Title: Samhain : An X-Files/Halloween story
Summary: "This is it," Sam said. He leaned his stick against the wall by the door, hung his vest on a coat rack. "The house that Loomis built."
Note: The author considers everything that happened in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: H20 to be pure fantasy and not inclusive to the Halloween timeline. If you saw the film, you'd understand why. Comments are appreciated.
A rumble of thunder woke Sam Loomis before anything else.
He lay in the dark of the bedroom. Somewhere outside the shutters, faraway lightning flickered. Another peal followed, very slowly. Rain still pattered on the sill, but the storm was dying out. It was too hot. Abby turned the furnace up again.
Sam stared at the ceiling. Beside him, Abby continued to sleep, undisturbed. Her breathing was gentle, like the rainfall. It should have soothed him back into his dreams. Instead, he listened to the night and did not go back to sleep.
He was not a believer in premonition. Sensations of foreboding, phone calls from dead family members and all that nonsense. His father would have a different opinion, probably, but then he'd spent the last twenty years of his life locked into orbit around a psychopathic madman. Some of it had to rub off eventually, right?
Even so, his heart felt heavy. It wasn't fatigue. Something else, then. Soul-tiredness. The quintessential "bad feeling." Of course it made him think of his father. Disagreeable things often did.
Abby's breathing hitched, changed rhythm. She stirred beside him. A hand crept out from beneath the covers, grasped his bare shoulder gently. "You're cold," she said to him. She was still half-asleep.
"It's all right." Sam covered her hand with his own. Small, delicate hand. Delicate enough to make his own look strong. Mother always said he had the hands of a musician, not a working man. No wonder he took to academics so easily. Written in the genes. "I'm fine."
"Should I turn the furnace up?" Abby asked.
Sam smiled. "No, please. Don't. It's all right."
"Why are you awake?"
"Why are you?" Sam asked.
Abby rolled onto her back. Golden-blonde hair spilled into her face. She brushed it away, rubbed her eyes sleepily. Like always, she wore a nightgown of flannel. The furnace up and a flannel gown. Sam didn't know how she could stand it. "Don't analyze me, Doctor Loomis. You woke me."
"I didn't make a sound."
"You woke me," Abby insisted.
"All right," Sam said. "I woke you. Now back to sleep."
"What time is it?"
Sam glanced at the clock. "Almost half-past."
"You'll be tired for classes in the morning."
"I don't have classes in the morning. Nothing tomorrow. Go to sleep, dearest."
Abby was clearly awake now. The bed shook as she bunched her pillow beneath her head, half sat up to look right at Sam. "Are you having nightmares again?"
"No," Sam said. "Honestly. I just. . . woke."
Lightning flickered. A long moment passed before the thunder. Abby shivered. "I never liked storms. Did I tell you that?"
"On our first date," Sam said.
They laughed a little at that. "The infamous first date," Abby said. "Why did you ever agree to see me again after that, Mr. Loomis?"
"Because then I never would have married, Mrs. Loomis," Sam said. He hugged her close. "It'll take more than a shower to separate me from you."
"That depends on how many showers you miss," Abby said, and nudged him in the side. "Or isn't that what you meant?"
Sam laughed. "That's not what I meant."
They kissed. Abby smiled at Sam, then shrieked. "Stop tickling! Good Lord!"
"I'm not doing anything," Sam said. He continued to tickle her.
"You bloody reprobate!" Abby said. "I'll get you for--"
The phone rang in the next room. All the house's stillness was shattered.
They stopped in mid-tussle. Sam pulled the covers aside, slipped out of bed. He wore striped boxers and nothing else. The floor was cold under his feet.
"How can you stand to be half naked in this chill?" Abby asked.
"It's like Africa in here, darling," Sam replied. "I'll be right back."
"Are you expecting a call?"
"No." Sam padded out of the bedroom, down the hall to the study. The phone rang insistently. He picked it up on the sixth ring. "Loomis residence. It's quite late."
The phone line crackled. Sam heard ghost voices on the line. International call. "Samuel?" a woman's voice asked.
Sam's heart skipped. "Mother? Where are you? What's happened?"
Sniffling on the other end. Dora Loomis-Caldwell's voice was ragged, barely recognizable. She'd been crying quite a lot. "Samuel, I have bad news for you."
"Mother, what is it?" The bad feeling returned. Unsettling in his stomach. Pressure behind the forehead. "Speak to me."
"Samuel. It's. . . it's your father."
"What about him?"
Sam stood in the short foyer of the house. He wore his only suit: a dark silk one that only saw use during faculty functions. Or funerals. A black band was tight around his right arm. A mourning band. He'd never worn one.
Mother and Abby were outside. This wasn't for them.
It was dark and small inside the house. Through one side of the foyer, his father's study was clearly visible. Heaps of papers, haphazardly-stacked books. Sketches adorned the walls. On the other side of the foyer, the living room. A few photographs on the mantel. A half-burned log waiting inside.
The lawyer was somewhere else, doing something. Sam couldn't remember the man's name. Some kind of Irish-sounding appellation. Grady, or something. Nevertheless, he'd return soon.
Sam wandered into the living room.
All the photos were old. Sam recognized Mother, much younger. In some of the pictures, a child Sam Loomis, Jr. appeared. Black-haired and thin. Nose too big. Much like himself today.
"There you are," the lawyer said. He appeared in the foyer. A stack of papers were clutched under one arm. He brandished another. It was official-looking, backed in stiff blue paperboard. "Catching up?"
Sam turned away from the fireplace. He felt almost guilty. "Yes," he said.
A few pieces of furniture here. Rocking chair with a blanket. A low coffee table laden down with texts. An overstuffed Victorian chair, the upholstery on the arms worn off. The lawyer followed Sam's gaze around the room. "It's lived-in," he said. "Doesn't have a bad value, either. Shouldn't have any problem selling it."
"What?" Sam blinked. He'd almost drifted off somewhere else. The image in his mind wasn't the room: it was the zoo. Do you want a balloon, Sammy? his father asked him. Dora, let's get him a balloon. "I'm sorry. What?"
"I guess you want to sell it," the lawyer said.
"It's mine then, is it?" Sam asked.
The lawyer nodded and smiled. "You were his sole beneficiary. Official reading of the will isn't until tomorrow. Twenty-four hours after the funeral, and all that. However, I don't expect anyone to contest his wishes. Even if he was a little. . . odd."
Sam looked at the lawyer. "What do you mean?"
The smile faded. "Well, Dr. Loomis had a reputation in Haddonfield for eccentricity. Because of, well, because of the trouble."
"Trouble," Sam said levelly.
"Uh, yes. You know, um. . ." The lawyer hesitated, as if the words were difficult to speak. His face reddened. "You do know, don't you? I mean, the FBI's been crawling all over town for weeks."
"I know about Michael Myers," Sam said.
A cold silence descended on the living room. The lawyer's face froze. Sam recognized the look: fear. Neither of them spoke. From the study, a grandfather clock sounded the half-hour.
"I'll have the paperwork sent to your hotel," the lawyer said at last.
"Thank you," Sam said.
"Is there anything else?" the lawyer asked. He shifted uncomfortably on his feet.
"No," Sam said flatly. "Thank you very much, Mr. Grady."
"Graby," the lawyer corrected.
"Yes, thank you. You've been a great help."
The lawyer put a set of keys on the stand by the door. "There you go," he said. A moment later, he was out the front door. It slammed behind him. Sam watched him go through the front window, straight past Mother and Abby to his car without a word.
Sam left the living room, picked up the keys. Two. One for the front door, the other for the back. He paused before leaving, cast a look back at the study.
So many papers. The office looked like a whirlwind had gone through it.
He entered the study. Father had a roll-top desk with a manual typewriter on it. A page was still on the roller, partially written on. A three-inch column of yellowing paper sat to the right of the keys.
Sam picked them up, flipped them over to see the first page.
THE CASE OF MICHAEL MYERS:
The neighborhood was small and unassuming. A row of similar, white-painted houses with charcoal-colored roofs. Across the street from them, long fields. In the planting season, there would be corn. Now there was fallow ground.
A swarm of police cars were parked on the driveway and part-way on the front lawn of the house. By the curb, three Medical Examiners' vans sat heel-to-toe. Yellow POLICE LINE tape surrounded the area at a distance of thirty yards. Outside of it, a handful of onlookers. A television remote van there, too. A pair of techs put together a stand-up while the reporter went over notes.
The rental Taurus approached the line. A cop stepped out into the street and waved it to a stop. Behind the wheel, Dana Scully rolled down her window.
"This a crime scene, ma'am," the cop said.
Scully showed her ID. Beside her, in the passenger seat, Fox Mulder flipped open his own. "Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. We' re with the FBI," Scully said. "You were supposed to expect us."
The cop nodded. "Yes, ma'am. Sorry. Sheriff Blaine will be glad to see you. Park anywhere. I'll get the tape."
Scully guided the Taurus underneath the tape as the cop held it up. Mulder looked out his window. "Hell of a place for a massacre," he said.
"It takes all kinds," Scully said. She parked the car in front of the lead ME van, killed the engine. "Even the heartland."
Mulder unbuckled his seat belt. He spared a glance at the faces of kids and other people watching the house. Everyone was bundled against the early winter chill. Apple cheeks all around. "Place like this, they should all be home carving jack o' lanterns. Not looking for dead bodies."
They got out of the car together. Over by the TV van, the reporter gestured wildly for her crew to get a shot of Scully and Mulder crossing the lawn to the house.
A short man emerged from the front door as they approached. His Smoky hat was down low, shading his brow completely. A dark slab of mustache decorated a flat, roughly-hewn face. He wore a sheriff's badge. His nametag said BLAIN. "You them?" he asked.
"I believe so," Mulder said. He extended a hand. "Fox Mulder. This is Dana Scully. Thanks for calling us in."
Blaine shrugged, didn't take Mulder's hand. "Figured we might as well. You'd be around soon enough." He turned his back on them. "Come on inside and see the mess. That's what you're here for."
Scully looked at Mulder. He raised an eyebrow at her and said nothing.
The inside of the house smelled like cinnamon and raw meat. Scully knew the odor: the freshly dead. Flashbulbs popped, recharge-whined in the family room up ahead. People crowded everywhere.
Four bloodstained white sheets covered bodies on the floor. They were arranged in an X, heads pointed toward each other in the center of the room. Placed at their feet were clay saucers, a hand-width across. Cones of incense still smoldered on them. The cinnamon-stink was stronger here.
In the center of the X, a bowl filled with ashes. Flakes of delicate black. Mulder leaned over it, dipped a pinkie into it. He sniffed the ash residue. "Rose petals," he said. "Burned rose petals."
"Mother and Father," Sheriff Blaine said. He pointed. "Two kids. Boy and a girl. The Parkinsons. Good family. Good people. Never thought anything like this would happen to them."
Scully knelt by an adult body, lifted the sheet. Ugly wounds on the neck. Raw and open. Mulder turned around, surveyed the room. "Who found the bodies?" he asked.
"Next door neighbor's boy. Lyle Marks. Come to see why Jim Parkinson missed football practice."
The next body was the same. Scully noted identical wounds on the neck. She moved on to the next. The next. All the same. "Mulder," she said. "Come look at this."
Mulder broke away from the Sheriff. "What is it?"
He knelt beside Scully. She lifted the sheet away from the dead body of a young girl. The wounds showed raw and red on her throat, livid against the pallor of her skin. Mulder made a pained face. "These wounds appear on all the victims. And look at the carpet."
Mulder put his hand on Scully's, eased the sheet back down. He motioned toward the next body. The father. Scully uncovered the man. Mulder's expression relaxed. "Bloodstains," he said. "That's commensurate with a slashed throat."
"Not wounds this deep," Scully said. "Sheriff, where were the victims killed? Not here, am I right?"
Blaine stood over them. "No. They were all over the house. Dragged here afterward. Least, that's what the county coroner's telling me."
Scully nodded. "That seems right. How much blood loss where the killings took place? Are there large amounts of arterial blood? Spray patterns on the walls or ceiling?"
Mulder met her gaze. "Not enough blood," he said.
"We'll have to check to be sure," Scully said.
"What are these, Sheriff?" Mulder asked. He pointed to the back wall of the room. Two paintings were removed. They rested neatly against either end of a plaid sofa. In their place, two designs had been sketched in blood. Precise. Neat lines.
"Not sure. Graffiti, looks like. Not letters."
Mulder stood up. "They're runes."
Scully covered the body. "Celtic runes?" she asked.
"Yeah." Mulder turned full-circle again. His eyes fell to the floor. "And look. On the floor. You can barely see it because the carpet's so dark. There's one on the floor."
The sheriff stepped back sharply. Four nearby policemen stopped in mid-task to stare at the floor. Scully looked, too. "I don't see anything, Mulder."
"It's there," Mulder said. He strode around the room, pointed down. "The lines are scattered from people walking through, but the pattern' s still there. And there. And there."
Scully's eyes found the thin line Mulder indicated. The carpet was dark, rust-brown, almost black. A whisper of powder traced a straight line, mussed by cop feet, at an angle to the bodies. One corner a sharp angle. Down to another, and another. "More ashes?" she asked.
"Looks like it," Mulder said.
Scully tested the consistency of the ash with her fingers, sniffed it. "This isn't from rose petals."
"Ash," Mulder said.
"Yes," Scully said. "But not rose petals."
"No. Ash ash," Mulder said. "It's a ritual burning. For closing a magical circle."
"So what's this design?"
"A triangle," Mulder said. "On a flat plane. See? The line goes off here and here. Another rune."
"Meaning what?" Scully asked.
"More Satanic crap," the sheriff said.
"Not Satanic," Mulder said. "Druidic. This is a Druidic rite of murder."
"A what?" Blaine asked.
"Mulder," Scully warned.
Mulder turned to Blaine. "This killer has a knowledge of Druidic rites of death. I don't know all the details, but the major symbology matches up. Someone performed a specific ritual here."
Blaine sighed. "What kind of ritual?"
"I don't know." Mulder looked at the wall, the two runes.
"Mulder," Scully said.
Mulder's eyes were distant. Brain working. Thoughts in-progress.
"Mulder!" Scully repeated, more sharply.
He snapped out of it. "Yes?"
"Let's look at the rest of the house."
"Good idea," Mulder said. "Thanks for your help, Sheriff. We can take it from here."
They left Blaine staring at their backs, a strange look on his face.
St. Mary's Home for Girls
"Jamie, where are you? It's time to set the table for supper!"
Sister Harriet's voice carried up from the first floor of the house, down the long hallway to the far bedroom and to Jamie Lloyd's ears. It even broke through the medium-loud noise of Green Day pumping through the speakers of her boom box.
. . . sometimes I give myself the creeps. . .
Jamie lay sprawled out across her single bed, arms holding a copy of YM suspended over her. The headline for this article read, "Obsessive Boyfriend Trouble? How to Tell Him It's All Over." There was a quiz attached.
"Jamie, do you hear me?" Sister Harriet's voice keened.
. . .sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. . .
"I hear you," Jamie muttered. "Old bitch."
"I'm coming!" Jamie shouted back. "Keep your hair on!"
. . .it all keeps adding up, I think I'm cracking up. . .
Jamie tossed the magazine aside and sat up in a huff. "Nobody else gets yelled at all day," she said. Glance around the dorm room. Nothing but empty beds on either side of the long space. Neatly made, two shelves over the head for personal belongings and a footlocker for clothes.
. . .am I just paranoid, I'm just st--
"Fine." She killed the music. "I'll set the table."
She bounced on the bed, then got up. Her sneakers lay on the floor. A second's pause to put them on. The sisters never liked anyone to come to supper without their shoes on. Even in the dead of summer.
On the way out of the room, she caught sight of herself in the long mirror by the door. She paused to check her hair. Mousy brown, pulled back into a ponytail and secured with a rubber band. Nothing to bring the boys running.
"God," she said and turned sideways. Sixteen and still no bosom to speak of. She pushed her chest out, sucked in her stomach. It was no use. No matter what she tried, she still had the lanky build of a track runner. Of course, on a good day she thought she had a sort of Kate Moss look. On a good day. "Yuck."
She tramped down the hall to the stairs. In the other rooms, younger girls were folding sheets or doing other chores. Always something to do at St. Mary's Home. Jamie thought they ought to paint, "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop" over the doors on the way in.
"There you are," Sister Harriet said when Jamie entered the downstairs dining room. Two long tables. Thirty chairs in all. Five for the sisters. Uncomfortable chairs with straight wooden backs. Antique tables with a billion scratches on them. A wide mirror hung on one wall above the sideboard. "Where've you been hiding?"
