Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files are all owned by Chris Carter and 10-13, no infringement intended. The story is based on the Suspense radio show called 'House in Cypress Canyon' from 1946.
Author's Note: This was originally written for a challenge at Mulder's Refuge. Any comments, please let me know at XScout@hotmail.com
Leaning back slightly, he waved his arm, gauging the distance. Approximately four feet. Squinting his eyes in concentration, he pulled back his arm and let his missile fly. A few seconds later he heard it land in the wastebasket, not even bouncing off the rim.
"Yes! Nothing but net!" He spun around in his chair, cupped hands to his mouth and a sound vaguely reminiscent to a cheering crowd came from him.
Sitting up so quickly that his feet hurt when they slammed into the ground, Mulder turned to look at the figure in the doorway. It was a fairly average looking man in his forties, about five foot eight, 160 pounds, a slightly receding hairline and a slightly expanding stomach. Thick glasses graced a nose too small for his face and made his eyes appear larger than they actually were. His brown hair was slicked back with exaggerated care, his tie was impeccably straight, and a leather briefcase hung from his left hand, giving him the appearance of a professional businessman who dotted all his 'I's and crossed all his 'T's.
Glancing at the Visitor Pass clipped to the man's pocket, Mulder assumed it was his 8:00 appointment. "Mr. Sanger?" Waiting for the man to nod, Mulder motioned to Scully's vacant chair. "Please have a seat."
Mr. Sanger shuffled into the small office, his owl eyes flicking back and forth, trying to take in as much as possible. Groping for the chair blindly with his right hand, he sank into the cushions, his eyes never stopping their rapid survey. Mulder waited for a minute until his patience wore thin. Clearing his throat, he addressed the man before him. "I believe you said you had something to show me? Something with my name written all over it."
Sanger's eyes snapped back to attention, piercing Mulder with an indefinable stare. "Yes, I do. And I meant what I said literally." Placing his briefcase on the clean surface of Scully's desk, Sanger flipped the latches and opened the case. Pulling out a manila folder, he shut the case and placed it on the floor by the foot of the chair. Holding the folder out to the FBI agent, Sanger had a look of expectation on his face.
Mulder reached over and took the proffered object, his eyes widening in surprise when he recognized it. "Where did you get this?"
"It was found a few months ago in one of the unfinished buildings in my housing track."
Mulder turned the folder over in his hands, his fingers running across the label reading 'X-File 4944-091'. "You say you found this a couple of months ago? Why didn't you bring it in to me then?"
"You know how I said I found it in an unfinished house in one of my tracks? Back then all that was done was the foundations; just concrete, and a couple of beams. Well, they're finished now, in fact I put up the 'For Rent' on the last of them today. Listen, Agent Mulder, this house that I'm talking about, it has a number now, 6667. But before, when the men went back to work on it, about 3 months ago, well they just started when the foreman on the job brought me a shoebox he found up on a beam. Now this box had a folder in it with file in it, you know, a story kind of all written out." Sanger looked down at his empty hands for a second and then faced Mulder again. "Well, I read what was inside and... um, it seemed like it was nothing more than some short story made up by a sci-fi writer. I stuck it my desk and forgot about it until yesterday."
"What happened yesterday?" Mulder prodded.
"I happened to drive by there when I saw the number on the house and what the house looked like and I thought of this manuscript. First thing I did when I got back to my office was pull it out and reread it. That's when I decided to take it seriously and called up the FBI to see if there was an Agent Mulder who worked on cases labeled 'X-Files'. They told me how to reach you and so I set up this appointment. I wanted to give you this and hope you could explain it to me."
"Explain what? As far as I know, I've never investigated a case labeled X4944-091 and I'd certainly know if one of my files was missing. I appreciate the fact that you've brought it to my attention, but I'm not sure whether this is a valid case file or just some joke."
Sanger looked almost scared now. "It's no joke! This thing was found in an unfinished house in Cuyamaca Canyon, a house we'd only just started building. I'm telling you, it makes no sense. Go ahead and read it."
Pursing his lips, Mulder debated about Sanger's truthfulness but he saw no deception harbored in the man's eyes. And so, with a deep breath, he opened up the folder and began to read.
