We All Die Virgins
By Jaime Lyn

Chapter 15

11400 Commonwealth Dr,
Georgetown Maryland

Lily gazed nervously at the door to apartment 24, her palms dripping sweat on the slick brass doorknob.  She’d never been a big fan of breaking and entering, at least not when the promise of returning back to her own home, safe and uncaught, wasn’t involved, but...  What was it Rhett Butler once said to Scarlett O Hara?  “You’re not the least bit sorry you stole, but you’re terribly, terribly sorry you’re going to jail.”  

For Lily, the thrill of sneaking in, of getting what she wanted without anyone seeing her get it, was a lot like spinning in violent circles and then stopping short, just for the head rush.  But of course, the consequences terrified her.  She’d been to the police department twice already, and hated every second.  She’d seen all those episodes of Dragnet and Homicide and NYPD Blue; the slammer, the electric chair—did the police really execute people for stealing?  She’d once seen a movie where two men wandered into a strange town and stole a can of tuna, and the town sheriff hung the first guy for stealing the tuna, and electrocuted the second for aiding and abetting the first guy. If tuna stealing was a capital offense, then certainly, an apartment was bigger than a can of tuna, and what if—

Kelsey nudged Lily from behind, catching her square in the side.  “Hurry it up,” she hissed, craning her neck to see down the hallway.  

“Ow.  Quit it.  Give me a minute,” Lily grumbled, taking a deep breath and twisting the brass handle, closing her eyes, imagining an opened doorway.  She heard the hinges squeal against the molding first, the lock clicking out of place second, and she pushed open the door.  Surely, this 'flying' thing was a lot easier than the old way of breaking into locked homes.    

At first, the work of ‘flying’ made Lily nauseous, even itchy in the joints.  She couldn’t seem to concentrate on a given subject for more than a few seconds, and even when she could, she had a hard time forcing the little pieces inside of her to align.  “I don’t have any goddamned pieces,” she’d insisted to her sister.  “I don’t have little magnets inside me.  I just have a headache.  A bad one.  So leave me alone already.”

But Kelsey wouldn’t let up on her. “Do you want to be a pathetic little nobody all your life?” she’d asked.  “Do you want to grow up old and bitter, and end up like mother?”

Kelsey was determined.  Ever since the Holiday Inn, all she’d done was nag, nag, nag. Kelsey was like Samantha on Bewitched with a new pet project, except Kelsey didn’t have a Darren or a nosy neighbor or a daughter named Tabitha...

Well, maybe Kelsey wasn’t so much like Bewitched.  But Lily couldn’t help missing her TV all the same.

At any rate, with three hours to kill on a bus from Long Island to a magical land that the map called “Georgetown, Maryland,” Kelsey had been insistent on passing the slow-moving minutes by working on something called “alignment and mental fitness.”  Whatever that was. She even made Lily jot down all the important stuff; above all else, ‘flying’ was a mix of building from the diaphragm, and then putting all the pieces together in that place in the brain capable of solving kitty-cat jigsaw puzzles.

“I hate those stupid things,” Lily had said, scribbling on her pad with dark, angry whirls and loops.  “I’m terrible at puzzles.”
But apparently, a little concentration made all the difference.  The mental exercises had taken hours to complete, often causing violent headaches or gushing nosebleeds. Once, the exercises made her so queasy that her stomach fizzled out on her.  Gasping for air, she had to shove her way towards the back of the bus, into an alcove-sized bathroom, where she vomited and cried and echoed gasps into the darkness. She banged her fist on the toilet, wiped her sweaty forehead, and whispered a single name, “Fox Mulder, Fox Mulder,” as if, upon hearing her chant, he would come and rescue her from herself.  He was her future lover, he was her goal: Special Agent Fox Mulder.

“Calm the hell down,” Kelsey had told her.  “You have the patience of a fruit fly.”  

