Authors note: Yup, things are getting stranger and stranger—but I assure you, this IS going somewhere. Ha ha. Though you may not see 1st person again for a few chapters, I think you may like what you see. A few theories are rolling around here---as to what’s REALLY going on, but that won’t be disclosed yet. Remember, trust no one.
Xxxx You want disclaimers, then you’re going to want to hunt through the first few chapters. There’s nothing here but story. Ahem. So, as I was saying:
They press their lips against you,
And you love the lies they say.
And I tried so hard to reach you,
But you’re falling anyway.
And you know I see right through you,
When the world gets in your way.
What’s the point in all this screaming?
You’re not listening anyway.
------------ Acoustic # 3, The Goo Goo Dolls
A Simple Kiss, Chapter 10: Answers
By Jaime Lyn
Guinisville Woodland Park
Kara Donovan enjoyed her early morning jog----well, make that very early morning jog. She knew, that is, that her husband thought she was nuts for getting up so early in the morning, for going out jogging while everyone else was sleeping, but Kara had to admit, the early-early bird-morning air had a nice ring to it. The fact that the sky was still dark and airy, that the rest of the world was still slumbering---it all held a certain appeal. Besides, she thought errantly, as she huffed and puffed down Guinisville Park’s only dirt trail, she had all that extra pie from her mother’s birthday party to work off. And Cherry pie with a dollup of vanilla ice cream never went willingly—at least----not from her already too-wide-for-her-taste thighs.
She ran further until she could see the clearing happening upon her. Same trail, she thought contentedly. Same thing, same deal, every morning…
She stopped when she noticed the faint traces of smoke wavering out onto the breeze. Something was wrong---very wrong.
There was a fire? Huh, that was odd…
The fire department in Guinisville was composed of Randy---who also doubled as the sherrif’s deputy---Mark---whose other hobbies included gardening, golfing and baseball, Scott---who was a heavy drinker---frequent at Marty’s---Jason, who was barely 23, and Rolf---the head of the department—nearing his pension, settling into retirement. And as of the past year, the only fires the department had ever put out were several oven catastrophes over at Old Mrs. Hughley’s. Barely fires. Most of the calls they got were from little girls with tabby cats stuck in trees, little boys who got their ever growing heads caught in the neighbor’s fence, fishing out a lost baseball. Speculation went that the guys didn’t even know how to properly handle their equipment---let alone actually extinguish a fire.
Which was how Kara knew there were never any fires in Guinisville. She would have known---heck, the whole town would have known in a matter of hours.
But she definitely smelled smoke, which meant there was definitely a fire. Somewhere… She stepped further into the edge of the clearing---where the trees parted into mingling underbrush and a small thicket. She gasped.
“Alright, Mr. Harrison…”
William Harrison halted and turned to stare at his companion, the man he now knew as Fox Mulder, with glaring weariness. He had, thus far, only spent about a half hour with the man, but already he was exhausted. Among other things, William could see that this Mulder was obsessive, possessive of his partner, possessive of his work---which wouldn’t be a necessarily bad thing---if not for the fact that he was extremely hard to get along with. Jittery. Fidgety. Someone who could easily make you want to stick your finger in a light socket after about ten minutes of talking to him. But he was an ally---someone who understood William and his desire to find Katherine again, if not all too well, and so he would stick it out. Lord knew William had his share of strange stories and hair-raising attributes himself.
William turned. “Yeah?”
“Tell me something…” Fox Mulder cracked his neck and palmed his cellphone, tossing it from one hand to the other. “How is it I’m standing here talking to you, when as far as I read, you’re supposed to be six feet under?”
Harrison stared at him and shrugged, his wrinkled features taking on a slightly nervous look. He licked his lips and folded his arms across his chest, noting in his ears the familiar clacking of crickets in the brush. “Look,” he answered Mulder, with more than a hint of annoyance, “Shouldn’t we get to your partner? The motel----“
“Is still standing,” Mulder countered, folding his own arms with an amused look. “And Scully’s fine, obviously.” He waved his cell phone for emphasis. “And it’s past the witching hour, so to speak…” The corners of Mulder’s lips turned upwards. “So tell me---seeing as how we’ve got some time here…” Mulder waved his bare hand this time, pointing out the glaring quiet of the early morning. “How is it I’m standing here talking to a dead man?”
