, I must have gone crazy. Blame it on the tiredness of the past weeks. I'd been working double shifts: on X-Files cases and doing a few profiles for Terence Davis, my former Assistant-Director who ran the VCU. I had slept three to four hours per night and now of course was paying the price.
I looked around, shook my head and stepped in behind the steering wheel, trying desperately to ignore that sense forewarning me something was about to happen. Stop it, you idiot. "Are you all right, Mulder?"
my partner asked with her head in the clouds. "You look exhausted. I should be the one driving. " I had not told my partner just how much I had been working and was not exactly planning on doing so now. She barely knew anything of my late night activities. I was good in concealing the truth, even from her.
"Nah, I'm okay," I said and started the car, pushing back that eerie feeling for a few moments. The car only started at the second attempt, and as we left the street, Scully started rattling on about how much she loved the condo. I listened to her and tried to concentrate, but my trained senses told me there was something going on. I looked outside the side window and peered into the night, and then before us.
Suddenly, it felt as if the world came to a stop and everything that existed around us was no longer there. I cannot explain it. Not even now. I saw something coming at us, throwing its body directly into our windshield. But it did not hit the car: it just flew through it, clapping with its immense wings. It was manlike, humanoid and yet at the same time as strange as anything I had ever seen before. Those eyes. They were so strange. And believe me, I had seen a lot. I think I shouted.
I don't know what happened next. The car seemed to slip off the road, straight into the ditch on the right side of the road. We moved forward and I could feel my head collide with the side window before the airbag even exploded in my face.
I could hear Scully scream.
Then everything just went pitch black.
2 The strange, man-like creature stared at me from a distance as I looked up. I could see it clearly in the darkness, despite the fact there wasn't a single light burning. It seemed to glow, staring in the darkness at me. I saw two red eyes. And it squealed. My god, that sound! I sounded like fifty people crying at the same time, combined with a horrible humming noise unlike anything I had ever heard before. I saw red and white lights in the skies. And it almost seemed as if the house we had just visited was on fire. Lit by the lights. I couldn't bear listening to it. It was so bad. I shook my head, trying to get rid of the vision. But it would not go away. It just would not go away.
3 I opened my eyes to find strangers stare at me. They were pulling at the car door, pulling me out after taking a look at the head injury I no doubt had. "Scully," I groaned. "Your friend is okay. We already got her out of the car. Just relax. You're hurt. "
I was carefully placed on the cold ground, on top of a blanket someone had produced. The world spun before my eyes and I had to close my eyes against the flashlight someone produced. God, a slight concussion at the least. I knew the symptoms all too well: the difficulty to see lights and the nauseating feeling that came over me.
Scully was sitting down as well. I could tell she was looking at me. I turned my head and faced her, trying to get up. I hated being on the ground like this. But they wouldn't let me get up. She smiled supportively, and I smiled back. Her face was bleeding and her arm seemed to hurt. But she was fine. Pale, still shaken, but fine.
I looked at her. "Did you see it?"
I whispered, as my entire body started to ache. The numbness started to wear off and I almost wished I were back in the darkness, grateful now for lying down.
She was close enough to me to hear what I said but glared at me unseeingly. Nobody commented on what I said. The eeriness was chased away by the sound of approaching medical help. Suddenly I felt as if I were back in the human world. The apparition whatever it was was gone.
4 Scully sat by my bedside in the ER. Her hand was bandaged and she still had bruises on her face. But she looked okay. Better than me, anyhow. I had two bruised ribs and a battered face that minor concussion was not so bad and a very sore ankle. The latter gave me the most trouble as it constantly throbbed.
I didn't care much for my injuries though. I would be out of here in no time perhaps even tonight. I just wanted to talk about what I had seen why the accident had happened. I felt guilty as hell about that: my surprise and shock had driven us in that ditch. And she was hurt now because of me.
"It's not so bad," she smiled encouragingly. "I just wished someone would stop hammering on my head though."
"I'm sorry, Scully," I said, grasping her hand. "I shouldn't have let this happen. " She seemed surprised. "Mulder, what are you talking about?"
"Didn't you see it? That creature. It was huge, Scully. It flew straight into us. If I hadn't reacted so surprised, we wouldn't be here. I should have seen it coming. "
"Mulder, what are you talking about?"
she asked worried. "There was no way you could have avoided that accident from happening. The tyre blew out. If it weren't for your reaction, we would have ended up a lot worse. That other car would have crashed straight into us. "
Now I was flabbergasted. "What other car?"
"Didn't you see it? You pulled the wheel to the right, sending us straight into that ditch. If you have gone to the left, we have been gone. I am so grateful you were the one driving, Mulder. You saved us both. "
I blinked my eyelids trying to remember what she just told me, but I could not. All I remembered was that creature that nearly killed us. And yet a blown-out tyre? Another car? If this were true, just like Scully just said, that creature warned us for danger. It forced me to steer to the right, pushing me in my surprise and shock to safety.
No, that was ridiculous. Creatures and demons and whatever was out there, did not save people. They usually hurt them. This creature could not be any different. Why would it be? And then I remembered where I had heard this before. It was the most classic of cases: the one case I had never touched because its variety was too grand for one person to investigate. It was the case that had fascinated me from the day I had first heard about it. I even had an X-File in the basement with paper clippings on it.
The Mothman Prophecies: Sightings of a strange man-like creature that stood over seven feet tall and warned people for danger. The sketches artists had made about it varied but all bore the same identification marks: the wings, its tallness, and its beady red eyes.
I blinked to find Scully stare at me. "Are you sure you're okay? You seem so pale and exhausted."
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," I whispered, trying to gather my thoughts. At that very moment the doctor entered the room and smiled his hugest, encouraging smile. "Agents, I have good news for you both. You can go home. "
5 Assistant-Director Skinner drove the both of us home. That is, to Scully's apartment. Scully insisted that I should stay there for the night because she wanted to keep an eye on me, just like the ER-doctor had ordered. Despite my constant pleads to let me sleep at home, both she and Skinner
refused. The AD didn't seem to upset having to pick us up in the middle of the night. In fact, he seemed rather worried. I must have looked like hell just the way I felt. I limped up the stairs into her apartment and felt exhaustion rush through me. This accident had really taken the last bit of strength out of me. This was not particularly what I had needed after doing double shifts.
"Get some rest, Mulder. You look horrible. And you too, Scully. Take some time off."
"That won't be necessary, sir," I said, eager to start my investigation on the strange creature soon. I would get to the bottom of this, even if it would kill me. Scully looked strangely at me. I could not fool her of course. She knew there was something on my mind that I would not share with her yet.
We made the spare bed together, groaning. Scully helped me undress something that might have given me a kick during other and better times but now just became downright uncomfortable. I didn't refuse though: I needed her. She insisted on helping me to bed first and I let her, comforted by her comforting.
"Get some rest, Mulder," she whispered soothingly, and stroked my face. I smiled. "Agent Scully, you're acting like a mother. " She smiled. "I know. I'm just grateful that we're still here. I was terrified there for a moment, Mulder. Strange, isn't it that you get to survive so many times and see death in the eyes as if it's every day business. And then, when it's just a stupid accident, it's horrifying. "
"I know," I whispered. "When you're not prepared, it's worse."
"Night, Scully. " She hesitated as if she was going to kiss me. Instead, she just held my hand and smiled at me. I smiled back; desperate to convince her she should not worry. She would sleep a wink had she known what went through my mind right now.
She closed the door and I did not turn off the light, determined not to sleep in the dark tonight. For once, I felt as if the darkness brought danger unpleasantness. And so I spent that night staring for hours at the ceiling. Until, early that morning, I sneaked out of her apartment to go to the office. I needed to find out the truth.
6 The first Mothman sighting happened in as early as 1964, in a small town called Point Pleasant, West Virginia, off the Ohio River. But it was not until 1967 that people started to believe that the strange looking creature that came to haunt them, actually came to warn them.
On December 15, 1967, only ten days before Christmas, while the town was already in a festive mood, the disaster happened that would change the townsfolk
forever, and create a legend that still did not cease to exist.
That day, the strangely constructed Silver Bridge, would collapse. When it was built, forty years earlier, it was decided that the odd bridge would be held up by an eyebar chain suspension; making it so that one single construction flaw could make it collapse. And that was exactly what happened on that night.
Due to heavier Christmas traffic, but especially because one traffic light faltered near the end of the bridge, the much heavier traffic caused the bridge to malfunction and collapse. Forty-six people died that night when their cars plunged into the icy cold water. The town only had about 6000 people and had never seen such a disaster before.
Strangely enough, one survivor claimed she was forewarned not to drive up the bridge. She saw it happen. She did not even know she was pregnant with twins. Later it was claimed that the Mothman loved children and knew that she was carrying.
The cause of the malfunction was never determined, even though many claimed to have seen strange lights in the skies seconds before it happened.
But it wasn't just the Point Pleasant disaster that had set off Mothman visits. The creature was reportedly seen at Chernobyl, when a dozen different men and women saw the same creature, only days before the disaster happened. The
creature has also been seen in China, Bermuda and Germany.
The creature has probably been spotted at many other different disaster sites, I gathered, but not everyone is eager to explain they have seen something like it. Even in Point Pleasant, when people started gathering their stories, there were others who refused to talk about it.
Even now, the discussions about the purpose of the creature are still open. Some claim it came to warn. Others claim it came to cause the disaster. That it was actually responsible for it.
I did not know what to believe. I had never focused on the story, even though it had always been in the back of my mind to do so when the occasion occurred. But the last time it had been spotted, involved in a big disaster, was in 1983. I was too young then. And I had not heard of it ever since.
Why would it then come to me now? I shoved the paper clippings backwards and stared at the browser with stories and eyewitness accounts of the creature. I was so certain that this was what I had seen. It had been there, in that street, flying directly into the windshield as we left the scene.
Scully had not seen it. I was the only one. Why would it show itself only to me, and not to anyone else? What had I done to receive this visit? I rubbed my eyes, feeling deadly tired. My head pounded like crazy. And as I looked up, I saw Scully standing in the doorway. She didn't look too pleased.
7 I tried to explain to her of course what I was doing here but she still was not very pleased. In fact, whatever I said, pissed her off even more. "Mulder, I came here to see why in god's name you are working. How did you get here anyway?"
"I took a cab. Scully, I'm fine. I just needed to check up on a few things."
She snatched the file out of my hand and started to read the clippings. Then, as it dawned to her, she had that "Mulder, my god"-look in her eyes. She understood now what I had been trying to say to her last night.
"Mulder, you have got to be joking me."
"I'm dead serious," I said, taking the file from her hand again. "I saw something last night, Scully. It flew straight into the windshield and knocked me off the road. I panicked. I lost control over the steering wheel. I cannot explain it, but this is what I saw."
"Mulder, believe it or not, but I know about these prophecies. They are even making a movie about it. But it's not true. It's just a ghost story: a legend that has been created by folks from a small town in the sixties who wanted to blame a disaster onto something. You can't blame them. They lost a lot of people in one tragedy and wanted to place the blame somewhere."
"Scully, unlike you I believed the stories. The Mothman has been spotted in different areas, at different disaster sites."
"And now it would show itself to you? To what purpose?"
"I believe that it saved us."
"Why would it do that?"
"I don't know. Because it likes us?"
She almost smiled, but not exactly. "Mulder, the tyre blew out. Believe me. That is all. You were tired and I can't blame you for seeing ghosts. Skinner told me about your job on the side last night. He is very worried about you. You should have told me, Mulder. Why didn't you?"
I shrugged. "I thought it wouldn't take so long. Unfortunately it did. It was work, Scully. You know me."
"And here you are again."
"I can't sit on my ass doing nothing. Besides, I'm strong."
"Says the man who is on his way to a major heart attack."
"Don't talk nonsense."