But now things were different.  Lily could fly now.  It had taken hours and tears and a burnt esophagus from gagging up blood, but in the harrowing stretch of time between her hometown of Lynbrook and this new, stranger town of Maryland, she’d gotten used to shutting herself down, letting herself float away…sometimes into the minds of those around her, sometimes into the minds of animals.  Kelsey called this kind of flying “transporting.”  Like turning into car or a plane. Lily just left her body and travelled.  She transported.  Except there were no roads or air-traffic controllers dotting the route Lily took.  

“Remind me what it is we’re doing in here,” said Lily, reaching behind Kelsey to carefully close the apartment door behind them.  Lily had never been inside an apartment building before, and she certainly hadn’t realized that all the little residences would be so close together.  Anyone could walk out and see them.  Anyone could hear the door close.  

“We’re looking for clues,” said Kelsey, edging past Lily and into the foyer.  “If you want to know the enemy, you have to study her.”  

Kelsey hummed to herself and squinted at a framed picture on the coffee table: Special Agent Scully and another woman with lighter, curlier red hair.  Both women stood in a field of long, flower-spotted grass, arms around each other, laughing.  The photo was framed in a simple, wooden frame, and had spots of dust on the top.  

“This is her, isn’t it?” asked Kelsey.  

“Yeah, the one on the left,” said Lily, frowning at the picture, walking past it.  This whole thing would be a lot harder if she thought about Agent Scully having friends and family and people who loved her and would miss her and all.  Lily wasn’t a monster, after all.  She wasn’t like that girl in that HBO movie who tried to kill her friend by pushing her out a window.  Lily was just a girl in love, and Special Agent Scully was in her way.  What was it that movie mobsters always said?  “Look, man.  Nothing personal.”

“Hey,” said Kelsey, already on the other side of the living room, her head hidden behind the wide, arched door of a wooden armoire.  “Check this out, Lil.”   

Lily approached Kelsey from behind and peered over her sister into the oversized, wooden chest.  Kelsey turned briefly to Lily, smiled crookedly, and whistled.  Lily gave her a playful shove.   

“Looks like the tin-woman actually has a heart,” said Kelsey, her arms folded over her breasts.  

“Indeed,” said Lily, running her fingertips over the armoire’s golden handle.  She reached over her sister for the opposite door and pried it outwards for a better look.  

Kelsey snorted.  “Junk,” she admonished, with a wave of her hand.

“Memories,” murmured Lily.  

On the bottom armoire shelf sat a collection of strange, sentimental knickknacks.  First, there was an old, light blue teddy bear with a missing right eye: the other eye was a shiny, black button.  Next to the teddy bear was a framed photo of two red-headed girls wearing blue and white sailor dresses and black, buckled shoes.  The pudgy, red-headed girl on the left had her palms on her cheeks, her tiny, pink mouth opened in an ‘O’ of surprise.  The red-headed girl on the right, slightly taller and skinnier than the one on the left, and with longer red hair, leaned in towards the littler one, her mouth puckered in an exaggerated kiss. 

Next to this oldish-photo was another framed photo: a little red-headed boy in a blue jumper and a cowboy hat.  A small wooden car sat next to the photo; Charles was written in faded, black script on one side.

The final photo on the lowest shelf was of the tiny red-headed girl from the first photo and the little boy from the second.  This photo was blown up larger than the other two, and was the only one framed in gold.  

On the second shelf was some sort of graduation certificate framed in black: Georgetown University Medical Department.  A dusty, black teddy bear sat next to the framed diploma, this one wearing a black and white striped t-shirt, holding a baseball bat, and sporting a black cap with the letters N-Y stamped on the front.  Next to the bear was a small, metallic toy van that said Mystery Mobile on one side, and off to the left of the van stood two action figures. Under the female action figure’s purple, booted foot was a piece of blue paper with the words, “You are here” scrawled in bold, capital letters.  

“What the heck is all this crap?” Kelsey asked, jabbing her finger in the direction of the faded note.  

“I don’t know,” said Lily, her gaze resting on a black and silver framed picture in the far right hand corner.  This last one interested Lily the most, and she scooped it up off the shelf for further inspection.  