Harrison shook his head stubbornly. The sky was getting a little lighter—only a little, a small tiny bit lighter---but it was enough for Mulder to make out the opposite man’s features. It was enough for him to see the nervousness, belaying something else. Embarrassment? Shame? There was something in the older man’s eyes that seemed to scream it, even though he couldn’t make out exactly what “it” was. All he knew for sure was that Harrison was holding something back. Mulder was determined to discover what it was.
“Come on,” Harrison insisted, trudging further, “Your partner’s still----“
“My partner is FINE,” Mulder interrupted, a tinge of suspicion creeping into his voice. “And lord knows she needs the sleep. She’s not in danger…at least, not that I can see, although I’m not too sure I can say the same for you if you don’t come clean with me….”
Harrison narrowed his eyes. “How do you mean?” he questioned the other man.
“I think you’re hiding something,” Mulder answered easily, stepping forward through the overgrowth to approach the older man. “Or lying. I think you read that article about those two unfortunate FBI agents and became fascinated with it. I think that maybe you spied on my partner and myself, saw the similarities, and made some pretty well-educated guesses.”
Harrison’s mouth opened in aghast and his eyes widened at Mulder’s sudden and complete 180. He didn’t seem like the type of guy to just suddenly look for the more plausible when the more extreme was closer to the truth. Just minutes ago he was worried, horrified, terrified of finding his partner’s scarred body buried among a cluttering of debris. And now? Now all of a sudden everything was fine and William was a liar? No. It didn’t add up. Just one phone call and that was all it took? Harrison’s brow furrowed. No, he thought, strangely. Something about that phone call just didn’t add up. He opened his mouth.
“Agent Mulder, I already tried to explain----“
“You explained a lot of things,” Mulder answered evenly. “You explained that you think something strange happens every twenty years. You’ve explained that you’ve observed some sort of… tension between myself and Agent Scully---“
“You EVEN explained some things I must admit cut pretty close to home, but it’s nothing I’ve never seen before.” Mulder watched him carefully, looking for signs of deceit. Signs of wearing down. Signs of anything that might lead the man to answering Mulder’s question. Something about Robert Pusher Modell and that case popped into his head and a new idea formed. A strikingly familiar one, actually.
He thought of Scully and how she might handle this. What she might think, if she were in his shoes. If his years with her had taught him nothing else, it was to try and stay grounded. Try and stay scientific. So ok, tonight had been stressful, and ok, so maybe he could buy that the motel they had been staying in was strange, maybe even haunted, but thus far, NOTHING pointed to this strange man actually being William Harrison. If nothing else, it only made him more wary of the situation.
If the guy is as old as he says he is, Mulder thought, then HE, theoretically, could have been alive all those years ago---committed very similar murders the first time around---when those OTHER FBI agents were investigating. He could have been the one to set the motel on fire---the one who killed Katherine Simmons all those years ago. It was possible, after all. Heck, it was likely. He could have done something—something similar this time, to get them here. To get the FBI here. To use whatever voodoo mind control he had used before----and get these people to kill themselves, just so…
Mulder stepped back and shook his head, letting out a silent chuckle, much to Harrison’s confusion. Scully DID look an awful like that Katherine Simmons, he thought, knowingly. And she WAS an FBI agent---like the other woman had been. And computers were SUCH a wonderful resource, after all, and Mulder HAD seen one in the general store.
This guy could have looked us up, he thought annoyed. He could have lured us here, used whatever thought controlling thing he had going—like that Modell----and used it against them. He could have done all of this, Mulder realized, all because he had a fixation on that FBI agent---Simmons or whoever she was… And Scully just so happened to bare a resemblance…
Mulder’s eyes narrowed. “Why are you so eager to get to my partner?” he suddenly asked. “What is it you’ve done, or want, that you need to see her so badly?”
Harrison threw his arms into the air, frustrated. “What in the hell are you talking about?” he demanded.
