Title: Teliko: Something Nasty In The Woodshed
Summary: The denouement of Teliko, naturally!
Mulder took small breaths, unwilling to inhale the asbestos that was floating free in this death-trap. He tried not to think about razor-sharp shards of asbestos burrowing its way into his lungs. He swung his flashlight slowly from side to side, squinting in an attempt to see through the haze. Aboah had to be in here somewhere; Mulder didn't know why. How many buildings in the Philadelphia area were being demolished? What had made him choose this one? Convenience?
Mulder shuddered as a blast of cold air bit through him and the next minute he winced at the steam that blew up through the grate. It was a good thing somebody was destroying this building.
It reminded Mulder a little bit of Tooms' lair; it had that same air of fetid unreality and an unmistakable and yet unidentifiable aura of evil. Mulder tried to tune his ear to listen for Scully's footsteps but she'd taken the other route and the droning noise in this building made that detection impossible. Mulder paused, cocked his head. There was something...
Shit! Mulder started as the sharp object bit into the back of his neck. He reached up and his stomach dropped as he felt the dart. Mulder's mind deserted him, going into Blind Panic Mode.
He tried to recall what Scully had told him about the poison as he looked blankly at the dart.
Tried to remember...look for Aboah. Mulder clutched his gun as firmly as he could, the ragged fingernail that he'd nearly torn off in a mad dash for a lay-up biting into the soft flesh of his palm.
I can still feel that, he thought. He turned and the room turned with him. No God please...Mulder thought he could see a glint of madness (or was it instinct?) in the darkness behind him but his vision was swimming and his knees chose that moment to begin wobbling dangerously. Scully...
"Scully?" he shouted, using every ounce of air in his still-functioning lungs. How much poison was in his system? What if...
Mulder's knees buckled and his hands instantly went numb. The gun and the flashlight clattered to the grate.
"Scully..." he murmured. Scully, get out of here, he thought. Get out...Aboah was before him suddenly and Mulder's nerves screamed at him to lash out. Aboah scuttled close to him, licking his fevered lips, the sweat from his brow dripping onto Mulder's frozen face. The last tingles of life had subsided and Mulder lay completely numb, completely unresponsive. Completely helpless.
Aboah hunched next to Mulder and watched him gravely. He reached out and ceremoniously touched Mulder's forehead.
"I am the hunter now," Aboah whispered in his accented English. With a flourish, an indication that his need to survive was slowly being outweighed by his need to torment, to dominate, Aboah produced the quiver from behind his back. He slowly withdrew what looked like a long dart, with barbs on one end. All Mulder could do was breathe in and out and watch as Aboah came closer, his ragged breaths ruffling Mulder's hair. Mulder moved his eyes, the only part of him still functioning aside from his now-precious autonomic nervous system, and looked at Aboah's right shoulder. Aboah moved the dart towards him and Mulder died a thousand deaths until Aboah suddenly jerked upright, startled. He dropped the dart and grabbed Mulder by the lapel of his jacket. Mulder wanted to cry with relief. He had gotten a reprieve. Aboah dragged him, shoved him through the air duct above. Oh no, shit, Mulder thought bleakly, not in there. Don't make me go in there. Please.
Aboah crawled over Mulder and reaffirmed his grip on Mulder's elbow as he pulled him at a brisk pace through the duct. Mulder was panicked but grateful that he no longer had the ability to manifest a panic response. He wished mightily that he could close his eyes just to hide the images of the walls closing in around him. He heard his head slam repeatedly into the side of the duct, knew by the strange way he was being pulled that something was going to hurt later. If there was a later. As he had done throughout his life, Mulder raged inside. This time, however, there was literally nothing he could do. With one final yank, Aboah pulled Mulder around a corner. Mulder heard something pop and feared for his shoulder.
Aboah hesitated, looking wildly down the duct. He glanced at Mulder and smiled slowly, broadly.
Like a predator.
"Wait for me," he said. Then he was gone. Mulder was left to stare blankly at the walls of his prison, praying that Scully...he heard something. Aboah, moving back towards him? No, the noise was different. More of a clanking sound.
Oh God Scully get out Aboah's in here and...Scully crawled up next to him and he could see the panicked look in her eyes. He tried to make a sound, tried to let her know that he was in here, that he was okay and that she really needed to go get Aboah. All of this was a little difficult given the facilities at his command. Scully turned suddenly and fired. Mulder prayed. Then she looked at him again, looked past him to a grate that Mulder hadn't been able to see. Within seconds she was pulling him out of the duct. He felt glorious relief and added another bruise to his collection when she dumped him on the floor. Next to a dead man. Mulder needed to shake, needed to exorcise these feelings of helplessness. His vision began to fade again and he wondered if one could go into shock when one was paralyzed. Scully was on the phone, asking for an ambulance, her eyes locked on him.
The eyes glinted at him again. Aboah, zeroed in on an unsuspecting Scully. Prey. Scully was looking at Mulder. Don't look at me, dammit! Aboah...the whole reason we're here, Scully...Jesus, he'll kill us both...Scully, look back! LOOK, dammit! Mulder made a strangled sound in his throat. The sweat poured down his forehead into his eyes. His eyes. He jerked his eyes to the side, willing Scully to turn. She hung up the phone and stared at him. He watched as Aboah readied his leap. He watched as it slowly began to dawn on Scully...she whirled and shot.