"Nowhere," Jamie said glumly.
"Well, it's almost time for dinner. Get those place settings out. You don't want to keep Sister Elizabeth waiting, do you?"
Jamie went to the sideboard, got out the placemats. "No, of course not."
"And watch your tone."
Sister Harriet lingered for a moment, then vanished into the kitchen. Jamie made a face in her general direction. "Old bitch," she said again.
First the placemats, then the napkins. The Home's flatware was dull stainless steel. No real silver in this place. Couldn't trust the girls here with that kind of thing. They were lucky to get knives.
Jamie worked one side of the table, then the other. She went back for more placemats, began to set the next table. It was mind-numbing rote work. Like every other chore in the Home. That was the idea. Grind those old-fashioned values in the old-fashioned way. By turning your brain into Jell-O.
The mirror was across from her. She glimpsed it out of the corner of her eye as she worked. It had a gilt frame. Once she'd looked real close at it, and saw that the silver reflective stuff was rotting away. Some parts of the mirror, around the edges, were black and didn' t shine at all. She didn't know mirrors got old.
She returned to the sideboard for the flatware. Handful of forks in her left, knives in her right.
She looked up.
He stood right behind her.
The wide frame of his chest framed her body. His dark, dark clothes. Some kind of jumpsuit. And the ghostly white pallor of his rubber face. The Mask. Shock of dull hair. Black holes for eyes. Doll's eyes.
A blade flashed in his upraised hand.
Jamie screamed. Flatware hit the floor and scattered. She whirled around, lashed out with her hands. Hurt him? Drive him off? Impossible. But she could--
No one there. The dining room was empty.
She took an unsteady step away, tripped on loose flatware, fell to the floor. Her elbow smacked wood and skinned. "Damnit!" she shouted.
Sister Harriet hurried into the room. Right behind her, Sister Elizabeth. The iron-gray hair twins. "What in Heaven's name is going on?" Sister Harriet demanded. "What happened?"
"Nothing!" Jamie snapped. She got off the floor, quickly, brushed at her elbow. Fingertips came away red. Bloody gash in the skin. "I fell."
Sister Elizabeth stepped forward. Her flat face was grim. It was always grim. "Look at this mess," she said flatly. "All of these pieces will have to be cleaned. And you've hurt yourself. Go find the first aid kit."
Her heart was beating too fast, her breath shallow. Without thinking, Jamie fisted her hands and hit them behind her back. She didn't want anyone to see them shaking. No one else in the room. Nowhere for him to hide.
"Are you listening to Sister Elizabeth?" Sister Harriet asked sharply.
Jamie blinked. Flash-image of him behind her lids. White rubber flesh. Bottomless pits for eyes. The same, bizarrely neutral expression, neither angry nor sad. A nothing face. A shape.
Wake up! "Yes, Sister," Jamie said.
"Pick those up and take them to the kitchen," Sister Harriet said. "Then clean that cut. You can wash the dishes after dinner with the E-room girls."
Jamie gritted her teeth. "All right, Sister."
She collected the flatware and took it to the kitchen. Sister Elizabeth gave her a poisonous look, but didn't waste any more breath complaining. Smart move. Another word out of her and. . . well, maybe not right away. Later.
In the bathroom, she touched up the cut with alcohol. Jamie winced at the sting.
When she closed the medicine cabinet, she was the only one in the mirror. Nothing but an empty shower behind her. The towel closet was too small to hold him. Safe in here. Sturdy lock on the door. All the locks were sturdy. She checked them one by one when she first came here.
How long before she could sleep nights without waking up at every sound? Not the first year. Not even the second year. How long before she stopped being afraid of the dark? The other kids laughed at her night light.
"What's the matter, Jamie?" they asked. "Scared of monsters?"
They didn't understand.
Sometimes monsters are real.
They drove past a brightly colored sign by the side of the road: HADDONFIELD, ILLINOIS -- A FAMILY COMMUNITY! A row of smaller signs, Rotary, VFW and others, lined the bottom half of the display. Behind them, the sun gave out its last rays of the day and settled below the horizon.
Scully glanced back at it. The first row of houses approached fast. She slowed to observe the posted speed limit. "I told you this was the wrong way, Mulder. Schofield is west."
"I know," Mulder said. He leafed idly through a copy of Sports Illustrated. Surprisingly, it wasn't the swimsuit edition. "I didn't want to stay in Schofield."
"Any particular reason? That is where the case is," Scully said.
"No nightlife." Mulder put the magazine away.
Scully sighed. "Do you know where we are?"
"It's twenty miles out of the way," Mulder said. "That's nothing compared to Washington traffic. We can be back in Schofield first thing in the morning for the coroner's report."
"What about a hotel?" Scully asked. "I made reservations in Schofield."
"I know. I canceled them." Mulder grinned at her. "Don't worry. I have friends here. We can find a place to stay in town."
Children played on lawns in the failing light. The streetlamps were already on. Two teenagers played Frisbee with a dog. A man coming out to get his evening paper waved at Scully as they drove by. She half-waved back, felt stupid and stopped. "You have friends who live in a Norman Rockwell painting?" Scully asked.
Mulder laughed. "A friend, actually. From college."
"An Oxford friend?"
"Yeah, he moved here after his father died. We graduated together. He stayed on staff for a while, got married. The usual things."
"What's his name?"
"Sam. Sam Loomis."
Scully drove a few blocks. Town center was dead ahead. New England-style buildings. A church steeple. All the leaves were a riot of fading colors. Her first impression was right: this place was a Rockwell. "Do you know his address?"
"No," Mulder said. "I thought I'd call him and get directions."
They passed a line of shops. A family emerged from a small grocery store pulling two-wheeled wire carts. Smiling faces. A happy town. Mulder took out his cell phone, dialed a number.
"Something weird, Mulder," Scully said.
Mulder held the phone between cheek and shoulder, rummaged in his pockets for something. "What's that? Clean air?"
"No." Scully looked around. She slowed to take a corner, looked again. "There's no Halloween decorations anywhere. No pumpkins. None of that. Not even a witch cut-out."
"You mean you don't know?" Mulder asked. He folded his phone up, put it in his pocket. "No answer. I'll try later."
"Know what?" Scully asked.
"This is Haddonfield," Mulder said. "That doesn't sound familiar?"
Scully thought. Then it clicked. "The Myers killings?"
"On the nose," Mulder said. "Three separate murder sprees over a ten-year span. Seven years ago, the entire police force was killed during a breakout. The Bureau had thirty agents on it. I'm surprised you didn't realize we were in 'Halloween Killer' country."
"Nineteen eighty-nine was a year before I joined the Bureau," Scully said. "I heard about it, but. . . he's still on the loose, isn't he?"
"Michael Myers?" Mulder looked out the window. Three kids on bikes smiled and waved at him as they passed. He grinned and waved back. "Maybe. From what I understand, he wasn't exactly a well-rounded gentleman. Seven years in the outside world is a long time for a lunatic."
"It's like something you scare your kids to sleep with," Scully said. "I remember the stories in the paper. All those families. It was horrible."
"He killed a dozen people the first time he escaped," Mulder said. "Another twenty or so the second time. The third time, well. . . he makes Ted Bundy look like an Amway salesman."
The joke bounced off Scully. She shook her head slowly. "Halloween. No wonder they don't celebrate the holiday," Scully said.
Mulder nodded. "Banned. Maybe they'll bring it back in time for the millennium."
Scully shuddered. "Well, what now? Your friend isn't answering?"
"No. Let's stop up there at that restaurant and get something to eat," Mulder said. "I don't know about you, but I'm starved."
"What do you want?" Scully asked. She steered over, put her blinker on. The few other drivers moved smoothly around her. No cut-offs. No blaring horns. It almost made her nervous.
"Anything. As long as it doesn't have cinnamon on it."
The sun was gone from the sky. Over the treetops, rust-red and bloated, a harvest moon, almost full, shone bright. It was a softer light. One better suited to him.
He walked along an old dirt road, kept a steady pace. Silver-capped boot-tips blinked in the half-glow of the moon. With each step, his spurs clinked. A musical jingle. Like a tiny bell. It soothed him.
chink. . . chink. . .
A wide-brimmed slouch hat shadowed the man's face into deep night. He preferred it that way. Bright light hurt his eyes. The gloom was much better. Secrets were hidden more readily in the dark.
His arms were tired, but it wasn't much farther now. Each hand gripped two plastic bags. They sloshed when he walked, heavy with liquid. The cuffs of his long, black coat were shot. Each time his right arm swung forward, the rune sign on his wrist was exposed.
A tattered shape loomed on the road ahead, shielded by trees, concealed by the night. Broad wooden steps, rotted with disuse. Open windows with shattered panes. Dangling shutters. A clearing of gravel and weeds on one side used to be a parking lot.
The man mounted the steps. He easily sidestepped the weak spots. This was familiar ground. Over the entrance, a faded sign read: MCSWEENEY'S ACRES -- A Fine Quality Rest Home.
Inside it was pitch dark. The man navigated by feel. Down winding, narrow halls. Deep into the old house. Boards squeaked. The walls settled a little every day. He was careful not to catch the bags on any splinters or visible nails. Every drop was important.
At last he came to wide room at the back of the house. An old skylight let in the moon's illumination. Rays of burnt orange light fell to the floor. And on him.
The man never saw him move. He did, but never when the man was around. When food was left for him, he ate it. At some point he must go out to relieve himself, but the man had never seen it. The rest of the time, he sat. And waited.
His back was to the man. Moonlight cast a strange aura through the bristly mane of hair that spiked up from his mask. The bloodless shade of the mask's skin glowed. If he heard the man approach, he gave no outward indication of it. He was utterly still.
Seven years of immobility. The man did not understand it. But enough was enough. Tonight it would end. There was work to be done. The gateway must be completed, even with the cost of blood.
The man put the bags down. They were secured shut, bulged obscenely when they rested on the floor. Rich, meaty crimson, black in the moon' s luminescence.
He circled around, in front of him. No sign of recognition in the black sockets of the mask. Not a flicker of movement. The man heard raspy breathing behind the rubber face. Steady. Undisturbed.
Night deepened. The moon rose higher, until it filled the panes of the skylight. Nearly time. Another festival drew close. The smell of it was powerful to the man. He had to smell it, too. How could he not? He
carried the gateway in his blood.
The man traced a series of runes in the air before him. Transference. Release. Power. Blood. Death. Unity. Hearth.
His head twitched at the last. A tiny inclination of the chin, barely noticeable. The man smiled to himself in the deep shadow of his face. He always understood the tenet of the Hearth. It was his credo.
Back to the bags. First the blood of the oldest member. The man pierced the plastic with one gloved finger. A trickle started. Careful to use each drop, the man walked a rune around him. Unity. Center of the family. Father-Creator.
When it was done, the man opened a second bag. He sketched a second rune with the falling drops. The power rune. The one he understood best. Hearth. Warm heart of the family.
Blood of the boy-child, almost a man. Transference. As father to son, so from veins to veins. Fire inside. Power from male to male.
And the last.
This was the widest rune. It enclosed the rest, gave power to them, lent them its focus. The man drew this with the blood of the girl-child. The most precious blood. Virgin blood.
Gateway. Passage to life beyond. Channel of the spirits.
The man returned to his place before him. He repeated the runic patterns in the air. With hands smeared in blood, he flecked him with droplets. Power signs. Demands for strength.
Both hands fisted in his lap. The man heard tendons pop. Knuckles whitened. The steady breath became rough. Shadow covered the shape of his face as the moon shrouded itself with clouds.
The man's heartbeat quickened. He stood. Slowly. Back straight. They were face-to-face. Electricity fueled the air. It was time. The stones never lied.
He turned away. Measured steps. In a moment he was gone. The man listened to him depart until the front steps of the old nursing home squeaked with his passage and left nothing beyond.
The man drew a last rune. A talisman.
"There he is," Mulder said.
Scully looked up from her plate, out through the front window of the restaurant. She saw a man approach from across the street. Thin and pale, black hair cropped stylishly short. Hawk-like nose. Mulder waved to the man and he waved back with a smile.
The restaurant was only half-full at this hour. Today's special was chicken-fried steak with three side orders. Scully was hardly finished. Mulder polished off his inside twenty minutes and ordered two desserts.
The man entered the restaurant. A cowbell tinkled on the door.
"Sam," Mulder said. He got up to meet the man.
"Mulder," Sam Loomis said. They shook hands vigorously. Sam looked over at Scully. "And who is this lovely lady?"
Scully stifled a smile. Sam had very intense, dark eyes. Handsome in an English kind of way. His accent was pleasant, almost soothing. "Dana Scully," she said. "I'm Mulder's partner. Pleased to meet you."
"Thank goodness you are," Sam said. He shook her hand, too, but very gently. "Mind if I sit down? I haven't eaten all day and, frankly, I'm starved."
"No, sit," Mulder said. He made room for Sam to get into the booth on his side.
Sam waved away a menu. "I don't need it. I've been here a hundred times. This is the only decent restaurant in town." He made an aside to Scully. "Mulder always could sniff out the best food."
"I noticed," Scully said. Mulder looked embarrassed.
"Lana," Sam called, signaling the waitress. "I'll get the usual."
"Curly or regular fries, Sammy?" the waitress called back.
"All right, honey."
Sam smiled happily. "When did you get into town? Why didn't you call ahead?"
Mulder's expression turned serious. "We're here on work, actually."
"Work?" Sam's face turned noticeably whiter. "Not Michael?"
"Myers?" Mulder chuckled. "No. This was in Schofield. A multiple murder."
"Ah," Sam said, and visibly relaxed. "Good to hear. About Michael, I mean. Not the murders. You know, we all get a little. . . edgy when you mention his name."
"Did you ever meet him?" Scully asked.
Sam shook his head sharply. "No, I didn't. He'd moved on before I came here. My father died here in '89. After the last attack."
"So was I," Sam said, and nodded ruefully. "He was good man."
Silence grew around the table. Sam smacked his thigh and smiled. "Well, that's certainly put a damper on things, hasn't it? Not to worry, we won't talk business until well after dinner. Perhaps not even then."
"Where's Abby?" Mulder asked. "I thought she'd come with you. Haven't seen her in a while."
Another bright smile. "Ah, yes. Abby. Well. She left me three years ago," Sam said. "Last I heard, she was back at Oxford. Reading for her Doctor."
"That's too bad. You should have called," Mulder said.
"Actually, I did. You were in Iowa at the time. Some kind of girl-missing case. The woman who took my call said it was another one your 'lights in the sky' files. I left a message."
"When I get back, I'll fire my maid," Mulder said.
Sam waved his hands. "But enough of this gloom and doom. I'm glad to see you. We've got a lot of catching up to do. And I'd like you to have a look at some of my father's papers, if you have the time. Very interesting stuff I'd like your opinion on."
Mulder cast a look at Scully. "Someone who wants my opinion. How nice."
"What did you father do?" Scully asked Sam.
"He was Michael Myers' therapist," Sam said.
"Michael Myers had a therapist?" Scully asked.
Sam shrugged. "Not the most popular job. Twenty years of work on the case study. I've spent the time since he died collating, studying and trying to complete what I can on my own, but it's a daunting task. The research he's done is exhaustive. I'd like to publish it someday."
"Dr. Loomis, Sr. got the Myers case by accident," Mulder said.
"Yes, and after a short while, it became his life," Sam added. "Mine, too, now. I get a stipend from various sources to continue my research. It isn't a fortune, but it's enough to live on. And I find the work very rewarding."
"Did Dr. Loomis have any insight into Myers' condition?" Scully asked.
A strange half-smile quirked Sam's face. "Perhaps a little too much insight," he said. "Doctors are expected to keep a certain amount of intellectual and psychological distance from their patients. I'm afraid that wasn't the case here."
"Your father became part of the case?" Scully asked.
"You could say that. He was killed apprehending Michael in '89."
Lana, the waitress, brought two steaming plates of food. The cook had built a hamburger five inches thick, dripping with cheese, bacon and mushrooms. A mound of fresh curly fries piled on the next plate.
"Fantastic," Sam said. "Thank you ever so much, Lana."
"Sprite?" the waitress asked.
"If you would be so kind," Sam replied. "Thank you."
Mulder watched Sam douse the entire concoction in steak sauce. "You still eat like a college student," he said. "What does that do to your insides?"
"Eating's my vice," Sam replied. "Though you can't tell. I don't think I'll ever put any weight on. Of course, don't single me out for bad habits, old friend. You still looking at dirty books?"
A red color rose to Mulder's face. Scully couldn't resist a smile.