“Good looking guy,” said Kelsey.  “Bet you he’s been around the block a few times—“

“Shut up,” Lily muttered.  

It was the two of them together: Dana Scully and Special Agent Fox Mulder.  Neither of them looked towards the camera, and Lily guessed that the photo had most likely been taken candidly.  Agent Scully sat in the left hand corner of the frame, her lips upturned but her brows furrowed, as if a very bad joke had just been whispered in her ear.   Her gaze focused squarely on Agent Fox Mulder, who crouched in front of Agent Scully with his hands on her knees.  He had a smile on his face, his head cocked to one side, as if he’d been laughing at her right before the photographer snapped the picture.  A bevy of strange electrical equipment sat on metal shelves to the right and left of them, and a flashlight by Agent Scully's feet cast a burnished white spotlight towards the ceiling.

“Besides being his partner, the fact that she’s so pretty is definitely going to be problem,” said Kelsey, tapping the frame.  “I mean…look what you’re up against, Lil.  He’s definitely got something going on with her.  You told me you saw him kissing her…”  

Lily’s eyes narrowed as she ran her fingers over the photo encasement, oil from her skin leaving fogged tracks on the glass. The way Fox Mulder smiled at Dana Scully.  The way he touched her knee caps.  The proximity from his face to hers—Lily felt like screaming at the top of her lungs.  Had Agent Scully kissed him right after this photo was taken?  Had she pulled him into her arms like that woman in the Lifetime movie and tricked him into her bed… and…

“You can’t have him,” said Lily to the woman in the photo, her fingertips pressed to the image.  “I’m so sick of people… I’m sick of being the good girl.  You can't get anything that way.  God, you can't get anything!”

The armoire doors slammed violently shut, shuddering against the shelves, nearly ripping off the hinges.  

“Hey… Hey, it’s okay,” whispered Kelsey, who leaned closer to Lily.  She rested her chin in the crook of Lily’s neck and pressed a kiss to her shoulderblade.  Lily tried to smile, to nod in return, but she couldn’t still her shaking hands.  She kept thinking of… of that woman.  That little sneak, Dana Scully, trying to seduce Fox Mulder with her cute smiles and her black lacy underwear.  

“Come on,” Kelsey said, tugging Lily’s arm.  “We can’t stay here for long.  Let’s go find somewhere to set up camp.  Just… put that picture back.  You know we can’t take it with us.  What do you think Agent Scully is going to do when she comes home and finds it missing?”

Lily sighed, and ran her index finger over Fox Mulder’s kind, gentle face one last time.  She turned to her sister and smiled.  “You’re right,” she said.  “I know you’re right.”




Dana Scully slammed the front door shut behind her, kicking the mold paneling once to relieve her anger—and then twice more because she was there, and the wood was there, and because it was illegal to discharge her weapon without just cause.  

“God damn it,” she cursed, and stomped her high-heeled foot on the ground to relieve the pressure that throbbed up her ankle and through her leg.  

For the afternoon’s unfortunate, unusual events, Scully had no explanation: nothing beyond the fact that she and Mulder seemed to be lightning rods for bizarre activity.  Lily Ann Harbor, the lastest missing flower in Lynbrook, Long Island's ecclectic attic, was Mulder's latest paranormal obsession; he was convinced that the mystery of the disappearing Harbor family somehow directly linked to everything important in the X files.  Not that he had any proof to support this vague assumption.  Or if he did, he wasn’t sharing.

Mulder was also convinced that, like always, an international, evil, governmental conspiracy was hell-bent on destroying both of them before the truth could be discovered.  Why was it that all bad days had to start with international, evil governmental conspiracies obscuring the truth from the American public?  Why, for once, couldn’t it just be a run in her stockings?

Scully squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her fists.   When she realized she was still holding her keys, she pulled back her arm and flung her fist forward, launching her keychain across the room.  The keys hit the wall, and then the counter, and then slid to the kitchen tile with an echoing ‘clang.’