Kara ran off the path, clutching her sides as the pain of a mile running on not-so-good legs began to take its toll. The Purple Moon Motor court---an establishment that had guarnered nothing short of folk tale notoriety since she was a child----was up in flames. Exactly like her mother had told her and her friends, once upon an innocence childhood----as part of a horror story at her 11th birthday sleepover party. It was burning. Particularly, the western end of it. Smoke and flames and fiery ashes were flying like confetti from the crackling, stricken structure.
Good God, she thought, horrified.
Although, to be honest, it wasn’t exactly the motel that spooked her, the fire that had her stopping dead in her tracks before she could scream or make another move. It was the white-nightgown clad figure, the red head wandering like an autistic child, about five doors down from what looked like the origin of the fire. A ghost, Kara thought, horrified, glued to the spot like a frightened deer caught in the path of an oncoming truck. It’s the ghost of that dead FBI agent----the one whose partner killed her---come to avenge her death. Or kill her again—relive it.
Oh god. Her eyes went wide…
“Are you insane?” Harrison demanded, walking closer to Mulder as if challenging the other man to a fight.
Mulder, for his part, stood his ground and refused to waver. His feet were grounded. His posture rigid. And as a matter of fact, he had more pity in his eyes than fear or contempt, and that made Harrison angrier. Damn it, the man thought annoyed, shaking his head. Here they were, on a virtual Cosmic-g spot for the telekinetically gifted, on the day when all hell broke loose, with his partner’s soul in jeopardy, Mulder’s partner’s life in jeopardy, and suddenly it was all bullshit and his fault. Just like 20 years ago. It was too incredible to believe.
“I’m insane?” Mulder countered, raised eyebrow in place as if his partner were guiding his thoughts. “I think I would have to disagree on that one.”
They stared at each other stubbornly, both refusing to back down. Harrison opened his mouth to speak, but an angry Mulder cut him off real quick.
Mulder continued, “I think it’s YOU who has the problem buddy.”
Harrison shook his head and opened his mouth again. When nothing came out the first time, he tried once more, and his voice came out more edgy and defensive than he would have liked. “What are you suggesting?” he asked, narrowly.
Mulder tilted his chin upwards, eyeing Harrison with something slightly higher than veiled contempt. “I’m SUGGESTING,” he started, refolding his arms, breathing in a drop of early morning air, “that you are at the center of all this. That you’re somehow reading my thoughts---however it is you’re able to do that---- and you know how to use them to manipulate me. I’m SUGGESTING that Maybe Scully hasn’t been in danger at all. That there is not and won’t be any fire. I’m SUGGESTING that the reason why my question of how it is that you’re a walking, dead FBI agent is so unnerving for you is because you’re not REALLY a walking, dead FBI agent. I’m SUGGESTING that you know something you’re not saying, and that this something has a lot to do with a possibly deadly fixation on the late, Special Agent Simmons. I’m SUGGESTING that this is the reason you’re so ansty to see my oddly familiar looking partner. I’m SUGGESTING----“
“Well, you’re wrong.”
The answer was so unexpected and so quiet that Mulder had to stop his rampage, shake his head and move closer, something he knew he shouldn’t do----especially when he was unarmed, but something he needed to do anyway---to hear the man over the annoying chirping of a billion crickets. Something strange was still going on here, Mulder decided uneasily, but he just had this FEELING that this man was not who he said he was. He just had this FEELING…. His head cocked to the side and he regarded the older man’s interruption.
“Come again?” he asked, dryly. “I’m wrong? Prove it.”
Now THAT sounded distinctly Scully, Mulder mused, supressing an inappropriate grin.
Harrison let out what sounded like a sigh of defeat.
“Ok, I give,” he conceeded softly, “you’re right when you say I’m not telling you something, that I’m not really who I say I am, but you’re wrong when you say I’m a murderer. I’m not. And Kathy WAS my partner, regardless of who I am.” Harrison sighed again and furrowed his brow, as if he couldn’t exactly place where or what he had just said---just that he said it, but it made no sense. When had everything gotten so confusing, he wondered vaguely.
