BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10th, 2008
"So if anyone has any questions on the reading, please email me. It's a long one and I don't expect you to have it and the questions done by Monday. But we have a quiz on Wednesday so it would be in your best interests to finish the reading this weekend, to give yourselves time to do the questions by Wednesday. Have a good weekend."
As the students got up and started to leave, having started packing their backpacks when the digital atomic clock reached 1459, one girl still had her laptop on her desk as she stood and approached the teacher.
Skip Greenwood turned his attention to her.
"I have a question. When we went over the legend of King Arthur you told us he was most likely a fifteen-year-old boy, who managed to convince the local English to fight off the Romans."
"Yep, that's about right," Skip told her. "Where's the question?"
"Well, what would you expect us to write on an exam? It seems a little short for the whole thing, if you know what I mean."
"Well, Ashley, sometimes legends come down to a very simple explanation. Arthur likely won a few battles and the largely oral culture of the natives he recruited honored him as their king. He was more than likely killed in battle after a few months, but oral cultures can be very powerful. The root of a legend can be nothing more than an extraordinary kid about your age."
They were alone in the classroom now, and Ashley started to pack up her backpack. "All right, I guess. I just didn't want to lose points for such a short answer."
Skip smiled. "You're doing fine in the class, Ashley. I don't see any reason to be worried."
"Good to know. See you Monday, Mr. Greenwood."
"See you Monday," Skip said. He disconnected his laptop from the interactive SmartBoard in the front of the classroom, and then packed it in his bag. The classroom was an interesting contrast of 70-year-old architecture and top-of-the-line technology. He went to his desk for a moment to collect a few things and put them into his briefcase, and then grabbed his raincoat and headed outside. Hopefully the buses wouldn't be gone by now.
Kingsburry Academy was separated into two campuses: the North and the South. The North campus was largely devoted to science, math, language, and the museums the school had on the grounds. The Kingsburry Science Museum and the Kingsburry Art Museum were region-wide hotspots for parents to bring their children for afternoon amusement, and for young people to come to gaze at the stars during the evening Observatory stargazing hours, or look at art and make out by the romantically set backyard of the Art Museum.
Kingsburry's South Campus was largely devoted to crafts, books, English, History, and the Research Center. The South Campus housed the girl's dorms, and the girl's middle school. The North Campus housed the boy's dorms. Because the school did not admit girls until the late 1930's, the North and South campuses had very different architecture. The North campus was largely early 1900's architecture, with a heavy English influence. The South campus was much closer to Frank Lloyd Wright's style, emphasizing on what was modern when it was built. In the 1980's, the school decided that girls and boys could be taught together, and integrated the classrooms.
Along the two-mile-long road that linked the two campuses were the boy's middle school, the lower school, and several sports fields. Also about halfway along Kingsburry Road was teachers' housing. Condos, apartments, and small houses lined the side-streets and formed a unique suburban community housed inside of a PreK-12 school the size of an average college campus.
Skip Greenwood, a history teacher, father of two, and devoted Star Trek fan, lived in one of the houses with his family. And usually, because his work was right on campus, he let his wife have the car for the day. Which meant he had to catch the bus going to North Campus, and have it drop him off at the side-street that would take him directly to his house.
He wasn't worried about the slight delay today, however. Most of the students had after school activities that kept the buses running well after 1600. There was a short delay between 1520 and 1540 when there were no buses running, because most kids had gotten to practice or to the opposite campus. Day students old enough to drive had been bused to their cars, and boarders had been bused to their campus of residence. But when the 30 minute club meetings ended, buses started rolling again. If Skip could catch the bus before 1520, he could be home before his 8-year-old son walked back from the lower school.
The bus driver, Jerry, was pleased to see him, as always. "Hey, Skip, how ya doing?"
"Fine, Jerry, and yourself?"
"Doing just fine. Home?"
"Yep," he answered, and settled into a front seat on the half-full yellow schoolbus.
"How's Arthur and little Cory?"
"Arthur's doing great. He entered the science fair last weekend and won second place."
"The Science Museum science fair?" Jerry asked.
"That's the one. He did his project on the solar system and was sure to include the major and minor planets. It seemed to have caught the judge's attention."
"I guess so, if he won second. Good for him. And Cory?"
Jerry laughed. "They tend to get that way at that age."
"Arthur wasn't into everything like Cory is, but you know, different kids, different personalities." Cory, Skip's one-year-old son, was far more willful than Arthur was seven years ago. But Skip was a patient man, and a loving father, who would spend as much time with both of his sons as he could. He may have neared the end of his rope a few times more with Cory than with Arthur, but that didn't mean he avoided spending time with his baby.
"Yep. Well, here you go," Jerry said, and stopped the bus at the corner. He opened the door. "See ya later, Skip."
"Have a nice weekend, Jerry. Tell Susan I said hi."
"Will do." The doors slid shut behind him and he walked down the street toward his house. He happened to arrive at the same time as Arthur.
The boy's shoes were wet and caked with mud and he smiled sheepishly at his dad.
"You took the shortcut again, didn't you?" Skip asked, walking up the path that led to their modest home.
"Yeah...it's a lot quicker than taking the road, Dad. I'm sorry..."
"Well, take off your shoes before you come in the house. You'll be cleaning them tonight after your homework."
Arthur sighed. "Okay," he resigned. "Can I have time on the computer tonight?"
"If you finish your homework and clean your shoes before bedtime. Absolutely. What do you plan to do? Play Starfleet Command?"
"Maybe, but I was thinking about researching planetary orbits on the Internet. Mr. Banning said today that we've been tracking a planet circling a nearby star, and I want to see if I can find a mapping program."
"Have fun," Skip said with a small smile. His son was brilliant, and had taken an interest in something Skip had unlimited interested for, but limited ability: science. After scraping by with very low mathematics scores in college, he had decided his interest wasn't his calling. And his son was rapidly approaching the point at which Skip's interest greatly exceeded his knowledge.
They entered the house, knowing it was unlocked. No one locked their doors at Kingsburry. The second they stepped through the threshold, they both froze in place, as the blood drained from their faces. Arthur's eyes began to well up in tears, and Skip pulled his son close to him, but was unable to move.
There before them, hung from the ceiling, was the bloody body of an unfamiliar woman. Her hair was long, blonde, and curly. She looked to be in her mid-forties, draped in a white cloth marred with blood stains. Her throat was slit, and her dead eyes were open. The corneas were solid red. The second Skip was able to peel his eyes away and look down at Arthur, Arthur looked back up. He still cried as he said, "It's happening again, isn't it?"
Skip glanced up at the now bare, perfectly clean ceiling. He nodded slowly. "I think it is," he managed to say.
MULDER & SCULLY TOWNHOUSE
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11th, 2008
"So that was the last straw?"
"That was when I got out of my car."
"And when did you pop him one?"
"Mulder, I did not 'pop him one'."
Mulder and Scully were sitting on their couch, Scully nursing a sore but otherwise unharmed hand, and finally submitting to Mulder's requests that she tell him what had happened to the car last night.
"Then explain to me why—"
"Okay, fine, I did hit the bastard, but it was in self defense."
"I'm seeing mounds of paperwork in your future."
Scully groaned, and leaned back into the couch.
Mulder smirked slightly. "Did you knock him unconscious?"
"No. I just pissed him off," Scully said.
"But he was smart enough not to keep fighting a redhead."
"He was smart enough not to keep fighting a federal agent, who he rear-ended."
"Why'd you hit him?"
Scully looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. "After he tailed me for twenty minutes, tried to get around me and nearly caused three accidents, failed to pass me when the other lane was clear, and kept flipping me the bird every damn time I looked back at him, he finally rear-ended me at a stoplight, got out of his car, and started tapping the window."
"So you drew your gun..."
"You didn't draw your gun?" Mulder asked, surprised.
"No," Scully admitted.
"What did you do?"
"I got out of the car at the intersection and started screaming at him."
Mulder raised his eyebrow in a truly Scully-like manner. "Why?"
"How can you ask me that question?!" She demanded.
"No, I'm not saying he didn't deserve it, Scully. But why didn't you just draw your gun, tell him you were a Federal Agent, and end it right there?"
She didn't answer for a moment, but finally she said, clearly ashamed, "Because he really pissed me off."
"When did you hit him?"
"When he reached into his pocket. He pulled out a pocketknife."
"Why didn't you draw your gun?" Mulder asked, puzzled and alarmed.
"I don't know, Mulder. I did after I hit him..."
It was Mulder's turn to sit back. He folded his arms. "Yeah, I have no idea how you're going to justify this one."
"He has a black eye. That's it."
Mulder just gave her a 'look'. Then he stood. "All right, this little role reversal is getting too weird for me, if you know what I mean. I'm going upstairs, gonna get dressed."
He was a little concerned about how she was still rubbing her hand but he had brought up the issue last night, and gotten worse treatment, in his opinion, than the asshole who had rear-ended her. The damage to the car was minimal. The jerkwad's car actually looked worse. But Scully had even admitted to him last night that she had lost her temper and handled the situation wrong, which was unlike her. That bothered him more than her sore hand.
As he reached the top step, the phone rang. Scully groaned. "Probably the insurance."
"Or the Bureau, firing your ass," Mulder joked. "I'll get it."
"No, I'll get it," Scully said reluctantly, and got up from the couch. She walked the few steps she needed to get to the phone, looked at the CID, and answered. "Hello, Sir."
Mulder leaned over the railing, an interested look on his face.
"No, Sir. We planned on submitting our final report on Monday. Yes, Sir. Completely finished." There was a pause, and Scully rolled her eyes. "Well, Sir, that may be a problem. There was an incident last night..." She sighed. He was going to hear about it eventually. "I was rear-ended last night, and I'm fine, but...it's a little complicated, Sir."
Mulder smirked, knowing what was coming next. Skinner's demand that she tell him exactly what happened. And as she recounted the story, he reflected that this really did sound like something he would get himself into.
"So it might be difficult for us to leave on Monday, if things need to be sorted out," Scully said. "All right, Sir. I'll tell him. Have a good weekend."
When she hung up the phone, Mulder still stared at her expectantly.
"Skinner has a case for us out in Wisconsin. A triple homicide. He's sending us the casefiles now...you're expected to go without me if I have to stay here."
Mulder looked visibly disappointed. "Do we have any details about the case?"
"He didn't specify any. Just said he was sending the casefiles. Your flight leaves Monday morning at 7 am."
"I'll catch the first one out, as soon as this is cleared up. I'm sorry, Mulder."
"No, no..." Mulder started, and then shook his head. "It's fine. You might even get this straightened out by Monday. I'm gonna grab a shower," he said, still sweaty from this morning's run.
Scully didn't respond. Instead, she headed for the copy/scanner/fax/printer, where the case files were coming in. As the photos printed, she looked at them closely, and then her eyes grew wide. She quickly turned on the desk lamp and leaned in closer, fumbling for her glasses in the top drawer. She looked closer, but it was gone. She stared for a moment, flipping through the crime scene pictures again, looking for any trace of what she knew she saw.
She lost track of time, and didn't even hear Mulder come into the study. "Scully, you looking at the case files?"
She started at his voice, and then nodded.
"What's wrong?" he asked, walking over to her.
"Look at these photos, Mulder, and tell me what you see," she ordered, her voice betraying her confusion and fear.
Mulder flipped through them. "Stabbed, stabbed...and stabbed. What's the problem?"
"You didn't see anything?"
"I see three women stabbed post mortem, with their throats slit. What am I supposed to be seeing?"
Scully sighed, took the pictures out of his hands, and sat down.
"Talk to me, Scully," he said gently, and knelt in front of her. "What do you see in these?"
"I don't see it any more..."
"Okay, what did you see?" He was still speaking very gently, and wore a look of concern. It only magnified when she pulled away, determined to find what it was she had seen before. She kept studying the photos, moving them at different angles to see if she could spot a trick of the light. Mulder didn't move from his position, and waited for her to finish.
"I thought...for just a second...Mulder, it looked like Melissa. Every one of them. Then I looked away and..."
Mulder didn't speak.
"It's stupid, I must not have gotten enough sleep..."
"It's not stupid. Let me look at these. Let me look at the case. We'll figure out what's happened."
She nodded slightly, and handed him the photos. He took them and the rest of the papers in the printer, and pounded them into a stack on the desk. He placed them in a file folder from the drawer, and then paperclipped the photos to the front. As he did so, his peripheral vision caught something. He looked again, and it was gone. But he could have sworn he saw bright orange eyes in the picture.
HOME OF BRIDGET SMITH
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 2008
"Happy birthday to me," Mulder sang sarcastically as he popped a sunflower seed into his mouth and put the car in park. "Happy birthday to me," he continued, opening the door. "Happy birthday to Spooky, happy birthday to me."
The triple homicide was now a quadruple. Bridget Smith, a 40-year-old single mother of two, had died in the same manner as the other three: a single slit to the throat. Each body had significant post mortem stabbing, all in the same pattern. Two by the torso, one on the right leg, and three on the forearm, to make it look like defensive wounds.
The reason why it was clearly and undoubtedly an X-file, Mulder and Scully had found after reading the casefile, was because in every case, the single mother was killed in her bedroom with the doors and windows locked, and security alarms armed. The children, in every single case, were at sleepovers. And the security companies that serviced the houses not only were all different companies, but all showed the FBI the records that revealed the security alarm had not been turned off and then on again.
Thoughts of Eugene Victor Tooms fluttered through his mind as he approached the crime scene, and wished Scully was there. But unfortunately she was straightening out her little misadventure, and would arrive tomorrow at the earliest. Meanwhile Mulder was left to profile the Invisible Man by himself.