The worst of it wasn’t even the scene she’d made in the courtroom: the migraine headache that had come from out of nowhere, twisting her insides, warping the flow of oxygen to her brain, wracking her entire body until she’d somehow blacked out from the pain.  She’d awakened, disoriented, on a cold, leathery couch outside the OPR room, a dozen concerned agents and A.D Skinner standing over her.  

No.  That wasn’t half bad.  

The worst wasn’t even when she’d shakily gotten up to leave, dusting herself off and waving away all questions of concern, insisting that she was fine when really, she’d flashed back to her cancer days, to bending over the toilet in agony, wishing for death and fearing it all at the same time.  

No, that wasn’t the icing on the cake.

The worst of it wasn’t the stares, or the murmurs, or even the irritatingly satisfied smirks of random agents as she left the building—those self-congratulatory whispers of, “I knew Spooky and Spookier were fucking, I knew it the whole time.”  

No.  The worst was listening to Mulder lie for her, listening to him spin a falsity so offensive and horrendous and damaging that she wasn’t sure his career could ever recover.  

Or their friendship, for that matter.  

Jesus. Non-consensual sex.  What the hell was he thinking?

Fox Mulder’s life, his work, his quest—the X files.  And now he was terminated from them, and from her—at least in a professional sense--possibly forever.  If the FBI pursued these sexual assault charges against him—even if she refused to corroborate Mulder’s story, and if they ran their courtrooms the way they ran their “unofficial meetings,” Mulder would certainly end up white-water-rafting across ‘Shit’s Creek’ with nothing but chopsticks for oars.    

The phone rang suddenly and Scully jumped, one hand flying to her temples. Her forehead still throbbed and pulsed every now and then, vibrating as if tuned to some invisible, under-the-skin electrode.  Scully groaned, cursed herself, and snatched up the cordless phone on the second ring.  

“What?” she grumbled.

“Yes, I’m looking for Dana Scully.  We used to clean out broom closets together at the FBI.”  

Scully sighed and leaned her stiff back against the kitchen cabinets, breathing in the scent of pine cleaner and oak.  She cracked her neck and managed, “That’s not funny,” with her fingers stiffly pressed over her eyes.  Besides the dull ache behind her brows, she felt like screaming and banging the headset against the wall, but she supposed mindless rebukes would have to do for now.  

“I’m not joking,” said Mulder.  “ ‘Used to’- key phrase.  You heard the Skin-man.  I’ve been terminated until further notice.  But hey, on the upside, you just might get that desk you’ve always wanted.”

Scully frowned. In the drainboard by the sink was a glossy, cracked, ceramic mug from her Quantico days that she was sure nobody would ever miss if she decided to grab it and toss it out the window.  But then, she’d probably lose the battle to stop after just the one mug, and really, there were about fifteen mugs in the left hand corner of the cabinet that would shatter nicely… but when the rage subsided, what would she drink coffee out of?  

‘Mulder’s hollowed out skull,’ some evil part of her brain easily supplied, and she shivered at her own anger.

“Are you blaming me, Mulder?” she asked.

“No,” said Mulder.  “But you sound kind of bleak, Sister Spooky.  I thought I’d work my leavening skills on you.”

“You just spent the afternoon pissing away your career, Mulder,” Scully said, moving into the living room and slipping out of her heels.  The leather shoes fell to the floor with synchronous ‘clunks,’ and Scully winced.  “What do you want me to say?  Thank you? Oh, Mulder, my hero?”

In the brief pause that followed her words, Scully imagined backing her partner out onto the terrace of his apartment and then shoving him over the side.  And then she imagined backing the entire OPR panel out onto the terrace and shoving each of them over after him.  If it wasn’t bad enough that she and Mulder were being ambushed for sexual impropriety, the one rule they hadn’t broken—she would know, after all, since she was the one who spent night after night singing herself to sleep with a pint of Ben and Jerrys--it was even worse that Mulder felt the need to martyr himself for her.  God forbid he should stop to think about the consequences of his actions.  Especially before he went and hung himself with his selfless, masochistic need to prove his superiority in ethical convictions to… to the FBI panel specializing in superior ethical convictions.  

