Title: The Spirit Can Overrule Logic
Feedback: I spent my small summer break writing this. So please if you take the time to read this spend five minutes to tell me what you think. It will be based on the kind of feedback I get good or bad that will let me know whether I should write again. Be gentle though this is my first fan- fic. All comments should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org Archive: Anywhere just let me know. I'll take care of Gossamer and MTA.
Thanks: I want to thank my editor Michele for all the wonderful support and encouragement. I don't think I would have made it without you. To Ten for pointing me in the right direction and all her comments.
Special thanks to Luvmulder and Ms. Ecksphile for all their medical advice. Thank you to all the fanfic writers out there for all the years of reading pleasure!
Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate a rash of murders in Charleston involving the Historical Ghost Tours. Beliefs are tested, a strange weapon is used, and a new category in the X-Files might need to be developed.
The man sat crossed legged in his corner. His features were hidden by the shadows cast by the moon while he methodically stroked the gray cat rubbing at his legs. He watched the tourists from his position with a bemused smile. Their faces were a glow with anticipation, looking up at their tour guide with utter fascination. He silently laughed at their eagerness, their personalities were so transparent. But, that was all right with him their beliefs were a beckon to his trained eye. He observed them cross the street in front of him, and he went completely unnoticed. This was so simple just follow them with his eyes and maybe one lucky soul would feel his gaze. The connection could be made tonight, another follower could be converted. No, not a single genuine soul was among them tonight. He sighed heavily and slowly got up from his spot. As he dusted off his velvet jacket he noticed the stare of an unwanted observer from the apartment above him. He looked up at the small child and put on his matching black velvet hat on top of his shaved head. His face was the picture of composure the age of time etched on his chalk colored face. His dark stained and lifeless lips seemed to twitch unconsciously. He took his left hand and dipped it into one of his pockets of his jacket and slowly pulled it out.
"Its not polite to spy young one," he whispered. With that he took his slender finger out and drew a symbol in the air. It disappeared in front of the child's intent eyes. The only remnants of his presence was the fading white light in the shape of the ancient symbol still hovering in the night air. Then it too, faded into nothing.
Basement office of the FBI
Dana Scully entered her office by using her left foot to nudge the cracked door open, since her hands were filled with two cups of coffee. How she could balance on the high heels she wore was a wonder to herself, but she was late so it was her turn to get the caffeine hook. She balanced precariously on one foot that was accented by tan heels, which matched perfectly with her brown power suit. As she entered the office the adrenaline high she was feeling hit a dreaded low when she saw her partner fiddling with the slide projector. He was wearing one of his navy suits with a black dress shirt underneath. As she glanced at him fighting with the machine she saw that his shirt was wrinkled and his tie was pulled away from his collar. His overall appearance spoke of the hours he already logged in at the office and it was barely eight a.m.
Great he hasn't dug that thing out in almost a year I can't wait for the mutant of the week, Scully thought to herself. She looked over at her partner and watched the animated movements as he fiddled with the annoying device. His enthusiasm was evident and she struggled to control an internal groan. There were piles of paper and folders that were stacked haphazardly around the projector and it was a wonder that the device hadn't toppled over yet. Fox Mulder peered around the mess he created in enough time to see the fading look of dread on his partner's voice. He greeted her with an exaggerated grin in an effort to calm down any fears the dreaded machine conjured up.
"Good morning you're just in time for the matinee," Mulder said in his most charming manner as he snaked one of the cups of coffee.
"Well what are we in for today, Mulder? The Loch Ness Monster, devil dogs, wickermen?"
Mulder did his best give her a pained expression and sat down on the corner of the desk. "I don't ever remember a wickerman in our past cases, but I'm sure there is a file somewhere. No, today we just have our run of the mill killer on the loose." He took his projector cord and began flashing through several gory crime scenes. "I got an anonymous tip on my e-mail last night about some weird murders going on in Charleston. Apparently tourists are randomly being targeted and ceremoniously murdered. All five bodies appear to have wounds inflicted upon them by what is described in the autopsy reports as some kind of laser." "A laser?" Scully answered with some disbelief as she sipped her morning coffee.
"The wounds are in the exact manner that a knife would make except they were burned in. It's as if someone took a portable laser and literally stabbed his victims with it. The wounds ranged in size from a nickel to a half-dollar. The problem being it would take a very large device not to mention a lot of mobility to...
"Mulder, it would take an incredibly huge laser, if that is what was used to burn holes into people. Let's not forget that someone's not going to stand around while the suspect aims it at them." Scully walked up to the screen to try to scrutinize its contents, but without examining the body she couldn't be sure what was used.
Mulder walked up behind her and pulled out two plane tickets from his suit pocket. He dangled them and with a gleeful voice announced their destination. Scully snatched the tickets from the offensive hand and stared at them. "What's your theory I know you've had one formulating in that brain of yours just waiting for the right time to lay it on me." Mulder resisted an urge to react to her verbal mistake, but the glare she sent his way cut him short. "Well, Charleston has had an extensive history of supernatural phenomena. I can't rule out the possibility of a connection there somewhere besides a murder's choice of an exotic weapon," Mulder said as he began to pile files into his briefcase.
"Were talking ghosts here, Mulder, come on. I mean supposed apparitions are one thing ,possession another, but ghosts burning holes into people?" Scully crossed her arms and slid one of the files into her hands. She flipped through the pages and bit down on her lip to prevent the doubt from forming words .
"Look were just going to check things out and I'll even buy lunch when we get there. I mean we had dealings with vengeful sprits before. I know there's an X-File here. Why else would I have been tipped off by it?" Mulder asked in a questioning tone that hid his resentment of being interrogated about his theory. I mean he was just a bit annoyed at being questioned all the time. After six years of their out of this world experiences he thought that maybe she would be a little more receptive. But, Mulder knew that he needed her skepticism to keep him in line, it just made him that more determined.
"We don't know who sent you that e-mail for all we know it could be just another one of your Internet admirers." Scully was met with a hurt expression. She knew that anonymous e-mails to her partner have mislead them in the past. There was always a hidden agenda somewhere. Mulder resigned himself to his desk and picked up a pencil and began twirling it around. It dawned on him that there were still pencils embedded in the ceiling above him. He pulled his gaze back to his partner. "Well we still have a few hours before our flight. Do you want to go over the preliminary details?"
"Preliminary details? Isn't that an oxymoron, Mulder?" Scully tried to hide the smirk from her face and accepted the file that Mulder was extending. Scully buried herself into the reports that her partner had already discarded as he filled her in on what he already read. Apparently the victims ranged in age and gender. However, the UNSUB's motive began to change with the last two victims. "Mulder, what do you make in the sudden shift in stabbing patterns? I mean the first three victims were stabbed in various regions of the body that were not lethal. It was cumulative blood loss that was listed as the cause of death. The laser went through a major organ, despite the fact that it cauterizes as it goes through. It's possible that our UNSUB changed the intensity level of the laser to burn through his victims. This way it could simply destroy tissue and be used as a weapon. The last two victims were stabbed in the heart and then the victims' eyes were carved out."
Mulder shifted his gaze from the lab results to his partner's face. Her eyes were searching for a reasonable cause, but if this involved some kind of possession then there was no logical course to follow. He took his hand and pulled it through his disheveled hair. He had been up since 2 that morning when he first got the tip and he been running on coffee fumes ever since. He let out an audible sigh before he launched into his observations. "Well victim number one was a female identified as Amy Truble, age 30. She had stab wounds under her right armpit that compromised her lungs. The next ones ran along her thighs and up the side of her right hip. Then several smaller ones ran the length of her collarbone. All these wounds would be quite painful, yet she was murdered in an overbooked hotel room without any reports of a disturbance."
Scully shifted her eyes from the report and onto the autopsy findings in her other hand. "Well a tox screen came up with zero drugs in her system. That rules out sedation. Maybe she knew the victim."
Mulder shook his head. "It wouldn't explain why no one heard her scream from her attack. There was enough blood on the scene to indicate that the crime was committed in her hotel room. The Mills Hotel sits across Poogan's Porch a famous restaurant known to be haunted by some mysterious older woman in black."
Scully rolled her eyes at the mention of haunting. She smiled when she said, "Let me guess all the other locations of the murders were near a place that has had reported sights of ghosts and you have all the pertinent details pertaining to said haunting."
Mulder shuddered at Scully's mischievous tone. "Well not exactly. I know all the locations were near sightings of famous apparitions, but we are meeting an expert on the subject a Mr. Doug Wordsworth he's the local expert and runs a...
"A ghost tour. Yes, Mulder, I watch the travel section of CNN too." Scully suppressed a chuckle at her partner's wiggle of his eyebrows.
"Wow, Scully, I thought we just shared a empathic moment," he said with inflated enthusiasm. "We're meeting him in the evening he even invited us along on the tour."
"This doesn't explain your mystery weapon. I mean I can't rule out a laser scalpel used my surgeons. Our suspect probably has a background in medicine. Or maybe he works around surgical equipment since these wounds look precise, but they are definitely not as professional looking as a doctor's."
Do you really think a laser scalpel could create wounds the size of half dollars?" Mulder began to tap the end of his pencil in a rhythmic, impatient manner. "I mean the laser beam would need to be bigger, right?"
"Lets look at the facts about lasers." Scully shifted her gaze from the crime scene photos to her partner's face.
Mulder placed his thumb on the pencil point. "Well I downloaded some info from the internet about lasers when I got the case files. I've only glanced at them, but I know that a laser is some kind of light amplification."
Scully nodded her head. "You're right. In practice laser light builds up slowly, so the laser usually consists of a tube or rod with highly reflective mirrors at each end. The light bounces back and forth between the mirrors getting brighter and brighter. One of the mirrors is slightly transparent and let's through about 1% of the light."
Mulder put the pencil down and flipped through some pages on his desk. "It is this escaped light that forms a laser beam that is used by surgeons and in factories."
"A laser also is strong enough to cut and weld steel. It's not a contained beam of light, Mulder. Were there any burn marks on the walls or the floor?"
"According to the local police the crime scenes were spotless. There were no traces of scorching in any of the areas. Also, laser scalpels used in medicine are very small that's why they are used to fixed detached retinas in eye surgery." Mulder broke the pencil in his over eagerness.
"That doesn't explain why the wounds were so large. According to the local autopsy some of the damage it caused could only be created by a laser beam with a diameter that ranged from an inch to an inch in a half. It could be a laser used in industrial work, but those machines are pretty big and heavy." Mulder got up to relieve his aching back muscles. "Doesn't make a very effective weapon does it?" Scully picked out one photo and examined it closely. The body of a man was riddled with holes that varied in size and location on his torso. "I can't be really that sure until I look over the bodies, but its possible. However it is unlikely that the victim was unable to move while the laser was being aimed around. There still isn't an explanation why the killer would change his pattern though. I mean why shift from torture to taking their eyes?"
"Maybe his motive changed or something changed it for the suspect." Mulder hadn't meant for his words to appear cryptic, but there was something definitely odd, yet enticing about this case. Mulder put down his reading glasses and glanced about their office. They had been back for a few months now and he reminded himself how much of his life was invested in these walls. The basement office had been burned down, but it also renewed a burning inside himself. It was a desire. An intense yearning to reach out and capture all the things that were lost in his absence. He stole a few seconds to admire his partner. She had been his anchor during his journey and now their journey. Most of all he had learned to relish the strength that emitted from her. It was because of Scully that he still had that desire to pursue cases like these. To use all his waking moments consumed with death and despair. But, here he was again about to pursue a case to any depths in the hope that he could stop something evil. That some unsuspecting person had no control over. Damn! He knew his life wasn't his to run anymore.
Mills Hotel 412
The Mills hotel was a five story luxurious place in the middle of the historic district of Charleston. Scully wasn't used to such nice accommodations on their cases. This was certainly a pleasant surprise. She settled into her room, which had a maroon motif. Very nice, she mused. This case was going to be very tedious as if all of them weren't, but the fact that their killer changed tactics meant he was going to be much harder to track. Scully began to go over the facts of the case. They often tackled unusual murder investigations, but this one resembled a profiling case way too much for her liking. Mulder was excellent at examining the details of every investigation, but tracking down killers sucked him into an unyielding vortex. She needed to keep an eye on him. There wasn't any additional investigation teams with them that usually assisted in these kind of serial killings. Maybe the locals didn't see the connections.
All right, Scully, just look at the facts like any other routine investigation. There was no physical evidence left at the scene the only thing they had to go on was the strange wounds on the bodies. She would get first hand experience on that in the morning. Maybe I can shed some light on our killer's weapon of choice she mused to herself. She could hear Mulder shifting around in the connecting room something they had a hard time getting on such short notice, but a necessity in their cases. Scully didn't feel comfortable when they didn't have that connecting door just in case one of them needed the other. It was time to go now to the first crime scene across the street. Scully strolled to her window overlooking the alley that ran next to the restaurant. It seemed implausible that no one noticed the struggling of a young woman while some maniac literally drilled holes into her. At least she didn't have the indignity of having her eyes scooped out.
Scully knocked on the door and was greeted by her partner putting back on his suit jacket. Scully looked at him in awe. He was wearing a very expensive charcoal suit and was accented with a black tie that has multi colored zigzags on it. Only he could wear such a distinguished outfit and get away with such hideous neckwear. They went down to the lobby of their hotel the place where the first victim happened to be staying at when she was found murdered across the street. The alley behind the infamous Poogan's Porch restaurant is where the agents found themselves scratching their heads.
Alley Behind Poogan's Porch 3:00 p.m.
Mulder was running over the facts of this first site in his head. The body of Amy Truble was found behind the restaurant. The time of death was around 1 a.m. and the restaurant had a long history of being haunted by a strange old lady. But, none of his research eluded to any violent behavior on the spirits part, just sightings from various tourists. Curiouser and curiouser Mulder thought.
The agents were walking down to the crime scene now four weeks old. Mulder wanted to get the feel of the place and he knew he would have to come back at night to see what the killer saw in this place. "According to the reports the old lady of the restaurant is seen at night after the restaurant is closed. She's seen banging on the window as if trapped then when the policed are called. Seemingly they search the restaurant on the pretense that someone got locked in and they find the place deserted."
Scully walked over to the spot of where the body was discovered looking for anything amiss. "Those are tourist reports fed by the propaganda and stories given to people by these ghost tours," Scully said wearing that tired frown on her face.
"But there have been reports from employees as well. One included a girl counting her till when she saw an old lady in black sitting at one of the tables. When the waitress went to her to explain they were closed she disappeared," Mulder retorted.
Scully sighed. "Just the mind playing tricks on tired employees, Mulder. They spent over thirty minutes examining every dent and imperfection in the ground. But, the alley was unyielding and hid whatever kernel of evidence that may had survived extensive scrutiny. Mulder stood there his right hand stroking his chin while scanning one end of the alley to the other. He mentally placed pictures of the crime scene onto what was in front of him. There was a small blood pattern which indicated that she was attacked beside the restaurant and probably dragged to the end of the alley. At the end of the alley she was methodically tortured. There were no scorch marks or any signs of heat damage on the ground or walls. It wasn't until an autopsy was performed that M.E. found the cause of death. Amy died from trauma inflicted on her lungs. From outward appearances the only tell tale signs of foul play were from the burn marks and holes in her clothes. None of her arteries were nicked or compromised. She was meant to experience pain and not a single person saw or heard anything. The only things that were found at the scene was blood and Amy slumped against the wall. "I'm no medical expert, Scully ,but why was there a small amount of blood on the scene?" Mulder squatted down on the spot where Amy's body was dumped.
"Well from the size of the wound there would some blood loss as the wound sealed itself when the suspect turned off the laser. If she tried to crawl away when he left her to die and could have re-opened it. But, I'm not really sure. Lasers are not something that I have a lot of experience in when it comes to weapons." Scully walked over to Mulder and placed her hand on his shoulder. "I don't think there's anything left here for us to find. Maybe we should go to the next scene? Or possibly a better idea we could get something to eat since I know you haven't had any real food since last night." Scully didn't like it when Mulder was onto something it usually meant that he wore himself out on cases like this and it was up to her to remind him to eat.
"I agree let's get some food then we'll go to the last sight near the Battery Inn where our suspect changed his pattern." They walked over to Poogan's Porch and enjoyed some of the best "low county" cooking that the state had to offer. The restaurant was a remodeled Victorian home and the agents ate on the second level. They were both impressed by the rows of autographed pictures of celebrities who dined there. Everyone from Jim Carrey to Tom Hanks had wrote wonderful recommendations about the place. Scully laughed at herself for thinking they must go on cases like this more often so they could eat at such wonderful places. Mulder actually consumed his entire meal of white sauce chicken and vegetables. She had enjoyed her salad and even ate two of the homemade biscuits the place was famous for. It was hard to imagine that this place was a place of conjecture concerning a lonely old woman. Mulder had not realized how hungry he had been. He chided himself when he realized the last thing he ate was over twelve hours ago and it was left over pizza from the night before. I have to remember to pace myself or I won't be any good on this case, he thought. He wasn't looking forward with meeting with the local police, but the knew he could put that off till tomorrow. He already spoke to one of the detectives and for once they seemed genuinely glad to have their input on the case. After their lunch the agents got back into their rented Taurus and headed to the last crime scene at the Bed and Breakfast at the Battery. The agents decided that they only had enough time to investigate one more scene. It was decided that take on the last one and try to pick up on the differences in the two groups. They arrived at their destination and decided to talk about the circumstance surrounding their latest crime scene.