Sam didn't have to look. "I thought so. You know, Dana, it was like an adult bookshop in our room at Oxford. Racks of the stuff. I used to sell the old ones to make extra spending money."
Mulder rubbed his eyes. "So that's what happened to my favorite leg magazine."
Sam laughed. "I knew you'd still remember that."
His good humor was infectious. They all cracked.
"It's good to see you, Mulder," Sam said at last. "It's been too long."
It was dark inside the parked Fairlane. A little light came from the radio in the dash, playing rock and roll softly. The fat harvest moon was hidden behind the clouds. Outside it was cold, but inside Sherry and Tim kept the windows fogged.
They kissed. Tim fondled her through the front of her sweater, but didn't push it. That's what she liked about him: he listened to what she wanted and didn't get "carried away," like some other guys she could mention.
Maybe they would go all the way tonight. Sherry didn't know for sure. It wouldn't be the first time for her, but she thought it might be for him. Would it be like the rest of it? Would he wait for her? Think of her?
He kissed her again. They touched tongues. Soft. Warm.
This could be a good time to find out, Sherry thought.
"I love you," Tim said.
"I love you, too," Sherry replied. And she meant it. So they were only seventeen. You could know what love was when you were seventeen. Look at Romeo and Juliet. "I do love you, Tim."
He pulled away from her. "Do you think maybe. . . you know, maybe we could. . . I don't know. I thought we might. . ."
Cloud cover broke outside. Moonlight turned the fog on the windows into a billion tiny crystals of fire. This far outside of town, without any streetlamps, it was bright enough to read by the glow of the stars, sometimes.
"I think we could," Sherry said. "But we have to be careful. I want to, but we have to be careful. I don't want to rush into anything."
"I love you," Tim insisted. He moved for her.
Sherry held him back. "Tim, wait. Let's go slow."
Tim's face fell. "All right."
The clouds shuttled across the sky overhead. New light cast across the window at Tim's back. A shadow blotted out the space right behind him. It moved.
"Oh my God!" Sherry screamed.
"What?" Tim turned in his seat, struggled with the interfering steering wheel.
The glass of the window smashed in. A hand lunged through the broken pane, seized Tim by the throat. His shouts cut off sharply, gagged by a tight grip. Cold air knifed through the warm interior of the car.
Sherry shrieked, hammered ineffectually at the door lock on her side.
Tim made a gurgling noise. Sherry glanced back, saw blood streaming over the fingers lodged in his throat. Torn skin and ruptured tissue.
She got the door open, fell onto the dirt road outside. Tears filled her eyes. Her breath came in gagging sobs. No other sound emerged from inside the car.
No looking back. No more. She scrabbled to her feet. The skin on her hands was lacerated from the gravel. Headlong into the darkness. Only Tim knew this place. She didn't know where the road led, where it emerged, nothing.
She was lost.
And he was right behind her.
She didn't have to see his face to know him.
St. Mary's Home for Girls
The beds on both sides of the long dorm room were empty. Warm still air carried the sound of soft breathing to Jamie's ears. A dozen girls, all asleep. Except her.
A bay window opened the end of the room to the street. It was on the third floor and had no trellis. No way for someone to climb up from the outside unless they had a grappling hook and a length of rope. He couldn't come through that window.
Of course, he'd find another way. Jamie was sure of that.
A few pads were scattered in the window, enough to make one girl comfortable if she wanted to read in the sunlight. Jamie curled there now, curtains thrown back away from the amber moonlight.
In the street, a clunky-looking, rust-colored Buick parked against the curb. Well, not really. Jamie saw it, but she knew enough to tell the difference between reality and a vision. Even if today it took her by surprise.
Occasionally she had a sense of him. Somewhere far away. Darkness. The scent of musty, decaying old wood. The sense of distance was soothing. It meant he wasn't coming back just then.
At least, not until the leaves turned. And Halloween was right around the corner.
"He's coming," a old woman's voice said quietly.
Jamie turned away from the window. Sister Harriet stood there, just a few feet away, the powder blue of her clothes shaded light gray by the darkness. She hadn't made a sound. A lot like him. You never heard him coming. One second, nothing. The next. . . he would just be there.
"Aren't you going to yell at me?" Jamie asked. "Tell me I'm up too late?"
Sister Harriet didn't move. Her expression was grave, but not pinched. Not like all the other times. "He's coming, isn't he, Jamie? Michael Myers."
"I don't know."
Jamie looked back out the window. The car was gone. A vision dispelled.
A floorboard creaked. Sister Harriet moved closer. "I knew Dr. Loomis," she said.
Flash-memory of the old man. Burn scars on his face. Blue eyes, filled with panic and fear. Always so afraid. Jamie frowned. Dr. Loomis died in front of her. She didn't want to remember that. "Which one?" she said flippantly. "You mean the new weirdo?"
"No," Sister Harriet replied evenly. "His father."
Jamie shivered. It wasn't cool here. The sense of his presence made her shake. His essence loomed through the shadows, lurked inside every closet. He waited for her in nightmares. She was always running. Running and hiding. Over and over. Forever.
"He told me a lot of things," Sister Harriet said. "About Michael Myers. And about you."
God, will you just go away? Jamie thought. She wanted the quiet time for herself. Without all the noise, the movement and the chatter. Sister Harriet was intruding on her thoughts.
"Why the sudden interest?" Jamie sneered. "You never talked about him before."
"What happened today?" Sister Harriet asked. "In the dining room. What happened to you, Jamie?"
"Nothing. I tripped. That's all."
"I don't believe you."
Anger flared up inside Jamie. She whirled her head around and glared at Sister Harriet. "I don't give a shit what you believe, lady! You don't know anything about it and that's it."
Stirring in the room. The noise disturbed the sleep of some of the girls. Jamie and Sister Harriet froze for a long moment. When nothing happened, Sister Harriet came even closer. Her skin was blanch in the moonlight. Every wrinkle and pore showed up starkly. "Jamie," she said. "We're not your enemies here. We--"
Jamie curled her lip. "'--want to help.' Yeah, I know."
"Then let us help. Is he coming? Do you know something?"
Go away! Get away from me! Jamie screamed inside her head. She bunched a cushion in her fist and gripped it tightly. You don't understand! Nobody understands!
Sister Harriet reached a hand out to Jamie's shoulder. "Jamie," she said.
Jamie slapped the hand away. "Don't touch me! You're not my parents, okay? My parents are dead. The Lloyds don't want anything to do with me anymore. I'm me, all right? You can't help me."
"I can't protect you from what I don't know," Sister Harriet insisted.
"Protect?" Jamie stifled a laugh. The word rattled around crazily in her head. She was tired, stressed out, and she could feel its effect on her. It was almost time to make a decision. One way or another. "You can't protect me from him. No one can. Didn't you know? He's the bogeyman."
"There's no such thing as the bogeyman," Sister Harriet said.
"Oh, yeah?" Jamie smiled grimly as Sister Harriet. "You think that if it makes you feel better. But stay the hell away from me."
She got up off the cushions and pushed past Sister Harriet. Without getting undressed, she got into her bed and pulled the covers up high around her ears. She turned her back on the old woman and waited.
Sister Harriet came to the bedside. "Don't do this, Jamie. You can't fight him alone. There are people who can help you. If you let them. People who care about you. Who love you."
I'm not listening. I'm am not listening to you, old bitch, Jamie chanted inside her head. Go away. Go away. Go away.
Eventually she did go away. Jamie sighed inwardly. Fatigue rolled over her, quelled the commotion in her thoughts, soothed her body. And made her sleep.
Sister Harriet closed the door of her room.
It was a simple space, with a bed and a desk. All of the staff at St. Mary's Home shared a single bathroom. A prayer candle burned on the bedside table. Jesus with his hands crossed over his sacred heart pictured on the side.
She went to the desk, checked her clock. It was late. Too late to call him? No. He told her anytime something happened. Maybe this was nothing, but. . . could they afford to take the risk?
The number was programmed to speed dial. Four rings before he picked up. Sister Harriet cupped the mouthpiece in her hand, glanced once around the room. No one could hear. If they heard. . .
"Hello?" Groggy voice.
"Dr. Loomis," Sister Harriet whispered into the phone.
"Harry," Sam said. His voice brightened a bit. "Late."
"It's Jamie, Dr. Loomis. I had to call."
"Wait." Sister Harriet heard papers fluttered around. Something fell. A muted curse. When Sam returned to the phone, he was completely awake. A tone of definite steel slipped into his voice. "Tell me everything."
Mulder slowed the rental Taurus to a stop in front of Sam's house and killed the engine. He took a bite of a glazed doughnut from one hand, sipped coffee from a styrofoam cup he held balanced against the steering wheel with the other.
He left Scully at the County Coroner's office with the bodies of the four Schofield victims. The post-mortem examination of those would take all morning, if not part of the afternoon. Better to leave her to her own devices and do some other work than hang around and get in the way.
The house was a squat, Cornish-styled cottage. Stoneworked exterior. Dull brown shutters for the windows. Thick-boled trees surrounded the place, littered the lawn with multi-colored leaves. All the rain gutters were clogged.
A gravel driveway was occupied by a battered silver Volvo. Bumper stickers from a half-dozen universities decorated its rear end. One of the hubcaps was stuck on with wads of duct tape.
Mulder got out.
Crisp morning air. No scent of pollution. Even the street was almost deserted. Only four other houses occupied the immediate area. The neighborhood had the feel of a development that never happened. Empty lots, trees and lots of silence. Perfect for Sam. And maybe Fox Mulder, too.
He walked up the crooked path to the front. The screen door was ajar. Mulder pushed it aside and knocked three times, loud.
No answer. Mulder tried again.
After a minute, he walked over to the front window and peered inside.
"There's no one home," Sam said from behind him.
Mulder spun around. His coffee spilled, almost hit him across the shoes. "You been taking commando lessons? I didn't hear you come up."
Sam smiled, but not much. He was dressed like a local. Down vest and plaid shirt. A gnarled walking stick hung loosely in his hand. "So much for the vaunted FBI training."
"I'm out of practice," Mulder said.
"When did you show up?" Sam asked. "I was out for my walk."
"I haven't been here long," Mulder said. "Still have that stick Abby gave you."
Sam unlocked the front door. He looked at the walking stick. Parts of it were worn to a fine polish by his grip. The rest of it was sturdy oakwood, rough-textured. "Yes," he said. "It has a certain kind of academia to it. You still have that ridiculous Speedo?"
"I thought so. Two thousand years of civilization so man could wear a rubber band around his privates. Come on in."
Sam led the way inside. Mulder caught the odor of hot tea brewing somewhere. Even stronger was the scent of old paper, dust and leather. Books lined every flat space, piled on the floor. The study, just off the foyer, was a disaster of scattered documents, ledgers and notebooks. Low ceilings kept it dark even with the bright morning sun.
"This is it," Sam said. He leaned his stick against the wall by the door, hung his vest on a coat rack. "The house that Loomis built."
"Really?" Mulder put his coat next to Sam's.
"No, not really. Belonged to some old town father," Sam said. "Dad got it on a good deal. It was supposed to be haunted."
"I guess it isn't," Mulder said.
"Not by ghosts, anyway," Sam said. "Close the door. Make yourself at home. Fancy a cup of tea? You already watered my lawn with that disgusting coffee."
"Be back," Sam said. "Sit anywhere you like. Move the books if you want to. There's not much order to any of this. And if you see the dog, let me know. He's been missing for a year."
Sam vanished down a hallway. Mulder heard pots and dishes rattle in a kitchen at the back of the house.
He wandered into the study. A roll-top desk with a manual typewriter atop it gathered dust. Sitting on a low table, an IBM clone with compact inkjet printer formed a secondary working space. A few pillows were on the floor beside the table. A stack of manuscript pages nudged up against the PC keyboard, face-down.
"What brings you by?" Sam called. "I thought you were working."
"My partner had work to do," Mulder said, raising his voice to be heard. "Examination of the bodies isn't my department."
"You pick the brains and she picks the bones," Sam said.
Mulder cleared a spot on a Victorian-styled couch with claw legs. He leaned over, pulled a page off the top of the stack. Number 1002. It was the middle of an analysis. Historical referents of Celtic myth.
He picked up a larger stack, fifty or so pages earlier in the manuscript. A line of runes, each labeled, decorated the top of one page. Mulder scanned backward, looking for an explanation.
Sam was talking. Mulder broke away from the page. "What?" he asked.
"She's a very lovely woman, I said," Sam said. "A lot like Abby, wouldn't you say?"
"What makes you say that?"
There. Mulder read quickly.
. . .not end with that. Repeated Celtic influences appear in the Myers case. Not least of which is the unexplained marking which appeared on his left wrist over a period of several weeks in 1987. Documented by photographs taken at Smith's Grove. . .
"--intelligent woman," Sam finished as he appeared. He carried a tray with a pot of tea, two cups and a few sundries. "As far as I can tell, anyway. After all, I don't know her."
Mulder looked up from the page. Sam made a face Mulder couldn't read, put the tray down on an even pair of stacks. Mulder felt sweaty under his collar. He put the manuscript pages back where they belonged.
"Anything interesting?" Sam asked.
"Sorry," Mulder said.
Sam shrugged. "Not at all. You're a Federal agent. You get paid to be a snoop."
Mulder twiddled his thumbs, thinking a of tack to take. "I didn't know Michael Myers had any strange markings on him," he said finally.
"Not many people do," Sam said. He poured a cup of tea. It was almost black. Like hot oil. Three sugars from the bowl. A dash of milk. "Still take it that way?"
"Yes," Mulder said. He took the cup and sipped it. Very strong. But good. It reminded him of late nights at university. Cramming for tests or just trying to finish a reading assignment before morning class.
"Classic example of spontaneous body modification," Sam said, as if they'd been speaking of it all along. "Like stigmata, or other psychosomatic sores. No blood here, of course. Just a black mark that took form on the skin. Almost like a tattoo."
"Could it have been?" Mulder asked.
Sam shook his head. "I don't think so. No one at Smith's Grove wanted to get anywhere near Michael Myers. He was still technically considered a catatonic at the time, but I think my father's rantings had a subliminal effect on most staff."
"What kind of marking was it?"
"Oddly enough," Sam said, "it was rune."
Mulder's cup stopped mid-way to his mouth. "A rune?"
"Well, at least it looked like a rune." His tone was dismissive, but there was something behind it. Sam looked away from Mulder, to the stack of pages, then across to the desk and its dusty typewriter. "It could have been anything, really."
"Your book talks about Celtic influences on the Myers case," Mulder said. "What else is there?"
Sam licked his lips. He studiously prepared a cup of tea for himself. "There appears to be some evidence that Michael was fixated on Halloween as a date because of its Celtic significance."
"Samhain," Mulder said.
"Uh, yes," Sam said slowly. "During his 1978 rampage, the word appeared written in blood on a local school chalkboard. And you know, Samhain was a high holy holiday for the ancient Druids. Animal and human sacrifices. Blood rituals. It's all very compelling. The Celtic aspect has become a primary component of my research into Michael's killings."
"Wasn't Myers a little young to know about that kind of thing?"
"Who knows what kids get into?" Sam said too offhandedly. "The information was readily available to anyone who wanted to look. Even in the 1960s."
"Did his family have any interest in the occult?" Mulder asked.
"Not as far as anyone could tell," Sam replied. "Upstanding people, the Myers family. Part of what made the entire incident so shocking. What exactly are you getting at?"
Mulder considered. "What did the rune on Myers' wrist look like?"
"Well," Sam said. He put his cup down, fumbled through the mess at hand until he found a pen and paper. Three quick lines. "Like that."
Something tingled at the base of Mulder's spine. He turned the page around to face himself. A triangle shape on top of a flat plane that extended off both sides.
"Are you all right?" Sam asked. "You look sick."
"What does this rune mean?" Mulder asked.
"Well, runes don't have a literal translation," Sam said. "They're more conceptual illustrations. Much like Egyptian hieroglyphics, only much more sophisticated in their blending of secular and sectarian ideas. In fact you--"
Mulder looked up at Sam, didn't say anything. Sam stopped in mid-sentence.
Sam ran a hand through his hair. "Look, I know what you're going to tell me."
"You've seen it somewhere." Sam tapped the rune.
Mulder nodded. "How do you know?"
Sam sighed. "I hoped I wouldn't. . . I prayed it was done."
Scully stripped off her bloody latex gloves, tossed them into a waste container and washed her hands in a deep, stainless-steel sink before replying to what Mulder said. She dried her hands with a clean white towel. He stood by the door of the scrub room, waiting.
"Do I have to ask what you're thinking?" Mulder asked.