My reasons for setting the following events down on paper here will be abundantly clear to anyone into whose possession it may fall. Documentation is both a form of proof as well as a way for me to get it all straight in my mind. I am no stranger to odd occurrences or paranormal incidents that are hard or even impossible to explain, but this is something so beyond my realm of understanding that I hesitate to classify it as a case under investigation.
Let me start at the beginning. My name is Fox Mulder, I am an FBI Agent who investigates cases with paranormal undertones that the rest of the Bureau has labeled unsolvable. My partner over the last nine years has been Dana Scully, a wonderful woman with whom I have recently become romantically involved. There is far too much background information regarding those past nine years, so I shall forego the details. Suffice it to say that we grew close over the years as we faced both hardship and happiness, forming a bond so strong that without each other, we are incomplete.
What follows is a recounting of the events that have lead me to this desperate attempt to define what has occurred. Because, if there is no written account, no one may ever know what happened.
It started like any normal day, I was in my office early in the morning as usual, waiting for my partner to show up. She usually shows up at nine o'clock but today she was going to swing by some new houses for rent and see if they might fit our needs. We have been talking for months about taking our relationship a step further and moving in together. We practically live at each other's apartments anyway, we might as well cut our costs. I passed the time by reviewing files, finishing expense reports, and playing basketball with wads of paper. I had a brief meeting with a man who had some information on an X-File and just after he left, Scully finally arrived.
She breezed in the door with such a large smile on her face, she was practically glowing. "Oh, Mulder, you have to see this house! It's absolutely perfect! Two bed, two bath, fireplace, dishwasher, laundry room, even a backyard with lots of green grass. It's idyllic and yet still within our price range!"
"Oh really? And I suppose its even got a white picket fence?"
Despite my jibe at suburbia, how could I possibly say no to that much enthusiasm? And so we went up to see the house on our lunch break. It was located in Cuyamaca Canyon, in the middle of suburban Virginia but close enough to the freeway that commuting to DC wouldn't be a problem. We pulled up in front of a quaint little house with peach stuccoed walls, a wooden garage door, and terra cotta tiles on the roof. The porch looked out on a freshly laid lawn bordered by petunias or marigolds or something. I'm not good with flowers. Scully was practically skipping up the driveway, beckoning me along with waving hands. Her mood was infectious and I was soon touring the house with a smile on my face and visions of blissful domesticity in my mind. How was I to know what lay ahead?
And so, that very weekend, we moved into number 6667 Cuyamaca Canyon.
It was fairly easy getting all my stuff into the house, as I have few possessions and most of what I do have never comes out of storage. Scully on the other hand had quite a large number of things to bring in. It seemed like we would never empty the moving truck but after three hours, we finally had everything inside the house, piled up according to which room they belonged in. Then came the arduous task of unpacking and organizing. Several hours and many aching muscles later, we had at least the bedroom and the living room in a vague state of order and were sitting on the couch, our feet splayed out in front of us. We were tired but satisfied with the progress we'd made as were looking forward to a good night's rest. I was about to suggest we turn in when I noticed a stack of boxes in the corner labeled 'closet'.
"Didn't you already put those away?" I asked, pointing to the cardboard containers.
Scully grunted. "Those aren't the same ones. I already filled up the closet in the hallway with my stuff. That's your junk. It's supposed to go in the den with your ratty old couch."
"Oh. I saw a door in there, I suppose it's a closet. I'll just take these back there." I dragged the boxes into the den and left them by the couch before I moved to the door in the corner. I turned the knob but nothing happened. Noticing that the handle had a keyhole, I fished in my pocket for the skeleton key we'd been given by the Realtor. Despite twisting the knob every which way, it wouldn't open, key or no. I called to my partner and she wandered into the room a moment later.
"What's the matter?" she asked as she flopped down on my old couch.
Screwing my face up in a look of dismay, I told her about the locked closet. "I would just get out my lock pick set but I have no clue what box it's in."
Scully let out a long sigh and stretched her arms above her head. "Leave it until tomorrow. It's late and we can start early in the morning if we go to bed now."
I frowned. "Bed? Now? But it's not that late."
She simply looked at me as though I was crazy. I was used to that look. "It's almost midnight, Mulder!" She glanced at her watch. "In fact, it's exactly-"
She didn't finish her sentence as her words were cut off by an unearthly noise that can only be described as a howl. It was more of a scream but there was nothing human about it. I turned my head to the window and stared out into the darkness. "What was that?"