"Is there anything different about victim number five that can be determined?" Scully asked as they left their rental car in the parking lot.
"Well, his name was Carl Stevens, a loner who worked in computer tech support for a small company. Carl had a few friends, played Vampire the role-playing game, and was an avid video game player according to the statement his mother gave to the police. While Amy Truble was a secretary at an insurance company, she had no husband and apparently only a few friends. She was going to school part time for a degree in Psychology, just your average girl next door. He was killed in room 11 of the Battery Hotel. That very room has known to be haunted by a walking torso." Mulder's last comment was delivered in an exaggerated fashion in his best spooky voice, much to Scully's amusement.
As the entered the lobby of the quaint bed and breakfast Scully was struck of the sheer beauty of the Victorian home. All the surroundings were crammed with antique furniture in an effort to transport the visitor back in time. "The first and the last victim were both loners and both happen to be staying near or at places that were supposed to be haunted. Seems our killer is obsessed with the paranormal, sounds like someone I know," she said with a smirk.
"Or it could be that spirits are somewhat involved in the killings."
Scully's raised an eyebrow while Mulder continued. "How, I don't know yet." Both agents were allowed into the room that housed a giant king sized bed and 18th century furniture. Nothing about the violence that took place a few days ago could scarcely be imagined by the average person. Mulder sat on the bed and closed his eyes. He couldn't really sense anything about the killer and only had a few vague ideas about him. The room had been thoroughly been searched by forensics and nothing was found out of the ordinary. The body had been found sprawled out on the bed and there wasn't a sign of a struggle. There were blood stains on Carl's shirt, but none on the bed. The man died from a single wound to the heart. The body was laid out in an almost peaceful manner with the Carl's arms crossed over his chest. There was some care involved. It was an almost tender gesture. Carl did something to earn some kind of respect something to separate himself from the others.
All this consideration yielded nothing that was useful in the investigation. No fingerprints were lifted and hair and fiber came up with zero. It was as if someone slipped in killed the poor guy, took his eyes out and left without anyone noticing. This was something he wasn't used to in this kind of case. Something was amiss. He just couldn't put his finger on it and it frustrated him. The first victim had several wounds, none of them fatal. A crime committed out of hatred? Enjoyment? The last murder seemed more controlled and deliberate in manner. Something changed -- a connection was made with this victim. Perhaps the first was just practice for the latter ones? The killer was looking for something in the eyes that the first victims seemed to lack. It was as if when the killer found what he was looking for he showed some kind of mercy and killed the victim quickly. The eyes were the trophy the item that was sought out. They were not taken in the first two victims, they were not even the central focal point. Something was needed from the victim first. The victim had to fit some unknown criteria that was predetermined. Specific mutilation did not place before torture. Anger consumed and motivated the UNSUB's mind, but it had to be controlled to obtain his goal. It got the best of him. The outrage was triggered by the fact that he had chosen the wrong person. They had to pay, they all did. Mulder scanned the room with intensity. What secrets did it hold? What did this victim possess to be cherished, to be sought with such desperation by their UNSUB? He took a deep breath and got up off his comfortable position. "There's nothing here, Scully. I think we should wait and meet up with our tour guide this evening. Maybe he could shine some light on the victims since most of them were at some point participated in one of the ghost tours offered by the four companies in town. The key is in these tours I can feel it."
For once today Scully agreed with her partner and nodded with his assessment. Maybe they could both catch a nap before hand as well. The duo drove back to their hotel hoping that they would find more answers that evening.
Mills Hotel 7:00 p.m.
Mulder got back to his room and tried to lay down, but the images of the crime scenes kept popping back into his head. The wounds were random or so they appeared in the first three victims, then deliberate and more controlled in the last two. The things with the eyes bothered him the most. In most ritual murders the taking of the eyes was meant as a sign of possessing that person's power. Sometimes it meant the individual could no longer see their destiny or observe the world. But why the change? What was the difference between victim three and four?
Mulder was totally exhausted and thinking made his head hurt. He had shed his suit jacket and tie and now was only wearing his outer T-shirt and his slacks. He sat on the bed with all the files spread out as he reread the contents of victim number four. Although it was all in his memory, he hoped he missed something. His head was pounding unmercifully and his body was now reminding him that it lacked sleep and now his muscles were betraying him by tensing up. He ignored his body's protests and gazed over the file that he had just put down.
Victim four was Brandon Willis. He was just twenty years old on vacation with his girlfriend. He worked at a bookstore taking time off from college. He was different, not a loner and was involved even though victim five was single. His hobbies included toy collecting, he was a part time D.J., and played Ultima online. So far all five victims were partly educated, middle class and what? Brandon's body was found outside on the front porch of the Charleston Catholic Church. This church was surrounded by some very old Graveyards. The one in the back had several sightings of a lady in white. He was stabbed in the heart and in the kidneys. Then his eyes were carved out. Mulder started to pace the floor and threw the file down. Tracy Moon was a single mother on vacation while her child was at his grandparent's house. She was victim number two somehow she didn't deserve a quick death like Brandon or Carl. Did the first three victims not possess what the killer sought? Were they not worthy? "Worthy of what?" Mulder said out loud. Tracy worked at a bank and was a budding romance novelist.
Mulder spread out the files on the bed and took out his notebook and began to make a chart. He would take this chart and expand it when ideas developed and new evidence was discovered. It had been his experience that by the time he was done sometimes each victim would have their own notebook. There just wasn't enough information to fill up a couple of pages. A skeleton chart was the first tool used to create a pseudo profile.
Victim #1 Amy Truble Female Age 30 Single Administrative Assistant at Aim Insurance Few Friends Occupation was a student Body found in the alley of Poogan's Porch History of sight was the restaurant was haunted by lady in black Pattern of wounds were random eight in all
Victim #2 Tracy Moon Female Age 33 Single mother Bank Teller at Second National Few friends Occupation romance novelist Body found on the steps of The Old Exchange Building History of sight was disturbances of rattling chains and moving objects Pattern of wounds were random six in all
Victim #3 Steve Sutton Male age 27 Married Head hunter for a firm Many fiends Occupation astronomer Body found in the back of the Grayson House 1515 Briarcliff Rd History of sight was haunted by the sprit of a young woman murdered there Pattern of wounds were more violent in nature fifteen in all
Victim #4 Brandon Willis Male age 20 Steady girlfriend Manager of a book store Some friends Occupation toy collector Body found inside the grounds of The Charleston Catholic Church History of sight are the appearances of a lady in white roaming the graveyard Pattern of wound single one to the heart and eyes carved out
Victim #5 Carl Stevens Male age 22 Single Computer tech for a firm Few friends, a loner Occupation role player in popular game Body found in his room of the Battery Inn Hotel History of sight was haunted by a floating torso Pattern of wound single one to the heart and eyes carved out
The pattern deviated a bit with the third victim. Steve Sutton was attacked more violently and received more wounds. The suspect was enraged with all his victims, but Steve deserved more punishment. All five victims showed no signs of a struggle The aggression was not a result of self-defense. Was the suspect more angry with Steve? Was he verbally combative? Did he lack or fail the suspect's tests? Was the UNSUB more disappointed? The UNSUB was seeking the eyes and maybe Steve held more promise then the others. However, his eyes were not taken. No trophy that night. The disappointment was a result of an equal amount of anticipation. What made Steve a more appealing target? It was possible that he lead an alternate lifestyle or belonged to a club of some sort. Something about his life was evident by casual association assuming the victim didn't know the killer. All five were suspects were tourists from different sections of the country. While they were on vacation they meet the UNSUB unknowingly or the suspect looked for something about the victim that was obvious in public. More background checks were in order. They needed more information on the victims', on the wounds, the probable weapon, and the locations where the bodies were found. Somewhere there was a link and in a matter of time another person would die. Mulder looked at his watch and tried to roll the spasms out of his shoulders. It was time to get ready for the Ghost tour, a four mile walk through the historic city where the highlights were haunted attractions. He went to change into some jeans and put on a black sweater. He was in the middle of putting on some sneakers when Scully knocked on the connected door.
"You decent, Mulder?" she asked from behind the door.
"I don't have to if you want," Mulder answered with a grin.
"That's not necessary G- man. Are we ready to have our money ripped off tonight?" Scully said as she joined her partner in the room.
"Oh give it a chance, Scully, these people do some really grueling historical research on these cases. But, not to worry it's free of charge for the FBI." Mulder crossed his arms triumphantly and couldn't help the smile that crossed his face. Scully only smirked and took her partner's elbow and led them down to the lobby.
Outside the Waterfront 10:00 p.m.
It was chilly with a light breeze from the river. A beautiful night for a walk. The agents blended in great with the other dozen of tourists that waited for their guides arrival. Most of them talked about other sights to see and reassured each other that the history behind the tour would be worth the money. Some thought the stories would be worth the trip while other quietly discussed in all seriousness about prior ghostly encounters in the past. Scully just rolled her eyes and had to elbow her partner get his attention from the discussing couple.
"Mr. Wordsworth he'll be here shortly. This is a fact- finding mission, Scully, as well as a first hand view of potential victims. Maybe we can determine the specific traits that our suspect looks for in these people." With that Mr. Wordsworth showed up. He was a middle-aged man dressed in a dark suit. He had a receding hairline and wore glasses that seem to slip down to his pointed nose. He greeted the crowd and eyed the two agents. He acknowledged them and then began to speak to the crowd about the mission behind the tour.
In the alleyway across the street a man shrouded in the shadows watched the new crop of ghost hunters. His steel gray eyes were mere slits in the darkness of his black pupils. He stroked his near gray white long hair that hung loose from his braids. He was clothed in a black velvet shirt and jacket. He had a pale white face that was a stark contrast to his dark clothing. His black boots crunched the rocks that were under foot. He observed the group for the sign of believers. Those who were more in tune to their surroundings then just mere idealistic curiosity. He saw a blonde woman who looked up and meet his gaze for a moment, but then she gave her attention back to the guide.
That's a possibility, he thought, most people didn't notice him even if they were standing right next to him. He saw a man watch the crowd with his redheaded companion. No, neither of them held what he needed. The man looked over at him and watched him with interest.
That's intriguing he could see him in the shadows, but he didn't believe. Yes, there was the belief in the strange in the paranormal, but he lacked true faith. A sense of some science held him back. Normally for the others that was a very good sign, something they cherished. No, he wasn't with the others anymore for other reasons. Not wanting to gain further attention the stranger got up and disappeared into the shadows of the alley.
Mulder had seen the strange man watching the group like he was searching for someone. The hairs on the back of his neck stood straight up and his stomach twisted in a knot. Mulder sensed that this was something important, everyone else was wrapped up in Wordsworth's words the stranger had gone unnoticed. Just as Mulder tapped Scully's shoulder to point out the guy he slipped into the back alley. Mulder thought for a split second about questioning the guy, but changed his mind.
Scully looked over at her partner when he tapped her, but when she turned around he just shrugged. "What?" she whispered.
"Nothing I thought I saw someone, but it was nothing." What else could he tell her? This guy was looking at the group and he gave me the creeps.
"Mulder, the tour just started don't go biting the bait before its offered to you just yet." Both agents began to walk with the group as the guide showed them city hall were he wooed them with the story of a restless spirit rattling chains at night. The next hour consisted of various sad tales of murders and pained souls. Mulder and Scully took careful note of the locations as to be familiar with them and to discover some kind of pattern. Mulder tried to concentrate on the stories knowing they had to be linked to the case, but he was wearing down at a rapid pace. Normally a walk of this kind was a breeze and something he enjoyed, however his tired body was protesting now. He fell behind the group just a little and his attention was drawn to a building. They were at the front of a museum and he noticed the same guy from before just across the street in another alley.
"This is ridiculous," he said to nobody. Mulder looked over at his partner in an attempt to get her to come with him. Scully was at the front of the crowd. Out of the corner of his eye Mulder saw the guy slip away. Not wanting to waste any time he began to run briskly across the street to the alley where the guy had been.
The stranger had been following the tour group the entire time at a discreet distance. He had been careful to avoid the man with the dark hair and his red headed partner. The stranger was more interested in the young, blonde lady in the group. She had a sort of essence that he was seeking. She watched the tour guide with intense interest. Her face expressed emotions and intrigue. The man who was watching the group from within saw him again and he knew he must disappear. The stranger knew the guy and his partner weren't tourists by the way they acted. They were watching too, just for other reasons. He must have finally caught the attention of the authorities. He was pretty stunned to learn they had joined the tourist group.
The stranger knew the man was very close and he began to run quickly. He wasn't prepared to be caught in this alleyway and mentally told himself to allow for more exits next time.
Mulder saw the suspect duck to the left and he continued his pursuit. He had no cause to pull out his firearm just the instinct that this man was involved somehow. "Freeze federal agent I need to ask you some questions." Mulder poked his head out and saw the guy turn down the next alley.
"I said freeze federal agent!" Mulder yelled again sprinting after the guy. Going down the next alley he could see the suspect straight ahead jumping over garbage cans and landing onto a large puddle of water ahead. Mulder pursued him seeing that this was a dead end.
Mulder continued to chase the guy. Why was the man still running where does he hope to go, Mulder thought. The guy took out what looked like some kind of canister and sprayed the puddle with it. Within seconds had pulled down a ladder to a fire escape and began to climb it. The stranger dropped the canister as he ascended to the top of the balcony. Mulder didn't react to any of this he just wanted to catch up to him.
At the same instant Mulder leapt over the garbage cans and landed on the iced over puddle. His right foot hit the slick surface and slipped right out from underneath him. The loss of balance sent his body crashing down mainly on his right shoulder. Mulder's head bounced slightly off the pavement and it caused his vision to blur. His head exploded with pain, but it was the sharp fire from his shoulder that kept him from blacking out. He laid there for what seemed like forever. While he was on his back Mulder tested out his limbs to see if he broke any bones. Satisfied that he didn't cause himself any major damage. Mulder sat up for a second and the pain from his right shoulder shot through his arm down to his fingers. From his prone position he saw the guy he was chasing watching him like a hawk from the back porch of a building.
Wearily he saw that the ladder had been pulled up from his reach. Mulder gingerly placed both hands on the ground in order for him to regain a standing position. Once up, the alley wavered and he stumbled forward without realizing it to regain his balance. His hand lashed out and caught hold of the pole holding up the fire escape. His hand gripped the steel beam and he leaned all his weight onto it.
Why did I get up again he thought? Oh yeah because the bad guy is looking down on me from his perch above, Mulder thought. The agent looked up at the suspect's face to see an amused smile. The guy seemed very entertained by his misfortune.
That doesn't bold well, Mulder thought. This guy isn't even attempting an escape. The stranger looked into the agents eyes and in a soft steely voice said, "Watch out for the wolf dear man."
Mulder looked at the strange man in utter shock. "What did you say?" he croaked out. Then a low growling noise caught his attention and Mulder still holding onto the pole for support turned his body around instead of his head. What he saw didn't seem to register with his foggy brain. A very large white wolf with red eyes stared right at him. It showed him two rows of very sharp teeth and it lowered his head as he prepared to leap at the bewildered agent.
Above him the dark clothed stranger took a hold of the ladder as the agent slowly, clumsily inched away from the wolf. Backing away from the animal Mulder moved closer to the ladder above him. The stranger whispered, "Believe in magic Mr. Lawman."
The wolf disappeared from sight and the stranger pulled the ladder up then, slammed it down right on top of the agent's injured right shoulder. The impact of the left foot of the ladder landed on the top of Mulder's shoulder with a sickening crack. The agent collapsed from the sheer force behind the ladder's momentum. He had time to register the blinding white pain. Then Mulder blacked out as his body lost consciousness.
Scully was starting to lose patience with this little ghost walk. She watched as the crowd ate up Mr. Wordsworth's tales of awe. When she turned around she noticed Mulder wasn't with the group anymore. At first she thought she missed his lanky frame in the list of the tourists. Now she knew he wasn't with them anymore. Damn him she cursed, where did he run off to? She stood there scanning the area as the tourists followed their leader past her around the block. A blonde lady passed Scully and stopped briefly.
"If your looking for your man, sweetie, I saw him dart across the street after that interesting character. I think he went pass that rug shop into the alley behind it." With that the lady left.
Scully spotted the store and checked for cars and followed her partner's path. She cautiously entered the alley and took out her Sig and walked slowly into the dark area of town. So far all she saw was a fairly clean back alley with the occasional trash heap. Now which way did he go? She came across a turn and was forced to make a decision. The left or the right?
She saw that the left corner held lines of clothes being hung to dry and that none of them had be disturbed. So she went right. Dodging the occasional critter that scattered by her, Scully focused on the path ahead. The light or the lack of it didn't help matters and Scully began to wonder if she was any where near the vicinity of her reckless partner. Up ahead she could see some batter trashed cans in the way, but what made her pulse race was the sight of a body a few feet away.