"Michael Myers did not kill these people," Scully said.
"I'm not saying he did," Mulder replied. "But there is a connection."
Scully took off her scrubs, traded them in for her suit jacket. "Because of some runes scrawled on the scene of the murders? Anyone with access to a bookstore can obtain a working knowledge of Celtic magic."
"Like abduction accounts," Mulder said.
"Exactly. Besides, the process of these killings isn't consistent with the kind of psychopath Michael Myers is supposed to be. These were very precise murders. The wounds were careful."
"Like a ritual," Mulder said.
"Yes," Scully agreed. "Like a ritual. Or someone very neat."
They left the scrub room together. Scully stayed a step ahead of Mulder, forced him to hurry to catch up. Maybe if he was out of breath, he wouldn't have enough energy to put toward his latest crazy theory.
"What about the breakout in '89?" Mulder asked.
No such luck, Scully thought. "What about it?"
"Someone came in from the outside and freed Michael Myers from jail. They cut through the police force and blasted the door of his cell open with explosives. Fifty dead officers, Scully. Michael Myers doesn 't work alone."
Antiseptic hallways. They passed a few policemen. All of them kept their distance. The standard procedure. She and Mulder were Feds, not real police. A space had to be maintained between them. Sometimes Scully got tired of that.
"Scully?" Mulder asked.
Scully frowned. "Where was this accomplice in 1978? Or '88? Or when Myers committed the original murder?"
"Maybe they met later. In the institution."
"Wasn't Myers a catatonic?" Scully asked.
Mulder threw his hands up. "Obviously he was putting the catatonia on."
"Is it obvious? Sudden emergence from a catatonic state isn't uncommon," Scully said. "Especially when you're dealing with Myers' kind of case."
"Michael's pretty unique," Mulder said.
"Not really, Mulder. He just has a higher body count."
"Scully, you can't deny the connections between the Halloween killings and these murders," Mulder said. "Michael Myers had some working knowledge of Celtic lore. And there's more. In 1987, he experienced a spontaneous mark on his left wrist in the shape of a rune."
The front doors were a few yards away. Bright mid-afternoon light streamed through the glass. Cool air. Scully stopped short, turned on Mulder. "What are you suggesting, exactly?" she asked.
"Having a Druidic ritual performed so close to Haddonfield and so close to Halloween can't be coincidental," Mulder said. "What if there 's more to Michael Myers than simple psychosis? Someone else is involved in this. The fact that Michael didn't kill that family is proof enough that he's not alone."
"That's accepting a connection to Myers that I don't think exists," Scully said.
Mulder smiled his disarming smile. He took a couple steps back in surrender. "Okay, okay."
Scully shook her head at him. "Mulder," she said, "sometimes a murder is just a murder."
"Can't blame I guy for trying."
"Besides, Mulder, the only thing we know for certain is that Michael Myers didn't break himself out of jail," Scully said. "That's all. It doesn't prove an association with the Schofield murders or with anything else."
"If there isn't a collusion of some kind, who broke Michael out of jail?" Mulder asked.
"I don't know. Maybe it was the president of the Michael Myers fan club," Scully said. "Or Lee Harvey Oswald. It could have been anyone. Another nut with a fixation."
"And why the Druidic ritual?"
"We don't even know if that was a Druidic ritual. We're into an area of pure speculation. It could be something someone made up with a few Celtic trappings, and that's all."
Mulder straightened. "That's not all." "What do you mean?"
"It's for real. An energy-channeling ceremony using the blood of a nuclear family. Very old. Almost lost, but there are some records. It' s not the kind of thing you find in the New Age section of Barnes
"How do you know this?" Scully demanded. "Yesterday you didn't have any ideas."
"I spent the morning with Sam."
Oh, no. "Mulder, you didn't discuss the case with him, did you?" Scully turned to the doors and went outside.
Mulder trailed close behind. "Scully, he's the best living expert on the Michael Myers case. He's familiar with every aspect."
"This is not the Michael Myers case," Scully said. "This is the case of four murdered people. It has nothing to do with any of that!"
"I'm not so sure." Mulder dug in the pocket of his coat. He came up with a crumpled piece of paper. "Take a look at this."
Scully took the paper. "It's the marking we found on the floor around the bodies."
"That's the same symbol that manifested itself on Michael's wrist," Mulder said.
"Spontaneous body modification," Mulder said.
Scully looked at the rune for a moment. The similarity was. . . it was bothersome. "Like stigmata," she said thoughtfully.
"Exactly like it," Mulder said.
"What does it mean? Did you at least find out something useful?"
Mulder ignored the remark. "It means 'gateway.' It also means 'thorn.' "
Scully folded the paper carefully. A chill started somewhere in her stomach. She pretended it wasn't there. "Which means nothing in itself," she said. "Mulder, Michael Myers is gone. Don't you think he would have come back in seven years if he was still alive?"
"We don't know what's happening inside Michael's head," Mulder said. "He waited ten years before coming back in '88. Why then? Why not '85? This isn't a timetable we understand."
The rental Taurus was in a spot near the building. Scully headed for it. She shook her head slowly. Over time, it should get easier to discuss things with Mulder, but it seemed to get harder the longer they were together.
Mulder stayed quiet until they were in the car. He rested his hands on the wheel, but didn't start the engine. "Is this where you tell me I'm way off base?"
Scully couldn't help a small grin. "Mulder, this case is problematic enough without adding a seven-year-old unsolved murder investigation."
Mulder nodded. "So that's not good."
"Do you have any solid proof of relevance to the Schofield killings?"
"I think you should talk to Sam," Mulder said. He twisted the key in the ignition and started the car.
Scully fastened her lap belt. "I can hardly wait," she said under her breath.
"Thorn," Sam said. He held up a small, flat stone with the rune carved into it. "A very dark symbol. A curse. Something that entangles itself with the object. It can draw blood and cause great pain."
Scully sat on the ramshackle couch in Sam's study. Directly across from her, Sam hunched forward on a chair. A stack of documents, papers and photos, lay at hand. Mulder stood in the entrance to the foyer, quietly watching.
Sam's thin face was completely earnest. Suddenly, he cracked a smile. "A little too much theater?"
"A little," Scully agreed, and smiled back.
"You can roll your eyes if you like," Sam said.
Scully saw the difference in him. The night before, he was self-assured, calm. Today, he seemed deeply shaken. His hands didn't move dexterously. The fingers trembled just a little.
"Thorn is part of it," Sam said. "But only part. The rest, the gateway, that's the most important aspect. I believe that Michael isn' t wholly a man. He's a channel."
"For what?" Scully asked.
"I see you have some religious background," Sam said.
Scully unconsciously raised a hand to her collar. Cool touch of her small, gold crucifix. It seemed very delicate at that moment. "Some," she said.
"Do you believe in daemons, Dana?" Sam asked.
Scully smiled again. "I believe in their historic use," she said. "Daemons have been the explanation for everything from mental illness to the Plague. They're a physical or spiritual embodiment of unexplained phenomena. Generally negative phenomena."
"I see." Sam glanced significantly at Mulder.
"She's difficult that way," Mulder commented.
"Anyway, until the age of six, Michael was a completely normal child with an utterly normal background," Sam continued. "Then, on one night, he went completely berserk. Stabbed his sister fifty-two times with a butcher knife from the kitchen. Halloween night. When his parents discovered him, he had descended into a barely-functional catatonic state that he did not emerge from for twelve years."
"The '78 rampage," Scully said.
"He came looking for his sister. One that no one here in Haddonfield at the time could even remember," Sam said. He looked uneasy discussing it. "You don't exactly have to be a historian or Myers' researcher to know what happened then."
Scully nodded. "He tried to murder his sister and killed several other people in the process."
"My father stopped him, but only barely."
"I thought Myers was badly burned in a hospital fire."
"He was. And my father," Sam said. "That didn't put an end to Michael, though. It just slowed him down. Ten years later, he broke loose of his transport during a transfer to a lighter-security facility. Killed the driver, both attending physicians and made a beeline directly to Haddonfield."
"For his sister," Scully said.
Mulder jumped in. "No. She was dead by then. Car accident."
"That's right," Sam said. "Michael has a niece. Born in 1980 while Michael was still 'catatonic' and in custody. She was adopted by a local family after her parents' death. There was no way Michael could have known about her, but he came anyway."
"He must have heard," Scully said.
"From whom? Michael was a vegetable with a very ugly past," Sam said. "My father was his attending therapist, but they didn't exactly share much quality time together. And, besides, my father always suspected that Michael wasn't incapacitated at all. He was just waiting."
"For what?" Scully asked.
"The right moment."
Scully looked at Mulder. He had his serious look on. She turned back to Sam. "The right moment," she said.
Sam moved closer to Scully. His face was earnest. "There's more."
"I thought so," Scully said.
"I told you: Thorn is a blood-curse. That means it travels along familial lines. Father to son, mother to daughter, whatever."
"Where are Michael Myers' parents?" Scully asked.
"Dead, too," Mulder said. "Another car accident."
"Laurie Strode's daughter Jamie Lloyd is the last of Michael's line," Sam said. "Michael knows this. Instinctively, somehow. The same way he knew where to find Laurie in '78."
"And how is that?" Scully asked. I think I already know.
Sam's face remained earnest. "I believe that Michael Myers is possessed by a evil force. Something that's been cursed to his family line. What we're dealing with is not some little boy in a man's body, driven by rage. That's normal, almost commonplace. This is something far more deadly. And he can't be stopped by police or by guns."
Mulder and Sam both looked unshakably grim. Scully looked from one to the other. "You are joking," she said. No response. "You aren't."
"The rune on his wrist means gateway, also," Mulder reminded her.
"Exactly," Sam agreed. "Michael is the gateway. And he will keep coming and coming until someone closes it."
"He's back, Scully," Mulder said. "All the signs are there."
Scully stalked out to the car with Mulder right behind her. The day was failing into night. Long autumn shadows and the dark chill of evening. A fat, orange harvest moon dangled low in the sky.
She took the passenger seat, waited quietly for Mulder to take the wheel. Sam stood at the front door of his house. He waved good-bye. Scully stared out the windshield and didn't look at him.
"I guess you're not buying this," Mulder said.
"Do you?" Scully asked.
Mulder thought a beat. "The evidence is compelling," he said.
"Sure it is," Scully agreed. "When there is any. I don't think too many medical journals have study results on Michael Myers' bulletproof body."
"He didn't say he was bulletproof," Mulder said. He started the car.
"Bullet-resistant," Scully corrected. "The amazing Teflon mass-murderer."
"Scully, this is his father's life's work."
"Great, then his father can get together with Abraham Van Helsing and talk shop," Scully said. "In the meantime, I'd like to get some hard facts on the case we're working on. There's four dead people in Schofield and nothing to link them to Michael Myers."
"What's wrong with Sam's evidence?" Mulder asked.
Scully blinked in surprise. "You have to ask? Mulder, it's a list of superstition and hysteria. Were you listening to the same things I was? Daemonic possession, psychic links. Michael Myers comes off like Superman."
"Got any Kryptonite?" Mulder asked.
"This isn't funny, Mulder! Your friend needs a therapist, himself."
"How do you explain the numerous eyewitness accounts that state Michael Myers was shot repeatedly, appeared to die, then got up as if nothing had happened?" Mulder asked. "What about in 1988, when he was gunned down by the sheriff and a posse of locals, fell down a well and was sealed in with dynamite?"
"Mulder, you're talking about the testimony of people under extreme duress. The details aren't reliable in a situation like that. People who think they shot him probably missed. Any injuries he sustained were probably less extreme than they appeared."
Mulder steered the car around a corner, down a darkening lane lined with gas streetlamps. Up ahead, kids playing baseball in the street moved onto the sidewalk to get out of the way. "Then this is simply a case of hysteria," he said.
"Not entirely. The extreme burns he suffered in 1978 are documented. We'd know more about the '88 and '89 incidents if there'd been time for a physical examination following his arrest. But the literature is filled with cases of psychosis triggering extreme tolerance for pain. Rasputin is a classic example: shot, stabbed, poisoned and then drowned."
Mulder glanced over at her. "You're reaching back to Rasputin for an example?"
"Blackbeard, then," Scully added.
Scully shook her head. "Don't. . . start with me now, Mulder."
Mulder drove in silence for a few minutes. "I think we should talk to Jamie Lloyd," he said finally.
"Why?" Scully asked. "What does she have to do with anything?"
"Michael Myers has a fixation on his own family," Mulder said. "And this town. Real or not, he's adopted Druidic rituals as a motivation for his behavior. If there's even the slightest chance that he might come back and kill again, we have to do whatever we can to stop it."
"What about Schofield?" Scully asked. "Are we going to drop that case because it isn't interesting enough? A family is dead, Mulder. We have an obligation to pursue a murderer in that case, not get distracted by sensational coincidences."
"You think this is a coincidence?" Mulder asked.
Deepening night. Yellow-glowing windows. Scully watched the houses go by. Sometimes she could see inside. Picture-perfect dining rooms. A woman in one house carried a platter in and put it on the table. Some kind of roast.
Mulder's voice brought her back. "No, I don't think it's a coincidence," Scully said. "Information on Michael Myers isn't hard to come by. Someone probably found out a few things, maybe a lot of things, and employed them in their own, sick fantasy. I do not believe Michael Myers was involved. Talking to Jamie Lloyd isn't going to change my mind."
"You sure about that?"
"Sam got a call from a Sister Harriet Jorgensen at Saint Mary's Home for Girls. It's a boarding home for children with behavior problems here in Haddonfield. Jamie Lloyd lives there."
"I thought she'd been adopted."
"Apparently the Lloyds wanted her out of the house. Their natural daughter was killed by Michael in 1989. In '88, after Michael was supposedly killed, Jamie stabbed Mrs. Lloyd five times in the shoulder and chest with a pair of scissors."
"Demonic possession?" Scully mused.
"She's had a history of trouble after that," Mulder said. "Sam says the Lloyds moved out of town last year."
Mulder paused. "Schofield."
Scully wrenched her eyes off the passing houses. "What?"
"They transferred with Mr. Lloyd's company to a local office in Schofield. I checked into it: their house is five miles from the Parkinson's."
"Mulder, that means they could be--"
"I know." Mulder nodded. "They could be involved somehow. All the more reason to talk with Jamie now, before anyone else comes to the same conclusion. Sam tells me the local media is all over this 'Halloween murder' story. The lower profile we keep, the better chance we have of solving this case quickly."
Scully turned the possibilities over in her mind. How did they fit? She chewed her lip. "When did you find this out?"
"Right before I picked you up."
"Why didn't you tell me right away? This is an important break. The Lloyds are in a position to know all kinds of details about Jamie Lloyd, Michael Myers and all of it."
Mulder nodded slowly. "I know."
Scully recognized his look. "You don't think so, do you?"
"You really think Michael Myers is on his way back to Haddonfield right now."
Mulder gave Scully a serious glance. "He could already be here. The coincidence is too strong to ignore."
"That's what bothers me," Scully said.
"Too perfect?" Mulder asked. He half-smiled.
"I think you're rubbing off on me, Mulder. I'm suspicious of everything now."
Mulder chuckled. "It's about time."
Bruce Geller was a ten-year police veteran with the Chicago Police Department when a crackhead armed with a .22-caliber automatic parked a bullet in Bruce's kneecap and took him off the big-city beat permanently. After physical therapy, Bruce got most of his mobility back, but he was released from the CPD with a nice consolation package and that was that.
Luckily (or not, maybe), the Haddonfield PD had openings. They were trying to fill a lot of empty slots and they didn't really care about Bruce's trick knee. "Haddonfield's a soft beat," they told him. "Nobody runs from us around here. They're polite enough to walk."
He got the job. They didn't tell him about Michael Myers until later.
Streetlights kicked on as the last of the daylight vanished from the sky. Bruce made a wide right-hand turn onto Oakdale Avenue, cruised slowly along. Up ahead, a few kids playing stickball in the middle of the street broke up when they saw him coming. It was too dark to keep playing anyway.
Bruce didn't think he'd like Haddonfield after the hustle of Chicago. Turned out that grew on him. He met a nice woman, dated awhile, then married her. Jinny was the best wife a cop could ask for. Waited up, cooked dinner and never had a headache, even six years in. They started talking about kids last year. She promised him roast tonight.
Cream-colored Fairlane parked in front of an empty lot a few houses away. Bruce nodded at it. He used to have one just like it, except his was a ragtop. Lot of fun times in that convertible. So why was this bothering him?
He slowed to a near-stop, picked the radio mike off the dash. "Dorothy? This is Bruce. Come in."