Scully joined me in the middle of the small room. "I don't know. Wild animal maybe. We're not in the middle of a city anymore and there are some mountains behind us."
I just nodded my head, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end as I thought of that howling cry.
We didn't talk much after that, tired as we were as we prepared for bed. I climbed into the double bed we had recently purchased and curled up to the woman in it. "This is our first night together in our house, you don't want to waste it sleeping, do you?"
All sleepiness drained from her eyes to be replaced with a soft glow that caused a tightening in my loins. Needless to say, we didn't fall asleep until about two in the morning.
Although it had only been an hour or so after I had finally drifted into slumber, I awoke with a pounding heart and my chest heaving. Scully woke up as well, though from my movement or whatever had awoken me, I don't know.
"Nightmare?" she asked, her voice soothing in the darkness.
I shook my head. "No, I thought I heard something."
"I don't know. Like something was inside the house, moving around." I pulled off the cover and open the nightstand drawer, withdrawing my gun.
We both held our breaths for a few minutes, our ears strained to hear even the tiniest noise. Nothing but silence greeted us and I began to think that maybe a nightmare had been responsible for my rude awakening.
Suddenly the silence was split by a scream, the same howling wail that we had heard earlier. I looked over to Scully, my wide eyes meeting hers. "That was definitely in the house, " I whispered.
She nodded and retrieved her own weapon before we moved out into the darkened hallway. We cautiously searched each and every room of our new dwelling, opening closets and looking under tables. Nothing. We ended our search in the living room, our sidearms hanging limply in our hands. Scully shrugged. "I guess it just sounded like it was inside. Maybe it's a tomcat or something underneath the house."
I raised my eyebrows at that. Tomcat? She was really reaching. I knew what I'd heard and whatever had made that ungodly noise was inside. But where? We'd looked everywhere. Everywhere except - "The closet."
Scully tilted her head up to look at me. "What?"
"The closet in the den. That's the only place we haven't looked."
"It's locked, Mulder," she pointed out.
I didn't answer, simply turned and headed towards the den. Flipping on the lights, I noticed that the carpet in front of the closet was stained red. Scully came up behind me and followed my gaze to the puddle soaking the beige rug. "Is that what I think it is?"
Scully stepped around me and knelt down on the carpeting, her forefingers reaching out to dab at the liquid. I wanted to tell her to stop, not to touch it, but my voice stuck in my throat as her slim fingers grazed the still crimson pool. Lifting her hand up into the light, she rubbed her fingers against her thumb, noting the stickiness of the red fluid. "Blood," she stated, her voice tinged with fear.
Finding my voice again, I ordered her to stand back and approached the door, ready to break it down if necessary. I aimed my weapon at the lock, prepared to fire but something stopped me. The hairs at the base of my neck were sending tingles down my back and suddenly I knew that the door was no longer locked. I kept my gun trained on the door and reached out to turn the knob. I heard Scully's exclamation of surprise as the soft 'snick' of the handle turning proved my hunch to be correct.
The door was unlocked.
Whipping the door open, my fingers twitched on the trigger of my weapon, ready to shoot at anything that might be a threat.
The closet was empty.
"Go make the call, I'm going to search the house again and then the backyard." I moved off, not checking to see if Scully followed my directions, knowing that she would. I recanvased the entire house, the garage, and both the front and back yards. Nothing could be found to even hint at an intruder. No footprints, no broken glass, no droplets of blood. Even the grass of the lawn was as pristine as when it had first been laid.
Having nothing else to go on, I went back to the den to search for evidence there, hoping that my luck at crime scenes would extend to our new residence. I pored over everything in the room, my back to the closet as I went over the boxes, couch, shelves, and even the fish tank with a clinical eye. Still nothing. That left only one place from which to glean evidence - the closet itself. I turned and my eyes swept across the carpet in front of the closet door.
I wasn't sure if I had spoken, but I must have because she was next to me a moment later, her hand on my arm and her blue eyes peering up at me. "Mulder, what is it?"