Quickly she assessed the area with her eyes and didn't detect any suspects. She was at his side and in a few seconds and knelt down. She put her hand on his neck and felt for a pulse that was slower than normal, but not anywhere near dangerous grounds. She ran her trained hands over his body in search for any trauma or broken bones. Satisfied that he wasn't in any immediate danger she pulled out her cell phone.
"911 operator what is the nature of the emergency?"
"Yes, this is Special Agent Dana Scully of the FBI badge number 2317-616 and I have an agent down in the alley of 4th and Baxter street. We need an EMT here immediately!"'
As the operator typed up the address Scully carefully ran her fingers over Mulder's head and brushed against a swelling on the back of his skull.
"What is the agent's current condition?"
"Unknown at this time it looks like he has a probable concussion, but I'm unable to assess any other injuries since he is unconscious at this time."
"All right, Agent Scully, will advise the ambulance. They should be there in five minutes if you feel its safe please try to guide them where you are when you hear them approaching."
Scully placed her hand on Mulder's face and felt the coolness of his skin. Knowing he was slipping into shock she carefully lifted his legs up gently and put her jacket over him. She tried to assess any other damage just as Mulder's eyes fluttered open for a second. He was having difficulty focusing on her and this concerned her a lot. Scully told Mulder in a soft voice, "Don't move around Mulder I don't know what you did to yourself this time."
She could tell he was trying to tell her something. His face grimaced as he became more alert to his surroundings. He blinked several times and she could sense that he wanted to tell her something. Not wanting him to strain himself she lowered her ear to his face.
"Sc...Scully," he slurred. "Where's the ww... wolf?" "Lay still Mulder it'll be okay." Scully supported his head to make sure he didn't move it unnecessarily.
"No,...Scully the ...wolf...the guy ?" his thoughts were very confused.
"Mulder the guy you went after there's no sign of him. Now be quiet I need to listen for the ambulance."
Mulder was beginning to fade again the darkness closing in on him. He was just unable to handle the guy banging inside of his head. "Watch out for the i...ice." With that Mulder passed out.
A wolf, Scully thought to her self, he must have hit his hard pretty hard. Scully looked around to make sure the place was secured. She saw want looked like an innocent mutt dog eating out of one of the garbage cans. Scully shook her head in frustration. A wolf huh, Mulder, she thought. Ice what the hell was he talking about it was in the fifties and she nearly ruined a new pair of heels in that puddle a few feet away. She ran he hands through his hair when she heard the sirens in the background. Scully got up and gave her prone partner another look while she searched for the EMTs making their way into the alley.
Unbeknown to Scully a set of steel cold eyes followed her moves as she searched for help. He had descended to the top of the building. The stranger was a sucker for suffering and he couldn't give up a front row seat for that. Well I could have fun with these two if they actually stumble in my way again. Sure it would be easy to kill the annoying man. The stranger sensed conflict within the man's mind. It was intriguing. The stranger pulled a black, iron looking rod. He squeezed it releasing a yellow laser beam that was six inches in length. He pushed the beam into the pavement below him. When he took it out it left a hole the size of a half dollar. He gripped the weapon and the laser slid back into place. Two FBI Agents could be trouble, he thought. Tonight on the other hand. He had a date with a cute blonde. He put the weapon back into his robes. With that the mysterious man left the scene before it swarmed with too many people. **
Charleston Hospital 3:00 a.m.
"So you have no idea what Agent Mulder was doing taking off in alley alone, Agent Scully?" came the very terse question from A.D. Skinner on Scully's cell phone.
"Well no sir, a witness on the scene said he went after a very strange guy who was watching the group, but no one could corroborate what she saw."
"What have you evaluated so far from the attack and what's Mulder's condition?"
"Well sir from what little Mulder told me a few moments ago I'd wait a while for him to get some rest for a clearer report. But, according to his version he tracked the suspect into the alley and identified himself." Scully took a brief pause. "He said that he slipped on a sheet of ice and fell down while the suspect climbed a fire escape ladder. Then he, um, said that after he recovered enough to stand up with the aid of said fire escape pole that the suspect warned him about a wolf. Now its pretty apparent that Mulder was suffering from the effects of his fall because he said he saw a white wolf in the alley right before the suspect jammed the ladder from above into his shoulder. There was a dog in the alley and I believe, Mulder, was very out of it. The doctors say he has a pretty bad concussion and a broken collar bone from the attack. It looks a lot worse then it is because the impact of the ladder busted several blood vessels, causing his shoulder to turn black and blue. He's lucky he doesn't have any nerve damage from the force of the blow, or that he didn't end up with a broken shoulder. It's just very sore and we have to wait for the swelling to go down."
"Back up there a second Scully, you said a wolf?" Skinner asked in disbelief.
"Yes sir. A white one to be precise."
"Well, Scully, you make sure you keep an eye on him and see if you can get a more accurate description of events before I get down there."
"Sir," she responded with surprise.
"Yes, Agent Scully, please inform Mulder I'll be coming down there with a few more agents to provide some additional help." Scully was silent for a moment. "Agent Scully, did you inform Mulder about the sixth victim yet?"
"No, sir I didn't want to aggravate him, but I'd planned on briefing him in a while when he's more up and about." She defended.
"Well you do that Agent Scully I'll be there in an afternoon. Do you think he'll be released by then?" he said with some concern.
"Probably in the morning they gave him some painkillers and they want to keep him overnight for the concussion. He'll be pretty sore for a while, plus they're concerned about him being a bit run down. I'll make sure he stays focused on recovering properly."
"You do that Scully I don't like it when one of my agents is put in the hospital and I want to make sure he stays out understood."
"Yes sir." With that Scully put her phone away and walked over to the room that held Mulder. She peered into his room and saw him resting, for at least for now, she mused. When she turned around she nearly bumped into his physician who was making his rounds.
"Oh, Agent Scully, I was just going to let you know about Agent Mulder's release," Doctor Austin announced.
"Well I take it there's nothing to really worry about then Dr. Austin," Scully said in a tired voice.
"Your correct Agent. I know you're a medical doctor as well. You already know that Agent Mulder needs a lot of rest and not to use that shoulder very much until his collarbone is healed. His shoulder will be very sore from the amount of swelling that occurred not only from the his fall, but the aggravation of the broken collarbone. We will give him a sling and a device to immobilize his shoulder, please try to make sure he wears it. Whatever the agent was hit with, it bruised several muscles and nearly chipped the top of his shoulder blade. Now his head sustained a pretty good concussion.
He should stay in bed and you need to bring him back if he suffers from any continued dizziness or blackouts. Some will be expected, but his CT scan looked pretty normal. I'll prescribe him some painkillers and plenty of bed rest."
"Unfortunately Doctor, Mulder will not stay in bed and will no doubt go right back into our investigation. However, I'm used to dealing with concussions in our line of work. I'll monitor his condition and will be the first person to put him back in the hospital at the first sign of a problem." Scully said with a no nonsense attitude.
Dr. Austin just looked at her with shock. Then he shook his head and left muttering something about stubborn foolhardy agents. Scully left to get some rest before picking her partner back up in the morning.
Fox Mulder gingerly got out of the rental car. He hated wearing such a stupid and irritating sling, but when he tried to take it off Scully drilled holes into him with the look. It didn't matter his shoulder was too stiff and hurt too much from just simple movement. To make matters worse his head throbbed in time with his heartbeat or that was how it felt. What aggravated his migraine was not the thought of his tight assed boss coming in with extra agents, no he welcomed the help. It was while he slipped and fell like an amateur another person was murdered. He knew if he hadn't fucked up and maybe that blacked clothed son of a bitch would be in jail. No, now all he had was another folder containing the details of a murder he could have prevented.
Scully came around to his side as the doorman took their vehicle. Mulder kept his movements to a minimum in a vain attempt to adhere to its complaints about not receiving any proper rest. He saw Scully glancing at him with her eyes. He knew she was worried about him, for his well being. That is why he would hide his pain from her. He didn't want Scully to have the added pressure of worrying about his health. "Look, Mulder, the guy got the upper hand on you. This girl's death isn't your fault." Mulder knew that she wanted dispense his feelings of guilt about loosing the suspect. It couldn't stop his descent into that little void.
"No, Scully there's more to it. How did I slip on a sheet of ice that you said didn't exist? Or, how do you explain the wolf? No, don't say it. I wasn't hallucinating. He said 'believe in magic', Scully. What did he mean? What did he do in that alley?"
The both of them went into a conference room that the hotel set aside for their case. Mulder slumped down into the nearest chair in the room. He looked down at his sling with a dumb founded expression. He insisted on slipping into it after he carefully put his suit jacket on. The white contraption looked ridiculous with the dark blue suit that Scully brought for him that morning. Now he thought better of it with the heater blasting full force in the room. Mulder didn't want to put forth the effort to shed his jacket now. He took his left hand and pulled out the report on the sixth victim. He looked around the room his eyes looking for his briefcase. Mulder didn't want any assistance. He didn't want Scully to doubt his abilities about still working in the field. It was only a matter of time when his searching would gain her attention.
"What do you need Mulder?" she asked with that concerned tone that he wanted to avoid.
"My briefcase. I kind of need my glasses for this report."
"Your head hurt, Mulder?" Scully asked softly.
"Well, reading the details of the report without them won't contribute to my winning personality," he responded sarcastically. But he gave Scully a wry smile. "I think it's back in the room. I'll grab them when I go back to get the rest of the files for the meeting with the team. Skinner assured me that the others are here to give us support on this case with the two of us as acting ASACs. Do we have a preliminary report for him?" Scully asked with some hesitation.
Mulder took his good hand and rubbed his eyes with his fingers trying to will the pounding in his head. "Well I believe the suspect we were after was the man watching the tour. What he said to me before I got real personal with the back alley was to 'believe in magic'. I think that is the key in figuring out the victim pattern. I consider him to be a highly educated man and from a fairly wealthy background. He chooses people based on their connection to the paranormal. Maybe our suspect has some kind of connection to the spirits that haunt the areas. Maybe he believes that he is some kind of protector."
"You think the suspect believes he's protecting restless sprits? What leads you to that conclusion, Mulder?" Scully asked incredulously. She walked over and took one of the reports off the table.
"Why else would he hunt people who are involved in a ghost tour then kill them near those very locations?" Mulder was upset and he vented his anger in their discussion.
"You're so convinced that the supernatural is involved. Just maybe, Mulder, there's another explanation, one in which explains why the suspect is obsessed with these supposed hauntings. It's possible that he uses this group because he's involved in one of the touring companies? That would explain how he figures out which people to go after and that may figure into the pattern of the dump sites." Scully sat down on the edge of the table and stared at him. There it was again, Mulder thought. They both took opposite sides on a case and argued to gain the other's approval. "Then explain to me what kind of weapon does our UNSUB use, Scully? Does science explain how some of those wounds were produced and without anyone noticing? And while you're at it explain to me about that patch of ice I slipped on when the temperature outside was fifty-two degrees." Mulder got to his feet in such a rush that he jarred his shoulder in the process. He squinted his eyes in pain as it shot through the shoulder and into his chest. He took a deep breath and steadied himself with his left hand on the table. Scully took a hold of his left elbow and placed her hand on his uninjured side.
"I'm fine, Scully, I just got up to quickly," Mulder said in a clipped tone.
"That means you'll just sit there and stay put." Scully went over to a box in the corner of the conference room. She pulled out a plastic baggy that contained the unmarked canister. She came back to face Mulder and she bent down to his seated level. That gesture was not lost on Mulder and he appreciated his partner not trying to make a statement by using their current height differences as a tool to make a point. "You see this, Mulder," Scully said placing the plastic evidence bag in front of him. "This is the canister I found laying near you in the alley. I'll have it analyzed at the FBI labs. The local forensics team determined it was nothing more than a can of freon gas used in car air conditioners."
Mulder picked up the bag containing the can. "I don't recall how a simple can of freon is able to freeze a pool of water in less then a second."
"Well, no, your right. I'm just suggesting that maybe somehow you just slipped in the water and this was already there. Or that the suspect did have it, but it didn't cause that puddle to freeze over. Nothing could have done that Mulder."
"What about the wolf, Scully, he warned me about it and there it was." Mulder looked up at with some intensity. "This was before or after you fell and hit your head?" Mulder simply sighed from that little comment. He should have expected it. "It was the power of suggestion, Mulder. We've seen the effects of that before," Scully said, her voice trailing away.
"It wasn't because I hit by head, Scully, it was something else. I know it has a connection to these hauntings." Taking a cleansing breath Mulder leaned back into the chair. "Tell me the basics of the newest victim."
"Yes, please fill us all in on the sixth victim if you would, agent Scully." A.D. Walter Skinner walked into the conference room with three other agents. Mulder straightened out in his chair not bothering to get up, but Scully removed herself from the table. "Agents these are agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully they are in charge of this investigation. Mulder and Scully this is Agent Roger Blackford, Agent Susan Demask, and Agent Tom Fielding. The trio shook hands with the two agents as they took seats around the table. "Were pretty familiar with the case. We already went over the local reports and Agents Scully's latest findings that she faxed over earlier this morning."
Agent Fielding walked over to face his new ASACs. "As we understand it there doesn't seem to be a pattern yet when it comes to victim selection. Except that the victims are picked out of a pool of people that participate in these historic Ghost Tours of Charleston?" Agent Fielding asked. Mulder stared at the new agent. There was no hidden animosity in his voice, just the calm, collective voice of sincerity. Fielding was a man in his middle thirties with a George Clooney haircut. Tall and well built there was not doubt that he was used to getting the facts. His blue eyes seemed to hold the command of authority. Mulder didn't feel like he needed to defend himself to this guy. He seemed like an agent who just wanted to help catch their killer. Mulder turned to meet Fielding's gaze and saw the concern the man held for this case. "So far you are correct there isn't a pattern that has been determined. However, it is my belief that at least the suspect thinks that these hauntings are genuine and that the victims seem to pose some kind of a threat to him." Mulder responded with complete conviction.
"What do you base that upon Agent Mulder?" Agent Demask inquired. She had long shoulder length hair and a fair complexion. Her matching brown eyes would surely be appealing to the average man considering she was tall for a woman. She was about six-foot and built like a swimmer.
"Based on the location of the dumping sites suggests a compulsive, obsessive type. When I was trying to apprehend him he mentioned a conviction in magic that makes me think he has an interest in the paranormal. That also may explain the fact how the last three victims had their eyes carved out. That usually indicates an interest in the occult or some kind of ritual religion," Mulder answered.
"Could we be dealing with someone involved in a cult or witchcraft, Agent Mulder?" Agent Fielding asked.
"I can't rule that out just yet, but I think there's something different about this suspect. I hope we might gather some more evidence at the crime scene."
"Do you think you could give us a description that we could hand out to the local authorities, Mulder?" Skinner asked.
"All I remember was that he wore dark clothing and that he had long white hair that was tied into two thin braids on each side of his face. I couldn't tell you how old he was, but the way he ran he must had been in good shape so I wouldn't put him past forty five years of age," was Mulder's tired reply.
"That's not much to go on unfortunately. I'm going to be doing the autopsy on the last victim in about three hours so maybe we'll discover something," Scully interjected.
"The girl was identified as Mary Higgins age 29, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was engaged to her boyfriend back home a William Stevens. She was an antique dealer here on business. She was killed by a single stab like burn wound to the heart and her eyes were carved out. She was apparently killed in the middle of the cemetery of the Episcopal Church without a single witness." Mulder had a professional, monotone voice and his eyes seemed to find an interesting point on the wall. When he was done he put his good left hand to his head in a vain attempt to soothe the pounding that was radiating from the back of his skull to the pressure points on his temples. Mulder could feel the concerned faces of his boss and partner. He had to double his efforts to conceal his aches and pains.
"Well, how do you suggest we handle the different aspects of the case Mulder?" Skinner's gruff voice broke him from his internal struggles.
"I think we should have one person look into the history of each of the locations that the body was discovered. We should have another try to figure out what kind of weapon was used and where we could fine one or possibly build one. Lastly, we need to scour the last two crime scenes. There has to be some physical evidence or someone who saw or heard something. At night we need to follow or monitor the four different ghost tours. I believe that the suspect has not found the right victim yet. There will be more." Mulder said grimly leaving the group with the task of splitting up their assignments.
Mulder just sat there while the others gathered their things. The twenty minutes he spent talking seemed to drain all the energy from him. He sat at the table totally absorbed in thought. At that very moment the world was so far away. Pain, guilt, darkness seemed to consume his brain. He hated to see what he looked like in the mirror. "Mulder, maybe you should go get some rest. It'll do no one any good if you're exhausted." She placed her hand on his forearm.
"No, Scully, I want that canister to be completely analyzed and I want to talk to Mr. Wordsworth about those sites. He could tell us some vital information that we missed about last night's group." "Mulder, all the people in the group seemed to be quite normal. I picked out eight couples and three stragglers." Mulder remained seated and propped his head with his left hand. He never took his eyes of Scully. "Mary was one of the three who didn't seem to be with another person. That could be a possible link. Also, that she asked a lot of questions along with Tim Rice, the insurance guy, who tried to sell everyone a policy," Scully said with a bit of annoyance.