“Look, Scully,” said Mulder, as if he had been completely prepared to argue with her and then realized he was no longer equipped with a gun, “I didn’t call to ask for your forgiveness, or even for your understanding on this, because if I know you—and I do—I know you won’t see eye to eye with me.  But I promise you, I know what I’m doing, and—“

“Don’t bullshit me, Mulder,” Scully managed, leaning back into the couch.  “I don’t have the patience for it right now.”

“I’m… I’m not,” Mulder returned.  He actually sounded astonished that she was so mad, and Scully found herself astonished at his astonishment.  “But,” he went on, “I seriously… I have a reason for calling.  I know my leavening skills need a little more tweaking, but I swear I didn’t call just to say I love you.”  Mulder let out a short, soft chuckle, exhaling out onto the phone and leaving a trail of silence in his wake.  

Oxygen seemed to drain from the room.  

Scully’s eyes narrowed; her mouth opened, and then closed. Her throat went dry; she was going to vomit up the afternoon’s coffee all over the carpet.  

On the one hand, Mulder was kidding.  Of course he was kidding.  But her arms and legs still felt completely numb, as if she’d just been struck on the back of the head with a blunt object. Mulder; he didn’t love her.  And besides, why in the hell should it matter if Mulder did love her?  She didn’t love him—at least, not in the widely understood definition of the term.  That is, she loved him dearly, loved him more than almost anything, but she wasn’t…wasn’t…  

“What?” Scully took a breath.

Mulder cleared his throat, stuttering over himself for an explanation.  “I--Sorry….Sorry, Scully. A—a joke… It was…I just called to say I love you? Stevie Wonder?  Classic shlock rock?  You know-- I just called…to say... I love you...”

Oh God and now he was trying to sing. Fox Mulder was uncomfortable and tonedeaf and at the same time, he was trying to sing his foot out of his mouth.  

Scully waved her hand in the air, shaking her head, feeling circulation returning to her knee caps.  “I know the song,” she broke in, cutting him off before he completely embarrassed both of them.

“Right,” said Mulder, slightly hoarse.  “So—“

“So… just tell me why you called,” Scully finished abruptly. “You were saying...something...”  Christ, what she needed was a cold compress and a hard drink.  A shot of Jack Daniels, maybe.  Happy Early Goddamned New Year.

“Ah.  Yes, that.”  Mulder cleared his throat again: his way of erasing discomfort.  Fox Mulder washed off embarrassment like normal people washed off dirt.  “I wanted to update you on the state of the Flowers in the Attic investigation.”

Scully sighed.  Somewhere up in New York City, Dick Clark was shaking his head at her.  

“What about it?” Scully asked, finding that she actually craved the distraction.  Her partner was staring down the barrel of unemployment, the possibility of a rape hearing, the smearing of his reputation, the loss of their partnership, and jail time. Meanwhile, he was worried sick about a missing whacko from Long Island.  Sometimes, Dana Scully wished she had her partner’s fortitude.

“Thought you’d never ask,” said Mulder, sounding amazingly upbeat.  “After I got politely tossed out on my ass, I got a call from Mark.  Impeccable timing, that guy.  He says that Lily’s definitely gone, Scully.  Just…gone.  He’s been canvassing the five towns all day without any luck.  So a few hours ago he went around to the neighbors, you know, to try and drum up some leads.  He talked to that older guy, the obnoxious one, Noodlesoup or whatever his name is—“

“Noodlebaum,” muttered Scully, closing her eyes in exhaustion.  

“Right.  Anyway, Mark said that Noodlebaum mentioned something about mysterious men pulling up to Lily’s house at all hours of the night.  He says the men came randomly, that their cars never had license plates or emissions stickers, and they were the only cars to enter and exit the driveway.  The Harbors didn’t drive.  He also says he’d hear screaming coming from the house on the nights that the black cars pulled up—he assumed it was Lily bewitching the men…”

Scully rubbed her temples.  “Mulder,” she stated.  Apparently, the words “terminated until further notice” meant nothing to him.  “If you have a point—“

“Getting there,” said Mulder, taking a breath.  “So Mark interrogated a few other neighbors—he didn’t mention the black car or the men specifically to any of them, because he figured--“

“Noodlebaum is off his nut?”