"If you want to believe that this thing came to save you, you might as well accept that it wanted to save you from a nervous breakdown. "
I want to say that I always listen to Scully but I don't. Of course she knows that. But this time she had my attention. I looked at her, and became frightened. She knew her words had struck goal.
"Mulder, a human body needs to rest. You need to sleep like anyone else. You can't walk pretending that you are doing fine. You are exhausted. If anything, that accident should have told you to take some time off, and to rest. If you don't, I'm going to ask Skinner to force you to take sick leave. Since you assigned me as your personal doctor, I can do that."
"What do you expect me to do then?"
I groaned. "Sit back and let you pamper me all day? I would go stir crazy. " She smiled. "You haven't tasted my homemade cookies yet, have you?"
I stuck out my tongue. "Seriously, Mulder. You need to rest. Please allow me to help you. I want the two of us to take some time off. We both need it."
"I know," I admitted.
"Yes, I have a breakthrough!' she exclaimed and sat down on the edge of the desk. I admired her for everything she was, and accepted her words for truth. I had trusted her so many times before and she had never failed. If she said it was serious this time, I had no choice but to believe her.
"A week," I vowed. "No longer than a week."
"Promised. " I closed the file and stashed it back inside the drawer. Together we walked out of the office that is: I limped and she walked.
"How are you feeling?"
I asked her. "I've been better. But I'll live. Just like you. " I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and hugged her closer to me. I didn't care that some of our colleagues could see the gesture.
Two weeks later
Scully did not get the chance to buy the condo after all. Less than a week after we went to see that house, it burned down to the ground with the owners in it. They never had a chance to move back to Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard after all. Somehow that did not come as a shock to me. Somehow, I had known.
I can't explain how I knew but I felt it as we drove through that street, away from the house. The very second that creature flew into our windshield I had a flash of the house burning down. And I didn't do a thing about it. Instead, I let Skinner and Scully persuade me that some time off was the best thing to do. Physically I had to heal from the car crash as did Scully, and mentally I just need some time off to rest and start anew.
So I let Scully order me to take some time off, and we spent the entire week sitting together and talk. We watched videos: geeky ones, funny ones, romantic ones, classic ones and gory ones. We ordered pizza and Chinese take-out and just kept on talking for hours about things that kept us busy. Then, when we no longer felt like talking, we just sat together and watched TV.
She had taken the habit of nestling up against me, leaning cosily into me as the TV-set played. Often she fell asleep and I let her go. I caressed her and resisted the urge to touch and kiss her. I had vowed to myself that we would not sleep together, as we were both in a vulnerable stage in our lives. She, because she still struggled with the absence of a normal life and children. I, because I was just downright exhausted.
But despite the resting and the cocooning, I could not sleep. I still spent hours lying awake while she slept in the room next door. Sometimes I could hear her breath, as it was so quiet in the house.
At night, I saw that creature again and could not get it out of my head. I lay awake, wondering if the prophecies would come true: if someone, somewhere, I was warned that a tragedy was about to come. That restlessness made that I could not enjoy our absence from the office, nor could I release the guilt in not doing something. Anything!
And then, when we learned of the fire, Scully just sat baffled for minutes and could not understand it. She had been to her bank to talk about her financial status. She had been to the house again, without me, in the company of her mother. They had talked about her buying the house in details.
And now the condo was gone. And the people who lived in it as well. An electrical malfunction had caused this. Maggie Scully called her to give her the bad news. I could hear the poor woman cry on the other side of the telephone line. She was devastated by the news. She had known the couple for fifteen years.
"I have to go to the funeral," Scully said, looking pleadingly at me. "Of course I'll come," I offered without her having to ask the question. She nodded grateful. The funeral was to happen in Martha's Vineyard, where the couple had already bought a house. Their family thought it appropriate that they should end up there, as they had wished.
The thought of going there made me cringe. My mother was buried there too and I had not been there for months, not since mom died. But I still offered to go. It was my home and always would be. Perhaps this was a way for me to say goodbye at long last.
The funeral took place about two weeks after we had the accident. I had not seen the creature ever since and became more and more convinced that it had tried to warn me about the couple's death, and our own accident. I had not listened and now they were dead. Stupid perhaps, but that's the way my mind worked.
I was quiet on our way over, as was my mother who sat almost numb on the short flight over. As the plane touched down and we went to fetch our rental car to proceed our journey, she finally talked again. "I won't be moving," she said. "Not after this."
I asked. "You will find something else."
"Not like that condo. And besides, I would not be able to feel the same again about any other place. I might as well stay where I was. "
"Look," I said, turning towards her. She was driving the car because my ankle and ribs were still not fully healed. "This is not your fault, you know."
"Of course not," she immediately responded,"but I was in love with that house, and I liked those people. It's such a shame, you know. I just hope that something like this will never happen to us when we are old. Can you imagine it?"
I couldn't help but smile. "Do you see us grow old together then?"
She had to think about that question. "I have the strange sense that you will always be in my life, Mulder. I just think you'll always be around, in some form or another."
"I think that too," I reassured her, and then, as I said it, I suddenly had this horrible feeling that it might not work out that way. Suddenly, I knew that there was something terrible coming up, something that might split us up
forever. I shook my head and concentrated on the road ahead.
We arrived at Martha's Vineyard and passed West Tisbury, where my father's house still stood. After all these years, I had not sold it. It still stood empty, as did the summer house on Quonochontaug. The old house in Chilmark, where Samantha and I were born, was sold a long time ago, after my parents got divorced. Sometimes I wanted to go back there and remember what had happened but I did not need to do so. I remembered every detail of that fateful night, so long ago.
My father's grave was on this island, but my mother's was not. The demons that I had carried with me all my life, still lived here though. They always would.
2 We drove to Oak Bluffs, not so far from Vineyard Haven, where daily ferries brought tourists between the mainland of Cape Cod and the two islands of
Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Oak Bluff was the largest town on this side of the island, and invited many tourists per year, amongst others thanks to the State Beach Park that you could visit a few miles from here.
Not so long ago, I used to spend hours here at the Haven, watching boats come and go. I was still an islander, even though I now lived in the DC-area. My blood still ran here. My father had died here. My sister had disappeared. And I could not let the ties break.
We were in midsummer and it felt like there was no tomorrow. The sun brightened the skies, clearing all the clouds. One could tell by the number of tourists how popular the islands were. I felt like a tourist too, dressed in jeans and T-shirt. In other circumstances we might not have had a care in the world. Unfortunately, we would be attending a very sad funeral in the afternoon.
We had booked rooms at the Bluff Inn, a small family hotel that had its share of tourists over the years. Since I had always lived on the other side of the island, I hardly knew anyone here. Even though the island was only so small, it still had different towns and atmospheres.
Scully had proposed to stay here overnight to have a calm trip back tomorrow evening. In less than a week we would get back to work, so I had not protested against her plans.
Margaret was already there, as she had accompanied the Miller-family to the island. She had helped arrange the funeral details. She looked quite sad as she came to greet us. "I'm so sorry, mom," Scully spoke with tears in her eyes as she greeted her mother. Maggie nodded and let herself be comforted by her daughter. Then I took her in my arms and tried to comfort her quietly. She seemed pleased to see me. "It's been a while, Fox," she said. "I'm so glad you are here. " I nodded. I was not exactly looking forward to the funeral, but I just had to be here for my partner and the woman who was like a second mother to me.
Quietly we retreated inside the hotel where we were shown to our comfortable rooms by the daughter of the house. Looking outside I could overlook the
Atlantic Ocean and its bright colours. This just didn't seem like a day for a funeral. I sighed and closed the window, deciding on a quick shower before we would meet for lunch.
3 I opened the bathroom door and found myself staring at the mirror image that greeted me. With open mouth and staring eyes, I found I was not alone in the room. There it was! The vision of that creature I had so clearly seen before. It stared right back at me, standing a few inches behind me. I turned around quickly, with beating heart and sinking nerves, eager to confront it. But it was not there.
My god. I shivered with fright and exhaustion as I stared at my image again in the mirror, clinging onto the sink. I was shaking on my legs. This was too real, too damned realistic. I wanted to flee the room and run to Scully but found I could do nothing but sink on the bed and keep on staring at myself in that big bathroom mirror. I sighed deeply, rubbing my eyes.
Was this exhaustion playing tricks on me, or had I truly seen it? Was I still too tired, too beaten to think straight? Or was this a reality, coming back to tell me it was not over yet? It had to be. It really had to be.
I showered after all, finding myself staring into the room, defying anyone or anything to come and haunt me. My nerves were ready to snap. But nothing came as I quickly washed my hair, face and body. And nothing else happened.
I changed into another jeans and decent shirt and walked downstairs to find the Scully's in the lobby. Maggie had obviously cried her eyes out over the past few days. I defied the dread inside of me telling me there was something serious about to happen and walked over to them, delivering my best sympathetic smile. Maggie smiled back and grabbed my hand. I supported her.
On the open terrace behind the hotel we had a small lunch. Maggie found herself looking out on the lawn and shaking her head. "How can things go so wrong, so quickly?"
she asked, head-shaking. "I don't understand why this had to happen. Vic and Beatrice had not done a thing wrong."
"Sometimes these things just happen," Scully said, holding her mother's hand. "Sometimes there doesn't have to be a reason."
"If only someone somewhere had seen something gone wrong, if someone had noticed the problem. " Maggie stared at her daughter, stroking her face. "And at the same time I feel so guilty because I'm so glad it wasn't you. If you had moved into that house, it would have been you, Dana."
"I know, mom," my partner spoke quietly.
I blinked my eyelids and stared over the lawn. What if that was what the
creature tried to tell me? That my partner was in danger? This was the second time she might have escaped death: First with the blown tyre, and then with the failure in the electrical circuit at the house. If this had happened only a few months later, she would have been the one dead. No, that could not be it.
And still. I needed to talk to her about it. I excused myself and went inside to visit the restroom, at the same time
allowing mother and daughter some time to themselves. As I passed the hotel lobby, I heard the owner's daughter speak to one of her friends. I walked by slow enough to catch a bit of what they were saying. "It's been such hell here," the daughter said,"I just wish they could catch him."
"And they still don't have a lead on him?"
"No. It's starting to freak me out. "
I stopped and walked over to them. The daughter's friend retreated and left the lobby. The daughter smiled at me as I passed her. "Yes, sir?"
she asked friendly. "I couldn't help but overhear what you just said. Can I ask you what you were talking about?"
She hesitated. "It's okay," I said, showing my badge. "I'm an FBI-agent."
"Oh. Well, I was talking about all the accidents that have been happening here, sir. You know, the incidents they blame on the Vineyard Man."
She looked around to see if there was anyone else listening to her story and then leaned forward a bit to tell her tale. "There have been quite a lot of accidents happening on Martha's Vineyard over the past few weeks, and the police are on the lookout for the man responsible for them."
"What sort of accidents?"
"Several things. Cars with spiked tyres or messed breaks, a few fires here and there, and even a small bomb that has killed a few elderly people in a nursery home. It's been bad. People think it's a local. The police are looking for him. "
I had not heard a single thing of this, but then I hadn't read a paper for the past few weeks either. With our sick leave, Scully and I could have been off the planet. "Is the local police the only one involved in the investigation?"
I asked. "As far as I know, yes. In fact, their headquarters are right here in Oak Bluffs. You should talk to the local police chief, Robert Noel. He can inform you."
"Thanks. " I hurried back to the terrace only to stop. Outside, in front of the table of my partner and her mother stood the Mothman. But they did not see him. He stared directly at me and clapped his wings, and then he went up, up and away. I was going crazy.
I stared at my partner's back and realized I could not involve her just yet. First I had to find out if we were here by coincidence, and if the man who had been endangering the island, had nothing to do with us. He did not. I knew it as surely as I was standing here; as certain as I had seen that creature standing before me, challenging me to find out the truth.