"I think we're a bit too high risk for his tastes," Mulder chuckled. "He was also a historian on the side. I think he just had a natural interest. We need to find out if all the victims created as much attention while they were on the tour." We are getting close, Mulder thought. He could tell from her expression that she considered it and all the ramifications that were involved. "If that were true, Mulder, then the murderer would have to be part of the group or hear the conversations. If you believe that the guy in the alley was involved then there was no way he could have heard anything that was going on. Maybe he stalked them afterwards or we can't rule out the possibility that he spotted them some other time." Mulder let her logic sink and knew that it made sense.
"Hopefully Wordsworth can shed some light on the victims. Maybe he could recall any suspicious looking people who joined the group or who was near the area at the time." Mulder stiffly got up and avoided her eyes while trying to gather all the files together. "If you happen to have any aspirin on you I promise that I'll take it easy today."
Mulder saw her shake her head and grabbed the rest of the folders that he was unable to carry. "You should really take your pain medication. Aspirin isn't going to put a dent in your headache. I'll give you your medicine when I go to the room for the rest of the files and your reading glasses. Then G-man you and I will talk to Wordsworth and you'll take a nap when I do the autopsy this afternoon."
Mulder knew she had her mind set and even though he didn't want to piss her off he had to work long and hard before the suspect struck again. He nodded his head yes and hoped he could get done what he needed to before she completed her work on the body.
Charleston Ghost Tour Headquarters 10:00 a.m.
There were no parking spaces near the building that held the headquarters of the Ghost Tours. Mulder and Scully made their way to a large white building with roman pillars. Mulder stopped in his tracks when he saw the steep flight of stairs. He looked down at his feet and peered upwards scanning every little step. Knowing that Scully was looking on he began his ascent with careful, precise movements. Climbing the stairs simply jolted his shoulder unmercifully and he couldn't help a short gasp here and there. After reaching the top he gritted his teeth from a wave of dizziness. Scully placed her hand on his right shoulder, but before she said anything Mulder spoke, "I'm all right, Scully. Let's..."
"We will talk to Mr. Wordsworth for a little while, Mulder," Scully interrupted.
He could tell from her stern and unhappy expression that she wasn't really happy. Mulder simply continued into the building and knocked on Mr. Wordsworth's office door. Wordsworth opened it and seemed a bit startled by their appearance.
"Hello, Agents Mulder and Scully, I am quite surprised to see you this soon." Mr. Wordsworth said as he allowed them inside to take a couple of seats in front of his desk.
"How are you doing, Agent Mulder? I know I was looking forward to our talk before your unfortunate encounter," the older man asked when the two agents took their seats.
"I'm just fine, Mr. Wordsworth. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about the haunting that takes place where the latest victim was found." Mulder fidgeted to find a comfortable position. The trip up the stairs had brought back his headache with a vengeance. The pain from his broken collarbone seemed to pinch and burn the muscles around his shoulder. Mulder regretted not taking his pain medication.
"Call me, David. To tell you the truth we know very little about the haunting that occurs outside the Episcopal Church. It's very special because five years ago a photographer was wondering around at night and decided to take a few pictures of the graveyard there. When he got the roll of film developed he saw something incredible. He sent it to the Kodak labs to have it examined for any flaws. They returned it to him just as perplexed, because there wasn't anything wrong with the film."
"What was so interesting about the film, Mr. Wordsworth...I mean David," Scully said.
"Because the picture he took of one of the tombstones turned out like this." Wordsworth held out a photo of a single headstone with the ghostly image of a young lady kneeling down next to it. "We've had it examined ourselves and have determined that the photo to be genuine. The day that the gentleman took it was the hundred-year anniversary of the death of that lady's child. The two were buried side by side. The tourist that took it had no idea about the date's significance."
Mulder studied the photo with fascination while Scully glared at it with scrutiny. "I take it that this is told to all the participates of the group?" Mulder queried.
"Of course it's a great selling point," Wordsworth answered. "Mary also asked a lot of questions in the tour. She seemed to take everything at face value. Are all your customers generally that enthused?" Mulder asked.
"It's an exciting experience. We get a lot of people who get real worked up about the tour. We get people like that insurance guy who wanted to know to what extent we researched our history. We also get some odd folks who'll join the tour more then once and even go off to do their own exploring." At that moment the phone rang in the office and Wordsworth excused himself as he took it in the other room.
Mulder stared at the photo while his brain worked at a thousand miles an hour. His face changed from complete concentration then he turned to Scully with a serious expression. He was about to tell her something.
"What do you think you've noticed, Mulder?" Scully asked as she took the photo from her partner's hand. Just then Wordsworth returned from his phone call.
"David, did Mary the last victim, ask you any questions about the site of the photo?" Mulder asked with very controlled excitement.
"Why yes. She was extremely curious about the location. In fact I pointed out with the flashlight the specific headstone since the gate was locked that night." Wordsworth replied with some curious interest.
"Is this the headstone that was photographed?" Mulder asked showing, Wordsworth, a picture that he slipped out of his suit pocket with great difficulty. His clumsy attempt at retrieving the envelope would have been comical if the situation wasn't so serious.
"Why yes it is. Why do you ask, Agent Mulder?" Wordsworth inquired as he began to pace his office.
"Because that is where Mary Higgins was discovered late last night by a security guard. Do you think if I drew you up a list of sites where the other victims were found you could determine if the hauntings took place at the exact locations or just near the vicinity of them?" Mulder looked over at his partner. Her jaw dropped and she seemed to be genuinely surprised by what he had said. He nodded toward her in an implied, "I told you so."
"I certainly could, but I would need a little while. Perhaps I could give to you later this afternoon?"
"That would be fine, David. We'll give you a call before coming back over here." With that Mulder got to his feet with great excitement at the thought of a breakthrough. He would wait until they were outside to share his ideas with Scully. They walked outside down the steps of the building that housed the office of the Ghost Tours. Mulder swayed a little coming down the last step when a bout of dizziness hit him all of a sudden. Scully was there in an instant grabbing a hold of his left arm.
"Mulder... Mulder you need to sit down here on this step." From her guidance he sat down and took a deep breath.
"Its all right, Scully, it was just the bright sunlight that caught me off guard," he said that from in between his knees where his head was resting with his hands massaging the tension that had built up again.
"Wrong answer, Mulder. We're going back to the hotel where you will sleep..." "I don't want to go back to the hotel, Scully, I want to..."
"No, arguments, Mulder, that was our deal. You can tell me your theory in the car as I drive us back to the hotel." Mulder's body tensed up and he opened his mouth to protest. He knew Scully saw him gear up for an argument because she beat him to the first punch. "I can always drive you back to the hospital, Mulder, and I will tell Skinner to stick someone there to make sure you don't go anywhere," she said forcefully.
"You wouldn't," was his muffled reply. Mulder looked up at her determined face. "You would." Knowing he was facing defeat and feeling that his body was rebelling against him he got up slowly. Mulder stood there while Scully went over to get the car. She pulled up a minute later and Mulder wearily got into the passenger side.
As the car pulled off the blacked clothed stranger walked out of the shadows from behind the building. Dressed top to bottom in layered black velvet he didn't seem a bit bothered by the heat. He methodically climbed the steps of the building and entered the office of David Wordsworth. A smile grew on his pale face as he was warmed at the thoughts on how to unnerve the troublesome tour guide. "These people are will never understand the true power of magic. In the end it will be their down fall," he said in a steely voice to no one. He then went inside the office.
David Wordsworth was busy comparing the lists that the agents had given him to his records of the sites when the stranger walked in. The guy looked like one of those costumed freaks from one of those Sci-Fi conventions. "This office is closed sir you may purchase tickets through the tourist bureau," Mr. Wordsworth told the man brusquely.
The man smiled. "No, you see I am here so you can tell me what those two agents wanted from you." In one quick movement the stranger grabbed the tour guide's forearm and twisted it upwards into an unnatural position snapping the bone. Wordsworth cried out in pain as the man placed the back of his hand behind his neck and his thumb into his throat. "Now what did they want?"
The man's thumb dug into the nerve and Wordsworth could barely breathe behind the pain. "They...wanted..."
"Yes, go on." The stranger slowly released the pressure by just a notch.
"Agent...Mulder... wanted to know...if there was ...a connection...between...where the bodies were found. And the exact...location... of the hauntings." Wordsworth gasped each word as the pain in his arm rode up into his shoulder. The man grabbed the guide by his neck and dragged him over to the chair near the window. He then took out a metal wire and tied it firmly around the shaking man. When he was done tying the wire he stepped back to admire his work. He snapped his fingers and the wire constricted around Wordsworth's body allowing absolutely no movement from the fearful man. The stranger then took out a mirror in the shape of a circle and a little stand. He angled the mirror on the stand to catch the sunlight coming out of the window. He then redirected the reflected beam onto the guide's trembling face.
"Because you are truly an unbeliever you deserve a more painful death. I would like to carve you with my knife, but alas I have to be somewhere else at this time," the man said coolly. "Now, stay perfectly still now I want the mirror to catch your best side."
"That...that mirror can't do anything to me are you...mad?" Wordsworth managed to ask.
"My dear man its no ordinary mirror. I think it will do the job nicely." With that the man left and at the door he dipped his hand into his pocket and wrote the mysterious symbol in the air. He laughed when the sunlight directed at the guide's face began to burn through its desired target. By the time the stranger entered the sidewalk and ducked into the alley behind the building. There would be nothing left of Mr. Wordsworth's head.
Inside the Car
Mulder fidgeted inside the car trying to figure out how he could fit everything that needed to be done in the time allotted to him. He knew he needed to rest. The pain from his broken collarbone was seeping into his arm and for some reason his chest. What a stupid bone to break there wasn't really anything you could do for it. Every movement shifted it around causing a sharp pain and a burning sensation.
He thought back to when Samantha had broken her collarbone. She was always so irritable all the time. He now knew the kind of pain and discomfort that she must had gone through. Drifting back into his childhood always brought back sad memories. Every once in a while he would remember something sweet and it brought a very small smile to his face. "Its times like these, Scully, that I wish that I had my old lucky rabbit's foot." At her strange look he chuckled. "No, I'm serious. Before Sam was taken I had this god-awful purple rabbit's foot with these black swirly patterns. My dad gave it to me when I was eight years old and I carried it around whenever I felt nervous or uncertain about things. During tests at school I'd keep it in my pocket and I could swear it gave me good luck."
"It certainly wasn't very lucky for the rabbit," was Scully's simple reply.
"But, oh, for those childhood times of innocence and the sentiments in tooth fairies and lucky rabbit's foots." With her sigh Mulder got serious and went back into the case. "I think that the victims who had a more intense interest in the paranormal were the ones who had their eyes carved out." With her side glanced look Mulder continued. "Victims one through three seemed to be fascinated by the idea of ghosts and such. The last three actually stayed at a haunted site or went there directly out of curiosity."
"So you think that our suspect follows their movements when he finds a particular victim interesting. Then he kills the ones quickly out of some twisted kind of mercy who have a stronger believe in the ghost sightings?" Scully asked. "But, why take their eyes, Mulder? Is there a significance in their removal?"
"Yes, most certainly. There could be many reasons for it especially if he believes that the eyes hold some sort of power." There it was the adrenaline rush he felt when he knew they were getting close to something. "The one thing that still is bothering me is the weapon. What did he use? I'm hoping when we meet tonight that the team has made a breakthrough on a possible weapon."
Mulder recognized the familiar crinkle in her forehead as she concentrated. "We still don't know how he subdues his victims. He would have to be pretty strong to be able to overpower some of the men. It still doesn't explain how no one saw or heard anything. Some of the deaths would have taken some time." They pulled up to the hotel so the valet could take the car. Skinner was walking out of the conference room when he spotted them. He then signaled for them to come over.
"Mulder was about to go to his room to get some rest while I grabbed a bite to eat before heading to the autopsy." Scully said while glaring at her partner.
Mulder could tell that Skinner was trying to assess his condition. "Are you feeling all right, Agent Mulder? You didn't get out of the hospital too soon did you?"
"No, sir I just need to catch up on some rest," Mulder replied in an irritated tone.
"I just wanted to tell you the local labs found something a bit odd about that unmarked canister found near the alley where you were attacked."
"And what's odd about it, sir," Mulder asked while he leaned against a wall in the lobby.
"The inside of the can was filled with some kind of electric wiring. It seems to have no purpose or use in the function of it. In fact it doesn't work at all. If it ever had any freon in it they have no idea how it could have worked without the proper air pressure that was needed for it."
"Electric wiring sir? What do the lab boys think it did?" Mulder asked.
"As far as they can tell, Agent Mulder, that freon canister didn't and will never function." Mulder took the news in a rather calm fashion. For some reason this didn't surprise him. "The lab guys say it's impossible that the can was able to turn that puddle of water into ice," Skinner said.
"I see, sir. It begs the question why a man who was stalking potential victims was carrying around a canister that served no real purpose." Mulder closed his eyes and tapped his foot unconsciously. He stopped fidgeting when it served to remind him of his broken collarbone. "This certainly adds to the list of things I will ponder while I take my beauty nap." Mulder looked over at Scully to make sure she caught the sarcasm in his voice. She noticed and was not amused. "Let's go partner." With her command the agents left Skinner and went up to their room. **
Scully unlocked the door for Mulder and took off her suit jacket. Mulder stood in the middle of the room while trying unsuccessfully to remove his shoulder sling. Feeling sorry for his pathetic efforts Scully went over and helped him take the sling off. She felt bad when he gritted his teeth as she removed the sling and laid it on the bed.
"You know you don't have to stop with the sling, Scully," Mulder said in a suggestive tone.
"In your dreams, Mulder," was Scully's quick reply. As Mulder began to unbutton his white dress shirt Scully wandered over to his dresser where she noticed a note laying there in plain view.
"Hey have you seen this?" Scully asked pointing at the note. She turned to face her partner.
"I was hoping you would ask me that one of these days," Mulder replied not looking up from his shirt.
Scully just rolled her eyes at his remark. "No, Mulder, this note on your dresser." Scully went over to his briefcase and pulled out a pair of latex gloves. Mulder walked over to the dresser where she returned. With her gloved hands she opened it up. It read:
Agents Mulder and Scully, You have stumbled upon something that is way beyond your comprehension. However, I will enlighten upon you the very reasons why you shouldn't continue this investigation of yours. I have some of the answers that you seek. If you would like to learn them come over to the address listed here in the next thirty minutes. I require the presence of the both of you. If others join, then I will not be there. This is a one-time offer.
Both Agents exchanged looks and Scully took out her cell phone to arrange a new meeting with their boss. Mulder looked over at the sling that took him a great effort to get off. Scully finished with her phone call. "Skinner says to meet him downstairs." Mulder simply nodded his head yes.
The discussion had been heated. Mulder was irritated as he leaned his left elbow on the wall and placed his head into his hand. The back and forth banter was wasting precious time. The note had insisted on the two of them. Skinner was nervous about sending Scully out with him since he was supposed to be under the influence of pain medication. To a point he was correct. His partner's safety was a priority, but the last dose of medication was out of his system. Hell the last medication he took was from the Demerol injection that was given to him at the hospital. His pounding headache was a testament to that. Mulder for once couldn't wait to take one of his pills, but this was their only lead.
Mulder could tell the A.D. was appraising his condition. Mulder straightened up to full attention, letting his boss know that he wouldn't be intimated by his presence. He knew he was fit enough to defend himself and Scully if need be. Skinner had his hands on his hips in a reluctant manner. His boss had to know how determined he was about making the meeting. He could only guess what Skinner thought about his hobby of attracting the attention of odd informants. "I know if I tell you no, Mulder, that you will just sneak off on your own..."
"Sir," Mulder interrupted.
"Hold on, Mulder, let me continue please," Skinner's loud voice boomed. "You two can go, however, I want back up provided as a precaution. Don't worry, Mulder, I'll arrange it where this informant doesn't notice."
Mulder simply replied, "Understood, sir." He didn't want to spend any more debating the matter. Mulder took Skinner's silence as an agreement.
The back alley of Fourteen and Lumpkin Street 11:30 a.m.
The agents silently followed the note's instructions with complete attention being made to detect any signals of strange activity. Both were well aware of the danger and outright foolishness of their actions, but as of the present moment they had little else to go on. Skinner insisted that they keep in constant contact just in case of an emergency. They had argued for a good ten minutes about this encounter. Skinner only agreed when they let him employ Susan and Dan one block away from the house. The team held a genuine concern about this situation. They backed off at Mulder's and Scully's urgency. For his part Mulder kept up his normal pace just as long as he didn't trip over anything. His head pounded a bit less with the aspirin hitting his system that Scully gave him in the car, but the dull throb hadn't loosened its grip. He just wished his shoulder would stop its protests of being moved around. He just shoved all the pain aside to keep it from fuzzing up his mind. They were approaching the house described and he couldn't help but tense up as they came up its steps. It was the perfect setting for an ambush. Mulder had his hand on his Sig. and knew Scully was just as prepared.