"The carpet," I croaked, my arm raising to point at the place where we had so recently found a bloody pool. The rug before the closet door was clean, its beige surface reflecting no signs of the life fluid that had stained it but ten minutes before.
"That's impossible," Scully protested, kneeling down and running her palm against the plush carpeting. "It's completely dry. Mulder, I know what I saw, and there was blood here!" She stood up and raised her hand to my face. "I know what I felt."
I shook my head to clear it, my thoughts having congealed when I saw the blood was gone. "I saw it too, Scully. I don't understand it either. The only thing I can come up with is that somebody spilled disappearing/reappearing ink on the carpet." To my own ears it sounded inexcusably lame, but I was eager to erase the taint of unease that had infected what should have been a momentous and happy occasion.
"No, Mulder. It was blood, I felt it. I can feel it still." She looked down at her hand and massaged the tips of her fingers with her left hand.
The hairs on my neck stood up again but there was nothing I could say in response to that. Finally my brain started to function again and I forced a chuckle past my tight throat. "I'd better go call off the cavalry or they'll be running this around the 'Spooky Rumor Mill' for the next two weeks."
I phoned the Bureau and canceled the request for a team to be sent out, making placations to the night operator, Jeannie, and promising her that we'd take a look at UFO-shaped mold growing in her basement as soon as possible. Luckily she is a fan of the X-Files and I can sweet talk her with things like that.
I returned to find Scully still standing in the den, staring at *that* spot, the thumb on her right hand absently rubbing against her forefingers. I laid my hands on her shoulders and gave her a gentle nudge. "Scully. Scully, let's go back to bed, we'll be better equipped to handle this after a good night's sleep." I steered her into the bedroom, talking softly all the way. "Maybe this was nothing but folie a deux, but this time a dream shared by two."
That got a response out of her. She smiled slightly and raised an eyebrow, which was more than I expected at this point. We climbed under the covers and turned out the lights. I noticed that neither of us set our guns out of reach.
Morning came and though I didn't sleep, Scully had managed to drift into a fitful slumber for a good five hours. She woke looking more tired than she did the night before but didn't say anything as she crawled from the bed and into the shower. The first place I went to was the den, to make sure that the blood was still missing. It was and I still had no explanation for it.
We spent the day unpacking the rest of our belongings, no more than ten words spoken between us as we emptied the moving boxes. Normally this wouldn't have bothered me, as my partner and I have been able to communicate without words for more than eight years and prolonged silences aren't rare. But there was something about this silence that didn't sit well in my stomach. It was like the unnatural stillness of a cemetery at night, death hovering in the air so that to speak would be a blasphemy.
Every now and then Scully would stop and go off to the bathroom and I could hear the water running. She was washing her hands. I could have written it off as the dustiness of unpacking but I knew that she was trying to get rid of the feeling of the blood on her fingers.
By the end of the day we had the kitchen finished as well as the bathroom and we sat down to a meal of pizza and soda we'd had delivered. Scully picked at her food, barely eating a single piece and downing only half a can of soda. I can't say I blamed her though, I wasn't in the mood either. Then again, I'm more used to prolonged fasts than she is, so it was more notable when she didn't eat.
We went to bed early - for me at least - because Scully was exhausted. Her skin was pale and there were bruises under her eyes that looked like she hadn't slept in days. I tucked her in beside me, gave her a kiss on the forehead and then wrapped my body around hers as though I could protect her mind with my mere closeness.
I fell asleep around eleven, the even breaths of my partner a comforting lullaby. I slept a dreamless sleep that would have been extremely restful if I hadn't been torn from it by a heart-stopping shriek.
I was out of bed and on my feet in seconds, weapon in one hand, the other reaching for the lightswitch. A second sense told me that Scully was not in the room, that her side of the bed was cold. Fear ripped through me as I crept around our new home, making an even more thorough search than two nights ago, going over every nook and cranny of that house. As I went through the kitchen and the living room I knew it was hopeless, knew that I wouldn't find my partner. Because I knew where she was.
She was in that closet.
I don't know how I knew, I can't explain how every fiber of my being was certain that she was in there, but as sure as the sun rises in the east, Scully was there.
So, all my other options having been exhausted, I wearily made my way to the den and stopped in front of the closet door. Tucking my gun in the waistband of my sweats I lifted a trembling hand to the doorknob, its metal cold as ice yet burning my fingers. I twisted it and the door swung open slowly on silent hinges.