I returned to the daughter and asked her to leave a message at Scully's table. "Tell my partner I will see her at the funeral, and that I have some business to attend to," I asked of her. "Don't tell her what we talked about."
"Okay sir," the girl said, and gave me directions towards the police station at my request.
As it happened, the station was only two streets further and I walked there in about five minutes. All windows were opened. It was hot as hell in there. I walked in and waited patiently until someone felt fit enough to wander to the front of the office to listen to me. "I would like to speak to chief Noel," I asked after flashing my badge.
"Chief!' the young police officer yelled and retreated, leaving me alone for yet another five more minutes. Then the chief appeared. He was a grumpy sixty-year-old who had obviously been on the job for too long. "FBI?"
he asked with a frown. "I didn't recall asking for help from you guys."
"I'm here for a funeral," I began to explain,"and "
"Ah, the Millers? Sad business, that one. They came from this town, did you know that? They were heading back here, had already bought a new house. It's a shame, that is. "
"Yes," I said,"but that's not what I'm here for. I'd like to talk to you about the man you are looking for."
"Who told you?"
"I overheard someone talk about it."
"And you became curious, eh? Sure, come in. I'll give you the details. Perhaps someone like you could help. What do you do at the FBI? Don't tell me you're a scientist or something like that. We need someone with brains and balls here."
"I'm investigating ' I stopped, knowing the chief might have a heart attack if he heard what I really did. "I'm a profiler. " Again a raised eyebrow. "Ah, great! You could help us alright. Because, to be honest, we're starting to become a little impatient here. " And so I was invited to the back of the room and given all the details on a case that had all the details of a prankster going crazy.
5 At exactly four p.m. I stood by Scully's side, receiving a very poisoned glare from her. Not that she could complain, really. I had dressed in decent funeral clothes and focused on what the priest was saying. The Millers had been Catholics. Finally, as the funeral was over and we had paid our respects, Scully took me aside. She was clearly still pissed.
"Why did you come in the first place when you weren't planning on staying?"
she hissed, furious at my conduct. "Scully, I heard about a case and needed to talk to the chief about it. I was there, wasn't I?"
"With your head at your case. You should be ashamed of yourself. " I shrugged impatiently. "Scully, we've got a case to investigate here and I'm planning on staying a couple more days. I already talked to Skinner and he is talking to Davis right now."
She raised an eyebrow. "Terence Davis, of the VCU?"
"So it's not an X-File?"
"Not exactly. But the chief needs our help and I offered it."
"Since when do you investigate standard police cases?"
she asked with a raised eyebrow that would have made Chief Noel jealous.
I did not want to tell her the truth. I knew she would laugh in my face and blame it on exhaustion, lack of sleep or whatever was up and running that day. But I would maintain what I had seen and why I wanted to pursue it. "Look," I said,"you don't have to stay. I can do this one by myself. " Now she was getting suspicious. "Why?"
"It's a profiling case."
"Like the ones you've lost your sleep over the last weeks?"
"This is different. Besides, I'm alright again, aren't I? I rested, just like I promised you. " She sighed deeply and raised her arms in the air. "Mulder, I don't think I'll ever get through to you, will I? But alright: if you want to stay, stay. But I'm staying too. Fill me in on the details in the morning. I want to stay with mom tonight and the family. That's why we came here for in the first place."
"I know," I said. "And I promise I won't do anything until tomorrow. But I hope you understand. " She smiled a faint grin. "I know you, Mulder. And your pursuits. I'm sure it's worth it. Come on, let's go see mom. " We returned back to Margaret's side and took her in the rental car to the family's home near the Haven where we had coffee, tea and sandwiches. The Millers left no children. There were plenty of other close relatives but no direct heirs. The gathering was over quickly.
With tears in her eyes, Maggie sat in the back of the car and looked outside as we returned to the hotel. As we said goodbye since she would leave very early in the morning Scully decided to stay with her mother for a little while longer.
I retreated in my hotel room with the file the police chief had given me. I had received a message from Davis earlier that evening that I was assigned to the case. It now belonged to the FBI.
Next door, Scully entered her room. I decided not to bother her tonight, and to perform my own little investigation.
6 I sat on the bed with photos of victims, crashed cars and burned-down houses in front of me. It was not so difficult to see the trail the subject had left. He had started off with petty crimes such as crashing shop-windows, moving on to spiking car tyres, breaking into vehicles and messing with the brakes, and then going forward to the more serious stuff, like attacking two women and setting houses on fire.
It was one and the same man who did all of this. He left his visit card at every crime scene: a note with the message "It will only get worse. The Protector." 'Sounds like someone is trying to be the anti-superman," I said out loud, putting the original tested handwritten notes aside. I would ship these out to our labs to have a signature scan done on them.
There were ten crimes in total now, all occurring all over the island and all escalating by every committed crime. The attacked women had only seen a man with a mask, and a set of curly blonde hair behind that mask. He had a soft, gentle voice, yet he humiliated them by forcing them to strip. He did not rape them. He just took their bags that were later found thrown in a garbage bin, less than a block away. They were both members of the island's elite.
In fact, the attacker seemed to have a score to settle with the island's beau monde. He attacked the richest stores, took out the fanciest cars and set fire on the richest and guarded - houses. He knew his stuff: he used accelerants to force the fire, as Cecil L'Ively had once done. But this man obviously did not put his markers in one area of his abilities. He was the classic case of someone starting from scratch, testing out his senses, only to end up a murderer.
In the last fire, two people had died. And still the police had not a trace on him. The Oak Bluff police chief had worked together with his colleagues to track him down. But no one had found a single trace going back to him. They should have contacted the FBI, I thought wryly as I went through the details.
The carpenter Gothic cottages formed the town's view as seen by tourists. I loved Oak Bluffs: it had a rich history that went back nearly four hundred years. And it was said that Indians had a nesting spot here before colonization had begun by the Europeans, centuries ago.
I also sensed that Oak Bluffs was resting in a strange sort of tension right now. As I walked through the town late that evening, I noticed that hardly anyone was on the streets. And if they were, there were at least two people wandering about. Even the tourists, who probably did not even know half of the story, seemed cautious and careful. For a town that should be profiting of its high season, it seemed awfully quiet.
I did not know how to begin investigating this case. How could one, when there was not even a single suspect out there to check up on? After two weeks time, none of the police chiefs had a suspect. Checks on the island's men had brought up a few with a criminal history, but they all had alibis for the crime times.
And why in god's name did I feel the urge to take this case upon me? As my ankle started to ache, I sat down and overlooked the Atlantic Ocean from a wooden bench. One could easily feel at peace with the world here, but not when a stranger walked about threatening to harm you. The women of this town were afraid, and with good reason. As were the other women in the other towns.
The Vineyard Man had struck one too many times. And for that reason, I had no choice but to build a profile with the little information I could go on. It was next to nothing, really.
The man had to be someone who knew the town quite well. He would be able to wonder about the island, blend in with the locals so he probably was a local himself and he would have to know about the rich and wealthy of this island. He chose his victims carefully and never attacked tourists. So that meant he most likely knew the women as well. He might be someone who grew up with them, who attended school with them, but who held a grudge against them for being wealthier than he was. He might have been in Harvard on a scholar ship, and come from the island. However, he would not be enjoying the benefits that most of the rich crowd on the island had.
He might be working at the beach club or one of the other posh facilities where one could water ski, or parasail, or Jet Ski. He might work in one of the antique shops that facilitated on the rich and famous and be angry at them for the money they have.
Frustration would be his main reason for terrifying these people. Frustration would ultimately have him kill. With that thought, I moved up and walked back to the hotel, staring at the faces of the few people I passed on my way back. None of them had blonde hair.
I passed the Oak Bluff Harbour. A few men were working on boats. I stopped and looked at them as they waved and walked further. Then I heard a muffled sound, as if someone was being smothered. The sound came from the docks. The two men heard it too and stopped their activities. Instinctively I reached for my gun and moved forward, in between the boats that rested in the docks.
In the darkness, a man flung at me, throwing me backwards against one of the boats, pushing me hard in the process. I fell backwards, hurting my already bruised ankle bad again. I moved up and aimed my gun at the figure. "FBI!' I shouted and fired once in the air. He did not stop and ran forward. I made a few steps and tripped as my ankle gave in at once. I couldn't fire a second time, as one of the two men ran after him.
The other one came to me. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I winced, unable to stand on my ankle. Jesus, it felt like it had snapped. But I knew I had strained it again, and this time for the worse. My helper moved forward and cursed as he saw something in the water. I moved forward too, limping.
In the water lay a figure, face up. Her face was stained with blood. Her body was killed off with a large fishing knife. It still stuck in her chest. Her eyes betrayed her death. She had died only a mere few moments earlier.
7 Martha's Vineyard Hospital in Oak Bluffs was a quiet hospital with a small ER that had seen its share of Vineyard Man-victims lately. I too ended up there that night, with my ankle and feet supported on a slab as X-Rays were to show how much damage I had caused it.
Scully, in doctor mode, discussed the matter with the attending physician and talked in my ears nonsense. She came back to tell me I had strained the ankle badly and would have to wear a cast for the next few weeks. "Great," I cursed, angry at myself for letting this happen. Why hadn't I been more cautious? But the guy's push came hard and unexpected, as he sprung out of the darkness and into me. I just wasn't prepared.
"It's not so bad, Mulder," she reassured me. "You could have broken it, the way you fell."
"You don't know how I fell," I mumbled angrily. "According to the two men who saw it happen, you were damned lucky you didn't end up between two boats, face down. Consider yourself lucky."
"I'm afraid this town isn't so lucky, Scully. "
She sat down on the side of the bed and frowned. I had told her the whole story on our way over here, and she had listened interested. "I thought you were going to solve a petty crime," she admitted. "You were so strange today. I could hardly follow what you were trying to tell me. " I looked at her, knowing I could no longer conceal the truth. But how would she react? No, not yet. We were chasing a killer now. If that creature somehow had something to do with it, the connection would be quickly made.
"It's quite simple now, isn't it?"
I said. "Our assailant is becoming more vicious by the day. We need to find him quickly, before he kills anyone else."
"Skinner's on his way over. It seems that AD Davis wants him to resolve this case. They are working on another high-profiled case that takes up most of his men."
"I know," I blurted out. She raised not one but two eyebrows this time.
Damn it, I cursed silently, knowing I'd have to tell her the truth now. "
"Look," I began,"don't get angry with me, but "
"I know," she interrupted me. "You were still working on that profiling case, even when I asked you to take time off, weren't you?"
"Yes," I admitted. "Mulder, I'm not stupid. I know you hardly slept when you were staying at my place. I could hear you in the middle of the night, rummaging through your room. I'm not deaf, you know. "
Yes, it was true. In between thinking of the Mothman, I had finished my profile on the killer Davis and his team were now tracking down in Philadelphia. I had wanted to be there but had promised Scully that time off. Yet I could not leave the profiling alone. I had promised Davis. "I'm sorry," I said. "No, you're not," she smiled and I sighed with relief. "You're happy you've helped your friends. And now you're helping them again."
"Can you blame me?"
"Why do you always get involved in these weird cases, Mulder? We came here for a funeral and you end up helping the police."
"Yes, but I have a hunch where to look," I said. "I've been thinking about it. That's why I went out for a walk. I have this feeling we might find him soon, if we follow the clues. And the profile I think I might have on him. "
"You'll have to guide the search party from the office though," she said, pointing at my ankle. "Unless you're a hero on crutches."
"I won the speeding race last time, remember?"
She smiled and invited the nurses in who were to put my ankle and foot in a cast. It already itched.
I could barely sleep that night. I woke up constantly, bathing in sweat. I was hurting all over. My ankle felt like a ton of bricks and I could not find an easy way to fall asleep. When I finally did doze off, the strangest thing happened.
In the middle of the night a constantly ringing telephone next to me awakened me. It was the hotel's telephone and not my cell that I heard. I blinked, trying to shake the fog out of my head.