Both crept up to the door noting the sound of music emulating from inside. There were a slight glow from a light source and the smell of cinnamon incense. The next thing they heard was a very low baritone voice that made the both of them jump ever so slightly.
"Just don't stand outside agents enter if you would," boomed the voice.
The agents nodded to each other and Mulder took the door knob and it gave way to the front room. Scully followed Mulder in and the door slid close behind them. Both waited for a second as their eyes adjusted to the candle lit room. The walls were lined with old looking tapestries from Europe and the curtains were a deep red velvet. The floor was a dark obsidian material that made their shoes echo as they walked in. There was a white cat washing itself on a black sofa. Both looked around and saw their host for the first time. He looked like one of those noble wizards from the movies except he sported a bald head of hair. He was tall a little over six five. His face looked like it was chiseled from stone and his eyes sunk into his skull. His pale white face was quite the opposite of his black velvet clothes. He wore a long jacket with a strange silver embroidered pattern that took up the entire right side. His fingernails were painted black and matched his equally dark lips. He stood there staring at them.
"I'm Special Agent Mulder and this is my partner Special Agent Dana Scully," Mulder extended his good left hand.
"I know who you are," was his response.
"And you are?" Scully said with a little irritation.
"Ah, is that really important, Agent Scully?"
"We can turn right back around if you want to play games," Scully responded.
The man walked up within inches of Scully causing Mulder to tense up at his actions. "Fair enough I am Dantrag Deudermont and I have summoned the both of you here to tell you to drop your investigation, before it brings upon some unpleasant repercussions for the both of you." He then backed away making Mulder relax slightly.
"And why is that, Mr. Deudermont?" Mulder inquired.
"It involves things beyond your will to understand," he said in a dry deep voice.
"Oh please elaborate for us, I mean we didn't walk here to be told to stop looking into the deaths of six people." Mulder saw his partner stare at their host with determination.
Mulder could tell the man was debating something by his eyes flickered from his face to Scully's. Deudermont walked over to him. "Do you believe in magic, Agent Mulder? I know your partner does not."
"I think the last time someone asked me that I was attacked by a ladder. But, no I don't believe in magic. I believe in the paranormal, but I have no reasons to believe in magic." He replied flatly.
"Your suspect does, Mr. Mulder. He is a techno mage. He belongs to a very old society with a very small and select group of members. He uses a combination of technology and faith that allows people like himself to create magic. We tend to remain with ourselves and in essence shun the outside."
Mulder looked over at Scully to see her rigid expression. She wasn't buying into any of this. Mulder was intrigued. The guy had some thought provoking things to say, but Mulder was too tired to battle his internal demons about his beliefs right now. Unlike his partner he was willing to hear this guy out. He could tell Scully was totally unaffected by this man and she began to glance around the house to avoid giving Mr. Deudermont any eye contact. He, on the other hand, was very interested and had the man's full attention.
"We take technology and apply it in ways that the rational mind cannot accept. We believe in the use of magic and create it with the help of certain kinds of sophistication that society generates. One day this world will destroy itself and we will come out and let magic rule once again. Your suspect is a member of our society. He's gone astray turning to the darker side of our ways. He seeks the ultimate source of power from a complete believer. He thinks by taking their eyes that they will lead him to the path of the strongest magic. He is wrong. Magic must come from within."
Mulder saw the guy study his face for a minute when he paused. "How else did he make you see a wolf that wasn't obviously there? He made you see what he wanted you to. That canister only produces a chemical reaction to produce cold air for a car. How else do a few wires instantly freeze over a puddle or how else does he have a laser that he stabs people with? Your suspect gets away with it all because everyone around does not believe. People do not perceive their surroundings. If we are not in tune to our environment then we loose touch with reality. We can manipulate this reality and go completely unnoticed"
"Mr. Deudermont, with all due respect I cannot put a few computer chips into a piece of plastic and create a device that could levitate objects no matter how much I want it to." Scully interjected with an icy tone.
"I didn't say you could do any thing, Agent Scully. Only some of us posses this power. We know that technology and magic share a common link. I feel this invisible power but I cannot know it. Why should you? You only make up a small fraction of this universe and magic has its own place." Mulder was going to ask him a question. Then Mr. Deudermont held up his hand to silent him.
"That is all I have to say. Don't venture into anything that you obviously can't perceive. I have said enough you have no need to learn any thing else. These murders will stop that much is true. I'll find a way to take care of the problem internally. Now you will leave."
Mulder was about to protest. Somehow, he felt compelled to leave the room without knowing exactly why. Mulder headed for the door with Deudermont behind him.
"This place will not be here tomorrow so don't look for it. Good bye agents."
Mulder watched Deudermont take Scully's hand and kiss the top of it. She seemed unnerved by this action. Mulder watched pull her hand away. Deudermont came up to him and shook his hand firmly. Mulder felt something fuzzy being slipped into his hand. As Deudermont went inside Mulder looked down at his palm. In it was a purple rabbit's foot with black swirly designs on it. He looked up at Scully with utter surprise written all over his face. That same reaction was also apparent on hers.
** Mulder and Scully walked the block down to where Agents Demask and Fielding were waiting for them. Their teammates got out of the van. Mulder nodded hello since right now he wasn't really in the mood to discuss anything with them. It appeared as if they didn't understand this since Agent Demask went ahead and started talking.
"How did your mysterious visit turn out?" Susan asked the two agents.
"I think our little informant is trying to jerk our chain in an attempt at some kind of attention. However, I am very interested in how he found our room numbers and broke into our hotel." Scully answered wearily. Mulder could feel an overwhelming nauseous feeling take over his stomach. The effects of his concussion were effecting his ability to concentrate. Fielding had just said something to Scully and now was asking them both a question. What was he saying, he thought. Mulder willed himself to care what the other agent was asking.
"Then how come you didn't question him concerning your suspicions?" Agent Fielding asked.
"We don't know," was Mulder's quiet reply. He was leaning all his weight from his left side onto the brick wall. All of a sudden the events from last night and his resistance from taking care of himself was taking a toll. He had a splitting headache. His neck, chest, and collarbone were a mass of sharp throbbing sensations and pains. He knew that both Scully and Demask were looking at him with some alarm. Let them, he thought. Mulder didn't really know how he could summon the energy to go back to his hotel room. Now, Demask was asking him questions. Why couldn't they just leave him alone. "Are you all right Agent Mulder? Do you need to sit down?" He heard Demask asking him. Now he felt Scully's hand on his back. She was whispering to him.
"Mulder...Come on, partner, I'll help you into the car." He could feel her put her arm around his waist and he transferred his weight onto her. He could hear her talking to the others.
"If you don't mind us switching cars with you I'd like to take Mulder to the hotel so he can get some rest. He just got out of the hospital and he really needs to take it easy. I still have to perform the autopsy in less then a half hour and when I'm done we'll go over the interview that we just had." Mulder heard her tell the others.
"I'll tell you want Scully we'll drive Mulder to the hotel. That way you can leave from here and go directly to the autopsy." he heard Dan suggest.
"We'll even make sure he gets to his room to enforce that rest," he heard Susan add in a reassuring voice. Great he thought, all three of them were going to try to take care of him. He was disappointed in himself and in his body's refusal in putting up with his demands.
"That would be great," Scully answered.
He was gently placed in the back seat of the van where Scully buckled him in. Now he noticed her change in demeanor. By the expression on her face he knew she was about to launch into lecture mod.
"Mulder, you will go to the hotel and take one of your Darvocets for your pain. There is even some Ambien to help you sleep. It won't give you one of those "hangovers" that you despise when you wake up. Mulder," she said. "Mulder?"
"I'm not deaf, Scully," he replied solemnly.
"Get some rest partner," she said. Mulder looked into her eyes and didn't need to say anything. He knew that she understood what he was saying. Before he knew it the other agents had gotten into the van and were on their way back. He was asleep in minutes.
Scully walked down the hallway down to her room. She was tired and hungry, but most importantly she was pissed. This case was going nowhere in a hurry. The autopsy was completely normal the victim was totally surprised and died from a single stab like wound to the heart. Her findings couldn't help determine what kind of weapon was used to kill the poor girl. She also had to explain to her boss and the team why they walked out of an interview just because they were told to do so. She just felt this overwhelming need to leave when Deudermont firmly asked. What the hell was she going to tell Skinner? Would she tell him the man's crazy delusional fairy tale? Of course Mulder seemed to be intrigued. And why does that surprise you Dana she asked herself.
Scully went into her room with the full intentions of changing, checking up on Mulder, then taking a shower all in that order. She entered her room and turned on the light switch that didn't respond after several flips. "Damn," she said out loud.
"Such language from such a lovely lady," was a cool reply from in front of her in the darkness. Scully pulled out her gun and aimed it at the direction of the voice while she squinted in the pitch blackness. Her eyes adjusted to the light in time for her to see in a split second the stranger bring out a small metal object. Scully was on the verge of pulling the trigger while trying to figure out what the metal object was. It didn't look like a knife or a gun. However, he pointed it at her and she felt her gun being ripped out of her grasp. It terrorized her as her gun was jerked out of hands by an unseen force and was clinging to the metal object. Scully didn't even have time to gasp in surprise.
"Ah, my magnets have some really special properties," he chuckled. She saw him tuck her gun in his robe. He laughed at her expression of shock and in one swift motion grabbed her arm. She was dragged over to one of the chairs in the room. She struggled. His grip was like a vise and suddenly he took out a metal wire and wrapped it around her body. He snapped his fingers and it constricted around her completely immobilizing her.
"Now my little red head I want you to call for your partner to help you." Scully quit kicking about and stared at him as he took a seat on the bed.
"No," was her steel reply.
She saw him smile while he played with one of his gray braids of hair. He then took his right hand and pulled out an odd looking device that looked like a compact flashlight. He pressed a button and a yellow contained beam came out of about six inches long. He took the beam and knocked over the small lamp over with it. It was somehow a solid substance, Scully realized in horror. The stranger laughed at Scully's bewildered expression.
"You see, dear agent, this isn't science lab, today. No, today's lesson is in faith. I know that that this little weapon is a solid, contained beam of laser light. I can control it. I can even increase the intensity." The man squeezed the handle and the beam burned a bright yellow. "Now you will call for help or I will start creating holes in your body where they do not belong." As if to emphasize his position he took her briefcase and stabbed it with the strange object and pulled the solid beam out to show Scully the hole that was left.
She involuntarily gulped back some fear that was creeping over her entire body at a very rapid rate. She didn't want to call her partner here to be surprised by this mad man. She didn't want to be killed in a very painful way either. She couldn't move to try to help her partner out if he managed to subdue this guy in his present condition.
The man spoke, "I just want to test out a little theory of mine. I'll even promise not to kill either of you tonight. If you don't I'll start with your left eye since you are a full blooded unbeliever." As if to prove his point he took the thing that burned a hole into her briefcase and put it next to her eye. He was using the thing like some kind of laser knife, Scully thought. Scully couldn't feel any heat from the device, but a sudden, overwhelming wave of fear engulfed her thoughts. Scully began to scream Mulder's name.
Mulder was in a sound sleep when something caught his attention. The pounding in his head was intense. Blinking and in a daze he heard Scully screaming from next door. He bolted up out of bed causing him to hiss in pain from the burning running from his collarbone and down his arm. He could hear Scully frantically shout his name so he grabbed his gun using his left hand. His right arm was ablaze with a thousand pinpricks. He tore through the connecting door into the darkened room.
Busting into the room wasn't the greatest idea since Mulder collided with a rigid, outstretched arm. Mulder's throat ran into the arm and he was knocked down in an instant. His gun fell from his grasp and the stranger kicked it away. The gun landed at the doorway of Scully's room. The stranger jerked him up by his shirt collar and placed his right thumb under Mulder's chin and pressed on the nerve on the top of his already sore throat. Mulder looked at the man in a dazed fashion vainly trying to dislodge the man's hand off his throat with his left arm. The stranger simply dug his thumb in deeper. It sent a horrible pain and put tremendous pressure on his vocal cords. It, also impeded his effort to draw a substantial breath.
"Do you believe in magic, Mr. Mulder?" the stranger hissed.
"What magic?" Mulder, gasped through his bruised larynx.
The man shook his head, "Your a liar, sir. What a disappointment. You know I saw this move performed on some barbaric T.V show I always wanted to know if it worked?" The stranger took his middle two fingers and shoved them into Mulder's mouth and down his throat. It was an incredibly painful thing to have two fingers blocking his airway. Mulder, tried to bite down on the man's fingers. The bastard was using the other three that were not down his throat to apply pressure on the nerve endings of his larynx and jaw.
Scully got to her feet in a rush, chair and all. She charged at the man. He simply took his unoccupied arm and knocked her down to the floor. Scully could tell that Mulder was struggling with all his energy. She was finding it very difficult to get back up from the floor. Scully watched in horror as the stranger started to lift Mulder off his feet. Mulder's feet were kicking and lashing about. The stranger just left her partner suspended in the air. His face was turning red from the strain and Scully was gathering her self up for another charge. Suddenly Mulder's body went limp. The stranger then flung his prone form across the room where his body slammed into the wall.
"If you wait a five minutes those wire will loosen dear lady." Then he simply walked over Scully as she desperately tried to undo her self from the chair. "Wait you bastard, who are you?" Scully yelled in between heavy breaths.
The stranger turned around and simply stared at her while playing with one of his braids. "Someone you shouldn't mess with, Agent Scully," he hissed at her.
Scully was seething with anger. "You work for, Deudermont, don't you?" She accused.
The stranger's eyes narrowed and he crouched down. "Don't you dare compare me to that coward, Agent Scully." He lowered his face closer to Scully's. "He and the others are hollow men with shallow souls," he leered. "Besides. I like my long hair. I refuse to shave it to belong to such a trivial click." The stranger got up and headed for the door.
The stranger placed his hand on the doorknob, paused, and turned to face Scully. "Leave my tasks unhindered and I will spare your miserable lives. If you intervene any more then I will cause the both of great agony."
Scully was inching her way to her partner who hadn't moved since the attacker left a few minutes ago. She heard a knock on the door and Scully stopped moving just enough to yell for help. She was greeted a few seconds later, Skinner and Demask burst into the room with their guns drawn. She saw them scan the room for suspects. Skinner immediately went to Scully's aid as he tried to help her out of her binds. Agent Demask pulled out her cell phone and called for officers and a ambulance for an agent down. Scully tried to help Skinner get her bonds off as she watched Demask go over to Mulder and place her finger on his throat to feel for a pulse.
The relief on her face was enough for Scully to allow herself to take a breath. Her partner had not been choked to death. Skinner had managed to help her back up into the chair. The metal wires were still restricting her movement and Skinner was unable to get them off. As a pair of officers came into the room, including Agent Fielding, Skinner began to bark out orders.
"Dan, see if you can get some wire cutters from the hotel personnel and you, officer. I need you to secure this room it's a crime scene make sure that only the EMTs come in here in order to secure the room for forensics." Scully still struggled with her restraints. Then the wire bonds began to loosen on their own. In an instant they totally dissolved before both he and Skinner's eyes. Scully shared a glance of bewilderment with Skinner and then got out of the chair to go over to Mulder's side.
From the position of his body it looked like his back took the brunt of the collision with the wall and he had some small bruises developing underneath his chin right on top of his throat. Scully bent down and whispered, "Mulder wake up please. Come on Mulder you can sleep later." As though he was responding to her command, Mulder fluttered his eyes open ever so slightly.
"Hmmm...Scully (cough)... please try not to yell so loud... I've got this...(cough)... horrible headache." His voice was soft and scratchy. "No,... hospital... Scully." He took a deep breath. "I'm all right." At her no nonsense look she shot him he added, "I just look like this because I didn't finish my beauty rest." Scully just shook her head and Susan suppressed a chuckle. Mulder just coughed some more.
"Would someone like to tell me what the hell happened here!" was the irritated, tired voice of their boss.
"If you give (cough)... me just five minutes...(cough)" Mulder took as big of a breath as he could. "I think I know the reasons (cough)... behind our suspect's killings." Everyone turned to stare at Mulder and Skinner left the room to brief the other two agents on what was going on.
It took ten minutes of arguing with both the EMTs and Scully before Mulder was left alone from the poking and prodding of medical hands. He didn't need to be told that he already aggravated his earlier injuries. Or the fact that he had a bruised larynx and pulled a few muscles in his back. He vehemently agreed come hell or high water he would sleep and take some pain medicine as soon as the meeting was over.
He sat on the bed in an effort to put his thoughts in order. He saw Scully twist open a cap of what looked like bottle of medicine. She carefully lowered herself on to the bed next to him. She was staring at him.
"Mulder, you don't have to lead a meeting tonight you're..." "I'll be...." Mulder cleared his throat. "I'm..." "You are not fine, Mulder," Scully said with some concern.
Mulder gave her one of his stubborn looks. He knew she would not be able to argue with him when he was in one of his moods. He saw her sigh, knowing he had won the silent battle.