She stood there, her eyes wide and staring, bloodshot veins running up to the blue. Her teeth were bared in a feral grin, her red lips pulled back as though in silent hideous laughter. Her hands were raised to her chest facing outwards, fingers curled into claws, yet frozen in place.
"Scully?" My voice cracked on the second syllable, terror settling in my stomach like a stone. I raised my hand to her shoulder, hoping physical contact would break whatever spell she was under. I had seen her in similar states of stupor after waking from nightmares about her abduction and usually a simple touch would bring her out of it. This time had a different reaction however.
As my fingers graced the folds of her silk pajamas just over her right collarbone, her head turned and she sunk her teeth into the tender flesh between my thumb and forefinger. In my shock the pain went unnoticed and before I had a chance to react she collapsed into my arms.
I didn't know what to do, Scully was the one I usually turned to in times of medical emergencies but that was not an option. So I lifted her into my arms and took her back to our bedroom. Laying her gently on the mattress I checked her over to make sure she wasn't injured in any way. Finding no signs of abuse on her I turned to my own wound, pulling out Scully's little black bag that she always kept handy in order to bandage me up. It wasn't the easiest thing to do one-handed but I managed to clean the bite, apply some disinfectant, and wrap some gauze around it.
Having finished, I cleaned up the bloody remnants of my efforts and returned to the bedroom. Scully was still unconscious - or asleep - and hadn't moved a muscle. The thought of taking her to a hospital flitted through my mind but I quickly dismissed the notion. If it was a nightmare then it was a new side-effect that we would have to learn to deal with it ourselves. Besides, I had a feeling that whatever it was, it wasn't anything that could be solved with science.
I decided to wait until morning and see how Scully was then; what she remembered and how she felt. I crawled in next to her, lethargy creeping over me and moments later I was asleep.
I woke to the sound of humming just a few hours later. Rolling over, I reached out across the bed only to find empty space. The events of the previous night came back to me in a rush and I bolted upright, my eyes frantically searching for my partner. I saw shadows moving in the living room and slowly made my way out there, not knowing what I would find.
There she was, unpacking a large box, a soft smile on her face and a faint humming coming from her throat. It was out of tune of course and such normalcy seemed sacrilegiously out of place. She must have seen me out of the corner of her eye because she turned to me, a dazzling smile lighting up her face.
"Good morning, Sleepyhead. About time you got up, we still have a lot of boxes that need to be done. It's a good thing we took this whole week off, or else we wouldn't get this done for months in between cases. I've been thinking about where we should put my great-grandmother's bureau and- Mulder! What did you do to your hand?" She put down the knickknack she was unwrapping and came to my side.
I couldn't help but flinch when she reached for me but luckily she didn't notice. I stared in dumbfoundment as she took my hand in hers and brought it close to her face for inspection, acting for all the world like she had no clue as to how it could have happened.
"I...uh... I heard a dog scratching at the door last night and when I went to shoo it away it bit me." Yes, I lied. I had a feeling Scully would accept the truth with as much willingness as she accepts all my other theories. Besides, the simple fact that she didn't remember last night was disturbing and I didn't want to bring it up if at all possible.
"I didn't hear a thing, must've slept right through it. I haven't had such good sleep in weeks, I feel completely rested." She dropped my hand and gestured for me to follow her as she headed towards the bathroom. "Let me take a look at it. It's a good thing you're up to date on all your shots, who knows what diseases that dog was carrying."
I just grunted in agreement and placidly followed after her. Up until this point I had barely noticed the injury, my mind shoving any physical discomfort to the back as it tried to deal with what was going on. But as she unwrapped the bandages and blood flowed more freely though my veins, my hand began to throb unmercifully.
With my eyes shut tight against the pain I wasn't aware of Scully's ministrations until she gasped. "Mulder! Why didn't you wake me up? This needs to be seen by a doctor!"
I cracked my eyelids to see what had caused her alarm and was startled to see the semi-circle of teethmarks on my hand had become inflamed, streaks of red spreading out from each hole of torn flesh. I bit down on my lower lip and pulled the injured limb from Scully's grasp, trying to hide it behind me as if removing it from her sight would magically make her forget about it. "It's fine, just needs some antibiotic cream."