Mulder shook his head again. “You lost me, buddy,” he said, blinking a few times as if to take all that in—though not exactly succeeding. “What are you---“
“Alright…” Harrison held up a surrendering hand, palm toward Mulder as if extending a white flag. He stared at the other agent and took a deep breath, starting, “Kathy was…” He closed his eyes for a moment and began again, “Kathy was killed in that 1978 motel fire, a few days after we got here----investigating unexplained deaths, same as you.” He gestured towards Mulder, trying to make a point, and when the other man didn’t interrupt, William continued, “Edina, who was—at that time—about 33 years old or so---ran this place with her husband, Carl. She was always around whenever we got back from… wherever we had been… and she was not shy about her…. Intentions towards me---well, that and her desire to leave this place—to get away from what she called a miserable rat trap life and an abusive husband. I, of course, believed her. I had no reason not to and no proof to dissuade.” He ran a hand through his hair. Mulder shifted his weight but did not interrupt. “Kathy and I were close. Very close. And we had grown closer in the time before I had gotten the case, but ever since we got into town we fought. The night she…” He stammered, then managed, “The night she… died… Edina decided to make her ‘move on me’ so to speak. But I hadn’t wanted anyone but Kathy—more than that, I wanted to apologize for making her life miserable, I wanted to hold her, strangle her for fighting with me, but kiss… her… I dunno…”
Mulder shifted again, uncomfortably, and suddenly felt more of a kinship towards this man than he would have liked to admit. Mulder knew all too well what it was like to fall in love with your partner. It was dangerous and frustrating, angry and very unnerving.
Harrison continued, “I had promised Kathy we’d go out under the stars and use the telescope I had gotten her----she loved the stars and had brought it with her on the assignment—said she’d see them better away from the lights….Anyway, I was going to tell her… I loved her…. That night, I had decided, out of the blue…” He paused, then, “See, Kathy wasn’t an easy person to love. She was closed off. Bottled up. She had temper tantrums—large ones---when she got angry. Sometimes she got so angry you could almost feel it in the air. A few times, I almost thought… Well, it was strange. She’d scream and her mug across the room would shatter---something would fall over—it was like… well, I didn’t want to believe it, but it was like her anger was a palpable force.”
Mulder sighed. “You still haven’t answered my---“
“Getting to it,” Harrison answered. He kicked some dirt with his foot. Grass rode up into his knees and swayed with the breeze. His story drove him and he tried to block out the sounds of the early morning.
“So that night,” Harrison explained, “Kathy put on this white nightgown for whatever reason, and came into my room without knocking. I just… I didn’t THINK, I guess. Edina was there—in my room with me---said her husband had confessed to telekinetic murder—and she was terrified she was next on his hit list. I was just comforting her—assuring her that it would be alright. I had no romantic designs on Edina, and I didn’t know that kissing me had been her intention all along. And when she did, it surprised the hell out of me. And not only that, Kathy saw it… and lost it just as quickly…”
He closed his eyes for a moment, then, “We fought for awhile and I left, pissed off as hell. But I swear, at the time, I didn’t know Edina had killed all those people before we arrived----by using some part of her brain that had awakened, God only knows how. I didn’t know she had the power to do what she did. I didn’t KNOW she would start a fire or kill Kathy. I didn’t know any of this until afterward---when I saw her sitting at Kathy’s bedside at the hospital.”
Mulder nodded thoughtfully, trying to understand and believe the story, but still clinging to the theory that the man was lying through his teeth. It was, as far as he could tell, the ‘Scully’ in him that thought that way. “And so…?” Mulder querried.
Harrison pursed his lips with a grimmace and went on, “And so I ran out after arguing with Kathy that night----I ran out and didn’t get back until she was…” He closed his eyes. “Until it was too late.” Harrison shook his head, defeated. He tried to get his hands not to shake but it was almost a no-win situation.
“I knew the police would think it was me,” he went on, trying to balance his words carefully, “but this town is too small for an actual police force, and I was already at the hospital before the sherriff was even out of bed. I avoided the cops as much as I could—as long as possible---even though I knew it was wrong. I just had to see her… to make sure she was alright…. At any rare, they took Kathy into intensive care and tried to get her to breathe, to wake up, but it was a too late by then. She died and I watched. Do you know what that’s like, Agent Mulder? To stand by and watch the life leak out of the woman you love?”