"Agent Mulder?" A balding man in jeans and a light parka asked, walking out of the front door of the house. "Detective Giles, Birmingham PD," he said, flashing his badge. "I thought you had a partner?"
"She's coming tomorrow," Mulder said, and extended his hand. "So this is the same story as the others?"
"Exact same story. You know, you probably don't hear this a lot but I'm relieved to have you guys here. Whoever this guy is, he's not your average killer."
"Can I see the bedroom?"
"You can see the whole damn house. You can have anything you want. Like I said, we're very happy to have you here."
Mulder couldn't hide the look of surprise on his face, but Detective Giles didn't seem to notice. He led the way into the small suburban home, and Mulder looked around at the incredibly tidy little house. He was led directly upstairs to the bedroom, where the tidiness stopped. The body on the bed hadn't been packed up yet and Mulder approached the ME, who was taking something from the woman's fingernails.
"Gina, Agent Mulder with the FBI. Agent Mulder, Gina Yong, Birmingham PD's ME," Giles introduced.
"Nice to meet you," Mulder said. He elected not to stick out his ungloved hand and shake the ME's. The state of her latex gloves told Mulder that she had been working for a while now and was about ready to pack up the body.
"Nice to meet you too," she said, and got back to work.
"What was the time of death?" Mulder asked.
"Early this morning, probably at about 5 or 6 am," the ME answered, but was clearly concentrating on something other than Mulder.
"May I ask if you found anything unusual in the other three autopsies, Dr. Yong?" Mulder asked.
The woman shrugged, and looked up. She looked slightly annoyed. "Not really, no. It would've been on my report if so. They all died from a single but deep slit to their throats, severing the jugular artery and blocking the airway. The stab wounds were the same in all three victims—four, now. Same pattern. If I was taking a wild guess, I'd say a serial killer. But what serial killer can get into a house with an alarm system, motion detector, and locked door?"
"I can think of at least one," Mulder muttered, and glanced around the room.
"Hm?" She inquired, not quite catching his last statement as she turned back to the examination.
"Nothing, just speculation. I'm gonna look around, if no one minds."
"Have a field day, Agent Mulder. I hope you find something," Giles said.
Mulder gave him a small smile and then walked over to a CSI kit on the floor, and extracted a pair of latex gloves and an evidence bag. He then began looking around the bedroom. The windows were shut and locked, and Mulder saw from the little boxes along the edges that they were also alarmed.
"Has suicide been considered?" Mulder asked.
"I ruled that out," Yong answered. "The cut to the throat is too long and too deep for someone to do it to themselves. They'd go into shock before being able to finish."
"Is it possible they could have used something to do it for them? Some kind of unique tool?"
"If they did, we haven't found anything at the crime scenes," Giles stated.
Mulder nodded, and continued walking through the room. He noticed a crucifix on the wall, a Catholic symbol, and stored the information away for further use.
"Where are the kids?"
"Social services, for now. They have a grandma coming to pick them up soon."
"Did they see anything?"
"The oldest one did. He was the one that opened the bedroom door when they got back from the sleepover. He was in shock when we got here. His younger sister called 911."
"Twelve and ten. They slept over at the house down the street. Some kind of party for a soccer league or something."
Mulder nodded as he paced the room. "What about the other kids?"
"All different ages. Some with siblings, some without. We couldn't find a pattern there."
"They didn't go to the same school, play on the same teams, anything like that?"
Giles shook his head. "No. The only pattern we've found is single suburban working moms. And two, including this one, were Christian—had some kind of religious symbols on the walls or statues on the dressers."
Mulder nodded, dissatisfied. He paced around the small bedroom for a little while longer, not noticing any kind of ritualistic items, anything to suggest a conjuring or otherwise. The dresser drawers had only clothes in them. The closet wasn't harboring any interesting boxes. It looked as if this lady had nothing to hide.
"I want to see the kids' rooms."
"This way," Giles said, and walked out of the room and down the hallway.
Mulder looked through both rooms before noticing something in the girl's room that he had also noticed in the boy's. Glancing at the Bible on her bed, he paged through it and realized it was a gift, but not from the mother. Someone named Greenwood...
He walked into the boy's room and found the same dedication. He looked through the kids' things once again, and found his answer. Amidst the boy's pile of messy papers that resembled Mulder's own desk, he found a six-month-old flyer for a non-denominational Christian Bible study for children. He looked at the start date on the flyer, and then looked at the dedication date on the Bible. They were exactly six months apart.
He checked with the girl's Bible, and it matched as well. "The kids attended a Christian Bible study for children and received these Bibles about two weeks ago," he told Giles. "You should check that out—see if the other kids attended it too. It could be where the killer found his victims."
Giles nodded, and took the flyer from Mulder. "I'll run a check on the teacher, find out where he lives. And I'll see if the other kids attended it too. Do you think this is a religious crime?"
"Possibly," Mulder said, glancing at the alarmed windows in the girl's room. "But it'd be some magic trick to slip in this house without someone being notified. If our killer was just interested in a hate crime, they probably would have attacked the women in their cars, or coming out of their houses. Something easier than breaking in here."
"So you think our killer wasn't looking just to kill them, but to make a statement."
"Could be," Mulder said, his tone non-committal. "It could also be that making statements isn't what our killer is into," he added, and left the room. "Can I get a look at the downstairs?"
"Absolutely," Giles said, and followed Mulder down the front steps. About a half hour later, Mulder asked to see the basement. The downstairs hadn't been very helpful. Surprisingly enough, the basement door was locked from the outside. "That's interesting," Mulder commented, and Giles took a snapshot of it before they opened the door, and climbed down the stairs. The minute he looked around at the basement, he whistled. "Wow. A single working mom and a hobbyist..."
"She was the only one with a woodshop," Giles said, glancing appreciatively at the equipment before them. "But the other mothers had hobbies as well. Rooms in their houses dedicated to their hobbies."
Mulder walked up to some of the machines, remembering his very light training at the hands of Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor, when he and Scully appeared on the show Tool Time not too long ago. It was filmed in Detroit, as well. He reflected that the Taylors didn't live too far from here...
"This is a miter saw, isn't it?" Mulder asked.
Giles shrugged. "I don't know. I don't know anything about this stuff. It's some kinda saw."
Mulder checked that it was unplugged, and then ran his fingers over the base. He held up his index finger to Giles. "Dust," he commented. "For someone so into shop tools, she didn't clean them very well."
"Not true, Agent Mulder," Giles said, surveying the table saw, drill press, scroll saw, and bandsaw. "These are all clean."
Mulder looked at the garbage, where he found a single piece of wood and some dust dumped inside. Then he looked at the workbench. "She was down here...when it happened, she was down here. She was working." He pointed to the piece of wood, the chisel, and the hammer, all out on the bench. An iPod sat in its stereo cradle, and though the lights were turned off and the miter saw was unplugged, it was clear someone had left here in a hurry.
"How can you tell?"
"Someone who has a workshop like this doesn't leave their tools on the bench when they're done. And they don't leave their work sitting here, either. Or leave their iPod here to collect sawdust from the air." He pointed to the mask and safety glasses on the bench, and said, "Something scared her. She did what she felt was necessary to leave it safely, and then left. Locked the door behind her."
He turned to Giles. "She was up there in her clothes but the ME estimated the time of death to be early this morning. She was working here late at night and then she locked herself in her bedroom. Something spooked her down here."
Giles nodded. "You could have something there. We found all the other hobby rooms locked at the crime scenes. Whatever scared the victims might have done it while they were working. Then they get spooked and leave."
Mulder walked around the basement, past the workshop and over to a stack of boxes. It looked like an average basement, with randomly stored, no longer used items. Children's toys that she didn't have the heart to throw out, even though her kids were no longer interested. Boxes of clothes that either were too large or too small, or out of style. Camping equipment and...what was this? A box marked 'Church'.
Mulder inched his hand toward the tape to pull it open, when an incredibly cold wind bristled through the air, and then was gone. He turned, and looked at Giles. "Did you touch the air conditioning?"
"Huh?" Giles asked, looking up from the workbench.
"You feel that?"
"That...never mind," he said. He looked at the box again, and tore open the tape. Inside were children's catechism books. From kindergarten through about sixth grade, probably recent for the twelve-year-old. CCD class folders, notebooks and even a few primary-colored rosaries, with smiley faces on each bead. A children's novel aimed at about first or second-grade readers, entitled, "Jesus Loves Me."
"Why would you pack up religious stuff if you're still religious?" Giles asked, and Mulder nearly jumped. The man had snuck up on him, and was now standing right behind him.
Mulder shook his head. "Maybe it's old stuff. Maybe they've outgrown this stage," he said. But even as he said it, he knew it wasn't true. Some of the Catholic books had titles like Catholicism for Teens, and Mulder knew if the boy was twelve, this would have been bought recently. He needed to talk to Scully. She might see a connection here that he couldn't understand. For about the hundredth time since he stepped on the crime scene, he wished his other half was here.
Glancing around the basement, he realized he had just about looked through everything there, other than the Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter decorations. It wasn't a very large basement and most of it was taken up by the woodshop.
Walking back to the woodshop, Mulder looked at what the woman was making. Some kind of little toy train. He wondered if a sister or brother of hers had a child who would enjoy a toy like that.
Then he noticed the blueprints, hand-drawn probably by Bridget, for the little toy. They were pages long, and were concluded by a cute little drawing of a toddler with a bow in her hair, playing with the toy train. It was clear that this woman didn't do this for money, but because she enjoyed it.
"You said the other women were hobbyists. What did they do?"
"One woman collected stamps. Another did patterns for doll clothes, for her kid. The third woman was into books—she had an entire library in her house. Every kind of book you can imagine."
"You said two were Christian. Were they all religious?" Mulder asked.
Giles shrugged. "I don't know. We'd have to go back over the houses again and find out."
Mulder nodded. "Good idea. And find out who Greenwood is and get me an address. I need to call my partner and give her an update on this. I'll meet you back at the station," he said, thoughts already floating around his head about what could have done this.
Aliens were improbable. A ghost generally didn't have this kind of MO, but wasn't outside the realm of possibility. Another mutant like Tooms was still possible, and in fact made sense. Someone who could sneak down into the basement, make some noises loud enough to scare the woman into her bedroom, where he could crawl through the vent and kill her behind a locked door...
"Scully." Her voice surprised him. When had he dialed her? "Hello? Mulder?"
"Hey, yeah, it's me. Just wanted to give you an update. How are you doing?"
"Fine, almost done with meetings. I should be out there tonight."
"That's good. That's an improvement over tomorrow." Mulder exited the crime scene and walked toward his car.
"I'm sorry you're all alone on your birthday," she said, sounding genuinely apologetic. "I'll make it up to you."
As Mulder got into his car, he couldn't help but say, "Ooooh, Scully, you know what I like." He heard Scully chuckle and he said, "When you get to the motel room, I'll have a bubble-bath waiting for you."
"You're only saying that because you know what you get after the bubble-bath," Scully teased.
"Hey, it's my birthday!" Mulder protested with a grin. He started the car, and put his seatbelt on with one hand. Checking his mirrors briefly, he prepared to pull the car away. But his grin dropped suddenly and he did a double-take, staring at the rear view mirror.
"Mulder? Is everything okay?" Scully asked, confused by the silence.
"I thought I saw something," Mulder said absently, turning around to look at the back seat. He was beginning to get a very uncomfortable feeling about this case. With what Scully had seen in their townhouse, and what he had thought he had seen and felt from the crime scene photos, in the basement of Bridget Smith's house, and now in the car, he definitely wasn't enthusiastic about spending the next few hours without Scully.
"What did you see?" Scully demanded. "Are you in the car?"
"Yeah, just leaving the crime scene. It was in the rear view mirror, Scully. I don't know what it was..." But in truth, he did. It was the same orange-eyed figure he thought he had seen in the crime scene photos. Only this time, it had a body to go along with it.
"It might have been a trick of the light."
"Maybe," Mulder said, but they both knew he wasn't considering that possibility.
"I'll be there tonight. Then we can talk," Scully assured him.
"I could really use you on this one, Scully. It has to do with religion, I think."
"Specifically Catholicism, but I need your opinion on that."
"All right...well, I'll do my best. I still expect that bubble-bath."
"Oh yeah, definitely," Mulder promised her, trying to get back into the original light-hearted mood.
"Be careful, Mulder. I'll see you soon."
"See you soon."
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 2008
Giles had gone over the crime scene photos from the other three cases, and come up with nothing that suggested any religious preference for the other two victims. So Mulder had ended up visiting the respective crime scenes and gathering himself that only two of them were the same religion.
One woman was Jewish. Another was Muslim. The third was Christian. And, of course, Bridge Smith was also Christian. However, Mulder had found one piece of information that he intended to pursue, as soon as Scully got there. Every single woman, with the exception of Bridget Smith, had recently changed religions. Their children had recently changed with them, and had been sent to classes in the new religion.
The other Christian woman's children had attended the Bible study with Greenwood, and Mulder wondered if the other teachers of religious classes had any connection to each other. He told Giles to figure that out.
Mulder had spent about an hour going over the case with Scully, who was finally finished with her meetings and had told him she would be packed and ready to get on the plane within an hour. She would definitely be in Wisconsin tonight.
He really wished Scully could be with him for this interview with Greenwood. He hated doing interviews by himself; he always felt as though he'd miss something, or not ask a crucial question that could lead to proof later. Scully was his other half—his better half, if his opinion counted for anything—and without her he didn't have nearly as much confidence in his own abilities.