Scully gave me her look and I knew it would be useless to argue. I had been hoping to avoid the doctor, knowing that my cover story of being bitten by a dog would be exposed as a lie when a closer examination of the teethmarks was made. "Go ahead and make an appointment, I'm going to take a shower."
It was just as I was getting out of the shower that I heard the phone ring and moments later Scully informed me that Assistant Director Skinner was on the phone. I picked up the receiver in the bedroom and Skinner's baritone voice relayed a message from Rick Davis, the head of the ISU. It seemed he needed my help on a serial killer case - nothing extensive, just a quick consultation on a case similar to one I had worked on years ago. I agreed, hoping that immersing myself in an easy profile would help me to forget the eerie events of last night.
I told Scully where I was going, promised not to miss my doctor's appointment, and kissed her as I walked out the door.
Davis was pleased to see me and even more pleased when I finished the consult in only a few hours, giving him several new directions to work from. Then it was off to the doctor, who treated my hand with something of an arched eyebrow and said he'd never seen anything quite like it before. "Such a rapid onset of infection," Dr. Westley observed as he swathed my hand in bandages. I just thanked him and took the bottle of pills he prescribed.
It was dark when I left his office and a sense of foreboding had slowly come over me. The car seemed sluggish and barely responsive as I drove home, but when I looked at the speedometer I realized that I was going almost ninety miles an hour. That I was racing home to prevent... I didn't know what, only certain that something was not right, that I might be too late, for the darkness was conspiring against me. And I knew that it was the darkness and the night I had to fear, its blackness a power I might not be able to fight against this time.
I pulled up to the driveway, the panic inside me cresting in a wave of terror. The house was dark too, no signs of life coming from within. I rushed into the building and searched throughout it, starting with that damnable closet. It was as empty as the rest of the house proved to be and I knew it would be useless to search any further. So I sat down in the living room and waited, alone in an empty house that seemed to be weighing down on me with each passing moment.
My entire body jerked as the room lit up with flashing lights, blue and red spilling through the blinds as several police cars drove past. Why their presence should have had anything to do with my situation I can't explain, but I went out the front door and followed the patrol cars on foot. I didn't have very far to go, my steps slowing as I reached a small house only a block away from my own, down on Cypress Canyon, its drive flanked by several black and whites and a single ambulance. As I jogged up to the area I could see crime scene tape being unwound and my FBI training told me that death was in the air. I flashed my badge at the scene director and was pointed in the direction of the detective in charge.
"Detective Anderson?" I asked of the man standing of to the side, watching the activity.
"Who wants to know?" He didn't sound suspicious, simply resigned.
I introduced myself and asked him what had happened.
"Seems we've got a wild animal on the loose. Karen Carpakis came home to find her husband, Jon, dead on their front lawn. She said he was probably on his way to work when he was attacked. Works the night shift at some factory that makes textiles."
"How do you know it wasn't murder?" I forced the question from my throat, for once begging silently that an all too human killer was at work.
"Better see for yourself." He ushered me past the forensics crew to a small circle of space that was free from people. There lay Mr. Carpakis, his body garishly illuminated by the fluorescent lights that had been set up. He lay on his back, his body twisted at an unnatural angle and his eyes frozen wide in horror. Blood spattered the grass around him, turning the green lawn into a murky rust colored brown. His throat had been torn out and anyone could see from the ragged flesh that it wasn't done with any kind of manmade instrument.
My usually iron stomach heaved and I had to turn away, swallowing down the bile rising in my throat. "Mind if I take a look around?"
Anderson grunted. "Just don't mess up my crime scene." Then he stalked away, yelling at the photographer who flashed him in the eyes.
I wandered around the scene, poring over every inch of the area, hoping and yet not hoping that I would find something. In the end I had nothing to add to the police team's findings, unsure whether to be relieved or not. I returned to my own home, my heart heavy and my soul shriveling within me until I felt like a shell of a human being. My entire body was cold except for the barely tolerable heat coming from my hand, every movement of my fingers sending sparks of fire up my arm and into my chest. It was like a sign of things to come.