Mulder looked down. He thought of Scully, when she had been returned, after those three months she had gone missing. He thought of Scully, lying in a hospital bed after a gunshot wound, after a near-fatal case, after following his ass to god only knew where, only to end up half dead because of him. He thought of Scully over and over until it almost hurt to breathe. To think.
No, he decided, painfully. Don’t make it personal. This guy could be lying, he could be---
“I shot myself,” Harrison told him, then pointed to his left temple. “Right here. Square in the head. I couldn’t deal with her leaving me, with my going to her… grave and setting flowers on it… and so I did the most cowardly thing imaginable. I killed myself. Hell of a thing, ain’t it?”
Mulder frowned. “But----“
“But I’m still here,” Harrison finished for him. “I’m talking to you. I’m real. How is that?”
Mulder nodded, mutely.
“Well I tell you,” Harrison sighed, leaning on his left leg, cracking his back. “I didn’t like death too much. It sucked. And no Kathy—to top it all off. I think that’s a punishment, actually. You kill yourself and you can forget about reuniting with your loved ones. Don’t ever do it, Agent Mulder. I can tell you from experience---“
Mulder rolled his eyes. “Get on with it,” he ordered, impatiently.
“Right,” Harrison agreed, softly, then, “When you die, Agent Mulder, something strange happens. You disconnect. You leave yourself. You float around like a leaf. It’s you but it’s not. No one can see you, no one knows you’re there. That’s how I happened upon Edina---how I found her sitting next to Kathy’s bed, laughing. She told Kathy—or rather, Kathy’s body---how she had trained her mind, how ever since Kathy had come to town, Edina had been able to tap into a part of her brain she didn’t even know existed. She said that it was something that had only happened one other time—when she was a child---and that Kathy and I were the reason for it happening again. Then she said that her husband could never understand it, and he would have to die too. She said that she was going to have me for herself---so we could ‘hone’ our talents together, and she had needed Kathy out of the way. I remember, ‘nothing personal’ she had said. She didn’t care who she hurt, as long as she got what she wanted… Me, apparently.”
Mulder blinked, took that into his system, before venturing against his better judgement, “So when she found out you had died….?”
Harrison closed his eyes and let his ears focus on the chirping of crickets… the beginnings of early morning birds against the rush of a gentle breeze. And to think, he hadn’t even gotten to the strange part yet.
“Three more people died that following day,” Harrison answered. “One of a mysterious heart attack---yelling that bees were stinging him, even though no bee stings were found on his body. Another of respiratory collapse-—claims of being buried alive, even though he was in his bathroom, alone. And the third was found in the forest. No witnesses. Heart attack---like the first, though no one knew how or why. But I did—I saw her, close her eyes and chant… whispering strange things… I saw relatives screaming at other relatives, hurling objects with little more than a thought while she… laughed. It was crazy, but it was happening…” His voice trailed off, then stopped as his eyes took on a bitter, vengeful type of quality. “I decided then and there that I’d get to the heart of this. That’d I’d try and find a way to stop her. Something was going on, and it was something that had to do with things I had noticed about my partner---things that Edina noticed and fed on---but that I didn’t know about till that night. In that case…I thought that she had stolen Kathy… taken her… her soul---that maybe Edina had killed Kathy to study her and steal her abilities—whatever those were---and that maybe Kathy was as lost as me, but Edina was keeping her from finding her way back, you know? Anything was possible at that point. So I…” He paused again and closed his eyes, as if ashamed of this next part.
Mulder’s eyes widened and his hands spread, as if to say, “and?” His expression was anxious, disbelieving in a way, but wanting to believe in another. His posture was tense and nervous, and his right fist kept clenching and unclenching. A breeze rustled the dark strands of his chestnut hair. Suddenly, the sounds of the birds and the crickets were becoming annoying and distracting. Starting to drive him nuts.
“I stole this body,” Harrison explained, biting his lip. “I floated around intensive care until I noticed this guy---my age---no brain activity, just lying in a coma. No hope to live, to breathe, go on… I figured, hey what the hell…” He forced a smile then, “I just kind of sunk… right down into him. Let myself go. His name—my name—to everyone here---is Louis Hegarty. General store owner. Everyone thinks I’m him, made a miraculous recovery but…” He shoved a hand into his pockets, embarrased, and kicked some more loose dirt. “like I said, I’m not who I said I am—not really, but I AM me. The real part of me, anyway. As for the rest…well, I stole him---his identity---this body. It’s not mine, I stole all of it….”