Crackle on the speakers. "Go ahead, Bruce. What's going on?"
"Dorothy, wasn't there something on the duty sheet about a Ford Fairlane? I don't remember. Check it for me, would you?" The empty lot came into clearer view as Bruce's cruiser edged forward. Was there someone standing there? It was hard to see in the dim light from the streetlamps.
"Hold on a minute," Dorothy told Bruce. CB squawk. "Checking."
Bruce leaned forward, squinted through the windshield glare. Yes. There was a man standing in the middle of the empty lot, his back to the street. Dark clothing. Long hair spiked out backward from his head. So pale the side of his face seemed to glow. He thumbed the mike. "Check something else, would you?"
"What else, Bruce?"
"I'm on Oakdale Avenue right now. There's an empty lot between. . . 308 and 312, I think. Torn down house?"
The man didn't move. Bruce edged his cruiser up beside the curb on the opposite side of the street, shifted to PARK. The back of his neck felt crawly.
No response for a long time on the radio. White noise hissed on the speaker.
"Dorothy?" Bruce asked.
"Bruce," Dorothy said, "what's going on? This a joke?"
So still. The man was so still. He could have been a mannequin. "No joke, Dorothy. Got anything for me?"
"Tim Mullins' parents called in a missing persons this morning," Dorothy said. "Said Tim didn't come back with the car last night. Out on a date with Sherry O'Krent. Her parents said she didn't come home, either. Tag number on the Fairlane was 583OCP. What do you have, Bruce?"
Bruce looked at the license tags. "This is the car," he said.
"Listen, Bruce," Dorothy said. Her voice quavered on the speaker. "Three-ten Oakdale Avenue was the old Myers' place."
The crawly sensation turned into an itch. Bruce wiped the back of his neck. His fingers came away wet with perspiration. "I'm getting out. There's somebody here."
"I'm sending you some help," Dorothy said.
"Don't worry about it." Bruce put the mike back on the dash. The dome light came on overhead when he opened the door and got out of the car. He straightened his belt underneath the soft protrusion of his belly, popped the snap on his holster. Inside the cruiser, Dorothy was still saying something.
He crossed the street, stepped up onto the sidewalk. The lot was lumpy, sparsely-grassed. No sign of a house here. The man still had his back to the street. Bruce saw something in the man's hand, but he couldn't tell what it was.
"Excuse me, sir," Bruce called. "Could you come over here, please?"
No response. The man was a statue.
"Sir? You're on private property, sir. Would you come here, please?"
Bruce frowned. The man ignored him completely.
The ground of the lot was squishy underfoot, muddy. Bruce took careful steps. He rested his hand on the butt of his .357 revolver. Closer to the man. "Sir, I'm going to ask you one more time."
He got close enough to touch the man. The dark outfit was a jumpsuit. Navy blue, but showing almost black in this light. The hair was fake. A mask. The freak had a mask on. "Sir," Bruce said.
The man turned smoothly. A glassy, cold pain whisked across Bruce's stomach, followed by a hot, liquid spill. Bruce looked into the pallid white face of a doll. Depthless black eyes.
He's got a knife, Bruce thought stupidly.
His gaze dropped. Sickly-colored tissue drenched in crimson poked out of a foot-wide slash in his guts. His uniform was already soaked. Blood rivered down Bruce's legs, pattered on the muddy soil.
"Oh, shit," Bruce said.
Both legs gave out at the same time. Bruce fell to his knees. His bad joint twinged nastily. That hardly felt like anything compared to the rest of it.
The man was silent. Bruce looked up to the white face again.
Michael Myers buried the length of his knife in Bruce's left eye.
An older woman in a plain clothes opened the door. Mulder displayed his ID. "Sister Harriet? I'm Special Agent Mulder of the FBI. This is my partner, Agent Scully. I think you know Sam Loomis? He said we should speak to you."
Sister Harriet stepped outside, quickly closed the door behind her. The porch of Saint Mary's Home for Girls was brightly lit. Two bench swings bracketed the front door. Both big windows facing the street were flooded with light, curtains drawn. "He sent you to me?" she asked furtively.
Mulder exchanged glances with Scully.
"You know Jamie Lloyd fairly well," Scully said. "Don't you?"
"Sam tells us you called him last night. About Jamie," Mulder added.
Sister Harriet put her hand on the doorknob. "I don't think I should speak to you," she said. "I didn't know Dr. Loomis would talk to the FBI. This isn't what I wanted."
"Why did you call him last night?" Mulder asked.
"It was nothing." Sister Harriet opened the front door. "I'm sorry."
"Sister Harriet--" Scully started.
"Michael Myers is coming back," Mulder cut in. "Isn't he?"
Sister Harriet slammed the door with surprising force. Her face hardened. "Don't say that name! Someone could hear you!"
Mulder took an involuntary step back. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize--"
"Dr. Loomis should have known better than to tell you people anything," Sister Harriet continued. "We understand what's going on better than you could."
Scully cleared her throat gently. "What do you think is going on, Sister?"
The nun turned a sharp look on Scully. "He's coming back."
"What makes you think that?" Mulder asked.
"I don't have anything more to say to you," Sister Harriet said.
"Sister," Mulder said quickly. "Could we speak to Jamie Lloyd?"
Sister Harriet stopped with her back to them. Her shoulders heaved with a deep breath. "What do you expect to accomplish by that?" she asked without turning around. "You don't believe what any of have to say, anyway."
"I haven't heard what you have to say," Mulder pressed. "But I do think Michael Myers is coming to Haddonfield. Four people are dead already. I want to make sure no one else gets killed."
Scully watched Mulder and Sister Harriet closely, kept her silence. After a long moment, Sister Harriet turned to face them again. The hardness was gone from her face, replaced with something closer to exhaustion.
"She won't talk to me about it," Sister Harriet said.
"Maybe she'll talk to us," Mulder said.
Sister Harriet looked at Mulder, then at Scully. "Don't count on it, Mr. Mulder."
"Why not?" Mulder asked.
"Because the only thing that frightens her is him."
St. Mary's Home for Girls
"She stays in Room G," Sister Harriet said. "Fourteen to sixteen."
The foyer of the house was large and imposing. Dark wood and windows shrouded by nightfall. All the furniture was heavy. Scratches and dents on the legs of everything, tables and chairs. This was a home for children all right.
From somewhere farther back in the house, the sudden noise of laughter. A dozen different tones, cadences. Scully heard a television talking underneath the din. A comedy show with its own laugh track.
"How many girls stay here?" Scully asked.
"Close to fifty at any given time," Sister Harriet said. "We're very busy."
An ugly, squarish staircase dominated the rear wall of the foyer. Threadbare carpeting covered the steps. Sister Harriet led Mulder and Scully along, waved them to follow her up. "Must be hard work," Mulder said.
Upstairs it was darker. Two yellow lights provided feeble illumination for a long hallway that stretched from front to back. Plain wooden doors lined the hall. White letters painted on the panels. It was funereally still.
"When did Jamie Lloyd come to live with you?" Scully asked.
Sister Harriet sighed. "A year ago. It was a very traumatic experience for her."
"I think she's seen worse," Mulder said.
They stopped in front of Room G. Sister Harriet knocked. She glanced back at Scully and Mulder. "She's been up here most of the day. She didn't want to come down for dinner or television."
No sound from the other side of the oak door. Sister Harriet knocked again.
"Jamie? Jamie, there are people here to see you. From the FBI."
Mulder opened his mouth to say something. The quiet was broken by his cell phone. He took out, thumbed it on. "Mulder," he said.
"Let me try," Scully told Sister Harriet. She rapped gently on the closed door. "Jamie, my name is Dana Scully. I'm with the FBI. We need your help with something very important. Could we come in, please?"
"Okay," Mulder said. He turned off his phone. "We have a problem."
Sister Harriet opened the door to Room G. Twin rows of neatly-made beds. At the far end of the room, a double-window was open, panes swung out toward the street. It was Autumn-night chilly. "She's gone!"
Scully made to step into the room. Mulder put a hand on her shoulder. "We've got a dead policeman a few miles from here," he said. "Stabbed to death."
Sister Harriet entered Room G, ran to the open window, looked out. "She must have lowered herself down!" she said. "This is terrible!"
Scully glanced around the room. "Do you think she knows?"
Mulder smiled grimly. "I thought there wasn't anything to know."
"That doesn't matter," Scully said. "We've got to find her. If there's anything to this connection, she could be in real danger."
Sister Harriet stood by the window, hand over her mouth. She said nothing, stared out the open window. Mulder cast a look at her, then turned back to Scully. "See what you can find out here," he said. "I' ll check out the crime scene. Keep in touch."
"Mulder--" Scully started.
He pushed past her and went down the stairs, two steps at a time.
Scully looked to Sister Harriet. The nun's eyes were wet. "He'll kill her," Sister Harriet said. "If she's on her own, he'll find her and kill her. I know it."
"We'll find her," Scully said flatly. "Don't worry."
Scully retreated into the hallway. She took out her own cell phone and dialed.
Two rings and it picked up. "Federal Bureau of Investigation," a man said.
Seven police cruisers jammed onto the narrow lane of Oakdale Avenue, bubble lights whirling. Red, blue and white lightning bolts flickered crazily across the faces of the houses, trees and the watching neighborhood. A forensics wagon was parked in the middle of it all. Men and women in dark windbreakers divided up swabs and plastic sample bags. Incongruously, a cream Ford Fairlane was wedged into the mess.
Mulder parked the Taurus and got out. Cops set up portable lights in the empty lot between the two neighboring houses. As Mulder stepped up the curb, illumination flooded the scene, picked out the figures of a dozen officers milling around.
"Special Agent Mulder," Mulder announced to the nearest Haddonfield cop. He showed his ID. "Who's in charge here?"
The cop pointed. "Over there. Sheriff Meeker."
Mulder followed the man's finger. A big man stood with his back to Mulder, talking animatedly with two other policemen. He was built like a football player, broad-shouldered and muscular. Crew-cut black hair had a shock of white sliced through it. "Thanks," Mulder said.
He strode toward the sheriff. Flashbulbs ignited, freeze-framed the scene for a microsecond at a time. The body was visible beyond a loose line of Haddonfield police, uncovered but face-down on the grass. Blood was everywhere.
One of the cops Meeker talked to nodded toward Mulder as he approached. Meeker stiffened, waited until Mulder was on top of him before turning around.
Meeker was taller than Mulder by several inches. Stern, craggy face. But the most startling thing about him was the lightning-bolt-shaped scar that zig-zagged up from his left eyebrow and vanished into his hair, to be matched by the white streak. It cut a slash through the brow itself and seemed to point out the solid white eyeball beneath. Meeker was blind in one eye.
"Sheriff Meeker, I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI."
"I know who you are," Meeker said. He had a strong voice. Commanding. Mulder felt chastised already. "Why didn't you come by my station when you came into town?"
"I was visiting a friend," Mulder said. "I didn't have a case here. Yet."
"You tell me."
Meeker glanced around. "Where's the other one?"
"My partner is at St. Mary's Home for Girls," Mulder said.
"Did you know that Jamie Lloyd is missing?"
"No," Meeker said. "Besides, what's it to you?"
"He knows, Ben," someone said from behind Mulder. "He knows all about it."
Mulder turned around. Sam was there, bundled into a long, dark coat, scarf indifferently draped over his neck. His face looked pale and drawn. Mulder had seen that look before. During midterm examinations. Or when Sam was tortured over whether to propose to Abby.
"What did you tell him, Loomis?" Meeker grumbled.
"Everything," Sam said.
"Why the hell did you do that?"
"Because he can help."
"Says you," Meeker grunted.
Mulder looked back and forth between the men. "Somebody want to give me a clue here?"
Sam drew closer. Meeker scowled, but didn't say anything. "Ben's daughter was killed by Michael in '88," Sam said. "In 1989, when Michael was broken out of custody, Ben was the only survivor on the Haddonfield Police Force."
"I almost didn't make it," Meeker said.
Mulder glanced at Meeker's eye. He saw the pock-like indentation of a bullet-impact now. A direct head shot. "Ricochet off the bone?" he asked.
Meeker nodded slowly. "Don't know if I was lucky, or not."
"Do you have any idea where you're standing?" Sam asked Mulder.
"Crime scene," Mulder replied.
"This is where Michael Myers lived," Meeker said.
Mulder looked around. Short, soft grass trampled under dozens of cop feet. Houses on either side. A quiet, normal-looking street. No trees in the lot. Nothing. Like cemetery grounds.
"It was torn down in '89," Sam added.
Meeker gestured to Mulder. "Come see."
They moved through the cluster of police to the center of the action. Dead policeman. A coil of intestine, sugared in black dirt, poked up from beneath his corpse. "His name is Bruce Geller," Meeker said. "One of my new ones. He called in on a missing vehicle. That Fairlane by the curb. Said he was going to talk to somebody about it."
"Michael," Sam said.
Mulder looked back to the car. "You sure?"
"There's blood all over the inside of the car," Meeker said. "We haven 't found the bodies, but I figure it's just a matter of time. Couple of teenagers making out somewhere. Parents called them in missing this morning."
"Michael needed a ride into town," Sam said. His voice was bleak.
"Bruce's cruiser is missing," Meeker said. "Myers traded up."
"A police car shouldn't be too hard to find," Mulder said.
Sam's face stayed harsh. "If Michael wants to stay missing, he'll stay missing," he said. "We'll never find him."
"Sheriff?" Mulder asked Meeker.
"We've got an APB out on the car and anyone fitting Myers' description," Meeker said. "I was going to have Jamie Lloyd picked up and put under protection, but I guess it's too late for that."
"We have to find her," Sam said. "He can't get to her first."
Meeker checked his watch. "We still have some time," he said.
Mulder looked at his own wrist. Almost nine.
"It's the time," Sam explained. "We've got three hours. Michael won't kill until it's Halloween."
"Halloween," Mulder repeated.
Sam inclined his chin. "Samhain."
"We're going to need every eyeball," Meeker said to Mulder. "You in?"
Mulder nodded. "I'll do what I can."
Meeker didn't smile. "Let's hope that's enough."
Jamie waited in the low brush by the parking lot for ten minutes before she decided it was safe. Overhead, lightning bolts flickered behind gathering stormclouds. Uneven glowings that blotted out the stars and moon. An ugly, flat chunk of building squatted in the middle of a field of asphalt. A big neon sign with a moving arrow said BUS.
Only a few cars in the lot. No buses in sight. But there would be later. Two buses out of the Haddonfield/Schofield area. One at 11.30pm and the other just after two in the morning. She'd catch the 11.30.
Before it was too late.
The sensation was in the air. Or maybe it was inside of her. A dull pressure against her bones. Not quite a headache, but something. It was him, looking for her. She felt him every time.
Jamie jogged across the parking lot. A chill wind blew in ahead of the storm. She kept her jean jacket closed tightly around her against it. Only a few lights to illuminate the flat expanse of asphalt. Sodium lights. A rotten yellow shade.
Glass doors with etched-metal handles that said PULL on them. She pulled. Hot air emerged from the lobby, smacked Jamie in the face. An insubstantial layer of condensate formed on her skin, made her feel sweaty.
No one inside. Empty rows of polished wooden benches. Tiles walls glowed a faint, unearthly green under the fluorescent bulbs in the ceiling. Twin, ceiling-mounted heating units wheezed above Jamie's head.
She walked along a row of vending machines. The Plexiglas fronts of the machines were scratched, marked with graffiti. A split between snack machines and drink machines revealed an open doorway. RESTROOMS DOWNSTAIRS was spelled out in painted tiles.
A long set of glass doors opened on the side of the lobby. Covered boarding stations for the buses. Stanchions strung together with threadbare ropes were set up to keep the lines organized.
Toward the back of the lobby, a hallway that vanished out of sight. A red EXIT sign glowed over the open entrance. Jamie catalogued all of it. Three ways in. More important, three ways out.
Tinny sound of laughter from somewhere, canned and electronic.
Jamie saw the ticket counter. Glassed-in. The man inside had a portable TV on. He stared at the hand-sized screen. The expression on his face was slack. He did not move. A laugh-track roared.
Closer. The man did not respond to her presence. Totally still. Eyes locked.
"Hello?" Jamie tried.
She slowed. The TV program gave way to a commercial. No response from the man. "Mister?" Ten feet away. Jamie didn't see any blood. Was the man's chest moving? It was difficult to tell. Ceiling lights reflected off the pink skin of his exposed scalp. Bad receding hairline.
Jamie stopped at the window. Her throat hurt, tight. "Hello?"
She knocked on the window.
The man jumped. "Oh, shit!"