As he turned the car into Kingsburry Academy, he stopped at the security gate settled next to the turn off of Woodward Avenue highway. He rolled down his window and flashed his badge, and the security guard smiled, and lifted the barrier remotely.
The drive into Kingsburry Academy was longer than he expected. The school grounds were huge, and it was almost a quarter mile of grass and trees before he got to the actual school. He saw signs for the South Campus parking lot, and recognized what had to be teacher's housing off of some side-streets. He passed by tennis courts, a football field, and more side-streets. He knew from the map he had looked at that the Kingsburry campus included two museums open to the public as well as several courtyards, lakes, sports fields, and playgrounds.
He found the Greenwood's side-street and turned into it, off the hill that would have taken him directly to the Observatory had he kept going. The small houses were situated in a row, overlooking one of Kingsburry's lakes. A man in rubber pants was down by the lake, putting some kind of water treatment solution into it. Mulder parked the car and walked up the stairs that took him to the Greenwood's front door.
He rang the bell, and looked around. A few middle-school-aged kids dressed in khaki pants and fairly nice shoes, carrying backpacks and holding gym bags, trudged through some mud, and then said goodbye to each other as they headed to their houses. In the distance, Mulder could see a soccer field near the boy's middle school filled with kids in uniform, practicing.
Finally, the door opened, and a middle-aged man with dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard looked quizzically at him. "Can I help you?"
"Mr. Greenwood, my name is Fox Mulder, I'm an agent with the FBI," Mulder said, pulling his ID just as a baby with curly red hair ran into his father's legs and demanded attention.
Skip bent down and picked up his son Cory, and then turned to Mulder again. "Do you want to come in?"
"If you don't mind, Sir."
Skip opened the screen door, and Mulder stepped in. The house was very small, but very cozy. It was immediately obvious that this was an active family with children. Small shoes lay at the foot of the stairs, and a child's laughter could be heard from the family room. In the kitchen, a woman sat at one of the two stools at the counter, talking on the phone.
Mulder also immediately noticed the music playing throughout the small house. He didn't know where it was coming from, but there were multiple sources and the nearest one was playing Christian music.
It was a contrast to the chilly, overcast Wisconsin weather outside to see a house so bright and full of life.
The baby didn't say anything but he did grasp at his father's chin, studying its features as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.
"Would you like to have a seat?" Skip asked.
"That'd be fine," Mulder answered.
He led Mulder around the corner, and straight into the family room. It had two couches, one smaller than the other, up against the wall to make a large space available in the middle of the room. Legos lay everywhere, clearly the efforts of a child to construct something massive.
A machine resembling one of Rube Goldberg's lay in the center of the carpet, constructed from a combination of Lego's, K'nex, string, duct tape, and the broken pieces from an old Mouse Trap game. Across the carpet, among more Legos, was a slingshot with a piece of paper. A closer look revealed to Mulder that the slingshot was adjustable, and the paper marked the angles not by numbers but by names. 'Wall', 'window', 'ceiling', and 'Lego Blaster' were scrawled in child's writing. Mulder realized that whoever had done this was quite the remarkable child-engineer. And that child sat before Mulder, immersed in a school book and smirking as if it was the funniest thing in the world.
"Arthur, would you please go to your room to do your homework?"
Arthur looked up, glanced at Mulder curiously, and then nodded. "Okay," he said, and gathered his school things in his arms as he left the room obediently.
"I'm sorry about the mess," Skip said.
"It's fine. I'm here to talk about an investigation that's currently going on."
"Would you like to speak to my wife too?" The man offered.
"If she's busy we could discuss this alone for a few minutes," Mulder said. "It's no problem."
Skip indicated with his hand that Mulder should sit, and sat down himself on the other couch. He put Cory in his lap and let the baby play with a Lego piece from the floor. It promptly went into his mouth—luckily, it was large enough that it didn't much matter.
"There have been four murders in the area in the past week," Mulder said. "The FBI is investigating the situation and my partner and I were called in because of some unusual circumstances surrounding this case. Today, while I was at one of the crime scenes, I found a flyer for a children's non-denominational Bible study with your name as the instructor. It ended two weeks ago. Three of the children of the murdered women attended the class."
Skip looked shocked. "Who?" He asked, his voice nearly a whisper.
"Margaret Denfield and Bridget Smith, the two most recent murders. Mr. Greenwood, are you all right?"
The man looked ready to pass out. But he managed to nod, and called in a frightened tone, "Melissa? Melissa, get off the phone, come in here..."
A moment later, the blonde woman, apparently Skip's wife, entered the room with a troubled expression.
"Bridget and Margaret are dead," he said to her, and she instantly cupped her hand over her mouth. "How?" she asked, approaching the two men.
"They were murdered, Mrs. Greenwood," Mulder said sympathetically, watching their reactions carefully. "I'm Agent Mulder with the FBI." He stood respectfully until she sat down next to her husband, a numb expression on her face. "I've been assigned to this case."
She nodded slowly, and then looked at Skip. Mulder could recognize near-telepathic communication when he saw it—he and Scully did it all the time. The fact that the two of them were doing it now told him that they knew more about this than was obvious. "Mr. Greenwood, Mrs. Greenwood, how well did you know these two women?"
"They were the mothers of some of the children in my Bible study class. We would occasionally talk," Skip said, sounding quite baffled.
"They were both new Christians," Melissa offered. "They wanted their children to understand Christianity, so they enrolled them in Skip's non-denominational class at our church."
"And that would be The Ascension of Christ Lutheran Church?" Mulder asked, already knowing the answer.
"What can you tell me about these women?"
"Bridget was raised Catholic," Melissa offered. "She had recently accepted Christ into her life when we met her, and she joined our church not far after that."
Mulder's expression betrayed his confusion. "I'm sorry...you said she had been raised Catholic."
Skip and Melissa both nodded.
"But...then you said she was a new Christian."
Skip took Melissa's hand, and seemed to debate how he should best answer that unasked question. In the end, he simply said, "We suspect she didn't truly believe in the Catholic faith she was raised in. She became a protestant Christian and for the first time, recognized herself as a true Christian, about a month before I met her."
"How did you meet her?"
"We were at the Science Museum with Arthur, at a science fair exhibit. It was a while ago, during the summer. Her twelve-year-old took first place, her ten-year-old took second, and Arthur took third."
Mulder nodded. "Bridget Smith was divorced, and so were the other four women. Do you know if they attended any kind of support group?"
Skip shook his head. "If they did, I wasn't aware of that. Margaret and Bridget were both very independent people. They didn't want to discuss the past."
"What's going to happen to their children?" Melissa asked.
Mulder tried to give her a gentle smile. "They're in Social Services custody right now. Family members are going to pick them up, and they'll end up with a good home," he assured. He felt guilty saying it, though. Too many times he had seen children taken from their homes after incidents like this and placed in a much worse situation. Foster care, or a family member not fit to raise a child, were often the only alternatives.
"Were there ever any other adults in the class, Mr. Greenwood?"
"For safety purposes, the church requires two adults in a Bible study with young children. This Bible study was geared towards kids 10 to 14, so our pastor, Pastor Steve Mitchell, was present."
Mulder took out his notebook. "Can I get a phone number for Pastor Mitchell?"
"He's not under any suspicion, is he?" Skip asked, concerned.
"We have no reason to suspect him but we should interview all people involved, Mr. Greenwood."
Skip conceded reluctantly, and gave Mulder his pastor's number. Then he seemed to summon up all his courage before he asked, "Agent Mulder, how did Bridget and Margaret die?"
Mulder glanced at him curiously. "As I said, Mr. Greenwood, they were murdered."
"Were the circumstances unusual?" Melissa asked.
"Unusual how?" Mulder inquired, his interest piqued.
Skip sighed, giving his wife a 'look' that she returned right back to him. He started to answer the question, when a chill identical to the one in Bridget's basement passed through the room. Mulder looked up, trying to find any open windows. All he found was a closed fireplace.
But this time, Mulder's company seemed to have noticed it, too. They shivered, and Melissa got up and turned the stereo up. The Christian music was now much louder.
"I'm sorry, Agent Mulder, we were just curious about the situation. It's very...unusual, to have two friends murdered," Skip said, and stood. "Is there anything else we can do for you?"
Mulder looked at them, clearly puzzled. "No, for now, I--" He stopped, as the orange eyes caught his peripheral vision again. He directed his line of sight toward the window where he saw them, and quickly walked over to it. He looked down, where the front yard remained clear, and then looked around to see where it could have fled. "Do you have a cat?" He asked, well aware that cats did not usually have bright orange eyes.
The Greenwoods glanced at each other, and then Melissa answered, "Yes, we do." It was clear she wasn't saying what she wanted to say, and Mulder didn't like it at all.
He had to find a way to get them to give up whatever it was they were hiding, but they seemed to have a routine down, and they were definitely treating him politely, but as an 'outsider' at this point.
"May I ask why you play Christian music all around the house?"
"It's good for inspiration," Skip said simply.
"Do you play it in every room?" Mulder asked.
"Yes," Melissa answered, but didn't look like she was about to offer any more information.
"Why play it when no one's in the room?" he asked, trying not to sound insistent, but interested.
"So it's on when we walk in. Agent Mulder, really, is there any purpose to these questions?" Skip asked.
Mulder tried his hardest to think of one, but honestly couldn't. Again, he wished Scully was here. "No, Mr. Greenwood. I'm sorry if I insulted you. I'll call you if I have any more questions."
"We're glad we could help, Agent Mulder," Melissa said.
Mulder handed a business card to Skip. "If you think of anything that might help this investigation, please let me know."
"We'll do that, thank you," Skip said. He handed a squirming Cory to Melissa, and walked Mulder to the door.
"I'm sorry about your friends. Thanks again for your help."
"It's no problem. Have a nice day." Mulder felt like he was being pushed out the door. He heard the lock engage behind him, and sighed. That would've gone better had Scully been there, he thought.
Meanwhile, inside the Greenwood's home, Skip called Arthur down from his studies. The 8-year-old stormed down the creaky stairs, making it sound like the house would collapse in on itself. But Skip didn't call him on it. Instead, he walked into the family room, and the little boy followed.
The four of them sat on the couches amongst the Legos, Christian music, and cuckoo clock that chimed 4 pm. Then Melissa bowed her head, and folded her hands.
Everyone but Cory followed. The baby sat on the couch, slobbering on a toy duck he had picked up off the floor.
Melissa began. "Dear Lord, protect our family from the demon that torments our friends. We don't know how it managed to get to two true Christians, but we pray for their souls..."
Melissa's voice caught, and so Skip continued. "We pray for their souls in heaven, Lord, and for future victims of whatever or whoever has been unleashed on the innocent. We know we're safe because we have no fear of what Satan unleashes on us. We have only respect for you, and belief that you will protect us."
"God, please continue to keep the demons out of our house," Arthur said. "I don't want them to come back, and now that what's his name from the FBI was here, they might follow him around, and hurt him."
"Yes, God, please bless Agent Mulder and his partner," Melissa said. "For they may not be true believers, but they're trying, however foolishly, to stop what Satan has unleashed. We sense they're good people, God. Please give them the chance to see your way."
"Amen," Skip said.
"Amen," Melissa and Arthur echoed.
"Agent Mulder did seem like a good person," Arthur commented. He headed for the stairs. "But not a Christian."
"Arthur, please don't listen in on conversations from the top of the stairs," Skip said, exasperated.
"I wasn't," Arthur stated simply. "I used my discernment."
Melissa gave him a gentle smile. "It's not yours, Arthur."
"Sorry," Arthur corrected as he mounted the stairs. "I used my gift of discernment."
"Much better," Melissa said, and gave him a small pat on the hand before heading into the kitchen, to see about dinner.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th, 2008
Mulder lay on his hotel bed with the TV playing the Red Wings game, but he paid it no mind. He was intently focused on the yellow pad of paper in front of him, where he was scribbling down notes viciously. Scully would arrive any moment, he knew in the back of his mind, but until there was a knock at the door to the adjoining room, he wasn't moving. He was on a roll.
He had consulted the Internet for a while, and then escaped to the recesses of his mind. Something about this case rang a bell, and he wasn't quite sure what. But he did know it was indeed a very disturbing bell.
He recognized that something was horribly wrong when he had left the Greenwood's house. They not only didn't act normal, but something about how this was fitting together—or not—made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
After he explored the grounds of Kingsburry a bit more, he badged his way into their North Campus's library archives, and did a bit of ghost research on a hunch. It seemed like the kind of place that would have a very strong affinity for ghost stories, being so old and harboring so many kids. Maybe some of them would be true, and maybe that was the connection he was looking for.
It turned out that there were over two hundred ghost stories surrounding the Kingsburry school. Lucky for him, the librarian, a very old woman who couldn't have reached five feet tall or weighed any more than a hundred pounds, guided him to the ones that were most likely true.
And that's when he found what he was looking for. Several of the dorms were reputed to be haunted. Some teachers had resided in the apartments built into the dorms, for supervision purposes. And some of those apartments had been haunted. In an article from just five years ago, an 'anonymous' family was apparently tormented by a ghost. The article came from the school paper, but with a little digging and a little badge waving, Mulder had been able to find real records of the family's testimony to whatever authorities were called in.
It was originally thought to be a prankster kid living in the dorms, breaking into the apartment to move objects around, open baby gates, and break toys. Then it escalated to a new level when the family was vacated from their home one night for an undocumented reason, and a priest was called in from out of town. The records seemed to smooth over the event, and only a few months later, the family moved out of the apartment and into one of the teachers' houses. With a little more digging and some sweet talk, Mulder had found out from one of the secretaries that the tormented family was the Greenwoods.