I picked up the phone, instantly shocked as a screeching sound greeted me. It was the same Mothman cry I had heard before, when the creature came to me. The sound was just horrible. I threw the phone down and the screeching stopped. When I picked up the horn again, the screeching returned. I let the phone lie open, picked up my cell phone and dialled the Bureau's Washington number. After giving them my badge- and identification number, I asked for a trace on the phone line.
"I'm sorry, sir," the tracer came back after a few moments. "At this moment there isn't a single call being forward to that telephone number. " And the screeching stopped.
I shivered as I put down the telephone, knowing I was being watched. Whatever this thing wanted from me, it was coming closer. And I knew I was onto something: something, which would alter my vision on the paranormal forever. For the first time, I was in direct contact with a creature that lived beyond this world. It showed itself only to me. What was I to do?
My mind boggled. Finally, around four or so, I decided to make use of my time, got up and wrote my profile on the Vineyard Man. It was right on the dot. I could feel that as I typed it up. When I looked up, it was nearly eight.
And in the room stood the Mothman. He screeched in the highest tone of voice I had ever heard, and made me close my hands over my ears. I stared at it in shock as it appeared to me as clearly as any human being would.
If only he would tell me what he wanted to say.
8 Around eleven a.m. of the following morning, AD Skinner arrived. To my surprise he found the case important enough to come over. That is what I thought at first.
"It's all over the news now," he explained. "The Vineyard Man is becoming the next Ted Bundy, if you allow people to start guessing. So we have to cut this short before the press is all over the case and starts blowing things up. Soon they'll be here like hawks. And I want you off the case, Agent Mulder. "
I looked at him in shock when he said that, at first believing he was kidding. But he wasn't. "I am following Agent Scully's advice that you should rest. Your ankle has been hurt badly and she has reason to believe you're not even telling her about the damage to your bruised ribs. Agent Scully's recommendation is that you go home and forget about this case. She believes that there are other agents who can help solve this case. "
In my mind I strangled Scully. Then I delivered my biggest smile and said self-confidently,"too late, sir. I'm already on the case and I have already written the profile. "
Earlier that morning, I had asked the hotel manager to drive me to the police department. If I was not allowed to stand on that damned foot of mine, I would have to find a driver to take me around, and that's exactly what I did.
I had left a message at Scully's door because she was still asleep and I didn't want to bother her. At the station, I had printed out my profile on the police department's printer and made copies for all the men working on the case. By the time Scully had come over she had not told me of Skinner's arrival, by the way we were ready to commence the investigation.
I sat down as I explained the motivation behind the profiling.
"To me, it seems that there are a few similarities here that may have seemed insignificant at first, but are becoming more important now. First, there is the choice of operation. Our guy wanted to test out his crimes. He started with crashing shop windows because he wanted to feel what that was like. He probably used a stolen vehicle for that, and my guess is that he returned the same vehicle back to the mainland afterwards. That shouldn't have been too difficult to do. We have to look for cars that were taken in the days before the first crimes and found again shortly afterwards. That's the first clue. "
"Why would he start with shops?"
Chief Noel asked curiously. "All the other crimes were directed at the rich, as you stated yourself."
"So were the shop crashes. He chose the posh stores, the one that invited the richer clientele. He would assume that they too possessed enough money to replace the damage quickly. His first crimes were tests. Perhaps he tested your forces, or himself. He might have wanted to experience what the thrill was like, and to see if he could stand the pressure. My guess is that we are looking at a firs timer who started to flip. He will not have a wrap sheet."
"And soon enough, the shop crashing wasn't good enough," the chief nodded, understanding exactly what I was trying to say. "That's right," I confirmed, seated on my chair with that damned ankle in front of me. "His next move was aimed directly against people. He chose particular cars to sabotage and wanted to hurt his victims. He knew his crime would be found out and even left his visit card inside the vehicles, underneath the engine blocks, where they would surely be found. He was proud of his actions. I think that his first victims were people he knew directly ones he had to settle a score with. The first car he sabotaged belonged to a young woman named Allison Mathers. She might have been a former girlfriend, someone he studied with, or someone he had a crush on. I suggest that we go to speak with her as soon as we can. "
"What about the second car?"
one of the police officers asked. "That belonged to the owner of an antique store."
"Probably a store where he might have worked, or might have wanted to work. He could also have attempted to buy there something in the past, and might have been refused because of lack of budget. We will have to talk to Mr. Lane as well, and see if there are any names he might come up with. "
"And the women?"
Scully asked. "The ones he attacked?"
"His crimes became more vicious. He decided that he should sense what it was like to feel someone suffer underneath his bare hands. But he had no intent of killing of hurting them. He just wanted to humiliate them. These women might have been part of his past. Since he's an islander, they might have been in contact with him. He might have felt humiliated by them or by women in particular. "
I took a deep breath, wishing I had taken two Tylenols instead of one. "When he burned down those houses, he was on a role. Now he could actually watch people suffer. My guess is that by this time he would take just about anyone who lives on the island and has money. Money in my opinion is and remains the first reason for killing. Last night only added to that fact. He took and murdered a young woman who belonged to one of the wealthiest families on the island. He chose his victim carefully. She too might have been part of his past. "
"You figured all this out by the notes I made?"
Chief Noel asked in disbelief. I smiled, knowing how to play the local politics. "Chief, you already had all this information. My job is to link these details and find the similarities. And apart from that, it is experience talking. But you did all the work. It will be a matter of time now before we catch him. "
"What do you suggest then?"
the Chief asked, flattered and obviously in awe. I remained cool. "First of all, I suggest that you gather the other chiefs and set up a vigilante to guard the towns the following nights, helped by your own officers. I think the FBI might be able to spare a few people as well, but I'll leave that up to my boss when he arrives. Secondly, I would like to go and have a talk with the first victims. "
I saw the men watching me interested. "I would like you to go with me," I continued. "If they might remember something, your knowledge of the townsfolk might help us. I would like your people to start going over all the evidence again, talk to the locals and see if anyone with blonde, curly hair, might fit the profile. We are looking for a man of average height and weight who might have studied with one of the victims. He is well-educated and does not belong to the upper class. He might be working in one of the shops, at the harbour or in a service-providing facility. "
"I hate to think it was one of our own doing this, Agent Mulder," the Chief confessed. "But you are probably right. This needs to end as soon as possible."
"If it is alright with you, I would like Agent Scully to autopsy the body of Cheryl Moore. She might find something significant that can help us."
"Of course. "
The party split up just as Skinner walked in. I informed him quickly on the events. He looked dead serious when he told me to hand over the case, but I refused stubbornly.
"Mulder, you don't really seem fit to take charge of this investigation. I have to follow Scully's advice here. I came to take over."
"Scully should have talked to me first," I said, hurt that she would go behind my back. Of course I could not really blame her: she always believed she was a better judger of my state of mind than I was. And I knew how she felt when I did a killer's case.
At least she had the decency to look away when Skinner came in and told me he was here to take charge. "With all respect, sir," I said,"but I am a better profiler than you are. I want to stay, but I promise to take it easy, if that sooths Scully's mind. I could do with your help. I'm afraid we're going to need more resources to solve this case quickly. "
"That can be arranged. " Skinner considered my arguments. "Okay, you're in charge. But only as long as I say so. If I say stop, it's stop. Got it? Consider me your driver for the time being. I'll help you."
"Thank you, sir. "
Scully looked at me tense. "I'm sorry, Mulder, but I disagree with Skinner. But I won't argue you about this."
"Thank you," I said. Soon enough our party split up to start the real investigation. And I had the feeling we were running out of time quickly. I could not help but remember how I feared for Scully's life. If the Mothman had come to warn me about her safety, I should be with her.
On the other hand, if he came to warn me for my own life, I could do nothing but move on. I couldn't just sit in a corner and do nothing. Could I?
Scully returned to the hospital where she would autopsy the body of the young victim. Even though we all knew she had died of several stabbings, she still wante to make sure that this was the true cause of death. The police had scanned the Harbour area and had found the killer's visit card. This time the message had changed. "I'm having fun," it said.
The notes were sent to the Washington lab and we were waiting for an analysis on the handwriting, but it probably would say approximately the same as we had gathered from the existing bits of evidence. It might turn up surprises though.
Chief Noel set up a meeting with Allison Mathers, the woman whose car was first sabotaged. The three of us left to meet with her. In the car Skinner looked at me constantly, obviously worried that I was hurting.
I was hurting like hell and felt like I could sleep forever, but I managed to grin wryly and pretend that I sprained ankles on a daily basis. Hey, one grows stronger after a while.
Allison Mathers lived in Chilmark, only three streets down from my birth house. I felt a chill run down my spine as we passed it but I did not look back. This was not the time to reminisce.
She was a thirty year old IT-analyst who ran her own business from her house. "I communicate by phone and Internet," she explained. "I do major analysis for software companies, specializing in security systems. Since I wasn't too keen on moving to Washington or New York, I set up my own service here and it's been working quite well."
"Where did you study?"
I asked her. "Harvard. I always called it the family university. Everyone went there: my grandparents, my parents, my brothers and I. It seemed natural for us to go there."
"Did you have relationships there? Affaires with men?"
She flushed at the question but responded without hesitation. "Yes. There were two men I went out with. I broke up with both of them under slight pressure of my parents. There were reasons for that. I married my husband a few years after graduation and haven't regretted it since, despite my father's insistence and meddling. "
"Can you tell us about those two men?"
"They both were European. One of them came from the UK. The other one was Belgian. Nice guy. We knew it couldn't last of course and my father wasn't too pleased that I might be moving overseas. So we ended it quickly both times. But it was fun while it lasted."
"Have you seen either of these two men lately?"
"No. They are both in Europe. " She shook her head. "What does this have to do with my car?"
she asked curiously. "I thought you were here to investigate that?"
"I have a theory that this man might have held a grudge against you. He might have been someone you went to college with or are working with. But since you work solely, the latter seems farfetched."
"I had a lot of friends at college," she smiled. "I was one of the popular ones, you know. They liked the way I looked and I was fortunate enough to have a sensible brain to come with it. Buy none of my friends live here on the Vineyard, and according to the latest news, it is a local. "
"Is there anyone else you can think of who might have a grudge against you?"
I asked. "No. I have a few friends and relatives here, but that's it. I live pretty much on my own, as you can tell. I'm afraid I won't be able to help you."
"Okay, thank you. " We moved up me struggling with those damned crutches and Skinner holding my notebook and pen. We shook hands. "Thank you," I said. "Before I forget, I wanted to ask you one more thing. Do you by any chance have a college yearbook of your final year?"
"Sure. I have it right here."
"Could we borrow it for a while?"
"Sure. " She came back with the book and handed it to Skinner. Then we said goodbye again and left for the outdoor heat.
"What was that all about?"
Chief Noel asked. "I still haven't given up on my college theory," I said. "Don't ask me why but I have the feeling it's there. I'd like for you to take a look and scan those on the Vineyard who were in Harvard during the same college years."
"If it makes you happy, sure. " We stepped inside the car. It was a funny sight seeing Skinner struggle with my crutches after I slid in on the backseat. Then we headed for our second appointment in Tisbury, to see Robert Lane, owner of a renowned antique shop whose car was sabotaged as well.
10 'I still don't know what I have done to deserve this," Mr. Lane began as we sat down for coffee, tea and biscuits. "It seems to me that whoever did this, just loves to mess with our heads. Why else would he now be slashing people?"
"That's what we are here to find out, sir," Skinner soothed him.
I asked Mr. Lane the same questions about people from his surroundings who might have a grudge against him. He shook his head fervently. "The only man I can think of, who might hate me is Frank Williams. But I haven't seen him for a long time and I doubt if I'll ever see him again."
"How so, sir?"