“Possibly,” Mulder conceded.  “But most of the neighbors couldn’t help him out anyway.  Nobody seems to know anything about the elusive Harbor family.  But there was one woman across the street who remembered something interesting.  She mentioned seeing a black car pull up to the Harbor house about a year or two back.  She was walking her dog when the dog got loose and she had to chase him down the block.  When she caught up with the dog in Alice and Frank Harbor’s bushes, she heard part of a conversation taking place in the doorway.  She mentioned the phrase ‘Men of God’ to Mark, and Mark couldn’t place it.  So he called me and—“

“And let me guess,” said Scully, shifting onto her side, her head pounding harder.  “You recognized the phrase.  And it drove you crazy out there on the steps of the Hoover building, where you couldn’t look it up, so you snuck back in and went immediately to the basement where you pulled out the spare backup disk from under my work station.”

Silence on Mulder’s end.  He clucked his tongue.  “You really should market these telepathic powers of yours, G-woman.”

Scully smiled, and the throbbing receded.  “It’s not telepathy,” she said, kicking her legs over the armrest, smiling at the familiar territory of matching wits.  “For someone hell-bent on chasing the unforeseen in a Universe of self-proclaimed, random possibilities, you have to be the most predictable person I know, Mulder.”

Mulder took a breath, and she pictured him trying not to smile.  “You’re coming on to me, aren’t you?”

Scully shook her head; she felt warm, and then cold, and then warm again.  Mulder’s voice rumbled through her like an emotional back massager.  The tingle in her toes made her feel as if her body had betrayed her.  “So what did you find?”  

“Four files,” said Mulder.  “One dating back to 1991, another dating back to 1994, another to '97, and the last one to '98.  Four cases of unexplained events surrounding four specific individuals in different parts of the country.  

“In 1991, a young girl turned up on the doorstep of an Orphanage in Topeka, Kansas.  The social workers were questioned following an inquiry into illegal practices –a bunch of children fell spontaneously ill over the course of a week and the frequent doctor visits prompted an investigation. 

"The head social worker said that a young girl turned up early one morning the week before the inquiry, and that she refused to speak or give her name.  The social worker felt bad for her, nicknamed her ‘Jane,’ and fed her dinner. The on-premises counselor allowed Jane to stay despite serious indications of mental incapacity, and as the days progressed, Jane’s presence caused quite a stir.  The childrens’ illnesses—migraines, stomach aches, vertigo--- the social workers claimed that it all started when Jane came to stay at the facility. Beyond that, children complained of being terrorized.  They said that when they angered Jane, books and toys flew at them from out of thin air. A few of the adults even said that the girl created atmospheric conditions in the room.”

Scully’s eyebrows raised. “Atmospheric conditions?”

“Wind tunnels,” said Mulder, “Thunderstorms—that sort of thing.  The head social worker didn’t believe it herself until she accidentally walked in five minutes early for bed-check.  She claims that lightning erupted from Jane’s fingers and flung two children across the room.  Another social worker who entered the room on hearing what he called ‘a bloody ruckus,’ says that Jane was huddled in a corner, muttering nonsense about ‘the men of God' coming to get her again.  When he approached the girl to calm her down, he says an electric shock passed from her hand to his.  He passed out from the jolt, and when he awoke, he saw Jane being dragged from the room by three dark suited men he didn’t recognize. The next day the orphanage fell under scrutiny of the local PD.”