Despite herself, Jamie recoiled. Part of scream squeaked out of her before she clamped it off. Her heart raced. Both hands were in tight fists. Her nails cut into her palms.
For the first time, the man blinked. His expression flexed through a half-dozen forms of surprise. The skin of his face flushed red. He turned to Jamie. "Boy, you sure scared the hell out of me! I didn't see you there."
Anger flushed the fear out of Jamie's system. "How could you not see me?"
The man gestured to the TV. Stupid smile. "My favorite show."
Jamie took a Visa card out of her pocket. "I need a ticket to Chicago. One way."
All business now. The man wiped his forehead with a handkerchief from his pocket. "Okay. What time?"
"Eleven-thirty. At the back of the bus, please."
The man turned to his computer terminal. He pecked at the keys with one finger on his right hand. Very slowly. "Pick your own seat," he said. "No assignments."
"Fine," Jamie said.
Nausea stabbed through Jamie's stomach. She groaned out loud, doubled over with the sharp, intrusive sensation. The credit card tumbled out of her hand, slapped the floor more loudly than Jamie expected. She caught the edge of the counter before she fell.
The man put his hand on the glass. "Hey, kid, you okay?"
Jamie whirled around, looked back at the entrance. No one there. No shape in the darkness outside. No one revealed in the yellow glare of the sodium lights. He wasn't there. "I'm all right," Jamie managed. "I 'm okay."
The queasiness ebbed slowly. Jamie retrieved the credit card off the floor, straightened back up. She tried to smile at the man. He looked back at her, eyes wide. "You need me to call somebody for you?"
"No," Jamie said. "No. Nobody."
He's too close, Jamie thought.
"The ticket's $37.50," the man said.
"Here." Jamie gave him the credit card.
The man took it. "You Harriet Jorgensen?"
Jamie nodded. Damp patches under her arms. More sweat on her face. It was too hot in here. "She's my mom," she said.
"Got an ID?"
"I'm sixteen," Jamie said. "I don't have a license yet."
The man's eyes narrowed. "Where is your mom?"
Long pause. On the TV, riotous laughter exploded at the man. His stare faltered, drawn back to the picture. Part of his dead look reappeared. The credit card was forgotten in his hand.
"Can I get my ticket?" Jamie asked.
The man snapped out of it. "Yeah, sure. Hang on."
He ran the card through, gave it back to Jamie. She had to sign for her "mom." The ticket was a flimsy strip of computer printout, the lettering almost too faded to make out. Jamie stuffed it into her jacket pocket.
"Be a while now," the man said. He looked at his watch. "Forty-five minutes."
"It's okay," Jamie said.
The man looked around outside his booth. "Where's your stuff?"
"I didn't bring any," Jamie said. "It's okay."
"All right. Have a seat. I'll announce the bus."
Jamie made her way back to the benches. Sitting on one end, sideways with her feet up on the seat, she could watch all three of the doors at once. She kept sweating, but she didn't take her jacket off. If he came, she wanted to move fast.
Utter silence in the police car.
He sat with his hands on the steering wheel. Not gripping. Only resting.
Not so silent in the police car. The slow, steady rhythm of his breath. In. Out. It rasped against the confining rubber of the mask. No variance in the speed of it. No urgency in his manner.
Neon light from the flickering bus station sign danced on the hood of the police cruiser. Blue and red intertwined. On and off. As soulless and unchanging as the tempo Michael Myers lived.
Another hour. The evening crept toward midnight.
The first rain began to fall.
Footsteps on the tile.
Jamie's head snapped up. Her eyes opened. She fell asleep! She fell asleep!
The man from the ticket counter stopped short. He raised his hands in apology. "Didn't mean to startle you," he said. "Wanted to tell you that the 11.30's running behind time. It's the rain. Washed out the main road. They're making good time."
Jamie's heart fluttered. "How late?" she asked.
"Not long," the man said. "It'll come in a little after midnight."
"Shit," Jamie said. She dropped her feet off the bench, got up. "That' s too late!"
The man backed up. "It's only thirty-five minutes or so."
Racing thoughts. Jamie paced. Outside, rain thundered down as if the sky was broken open. A bolt of lightning illuminated every glass door in solid white for half a second. The storm growled. "I've got to get out of here!" Jamie said.
"Relax," the man said. "Want to have some coffee, or something? I got Swiss Miss, too, if you want it."
Jamie stopped moving. "Look, I don't want--"
Car engine outside. Barely audible over the water-flow noise of the rain. It stopped Jamie in mid-sentence. Every inch of her skin crawled. She looked at the main entrance. The man's gaze followed hers.
"What is it?" he asked.
Jamie ran to the doors, looked out.
A police cruiser waited in the lot. It was parked out in the shadows, where the yellow lights didn't fall on it. The nose was pointed directly at the door.
Lightning flashed again.
She saw him in the car. Wild hair. Bleached-white face.
"Oh, my God," she said.
"What's wrong?" the man asked. "Hey, maybe I should call somebody."
Jamie turned her back on the lot. "No! Don't call anybody!"
Again the suspicious look. "Why not?"
"Listen," Jamie said. "Uh, what time is it?"
Half an hour.
"Do your bathrooms work?" Jamie asked.
The man nodded slowly. Still having doubts.
"I'll be right back. Then we can call my mom. Is that okay?"
Jamie walked through the open door to the bathrooms. Stairs led downward in both directions. A man's image was drawn on one tile, a woman on the other. Jamie went into the men's room.
Ten steps down, then a sharp turn. At the bottom, a wooden door. A solid wooden door.
Jamie entered the men's room. A rusted spring squalled. A spiraling, metallic noise.
Almost totally dark inside. Weak, circular fluorescent bulbs over three dirty sinks provided the only light. The mirrors were made of polished metal, not glass. They were warped with age and scratched.
Tiny windows near the ceiling on one side of the restroom. Meshed with wire.
No one in the stalls. The whole room stank of urine.
She caught sight of herself in one of the mirrors. Hair strung together by the humidity. Face dripping with sweat. Eyes wild. Panicked, even. No wonder the man was distrustful.
The wooden door didn't have a lock on it. A metal garbage can was attached to the wall with a length of chain. Jamie couldn't use it to jam the door shut. Besides, it was empty, too light to do anything.
Jamie pounded her fists on a sink. "Damn it!" she said. Tears almost broke loose. "Damn it, damn it!"
No crying, she thought. Don't you cry!
Steel inside. She had to find the steel inside. Grab it. Hold it. Feel it.
There. No more fear.
She raised her eyes back to the mirror. The panic was gone. The expression on her face was cold and empty, but it was better than the rest. If she was afraid, she couldn't think. If she couldn't think, he would get her for sure.
All the lights went out.
The sickness returned. Gut-ripping, bone-aching. Jamie reeled, stumbled over her own feet and fell on the floor. "Oh, God," Jamie squeezed out. A deeper, more intrusive pain leached into her, joined the nausea.
Even the parking lot lights didn't gleam. It was pitch dark. That would not stop him from finding her. Not if he wanted to. And he wanted to. So badly. She was feeling it now.
Jamie crawled across the floor. Spasms clutched her intestines, kept her doubled over. Grime and mildew smeared her hands, dug beneath her nails. Her breath came in short, panicked gasps.
The stalls. Inside one of the stalls. It was better than nothing. She crawled into one, kicked the door shut with one leg, weakly.
Someone opened the restroom door. The spring protested.
Tears dripped from Jamie's eyes. The pain was too much. It reached for her heart. Her lungs were squeezed shut. Too tight. God, I can't breathe.
Slow steps on the tile. Hard-soled shoes.
Jamie didn't look. She was paralyzed by the convulsion. Close your eyes. Hail, Mary, full of grace. . .
The stall slammed open. Jamie couldn't stop it if she tried. Raw, white light washed over her. It jittered. Handheld. A flashlight.
"She's here!" a man's voice said.
Slowly. Very slowly. The pain subsided, retreated to a hard stone inside her body.
The flashlight turned away from her face. Jamie slitted her eyes, saw a shadow crouch in the door of the stall. Movement outside the restroom. Other lights. A second shadow joined the first.
"Oh, my God," a woman said. "Mulder. . ."
The man's shadow moved. Jamie felt a cool hand on her forehead. The woman. Touching her. Jamie's brain whirled. Voices nearby.
"Is that her?" asked the man's voice.
"Yes," someone else replied. "Jamie Lloyd."
"Mulder," the woman said. "She's running a high fever. Help me move her."
Jamie was too weak to talk. They lifted her up. She was carried.
Sam Loomis stood at the entrance to the bus station. Outside the glass doors, seven police cars stood parked. Bubble lights whirled, painted his face in rotating shades of electric coloration. He looked at his watch.
"Almost midnight," Mulder said. He approached Sam. Behind him, Scully stayed near Jamie Lloyd, stretched out on a wooden bench. Cold compresses and soothing words. Scully was very good at that.
A nod from Sam. "He's close."
Mulder glanced back. Meeker talked with the bus station's night manager. A guy named Toomy. Another dozen cops staked out the entrances. Shotguns and automatic pistols. Serious faces. Mulder guessed that was the right frame of mind.
"Jamie," Sam said. "She knows he's close. The fits. My father documented them."
"What causes them?" Mulder asked.
Sam did not look at Mulder. He stared outside. "He does."
"You know that sounds crazy," Mulder said.
"I believe you."
A sidelong look from Sam. "Thanks."
Sheriff Meeker approached the two of them. The power was still out. In the half-darkness, lit by the headlamps outside, Meeker's dead eye seemed to glow with its own life.
"Sheriff," Mulder said.
"Your partner called more Feds," Meeker said. "How long 'till they get here?"
"It's a team from Chicago," Mulder answered. "They're choppering out. An hour. Maybe a little more."
"It's two to twelve," Sam put in.
Meeker nodded. "We're going to have to stay here."
"Don't you think we should take the Lloyd girl to a safer location?" Mulder asked.
"There is no safer location," Meeker said.
"The police station--"
Meeker glared. "The station? Haven't you been paying attention? Take a look at my face, Agent Mulder. That answer your questions?"
Totally white eye. Staring. Staring without sight.
"I guess so," Mulder said.
"Myers doesn't care where we take her," Meeker said. "It's all the same to him."
"So what's your plan?" Mulder asked.
"My men are going to seal the building. Doors, windows, everything. Hopefully we can keep Jamie safe until your people show up. We'll put her and your partner downstairs. No way to get into those heads except through here. They'll be as safe as we can make them."
"I think I can take care of myself, Sheriff."
Everyone turned to look at Scully. Her mouth was a line. The determined set. Mulder almost smiled. "You can explain it to her, Sheriff Meeker."
"No offense, ma'am," Meeker said. "We're just concerned about your safety."
"I think you should be concerned about everyone's safety," Scully said. "Mulder, that girl is sick. I don't know what's wrong with her. It has all the earmarks of a grand mal epileptic seizure. She's all right now, but. . ."
Meeker growled. "It's him. Lewis! Upjohn! Let's lock it down. Get whatsisname to help you! Move it! We don't have much time!"
"I'll do something," Sam said. He walked away.
Meeker addressed Scully. "Keep an eye on the girl. It's her Myers wants."
No more words. The Sheriff turned his back on them, headed off toward the back entrance. Scully and Mulder were left alone.
"What's going on here, Mulder?" Scully asked.
Mulder shook his head. "Assault on Precinct 13."
October 31, 1996
Mulder unwrapped a Zagnut bar, took a bite. The paper crinkled loudly in the cavernous, open space of the bus station lobby. Nearby, a Haddonfield cop, armed with a shotgun, gave Mulder a dirty look.
"I'm hungry," Mulder said.
The cop looked away.
They crouched by the walls near each door. Mulder's Smith and Wesson lay on the floor by his right side. No one moved except Meeker, who prowled the floor of the lobby. Left, then right. Left, then right. He held his own shotgun tightly, never relaxed his grip.
Outside, the storm raged even harder.
"I don't know how you can eat," Sam said.
Mulder saw Sam crouched in the darkness. He had something in his hands. They clicked like marbles. "You want some?" Mulder asked.
"No way," Sam said.
"You two, shut up!" Meeker ordered.
Mulder finished off the candy bar with two more bites. He started to ball the wrapper up, thought better of it and dropped it on the floor. They could pick up litter later. "What are those?" he asked Sam quietly.
"My rune stones," Sam replied. He held one up into the dim light. A small, ovoid white rock. "Worry beads, I guess. Maybe more."
"I said, shut up," Meeker said.
Sam put a finger to his lips. He edged closer to Mulder. They tipped their heads together, like conspirators. "Thorn is a night-rune," Sam said. "It's ruled by darkness. This is a day-rune. So is this. Ruled by light."
One of the runes looked like the sun. The other was a set of crooked lines that didn't look like much of anything at all. "What are you thinking?" Mulder asked.
"Protection," Sam said.
"Yes." Sam fisted the runestones in his hand, thrust them back into his pocket. "Perhaps better than a gun. Under the right circumstances."
Mulder grinned in the darkness. "You're crazy, Sam."
"Aren't we all?"
Scully sat on the floor of the men's room, pistol in her lap. Nearby, laying on a bed made out of uniform service jackets, Jamie Lloyd slept fitfully. Her skin was slick with perspiration. Even in the weak light from a borrowed candle, Jamie looked pale.
What did you do to deserve this? Scully thought.
In her sleep, Jamie whimpered. She shifted on her layer of jackets. Then her eyes opened. Scully saw them emerge from sleep, bleary, and focus. "Who are you?" Jamie asked.
"I'm Dana Scully. I work with the FBI."
Jamie wiped her brow. Strands of hair were plastered to the skin. "What do you want here?"
"We want to protect you."
"If you mean Michael Myers, yes," Scully said. "Everyone seems to think he's the one who wants to get you. We want to keep you safe."
No reply. Jamie's face was uncommonly serious for a girl her age, but it had the same edge of surliness that any teen girl could summon up without much effort. She sat up hesitantly. Dizziness, Scully thought. Concomitant with a grand mal seizure.
"He's out there," Jamie said.
"How do you know?" Scully asked.
"I feel him," Jamie answered. The chill in her voice was frightening.
The door to the restroom squealed open. Scully and Jamie both leaped. The grip of her service pistol was in Scully's hand before she thought about it. "Who is it?"
A large, dark shape of a man filled the doorway. "Meeker."
Scully relaxed, let the pistol fall back into her lap. In the corner of her eye, she saw Jamie uncoil, muscle by muscle. "What is it?"
"Wanted to check up on the two of you," Meeker said. "Make sure you're all right. You all right?"
"Yes, thank you," Scully said. "Where's Agent Mulder?"
"Upstairs. Waiting like the rest of us."
Jamie got up, walked to the sinks. Scully followed her with her eyes. A little unsteady in her step, but not too bad. She was getting stronger. And no more fever, at least.
"What makes you think he'll come?" Scully asked Meeker.
Meeker looked at Jamie, too. "Her."
"Why does he want her?" It didn't seem right, talking about Jamie with her standing right there, but Jamie wasn't paying any attention to either of them. She washed her face, ran wet hands through her hair.
"Because she's alive, I guess. Because he's evil. Hell, I don't know," Meeker said. "I do know he's killed a lot of good people. Friends. . . and family."
The sheriff's voice trailed off. He looked after Jamie. The expression on his face was filled with so much pain, so much loss, that it broke Scully's heart to see it. Words seemed redundant.
"Keep that pistola handy," Meeker told Scully. "He comes for her, it's all you're going to have. And when you shoot, make sure you shoot--"
"To kill," Scully finished.
Meeker shook his head. "No. Make sure you shoot and run. Because you' re only going to slow him down. Count on that. I've seen it happen."
"I'll remember that."
One more glance around the restroom, as if Meeker expected Michael Myers to explode out of the walls. Then he eased the door shut. The spring barely protested.
"You don't believe him, do you?" Jamie asked.
Scully's attention turned back to Jamie. The girl stood by the sinks. Serious face. Wet locks of hair laying straight down the back of her neck. A sudden, vicious eruption of lightning sparkled outside, blazed through the tiny windows, set Jamie in sharp relief. "What?" Scully asked.
"You don't believe my uncle's the boogeyman."
"I don't believe in the boogeyman at all, if that's what you mean," Scully said.
No emotion. "You'd better start believing it."
Thunder boomed and rattled the windows of the bus station. Deputy Daniel Upjohn shrugged off a shiver, kept his attention on the job. They said Michael Myers was outside somewhere. That was enough motivation for any Haddonfield cop.