"Well then you need to take this anesthetic spray the EMTs left behind for you," Scully said with what Mulder recognized as one of her commanding doctor tones. He wanted to resist her ministrations. He relented, however, knowing how sore and painful his throat was making him feel. He let Scully spray the foul stuff in his throat. The spray tasted like over-ripe bananas. The main point of the matter was that he could talk with less difficulty. She went into her room to gather some folders, leaving Mulder to his thoughts. Mulder had all the pieces together. The visit by their little friend made them fall into place. Despite all the exhaustion he knew what to do and how to catch their killer. He could prevent another death because of his abilities and sometimes his curse. He couldn't save Mary, but he would put to an end to one mad man's quest. It was ironic in a way the quest of an insane killer put his turbulent beliefs in order. For so many years Mulder held all his beliefs and all his encounters as sacred truths. He saw amazing things with his own eyes everything from aliens to human experiments. Lately his faith continued to go up and down like a roller coaster ride. Twice he was asked if he believed in magic and twice he said no. But, why he thought. He believed in so many incredible things, made great leaps in logic, and trusted others that he should have never have trusted.
Yet, he didn't believe in magic. It was something that was as doubled sided as good and evil. Magic was like religion in so many ways. You needed faith for either. Maybe he was just scared in placing faith into something again and just maybe he needed to take that chance once more. Now Mulder was ever so slowly walking into the conference room with his left hand on Scully's shoulder for support. They only had to make it the short distance to the elevator and down one hallway. He entered and found a chair with his name on it. He hoped that his team was willing to place faith in him as he did in his present theory. He slid into his seat and cleared his throat. He knew his voice was raw and rough from his ordeal. He launched into his new theory. "Alright, I know why he switched patterns. The first three victims had a fascination with the paranormal specifically these so called hauntings. (cough) The last three believed so much so that they investigated these sites themselves or stayed at a place that was haunted. Our man belongs to a society that practices magic with the aid of technology." Mulder knew he was receiving some odd looks, but the team allowed him to continue. He could tell the team was straining to hear him. His voice had decided to take a vacation. A glass was placed in front of him and he saw Skinner pour some water into it from his seat next to him. Mulder smiled slightly to show his boss the appreciation he felt. Mulder took the glass and let the water run down his abused throat. He looked around the room and continued.
"He subdues his victims with that wiring that was used to hold Scully to the chair upstairs. He then asks the victim questions concerning their beliefs. If they are not answered to his liking he becomes enraged for their lack of faith and tortures, then murders them. There are no witnesses because they don't hear or see anything that they place no faith in. The suspect attacked Scully only to have her call out for help. It was to test whether or not I could hear what was going on. The only thing I can figure is that he didn't kill us because deep down inside he knew I shared this belief. We were not the people he was looking for. He wants some one who has complete faith in magic. He doesn't go after the other techno mages because they lack his vision. He takes the victims' eyes because he believes that they are the link to perfect power. He wants some one who has complete faith in magic he doesn't go after his own members because they don't have the vision he does." Mulder stopped for a second to collect his thoughts all the eyes in the room were on him. He went over the description of the weapon that Scully gave him in the room while the annoying medics were working on him. "The weapon is magical in a sense. He developed it with his knowledge and he can operate it because he believes in its use." He sipped some more water since his voice was fading out. "The Ghost Tours are the key. If we could operate within all four companies and monitor them we can pick out the tourists that have more than just a mere interest. With the help of the local police we could stake out the areas on the look out of our suspect. Hopefully between the two operations we will track him down." Mulder began to rub his bruised throat.
"Excuse me, Agent Mulder, if you really buy into this theory how do we apprehend a suspect that uses "er" magic devices and power?" Susan asked. "I'm not sure. I'm hoping we could contact Mr. Deudermont for assistance. Other than that we hope he hasn't figured out a way to reflect bullets." Mulder got up to leave the room. Skinner followed him out the door and Mulder saw his boss signal one of the uniformed cops over. Mulder turned to look at his boss.
"You will have an armed police officer escort you to your room, Agent Mulder, and there he will stand guard." Skinner's expression dared him to argue.
Mulder looked at the officer and grumbled, "Well let's go."
The guard let Scully enter Mulder's room after she finished the meeting with the others. She saw him sitting in bed holding his right arm. She saw his sling sprawled out on the floor and the pill bottles laying on the covers. She knew from the way his face was grimaced in pain, that he was unable to open the bottle of pain meds.
"Mulder, why didn't you just ask the guard for help." She asked with a mixture of annoyance and concern.
He looked up at her. "I don't need..."
"Yes, you do G-man or you wouldn't be sitting there in pain," she cut him off.
She reached out and took the cap off the Darvocets. She handed him the tablet and went to the bathroom for a glass of water. When she returned, Scully handed him the glass. He swallowed the pill and used his left hand to lower himself under the covers.
"If you feel sick to your stomach from the medication I'll leave the cap off the bottle of Compazine. Just in case you don't remember what the doctor told you, the Darvocets might make you nauseous. If that happens the Compazine will settle your stomach." Scully looked at his face. "Or, you could just ask me for help." She saw him staring at her while he battled sleep. From the way his eyes looked, Scully knew he could ask her for assistance. She got up after pulling the covers over him and went to her room through the connecting door. Scully left the door open a crack just in case he needed her.
Scully was reading when she heard a knock from the door. She looked through the peep hole and saw Skinner waiting outside for her answer. She opened the door to let him in.
"Sorry to disturb you I know you've had a pretty rough day yourself," Skinner said in a sincere voice.
"It's all right, sir, it's still early I mean it's only 9:00 p.m. I was just going over my report about the interview." Scully put down her files and took off her glasses. She had on a T-shirt and jeans after changing for late night reading.
"I wanted to tell you that they found the body of Mr. Wordsworth in his office just over an hour ago," Skinner said softly.
"What? How? I mean what was the cause of death?" Scully asked in disbelief.
Skinner took off his glasses as he pinched the bridge of his nose and actually took a seat on the bed. "It appears as if his entire head was burned off from an unknown source." Scully looked at him with shock. What the hell was going on in this city, she wondered.
"The body was found sitting in a chair facing a small mirror on the stand. His entire head looked like it was literally burn through by...by something. The mirror wasn't any bigger then a lady's makeup compact. I had it sent off to the labs any ways. It looks like lasers aren't the only weapons that this guy has in his arsenal. Scully,..." Her boss looked hesitant.
"Scully, could Mulder be right?"
"I...I don't know, sir. I mean I'm sure that he used something experimental, but magic? That's just superstition." Scully cocked her head to one side to try to read her boss's expression.
"I see. I just wanted your opinion. How's Mulder doing? He looked like he was about to pass out earlier?" Scully could tell that her boss was switching to a safer subject. "I gave him some pain medication and something to help him sleep. I would like him to stay at the hotel until tomorrow night. I mean the rest of us can handle the surveillance, sir. I really would like to give him a chance to recuperate. But..."
"But he won't. I know Scully." Skinner put his hand on her shoulder. "We will figure something out." With that Scully watched him leave the room.
Outside the Mills Hotel
Dantrag Deudermont walked the streets of Charleston with a renewed sense of purpose. He wasn't on a search for new members. The people who held that special gift that he would recruit into the order. Their numbers slowly but steadily grew over the years. Their focus of late was applying the increased advances of computer networks to working on inter- dimensional portals. Dantrag, just like all the other techno mages, knew about all the ancient spells and scriptures. Their history had been wiped away by time and practicality. All that was left of their ways were splinters of truths that were blurred with stories of dragons and wizards. It all seemed funny to him, but it was all pointless now. The day would come when the great evil would come and they would gather their power and wage battle with it, using the combined power of magic and technology.
Now was a horrible time for the order. One of them had gone insane with the lust over power. The deserter wanted to take their knowledge and apply it to some twisted idea for world conquest. It was believed that the eyes were the portals to the soul and that the soul was the ultimate link. The soul held that delicate balance between the logic of the mind and the faith in the spirit. It was in the realm of the spirit that held the keys to controlling the magic that was locked away. Their group searched for the ones whose spirit were not totally controlled by the logic of the mind. Curiosity wasn't enough true faith in magic opened the doors to the power within. That was what the insane one was after. Dantrag knew that the renegade techno mage hoped by controlling the strongest believer and owning the keys to their magic he would tap into the ultimate source of power. He had spoken to some of the others when he learned that their lost follower attacked the FBI agents. It was reluctantly agreed upon to involve the two of them. Dantrag knew they would interfere so, why not use it to their advantage. It was forbidden for one of them to kill another member. Killing a fellow techno mage was forbidden in the order. It had never been done before and many believed it would unleash a kind of darkness that would corrupt the spirit. He didn't want to associate with the two agents, but he knew they needed each other. So now he waited. He knew they needed rest and time to absorb what they had learned. Then he would guide them the way and restore some normalcy to his life.
As Dantrag turned to the left and began walking down the street, he noticed someone out of the corner of his eye. A woman shadowed in dark clothes began to follow him within a discreet distance. Her black hair was puled back into a pony tail and her thin body was hidden behind a dark trench coat. In the moonlight her pale face was concealed by the night and she watched his movements with intensity. Dantrag rounded a corner and ducked behind a florists shop.
Dantrag pulled out some powder out of one of his pouches that he kept in his robe. He turned and blew the powder into the air. As the woman rounded the corner he saw her blinded by a burst of bright light. As she recovered from the visual assault he watched her leave. The mysterious woman pulled out a pocket guide titled "Ghost Haunts of Charleston". Dantrag watched her thumb through its contents and stop on a intriguing page. She slipped the book back into her jacket and set off into the night. Dantrag stepped out from the other end of the alley. He watched the woman leave with a hint of a smile left on his face.
The first thing Mulder noticed when he awoke was a pounding headache and the fact that the sun was up. No, he never woke up before the sun when he was on a case. Which meant that great measures had been taken to ensure that he wasn't disturbed. One word came to mind. Scully. His body was definitely sore by the way it reacted when he got out of bed. All of this didn't matter beyond the task of getting some work clothes on and something for his growling stomach. Yes, today was when they would capture that son of a bitch.
It took him over ten minutes to put one of his gray suits on. Doing everything one handed was a bitch and the next task looked very painful. He needed to put that damn sling on. The EMTs had left some kind of foam, Velcro thing to put on his collarbone. Well he couldn't put the Velcro thing on. In fact he knew it was physically impossible to do it by himself. He would be damned if he was going to ask the guard outside for help. He would make Scully happy with the sling. He placed it on his shoulder and carefully lowered his arm into it. After that masochistic effort Mulder slowly headed down the hall for the lobby. After firmly, but politely letting the guard know who outranked whom. Mulder left the guard waiting outside his room. This was after reminding him that his duty was to keep an eye on him while he was in his room. As he was about to enter the elevator Scully came out of it.
"Mulder, what are you doing out of bed?" she asked in a tone that made him cringe. "Last time I looked I was an agent with the FBI and I was on a case," was his sarcastic response. His voice still grated on his ears. It sounded like he was recovering from laryngitis. He saw her ignore his remark. "Where were you planning on going and without me, may I add?" Scully asked in an irritated tone.
"I was going to find you so we could talk to Mr. Wordsworth about the list I gave him last night. "The elevator opened open and they stepped into the lobby.
"Wordsworth was found dead last night." He shot her a look of confusion and she continued. "You were out like a light and I was going to tell you when I woke you up. I was on my way to check on you when I caught you slipping out." Mulder scowled at her with that last remark.
"What was cause of death?" Mulder asked.
"His head was burned off from an unknown source. The only thing recovered from the site was a small mirror. The lab guys have been studying it for hours. It seems to have crystals embedded in between two pieces of glass," she replied.
"What did they believe it be?" he asked in a softer tone. His throat was still very sensitive.
"Well they are not sure. The mirror does heat up to higher temperatures when exposed to direct sunlight. That's it. There are no unusual properties. It was in a position where it would have directed sunlight onto Wordsworth's head. But..."
"But what Scully?" Mulder looked at her with intensity encouraging her to continue.
"But, nothing, Mulder, it could not have possibly burned part of his body away. The temperature of the beam would have to be over 800 degrees F. Whatever caused the damage went through muscle, tissue, and bone. It's a simple mirror, Mulder."
"With crystals embedded in it, for what? Looks? Was it a fashion mirror?" He shook his head and headed for the conference room. Dan Fielding was talking to a couple of the local lab personnel with Skinner looking on.
"Scully, I think its important to describe to everyone that device that the UNSUB used to burn a hole in your briefcase," Mulder said, so the others could hear.
"I already gave my description in the report I submitted. It look like a flashlight, but it produced a yellow beam. The beam was solid and not some kind of optical illusion. It was able to knock of the lamp from the table." Mulder picked up on her tone. Scully was at a loss, he thought. Mulder saw Skinner and Fielding walk over to where they were standing.
Dan interrupted Scully's description. "The burns on the briefcase were not chemical in nature. The rushed results indicate that it was a normal laser that was used to burn that hole. It appears that it is the same device used to kill all six victims."
"I'm not much of a scientists agents, however the last time I heard a laser could not be a contained beam," Skinner said with exasperation.
Mulder watched his boss look around the room as if he thought that any of them held the answers.
"So, any theories?" Skinner asked.
"Nothing so far, sir," Scully said in disappointment. "What about that strange wire used to restrain me? It constricted on its own and I was totally unable to move a muscle. It was very unusual. Not to mention the fact that it dissolved after a few minutes."
Mulder observed the agents and could see the wheels spinning in their heads. Fielding was the first to speak.
"Well there were no traces of it left after it dissolved. There were no indications that any chemicals were used to dissipate it. In fact if it wasn't for your eyewitness account of the event there would be no way for us to know that it was used to keep you immobile." Fielding sat on the edge of the conference table.
"Sufficient to say, sir, there is no evidence to support the kinds of things these devices were able to do. It must be some kind of experimental technology. Our suspect is probably a scientist of some sort." Her last statement was a testament to the exasperation that Mulder saw all over her face. "Scully, that kind of technology would be monumental to the scientific community. There's no way a scientist would keep it hidden. It's want Dantrag said. This guy is using technology to further magic. The devices themselves are incapable of doing the things it was designed to do, unless...unless you posses the ability to activate its special properties." Skinner was taken away from the heated discussion by a phone call and somehow Fielding managed to find something to do. Mulder turned to stare at his partner. "He did it, didn't he, Mulder? Magic is something that is part of fairy tales and the legends of King Arthur. It doesn't exist. It..."
Mulder's face betrayed the anger that was simmering on the inside. His last statement was spat out from pure resentment. "Then explain it to ME in scientific terms." Mulder emphasized the word scientific. He could tell it didn't escape Scully.
"I can't Mulder. There will be a rational explanation." Her tone matched his with equal determination.
Mulder searched her face and turned around to head out the door.
"Mulder, where the hell are you going?" Scully yelled as she followed him outside.
Mulder turned around and confronted her with a serious intense look on his face. "I'm going to find Mr. Deudermont I know he can help us, Scully. The question is will you come with me?" He could tell that she considered it for a moment. "Stay here, Mulder, I'll get the car." He watched her walk into the parking garage since the valet was nowhere to be seen.
As Scully came upon the rental car a shadowy figure emerged from around one of the stone pillars. Scully was startled by his sudden appearance. Mr. Deudermont stood before her calm and collected. Irritated, Scully said, "Good now we don't have to run around looking for you."
"You would never find me. In the interest of time I waited for your next step and predicted you would come looking for me. I think we can help each other Agent Scully. You took the next step in a difficult journey to acknowledging the sprit within you by agreeing with your partner. Now lets go find him before he gets into any more trouble." With that the odd looking pair walked out of the garage to find Mulder looking at them with a twisted smirk on his face.
Back alley of the Mills Hotel
The trio stood around the alley right behind the hotel on Deudermont's insistence. The strange man before them was clad in the same black velvet outfit and now sported a matching black hat.
"The man your looking for is called Bruenor Moozh," with the mention of the suspect's name Deudermont poked his hand into his robe. He pulled out his had with some kind of dust on his fingertips he wrote out the symbol that glowed there for a few seconds.
"Do you come up with your names or do you draw them out of a hat?" was Mulder's response to the melodrama.
"No. They are based on ancient names those of great houses that existed long ago." Mulder simply looked on while it looked like Scully found a real interesting part of the sky to observe at the moment.
"Moozh will strike tonight knowing that you will be closing in on him. I have a way to flush him out. The other night I sensed the presence of a woman who may hold the kind of beliefs that Moozh is seeking. I hope with your help that you could offer her some frees passes tonight to the Charleston Historical Ghost Tour where we could be guaranteed that Moozh would target her." Mulder didn't hide the grim frown that spread over his face. He looked over to Scully to see an even more upset expression. She looked like Deudermont had just suggested that they take a trip into the woods.
"It's better to know the hand your holding when you stack the deck yourself then counting on the house to make a fatal mistake," Deudermont said in a tone that sounded like the one used when speaking to children. "You want us to risk the life of an innocent bystander and hope this guy will pick her out?" Scully asked with anger and frustration.
"I've watched this woman and have checked up on her. She belongs to a paranormal society and tried to stay at a specific hotel room on the bank that has had several sightings of apparitions. It was booked. She is a lonely soul who is obsessed with the idea that she may see a ghost on her stay here. She even carries a book on Ghost Hunting." Deudermont said as if it justified his suggestion, Mulder thought.