It's Tuesday night now. Or Wednesday morning, as it is just after midnight. I have been waiting here for nearly twenty-four hours, here in this cursed house with only my disheartening thoughts for company. Once already I have heard that wailing cry rent the darkness. I have boarded up the closet door even though I know it is childish, as though I could keep my fears locked away in some box. I no longer feel any fear, only a sense of desolation and acceptance of what I know I must do.
My arm, from my hand all the way up to my elbow is now a pasty gray and pulses in pain with each beat of my heart. But I can still feel the cold metal of my weapon cradled in my palm and when the time comes I will be able to pull the trigger.
Another howl tears at my ears and this time it is closer, almost upon me.
I have written this down in hopes that it will shed light on the events of the past few days, that someone will find it and believe it, despite its impossible nature. I doubt I will ever be able to tell anyone myself what has occurred, nor will my partner.
For someone is at the door.
Mulder stared at the last sentence, his eyes feeling gritty despite the fact he had only been reading for fifteen minutes. Finally he licked his lips and raised his eyes to meet the soulful gaze of Jim Sanger. "I don't know what to tell you, Mr. Sanger. I do know that I did not write this, despite what it looks like."
"But that's not all there is, Agent Mulder," Sanger insisted, pointing to the manila folder sitting on my desk.
I picked up the pack and realized that there was still something inside. Tipping it upside down, a piece of paper fell out. It appeared to be a newspaper clipping, dated Thursday May 22, 2003. The headline read 'FBI Agents Killed in Own Home'. A quick scan of the clipping revealed the gruesome story of how Agents Mulder and Scully were found dead in their new home, seemingly victims of circumstance. Agent Mulder was mauled badly, his chest and throat raked deep by claws and/or fangs, while Agent Scully had been shot in the head. As far as authorities could tell, Agent Mulder had been attacked by the same animal that had killed another nearby homeowner the previous night and in his attempt to kill the beast missed and shot his own partner, who, other than the bullet hole, remained unscathed.
"You see why I brought this to you?" Sanger's earnest voice hit Mulder like a brick.
He shook his head, trying to dispel the feeling of dread that had begun to grow inside of him. This was one time he would rather not believe in extreme possibilities. "If it makes you feel any better, no one has been killed by a savage beast recently. And as for the newspaper, you can have these things printed up you know, put any date on them you want."
"No, no, it's not just that! Don't you see? This was found inside an unfinished house in Cuyamaca Canyon. Just the framework, no walls, no stucco, no number, nothing! But yesterday I saw the finished house and it is exactly as described! There is no way anyone could have known!"
"Mr. Sanger, as evidenced by the fact that you were directed to me in a case such as this, you understand that I investigate crimes of a less-than-believable nature. As such, you may also understand that I am not well liked among my peers, who tend to be not as open-minded as you and me. They often play pranks on me hoping to get a rise out of 'Spooky Mulder'; this is probably just one of those. As for the details, you'd be surprised at what information is at the fingertips of the FBI."
Mulder rose from his seat and held out his hand. Sanger also rose, his face clearly expressing his ambiguity. "Tell you what, if my partner walks in that door and describes a great house she found in Cuyamaca Canyon, I'll just tell her that a reliable source told me it isn't up to code and probably has termites. How does that sound?"
A weak smile crossed the other man's face. "Yeah, I guess it does seem kinda silly. Well, I'm sorry I took up so much of your time, and I hope..." He trailed off as if he realized he was about to say something untactful. "I hope you and your partner find a nice place."
Mulder nodded his thanks and showed Mr. Sanger out of the office. He picked up the X-File and the newspaper clipping and was about to put them both back in the manila folder when he stopped. Mulling over it for a few minutes, he pushed his rolling chair over to a row of filing cabinets and opened the bottom drawer on the second cabinet to the left. Flipping through the various files he found the section he wanted and inserted the new file into its slot.
Satisfied that'd be the end of it, he turned to that day's newspaper on his desk, flipping to the housing section. He had only read through the first column when Scully pranced through the door, her face lit up with an enormous smile.
"Oh, Mulder, you have to see this house! It's absolutely perfect! Two bed, two bath, fireplace, dishwasher, laundry room, even a backyard with lots of green grass. It's idyllic and yet still within our price range!"
"Oh really? And I suppose its even got a-" he stopped the moment he realized what words were coming out of his mouth.