Oh god, Kara thought, over and over again until every sentient thought in her head all rolled into the same phrase. Oh god Oh god Oh god….
It was too unreal. The Purple Moon Motor Court on fire, this night being the anniversary of the folk tale, the smell, all of it, happening again, it was just too… She couldn’t move. Didn’t know what to do. She was terrified to go back through the woods again—back up the park trail and to the house. Usually the woods were safe, almost protected, and she liked them at night. Nobody of consequence ever came into Guinisville, ever, and the murder count was about four for the year. And that was not counting the fact that no one had TECHINCALLY defined those deaths as murders. They were all unexplained---strange, seizures, heart attacks or psychotic episodes that had lead to death—far as she had been told---but none had been shootings, stabbings, or god forbid—rapes. Probably because—as far as she knew—no one ever bothered to come to Guinisville. It was miles and miles in the middle of nowhere, population 100, and so doors were often left unlocked at night. Windows were left open. Supermarkets were more of a gossiping forum than a place to shop. People weren’t stalked and murdered. Fires were never deliberately set. It just didn’t happen. It wasn’t like the city.
Yet she was terrified to go back into the woods.
The rational part of her tried to explain away that anyone could have set fire to the motel. Any culprit could have lit a match and run---specifically—back into the woods where they were most likely armed and dangerous. But the other part of her—the part that was staring at a ghost wandering the foothills outside the motel, frantically screamed that it was a spirit who had done this. It was William Harrison’s ghost come to kill Katherine Simmons all over again, and what if he was out in the woods? Could a ghost kill a real live human? Could a ghost turn her into a ghost?
All were thoughts that crossed Kara’s mind as the ghost she could see---the one who was standing in front of her--- approached, quietly as quicksilver. And even as Kara backed away, nervously, terror wracked through her pores and stationed her, her legs like bricks.
The woman got closer and closer, creeping up on her with a slow, measured pace—as if she were an old woman used to dragging herself along. Her chest heaved deeply as she walked.
And that’s when Kara noticed, with slight confusion, that she wasn’t floating or glowing. There was no aura or faint light settled around the red headed, nightgowned woman, and there was no transparency to her slight, small frame either. Her face was slightly dirty with soot and ash from the fire, and her piercing blue eyes looked slightly disoriented—not red or yellow or glowing or… As a matter of fact, there was nothing that pointed at all to the idea that the woman could be a ghost, other than her strikingly similar appearance to that which her mother had described to her as a child.
Odd, Kara thought, her heart rate slowing down some. Very odd. Maybe she’s not a ghost after all.
The woman got closer still and eyed Kara suspicously—as if perhaps Kara was really the ghost and the woman was the one with the reason to be afraid.
Still, Kara said nothing and did not move. Her heart thundered in her chest and she watched as the fire beyond her played out an elaborate reflection upon the mystery woman’s short cropped, russet hair. Kara swallowed and waited for the earth to swallow her in return. Waited to be woken up. To rise in her bed and see Frank sleeping next to her---snoring up a storm—just as he always did. But it didn’t happen.
The woman spoke then, her voice slightly hoarse and edged with an odd quality Kara couldn’t place.
“Mirror,” the woman said, then frowned, as if hearing her own voice for the first time.
She raised a hand to her delicate, ivory features and ran slender fingers over her smooth, soft cheekbones, past her rosebud lips. Then the surprised hand went around to the back of her head, where she smoothed down gossamer strands of golden red hair. A smile encompassed her lips, one colder and more terrifying than likes of which Kara had ever seen, and the woman spoke again.
“It worked,” she said, softly but smugly and delightfully—as if her smile could be described as anything close to a positive emotion. Then, as if remembering where she was, her eyes snapped to Kara’s.
“No mirror?” she asked, this time with a voice that bordered on the annoyed.