He was stationed by the rear entrance. The double doors of glass and metal were barred shut and chained. A recessed area in the wall held a Coke machine and Tom's snack vendor. Upjohn leaned against the curved plastic of the big Coca Cola logo and watched the rain fall.
Upjohn was good friends with Bruce Geller. They joined the force within three days of one another. Now Bruce was dead. Deader than dead. Michael Myers stuck him like a roast, left his chopped up body in an empty lot.
"Hey, Upjohn, look alive." Sheriff Meeker's gravely voice.
Upjohn looked around. He saw Meeker at the end of the hall, a big shape almost formless in the dark. "Sorry, Ben. Just thinking."
"Make sure you think with your eyes open," Meeker said. He vanished from sight.
"Yes, sir," Upjohn called after him.
Look alive, Upjohn thought. He changed his grip on his Remington pump shotgun, stretched his back a little, rolled his head on his neck. Loosen up. Stay alert. Every sound could be the right sound.
Against Upjohn's back, the Coke machine shifted.
"What. . . ?"
Upjohn turned around. Did it slide with his weight?
Puddle of water on the floor. It ran from between the machines. Upjohn didn't notice it before. He crouched, touched the liquid. Not too cold. It wasn't fresh from the outside. Was the Coke machine leaking? He heard they did that.
The machines weren't fitted into the alcove perfectly. Deep, dark spaces on either side of each vendor. Big enough for a man to slip in there sideways. For a man to. . . hide.
Upjohn shot back to his feet.
A silver flash whisked out of the darkness between the Coke machine and the snack vendor beside it. Upjohn coughed. Something painful was lodged in his chest, right below the sternum. He tried to raise the shotgun. His arms were numb.
Knife blade. Attached to an hand. Attached to an arm. Attached to. . .
Michael Myers emerged from the hidden space between the machines. The weak light from outside caught the pallid white of his mask. Wild, fake hair jutted in every direction, still wet from the storm outside. How long was he hiding? Upjohn thought desperately. How long--?
The blade yanked free. Upjohn stumbled backward. He could not breathe. No air to shout. The shotgun was still clutched in his hands. Would anyone hear the weapon if it dropped? His back hit a wooden door on the opposite side of the hall.
Myers stepped forward. Utterly silent. No splish in the pooled rainwater.
The shotgun slipped out of Upjohn's grasp. Michael lowered it to the floor.
Strength going. Hot, molten sensation of blood in his throat. Upjohn's knees folded. His back slid down the door. So slow. Like the last turn on the merry-go-round.
A strong hand on the front of his uniform. Upjohn sagged in its grip. He did not fall. Myers looked down at him. Hollow black spaces where the eyes should have been. Upjohn's vision blurred. A face became a shape. A shape became a blur.
A blur became nothing.
Dying wasn't so bad after all.
Meeker woke him. He stood over Mulder, pillar-like, no more tired-seeming than he had hours before. Or the hours before that. "One o'clock," Meeker said. "We're gonna rotate positions. Go relieve Upjohn at the back door, all right?"
"All right," Mulder said.
Mulder got up. On the floor beside him, Sam slept. His knees were close to his chin, his head and shoulders hunkered over, protecting him while he was unconscious. Mulder thought about waking him.
"Good thing you can sleep," Meeker said. "I can't."
Nothing to say to that. Mulder brushed past Meeker, walked down the long, angled hall to the back door. Outside, the storm still roared, but it was getting weaker. The worst was past. Maybe for the rest of the night, too.
Lightning flickered, flash-bulbed the hall ahead. Mulder saw the vending machine alcove, but that was all. No Upjohn.
"Sheriff Meeker!" Mulder called. He drew his weapon.
Exterior doors still secured. Mulder held his pistol two-handed in front of him, advanced slowly. Another door was wide open. Total darkness was exposed inside. Something stenciled on the wood, but impossible to read. Mulder settled his Smith and Wesson on the dark space.
"What is it?" Meeker demanded.
"Get down here."
Wetness on the floor. Mulder glanced down. Water. And blood.
"Get down here now."
Meeker ran down the hall, flanked by two men. His white eye flashed. "Where's Upjohn?"
"I was just asking myself the same question," Mulder said. "Look at the floor."
Meeker peered down. "Damnit! He's inside!"
"Tell Agent Scully to be ready," Mulder said. "Where's the attendant?"
"I don't know." Meeker turned to one of his deputies. "Go find that guy. Now!"
They stood shoulder to shoulder at the door, squinting into blackness.
"Looks like stairs," Meeker said.
"Yeah," Mulder said. "Up and down."
Meeker unlimbered his flashlight. He handed it to Mulder. The beam cut a bright swath into the shadows, revealed the concrete steps. Plain metal rail. White and green painted walls.
"I'll go first," Meeker said.
"Sheriff," Mulder said. "You gave me the light."
Meeker smiled grimly. "I guess you're right. After you."
The other deputy stood ready, shotgun up. Meeker glanced back at the man. "Keep this door secured. You hear anything, you stay out. I don't want to lose anybody else tonight. Hear me?"
Mulder stepped into the stairwell. Scan left and right. No one. His heart thudded, made it hard to breathe. He shone the flashlight downstairs. A metal door that said MAINTENANCE on it. More blood on the floor.
"Down there," Mulder said.
"Got it." Meeker leapfrogged Mulder, advanced down the stairs. Mulder stayed on the steps over the sheriff, kept the flash trained on the closed door.
Meeker paused at the bottom of the steps. "The lock's smashed," he said. "It's Myers, all right. Be ready when I open it."
"I'm right here, Sheriff," Mulder said. He trained his pistol on the door.
Meeker reached out for the knob with one hand, held his shotgun with the other.
Sweat formed on Mulder's brow.
Meeker opened the door.
Darkness moved in the corner of Mulder's vision. For an instant, his attention was divided between what was in front of him and what approached. He turned his head too late.
A dead white face made of rubber. Death mask.
"Michael--" Mulder said.
Michael Myers drove the blade of his knife into Mulder's chest, just below the ribcage. Razored, awful pain shot through his guts. A sensation like a muscle cramp seized his heart, latched onto his lungs, squeezed the life out of him.
The flashlight fell. End over end. Wild, uncontrolled light.
Somewhere very close, a shotgun discharged. Mulder felt the heat on his cheek. Michael whirled around. He kept Mulder close, like a dance partner locked to him by the knifeblade. Mulder had his back to the door. He blocked another shot.
No gun. Got to get another gun.
Blood everywhere. It was spattered on Mulder's face.
They stared into each other's eyes. Mulder saw nothing alive.
Michael thrust Mulder away from him. No balance to control the fall. Mulder flew out into the hall collapsed back against the deputy there. They fell on the floor together. Hot shotgun barrel between them.
The deputy shouted in Mulder's face: "Goddamnit, get off me!"
Trying. I'm trying.
Mulder rolled off the deputy. His insides felt like sloshing liquid. There was something wrong with his heartbeat. It didn't feel right. It didn't sound right slamming in his ears.
Another shotgun blast.
Michael over them both. The knife coming down. Again and again. The deputy screamed. Gore splashed Mulder each time the blade came up, tearing out of hot, living flesh.
Then the deputy stopped screaming.
And everything else went to Hell.
At the sound of the first gunshots, Scully leaped off the floor of the men's room. She gripped the Smith and Wesson tightly in her right hand, moved to one side of the closed wooden door. Conflicting reports of gunfire upstairs. Panicked screams. The sound of dying men.
Scully looked over at Jamie.
The girl knelt on the floor. Her entire body trembled. She clutched at herself, arms tightly bound to one another by her own grip. The terror in the exposed whites of her eyes was raw.
Scully unclipped the borrowed police radio from her belt, thumbed the TALK button. "What the hell's going on up there?"
No reply but static and crying.
"We've got to get out of here!" Jamie said.
"Agent Mulder's up there!" Scully shot back. Internally, she said, Stay calm, Dana. Don't let the fear get through to you. Calm. Stay calm. Mulder's all right.
Jamie got off the floor, the makeshift bed of jackets. "It doesn't matter! We have to leave! Now!"
An agonized wail of such crystal, perfect torment cut through the thunderous reports of guns, the confused shouting. It cut off suddenly, replaced by nothing. Another one dead.
A dozen cops in this bus station. It was impossible.
How many police died in '89?
Mulder. . .
Jamie knocked over the garbage can, used its crushed shape to boost herself up to one of the windows. Something in her hand. A piece of wood. Paper-towel roller from some dispenser in the restroom. The girl chipped away at the reinforced glass.
The decision clicked.
"Jamie, get out of the way!"
Jamie ducked. She clutched the roller close to her like a talisman.
Scully drew down on the window, tripped off four rounds into the center of the pane. Thick glass exploded, carried away shreds of fine-thread wire. Good grouping. The size of a palm. The instructors at Quantico would be happy about that.
They attacked the remains of the window together. Water poured through the opening, driven by the storm, the wind. Shards of glass cut Scully 's fingers. Jamie's hands were already bleeding.
Upstairs, the gunfire slowed. Only one gun shooting now. Deep-throated bullroar of a shotgun. A man bellowed over the gunshots. Indecipherable. Primal. Enraged.
Almost big enough now. Large enough for. . . "Jamie," Scully said. "Go on."
Scully boosted Jamie up. The girl squirmed through the jagged hole. Glass slashed at her clothes, opened new, bleeding gashes. For a terrifying instant, her hips were snagged going through. Then she was out.
No more shooting.
Footfalls on the steps.
Scully turned back to the door. "Mulder?"
"Dana! Agent Scully!" Jamie's face reappeared in the window. She gouged at the remaining glass with her wooden roller. Chips of sharp pane flew everywhere. "Come on!"
Scully held up her hand. "It might be Agent Mulder."
Slow steps. Even. Measured.
"Who's there?" Scully demanded. She raised her pistol.
The door of the restroom swung open.
"Stop right where you are!" Scully ordered.
Sheriff Meeker stepped through into the restroom.
Scully couldn't stop it. "Oh, my God," she said.
Meeker's body was covered in blood. Deep gashes rent the front of his uniform jacket. Crimson dripped down his face from a cut on his scalp. His white eye was stained with red. He still held his shotgun. Convulsively, his finger twitched on the trigger. No more ammo.
"Agent. . . Scully," he said.
"Sheriff." Scully ran to him. His clothes were sodden with his own blood. Something kept the man on his feet, but Scully didn't know what. He was a shredded mess. "Sheriff, where's Agent Mulder?"
". . . right behind me," Meeker said.
Meeker dropped to his knees. Scully struggled with the weight of him, lowered him to the floor as gently as she could. The sheriff wouldn't let go of the shotgun. He kept it clutched in a death grip.
"Who's right behind you?" Scully asked.
"Dana." A very calm voice.
Scully looked up from Meeker, back to the window. Jamie was poised there. The hole in the glass looked just big enough to let Scully through, but the fit was tight. Jamie's face was smooth, no longer panicked. "Jamie," Scully said.
"He's coming right now," Jamie said.
Meeker grabbed Scully's shoulder. with one hand. ". . . gotta run."
Scully turned to the door of the restroom. No one there. No sign.
"Just go!" Meeker managed to say. Blood bubbled on his lips.
The sound was barely a scuff. A shoe on cement. Any other time, Scully might have missed it. Adrenaline iced through Scully's heart.
She dashed to the window. Meeker was left behind, maybe dead and maybe alive. Jamie held her hands through the hole. "Come on! Give me your gun!"
Scully tossed her pistol out to Jamie, hiked herself up to the high windowsill. Ground bits of glass and metal filament stabbed her palms. Her blood slicked the concrete ledge.
She dragged herself through the hole in the window. Ignored the claws of shattered glass that grabbed at her clothes, cut through the material of her slacks. She fell out onto the asphalt of the parking lot. Rain water streamed down on her. The sky rippled with lightning.
Jamie crouched beside her. She pressed the Smith and Wesson into Scully's hand. "Here," she said. "Come on. Where's your car?"
The Taurus was parked ten yards out, beyond the ring of silent, darkened police cruisers. Scully made it to her feet and dashed for it. A deep cut in her leg made her limp, sent shocks of ache through her muscles.
They reached the car at a dead run. Scully slammed into it full on. She jammed her hand into her pocket, searched for the keys. Her fingers were slick with water and the oilier sheen of terrorized perspiration.
She thrust the key into the doorlock.
Someone grabbed her by the arm.
Scully whirled around, shoved her pistol out in front of her, squeezed the trigger.
"Oh, Christ!" Sam Loomis shouted. He deflected her gun arm. A round discharged harmlessly into the night. "It's me! It's Sam!"
"Sam!" Scully clutched his arm. "Where's Mulder?"
"He's still inside! I'm sorry, Dana! I ran! I ran away!"
Mulder. . .
Scully looked back at the bus station. It squatted there, dark and faceless. Dead neon. The place was like world's largest crypt, all its ornate decorations stripped away by time and the rain. "We can't leave him!"
On the other side of the car, Jamie shouted, "Dana, let's go!"
Sam held Scully tightly. "He's dead, Dana. We've got to get out of here! Michael is inside!"
One last look.
I'm sorry, Mulder.
"Okay," Scully said. "Let's go."
They piled into the Taurus. Scully behind the wheel. Jamie secured herself in the passenger seat with the seat belt. A moment later, Sam piled into the back. "We've got to get as far away from here as possible!" he said. "Buy time until the rest of your people get here!"
Scully twisted the key in the ignition. The car's engine roared into life. She popped the brake, slammed the car into DRIVE and floor the accelerator.
Wheels spun on the slick asphalt. Scully fishtailed around, pointed the Taurus out onto the road. Traction bit despite the rain and the leaped forward. Acceleration slammed them back into their seats.
"Damn it!" Sam buried his face in his hands. "Damn it, I should have done something!"
"You couldn't do anything those police didn't try," Scully said. She left-handed the car around a turn, made a long, skidding ninety-degree. "It's over."
Beside her, Jamie said, "No."
High beams burst into life behind them. Police bubble lights whirled over them. On the wheel, Scully's hands felt like stone. Dazzling illumination reflected from the rear-view into her eyes.
Sam twisted around in his seat. "Oh, my God. It's him."
Rain slashed down, pummeled the windshield. Scully pushed the accelerator to the floor. The digital miles per hour readout climbed steadily past fifty, past sixty, toward seventy. Keep the wheel steady. Be ready for deeper water. The driving instruction from Quantico circled around in Scully's head endlessly.
The road was narrow, lined with trees that curved overhead. Branches stripped of leaves did little to stop the downpour. The Taurus' headlights barely cut through the rain. Scully squinted, the wipers beat desperately, but she the broken white line in the roadway was almost invisible.
"Faster!" Jamie demanded.
Scully urged more power out of the engine. Faster still.
The headlights closed.
Sam moved right behind her, spoke urgently into her ear: "He'll run us off the road like this. We've got to figure out how to shake him."
Scully shook her head slowly. Her knuckles were flushed white on the steering wheel. "He's not going to catch us," she said. "Not while I'm driving."
The road made a sharp curve up ahead. Scully took it at seventy miles per hour. The front wheels touched a puddle that stretched across both lanes. Traction vanished. The Taurus lurched sideways. Momentum carried it forward.
Scully played the wheel, the pedals. The Taurus spun off the road, slammed sidelong into a cluster of thick-boled trees. Side-mount safety bags exploded on Jamie's side, cushioned the crash.
The seatbelt grabbed Scully across the collarbone and yanked. All the breath rushed out of her. She choked on the pressure. Then she hurled back into her seat. The engine whirred for a moment before it died.
Behind them, the police cruiser jammed on its brakes. It slewed down the straightway, tires protesting on the slick asphalt. The driver kept it upright and on the road until it came to diagonal stop in the middle of both lanes.
Scully hefted her pistol. "Is everyone all right?"
"Okay back here," Sam said.
Jamie rubbed her neck. The side of her face was red where she hit the airbag.
No one moved inside the police car.
Scully opened her door. The storm rushed in. Rainwater almost blinded her. She got out, pointed her Smith and Wesson at the cruiser. "In the car! Don't move! Do not move! FBI!"
"Dana, don't!" Sam yelled from inside the Taurus.
The driver's side door of the police car lurched open. Scully tensed. She put both hands on the pistol, steadied her aim. "I said don't move! I will fire!"
A person tumbled out of the cruiser, sprawled onto the road. Not Michael Myers.
"Scully!" the man called feebly.
Scully ran up a short embankment, dashed the last yards to Mulder's side. The flowing rainwater on the road was mixed with red. Mulder's blood. He looked pale and weak and awful.