"Frank seemed like a pretty nice guy. Harvard Graduate and all that. Came from a good family, even though he had his share of difficulties, or so I've heard. He applied for a job in my Tisbury shop and I gave him one. He had a pretty
level-headed mind. Until I suspected him from stealing from the till. There were small amounts missing: only a few bucks here and there. But you can imagine I was not happy. He denied it of course. After I installed a security system, the stealing stopped. He knew of the system. "
"How long ago was that?"
"Oh, a year or two. Like I said: I haven't heard from him since. When he first left, he swore he would hurt me. And then he found another job at a shop in Oak Bluffs. He runs a summer shop. "
"I know Frank," Chief Noel said,"but he doesn't entirely fit your profile. He came from a good family but his father made him work his way through college. Rumours had it he was doing drugs and was punished. I never saw anything wrong though. "
"He seems our first lead," I said. "So it might be time to talk to him. "
The summer shop, as Mr. Lane described it, turned out to be a highly profiled store where expensive water skiing equipment was being sold and rented to high society. If he truly were the son of a wealthy man and now had to work his way through life like any common man, he would fit my profile exactly.
The blonde beach boy that greeted us inside the store had the looks of a
successful singer or actor, but obviously bore a grudge against society. He was friendly yet cold against his customers and did not even pretend to like them. He was not one of them and they treated him like they would treat any other shopkeeper. He was out of their league.
My first impression of him was one of sheer coldness. We did not click. And he knew it. I could swear I saw a glimpse of recognition in those blue eyes of his. It would be a matter of linking this man to Allison Mathers, something I
suddenly felt very eager to do. This was our guy. My gut feeling told me that much. But we could not move from my feeling, could we? Then again, hadn't we done so in the past? Was this any different than anything else I had ever done?
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Williams said of course. "I have nothing to do with those attacks. Why would I harm anyone?"
"You seemed to have a history with Mr. Lane. We're checking into all the people that might have had a score to settle with him."
"Lane is a loser who tried to profit from me. He felt I didn't work hard enough and fired me."
"That's strange," Skinner said. "Seeing as Lane finished telling us you were emptying his tills on a regular basis."
"He needed an excuse to get rid of me. Why would I rob him? I have money of my own."
"You shouldn't have been working in his shop then, would you?"
I asked curiously.
Williams paled and I knew we had struck a tender spot. "My dad told me to find a job. If I didn't, he would throw me out of the will. The old man believes that everyone should work for his living."
"That's a good thought, isn't it?"
I came back. "How else would you understand the value of money?"
"What are you, my father?"
Williams snapped. "Is that all or do you want to ask more stupid questions?"
"I assume you have alibis for your whereabouts, Frank?"
Chief Noel asked kindly.
"Do I need them?"
"I was at home. Alone."
"That's bad for you then," I said. "Do you know Allison Mathers?"
"Only by name."
"She's a member of my father's club. I met her there once, a long time ago."
"Do you have a thing for her?"
His eyes lit and I knew I had struck another cord. "No. " I looked at Skinner and nodded slightly, as if to tell him we were onto something. But we didn't have enough to take him in for questioning. Not yet.
Then I saw it. A notepad with scribbles on it. I snatched it before he could grab it. The handwriting on it looked an awful lot like the one on the notes. "I'm sure you don't mind that we take this, do you?"
I asked. "I do mind. Do you have a warrant?"
"I just want to write something down," I played innocently. "And I forgot my notepad."
"You have it in your hand."
"It ran out of paper. Thanks. We'll be in touch. " I stuck the pad in my pocket and limped out of the shop on my two crutches. Outside I paused to put on my sunglasses and smiled broadly at Skinner who came after me.
"Is it him?"
Skinner asked. "Yep."
"How can you be so sure?"
"He fits the profile."
"And so do plenty of others on this island," came Chief Noel. "You don't have anything to go on, Mulder."
"I have my gut feeling."
"Is that enough to accuse a man of murder?"
"You saw how he reacted in there," I responded strongly. "He was hiding something and we have to dig it out. It's him, I'm telling you. "
Skinner didn't know how to react to my strong feelings. He knew I was passionate about my beliefs and thoughts but I had never accused a man of anything before, without solid proof that he was responsible. And yet here I was: accusing a man I had never seen before.
It was him.
"You have to trust me on this one, sir," I begged my boss to understand. "I cannot explain how or why I know, but I just know we struck a right cord. I want permission to guard this man day and night. I am convinced he will be moving again real soon. "
Skinner hesitated, urged by my strong persuasion that we were on the right track. He knew I was not often wrong. "I'll set up a stake out," he confirmed. "It will take a few hours but we might be on the right track. "
The Chief excused himself as his cell phone rang. A few moments later he came back to us. "We have another suspect," he said. "I just received a call from Allison
Mathers. She gave me the name of a man who used to belong to her circle of friends in college and seems to fit the profile. His name is Jack Delaney he's from Rhode Island. And guess what? He has a wrap sheet. It seems that you might have been wrong in one area or another, Agent Mulder. But it still helped to catch this guy. " I clenched my teeth and did not respond.
Jack Delaney was a tanned, blonde thirty-something who seemed cocky enough to want to hurt people. In fact, he had already done so. At the age of twenty-eight, he had set fire to his mother's house after she refused to move him back into the will. He had been thrown out after dropping out of college and wondering around the world for nearly a year.
This time Chief Noel thought he had enough reasons to bring the subject down for questioning. Delaney, who was staying at a friend's house in Chilmark, was brought down to Oak Bluffs for questioning. He sat down calmly in one of the small interrogation rooms and listened to Noel's explanations for why he was there.
"Me? A murderer?"
Delaney laughed, staring directly into Noel's eyes with the cockiness of a man who had nothing to lose. "You must be joking."
"You had the means, Jack. The reasons. You didn't like Allison Mathers, did you? Or better yet: she didn't like you. You tried to be her friend but she only turned you down. And now you saw the time fit to get back at her. " Delaney opened his mouth in pure shock and then started to laugh. "You're not serious."
"Yes, I am."
"I didn't do a thing!"
"Where were you on these nights?"
Noel shoved a piece of paper in his direction with the dates of the attacks."
"I don't know. I'd have to think about that."
"You don't have a conclusive alibi?"
"I didn't know I needed one!"
As the investigation continued, I turned to Skinner and Scully and shook my head. "It's not him."
"You don't know that. He seems very guilty to me," Skinner interrupted me. "And he fits your profile to the bone."
"It's Williams, sir. "
Scully had not said a word since she came back to the station. The autopsy had not turned up anything out of the ordinary. The woman had been viciously killed with a fishing knife that cut her artery so that she bled empty. She had died in the water where he had held her. He had been smart: in the water there was no chance of the blood getting on him, or him being caught in the act.
"I want to run a check on Williams, sir," I insisted. "I also want to find out if our last victim visited his shop. Perhaps the others did as well. He was in contact with the rich of this island. He might have picked his victims there. And I also want to survey him. "
"You have my permission to arrange that," Skinner said,"but you are going to your hotel and rest. You look like hell, Mulder."
"I know that, sir," I said impatiently. "Can I go back to work now?"
Scully came after me and stopped me in the hallway. "What is wrong with you, Mulder?"
she asked. "You are so unlike yourself."
"Because I want to catch this man while the others hang around doing nothing?"
While I said it, I knew I had gone too far. Of course I didn't mean it to sound like that.
"That's not fair. Chief Noel is doing his best, and he genuinely believes he might have his guy. Besides, I intend to believe that too."
"It's Williams, Scully. How many times do I have to repeat that?"
"Mulder, calm down. " She forced me to sit and came to sit next to me. "I don't know what is bugging you but you haven't been your normal self for some time. It started with that accident a few weeks back. I haven't seen you act like
yourself since. "
I shook my head. "I know, and I can't explain why."
"Why not? What are you hiding from me?"
"I have this feeling that our killer here will be responsible for something greater. He will be killing a lot more people if we don't stop him. " She looked strangely at me. "We know that he's a killer. But we knew that when he killed his last victim."
"No, Scully. I'm talking about something bigger. He knows that he doesn't have much time to do whatever he wants to do, and he wants to go out with a bang."
"What makes you so sure?"
I looked her straight in the eye. "I was warned."
"I saw something, Scully. That evening. The past few weeks. Even this morning, before going into the shower. Something is watching me, showing itself to me, and is trying to tell me that a big thing is about to happen in this very town. "
She couldn't say a single word as I continued. She was baffled of course, not expecting this at all. "
"I had a prophecy," I confessed. "If you can call it that. I know I am supposed to be here, in this town and at this exact same time. Everything that has happened so far has leaded me here and I can't leave now before it's over. If I leave, it will haunt me for the rest of my life. Perhaps I'm not even allowed to leave, who knows. "
She shook her head and then remembered what I had been saying after the accident. Now she understood. "You said then that you saw something that night, when we crashed the car. What was it? Has it got something to do with the file you were holding the next morning? Was that the reason you were so eager to go back to the office?"
I nodded. "An X-File, Mulder?"
"Yes. A legend that has existed for many years: the Mothman. " She was flabbergasted. "We are here because of a legend?"
"Mulder, you have got to be kidding me. "
I knew I shouldn't be, but I was hurt by her expression. In all those years, she still had difficulty accepting that there were things out there one could not explain. Even now, after we had been through, she still wanted to argue with me about truths that could not be explained.
"I am serious, Scully. I have seen things. I can't explain them, not even after all we have been through. This thing, whatever it is, is here to warn me. Something's about to happen that involves me, and perhaps you. It has saved us when that car crashed. It forced me to act and drive the car off the road. And it told me that the house would burn down. "
Now she stood up. "Mulder, I won't listen to this. I won't investigate because of some vision that you had. This is ridiculous. " I grabbed her wrist. "Scully, how many times have we investigated something on a hunch? This is no different. There IS a man out there killing people, and he's getting worse. We have to stop him. Believe me, Scully. "
That was all she did, and it pissed me off. "Fine then," I snapped. "I'll do this myself."
"Leave it, Scully. You are obviously not interested in what I have to say, but I understand. Keep on blaming it on fatigue and tiredness and all you need to persuade yourself I'm going nuts. But it's not going to go away. Whatever is going down in this town is going to happen soon. And I will be here to stop it. "
I moved up, grabbed the crutches and hobbled out of the hallway. She did not come after me. As I passed Skinner, I grumbled something and got out of there, into the hot and cindering outdoors. I wished I could those throw out those crutches and do everything my way. But I was forced to depend on others now. Although immobility had never stopped me before.
I did not want to admit to myself, but I was on my own. So I would have to nail Williams alone too. What a joke.
To be concluded www.sv-tales.com
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From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Dec 31 22:22:35 2002 Date: 29 Dec 2002 10:06:00 -0800 Author: Humbuggie <email@example.com> Newsgroups: alt.tv.X-Files.creative Subject: xfc: Prophecy 3/3
Prophecy By Humbuggie firstname.lastname@example.org Part Three
1 I decided to make myself unavailable to those who wanted to convince me I was either nuts or seeing things, and would pursue Williams myself. For that, I really did need someone who was on my side. And since Scully had made it so blatantly clear that she was not about to listen to me, and would convince Skinner of the same, I needed an outsider.
The best man for the job was Tom Fielding, my former colleague and pupil, and one of the best men the VCU had. He was a great guy who had only recently convinced me he had an open mind. He would no doubt ask me dozens of questions too, but he would at least believe me when I talked about Williams.
After I had hobbled with great difficulty to my hotel room, I called Davis on his cell phone and asked him for Tom's manpower. "I thought Skinner was with you?"
Davis asked surprised. "We're having difficulties," I explained, not wanting to badmouth my partner or my boss. I would be in enough trouble with Skinner as it were when he found out I had gone behind his back.