At that point, it began to make sense to Mulder. The Christian music wasn't inspiration, it was protection. And they knew everyone in this heavily Jewish and atheist community would think they were crazy for believing in one of Satan's demons. And so they elected not to discuss the matter with him.
The papers scattered around the bed profiled the 'suspect', whose picture was becoming clearer in Mulder's mind as he worked. All women were independent. All had started a new life, both after the divorce and in a new religion. All were devoted to their children, and wanted them to explore the same religious path they had themselves. And all had hobbies that led to alone time.
Two knew a very Christian family that had been tormented by a ghost on the grounds of a very rich and not-so-Christian school campus.
Powerful. The suspect was powerful, and wanted more power. It elicited fear in its victims. Forced them into further seclusion, behind locked doors. It attacked alone, in what some might call a cowardly manner, in places where the victim couldn't easily find a weapon to fight back.
Angry. The suspect was angry, as indicated by the post mortem stabbing.
Meticulous. It didn't waver from a formula, so it either only wanted single, independent, working mothers who had recently changed religions, or it only knew how to attack them. Or only was ordered to attack them?
A knock at the door interrupted Mulder's profile, and he got up and opened the door to the adjoining bedroom with a broad smile. Scully stood in front of him, grin on her face. "Bubble-bath?" She asked.
"Aww, shit," Mulder said, rolling his eyes. "I'm sorry. I got busy—"
"You what?!" She said with mock horror, and then pulled him close to her, and gave him a kiss. "Working on a profile?"
"Yeah, and I think I'm starting to pull a few things together. But I need your input."
"After dinner. I'm starving. Do you have pizza?"
Mulder looked back at the empty pizza box guiltily, and said, "We can order another one..."
"You ate the entire pizza? My God, Mulder, we're too old for that!"
"Speak for yourself, Scully. I'm still in the trim and burly shape of my youth."
Scully poked his belly, which was virtually non-existent, and he said, "If you want me to giggle like the Pillsbury Doughboy, it's not happening."
She laughed, and picked up the phone book from under the nightstand. Mulder glanced at his yellow tablet, and sighed. Back to profiling, at least until Scully's pizza arrived. He had to get this done soon, before his suspect picked another victim.
A few moments later, a veggie and sausage pizza was on its way, and Mulder watched as Scully sat down on the bed amongst the papers.
"Scully, I have a question for you."
"I mentioned to you that Bridget Smith was the only one who hadn't changed religions recently."
"Well, when I interviewed the Greenwoods, they made it sound like Catholicism wasn't really considered Christianity. That by joining a Lutheran church and becoming a Lutheran, she had changed religions. That's not true, is it? Or is there something I'm unaware of here?"
"Well, you understand the difference between Protestants and Catholics?" Scully asked, more of a statement than a question.
"Basically, it rests in that fundamental difference. Catholics believe that accepting Jesus as your Savior and leading a good life will earn your way to heaven. Protestants believe that all you need to do is to accept Jesus as your Savior, and then you automatically are in heaven regardless of what your life is like. But they do believe that doing good is seen as better than doing bad, so no one's running around with the notion that life is a free-for-all."
"So some Protestants still believe that the Catholics aren't getting in heaven, and some Catholics believe the Protestants aren't getting in, and hence we have Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland?" Mulder asked with a small smile.
Scully rolled her eyes. "Basically, yes, and don't make fun of that."
"There are some Protestants left that don't believe Catholics are Christians. That's what the Greenwoods are talking about—according to them, Bridget had just become a Christian."
"Maybe. But I wouldn't put the Greenwoods in a very exclusive religious group without having some proof."
"It doesn't matter—I'm not trying to prove they're one religion or another. It's just that, according to the Greenwoods, Bridget Smith, Margaret Denfield, and the other two women by definition have changed religions."
"Wait...you're considering the Greenwoods suspects?"
"They acted very oddly, Scully, and I know they're hiding something without a doubt. But they're not guilty of murder. They're involved in this somehow, but not as criminals."
"What's your profile say?"
"I think we're dealing with something or someone who either has a very specific grudge, obsessive compulsive tendencies, or instructions from someone higher up. And given the manner in which these women died, locked in their houses with the alarms on, I think we're dealing with something with a certain paranormal bouquet, if you get my drift."
"Are you thinking ghost, some kind of spirit, demon, or a mutant?" Scully asked. "Eugene Victor Tooms' Wisconsin-bred cousin?"
Mulder smirked. "You've got to stop with this role reversal, Scully, before I start painting my nails and wearing high heels."
"I think that could be sexy for one night..." Scully said thoughtfully.
"Keep dreamin' G-woman," Mulder said with a grin, and turned back to his tablet. He thought so much better when she was around. This thing was starting to fit together, and his research from the Internet was falling into place as well. "What do you know about the Christian idea of demons, Scully?"
Scully's grin dropped, as she recalled the manners in which they had encountered what one might call a 'Christian demon' before. A school in Milford Haven, New Hampshire, where a substitute teacher's status as human was still up in the air. A boy named Charlie, who hailed from Virginia and had his dead evil twin brother exorcised in Mulder's presence. A CEO of a major company hunting down a little boy in Ohio whose hands bled like Christ's. An pastor of a church able to control snakes—many of which ended up biting Mulder. And many encounters after that, not the least of which was a very recent one: a man going by the name Billy Ward, who tried to convince innocent townspeople in Nebraska and other states to accept his healing abilities, only to later enslave them to his will.
She nodded to Mulder's question, and asked slowly, "You think we're dealing with that again?"
Mulder sighed, and put his tablet down. "Scully, twice today I've felt something very cold brush up against me. I've seen orange eyes multiple times. And while those things could all be strange coincidences or ghosts trying to get my attention, I do have a feeling about this case. That we're both not going to enjoy it much."
"What about the Greenwoods? How did they strike you?"
"I feel like I would have gotten a better opinion of where they stand had you been there. But from what I can tell, they're very hard-core Christians. They play Christian music throughout their household, in what I'm guessing is an effort to keep out demons."
"Demons can only go where they're welcome," Scully said quietly. "That's according to Christian faith. Only where they can rule by fear or through the open arms of the naïve, can they go. Otherwise they're banished easily."
"Not so easily in four single mothers' cases," Mulder commented, and rose from the bed. He stretched, and then dropped his arms. "Scully, I think first thing in the morning, we need to go see the Greenwood's pastor. Steve Mitchell."
Scully nodded. "I would've thought you'd have already gone to see him."
"I tried, but he was busy. Some kind of retreat's going on for elementary school kids. He was unreachable all of today."
"A retreat on a school day? That's unusual."
"It's elementary school. They can learn to tie their shoes tomorrow."
Scully smiled for just a moment, before falling serious again. "Mulder, I want you to be careful. It wasn't too long ago that you were tied to a table while a building collapsed on top of you, courtesy of one of these...I guess demons, for lack of a better term."
"Don't worry, Scully. I won't do anything crazy."
She just gave him the 'look', and he couldn't help but laugh. "Really, I promise."
"Yeah, I haven't heard that before," she said, rolling her eyes. She walked toward the bathroom. "I'm gonna get a shower. If the pizza comes, don't eat it all, or I'll kick your ass."
"Yes, Ma'am. I'll leave you a slice."
"You better not eat any, Mulder. I'll have your ass in a sling," she called from the bathroom, and he chuckled.
"Wield that sling, Scully!" he called back, and elicited a small laugh.
He picked up his notes and organized them, or rather threw them into a pile. It was his version of organization. He placed them on the desk and sat in front of the computer again, where he began doing further research. Tomorrow, they would go visit the pastor and try to figure out where this thing had come from, and what it wanted.
KINGSBURRY LOWER SCHOOL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Arthur sat in his seat and tapped on the tablet PC screen, writing in his answer to the word the voice in his headphones had asked him to spell. He sighed. So boring. Who didn't know how to spell 'extremely' at this point? Really, where did Kingsburry find these rich kids who didn't know anything?
In math, Arthur reminded himself, he wasn't so fast either, so it was a trade-off. Spelling and science were his thing. Reading and math, not so much.
The teacher waved her hand in front of the classroom, and said with a smiling face, "Okay, spelling lesson's over. If you didn't finish, you're welcome to go online tonight and type in the answers instead of write them. If you don't own a Tablet, that is. Please log out of your programs and get ready for Social Studies."
Social Studies. It was more like current events turned on their heads, Arthur reflected. His parents had told him what was really going on in the nation. He didn't need these CNN-addict teachers to feed him lies he knew weren't true...
He wished it wasn't time for Social Studies. He wished it was time for science. In science, he learned about planets and things he liked. And when he went home, he discussed it with his parents and they would explain to him how cool God was, to make evolution happen, and make science happen, and make planets go around in orbits like they did. In Social Studies, he was just confused as to who was right and who was wrong...
Once everyone had put their Tablet PC's back in the rack in the corner of the classroom, and put their headphones back in their desks to ensure that they weren't listening to their iPods secretly, the teacher began the lesson. Today's lesson was going to be about the Iraq war. Oh, joy, Arthur thought. Here we go again.
He doodled on his notebook through most of it, half-listening to what the teacher said. But his ears perked up when one particularly annoying statement caught his attention. "And so we should take away from this that war is not a good thing, ever, and that non-engagement is always better than engagement. Who can explain why we should immediately leave the war in Iraq?"
Arthur couldn't stand it anymore. He had overheard his dad tell his mother than this teacher was on the 'edge of too liberal, even for Kingsburry', whatever that meant, and that 'people are asking her to tone it down, and let the kids decide for themselves.' That surprised Arthur. From what he could gather, if people were going to tell her to let his peers decide for themselves instead of shove things down their throats, he was completely justified in what he was about to do. He raised his hand.
"Yes, Arthur? I didn't expect to hear from you in this discussion."
The other kids snickered. She said things like that in Social Studies. She knew who his father was, and what he stood for. But Arthur had been told to stand tall in situations like this. So he did. He stood from his desk. "Ms. Allison, may I please make a statement?"
"Of course. We encourage open thought in this classroom."
"I think that war is never a good thing. I think we all know that, 'cause people get hurt in war. But sometimes we have to go to war. Like way back in World War Two, Hitler was gonna try to conquer the whole world, and he killed six million people just 'cause he didn't like their religion. Our country was real important in that war. So sometimes it's necessary."
"Thank you, Arthur, but we're not talking about that important conflict, we're talking about this current one."
"I know, Ms. Allison. May I please continue?" Manners were of the utmost importance at Kingsburry.
"Yes, of course."
"I think that once we make a choice, even if it's a bad one, we have to try to make a good one in the end. It makes more sense to not just pull out, Ms. Allison. It makes more sense to make sure everyone's safe. The people in Iraq and our soldiers." He had heard this, of course, from his parents. But it made sense to him. He thought it would make sense to other kids, too.
"Arthur, the purpose of this discussion is not to force our beliefs on our fellow students."
Now Arthur was confused. Had he done that?
"Please sit down, and let the other kids decide for themselves."
Arthur sat, but he didn't like it. He hated Social Studies. This was all they ever talked about. The current President and how many mistakes he had made. How a new candidate needed to be younger, more in tune with current generations, and more democratic to balance out the 'party imbalance'.
But his dad had told him that even though the current President had made lots of mistakes, he had also done lots of good things that didn't get on the news. He told Arthur that it was important for him and his classmates to decide what presidential candidate they supported in the school's Kids Pick The President Election by doing their own research. That the school should just tell them what sites to go to, to get kids' political information. And that they should be learning more history, and less opinion. Arthur wasn't sure what was opinion and what was fact, at this point.
As one of his classmates recited what they had heard their own parents say, and was applauded for their equally opinionated view, Arthur rolled his eyes and went back to doodling. He was smart enough to know when there was a bias in the classroom. He just hadn't quite figured out the entire 'party politics' thing yet. He wasn't sure whether it was a party split or it was another kind of split. But it was clear there was a split.
Suddenly, he saw on his notebook page a picture of himself drawn before his eyes. He removed his pencil from the page and stared, wide-eyed, as the drawing became clearer and clearer. Finally, it was finished with a rope tied around his neck, and he found himself looking very dead on the page. He jumped back, and pushed the notebook off his desk.
"Excuse me? Arthur? What's going on over there?" Ms. Allison demanded.
Arthur gaped at his notebook, and pointed at it. "It just...it just..."
The kids giggled. "What's wrong with him?" "Is he gonna explode?" "Why's he turning that color?" "Ewww, he's gonna barf!" "Cool, look at it!"
Ms. Allison picked up the notebook and glanced at it. "These don't look like notes, Arthur. These look like drawings of Star Wars."
Arthur would normally have corrected her. It wasn't Star Wars. It was Star Trek, and the two things were eternally different. But Arthur could barely breathe.
"You look sick, Arthur. Why don't you go to the Infirmary? Come back when you're feeling better, and we'll discuss your note-taking skills." She placed the notebook back on his desk, and Arthur saw that the drawing was gone. There was no picture of him, in excellent detail, dead before his eyes.
He rose slowly, and walked out of the classroom as if in a daze. But he didn't go to the Infirmary. He went to his locker instead, where he pulled out his cell phone and turned it on. It was only for emergency use, and the bill was very expensive, so he had been told to keep it off unless it was a very important matter. But he couldn't think of anything more important. He called his mom.
"What's wrong, Arthur?" Melissa answered immediately. He could hear her grabbing the car keys and going to the front hall for Cory's shoes.
"Mom...it's here. It drew on my notebook, it's in my school, it's here—you have to get here!"