Kara blinked in confusion, wondering at the strange request in light of the fact that the motel was burning to the ground behind them. She opened her mouth to speak, to reply, but before she could, the mystery woman grabbed her copper head in pain—as if a severe headache had overtaken her----and she grunted in agony. Kara made no move towards or away. Her feet rooted to the grass in sheer terror and morbid curiosity.
“Go away…” the woman mumbled to herself, clutching her head in her hands as if a migraine were fast approaching. “No…Not yours anymore… not yours…mine…”
Kara’s heart started beating wildly. If this woman wasn’t a ghost, then surely, she was insane. And probably the one who set the fire, too. But then, if this woman wasn’t a ghost, then she was…
Oh god, Kara thought, the idea crashing over her. If she wasn’t a ghost, then she was the OTHER FBI agent—the one everyone kept saying LOOKED like the first one. Vaguely, Kara could remember her husband telling her that Mark and he had taken the woman’s picture in the town hall. That she looked just like all the stories said she would---red hair, fair complexion---that her partner was a damned good match too. Unwittingly, Kara gasped. Didn’t FBI agents carry guns?
“You know the motel’s on fire,” the small red head informed her, sounding only vaguely interested, before she walked ahead and away from Kara, apparently sick of the lack of conversation.
Kara nodded mutely, taking a deep breath, before her eyes rolled up into her head and she fainted, dead away.
Mulder frowned, then blinked a few times, wondering what Scully would think of all this. More than likely, she would roll her eyes and mutter “oh brother” while insisting that this was all a hoax. Prove it to me, she would say. Give me something I can work from.
And though Mulder wasn’t all that convinced himself, he was a little more opened minded than Scully, and something was telling him, nagging him, that this guy was telling the truth. It was far-fetched, certainly, beyond Scully’s science, no doubt, but it was looking more and more plausible by the minute.
He looked back at the older man, watching the way his brows wrinkled when he sighed, the way his cheeks looked lined, worn. Mulder watched his eyes especially though---stared hard at the man, and determined that there was something else. There was something that this guy was holding back—something he wasn’t saying, and Mulder was going to call him on it before he’d buy into any of this… stuff…
“There’s something else you’re not telling me.” His voice sounded resolute, steely. It sounded more confident than he felt, that was for sure.
Harrison nodded and looked away, catching in his gaze the trunk of a nearby tree. The leaves danced and played with the wind, rustling and brushing past as he watched transfixed. “You’re not going to shut up until you drag it out of me, are you?” he asked Agent Mulder, his tone soft and far away.
Mulder re-folded his arms and responded, “Now you’re getting it,” in a dark, low voice.
Harrison looked back at him. “I didn’t realize it until we were walking,” he admitted, slowly, “I mean—now that I’ve been thinking about it, I realize…but I didn’t realize until I tried to think of what it was that sounded so familiar about your partner’s last name. Now I know…”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed in barely hooded suspicion. He wasn’t sure he was going to like what he was about to hear, but he needed to know, anyway. So it was morbid, stupid curiosity, but he needed to find out. “What do you know?” he asked, almost accusingly.
Harrison shifted his feet and took a deep breath. This was getting more strange and more sordid by the moment. It was too odd for him, much too odd, but… But he knew he needed to disclose this. It was important, and if anything, it might certainly shed light on a few strange items.
“I told you about Kath---my partner’s temper problems,” Harrison explained, letting his arms fall wide to help in his explanation. “But what I didn’t say is why.” He cleared his throat. “You see, Agent Mulder, my partner was born into a single parent household. Her mother loved her very much but she was always preoccupied. They moved around a lot---or so Katherine told me----to avoid her father, as far as her mother had told her, because he was a dangerous man. Katherine harbored a lot of anger about that. She let it spill over into other things, her work, her life… it festered.” Harrison ran a shaky hand through his thinning hair and blinked slowly.
“Katherine’s mother,” he went on, “—Isabel---she changed her last name to ‘Simmons’ when she was very young—after she gave birth to my partner, in 1946, to avoid this man, although she never told Katherine why. All She ever said was that he worked for the state department— that he was a ‘bad guy’ who would ‘take her away.’ And as far as I knew, my partner had no other family---none she knew besides her mother, anyway, because her mother’s family were dead to her. Isabel had been disowned when she got pregnant--- told not to come back if she ran off----which she did.”