Aboah fell soundlessly to the ground and Mulder's eyes closed of their own accord.
He could hear Scully murmuring to him but he was lost in a haze. His leaden body lay there, betraying him. After awhile the ambulance arrived and Mulder was able to look past the strange hallucinations he was having and figure out that he probably wasn't going to die, but Scully was worried about something. He wished he could hang around to find out what it was...
The noise hurt his ears. Mulder slowly opened his eyes and blinked rapidly. He closed his eyes again. The stimulus was overwhelming. He could feel a fierce pounding in his head. Dammit, what had happened now? Wait a minute...he could feel...with a momentous effort, Mulder opened his eyes again and kept them open. It was dark in the room but the light that existed seared its way into Mulder's skull. He practiced moving his head and wished he hadn't. Christ, being paralyzed had its plusses, he thought. A figure darkened the doorway. Scully. He smiled lopsidedly at her as she sat next to the bed.
"Well, welcome back," she said cheerfully. This was a nice switch, Mulder thought. Usually he got the Severe Scully Look for ending up in the hospital.
"Thanks," he whispered. Scully put a cool hand on his forehead and nodded approvingly.
"You've had quite the fever for the last few days," she commented.
Last FEW DAYS? Mulder thought.
"How long...have I been here?" he asked quietly, his vocal chords still apparently on vacation.
"Two days. It took awhile for your body to metabolize the poison but as usual, Mulder, you've come through with flying colors. You've got a sprained shoulder, that's about it."
Mulder sighed. If Aboah hadn't insisted on dragging him through Time Tunnel...
"Still alive, but he's fading fast. Mulder...I don't know what to make of this. Medical science -"
"Can't find a correlation. No reason for why he exists. Right?" Mulder asked. Scully tried to mask the concerned look on her face by pouring Mulder a glass of water. He accepted it gratefully, his hands still tingling with the effects of the poison.
"Mulder, there is a medical reason for his existence and I will find it," she said in her Steel Kitten voice. Mulder nodded and winced as sparks of pain shot through his shoulder. He fixed Scully with a severe glance.
"I thought you said my shoulder was just sprained?"
Scully smiled. "Your nervous system is really out of whack. The pain is bound to seem excessive," she explained.
"All pain is excessive," he growled, suddenly out of sorts. "Scully...I want to say something and I want you to listen until I'm finished. Okay?"
Scully nodded and sat back down.
"Maybe there was no grand conspiracy here but there was definitely a cover-up. It was not a desire to deceive, inveigle or obfuscate, as you so aptly put it, but rather a desire to deny. I had to dig deep to find the information I had, but it had nothing to do with the government's desire to snow the public. It didn't come from a position of power, from a position of information. It came from a position of fear, a fear that is buried deep within the psyches of all of us, in one form or another. In the case of the official I spoke with, that fear, which could have been classified merely as a nightmare created as a response to the horror within the folk tale, was manifested in the death of a relative. The fears we are taught are the ones we live with but there are two sides to that.
One side says that fear is a natural response to the unknown. That side can rationalize something like the Teliko. It can do its research and find the meaning behind the tale. The other side, the side Aboah belongs to, can't step away and therefore becomes that fear. Maybe Aboah wasn't the Teliko originally but he became it. We can argue semantics all day long but you can't deny the fact that the tale of the Teliko is also the story of Samuel Aboah. I'm willing to accept medical reasons for his condition, but where is it written that the two explanations cannot coexist?"
Scully smiled gently. "Mulder, you're seeing this from the romantic point of view. We all harbor the fascination with the unknown. Somewhere deep inside we all crave the transition to the known. We all want to see vampires, werewolves..."
"Little green men," Mulder added helpfully.
Scully glared at him and continued. "But our desire to see these things of myth doesn't make then corporeal, Mulder. Wishing, or even dreading, doesn't make it so."
"But science can't rationally explain Tooms, or Aboah...or any of the countless other things we've seen."
Scully sighed. "Like I've said before, maybe not now, but in the future..."
"Nice sentiment," Mulder said caustically. "Good way to cover your bases, Scully. I can give you hundreds of examples from the past of beliefs, of myths, of superstitions that became concrete when science finally caught up with them. This does not invalidate the myths, Scully. It only serves to prove that science will never be able to make the inferences about the world that it needs to."
"Why does it need to, Mulder? Science is the final determiner. When are you going to be able to accept that?"
Mulder and Scully stared at each other for a long moment, that now-familiar gulf between them not adversarial, but rather comfortable. It allowed them the ability to be able to step back and confront their beliefs, scientific or non-scientific, from a point of rationality. Mulder grinned at Scully.
"I'll accept science as the final determiner when you accept that a heretic like me can sometimes be right," he replied. Scully shook her head and smiled ruefully. She got to her feet.
"In high school, I was the only member of the Boys In Black Club," Mulder said. Scully smiled again.
"You may be a heretic, Mulder, but you're my heretic and I suppose I'll just have to deal with that."
"Do you want to open your AOL bill, or shall I?"
Mulder paled. "It came?"
"How long do I have to stay here?" he asked. Scully looked at him.
"I'll be by tomorrow. Looks like Skinner has a new case for us."
Mulder's eyes lit up.
Scully frowned. "Tomorrow, Mulder," she said firmly, turning on her heel and leaving him to stare into the darkness.