"Calm down," Melissa said firmly. "If you show it you're scared, that's how it can get to you. Remember—it can't hurt you if you believe. Okay? I'll be right down to get you and take you home. If I take too long for some reason, you can go ahead and download a Christian song on your cell phone. You have permission. Okay?"
Arthur nodded, and then realized his mother couldn't see him. "Okay," he said, shaking slightly.
"Stay by your locker if you feel safe there. Otherwise go to the Infirmary and wait for me there."
"Talk to Nurse Thompson. She's a Christian—she can help you."
"Okay," Arthur said.
"It can't read your mind, Arthur. It can't know you're scared unless you show it you're scared. You have to act brave, even if you don't feel brave. And pray to Jesus. He'll protect you."
"Okay. I'm praying now."
"Good job. I'll see you in a few minutes."
Arthur hung up the phone and turned his back to his locker, looking up and down the hallway. Its 1900's English architecture accented some of its pointy features and the dim lighting in the ceiling created shadows that scared Arthur. He knew It could be hidden in any of them. It hated the light, according to his parents. It loved the dark. And since Christians were a source of light, he had been taught, it could find him in the dark in a couple of seconds. So he had to keep nightlights on at night, and carry a flashlight in his pocket, just in case.
Last night, Arthur had done an Internet search, and then deleted his history. He wanted to know more about Agent Mulder. He had gotten a reading on him from his Discernment, the ability to distinguish Christians from non-Christians and spot demons in a group of non-possessed people, according to his mother. The reading had said that Mulder was not a Christian. But he got the sense that he was a good man. So he searched the Internet before he went to bed last night and found that Mulder believed in all sorts of things that Arthur did too. Aliens, and mutants, and cool things Arthur saw on the Internet. The Greenwoods didn't have cable, but Arthur saw things at his friends' houses too. And on Star Trek.
The reason why this came to mind now was because Arthur realized that Agent Mulder might be able to help. Agent Mulder could definitely help out. If only he had the Agent's business card...his dad had put it in his wallet. His wallet was across campus, in his back pocket probably in one of the Upper School classrooms. He couldn't get that far in such a short amount of time. But maybe his dad would be nice enough to read off the number to him...
He called his dad, still scanning up and down the hallway nervously. He really hoped he'd answer.
BIRMINGHAM POLICE STATION
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"So I'll go down to that church, talk to Mitchell, and then check out the crime scenes again," Mulder said.
Scully agreed with a nod. "If you find anything that looks like the harboring of a 130-or-so-year-old fugitive, call me."
Mulder smirked. "You're the first one I'll notify."
They had just discovered, courtesy of Giles and his team, that similar murders had occurred about a hundred years ago, with victims that practically matched the MO of the current victims, except they were widows. All had children, and hobbies. And one was a Kingsburry school teacher, in the days when the school was only one campus, and only for boys aged 14 through 18.
"I'll go over the autopsy results and let you know if I find anything the ME might have missed."
"Thanks," Mulder told her, as he headed toward the door. Just then, his phone rang. "Mulder," he answered.
"Agent Mulder, you met me yesterday, sorta, my name's Arthur Greenwood."
Mulder, surprised, turned to Scully as he answered, "Yes, what can I do for you, Arthur?"
"Agent Mulder, it's real important you get down to Kingsburry. I know you like ghosts and aliens and stuff, and well, I got proof for you. I read about you on Google, and..."
Arthur's voice cut off suddenly, and Mulder frowned. "Arthur?"
No one answered.
KINGSBURRY LOWER SCHOOL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"Arthur? You okay, buddy? Arthur, are you there?"
Arthur stared at the phone screen, which had got his attention by getting extremely hot. He had nearly dropped the phone, but that was all the demon wanted—it just wanted his attention. Now that it had it, it could show him what it wanted to. And on the screen, as if a music video were playing, was a video of Agent Mulder in his car. Suddenly, a black shape with red eyes moved in front of the car and Mulder swerved. He hit a car in the other lane...they were close to Kingsburry! Arthur saw the sign! Mulder's car tail-spun into the other lane and was smushed by a dozen other cars in the oncoming Woodward Avenue traffic. This was bad!
"Agent Mulder!" Arthur said, having seen enough. "Agent Mulder, please, don't come! Don't come, Agent Mulder, you can't come!"
"Arthur? You okay? What's going on?"
"You can't come. Don't get in your car, Agent Mulder, please."
"What's happening, Arthur? Calm down."
"It's gonna find you. It's gonna hurt you in your car. Just stay out of your car!"
Arthur hung up the phone, and put it in his pocket. What could he do? He had to save Agent Mulder from what was about to happen. What if he distracted the demon? But then the demon would come for him...but it couldn't come for him; he was a Christian, and he was protected. Agent Mulder wasn't protected.
He shut his locker and began to walk purposefully down the hallway, toward the Infirmary. If he was going to do this, he was going to need backup. And he had been taught that the only suitable backup for something like this was a fellow Christian.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"Arthur's a very intelligent boy, Mulder," Scully said, staring at her computer screen back at the station. "He's won multiple science fairs, and has been admitted to MENSA's junior division. His father and mother both said they were on their way down to the lower school, but they couldn't get a hold of him on his cell phone. Mulder, he's probably planning something, and that something is probably going to get him hurt."
"I understand," Mulder said into his phone, while speeding down Woodward Avenue towards Kingsburry Academy. "I also think his parents are at least partially reasonable people. We can probably convince them to calm him down before he starts a public panic."
Mulder's actions, going after Arthur, were not just out of concern for public relations. He was genuinely concerned about the child. This very intelligent and imaginative boy was convinced that it was his Christian duty to protect others from demons. That was what Scully had got from Mr. Greenwood after a few moments of conversation. The Greenwoods were both concerned that Arthur would do something unfortunate for both himself and for the other children in the school, but most of all, they were very worried about whatever Arthur had seen. If there was indeed a demon in the school, Mrs. Greenwood had said, it would take a Christian presence to get it out. And Arthur was just too young in his beliefs to remain unafraid.
Mulder knew where the kid got it from, now. He didn't buy into this crap about Christians being the only ones able to cast out demons, but after what he had seen, he couldn't discount a demon as the source of these murders. What chiefly concerned Mulder was that four civilians, a baby included, would get wrapped up in the demon's agenda because they were too naïve to see their own vulnerability.
Scully was spending a few moments compiling all the data she could on Arthur and his family, in case a hostage situation ensued and Mulder needed to negotiate. He didn't know what this brilliant boy would concoct.
"Mulder, please be careful in there. If we're dealing with what we've dealt with before, you know how it can rope you in. Just keep your head. I'll join you if you need me to, but I think you may need GPS directions to navigate this school, and you'll need the information I'm gathering now."
"Yeah, stay put, Scully. This doesn't have to get out of control. I'm just going to go in, calm the kid down, and get the family out of there before Kingsburry calls CNN."
Mulder was concentrated on changing lanes to the left, when suddenly a black shape swam before his vision. Orange eyes peered at him and a black arm went back as if to punch through the windshield. Mulder turned sharply, and was partially broadsided by the car behind him. The bump was enough to make the car fishtail over the grassy divider and into the oncoming traffic. Mulder tried to right the skid desperately, but the black shape clouded his vision. He had long since dropped the phone.
The oncoming traffic on the highway couldn't stop fast enough. Cars plowed into his, creating a partial pile-up, and propelling his car directly into a light post. Although Mulder lost track of what was happening back at the first impact, it was the light post that did it. As the airbag engaged, Mulder's world disappeared into a velvety black.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"Let's get him up on the gurney. Ready, one, two, three."
"BP 100/60, a little lower than we'd like it."
"Dealing with a head trauma, that's to be expected. Sir? Sir, can you hear us?"
Mulder opened his eyes and saw two blurry figures looming over him. A little man in his skull was attempting to escape and had just decided to skip the rubber mallet and go right for the sledgehammer. The rest of his body felt sore and at the moment, everything hurt. He remembered the orange eyes, and the black figure right in front of his car before he swerved just a block from Kingsburry. "Scu..." he started, ignoring the fact that an oxygen mask was on his face.
He felt someone reach into his jacket pocket and pull out his wallet. "Got an ID. Agent Fox Mulder, FBI," the paramedic said. "Fox, you were in a car accident. We're loading you onto an ambulance now. You're going to be all right. Can you give us someone to call for you?"
"Scu...Scully," he said finally, closing his eyes with exhaustion.
"Wait up a second!" A third voice yelled, and a police officer ran over, carrying Mulder's cell phone. "Here's the phone. Might have his ICE contact in it."
"Thanks," the paramedic said, and closed the ambulance doors behind him. "Scully, you said? I'll find him in the phone book. Relax, Fox. You're gonna be all right." He flipped the phone open, and started scrolling through contacts.
The other paramedic was sticking him with a needle and Mulder was starting to get agitated. As things got clearer, he realized he shouldn't be in the back of this ambulance—he should be at Kingsburry, getting Arthur Greenwood out of there before he did something stupid. The 8-year-old, in Mulder's opinion, had been brainwashed by his very Christian parents into thinking that it was his duty to fight off a force none of them understood.
"Wait—Arthur," Mulder said.
"Relax, Agent Mulder. We're gonna get you to the hospital, and we'll call Scully for you. You're a very lucky man—that crash could've been a lot worse."
The other paramedic, who kept calling him Fox, much to Mulder's annoyance, was now on the phone with Scully. He could hear her furious and concerned voice demanding what hospital he was being taken to...again. He tried to focus, but found his eyes slipping shut, and the sound of the paramedics' voices dimming. Soon, he heard nothing at all.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
He didn't know at what point he fell asleep, or unconscious, but the next thing he knew he was in a hospital bed waking up to Scully's prize-winning smile once more.
"Sorry," he said.
"Don't be," Scully answered. "You finally got your wish. The role reversal's over."
He smiled slightly, and tried to sit up. He gasped and his bandaged arm immediately went to his chest as he grimaced in pain.
"Take it easy," Scully said immediately. "Slow movements."
She helped him elevate the bed just slightly with the remote, and he asked, "How bad?"
"A concussion, some nasty scrapes on your arms, and a hell of a bruise on your ribs, but otherwise, you lucked out."
"Thank God for airbags..." His own statement caused a flash of recognition to pass over his eyes. "Arthur! Scully, what happened with Arthur? What time is it?"
Scully's smile dimmed. "Mulder...they can't find him. They've searched the entire campus, but he's not there. The lower school nurse isn't there either. There was no sign of a struggle, and he left his locker closed and locked behind him. His mother and father think the demon's led them away from the campus."
"What do you think?" Mulder asked, sensing her obvious skepticism.
"I think Arthur and Janet Thompson, the nurse, have left the campus in pursuit of what they believe to be a demon. And I can't vouch for whether it is or isn't. But we have to find them, obviously. Mrs. Greenwood told me that Nurse Thompson is one of the few ‘believers' in the community, and that she would have offered protection to Arthur. I think they're both under the impression they can stop this thing, whatever it is."
"So we have two delusional, crusading civilians out there chasing a demon. A real demon."
Scully raised an eyebrow.
"I've seen it multiple times, Scully. Orange eyes, a black kind of body—not concrete. It flashed in front of my windshield. That's why this accident happened." Mulder started to get up, but Scully pushed him back down.
"Mulder, your memory of the accident is going to be fuzzy. You took a huge bump to the head and were unconscious for an hour and fifteen minutes."
"Better than my usual MO," he countered. "And I remembered those just fine, too."
"There were a dozen witnesses. You tried to change lanes, and the car in your blind spot sped up at the wrong time. You weren't at fault. And neither was a demon. It was just a car accident."
"Those witnesses are wrong, Scully," Mulder insisted, his temper rising. "And we need to get to Kingsburry."
"You need to stay put for twenty-four hour observation," Scully argued. "I'm not bending on this. I'll go to Kingsburry, I'll bring the Greenwoods here—whatever you want me to do. But you're not leaving this hospital for twenty-four hours."
They stayed locked in a death glare for a few moments, and then Mulder conceded. "Fine, but just twenty-four hours. Do we have the Detroit FBI office searching the area?"
"We've got an Amber alert and missing persons alert in every convenience store, church, and office building in the state."
"Good," Mulder said, slightly satisfied. "Can you bring the Greenwoods here? I need to talk to them about Arthur."
She nodded. "They're still at Kingsburry, talking to the police, but I'll tell them you need to speak with them. Get some rest until I get back, okay, partner?"
Mulder rolled his eyes, but nodded. It wasn't long before he was asleep.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Arthur sat huddled in a small ball, his cell phone playing the Christian song he had downloaded, while the school nurse rubbed his back affectionately and let him cry. What he had seen had come true. Agent Mulder had gotten hurt. It was his fault—he had failed to stop it from happening. He had failed to stop the demon.
"Arthur, you have to be brave. It'll see you upset and it'll know it's won. If you don't act upset, it can't see," Nurse Thompson said.
The abandoned church had not been condemned, and had been easy to park behind and sneak into. The pews were dust-covered and the pulpit was cracked and about ready to fall apart. Janet Thompson and Arthur sat against a wall, under a stained-glass window picturing Mary with baby Jesus.
"I wish my mom and dad were here," Arthur said.
Janet nodded. "I know. We'll go back and find them as soon as the demon's gone. But Arthur, your mother and I know each other very well, and I know she would trust me to keep you safe while they protect Cory."
"Why can't Mom come and Dad can watch Cory?"
Janet smiled softly. "You want your mom here because she has Discernment too, huh?"
Arthur nodded carefully. "How'd you know?" He asked, clearly surprised.
"Because I also have that gift from God. And I knew you were coming to the Infirmary as soon as I saw Agent Mulder's car run off the road, on my computer screen. Arthur, I want to help you, but Cory needs your mom's protection right now. And your dad's support."