"Why would this Moozh guy wait to nab her after the tour? Why not some other time? If you can sense this from her why can't he?" Mulder asked. He had now moved from a standing position to a kind of permanent lean onto the back alley wall. He saw Scully observe him out of the corner of her eye. She was trying to cover up the worried expression that was spreading across her face.
"He likes to maneuver at night in the shadows away from people. We all do. This quest for power has clouded his mind. He really needs to be near this person to pick up on their interests. He uses these tours because he has no other option. At least in these ghost tours he has a great pool of victims to chose from," Deudermont's voice boomed.
Mulder knew this made sense. How was he going to convince the team to use this woman so carelessly and pool their resources based on this Deudermont's advice? "All right Dantrag I'll convince my boss of this idea and you give us the information you have on her. This leaves the question on how do we apprehend him?" Mulder's voice took on a wearied and exhausted tone. It came out more like some kind of desperate plea then a mere question. Mulder could see the impatience spread over the techno mage's face.
"Mulder, this man is special but he is still just a man. He can be killed and captured. You just need to be prepared for the unexpected that is all. Maybe you should bring along your lucky rabbit's foot," was his booming response.
Mulder mouthed the last part of statement and shook his head in disbelief. Some how they were going to yell freeze and this guy was going to just give up. No, not from he experienced first hand. "I guess we just need to prepare ourselves. Deudermont, tell me more about this society of yours. It's the key to what motivates his desire to kill."
It appeared that Dantrag looked up to sky as if looking for some kind guidance. "His desire to kill, as you call it, is not this man's motivation. He wants our ancient power back. It won't happen. A long time ago we were in possession of a great source of energy and awareness in the power of the sprit. In those days our mind ruled in unison with our spirit. We could use our thoughts to communicate on so many levels. We used magic to achieve incredible things. But, as the centuries went on we lost ourselves and we weakened. As the order changed and society advanced we knew we had to apply our faith with modern tools. Now, we have evolved and rely on technology that we furthered with our talents. We went from what you called wizards to calling ourselves techno mages. You are born with this gift, this connection with a person's inner sprit. We can sense each other. When two of our minds touch its like a tickle. I seek others out to increase and benefit the order. An evil is coming and we hope to be at the rim when this happens."
Mulder looked down at his feet. With growing frustration he asked, "How does he choose his victims? Why can't he sense their gift as you call it."
"My dear agent, anger and resentment can cloud the mind and confuse it. His only course of action is to rely on these ghost tours. Sometimes the people who attend have an incredibly open mind. But, a slight fraction of these people have a great awareness in what you deem the paranormal. Most of the time they are unaware of this. It's a curiosity for some and an obsession for others. Moozh hopes that one of these people whose life is so dominated by the desire to seek out the paranormal may hold that special something in their soul. It's what separates us from you. He wants the intangible. Where he got the idea about the eyes is nothing, but a fixation. It's as you say, science fiction. In an ironic twist it's up to you two to capture our lost follower. It is truly a pity." Deudermont shook his head.
"What about his magic. What are we up against?" Mulder asked tiredly. Mulder saw Deudermont look at him.
"We all have our specialties. His is in the use of optics. Lasers, light, spectrum, and even illusions are all part of his traits. Each of us works on different aspects of technology. Mine for instance is a lot different from his." Deudermont simply smiled.
Mulder saw Scully give him the "look" when their eyes made contact. They walked out of the alleyway in a slow, fatigued pace. When Mulder turned to ask Dantrag another question he was no where to be seen. All he had was a piece of paper with some poor girl's information written out. Now all they had to do was convince Skinner of this crazy plan.
Outside the Mills Hotel
Scully had to slow her walking pace to allow Mulder a chance to catch up. His long strides were reduced to a kind of old man's shuffle. By the way the lines were drawn over his face Scully knew he was losing a battle with exhaustion and pain. He kept his arm as close to his body as possible to avoid any kind of movement. She knew his back must be stiff and sore from his collision with the wall last night. His throat still ached from its punishment by the way his voice faded in and out during their discussion.
"Scully, I need you to drive me somewhere. If things get a bit rough I know about something that might come in handy." Scully looked at him with some suspicion.
"Mulder, you agreed to go back to the hotel after you talked to Dantrag."
"No, Mulder, you're not going anywhere. Just a few days ago you were hit so hard by that ladder that the force of it almost cracked your ribs in addition to your collarbone. Your lucky you didn't experience any internal bleeding. Then you were thrown around my hotel room just for good measure."
"I was thrown against one wall, Scully, not the entire room," she gave him a fiery gaze. He continued "But, I'll relax if you get something for me." Scully conceded and agreed to Mulder's request. Silently she went over all the millions of things that could go wrong in the night that lay ahead.
Mulder did go back to his room to rest. That only lasted about twenty minutes. He decided to go discuss things with Skinner since they had only a few hours before nightfall. He knew Scully said she would brief him on their plan. Mulder needed reassurances that the ball would get rolling as soon as possible. To say Skinner wasn't very receptive to the plan was an understatement. It took Susan's help and even Dan's small nods of encouragement to get through the wall of resistance that Skinner had. In fact their boss by all rights had every reason to be skeptical about this charade and tricking a civilian as bait. However, Mulder convinced Skinner it would lure Moozh out and they had a greater chance of capturing him this way.
Based on Fielding's suggestion it was agreed that Susan would be part of the group to relay any prudent or suspicious activity. There would be different officers covering the various ghost spots on the tour when it was over. This was just in case the lady decided to go on a little exploring afterwards, like the previous victims. In fact Mulder suggested that they tell the tour guide to falsify a fake anniversary date for one of the sites to help pin point one of the locations that their potential victim might go to. Based on her intense curiosity she would more then likely go to that site based on the likelihood that her chances would be greater to witnessing an apparition there. They picked the Charleston Bank where they could monitor the entrances and exits using the security cameras. Mulder just hoped that Moozh would be none the wiser and not pull any of his carnival illusion tricks on the cameras.
Mulder studied the piece of paper back in his room to keep up appearances sakes for Scully upon her return. Her name was Jennifer Reitz. Mulder memorized all the details about her assuring himself that he would not allow her to die tonight. The words seemed to blur and dance around despite the fact that he was wearing his reading glasses. Yet, he squinted in an effort to consume all the details about her. She was a young, attractive, lonely lady with an intense interest in the paranormal that closely resembled his own. She worked at a car dealership and was a part-time photography student. He would do everything in his power to prevent further blood loss. Despite Scully's insistence he still couldn't allow himself any reprieve from the other night's murder. He would not screw up again! This he vowed not only to Jennifer, but to himself. With that final thought Fox Mulder fell asleep in his chair next to the desk in his room.
Scully strutted through the lobby of the hotel with the intentions of debriefing Skinner on their off the wall unethical plan. No, it was a trap to catch a killer she thought. It is not deceptive and it did not put an innocent woman in immediate danger. According to Mulder's theory she was already in danger. Yes, keeping telling yourself that, Dana. She's the victim of some elaborate, ancient, magic society that stalks people at night. Scully went into the conference room to see a commando style set up which included maps, a communication's system and a computer network. People were shuffling in and out with a great amount of tension in the air. Scully walked over to where Skinner was talking to someone on the phone. He motioned her over to where he was standing.
Scully watched Susan going over the Ghost walk tour route and the surrounding roads. There were a photo of Jennifer and a sketch of the suspect based on her and Mulder's description. Skinner got off the phone. His shirt was worn haphazardly and his tie was already thrown onto the table. He looked worn out and that meant he would definitely be in a foul mood. "Agent Scully, we already have the area canvassed and all the officers on the scene have been familiarized about the case and the sketch of the suspect. I am still very nervous about this plan of yours. Mulder assures me that this is the best strategy in capturing this bastard."
"When did Mulder tell you about the plan, sir?" At his uneasy, then quizzical look Scully expounded. "He was supposed to go straight to his room to rest and take some of his pain killers."
"Well he ah, came down from his room to persuade me about this precarious situation. After much debate I relented trusting both of your judgments on the situation," he replied in an uneasy voice. Good, he should feel nervous, Scully thought.
"That sounds good sir. I'll help coordinate with..."
"Actually, Scully, why don't you get some rest yourself, you've been up as much as Mulder has. And it's going to be a very busy night it's best for the team that my ASACs be prepared for anything that might happen." Skinner's voice returned to a more authoritative tone.
"All right, sir." Scully turned on her heel and headed to her room. She unlocked her door with caution. There were no insane killers waiting for her to play demented mind games with. She slowly opened the latched connecting door and slipped into her partner's room. There he was still dressed in his suit shirt and black pants asleep at his desk. He must have succumbed to exhaustion since he forgot to take off his reading glasses. Scully looked at her watch noting that they had a few hours left so she went over to him and attempted to get him into bed. In bed to rest she corrected her tired mind from the mental slip.
She went over and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. Since he didn't respond she shook him gently, "Mulder, wake up." He groaned from his interrupted sleep and lifted his head from the desk. After blinking a few times a raspy voice complained, "Just a few more minutes, Scully."
"Mulder, you need to move over to the bed and get some real rest." As he got up from a sitting position Scully guided him by his elbow over to the bed. He did everything on auto-pilot it seemed. Scully slipped off his glasses and put them on the nightstand. Scully didn't need to take off his sling, since it was lying on the desk. She carefully undid the buttons of his shirt and gently pulled it off his body. He had a white T-shirt on underneath and Scully tried to think of the most professional way of getting his pants off so he would be more comfortable. "Mulder, you would be more at ease if you took your slacks off."
"Not now, Scully, maybe later," was his reply. But he eventually slid out of his black slacks and Scully tucked him in. Get all the rest you can Mulder you really need it was his partner's parting thoughts.
Mulder felt refreshed after taking a shower and enjoying a few hours of sleep. This was better then feeling like someone's punching bag at least. He was able to move around with out any sharp pains; instead they were replaced by a million throbbing aches. He kind of shuffled into the conference room where he was meet by his fellow teammates. Scully came up behind him and placed her hand on his arm then stood beside him. Mulder sat down and looked over at his boss.
"Well, Agent Mulder, I'm glad you made it to the meeting. Now I know you and Agent Scully are both ASACs on this case, but I decided to pull rank here and will be handing out the assignments this evening," Skinner said.
Mulder was about to protest. Scully's foot had this reflex attack and managed to kick him in the leg. His argument was never vocalized.
"Now, Agent Demask, will be joining the group and will relay all activity from within and anything suspicious around her. She will keep constant visual contact. Dan, and, Roger, will follow the tour in a van that will stay about one block away at all times. Agent Scully, you and I will be set up in the main office of the Bank. While, Agent Mulder, will be in the camera room next door with two local officers. We will be in constant contact with the local police who will keep one line of communication just for us. They will have doubled their presence and double their foot patrols for extra back up. Now I know that the suspect will probably strike after the tour ends. But, we can't forget that we may nab this guy while he observes the tour earlier in the evening. He has to be watching if he plans on picking out his victim from this group. We managed to keep the other three agencies from going out this evening so that leaves our man with just this one to stalk."
Mulder could tell that there was apparent agreement all around and Skinner gave the signal that the teams should start gearing up. "I want vests worn at all time people this man should be considered armed and very dangerous. He's clever, we need to be a step ahead," Skinner warned. Mulder walked over to his boss to protest his little to pointless task this evening.
"Before you protest your assignment, Mulder, hear me out. You are injured and you can not effectively defend yourself or this victim. I want you there for your expert advice. Out of the action is that clear." Mulder stared Skinner who matched his boss's stubbornness.
"Those are my orders, Agent Mulder. If you break them I will put you on suspension is that understood," was Skinner's terse reply.
"Yes, sir." Mulder quite agitated turned around and left in the most defiant manner that he could muster at that moment. He would be damned if Skinner left him out in the cold when it came to this bust. This asshole would get away, Mulder told himself and no uncertain terms.
Charleston First Union Bank
Mulder was in sheer agony. He listened to the microphone that relayed the tour's progress and he was forced to just sit still and listen. He wore the kevlar vest and its weight was murdering his abused shoulder and collarbone. He wore it a little loose to alleviate some of the pressure. It still felt like it was crushing everything underneath it. When the group passed the bank and was told the tail of a restless spirit who happened to be killed in a freak accident the audience was intrigued. The guide told them about the bogus anniversary date and he could hear the mumbling. He heard Jennifer ask the guide all sorts of questions. It was evident in her voice that she was barely containing her excitement. The team had arranged it so that the tour would end here, possibly prompting Jennifer into investigating it on her own.
Mulder heard Dan and Roger keep in constant contact and reported no sightings of Moozh. Mulder knew Scully and Skinner had waited quietly in the main office observing the security camera monitor that was installed there. He scanned the five cameras in the security office with the other two police officers, but there was no activity. Demask reported on the speaker that she left the tour. She announced that she was taking up a position across the street behind a gift shop and next to a jewelry store to watch over Jennifer. The local police were listening to all communications.
Mulder watched through the security screen that Jennifer took a seat on one of the steps outside the bank just looking at the old building. Then for some reason she got up after fifteen minutes and began walking east. Demask radioed that a black moving van pulled up to the jewelry store right next to the gift shop where she was hiding behind. Mulder heard her report that four people dressed from head to toe in black were making their way around the building. Mulder heard Demask mention the word ski masks. Mulder heard Skinner calling for Dan and Roger to rendezvous where Demask was hiding.
Mulder heard a lot of commotion in the room next door and Skinner's expletives. This was going to ruin everything. The whole night was just shot to hell, he thought. Mulder's radio was crackling with Skinner barking orders as he coordinated with the local PD in order to apprehend the suspects. "I want Roger and Dan to convene with the two squad units that are down the street. In thirty seconds I want everyone in position to apprehend these idiots," Skinners voice said through the walkie-talkie.
"Sir, what about Jennifer she's heading away from the bank?" Mulder spoke over the radio.
"Mulder, obviously she didn't buy into this story. If your profile is correct there is no one for this Moozh to go after her. We have a robbery to prevent and as FBI agents we have the duty to prevent a federal crime from being committed. I want you to stay put. Agent Scully and I will provide back up for our other agents," Skinner's reply.
"This doesn't feel right, sir," was Mulder's interrupted response.
"Stay put, Mulder, I don't have time to argue with you," Skinner said as he entered the office.
Mulder saw his boss leave the office and meet up with the two officers waiting with Mulder. He knew Scully was reluctant to leave him behind knowing how agitated he looked. Mulder knew it was their duty to uphold the law. He saw his partner give him a reassuring smile. Then she left with the rest of the team to converge on the jewelry store.
Mulder wasn't about to stay put, he knew that something was very wrong with this situation it was just too coincidental. He remembered Jennifer heading east and he mentally tried to picture what could have been of such great interest. Then he kicked over the trashcan next to him in the middle of his pacing. "The goddamned graveyard!" he yelled to the silent bank. Jennifer was a photographer she would scout out the place where the photo was taken of the lady at her child's grave. That location had been dismissed since the last victim was found there.
Moozh didn't pick out the sites it wasn't part of his routine, like most serial killers. Moozh went where the victim did, or to wherever they thought they would spot a spirit. Mulder grabbed his cell phone to tell Scully where he was going. She didn't answer since she was in the middle of a bust. For a split second he though about going there to assist. It would be too late to save Jennifer after all the details of the bust went down. For another second he thought about the safety of his partner. He should be there if she needed him. There were over a dozen agents and officers there. No one was looking after Jennifer.
Mulder grabbed a two-way radio and started out toward the graveyard. It was only six blocks away. When he got there he would radio his position and pray the bust would have gone down smoothly. Then hopefully he could get some back up. The one thing about the kevlar vest was that he didn't have to wear that damn sling. He cold use his gun if there was an emergency. For once Fox Mulder prayed he was wrong about a situation.
Moozh was quite pleased with himself in fact he was very confident. The stupid FBI had been led astray by the greed that swelled within the populace of the city. He simply suggested to the four criminals that tonight would be the most opportune time to strike the jewelry store. For some reason the gang thought that the security system had been compromised with out any of the employees' realizing the malfunction. I wonder where they got that idea from, he thought. The greedy were so easily impressed, so open to suggestion, he chuckled. Now, he was free from interference. Yes, he should have killed the two lead agents back in the hotel. However, he sensed that they had both endured some horrific events and sad lives. Why put an end to such misery it was better to leave them to their own devices.
He had followed Jennifer in stealth to the Episcopal Graveyard of the Methodist Church, the oldest one in Charleston. There she lurked in the hope that she could be graced with the presence of an apparition. If she was truly lucky then her life and death would lead to something so much greater. Moozh pulled out his knife. He didn't release the laser. Instead he twiddled with the handle, slowly twirling it in his hand. His palm sweated with anticipation and he quickened his pace to grab the unsuspecting young woman. Yes, this would be the one. Her essence was dripping with sheer belief and faith in all that was magical and mystic in the world.