Mulder shook his head and managed, “I don’t… what are you saying here----“
Harrison waved off Mulder’s interruption impatiently, continuing, “Isabel had a younger brother, two parents and a set of grandparents that she never saw again. My partner always wondered about them, mostly with anger, because her mother never said much about them. She also never said much to me about it---probably because it pissed her off, to a large degree. But one year, on her birthday, she did tell me something. It was when we were both… a little… drunk, I guess you could say.” Harrison allowed himself to blush and wallow in the memory for a moment, remembering her---their partnership---as if it were the only treasure of his life.
He cleared his throat, then went on, “I had given her a poem about the
origin of her name, ‘Katherine.’ I asked her what she thought it meant,
and she told me that she didn’t know much about her family. She said
that all she knew was that she had been named after her mother’s middle
name, which had also been her mother’s mother’s name…”
Mulder’s licked his lips nervously and stared at the man in front of him. Somehow, the entire evening had turned into one long tangent after another, one strange explanation after another, and at this point, Mulder was almost numb. Prepared for anything. Anything at all. After what had happened with Scully, the scare about the fire, and then all the things this guy had claimed, things were just looking… stranger, if not any less confusing.
Whatever happened to just going on a case without becoming part of it, Mulder wondered. Why can’t I just tell Scully how I feel, he thought angrily, without something always turning it into an X file? It was unbelievable.
“Ok, I’ll bite,” Mulder sighed, leaning his head into his left side. He was feeling more tired than he let on. “What are you saying?”
Harrison watched the young agent closely. “My partner’s mother---Isabel’s mother--- was named Katherine, Agent Mulder…” He paused, then added, “Katherine SCULLY. She adopted the surname after marrying Gerald Scully, my partner’s grandfather. She then gave her eldest daughter, Isabel Scully, the middle name Katherine—after her.”
Mulder’s face went white. His heart, as he was sure, stopped. Ok, so Dana Scully’s middle name was Katherine too. So what? That didn’t mean… No, it certainly didn’t mean anything… did it?
“No,” he said, shaking his head definitively, “That’s impossible. Scully would have told me if she thought she was related----“
“Not if she didn’t know,” the other man reasoned, exasperated. “Isabel was disowned from the Scully family when she became pregnant at nineteen. That was in 1945, Agent Mulder. Her younger brother Bill was only fifteen at the time… She had Katherine in 1946, changed her name that same year, and never saw her family again, she----“
“Wait,” Mulder interrupted anxiously, waving a near shaking hand. “Did you just say ‘Bill?’ ”
Harrison didn’t get to finish his explanation though. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a long, dull, thunderous pounding began to emanate through the dense underbrush. It started hammering and droning into his skull and in response, he groaned in pain. It smashed and drummed into his head, ripping him apart. A quick glance towards his companion showed that it was having the same effect on Mulder, as well.
Both men couldn’t help but put their hands over their ears. The rumbling was dense, secluded, and it was almost as if it were an inward sensation---not an outward noise. It was like their heads were being pulled apart systematically, slowly, almost as if they were imagining the sound, rather than hearing it.
Mulder groaned loudly, falling to his knees in pain, and Harrison followed in suit. Their eyes were squeezed shut and nothing seemed to be penetrating except the horrible sound. It was miserable, ripping, tearing them apart. Finally, Harrison gave into it and sunk to the ground. His eyes rolled into his head and he passed out.
Mulder’s teeth gritted and he took deep breaths, pressing his hands to his head as if he thought it were going to split in two. If it didn’t rip down the center, he thought, then surely it would kill him. What WAS that ungodly sound? It was almost like a feeling---rather than a noise, it was so powerful.
And then there was something else---something that penetrated the haze of his throbbing skull. It made his eyes go wide in fear even as he winced and had to squeeze them shut again. He whimpered and dropped to the ground, his knees curling up into his chest as he heard his name, again and again, over the thudding pain.
“MULDER!!!” came the familiar voice. The voice he knew so well. “MULDER, SHE’S NOT ME! OH GOD, MULDER, HELP!!!! MULDER!!!”
Then he heard nothing as his eyes went up into his head and he passed out.
To be continued in Chapter 11....