"Because Cory is little, and vulnerable at this point. He's going to need someone with Discernment to keep the demons away. And between the two of us, we can get this demon out of Bloomfield Hills."
"How? How do you get a demon to go away other than play Christian music? ‘Cause we can't play Christian music through the whole city."
"We'll have to convince it that as long as we're here, it isn't welcome."
"How?" Arthur asked insistently.
"I'm not sure yet," Janet admitted. "But we first have to find it, and that shouldn't be too hard. It seems to find us, after all."
"Do you think we should go back to Kingsburry, and set a trap?"
"I think that's an excellent idea. But we need to plan first. Put your cell phone on a loop so that music doesn't stop playing. Okay?"
Arthur nodded, and obeyed.
"All right, now let's talk about Kingsburry, and where the best place to set a trap might be."
BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Skip and Melissa Greenwood walked in, Skip holding Cory in his arms. They both looked haggard and intensely worried, as Mulder expected. He switched off the news broadcast that was covering the happenings at Kingsburry Academy, after the disappearances.
"Agent Mulder, how are you feeling?" Skip managed to ask.
"I'm fine. My partner's forcing me to stay here for an unnecessary twenty-four hours," Mulder said, giving him a small smile. "I take it you've both spoken to the police and you know that we have an APB out for Janet Thompson's car."
They nodded. "She's not going to hurt him. We're worried about what they're about to encounter," Melissa said.
"Mrs. Greenwood, how did your son know I was going to be in a car accident?" Mulder asked. It earned him a look from Scully, but he needed to be direct with these people or he was never going to get any information from them. They were very used to being persecuted for their beliefs, and had grown accustomed to offering no information outside the company of people who believed what they did.
"Arthur has an active imagination," Skip said instantly. "He probably guessed."
"That's a damn good guess, Mr. Greenwood," Mulder stated flatly.
"Mulder..." Scully warned. It was clear she didn't want her partner scaring these people off, but Mulder knew that wasn't going to happen.
"I believe in extrasensory perception," he told them honestly. "I've seen it, I've seen it studied in a formal setting, and I've seen scientific proof that shows it exists in some people. I also believe that what we're dealing with is indeed a paranormal creature, what you call a demon. My partner and I investigate unusual cases, which typically can be explained by something that most people think is ridiculous. Please, tell me what it is you know about your son, and I'll do my best to get him help in what he's about to do."
"You can't help him, Agent Mulder," Skip said. "It doesn't work that way."
"Explain it to me," Mulder said.
Scully stood back and watched. He was getting through, but she was keeping a close eye out for anything that might indicate he was pushing too far. The more information they had on what this child's delusions were, the better off they were in their search to find him.
Melissa sat down in the chair next to Mulder's bed, eyeing the stitched contusion on his forehead. "Are you sure you're up for this, Agent Mulder?"
"I'm fine. Trust me. I guarantee you I've heard weirder stories than yours."
Melissa glanced at Skip, who nodded carefully. It was clear to Scully that this was something they had sworn not to discuss in front of an outsider.
"When Arthur was three years old, we lived in an apartment in one of the dorms on campus. The apartment had some problems. We were constantly bothered by...a ghost," Melissa told him.
"We'd come home and the baby gate would be opened, Arthur's toys would be broken, and our furniture would be in different places," Skip explained.
"We thought it was one of the kids in the dorm at first, but then things got much worse. We started seeing things in the house," Melissa said. "I saw a hideous man with a knife enter through the front door. Skip saw a hanged woman in the bathroom. And little Arthur...Arthur was always a very good child. A calm child. And it was crazy...he started to draw on the walls. He didn't draw nearly as well when he drew on paper, and one day, he drew in red crayon a picture of a young boy with twisted fingers, mangled teeth, and red eyes. And he wrote, in English, ‘I'm coming.' Arthur didn't know how to write at that point."
"We left the apartment after that. We thought it was a ghost," Skip said. "But we were wrong. It was a demon, and it was trying to get to us, not get us out of the apartment. It followed us to our new home, and we ended up having a priest come in to exorcise the place."
"When did you discover Arthur had extrasensory perception?"
"We call it Discernment. It's the ability to distinguish demons from normal people, and the ability to pick out believers and non-believers. Sometimes, people with Discernment have visions of the future," Melissa said.
"When did you discover Arthur's Discernment?"
"It isn't his. It's a gift from God," Melissa told him. "It can be taken or given at any time. It's usually given in early adulthood, but in very rare cases, children can exhibit signs. Arthur did when he was about six. He saw the boy from his drawings at age three. The boy with the mangled fingers and red eyes. He has since seen things outside his windows, in the house, and in objects."
"How did you know it wasn't his active imagination?" Scully challenged.
"Because I saw them too," Melissa said. "I also have the gift of Discernment."
Mulder was quiet for a moment, before he asked, "What about you, Mr. Greenwood? Do you have this gift?"
"No. But demons can make people see things without having the gift—that's how I see things, Agent Mulder. I can't detect what they are, but I can see them."
"The red eyes—I've seen orange eyes several times during this case. Why are they orange for me?"
Melissa glanced at Skip and shrugged. "We have no idea."
"Maybe it's because you're red-green colorblind, Mulder," Scully said, her voice sarcastic. "The demon wants to be sure its eyes freak you out."
"She may have a point," Skip said. "The eyes are always an excellent way of distinguishing demons from normal people. That's according to Melissa."
Melissa nodded her agreement.
Mulder glanced at Scully, and then back to the Greenwoods. "Okay, so where is Arthur likely to go to try to banish this demon from the Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills area?"
"He doesn't need to go anywhere in particular. He just needs to get its attention, and then Janet will probably pray for God to banish the demon to another area."
"And the demon needs to be there in order to be banished?" Mulder asked.
"There are no specific rules to this, Agent Mulder," Melissa said. "At this point, anything could happen. Arthur will do what God tells him to."
"What do you think God will tell him to do?"
Skip frowned. "I know what it is you're trying to do. We've been judged too many times not to recognize when someone's patronizing us."
"Mr. Greenwood, I may not believe in everything you believe, but trust me when I say that I think this threat is real, and that Arthur is about to encounter something very dangerous. I want to give him as much help as possible. Now is it really so fantastic to assume that just because I don't believe what you believe, that God wouldn't use my partner and me to your advantage? And to His?"
Skip was silent. It was excellent psychology, and both Melissa and Skip knew it. But it was also true. God could use non-Christians to help Christians, absolutely. Whether Agent Mulder really believed that or was just a good psychologist who spoke to a lot of witnesses, they would never know for sure. But they suspected the latter.
"Okay. We'll trust you in this...we know Agent Scully doesn't fully believe what we're saying, either," Skip said.
Scully raised an eyebrow.
"But she does believe in a higher power, and she believes in the demon in almost the same way as Agent Mulder," Melissa said. "We should trust you both."
"Good, now that that's settled," Mulder said, "Let's talk about the game plan."
"There is no game plan," Melissa old him. "We have to wait for another sighting, another visitation from the demon. Another murder isn't likely to happen—Arthur and Janet have it occupied. But Satan could send another, to finish the job that this one can't. We have to be ready."
"May I ask a question?" Scully asked, her skeptic tone barely controlled.
"Yes?" Skip asked.
"If it's your job, as Christians, to fight off these demons, then why is it that Satan just doesn't send his entire army, and overpower you? Why hasn't he done that across the globe, and taken over? Humans are fallible. You have to believe that."
"It isn't our job, Agent Scully," Skip said, sounding more like he was describing how to assemble a bookshelf than what may or may not have been his calling in life. "It's our duty to stand up for what we know is the truth. It's God's duty to back us up. And God protects those who stand for him. It's as simple as that."
Scully frowned, realizing that she couldn't argue with these people. They were so set in their ways that she would never get through. And maybe, just maybe, what they said had a bit of truth to it.
"But Arthur is a child. And he's probably under the notion that it's his job to fight this thing off on his own," Mulder said carefully. "I think the best defense is to get to him and convince him that it's just not true."
"Arthur knows that it's God's will, and not his, that will determine what happens," Melissa said.
"Does he, Mrs. Greenwood? He's an eight-year-old boy who dreams about starships and galaxies, and adventures," Scully stated. "Does he understand what you've taught him or does he think this is a very cool video game that's been placed in his lap?"
"He could get hurt out there," Mulder said. "He's with a grown woman who you both apparently trust, but he could still get hurt. We should find him, and talk to him. Make him understand his true place in this."
Skip and Melissa glanced at each other, and then Skip nodded. "It's possible Arthur could be mistaken as to what's going on. He could think of himself as a hero character, and that would be dangerous."
"Very. So if you have any idea where he might be, that would be really helpful," Scully said.
"We'll try to think of places they might go," Skip promised.
"And we'll let you get some rest, Agent Mulder. Hopefully there'll be something to go on soon," Melissa said, and stood from her chair. The three left the room, with the baby cooing over something he saw and then promptly starting to cry. The door closed behind them.
"I know it's hard to believe what they're saying," Mulder told her, already knowing what was going to come out of her mouth. "But I think they've got something here."
"You?" Scully asked, raising an eyebrow and folding her arms. "How so?"
"I may not buy into what they're saying, exactly, but I do believe that family has some kind of telepathic ability. And they've interpreted it in the only way they know how—through Christian mythology."
Scully rolled her eyes.
"You know what I mean. I'm not insulting your religion, Scully. Just the aspects of that religion that the Greenwoods have used to explain a paranormal phenomenon."
"But Mulder, what if they're right? What if all this does come back to God?"
"That's not going to help us find that little kid, Scully. Arthur is out there right now looking for a demon he can probably sense through the same biological anomaly that allowed Gibson to read our minds. But instead of sensing what the demon wants from Burger King for lunch, he's sensing who it wants to destroy. Imagine having that kind of a burden, at eight years old?"
"Then the explanation of God giving him a gift would definitely assist in his processing of the world around him."
"Whether or not that explanation is true," Mulder finished for her.
Scully sat down in the chair next to Mulder. "We've seen demons exorcised before. It's been done through ceremony, through dissatisfaction with the people it's using for its purposes..."
"Through smelling your gym socks..."
Scully ignored the comment. "We need a way of convincing the demon it can't get a foothold here."
"You're treating this as if it's real, with no skepticism whatsoever, and I'm wondering if my concussion is more serious than we thought."
Rolling her eyes, Scully simply said, "We don't have any other explanation for what this thing is, and we've both seen demons possess and harass people before. So until we find a scientific explanation—"
"It's better to just go with the How to Exorcise your Body handbook."
"Very funny," Scully said dryly.
"You have to admit, it has a little ring to it." When she looked to the ceiling as if asking for divine intervention, he asked, "Do you think you could get me a laptop, Scully? I want to do a little research."
Scully nodded. "I guess that would be okay. But if I see you overdoing it..."
"I know, I know. My ass in your sling."
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
The students had been taken out of classes after the disappearances, and their parents had come to pick them up after they had been allowed to leave the lock-down areas. Buses took boarders back to their campuses of residence, and juniors and seniors to their cars. Lower and Middle School students lined the turn-around drives where they were normally picked up. The line of cars was familiar to everyone. Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, another BMW, a Volvo (of all things, a station wagon Volvo...that parent must have taken a pay cut).
The stream of children in designer clothes they would grow out of in a few months was also familiar to everyone. They shoved each other around as normal children do, some oblivious to the amount of damage they were doing to the expensive clothing in which they had been dressed.
But James Gregory Sanders III was not oblivious, and it disgusted him. He was so much smarter than everyone else in the third grade, and it bothered him that no one seemed to recognize this. But the teachers did let him do things the other kids didn't get to do, as they should. James was the richest kid in the third grade, and he knew it.
He missed school several times in the past few years he had been in school, simply because his parents hadn't flown the jet back from the island according to the school schedule. No one ever demanded his homework if he came in with a note from his mother saying he was excused. James had learned that you can get by many things by using money.
And nothing annoyed James more than the faculty kids. Faculty kids who got into Kingsburry just because their parents were teachers. They didn't belong with the rest of the kids. His parents had confirmed this for him—they told him that many of those kids didn't have the kind of upbringing James did. Lack of money, James had been told, often led to bad behavior. Such as the behavior of Arthur Greenwood, running away during school.
James watched as one of the faculty kids pushed his way through the crowd, going to God only knew where. The kid pushed James, and James said, "Excuse me!"
The kid didn't turn. James lunged for him. "Hey! You pushed me!"
"Sorry," the kid said. He was at least a year younger than James, and that allowed James to tower over him.
"You don't just push me and say ‘sorry' and walk away. What kinda stuff do you have?"
"What kind of stuff do you have? What can you give me? Or don't you have anything? Parents don't make enough money?"
"I just have a couple of dollars and my backpack. I gotta go. I'm trying to find my friend."
"Give me what's in your backpack, and then you can go home to your little hole in the wall."
The only teacher in the area was engaged in comforting two crying kids, who had gotten into a fight, and the boy James was interrogating had nowhere to easily run. So he did the only thing he could think of. He kneed James in the groin and took off.
Lucky for James, the kid had largely missed. James took off after him, his longer legs giving him the advantage. The boys ran around the building and down to the soccer field. The faculty kid was fast—he must run a lot, James thought. But James was bigger. He was gaining on him.
They crossed the soccer field and went through some thick trees, the faculty kid using his knowledge of the grounds to navigate expertly. He was heading home, James thought. Toward the pitiful excuses for houses where the teachers lived.