Mulder was jogging down the street each movement was pure hell. God, the running was killing him, he thought. Mulder ignored the pain that was increasing in degree. It forced him to slow down to a walk and the excursion was causing him to pant for air. He reached the Church. He saw Moozh creeping up to Jennifer with a smugness that Mulder wanted to knock right off the demented man's face. Mulder radioed his position, but no one answered his call. The fear for Scully's safety bit at his skin. He knew she would be all right. Mulder entered the graveyard and crouched down low. He used the large tombstones to cover him from Moozh's view. He could see him grab Jennifer's shoulder and he didn't appear to have a weapon in his possession. It was now or never before the situation became more dangerous when Moozh would begin his violent questioning.
While waiting for the best time he saw Moozh grab the woman's shoulder and twirled her body to where she was facing him. She let out a scream and Moozh pinched her shoulder. The pain he caused her seemed to zap her voice to a small whimper. Mulder kept creeping up closer where he heard, Moozh, speak.
"Young lady what are you doing out here on this beautiful night? What is your intent?" Moozh spoke in a deep voice.
Moozh was responded with silence that Mulder guessed betrayed Jennifer's utter fright that was freezing the poor woman into place. His questions going unanswered only seemed to anger the strange man. Moozh shook her with force and threw her to the ground. Mulder had enough of this. He couldn't tell if Moozh had any weapons. Mulder stood up and yelled at the killer.
"Freeze, Moozh. Put your weapon on the ground and step away from the woman." Mulder had his gun trained on the man using both hands to keep his arm from shaking violently. The pain it caused to keep his right arm up was incredible and it took all of Mulder's effort to keep it in the air. He hoped that Moozh didn't notice him shaking.
He saw Moozh smile ever so slowly with his painted black lips. His long white braided hair was blowing in the wind. For a mere second everything was silent. Moozh dropped what appeared to be a weapon. Mulder saw him jerk his arm which allowed something from his sleeve to slide into his hand. Mulder watched Moozh's expression change from smugness to utter confusion. Mulder knew that the man before him was surprised that his gun wasn't ripped out of his hands. Mulder decided to answer Moozh's unspoken question.
"Oh a little trip to the gun store my partner got for me. A special Russian Glock which is made of plastic. See no metal parts for your special magnet." Mulder's cocky, confident tone seemed to have an unexpected reaction.
Moozh lunged at the agent with incredible speed. Mulder squeezed off two rounds that stopped Moozh's violent forward momentum. Moozh was thrown back hard to the ground. At the same time the vibration and kick back of the gun was too much for his injured shoulder and Mulder dropped his arm with his gun still in his hand. He squeezed his eyes shut for a second trying to deal with the horrible urge to throw up from the pain that was consuming his right side. A wave of pain shot through his shoulder, hand, and down his chest at the same instant.
Moozh from the ground swung his leg in a kind of Russian leg sweep and knocked the feet from under Mulder. The agent went down on his back and Moozh grabbed a hold of Mulder's pant's leg material. Mulder couldn't find his gun in the fall and the bastard was pulling himself up using his own slacks. Moozh grabbed his weapon with his other hand and squeezed it releasing the laser. It glowed a brilliant yellow color as Moozh increased the intensity level. While pulling himself off the ground he plunged it into Mulder's body. The laser like knife entered above Mulder's left leg. The laser went through the fleshly part above his hipbone. There was a sharp, piercing sensation and the smell of burnt flesh made Mulder groan out in disgust. He saw Moozh pull it out in an attempt to plant it into his chest. Mulder was unable to react. His defenses were zapped by the pain and exhaustion. The weapon fell out Moozh's hand when a third shot rang out and his body fell across Mulder's legs. Mulder instantly placed his hands on the wound in the upper part of his hip. Mulder looked up to see Jennifer dropping his discarded gun. She slid down to the ground in a mess of shock and fear.
Mulder's body was trembling slightly. The ground was cold underneath him and the trembling turned into violent shaking. His body was reacting to the adrenaline that was increasing from the trauma. He placed both hands on the hole that Moozh had created. The red crimson was seeping out slowly since the hole was practically cauterized. His hands felt sticky and numb. He tried to get up and screamed from the effort. He aggravated his injury and was sent crashing back to the ground. The area above his leg was on fire and his attempt at rising only increased the pain. Why was it that these bulletproof vests never protected him in the field, he thought. Mulder couldn't lift his head since his energy was now depleted, but he managed to wheeze out something to Jennifer hoping she was still there.
".....Jen..iefer.... the radio....pllllleeeaaseee...." was all Mulder could muster as he passed out. His hands were no longer providing what little pressure they were exerting on his wound and his blood continued to seep out staining his suit pants and the ground below him.
Jennifer watched as the stranger who interrupted her attacker lost the battle with consciousness. She was so scared that she couldn't move. The horrible man who knocked her down was still sprawled over the other man's legs. With a trembling hand she searched the ground that was soaking with the man's blood for the radio he mentioned. She didn't even know how to operate one. There her hand glanced over it and she picked up using both of her hands. It was turned on and she pressed the button on the side of it and spoke into it with a weak pathetic voice. "Hello...hello we need help." There was no response but static and Jennifer began crying then she started to scream into the thing. "Please! Damn it we need help some guy just attacked me and he hurt a cop I think! Someone damn it answer me!"
"Who is this?" the radio crackled. "Where are you?"
"My name is, Jennifer Reitz, and I'm at the Episcopal Church cemetery and someone attacked me and this cop and now he's really hurt," was her angry response. She just wanted to go home.
"All right stay where you are and ambulance and Federal Agents are on their way," the male's voice crackled. I'm not going anywhere was all she thought.
Scully was getting ready to head back to the bank to pick up her partner. The would-be robbers were easily captured as they were ill prepared for this robbery. She noticed Skinner talking to Fielding and her boss had a very concerned look on his face. "Scully, we just got a call from Jennifer Reitz. She said she was attacked and a cop was hurt." He shifted his gaze to, Scully, where her eyes darted from the bank and back down the street.
"Where, sir?" was her concerned question. When he didn't answer right away she bit her lip and spat her question again. "Where, Skinner!" "At the graveyard of the Episcopal Church..." before he finished his sentence Scully was a ball of energy running down the street.
"Scully, wait we can take the car it's quicker." Skinner said running after his agent. Scully only stopped long enough to get inside the passenger side of the car as Skinner drove up behind her two minutes later.
When Scully entered the cemetery her eyes focused on the three people who were on the ground ahead of her. She ran up to Jennifer who was shivering next to a tombstone. Scully made sure she wasn't suffering from any physical injuries and then rolled Moozh off the legs of her partner. She saw Skinner drag Moozh's body away and left him on the ground since the man was dead. Scully could tell in the dim light that her partner was in bad shape. His face was incredibly pale and the blood staining his clothes was spreading to the ground below him. Scully looked down at the useless kevlar vest and removed it from Mulder's chest. She ripped opened his shirt and balled it up to apply pressure to the wound. Then Skinner came up behind her and placed his jacket on Mulder's upper body. She applied pressure with her right hand while the other found his pulse. It was very rapid and sweat was dripping off is face. Hypovolemic shock was what she thought.
"Where's that ambulance, sir?"
"It's on the way. How's he doing?" She saw the A.D. kneel down next to her partner.
"He's suffering from hypovolemic shock, sir. That ambulance needs to get here fast." Scully was talking to herself more then to her worried boss. There was movement all around the graveyard several agents began consoling Jennifer and took the poor woman out of the cemetery. Two other agents were milling around. Maybe they were Roger and Dan, but Scully was oblivious as they drug Moozh further away from them and began searching the body for weapons.
"Sir, I need you to continue to apply pressure to the wound. It's not completely sealed. I'm going to lift his legs up to keep him from entering into further shock." Scully's voice was tight and under control. Skinner switched positions with her and placed his hand on the Mulder's hip. Scully lifted his legs and placed two jackets that she took from some of the officers around. She then monitored his breathing and kept her hand on his neck. His pulse was fast and she got up to get another jacket to place on top of the first one. She wanted to keep his body warm. The last thing she remembered before the medics loaded Mulder onto a gurney was one of them handing her that rabbit's foot. They found it inside Mulder's pant's pocket before they had cut his slacks away.
A swarm of EMT's were loading Mulder into an ambulance with Scully hot on their heels. She didn't allow their stern stares to dissuade her presence inside the ambulance. "I'm a doctor," she screamed, then she launched herself inside next to the gurney. Scully just held his limp hand in hers as the EMT worked on replacing his blood volume with I.V solutions. She let go of his hand to allow room for the medic to work on him without being in her way. Scully pulled out that stupid rabbit's foot that was handed to her at the scene. She rubbed it nervously wishing that she could activate some secret property that would stop this horrific nightmare. The two women worked efficiently relaying to the front of the ambulance the information that was pertinent to the awaiting staff of doctors who were nine miles away. With every relay of info there was an immediate response of instructions. Scully read the name badges of the medics. It was times like these where Scully wished that she didn't know exactly what the EMTs were doing.
She saw Sandy place an oxygen mask on Mulder while working on making him stable. Sandy relayed Mulder's vitals to Kathy who was riding up front.
"His pulse is 110 and his BP is dropping rapidly to 80/50. His breath sounds are rapid and shallow. The wound which is about an inch and a half in diameter is still seeping. Advise the hospital that it is cauterized. Estimate blood loss is at about two pints," Sandy relayed to Kathy.
Kathy relayed all of her partner's info to the doctors and responded with instructions. "Let the IV go wide open and add vasopressors to one of the ports."
Sandy shouted back. "BP is still dropping its down to 70/40 and his pulse is up to 120. Ted, you need to step on it or he's going to crash by the time we get there. What's our e.t.a.?" she asked.
"About ten minutes we have to go over the bridge," was the driver's response.
"Better make it faster, Ted," was Sandy's response.
Scully took her eyes from her partner's pale and still face to glance up at the long stretch of bridge ahead of her. Inwardly she cursed at the powers at be for putting such a monumental space between them and the hospital. She squeezed the rabbit's foot and for a moment threw reason against the wind. She willed the damn ambulance to the hospital at the fastest speed possible. She heard the driver curse as the ambulance hit a rough patch of road.
"What the fuck?" he grumbled.
Scully turned her head to see the road get enveloped into a cloud of light and within four seconds the brightness receded and the driver was slamming on the breaks. The ambulance was turning into the emergency lane. None of the passengers had time to react from the insanity that had engulfed the vehicle and the fact that they were over seven miles away just a few seconds ago. Instead they just concentrated on unloading their patient. Scully followed them into the trauma room.
"What do we got," Scully heard the ER doctor ask the medics. The team of four doctors lifted Mulder from one gurney to another.
"We've got a white male, late thirties with a stab wound that measures an inch and a half in circumference. It's some how been burned through and did a lot of damage on the way out," was Sandy's response.
The doctor ordered a cross match, chemistry, CBC, and four units of blood. The nurse ushered Scully into the waiting room where another woman had a pile of forms with her name out. She sat in a hard plastic chair and stared down at her hands that were slick with her partner's blood. She just sat there listening to the buzzing and sounds of footsteps running around on the linoleum floor.
A shadow caught her gaze and Scully looked up at the concerned face of A.D. Skinner. "Come on, Scully, let's get you cleaned up." He put his hand on her shoulder to guide her out of the lobby as her partner was wheeled away into a waiting operating room. She could barley see him beneath the sheet, wires and equipment surrounding him. She finally relented to her boss's requests and went into the ladies room to wash her hands. When she exited she saw her fellow agents standing around. Scully headed for the a plastic chair away from the others. She needed to be alone for a while. Her fellow agents let her sit in peace for the meantime.
Charleston Hospital ICU
Walter Skinner waited for what seemed like forever in the still, silent waiting room. All the officers and agents had been sent home except for Scully. Right now she was discussing Mulder's condition with his doctor, the one who performed his surgery. Now he waited yet again for her to get done talking to the surgeon before he got word on his agent. After looking up at the clock on the wall for about the millionth time he saw her wearily walk out the cubicle. Skinner got up and stretched his aching back muscles and meet her in the hallway. Without saying a word Scully sensed his unspoken question and began to fill him in on the details that she was just briefed about.
"Mulder, should fully recover from his attack, but it will be a long process. He required several blood transfusions because some of his major blood vessels were severed. The lower part of his descending colon was perforated and a major muscle was damaged. Basically none of his vital organs were compromised and part of his pelvic bone was chipped. He'll be in a lot of pain because of the muscle damage and the size of the wound. With proper care he'll be back in the field in maybe six weeks." Scully sat down in the chair. She looked totally exhausted. Skinner nodded and slid into the chair next to her.
"Scully, I'll drive you to a hotel where you can get some proper rest...
"No, sir, I want to be here when he wakes up. I talked to the doctor and persuaded him to let me stay in his room." Skinner let a small smile spread across his face.
"How did you manage that?" he asked.
"I told him I owned a gun and was not afraid to use it. That my partner could testify to it," Scully chuckled at the inside joke.
"All right, Scully, I'll be by in the afternoon. I just have one more question. How did you arrive here so quickly I mean I was in the car behind the ambulance and got caught at a light. The next thing I know I hear you arrived at least ten minutes before me."
Scully looked over at her boss and simply said, "I allowed myself to believe in a different kind of miracle." Scully then left her boss standing in the hallway where she went to stay with her partner.
ICU April 14th
Mulder was vaguely aware of an annoying beeping noise and an incredible pain that was radiating from his stomach. Or was it from his hip? He really couldn't tell since he also was aware that they had some kind of brace on his collarbone and that his shoulder was immobilized. Right now he wanted to be away from all these devices. This of course would have to wait since Mulder didn't know if he had the energy to turn his head. He did know that his chest itched from those sticky EKGs patches that were attached there and that he had one of those IVs in his other wrist. He had one of those things in his nose to help him breathe. Since when was breathing difficult, he thought.
While cataloguing all his annoying discomforts he sensed a presence in the room. It took great concentration, but he turned his head to the right to find a person that he did not expect waiting for him.
Dantrag was staring at him from his bedside with a strange smile on his face. "What...why..." was the incredible raspy and dry voice that Mulder managed to utter. It felt like someone had taken a stick and shoved it down his throat a few times.
"Ah, Mr. Mulder, so glad you woke up. For some reason you managed to get a hole drilled into you where it doesn't belong. In fact I know walking is going to be difficult," Dantrag said.
Mulder just stared at him. It didn't occur to him what kind of damage he did to himself this time. Another cane, Mulder thought. Right now Mulder felt like shit and that he wanted to throw up. Walking wasn't on his mind at the moment. He gulped and asked in a horse whisper "Where's...Scully?" Before Dantrag could answer his red headed partner walked in with a steaming cup of coffee. By the expression on her face he knew she was taken a back by the presence of the odd man.
Dantrag pulled out of his robbed sleeve a white stemmed rose and put it in her other hand. "I was just about to leave. I just wanted to give you my appreciation for helping out in this little matter. I am not permitted to intervene the way the two of you did last night. The other techno mages do feel remorse for what happened. This is why we try to avoid contact with the general population." Mulder could tell that Scully wanted to vent her anger over such lack of respect for the six murder victims. Dantrag simply bowed and turned away. Before he slipped out the door, he lingered for a moment.
"I wish you a speedy recovery, Mr. Mulder, and I hope you learned to open your eyes to the world of magic just a bit more. Your partner took another tentative step. I know you are just as capable in doing it as well." Mulder wanted to turn his head so he would be facing the ceiling. That would take too much effort. Instead he was forced to watch his partner give Dantrag a look of disdain. Dantrag pulled out what looked like a little calculator from one of his various pockets. "Ah, transport devices they come in handy sometimes," his voiced boomed with amusement. He laughed a little and was out the door.
Mulder wasn't up for a question and answer session with Scully. After some concentration he lifted his left hand off the bed. Scully sat down and took it into her own. "I'll explain latter, Mulder. For now why don't you just get some more rest. You're due for another injection of pain medications and I'm positive you will want them for the duration of your stay."
Scully was right his body felt drained and he fought the battle with his heavy eyelids. "What about...Jennifer?"
"She's fine, Mulder, thanks to you. The four would be robbers that we apprehended could even remember why they tired to rob that jewelry store. They said it just occurred to them."
He was about to ask for some water when Scully put a straw in front of his mouth. He took it gratefully and sipped the water. After taking his full, Scully put the cup on the small table to his left.
"Do...you think...maybe there's space in the M's for...magic in the filing cabinet?" Scully merely squeezed Mulder's left hand.
"Maybe," was her response.
Mulder closed his eyes. He wanted to know what Dantrag meant earlier, but he really wanted that pain medication for the hot poker that was sticking him in his side. With some relief a nurse walked in and emptied a syringe into his IV and Mulder went to sleep on a cloud of Demerol. After some time Mulder dreamed. He saw abandoned cities that were eerily silent. Yet, beyond the steel graveyards of the ruined urban jungle were rolling green hills. Sitting on top of one of them was a strange man dressed in black velvet robes. He stood there staring at the city playing with a small silver ball that was floating in the middle of the air in front of him. In his sleep Mulder smiled.
The End Well bonus points are awarded to people who can guess where I got my two black clad characters. Any ways what did you think?