He managed to turn onto his back with Scully's help. She saw the massive intrusion into the chest cavity, probably made by a long, sharp instrument. A butcher knife or something very close to it. "Oh, my God, Mulder. You need a hospital."
Mulder rolled his eyes toward the Taurus. "See what happens when I let you drive?"
Scully smiled a little. "Let's get you in the back of your car. Sam must know where the hospitals are."
"Sam?" Mulder asked.
Another set of headlights appeared down the road. Back toward the bus station. Closing quickly. A small pair of dots growing into a powerful glow. The wind turned. Scully heard the roar of an engine.
Mulder turned toward the light. "He's coming, Scully. We've got to go."
Scully tried lifting Mulder's body. He was too heavy. She could only drag him a few feet. "Sam! Jamie! Help me with him!"
Sam and the girl reached them quickly. They all grabbed Mulder, dragged him off onto the embankment. Down the road, Michael's car was closer. Scully definitely heard the engine now.
"Mulder, where's your gun?" Scully asked.
"Dropped it," Mulder said.
Sam looked around. "Listen, the three of you head back that way, into the woods. I think I know where we are. There should be an abandoned farmhouse about, I don't know, a quarter mile away."
Scully paused. "What about you?"
"I'm going to stop him."
Sam reached into his pocket, yanked out a handful of white stones. "With these."
"Sam. . ."
The headlights fell across all of them. "Go!" Sam moved took a step toward the street. His shoes sank into the muddy embankment. Water dripped constantly from his face, his hawk nose, but he didn't seem to notice.
Scully shook her head. "Damn it, Sam, this is crazy! Help us move Mulder."
Sam turned back to her. Touched her face, very lightly. His hand was cold. "I wish we could have met at a better time, Dana."
He left them, climbed back to the street.
Scully watched him for half an instant. "Jamie, help me lift Mulder. We don't have much time."
The girl got under Mulder's left arm, Scully under the right. They propped him up together. Weakly, he made a few steps to assist them, but it was little help. Down the embankment, past the wrecked Taurus.
Into the woods.
Away from Michael.
Sam spread the runestones on the asphalt in front of him.
Michael was almost here. The headlights washed over Sam, pinned him down. Sam forced himself to ignore them. Placement of the runes was important to the ritual. The correct distance, the correct combination of power symbols.
Dawn brings the sun. The sun brings light. Light brings life. Life brings. . .
Michael's car slammed on its brakes. It skidded forward. So controlled. So graceful. It crashed into the rear end of Mulder's stolen cruiser. The impact drove the first car past Sam, off the side of the road and into the trees. Michael's stopped a few feet beyond, the engine dead.
The door opened.
Sam completed a ring of runes around his body. He turned on the balls of his feet, crouched in the middle of the power circle.
Michael left the car.
It was bizarre. Seeing him so close. There were pictures, sure. Drawings. Sketches by police artists. The descriptions from dozens of people who had, or pretended to have seen, Michael. But this. . .
A knife clutched in his right hand as if it belonged there. The unalloyed tranquillity of Michael's movements. He stalked toward Sam with no more urgency than a man going to get his mail. Measured steps. He brought a wave of fresh new cold with him.
"Michael!" Sam said. "Do you know who I am?"
Michael stopped. Six feet away. His head cocked to one side. Thinking.
Sam's heartbeat drowned out his own hearing. He couldn't hear himself talk. "My name is Sam. Sam Loomis. My father. . . my father tried to help you, Michael. Do you remember that? Do you remember my father?"
The knife did not raise. Michael's grip shifted on the haft.
"I want to help you, too, Michael," Sam said. "If you'll let me."
Sam got to his feet. Slowly. Michael still hadn't moved. Sam's knees trembled.
"I know about Thorn," Sam said. "I know what's tearing you apart."
Nothing. Michael cocked his head the other way.
"Michael, don't do this. Fight it." Sam licked his lips. Despite the rain, they were dry. "I know how strong you are. You fought it for years. You've fought it all this time. Don't let it consume you now. You can do better. You can be better. It's up to you, but you have to fight!"
Michael took one, halting step toward Sam. Instinctively, Sam recoiled. Careful, he thought. Don't move outside the ring.
The thought seemed to reach out to Michael. Sam watched the rubber face turn downward. Hidden eyes looked at the stones. "They're runestones, Michael," Sam said. "Power. The power of light. We can use them to turn you away from the darkness that's eating at you. They protect me. They can protect you."
"Michael, listen to me!"
Closer. Three feet away. Michael straightened. Black sockets locked onto Sam's face. The knife blade turned outward and up. Tighter grasp.
The knife slashed through the intervening space. It buried itself halfway in Sam's chest. Agony. Pain unlike any he'd ever felt. The breathless, crushing pain of a heart attack.
Sam didn't scream. He groaned, instead.
And fell backward.
The blade slipped free as he tumbled onto the roadway.
Michael walked past him. Into the woods. After Jamie. He didn't look back.
Sam coughed. Muscles spasmed around the burning coal in his chest. Blood in his mouth. Fox, he thought. Dana. Jamie!
He dragged himself toward Michael's stolen cruiser. From inside the car, Sam heard the squawk of the radio. Not far. One inch at a time, Sam.
So much blood coming out of him. His belly was slippery with it. Like warm oil. Hard to find the strength to crawl. It ebbed out of him with each heartbeat. A little farther. A little farther more. . .
Sam grabbed the lower edge of the open door. Up, onto the seat. The heater was blowing. Flow of hot air right into his face. It felt good. He took the handset from the radio, held it to his face. Almost no grip to push the TALK button.
"Somebody out there,": he panted. "Please, help."
They cut through the dense, scratchy branches of the woods. No lights in front of them. No lights behind. Blood ran from half a dozen cuts on Scully's face. She heard Jamie gasping in panic and exhaustion. Mulder slumped between them. She wasn't even sure if he was still conscious.
No sound from behind them. First, a loud crash, then nothing. Scully prayed the Sam was all right. He was crazy, but he didn't deserve to die. No more then any of them did.
"Where is this place?" Scully asked Jamie.
They broke through a final line of trees into a clearing. Up ahead, dimly illuminated by the rolling lightning overhead, two dark structures. A house and a barn.
Jamie stopped dead. Scully almost stumbled. Mulder was too heavy.
"Jamie?" Scully asked.
"It's the Tower farm," Jamie said. Her voice was hollow.
"What's the Tower farm?" Scully asked.
"He tried to kill me here."
No sign of life. "Is anyone around?"
Jamie shook her head. "No. It's abandoned now."
"Let's get inside."
They hurried as fast as they could. At the house, the front door stood partially open. Two padlocks dangled from shattered clasps. A NO TRESPASSING sign was tacked onto the rotted wooden door.
Inside it was damp. The hall stank of mildew. No furniture. Sodden, threadbare carpeting. They maneuvered Mulder into the biggest room in the center of the house. Probably the living room.
Scully eased Mulder to the floor. His eyes were closed. She checked his pulse. Weak and fluttery, but still there. "Hang on, Mulder," she said.
Jamie crouched on the other side of him in the darkness. "We can't stay here," she said. "He'll catch up to us."
"We can't run anymore. It's dangerous to keep moving Agent Mulder," Scully replied. She checked her weapon. Almost a full load. She had two spare magazines. "This is where we have to stay."
Jamie looked at Scully's pistol. "That won't hurt him."
"We're going to have to try," Scully said.
Jamie sniffed. "He'll kill you."
Scully's jaw hardened. "He'll kill us all if I don't do something."
"We can run!"
"What about Mulder?" Scully shot back.
"He's dead, anyway!" Jamie screamed.
"No! We'll stay here and--"
The front door creaked.
Scully's head whipped around. Jamie was suddenly silent, as if she'd been slapped.
"Scully," a thready voice. Mulder.
"Quiet," Scully said.
He put his hand on hers. Half-congealed blood caked his skin. "Scully, don't do it," Mulder whispered. "Run."
Scully shook Mulder off. She crept forward, pistol up, aimed toward the dark hallway that led to the front of the house. "Jamie, stay behind me," she said.
The hall was dead ahead of her now. She saw all the way through to the front door, eyes adjusting.
To see him.
He stood framed in the doorway. Unmoving. Lifelessly still. Faint light glinted off the butcher blade in his fist. The sight of him froze Scully to the spot.
"Special Agent, FBI," Scully warned. "Move and I'll shoot."
Running footsteps, heading away. Jamie slammed a door farther back in the house. Making a break for it.
Scully fired six rounds into the densest part of Michael's chest. Bullet impacts slammed him back, out of the house. He tripped on the front steps, tumbled backward. The slide locked back on Scully's gun. She reloaded automatically.
Michael's foot twitched once, and was still.
"Jamie!" Scully yelled. "He's down! Jamie!"
She advanced on Michael, kept the pistol locked on the body. Closer. . .
The knife was still in his hand, but the fingers no longer wrapped tightly around it. His chest was motionless. Dead.
Thunder rumbled, but farther away. The rain slowed.
Scully kicked the knife away into the grass. She knelt by Michael. The rubber mask encased his face and most of his neck. With her left hand, she peeled up the lower edge of the colorless material. Scarred skin underneath. Ugly, twisted map of burn scars.
She felt for his pulse.
"Dana, get away from him!"
Scully looked up. Jamie stood at the end of the hall. Eyes wide.
"He's dead, Jamie. I killed him."
"No," Jamie said. She had tears on her face. They shone slightly in the light.
Scully got up, moved back toward the house. "It's true. He wasn't bulletproof."
"You can't kill him," Jamie said. She sniffed. "You don't kill the boogeyman."
His fingers stirred. Consciousness returned.
Eyes opened. Sights and sounds.
Scully reholstered her pistol. "Let's find a telephone. I lost mine."
Jamie was rooted to the spot. "Dana," she said.
Something made Scully turn.
Michael was there. He grabbed her arm as she reached for her gun. The other locked around her throat. Steely fingers as icy as the frost. All air cut off. Scully felt her feet leave the warped wooden floorboards. He lifted her effortlessly.
"No! Leave her alone!" Jamie's screams.
It's impossible, Scully thought. A single, rational thought flitting through at just the wrong moment. Run away, Jamie. I'm sorry.
Michael tossed her away. Scully slammed into water-etched wood and plaster, crashed through into the room on the other side. She tumbled painfully on the carpetless floor, came to rest against the opposite wall. Michael paused long enough to glance through the hole she made. Then he moved on.
Colors flushed Scully's vision. Blood rushed back into her brain. She filled her lungs with air. "Jamie," she gasped. "Jamie!"
Gun in her hand now. She staggered to the door of the small room, threw it open. Mulder on the floor of the living room.
Jamie ran, but she didn't know why.
It seemed like she'd been running her whole life. Michael would never stop. Not until he had what he wanted. That was all that mattered to him. And by extension, it was all that mattered to his niece.
Tonight I'm going to die.
They could run all night. All day. It wouldn't make any difference.
Somehow, thinking that changed things.
Jamie stopped at the edge of the woods.
"No," she said aloud.
She turned back to the house.
Michael stepped off the back porch. Heavy, sullen steps in her direction. The white shape of his mask was like a beacon in the darkness. So much like the man beneath: a blank.
"I'm here," Jamie said. "I'm here!"
He didn't call back to her. Did she expect anything more?
"I'm not going to run anymore," Jamie said. "If you want me, here I am!"
Scully appeared in the back door of the house. "Jamie! What are you doing?"
Thank God you're not dead, Jamie thought. That's one, anyway.
"Stay away, Dana!" Jamie shouted. "It's over. Come on, Uncle! Come kill me!"
"Jamie, don't!" Scully yelled. She fired her pistol.
Michael was stumbled. Bullets struck him in the back, in the legs. He fell to one knee. Rose unsteadily. Thirty feet away and still coming. Jamie's heart raced. She wanted to run, but she couldn't. Too many people died protecting her. It had to end.
"Come on," Jamie urged. "Come on, come on!"
Scully kept shooting. Michael pitched forward. He held himself off the ground with one hand, inched toward Jamie. Unstopped. Unstoppable. The unkillable boogeyman with a score to settle Jamie never understood.
An empty pistol magazine clattered on the porch. Scully reloaded.
Michael fell on his face. His knife hand was stretched ahead of him. The blade shone against the dark, wet ground.
"No!" Jamie screamed. "Let him!"
Scully descended off the porch. "I can't let him kill you!"
"He'll just kill more people!" Jamie protested. "I don't want him to hurt anyone else. Just let him do it!"
Jamie rushed forward. She fell to her knees into front of Michael, grabbed the knife out of his hand. Point toward her chest. Good grip with both hands. Drive it in. . .
Michael surged off the ground. One scarred hand grabbed Jamie's. Fingers like steel, unyielding. Jamie screamed.
Scully shot Michael in the back. Over and over. Bullet impacts ripped open the dark blue of his jumpsuit. Blood spurted. Flesh shredded. Michael twitched like a man being shocked.
"Just die!" Jamie screamed in his face.
He clawed his way up her body. The knife was torn loose of her grip. Michael wrapped those powerful fingers around it. One hand pressed Jamie to the ground. The other hand raised the knife.
Scully threw herself onto Michael's knife arm.
They all sprawled on the ground, a tangle of limbs and bodies. Michael fought to keep his grip on Jamie as she wriggled. He struggled against Scully as she tightened her hold on his arm. Blood, his blood smeared all of them.
Jamie broke out from beneath Michael. She searched for something, any kind of weapon.
Scully forced Michael's arm to the ground. The blade hovered in front of her face, his wrist and elbow locked up in her embrace. She kicked him in the head once, then again. "I won't let you!" she shouted at him. "I won't let you! I won't let you!"
An old sawhorse. Jamie saw it, dashed away from where they fought. The crossbeam was waterlogged, but still solid. Jamie wrenched it loose of its moorings, returned to Scully's side.
Michael twisted in the mud, the wet. Scully fell beneath him. He turned his arm, pushed the blade toward her neck. Scully lashed out with her feet. Kicked him in the ribs. In the groin. He didn't slow.
"Don't kill her!" Jamie cried.
She brought the crossbeam down on Michael's skull. The blow sounded hollow and wet. Again. Again. She battered him mercilessly. Every reserve of strength she had left. Don't stop. Don't stop!
"Die, Michael! Die! Die! Die!"
Scully shrieked as the tip of Michael's blade penetrated the flesh of her shoulder. The metal drove in slowly, half an inch. An inch. Two inches. It was a cry of unarticulated, awful pain.
Another blow to the back of Michael's head. The fake rubber scalp split open. Bloody real hair and skin underneath. Jamie poured all her rage, all her fear, all her sorrow, into one last strike.
Michael went down.
He slumped over Scully. All the tension left his body. Unconscious.
"Oh," Scully said. "Oh!"
Jamie helped ease the knifeblade out of Scully's shoulder. The blood shone bright red on the metal. She flung the weapon away, into the deeper blackness of the woods.
Scully dragged herself out from beneath Michael's lifeless body. "He's not dead," she said. "I can feel him. He's not dead."
"He's not," Jamie agreed. "Let's go."
A spotlight crashed into them. Blinding white illumination. Behind it, the roar of a helicopter turbine. Somewhere above, a PA clicked on. "Agent Scully, this is Special Agent Hawthorne, Chicago office. Please stay where you are. We have men on the ground right now."
Scully hugged Jamie close to her. She smelled faintly of perfume, but mostly of dirt, water and fear. Jamie hugged her back.
The helicopter landed nearby.
And it was done.
Final Case Evaluation -- Dana Scully
November 7, 1996
"In the final analysis, it is difficult to say what daemons drive Michael Myers' killing urges. Whether they are spawned by some chemical imbalance of the brain, a genetic malfunction or some other cause yet unknown to science, there are no clues. All that remains is the grisly evidence and inconclusive studies of the man himself.
"Agent Mulder is recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital from shock, blood loss and internal injuries. Dr. Sam Loomis is in charge of Michael Myers' care at the Chinlund Maximum Security Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Jamie Lloyd has returned to the care of the sisters at St. Mary's Home for Girls in Haddonfield, Illinois. A dozen members of the Haddonfield Sheriff's Department are dead, though Sheriff Ben Meeker has managed to survive another near-death encounter with Michael Myers.
"As for myself, I can only report what I saw: a deranged man with an obsession toward his niece. A man capable of withstanding grievous injury and who feels none of the genuinely human sensations of pain, love or fear. The root cause of this: unknown. I cannot subscribe to the theories put forth by Dr. Loomis, but at this time, there is nothing else I may add to the analysis.
"The murders of Mr. and Mrs. Parkinson, their son Jim and their daughter Elaine remain unsolved."
Special Thanks to John Carpenter and Chris Carter.