"Look, I am willing to send you Tom, but not when it compromises your relationship with Skinner," Davis told me bluntly. "I asked him to be in charge of this case despite the fact that it's not an X-File. I can't just send Tom to you now. Mulder, all I can suggest you now, is to talk things through with Skinner and your partner, and see if you can sort it out. If you still need Tom then, I will send him. "
I knew Davis was right of course. I had acted impulsively. And it wasn't even a VCU-case. It was an X-File. If only I could persuade the others of that.
"You're right," I admitted. "I'll get back in touch with you should I need help."
"Good. Good luck, Mulder."
I hung up and hobbled to the bathroom to refresh myself. I felt damp. The air-conditioning in this room only worked partly. I felt as if I could never feel cool again. I had to talk to Skinner, explaining to him what had happened before Scully gave her side of the story. Sometimes I hated her relational mind. Sometimes, I just wish that something paranormal would come along and bit her in the nose. At least then she could not deny its existence.
A knock on the door startled me. I opened it to find Scully there. She looked at me with a strange look in her eyes. "Mulder, we need to talk," she said, stepping aside to show Skinner in the doorway. "The cavalry has arrived," I grumped and hobbled aside. "Come in. " Both my boss and my partner stepped in and overlooked the slight mess I had made of the room. Hey, I had to feel at home here.
Scully sat down on the edge of the bed while Skinner remained standing. I groaned as I sat down in the chair near the small oak desk and looked at them. "To what do I owe the honour?"
"Agent Scully has been informing me on the real reasons why you are pursuing this case," Skinner began. "I must say that I'm disappointed in you, Agent Mulder. If you wanted to make an X-File out of this, you could have told me."
"Not when the X-File involves myself, sir. Besides, I didn't know what the connection was until I arrived here. "
"Are you certain there is a connection?"
Skinner asked bluntly. "Haven't you been seeing ghosts?"
"Mothmen, actually. And yes, I am certain that I saw this creature, before Agent Scully blames it on my tiredness again."
"Mulder, I think I speak for the both of us when I say we know you," Scully interfered. "You just won't listen to reason, will you? I asked you to take it easy and to relax. Instead, you've been working on cases and ignoring my
suggestions. I don't see why I should remain your doctor when you won't listen. "
"I have listened to you," I snapped. "I spent an entire week with you resting up. What you refuse to see, is that I have a good and valid case here that I want to pursue. It doesn't matter how I got to it and why. It doesn't even matter that I'm seeing things you are so keen on believing are not there. The fact is that this town has a maniac on its hands that will kill many people soon. That is what I know and am certain of. Why won't you give me the benefit of the doubt?"
"Because you're not seeing straight," Scully insisted. "Because you have kept us out of the loop, something you haven't done before when it came to an X-File. I am supposed to be your partner, Mulder, but you never told me."
"I tried to, but you wouldn't listen. " She opened and shut her mouth, as if she suddenly remembered what I had been trying to tell her. And she knew I was right.
"You're right," she sighed. "I haven't listened to you. But I am listening now."
"Look," Skinner came back. "You want to pursue Frank Williams and I agreed to allow this. But you only have a short period of time to do so. Chief Noel is convinced he has found his guy. I can only brush him off for so long. "
I nodded. "Okay. " Scully moved to my side. "I'm sorry. " I nodded again, not wanting to give in to her pleads just yet. But I knew that tonight, we would be sitting in a car together, watching Frank Williams' every move. And it would prove that I was right. Hopefully.
The shop closed at eight, allowing the tourists to return their materials in time after enjoying a hot summer's day. We sat in the rental car parked across the street and watched Williams move back and forth in his shop. "If you're right about him, he would be killing again tonight," Scully said, breaking the silent tension that rested between us.
Skinner was at the police station, following Chief Noel's suspect to make sure he was not the one. "Yep," I responded. "He wouldn't be able to wait another minute."
"What do you think he'll do?"
"I don't know. Perhaps he'll start a killing spree. Perhaps he'll use other means to hurt people."
"And always aimed at islanders."
"Why would he hate them so much?"
"He probably just hates himself. "
She sighed and chewed on a bagel. She was not the type of agent who enjoyed long, boring stakeouts. But sometimes they were a necessity. I glanced aside. If something were to happen, she would be the one going after him. I could hardly even hobble correctly, let alone pursue our suspect. She was a big girl though. I just hoped that the Mothman wasn't trying to tell me he would take her as his next victim.
"You're worried about me," she remarked. "You think I might be in danger. " I nodded. "Is that why you didn't tell me?"
"Amongst other reasons. And because I knew you would go all nuts when you learned this was an X-File and not a VCU-case."
"Mulder, I'm not saying that I don't believe you, but it's difficult to grasp the idea that you are that creature's target. Why?"
"Because he believes I might be able to stop Williams."
"So all of this was arranged? Our being here, the investigation ' I looked at her. "Scully, you believe in fate. You are certain that sometimes we are meant to be at certain places at certain times. This is one of those times. I am as certain of that as I am of living and breathing. " She nodded.
By that time Williams closed up shop, stepped into an open 4x4 and drove off in the direction of the harbour. "He's on the move. " Scully started the car and drove behind him, experienced in tracking people. She remained at a distance on the coast road that brought Williams from Oak Bluffs to the Vineyard Harbour. What was he going to do there?
Williams parked the jeep at a few reserved parking spaces and turned off the engine. Or so we could tell. Then he remained there seated. Scully parked the car across the street, from where we had a good look on the guy.
For hours he did not move. He just sat in his jeep, staring at the harbour. He did nothing. It almost made me wish he would at least get out of the vehicle and start doing something.
As the darkness fell, Scully yawned. "I'm famished."
"I know," I groaned, feeling my empty stomach protest painfully. "Can't we just pick him up for doing nothing?"
"I wish. " The moment she said that, Williams opened his car door and stepped out. He was on the move. On foot.
"You stay put," my partner ordered. "I'm going after him."
"Be careful!' I picked up the phone and dialled Skinner's number, explaining to him where we were. He promised to be there in less than fifteen minutes.
I could not tell where the two were going. I saw Williams, clad in shorts and shirt walk towards the harbour. He moved on the docks, between the boats, and then I saw nothing. Scully was behind him, cautious not to be surprised by him.
I stepped out of the car, took my crutches with much difficulty and hopped in the direction of the docks, making sure I stayed behind boats so that he would not see me, in case he came back. I had no idea where Scully was.
Something was not right. I looked up in the sky and saw red and white lights, dancing. They moved closer to me. Only an inch from me a streetlight exploded. Glass shattered all over the ground. I jumped backwards in shock as the creature that had haunted me for so many days now, flew directly into me, coming from the docks. Its red eyes would forever stay with me.
In my attempt to avoid it, I fell backwards, dropping the crutches. My ass broke the fall, I thought wryly as I moved up again. My ankle throbbed in its cast, as did the tender ribs that just would not heal properly.
I crawled up, picking up my crutches. I had to find Scully. Something told me she was in great trouble. I hobbled in the direction of where I had last seen her, and called her name. It didn't matter anymore that Williams would know we were there. She was in trouble and I had to get to her.
I pulled out my gun, dropped one of the crutches and moved with the other on in the direction of muffled sounds that came only a few inches from me. I pointed my gun there. "FBI!' I called out. No one responded. The small private harbour off the big one with the ferries seemed abandoned. "Scully!' No response.
The next moment I saw him, and her. He was holding onto her, grabbing her by the throat as he pushed her towards the water. She was barely conscious. He was much stronger than he was. "Williams! Let her go!' He looked into my eyes, his own pupils as cold as rocks. He smiled. Then he pushed her forward, against one of the boats. She slumped down without giving another kick.
He came to me now, one big strong man. I aimed my gun. "Williams, stop!"
He seemed moved by pure adrenaline, ready to die on the spot if needs be. I fired just as he threw himself forward, between two boats.
I moved forward, my gun still aimed, but shaking. "Frank, give it up," I yelled. "It's over now. " I moved towards Scully, finding her unconscious, but breathing. I knelt down, felt her throat and kept my gun ready to react instantly.
If I left her here, Williams would have the benefit of speed. He might come back to kill her. Where the hell was Skinner? I stretched my back, instantly being pushed forward hard by strong hands, falling over Scully's legs and rolling onto the docks. I cried out in pain as my foot hit the boards hard and my aching body touched down.
The same hands forced the gun out of my right hand, and then I was staring into the barrel of my own weapon. Williams aimed it directly at me. "Do you want to be next?"
he hissed. "N No."
"It will be over soon. One more thing will hurt them all. Soon they'll be sorry they ever missed with me. I want you to be around to witness that, sir. Since you think you know me so well, you might as well live to experience the ordeal. "
I looked him in the eye, not showing my fear. "What are you doing?"
"I have a surprise for them all," he whispered. "You'll find parts of it in my apartment. I have no need for it anymore. I will experience the ordeal too. Tomorrow. Or the day after. "
I stared into his eyes, seeing the crazed look of a madman. He was out of control now. He would kill himself in the process of doing something so grand that it would forever be remembered. A bomb, perhaps. Something that would affect every family on this island.
"Goodnight, Agent Mulder. " I raised my arm to protect my face. Too late. With the barrel of my own gun, he knocked me out. The blow the head was so hard, it instantly send me to no-man's-land. I only felt a sharp pain, and then nothing. There, in no-man's-land, I stayed for the better part of that following night.
3 One of the horrible side effects of being hit on the head is that you wake up with a bump the size of New York city, and a headache that would make the worst hangover proud.
I woke up feeling exactly as crappy as I just described, only worse. My head felt like it was bound to explode, and the bump the size of an egg ached every time I touched it. "So don't touch it," was Scully's dry comment.
My partner and I were both taken to the same hospital we had been to before. This time it was Skinner who stood by our side and waited patiently until one of us would finally wake up. He had already contacted DC, had a few of his men sent over and organized a search party for Frank Williams, organized with the aid of Chief Noel, who could not stop apologizing after we'd woken up.
I finally saw daylight again around six or seven in the morning, after having been unconscious for the remainder of the night. My lack of consciousness obviously worried a couple of people, because I found myself monitored and checked up on every few minutes or so.
I woke up at the ER, finding Scully was resting comfortably behind a curtain. She had suffered worse than I. Williams had throttled her so badly that he was about to kill her when I arrived. It was a miracle he hadn't finished the job. Her throat felt sore and aching when she woke up, but she felt better after resting a while. All she could tell Skinner was that she had followed Williams. Then he had just vanished. The second she pulled out her gun, he was behind her and choking her. If I hadn't gotten there, she said, she would have died.
After the headache subsided a bit, I told them about what Williams had said. And unfortunately, my guesses became true. At Williams' house, equipment was found to fabricate a bomb.
4 With the arrival of more FBI-agents to work together with the local police, the tension grew. We knew now that there was only so little time before Williams would strike again. And this time, strike hard. None of us had any doubts that he would execute his plans. The question now was: where would he do it?
Everyone somehow connected to Williams was interrogated: his parents, his sister, the few friends he had, even the victims that he had attacked. Now it all came together: his revenge on Lane of course, his affection towards Allison that had never been responded, and the reason why he had taken out his last victim. Her father, manager of the local bank, had refused to give him a loan, four years ago. Every single victim seemed to have an unpleasant connection to the man, but often so small in their minds, which they had never even thought of him.
Williams however, had kept on thinking about them after all this time, slowly becoming the crazy man he now was. And it became to hold even more sense when Scully did a name search on the internet and learned that the name William meant as much as Protector.
We had him now, and yet we did not. He was gone. Verschwunden. Out of there. Gone. And we only had so much time to go on.
Scully and I, released from hospital at our own risk, returned to the docks where we had last seen him. Why had he taken us here? Why had he left his car here? Had he taken the last ferry out of there, gone to Nantucket or back to the mainland?
But Skinner's search came up empty. Williams had not been on the last ferry that left at eleven p.m. No one had seen him. He was just gone.
All the main public buildings were checked inside out. Every public hotspot was examined. Everyone who might have some sort of connection to the man, allowed the police and FBI search parties to scan their homes, businesses and vehicles. Nothing was found.