The faculty kid would have taken the conventional route, had there not been something red in his peripheral vision. He stopped for a moment, looked over to where it was, and then ran that way. Surely by now the bigger kid had determined that he was heading for his house, and a sharp turn in such thick woods would throw him off.
He saw a red piece of cloth caught on a branch, but paid it no mind. He knew this way would take him to the lake if he kept going, and that would lead him to where Arthur's and his fort was. But another step and the world fell out from under him. He tumbled down, yelling in fear, until he fell onto something soft. Hay. Hay was at the bottom of the small hole. He looked around, reaching into his cargo pants for his flashlight. Since Arthur carried one, he had wanted one too, and he finally got to use it.
The hole wasn't just a hole; it was a tunnel. And it went so far that he couldn't see the end. He started walking slowly, cautiously taking in his surroundings. The walls had drawings on them, but they looked like kids' drawings. There were pictures of rocket ships in dark red and blue colors, and then in faded black were pictures of horse-drawn carriages, apparently in some kind of race.
A very old-looking car was drawn on one wall, and children had etched their names into the walls along with dates. The earliest date was 1906. The most recent date was 1965.
Stone walls, the faculty kid realized. Stone walls that had been constructed deliberately. This wasn't just any tunnel. This tunnel had to lead somewhere. But where could it lead? And why hadn't he and Arthur and the other faculty kids found it before?
"Jake," a voice said. It wasn't quite male, and it wasn't quite female. It sounded sort of gravelly, as if it had once smoked, and the faculty kid looked around. Who was calling his name?
"Jake, keep going. Adventure. Excitement. Fun..."
"Who are you? Where are you?" Seven-year-old Jake asked, more than slightly afraid.
"Don't be afraid," a child's voice replaced the first voice. "Don't be afraid, come have fun!"
"Where are you? What is this place?"
"It's a secret tunnel," the child's voice said, and giggled. "Come on! Don't you like cool things?"
"I like cool things," Jake said defensively.
"Are you scared?" The voice taunted.
"No!" Jake said immediately. "Nothing scares me! Me and Arthur, we're the bravest kids at Kingsburry. Where are you? What's at the end? Buried treasure? The Temple of the Mummy? Some kinda weird back-from-the-dead mutant monster from Star Trek?"
"Better than those things. Those things are make-believe. The stuff down here...it's much better, Jake. Keep walking."
Jake followed, but slipped his backpack off and left it in the tunnel. He didn't need it anymore. It just had his school things in it.
He walked down the long tunnel, and the drawings disappeared. The stone walls became dirtier, and the cobwebs were greater in number. He jumped several times at the sight of dead animals, and he suddenly felt very afraid when he saw the skeleton of a deer.
"Don't be afraid, Jake," the child's voice said again. "It's fun in the end, you just have to keep walking."
"Why? What's down there?" Jake asked. "Where are you?"
"I'm at the end!"
"Where's the end?" he demanded.
"Not far," the voice said, and at that moment Jake stepped into a larger area. His flashlight displayed the strange room for him. It was a room with a table at the center, and a pen long since covered in spider webs.
"What is this place?" Jake asked.
"This is where it started, Jake."
Jake spun, and saw the figure of a young boy, about his age. The boy's fingers looked mangled, and his teeth were all messed up, like he hadn't been to the orthodontist. He was dressed in weird-looking clothes, with socks that came up to his knees, and a weird-looking jacket with no collar. His shirt collar was rounded like a girl's and he had a bow tied around his neck. Not a normal bow tie, but a ribbon-like thing.
"Who are you?" Jake asked, trying not to sound scared.
"My name's Timothy," he said. "But that doesn't matter now. This is how it started. What do you know about the history of Kingsburry, Jake?"
Jake watched as the boy walked around to the table, and fixed his pale-faced gaze on his new ‘friend'. "Um...I know it was built a long time ago, in like 1905 or something. And I know that it was only for old kids back then."
"This tunnel was a fort my father built for me. He was one of the contractors—a good friend of Mr. Kingsburry."
Mr. Kingsburry, the founder of Kingsburry Academy, had many good friends. And he was usually very generous to his many good friends, giving them land and jobs.
"That's cool," Jake said. "Wait a sec...how could he have been one of the contractors? You mean like one of the new buildings? The Natatorium? That's a cool building—I saw them finish it up a few months ago. Right in time for winter, my mom said. Now people can swim inside again."
The boy didn't answer. He walked over to the wall, and touched it. "This is where I placed a plan. A plan of who would have to leave Kingsburry. A teacher of mine."
"She wasn't my teacher yet but she would be, when I got old enough. It told me so. She was a Christian. Are you a Christian, Jake?"
Jake looked confused, and he was starting to get uneasy about this kid, whoever he was. "Um...no. I'm Jewish."
"A religious boy?"
"Uh...I should go. I don't think we're supposed to be down here."
"Don't go, Jake. I still haven't finished telling you my story." Suddenly, the boy wasn't on the other end of the room, he was behind Jake, blocking the exit. "You don't want to leave before you hear the story."
Jake nearly jumped out of his skin. He backed away from the boy, clearly afraid. "How'd you do that?"
The boy smiled, exposing his rotting teeth. "A magic trick. Want to see another?"
Jake shook his head. "I wanna leave."
The boy took a step toward Jake. "You want to see another. It can show you so many cool things. You'll be amazed." Then the boy's smile dropped, and he stared into Jake's eyes.
Jake tried to look away, but found his gaze transfixed. He saw power, enormous power. Power to knock that big kid who had chased him right on his butt. Power to stop the rich kids from teasing him. Power to buy his family a new house so they didn't live on campus anymore, and instead lived in a big mansion like the rest of the kids in his class.
Anger, at those who would make fun of him and make him feel small. At those who had broken his fingers—wait...that had never happened. Had it?
Meticulous. Plans, many detailed plans, that told him exactly how he had to make Them leave. If They left, he would have power, and get rid of the anger, and be forever happy.
For just an instant, Jake saw the boy's eyes turn totally black, and then burn in the brightest red. Then, it was gone. Jake could no longer see the boy. But he knew exactly what he had to do. He grabbed a rusty knife that lay in dust and spider webs in the corner of the room, and then headed out of this tunnel, this pointless place from long, long ago. With a new body, ‘Timothy' no longer had to be ‘Timothy'. Jake's eyes were their normal color. Jake's fingers were normal-looking, and Jake wore clothes as normal kids from the year 2008 usually did. Most of all, Jake knew Arthur Greenwood, It's greatest enemy. All It needed was one chance to introduce Jake, as he had introduced Timothy, to the wonders of taking a life. And then It would be able to eliminate its greatest threat in this area, and take a strong grip on the naïve but oh-so-powerful people here.
With eager steps, It climbed the ladder Jake seemed to have missed in his fall. And It entered Kingsburry Campus once more in human form.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Arthur was talking to Nurse Thompson about some of the scariest places in the lower school, where he felt that the demon might want to exploit that fear. "One time, my friends and I all saw the towel in the old locker room move by itself. It was nuts! My teacher said it must have fallen, but we know that wasn't true. Then the janitor came in and roped off the old locker room, and—"
He stopped. Something was wrong. He looked at the stained-glass windows on the other side of the room, and suddenly the pictures began to move. Nurse Thompson looked too, but her expression was puzzled. She couldn't see what Arthur could see.
The wise men were no longer bringing gifts to baby Jesus. Now, they transformed into one figure—the boy Arthur had seen before. The boy with mangled fingers, and red eyes, who stared at him from outside his window now that the Christian music kept him out. That boy haunted Arthur's nightmares far worse than anything else.
The boy approached baby Jesus, who wasn't baby Jesus anymore. It was his friend, Jake. And then, the two collided. And became one. Arthur stared, wide-eyed at the solid black eyes of his friend as the seven-year-old pointed a finger directly at Arthur, and whispered, "I'm coming."
"No!" Arthur yelled, looking away from the window. "Oh, no!"
"What? What is it, Arthur?"
"It took Jake. Jake's gone, it took him!" Arthur sobbed, and turned his face into Nurse Thompson's shoulder. "It took Jake because he's my friend, and now...how do we get it out?"
Janet patted Arthur gently, and said, "We have to go to Kingsburry now. Arthur, we've got to go and help your friend Jake. Okay?"
"Why'd it have to take him? He was one of my only friends! I don't have any in my class! Why Jake?" Arthur sobbed uncontrollably.
Janet realized now was not the time to try to get him to move. She comforted him, hoping he'd realize they needed to move quickly, and soon. If they were going to save Arthur's friend, they had to exorcise this demon before it killed Jake.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
James was lost. He had gotten his designer khaki pants muddy, he had snagged his sweater-vest, and his Spider brand-name coat was now dirty. He didn't know where he had lost that faculty kid in the woods, but it was impossible to find one's way out. He had pulled his designer sunglasses off his face and stuck them in his backpack, to see better in these woods. He just needed to spot a parking lot, a car, any sign of civilization...
Was he going to starve in these woods? Would he never find his way out? Suddenly, he heard a crunch. He spun, his heart-rate increasing. "Who...who's that?" He asked fearfully.
Jake emerged from some trees, without his backpack and looking more than slightly dirty.
"You little idiot! Do you realize you got us lost?" James spat, and approached him. "My sweater's snagged! This sweater cost more than you, you little worthless piece of trash. You're gonna be working for me for the rest of your life to pay this off."
Jake didn't speak. He stared at James with a cold expression.
James moved so that he was directly in front of the faculty kid, and towered over him. "First you're gonna lead the way out. Then I'm gonna call my mom and tell her what you did. Then your mom—"
James never got to finish. With rage he had never seen before, the faculty kid screamed like some kind of animal and leapt on top of him, pummeling him with every ounce of strength he had. The adrenaline coursing through his young body lead to more force being packed into each punch, and James soon began to cry.
But Jake didn't stop. He screamed with each blow, each kick, each scratch, and ripped James' sweater off of him with strength he never knew he had. Then he held it in front of the crying boy as he ripped the material even further, and threw it in his opponent's face.
Finally, he drew the rusty knife out of his belt. It was a small knife, but enough to do serious damage. He held it at James' throat as the boy whimpered and shook with fear.
He leaned in close, so close that James tried to squirm away from the scent of his breath. "You're going to come with me," he said in a voice that was not his own. It sounded gravelly...like a smoker. "You're not going to argue. We're going to the tower. And if you make one false move, I'll slit your throat."
James sobbed, trying to get away from the knife and this crazy poor kid who obviously had a mental problem.
Jake stood, and put the knife in his belt again.
"Get up," Jake ordered, this time in his own voice. He felt good. He felt powerful. He had never felt this good before in his entire life. As he stared at the rich kid covered in mud and cuts and bruises, sobbing his eyes out like a kindergartener, Jake felt even better. Energy welled up in his chest and he grinned with excitement. Timothy was right. This was better than make-believe adventure.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS HOSPITAL
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Mulder was just about to explode with boredom. He had researched Discernment in all its shapes and sizes, and gathered as much information as he could. He had discovered, not surprisingly, that Discernment was rather like the secular ESP, only with a religious twist. He had the news on, covering the ongoing search for the nurse and Arthur. Scully was speaking to the Greenwoods, trying to get more information out of them.
Just as she walked into the room with the two of them, her cell phone rang.
"Scully," she answered, and her expression went from passive to alarmed in a millisecond. "When?"
Mulder and the Greenwoods turned to her curiously.
"Is that building structurally sound?" A pause. "Can you knock down the door?" Another pause, and then she looked to the ceiling and closed her eyes. "I'll be right down. The main quad of the school? Okay, don't proceed until I get there. Keep trying to talk them down. I'll be there in twenty minutes."
She closed her phone, and turned to her small audience. "Two boys were seen going into a tower at Kingsburry, and shortly afterward, Janet Thompson entered the campus and created a diversion so that Arthur could enter. One camera caught him going in while the others were watching Janet Thompson's apprehension and arrest. The doors to the Tower are locked at the moment and the police think they're dealing with a hostage situation. One of you should come with me, to try to talk Arthur down," Scully said to the Greenwoods.
They looked shocked and alarmed, and Melissa shook her head. "Arthur isn't holding anyone hostage."
"Mrs. Greenwood, we can't know that for sure."
"We've got to get down there," Mulder said, flipping his legs over the side of the bed.
Scully sighed, clearly exasperated, and wondered what else could go wrong as she walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him from getting out of bed. "No, Mulder, you need to stay here for twenty-four hours," she said almost automatically, knowing full well what the reply would be.
"I'm fine, Scully. I'm not arguing about this. I'm going. Please, take this IV out of me."
"We need to get through paperwork, and get you discharged—"
"Oh my God," Melissa said suddenly. She was watching the television, and she turned to her husband. "That's Jake Folitz."
They all turned to look at the TV, where they were covering the ‘hostage situation'. A child's hand holding a rusty old knife could clearly be seen out the medieval-style window of the Observation Tower at Kingsburry. The camera zoomed in and caught a young boy's face staring out at them with cold eyes. Mulder shivered, and Melissa gasped.
"Agent Mulder...can you see his eyes?" she asked, pointing to the screen.
Mulder looked again, but the picture was taken away. "No. I didn't get a good look. What did you see, Mrs. Greenwood?"
"They were black. Solid black, no corneas."
"What does that mean?" Scully asked, her expression more concerned than skeptical at this point.
"Red eyes mean a demon is posing as a person—it's not a real person. Black eyes mean the demon has taken possession. Jake is Arthur's best friend."
"I'll stay here with Cory," Skip said. "Melissa, you need to go help Arthur."
Melissa nodded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Agent Scully, are you coming?"