In the late afternoon, when we were starting to get desperate, Chief Noel came to us and shook his head. "It's looking for a needle in a haystack. I'm not even that sure he's still around. Why would he blow himself up? He wouldn't just stick around. "
"He knows that he has no way back," I explained. "He's gone crazy. All the little hatred he felt over the years has changed him. He doesn't want to get caught. He knows he won't survive in prison. So he'd rather die."
"Why won't he just kill himself then and get it over with," Noel growled. "At least he would save us the trouble of tracking him down. "
I shook my head. It doesn't work that way, but how to explain this to a police that never had to deal with craziness on this level before? No, Williams was still around. And the only being that could show me, was the Mothman. If he had sent me here to help save people, he would have to act now. I almost pleaded with the
creature silently to come to me and show me.
5 Evening fell and Oak Bluffs, as well as the other main towns on the island, seemed abandoned. The police had done a public warning towards them to stay indoors during the night.
During the day, the tourists had come out and scattered all over the island. They hardly knew what was going on, and even so, I doubt that they would have let it affect their vacation.
Scully and I were back at the hotel, eating a short dinner. Skinner was at the police department. "It's over," I said dark as I picked my food. "We won't find him. It can happen at any time now."
"You don't know that. He might have been threatening you just for the fun of it."
"No, Williams doesn't know the word fun if it bit him in the ass. He's planned this for some time. He wants us to know he's the one doing the bombing, whenever and where it happens. "
"He could have killed you," she spoke. "Why didn't he?"
"He said he wanted me to be there when it happened. Somehow he believed I would be."
"What does your gut feeling tell you now?"
She hesitated, barely looking up as she continued,"did that that creature warn you?"
I looked up. "Do you believe me then?"
She shrugged. "I don't know, Mulder. I believe that you might have had strange dreams. I can't accept that this thing, this Mothman as you call it, is around here, warning you against death. Why would it?"
"I don't know. " I shoved my seat backwards. "I think I'm going to get some rest. Do you mind?"
She seemed startled. "Of course not. Do you want me to come with you?"
"No, I'll be fine. I'll call you tonight."
I limped upstairs and shut the door to my hotel room behind me. For some reason, the creature had mostly shown itself inside this room. Perhaps, if I concentrated and relaxed long enough, it might come and show me what it meant to say.
I removed my jacket and left shoe, put the crutch down and rested on the bed, on top of the sheets. My mind boggled. "Come out," I whispered and closed my eyes. "Tell me what I need to say. "
The next moment I was dreaming. We were at the docks again, Scully and I, staring at the ferries that waited for their passengers. A lot of passengers got on the boat. Scully shouted something at me, and I found myself moving towards the ferry. I was on the boat then, and so was Williams. He smiled and pushed a big, red button. And an enormous explosion threw me off the boat, into the water.
I saw myself afloat; face down, in the water. My eyes were open. I was dead.
I woke up bathed in sweat, alarmed by the telephone that rang next to my ear. "Hello?"
I asked, responded to by the screeching sound of death. I knew now, that this was what the creature tried to tell me. The bomb was at the harbour, as was my death.
6 I knocked on Scully's door, startling her, explaining her that the bomb was in one of the ferries. It had to be. She stared at me for a few seconds, and then made a move on it. "I'll call Skinner. Get in touch with Chief Noel and the harbour authorities. "
As we ran towards the car that is, she ran, I limped - I knew we only had so much time. This was it. The disaster I had been foretold. My god, why hadn't I seen it earlier? It was so obvious. Williams had brought us to the boats to show that this was his plan.
And yet, I did not tell Scully everything about my dream. I could not tell her that my end might be there, alongside Williams's.
As Scully drove towards the harbour, thoughts crossed my mind. I was to die here, on the island where I was born. All this time it had been right under my nose and I had not grasped it. This was why I had been warned by the creature in the first place: to avoid the disaster that would forever affect Martha's Vineyard. My family's history rested there and now it might all blow to hell, taking a lot of people with it.
"No," I grumbled out loud,"I won't let this happen. " Scully just looked aside and was startled by my passion. If she had any idea what I was thinking, she did not comment on it. We arrived at the harbour where several ferries rested side by side. It could be anyone of these boats, I thought angrily, realizing we had too little time. Even as we spoke, one of the ferries was preparing to go to the mainland. Any minute now, the bomb might go off, sending us all to Kingdom Come.
We stepped out of the car as Skinner ran towards us. Chief Noel had driven him. "We're trying to get all the security tapes together that oversee the harbour entrance," he explained. "If Williams has been here over the past few days, we'll soon know. We monitor all the boats, so we will see which one he entered. "
I stared at the boats. Which one was it? Please, give me a sign. The last ferry was being emptied again. The authorities were working on getting them off again. Confusion set in. Nobody really understood what was going on. I shook my head. Something was off here. It just did not seem right.
"You'd better be sure about this one, Mulder," Skinner said strongly as I explained my thoughts to him. "We're getting everyone to work on those boats."
"I am certain, sir."
"Good. " Skinner moved away from us and barked his orders. We sat and stared as the bomb squads came and scanned every single boat. Nothing happened. At the same time a few of Skinner's other agents surveyed all the tapes and came up with the same result. Nothing.
Late that evening, while most passengers had already long gone home, the search was cancelled.
"Great work, agents," Chief Noel groaned as he passed us by. I looked him straight in the eye. "He was here," I insisted. "And it will happen."
"Keep on saying that and you might actually believe it. I'm not so sure. And we have lost valuable time looking for Williams. At least there you were right. "
The Chief then walked straight to Skinner to tell him off. I knew our boss would not take this lightly. It was over. I was right. A few seconds later, Skinner stood by my side and told me to go home. Not the hotel, but home. I had worked on the last bit of his patience. This time, I was to be punished for my insistence.
"I am telling you that the bomb is here," I insisted passionately, not wanting to explain how I knew this. " But Skinner knew. "Don't tell me your apparition told you. " I looked away. "Great. " Skinner sighed, raising his hands. "You are basing your ideas on dreams, Agent Mulder and I always end up having to explain this to the Directors. The next time you bump your head, I will make sure they triple check on you. You obviously see things fly."
"Obviously," I just said. "Go back to DC, agents. From now on I will take this case over, and that's the end of it. I want the both of you on sick leave as of now on. You both look like hell. We'll talk later. "
"I hate it when he calls us "agents"," I groaned, but Scully was not particularly amused. In fact, she was rather pissed that I had based my beliefs on something I had seen once again. "Thanks a lot, Mulder," she sighed, tired and angry. "I should have known better than to let myself get involved once again. Skinner is right you know: you see things fly."
"Scully, believe me," I urged her. "What I am telling you, is the truth."
"All I believe right now is that you need to get the rest you have not given yourself for so long. You disregarded my warnings and now you're paying the price. And I'm not even talking about the bump to your head last night. You should not even be up on your feet, let alone work. "
I turned cold, feeling that we were losing the intimate touch we had felt for so long. All the ground I had won over the last years was gone. We were back to the beginning of our relationship, where she would constantly argue my theories. Back to square one.
"Thanks for your trust," I said and walked out on her. She did not follow me as I limped to a police car that would bring me to the hotel. The last thing I wanted right now was to spend any more time with her. Right now, she could stuff it. And perhaps that was even for the best. As long as she was not near me, she would not die with me.
7 I knew Scully was still in the room next door and that Skinner walked around here somewhere as well, but I refused to talk to anyone. Not that they wanted to talk anyhow. They left me alone just as much as I shoved aside their companionship. I had to think about this: to put the facts straight. To listen to the creature as it forewarned me for one, last time.
For there it was, squealing and screeching inside my very room. Staring at me with those red eyes. Telling me the time had come. I didn't pack up my things. Instead, I spent a very long night staring at the ceiling. During nightfall, the ferries did not depart. The first boat would leave around nine in the morning and I would be on it.
I dressed in jeans, T-shirt and black sweater, as it could still get cold in the morning. I limped downstairs, leaving the crutches upstairs. I supported some of my weight on the strained ankle and it felt manageable. I probably wouldn't be running marathons though.
Downstairs I bumped into the daughter of the hotel owners. "How are you today?"
she asked friendly. I leaned forward and smiled. "I don't know if you could do me a favour, but I desperately need one."
"Anything," she responded.
She drove me to the Vineyard Harbour. I had not left a note for my colleagues. From now on, I was on my own.
8 The first ferry from the mainland to the Vineyard had just arrived, unloading its passengers. It would leave again in a few moments. I stopped to look at the ferry, wondering if this was the one. But it could hardly be, as it had not stayed on the island overnight. Williams would not have been able to get on it and place his bomb.
And somehow I knew this was not the one I was looking for. I looked around and scanned the other boats. The cruise.
I stared directly at the boat that delivered a tourist ferry service from Hyannis to Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island. In summer, this service was probably one of the best-used ferries around. Here, Williams could hurt as much as fifty to two hundred people. Islanders and tourists.
The first ferry left around nine-thirty and was already boarding passengers. It rested next to the mainland ferries. The Honey was a rather new ferry that supported enough facilities for people to have breakfast, lunch or dinner on it.
Tourists were eager to catch a glimpse of the two islands and mainland on board of a ship. Now, while it was still not too hot, it was a perfect way to start the day.
This was the danger boat. I didn't know why the authorities had not found a bomb on board last night, but this was the one. And I had to get on board to prove it. After last night, no one would stop this boat from leaving the harbour. No one would even believe me anymore. All I could do was find the thing myself and stop it from blowing us to Kingdom Come.
I bought a ticket for the entire tour and limped on. After another fifteen minutes or so the ferry slowly left the harbour and headed for open sea. The Atlantic Ocean lay all around us. We would go in between the two islands, and towards the mainland. And somewhere on this journey, the boat might explode. I could not shake off my dream.
My cell phone rang and I picked up. "Mulder, it's me. Where are you?"
"I'm following a hunch, Scully. Not that you care. " Silence. Then her voice came back. "Mulder, just tell me where you are. Skinner's going through the roof."
"I'm taking a fishing trip, if you know what I'll mean. I'll talk to you later, Scully."
"Mulder, wait -!"
For the first time in ages I hung up during an argument. It actually felt good to do so. Of course I knew the consequences of my actions. I knew that Skinner and Scully would be pretty pissed at me. But I couldn't care less right now. Like I said: I was on my own.
I walked through the boat, going from deck to deck, checking into lifeboats and rooms, cabins and toilets. Nothing. I could not go to the lower decks and knew I had to identify myself in order to achieve this. The captain would not be very happy with me. But it had to be done. I couldn't find Williams either. He was hiding somewhere, near his own bomb, no doubt. It didn't take long for us to reach the shores of Cape Cod, past the Kennedy-property and so many other estates these people wanted to see. And almost for an instant I thought I had gone stir crazy. That there was nothing wrong. How could it be: when it was so warm outside and so beautiful already. I was on my way to the crew's quarters when I saw the creature. Like a vision it was: strange and unworldly.
And the boat stopped.
Have you ever seen the movie Titanic? After the ice berg hit the ship, the vehicle stayed afloat for a mere two hours, not offering enough people chances of survival. The sheer silence after that boat got hit, I felt right now. The silence that came when the ship broke in half, and one of the halves went straight up, like a cork, before crashing down into the ice cold water. That was the feeling I had now.
Nothing seemed wrong, yet suddenly the engine stopped when it shouldn't have stopped. And we rested only a mile or so away from the mainland. We could actually see people standing on the beach.
I stopped the very first man wearing a jacket with The Honey, written on it. "FBI," I said, showing my badge. "I need to speak to your captain. "
The crewmember obviously did not know what was happening and guided me to the steering cabin where the captain and a few of his crew resided. I bumped straight into a heated argument about the ferry's problems.
I knew nothing of boats, except that they made me sick. I had no seaman's legs. Yet I tried to gather ideas on what to do now. We weren't that far off the shore. There were enough lifeboats to get everyone off board as soon as possible. But did we have that much time?
Outside, on the decks, people started waving at the skies as spots of red and white appeared. They saw it now too. The lights. The strangeness of the situation. Before long, panic would arise.
"What is wrong?"
I asked. "Engine failure. We can't get it fixed," the captain explained. "I just contacted the harbour to get us some help. I don't understand it though according to our equipment, everything's fine. I have men looking at the problem but they can't fix it. We just can't get the engine started. "
"I have reason to believe there might be a bomb on board," I came, causing a shockwave inside the cabin. The captain looked dumbfounded. "A bomb?" he repeated. "I thought your men double checked everything last night?"
"They did," I confirmed,"but I still believe that we are in grave danger. Is there a chance someone might have rigged the engine?"
"We would have seen it. I don't understand why it would just stop."
"Have you seen anyone inside these quarters that you didn't know? Late last night, or early this morning?"
"No. Just the cleaning crew, right before we took off, but they were our regular guys."
"Except for the blonde guy," the crewmember objected who had brought me here. "He was new. I remember because he had strange blue eyes. "
"That was Frank Williams," I explained. "The man I have been tracking down. You have to get everyone off this boat now."
"I don't have time to argue. Williams most likely placed a bomb near your engine room. You need to start evacuating people right now."
"It will take at least fifteen minutes before we can get the first boats in the water. Do we have that long?" the captain asked, panic-stricken. "Can't we look for that damned thing?"
"It's not on the upper decks," I said,"I have been searching all rooms. I believe it's on the lower deck, probably in the engine room. It will take too much time. "
"We are not so far from the shore," I said,"in worst case scenario you could lower everyone in the water. In fifteen minutes, most of them will be halfway towards the shore."
"Using the life vests?"
"Are there enough for everyone?"
"Then do it. The vests will keep everyone afloat. No one will drown. "
The captain saw I was serious and did not hesitate. He started barking his orders instantly, sending his crew scattered all over the ferry. They would have to gather everyone in a less than five minutes, sending them in the water. Damn it, why hadn't I stopped the ferry from leaving the harbour? I knew why of course: Skinner would not have believed me. No one would have. It would have happened and all these people would have died.
I called Scully. "Scully, there's a bomb on the boat I'm on: The Honey."
"We know, Mulder. We're on our way now."
"I had this idea that Williams might have been planting the bomb this morning instead of yesterday. So I urged Skinner to take a look at the security tapes of this morning. Security had overlooked the cleaning crew, allowing them on board. One man looked an awful lot like Wiliams, enough to set Skinner in motion. We should be at the Honey in less than fifteen minutes. We're on our way right now. "
I looked outside and noticed people were being let into the water. Everyone wore a life vest and helped each other. They had a twenty-minute swim ahead of them, but at least that would save them. Fortunately there weren't that many children on board. I explained this to Scully.
"Mulder, you need to get off that boat," Scully urged. You can't wait until we're there. Don't go looking for Williams, or that bomb. Don't take risks."
"Williams is on board, Scully."
"Don't go looking for him! He's not worth it. Let him die with his own bomb, like he wants to. Don't give him the luck of dying with him. "
I couldn't obey her. My life's job had been to solve crimes, to catch criminals and to lock them behind bars. I couldn't let Williams off easily. Not when he could be amongst those in the water, taking off and doing the same thing over again once he knew we were onto him. The risks were too great.
"I'll see you soon," I promised. "But you know I can't let this be."
"Mulder, no -! Listen to me. Don't do it. I'm sorry."
I asked. "I should have believed you. I swear I'll always listen to you from now on, but don't go after him. Please. Do this for me. We'll catch him another time. Save yourself. Please, Mulder. " There were tears in her voice.
I smiled. "I promise, Scully. Don't be afraid. I won't do what the Mothman made me believe."
"What is that, Mulder?"
"He told me I was going to die on this boat."
"You won't, Mulder. As long as you get off the boat now."
"I'll see you soon. I promise. "
She hung up and I made my way to the upper deck where I could oversee the people in the water. There were about a hundred of them now, scattered in the water. The boat was empty. I felt relief surge through me as I saw them make their way to the shore. I limped down towards the lower deck, as I was the only one left on the upper deck.
Most of the crewmembers now jumped into the water, abandoning their ship. If Williams was still on board, he must have known by now that he had lost. I wondered if he was in the water too, abandoning ship with the others perhaps deciding to do it again another day.
I walked through the decks with my gun in my hand. After making sure that everyone was gone, I walked to the lowest deck and looked onto the water. The first people the good swimmers - had already reached shore and were being helped by eyewitnesses from the coast.
The captain waved at me, urging me. "Let's go," he waved. "This was not the way I had planned it," a voice called out behind me, at the exact same time. I turned around, staring into the blue eyes of Frank Williams. And into the gun he held in his hand before releasing the trigger once. Twice. I couldn't even fire back. I just dropped like a log.
I woke up with the strangest sense of pain that surged through me. I could barely move and just lay there on the ground, groaning, as the pain became a horrible sensation of reality.
A face hovered over me. A hand tapped my face. "We're alone," Williams said,"like rats stuck in the belly of a ship. Did you know they lead the way outside when a ship sinks?"
"Where am I?"
"Still on the Honey, I'm afraid. You've only been out for a couple of seconds. I just harmed you, Agent Mulder. I didn't kill you, unlike your captain who won't suffer anymore. I want you to feel what it's like having your guts ripped inside out. It's worse than being shot, you know. A lot worse. "
I saw the captain. He was dead, lying face up and staring into nothingness. Williams moved up and looked over the railing at the people in the water. They were swimming like crazy towards the shore, having heard the shots. I could hear the engine of a boat as it approached us.
"It's a shame that engine gave its ghost exactly thirty minutes before the timer is to go off. That is about five minutes from now. I had nothing to do with the faltering engine, you know. I don't know what happened there. Don't care, really. It's just a pity that nobody's around to admire my work now. "
"They weren't supposed to die," I groaned. "You were stopped by something that doesn't want you to kill. " He smiled at that remark. "It doesn't matter now. I still have one victim left. That will be enough to remember me by."
"Stop this," I nearly pleaded as my side burned like fire. He must have hit me there. I felt like I was going to die right on the spot, had it not been for that constant aching feeling that kept me vivid.
"Nah. " He moved away from me and looked over the water. "There they are," he said, pointing at a boat that approached us with speed,"your saviours. Do you think they would do anything to help you?"
"Would you let them die with you?"
I shook my head, wondering if Scully knew I was still on board. She could not know. I was left to my own devices, just like in my dream. I would die here. But I'd rather die alone than with her.
Stay away, Scully, I pleaded silently. Don't die with me. I was certain this was the end of it. Any minute now the boat would be blown to bits and pieces, and there was nothing left for me to do but go. It was over.
But not for Williams. He was not finished yet. "I want her to see you, Mulder,"he urged. "Get up. " I refused to move, lying quietly on the deck with the sun beaming down on us. He came back to me, his face distraught with anger and pulled me up firmly. It was all I could do not to drop on the spot. With weakened legs he pushed me forward as the pain stung me so bad. We moved onto the front deck with its screwed-on, white painted chairs, lifeboats and life vests.
There we stood, and not so far from us was the boat with Scully and Skinner on it. It came so close that I could see Scully's shocked expression. She stood on the deck, behind the boat's driver. He wanted to lure them close enough to be hurt by the blast, using me as prey. The other boat approached us. I needed to put a stop to this.
Instinctively I let myself drop forward, going through my swaying legs, onto the deck, face up and groaning. "Hey!' he shouted. "Don't you dare die on me now!' The moment he leaned forward, I kicked him hard in the groin using the cast foot, sending him backwards against the chairs.
It was all I had left in me before I crawled on my feet. Before he was by my side, I pushed myself up, crawled on the edge and stood there balancing on my two feet for a mere few seconds.
There it was: the Mothman. He was right before me, and its red eyes stared into mine. This was it. I heard Scully scream my name as I jumped forward, plunging towards the water. The very second I hit the water surface, the boat behind me exploded, with Williams on it.
I could feel my body being moved forward, sinking deeper into the water as it was pushed and pulled by the blast, having a will of its own. I couldn't do anything. Scattering debris fell in, barely passing me. I felt my body being surged deeper into the water, and then moving forward. I could see the belly of the other, much smaller boat with my saviours on it.
I could not reach the surface. Simply could not ... reach it. And the water closed over me, taking me with it as the apparition showed itself for the very last time.
12 I was being pulled out of the water, taken there by men who had jumped into the water, then dragged onto another deck of another boat. I could do nothing to save myself. I just let it happen.
A mouth breathed air inside my lungs. Hands were on my chest. I felt nothing. Then as by miracle my lungs opened themselves and sucked in the air a human being needed so badly to survive. I coughed and was turned on my side as my body heaved until most of the water was out of my lungs. "By boat is faster," someone said,"we'll be back at the harbour in ten minutes."
"Get the paramedics there," another person ordered. "Tell them to hurry. " Oh yeah, that sounded like Skinner all right.
I was so cold now. Blankets were placed all over me, except for my side. I felt hands there. "More bandages," someone ordered. "We need to stop the bleeding. " That was Scully. No doubt about that.
"Mulder," she spoke as gently as I had never heard before. I opened my eyes and stared at the clear blue sky above her. I was lying on deck with the sun warming my body. She was there too. Her eyes were as blue as the sky. She was beautiful, caring and warm. She had gone back to her protective mode, regretting the coldness between us. I regretted it too. If I were to die now, I would have to tell her I didn't blame her for it.
"I'm okay," I whispered. "Really. Almost as good as new. " She laughed gently. "Of course you are." She grasped my hand and pressed my fingers with conviction. "Of course you are. "
I closed my eyes and let the sun warm me.
Ten days later
I printed out my final report and stashed it in the file, above the paper clippings I had gathered over the years. Scully watched me as I gave it a more recent number and then put it in the drawer under the section "unsolved". Hell, most of the files belonged there.
"Are you okay?"
she asked concerned, recognizing my weary thoughts. "Yep. " I turned and sat down again, holding onto my still-sore side. I had been released from hospital a mere two days ago and she was not exactly satisfied that I would come back so soon. But I needed this closure. If only to prove myself that I would never see the Mothman again. That I had actually survived this case.
Both Scully and Skinner had apologized vigorously during my stay in hospital but I had not blamed them for anything. If I had been a more rational person, I would not have believed me either. I had been acting crazy before. And I had to admit that I had been really exhausted.
Now I was just glad that it was over. The past ten days I had not seen a single apparition. Not a single creature with red eyes staring at me, warning me about upcoming disasters. It was gone, as was The Honey. And Frank Williams, whose human remains were scattered all over the debris the authorities had picked up after the blast.
And a disaster it would have been, had it not been for fate and a faltered engine. Even though I believed somehow that the Mothman had something to do with that.
I had slept almost careless during the last days, healing properly in a good hospital that pampered me. I had not objected to having to stay there for ten days. In fact, I had welcomed the occasion just to catch my breath again.
Scully was right about that: I should have done it ages ago. The human body was not made for twenty-hour days and restless nights.
I stood up slowly and smiled at my partner. "I was not actually planning on coming back to work this soon. I was thinking more in the line of a short break. It's been great weather these days and there's this house on the Vineyard that's been empty for a while. What do you say, Scully?"
She looked at me startled. "Did this near-death experience do something to your sanity, Agent Mulder?"
"Not at all. I'm just giving you the opportunity to experience a relaxed Mulder before we jump into things again. So, how about it?"
"As long as you don't take me on cruises or ferries, I should be set," she said and smiled.
I grinned and offered her my arm. "It's a deal, agent. " She pecked me on the cheek as we left the office, locking it on our way out.