"Yes," Scully said immediately, and let go of Mulder's shoulder. He started to rise, and she turned. "Mulder, you're a liability in this condition! You shouldn't be out of bed, and you certainly can't negotiate a hostage situation!"
"Scully, we're wasting time," Mulder said firmly. Cory, in Skip's arms, turned to him with fear at the raised voice. "Arthur's best friend is either going to kill the hostage in front of Arthur or he's going to kill Arthur. We have to get there before that happens, and I'm not staying here, Scully. Take the IV out or I'll take it out myself."
Scully looked at Mulder with an exasperated expression, glanced back at the television, and then said reluctantly, "Fine." She took Mulder's IV out and grabbed his clothes from the plastic bag. She handed them to him and said, "Change quickly."
Mulder simply nodded and began changing even though no one had left the room yet. He was done in a matter of seconds, and met them all outside. "Let's go," he said simply.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, WI
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2008
"You Agent Scully?" the police officer asked upon their arrival.
Scully nodded, and pulled her badge. "Agents Scully and Mulder. This is Melissa Greenwood, she's one of the children's mothers."
"You planning on going up there?" the officer inquired as they stepped out of the car.
"We are. I'm a medical doctor. Agent Mulder has hostage negotiation experience and a psychological background."
"I can reason with Arthur," Melissa told the officer. "He'll listen to me."
The officer seemed to consider this, and then nodded. "Okay. You need vests?"
"We're dealing with a knife, aren't we?" Mulder asked with a Scully-like raised eyebrow.
"Yes, but...okay. We tried talking to them. No one's paying the slightest attention."
"We'll see what we can do," Mulder said.
"All right, it's your party. Be careful up there. We don't want a repeat of 1994."
"What happened in 1994?" Mulder asked.
"Kid took three others hostage at knife-point in the Tower, until a science teacher tackled him. That's why they closed the building to students."
"The police commissioner said on the phone the building was structurally sound but hadn't been inspected in a while. Is there anything we should know about the structure?" Scully asked.
"It should hold you people, but we can't guarantee anything. It hasn't been inspected in years. Could have rotting wood, termites...any number of things. Watch your step"
"Thank you," she said as they took off for the Tower. It was a cylindrical building with a few medieval-style windows and an observatory dome at the top. It was clear that it used to house a telescope, probably in a display case or still in use at the Science Museum's Observatory.
The Tower, made of stone and wood, was surrounded by a grassy yard and neatly-kept stones that led to the entrance. The police officer guarding the entrance got a nod from the officer Mulder, Scully, and Melissa had talked to before and allowed them to enter.
The spiral stairs creaked on their way up, and a bone-chilling cold passed through the air. The hairs on Mulder's neck stood up and he knew exactly what they were dealing with here. And it was no small child.
They reached the top, and Mulder knocked on the door. "Jake Folitz, Arthur Greenwood, this is Agent Mulder with the FBI. I've got a doctor with me, and I've got your mom, Arthur. Would you like to open the door and let us in?"
"Now's not the best time, Agent Mulder," Arthur said in a strained voice, and was promptly met with someone screaming, "Shut up!" It didn't sound like a child. In fact...it didn't sound human.
Mulder glanced at Scully, who nodded. "Stand back, Melissa," he told her quietly, and drew his gun. Scully and Melissa stepped down a few stairs, and Mulder shot the ancient lock on the door, and then kicked the door open. He pointed his weapon at the scene, and took in what he saw.
A boy who looked like he had been beaten to a pulp was sitting behind a standing Arthur, who looked like he was trying to protect the other kid. Meanwhile Jake Folitz held a rusty knife at Arthur, and turned quickly at the sound of the door being kicked open. He grabbed Arthur and pulled his friend in front of him, holding the knife at his neck. Mulder looked at the boy in the eyes, and saw the solid black Melissa had claimed to have seen. He couldn't help but shiver.
"Jake, no one has to get hurt here," he said almost mechanically, already knowing exactly what he was dealing with.
Scully also drew her gun, and Melissa stood behind them, looking at Arthur with compassionate eyes. She wasn't panicking, which made Scully wonder if some kind of communication was going on between them.
Arthur looked absolutely petrified, but he was trying to control his breathing.
No one spoke, as Jake's eyes stayed transfixed on Mulder's gun.
Mulder squinted, unsure as to what was going on. But he found himself lowering his aim, until it was dead on Arthur's head. He took a deep breath, as memories of Robert Patrick Modell flooded back and he thought of training his gun on Scully as he desperately tried to fight it.
"You can't fight, Agent Mulder," the voice that was certainly not Jake's told him flatly. "I can make you pull that trigger...I can make her watch her son die. I can give you whatever you want, if you just accept who I am."
"Jake, can you hear me?" Melissa asked quietly. "Jake, please, look around you. Look at what's happening. You can fight it. You have the power, if you only see."
"Jake, do you remember the fort?" Arthur asked, his voice strained from keeping away the tears. "You remember how much fun we had building it? Can you remember that, Jake? Please?"
Scully watched carefully as she searched for what her partner and Melissa so obviously saw in this child's eyes. Then, in a flicker of recognition, she saw the black eyes cloud over with some white, as she had seen with the black oil virus. And she had to wonder if that wasn't some kind of trick as well.
But then the boy's face began to turn red, and he cried out in a child's voice, as tears streamed down his cheeks. He tightened his grip on Arthur and looked as if he was truly fighting his own body as the knife slipped to the side of his friend's throat, and he began to cut.
A gunshot rang out, and the little boy dropped to the floor, blood oozing from his arm. Scully looked quickly at Mulder's shocked expression at his own action, and holstered her weapon as she ran over to the unconscious child. She took off her jacket and began to administer medical attention.
Mulder held his gun in place, unable to move. He had come so close to hitting Arthur...he had taken such a chance with a child's life. He turned his eyes downward, where the shell from his bullet lay at his feet.
Melissa ran over to her son, who had dropped to the floor and begun to cry.
And then a chill entered the air again, this time so cold it caused everyone to gasp in unison. They could see their breath for an instant, and then Melissa and Arthur turned to the top of the Observatory to be the first ones to catch a glimpse of the black, non-corporeal form floating above them, red eyes peering down.
Mulder turned his attention skyward as well, and Scully did a double-take, still trying to treat the child.
The knife on the ground began to move, and Arthur stared at it before saying, first in a whisper, "Our Father, up in heaven, is very holy. My Father," he said more firmly, walking toward the knife but still looking upward, "Is very holy. His Kingdom will come, and his will shall be done, both on Earth and in Heaven."
The black figure came closer to Arthur, and Mulder took a step forward as Melissa held her son's shoulders in support.
"Dear Father," she said in a strong voice, "Give us today what we need. Forgive us our sins. And protect us from temptation. Deliver us from evil."
"Deliver us from evil," Arthur said firmly, glancing up at his mother, and then fixing his gaze on the red eyes. "Deliver us from evil."
"For though we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil," Melissa said, her voice resonating in the small observatory.
Scully applied pressure to Jake's wound, but looked at the dark shape and Mulder, Melissa, and Arthur warily. This didn't look like it was going to end well.
"For He is at my side!" Arthur screamed. "My God is at my side!"
"You have no place here!" Mulder yelled. "These people—they have faith. Just as those women you killed had faith, but were too scared to realize what you were."
"You're not so damn scary," Arthur yelled, standing his ground. "You're pathetic. You're despicable. Go back into the hell-hole you came from!"
Melissa looked surprised, but pleased. She still held her son's shoulders as she said, "You have no power over us. You aren't allowed to have power over us! You're not welcome here!"
The figure came even closer to Arthur, and the knife inched toward him as well, but Arthur stood strong. If the boy was afraid, he wasn't showing it. He fixed his stare on the red eyes as if he was engaged in a lunchtime staring contest with a friend. His severe and hardened expression told Mulder this boy was drawing his strength from something other than his frightening experiences with ghosts and demons in his home.
"Poorly placed faith will destroy you," the gravelly voice echoed throughout the room. "For even those of faith experience tragedy."
The knife rose from the air, and Mulder didn't even think. He just leapt. It embedded itself in his leg, directly level with Arthur's stomach. Mulder dropped to the ground in agony, clutching the wound and panting as he glanced upward at the rapidly disappearing black shape.
"For mine is the Kingdom of Glory, and it can be yours, if you so choose. Choose wisely, for I will return."
And then all was still.
Scully lunged for Melissa's arm. "Apply pressure to Jake's wound. Arthur, stick your head out the window and get the paramedics up here," she said in one breath, and then dove to her knees in front of Mulder. "Hey, Mulder; Mulder, look at me."
Mulder's eyes were glazing over and he was rapidly getting paler. Scully stripped off her shirt and attempted to stop the bleeding, but she knew it had hit the femoral artery. A child's stomach, at the same height as Mulder's thigh, would have been what she was dealing with had it not been for her partner's heroic actions. But now he was in danger of bleeding out.
Mulder made eye contact with her then dropped his gaze to see that she had only her bra on, her jacket across the room with Jake and her shirt now wrapped around the knife embedded in his leg. And he managed to smile just slightly as he said, "Should've just...done that, Scully...demon would've changed...evil ways."
"Don't talk, Mulder," Scully instructed him, and took his pulse.
In another second, the paramedics were coming up the stairs. "What've we got?"
"A stab wound to the femoral artery, a gunshot wound to the shoulder—over there," Scully pointed. "And I think that one's in shock," she indicated the wide-eyed, perfectly still little boy huddled against the wall.
"We're gonna need more medics," the paramedic, said, radioing it in as he got to work on Mulder.
The other paramedic saw to the gunshot wound.
Melissa held Arthur's hand as she led him toward the staircase. Arthur looked back, and met eyes with Scully. "Agent Mulder isn't a Christian. But he has faith."
Then Melissa gave her a small smile, and led Arthur down the stairs.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17th, 2008
Mulder propped his crutches on the side of the airport chair and eased himself down carefully. He winced slightly, and Scully offered some support until he was settled. "Want something to eat?"
He shook his head. "No, I think that just about knocked the appetite out of me."
She nodded, and sat beside him. She took his hand. "You should've agreed to the handicap train."
"And be driven around like some senior citizen? I'm not that old, Scully."
"You did just have a birthday," she teased, and he rolled his eyes.
"I'm gonna start hiding the calendar from you."
They sat in silence for a moment, Scully glancing at the digital display of departure times across the hall from their terminal seating.
"Scully, why do you think it left?"
She presumed he was talking about the demon. "We've already talked about this. It wasn't welcome. Whoever has faith and isn't afraid can exorcise a demon."
"No, I'm not talking about now. I'm talking about back when Timothy was possessed. In the early 1900s. Why did it leave? Why didn't it just take someone else's body, when Timothy was killed?"
Timothy McGregor, the construction contractor's son, had been attacked by an unknown assailant and killed at age eight, after murdering a Kingsburry teacher, and three other women. The boy had hidden his plans for murder in the underground tunnel his father had built him. From Arthur's and Jake's descriptions of the boy, Mulder surmised that the ghost of Timothy had come back to appeal to Jake's want for revenge against that snob James.
James Gregory Sanders III had come out of his waking coma state in the hospital, and although he was clearly scared and agitated, he had demanded a trip to the family island to recuperate. Some things, Mulder thought, must never change.
"Maybe it did. Maybe it left Kingsburry because there were bigger and better things out there, Mulder. Maybe the one who killed Timothy was the one whose body was possessed next."
"And it's some kind of cycle? It just got back to Kingsburry after a hundred years?"
"No, I don't think it works that way," Scully said. "I think there's a little footprint left wherever it goes. A seed that can grow into something larger."
"A force of evil, growing in each place where this demon happens to gain some followers?"
"Perhaps," Scully said. "Think about Jake, Mulder. A seven-year-old boy's anger at a bully led to his acceptance of the demon, and a hunger for power. I don't think that will ever go away. I think that part of Jake will always be with him. He'll remember the feelings he had when he was beating James Sanders in the woods and at some point, he might want more."
Mulder nodded, still uncomfortable talking about Jake. He had shot the seven-year-old, and now the child was in the psychological ward of the hospital, awaiting diagnosis. It didn't look good for the little boy, given his continuously petrified state. Not only did Mulder feel very guilty about Jake, but he also felt a weight on his shoulders regarding Arthur. The eight-year-old had banished a demon from Kingsburry, but he had at least temporarily lost his best friend in the process, and it didn't seem to Mulder that the Greenwoods had many other friends in their neighborhood. An isolated boy with a secret no one would believe...it sounded all too familiar to Mulder.
"But Scully, we've seen so many forces of evil, at this point, that I think it's a safe assumption that they're everywhere. And if what you're saying is true, then they plant little seeds of jealousy, hate, anger...even in little children. So what's stopped the world from falling to ruin?" He asked, trying to put his guilt out of his mind for now.
"Faith," Scully said simply. "The Greenwoods have enormous faith. A drive to avoid the evil. Whether that means Arthur stays away from the ‘wrong crowd' at school or is able to defeat whatever it was we encountered in the Tower, it helps him get through. The faith keeps the fear away, and only with fear or welcome arms can a demon materialize into something powerful enough to kill."
"Then why am I not affected?" Mulder countered, not quite buying into this.
Scully smiled at him. "Mulder, you can be such an idiot sometimes. Why do you think it wasn't just attacking Christian women? Do you honestly think it would limit itself just to religion?"
Mulder studied her. "So you're saying it doesn't matter what kind of faith you have..."
"It might matter what kind of faith you have, depending on what ‘seed' from the demon you're encountering. But I think," she said, squeezing his hand, "that as long as you have faith in something, it can never control you. You have power over it instead. You're free."