“Mulder,” Scully began, “First of all, children are often prone to lying, to creating elaborate fantasies in order to keep themselves from getting in trouble.  Some children are even clever enough to draw others into their fantasies—social workers and counselors in close proximity to these children would be especially vulnerable to instances of folie a deux, or another temporary sort of psychosis.  Besides that, the fact of the matter is lightning can’t be manufactured so simply by living organisms.  Human electrical impulses help drive the heart to pump blood to vital organs, but those impulses are weak at best—“

“I know the drill, Scully,” said Mulder.  “But we’ve seen shit like this before; Individuals who can produce abnormal amounts of electricity, as if they’re channeling the outflow of electrons by some mutated impulse.  Remember that kid with the lightning who was obsessed with his teacher?   Cecil Lively, who had some sort of built-in immunity to flame?  What if those individuals are more related to one another than we think?  What if those random cases weren’t so random?”

Scully smiled tiredly.  “You’ve been preparing this speech all day, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, well, I’ve had a lot of time this afternoon to think.”

Scully shook her head.  More than a love of investigation, Scully sometimes had to wonder whether it was the brainstorming Mulder loved, the storytelling.  Most of the time, he stopped spinning a story at the climax just to see if she would ask him to keep going.  Or else he’d have her play a sort of bizarre twenty-questions game with him instead of just telling her what he thought was really going on.  It was all very ‘day in the life of Dana Scully,’ and playing the game with him now made her ache.  So used to the cerebral chess match was Scully, that she wasn’t sure what she would do if someone took the checkered board away from her.   

“What are you saying, Mulder?”

She could feel him grinning.  “I’m saying… I’m still working out the kinks in this one, still learning as I go, sort of.  So just…trust me on this.  Play along. When I first considered the idea, I was skeptical myself.”  

Scully’s eyebrow rose even higher.  Mulder was never skeptical about anything except whether or not the Knicks would make the playoffs.  

“What idea?”

“That young girl in the orphanage was only the first example I found, and you’re right; the evidence is a little sketchy if I’m basing a theory on just one example.  So I dug a little deeper to try and remember where I saw the phrase ‘men of God’ before.  I turned up three other instances: Amarillo- Texas, Sunnyvale- California, and Tequesta- Florida.  One case in every major section of the U.S except for New England, which is where Lily turned up. And in Lily’s case, as with the others, the phrase ‘men of God’ pops up in conjunction with an individual who can demonstrate fantastic supernatural ability of a sort.”

Scully shifted the phone to her opposite ear.  Her brow furrowed in concentration.  “Mulder, we don’t have any evidence that Lily perpetuated anything.”

Mulder groaned, and Scully had to pull the phone away from her ear.  “Scully, were you not there for the Eiffel Tower of light-up motel furniture?”

“Mulder, I—“

“It wasn’t mesmerism.  It wasn’t mass hypnosis.  It wasn’t some psychotic REM dream state in which you imagined the entire thing.  It was what it was.  Can you at least admit that?”

Scully sighed and recalled situation in question.  The Holiday Inn motel room; every hair on her body had stood on end; even the air had been tingly with excited electrons: some odd, claustrophobic feeling that only comes when the Universe is doing something it shouldn’t do.  Every scrap of furniture in her room had been piled, end on end, and had glowed in spurts and sparks like pixie-dust gone postal.  She’d seen the phenomena and had come up with no explanation, which drove her insane by default; Dana Scully hated things that had no explanation.   Mulder, however, often enjoyed pointing out to her that there wasn’t always an explanation.  At least, not one in textbook form.

“Alright,” she said.  “For argument’s sake, I’ll give you the glowing tower of furniture.”  
“Agreed,” said Mulder.  “And I’ll raise you that last file from Tequesta in 98; a fire broke out in a local strip mall.  Several witnesses claim the fire only spread in one direction—that it followed a teenaged boy down the street as he fled the scene, screaming something about ‘the men of God.’  They said the fire even looked like a hand.  When firefighters arrived to put out the blaze, you know what they found?”

Scully’s headache briefly returned and she wondered where she’d hidden the Advil.  Her skull didn’t just throb—it tingled, like she was being pried open and probed.  The thought made her shiver; she didn’t like thinking in abstracts.  “Let me guess,” she said.  “The stores were completely decimated, no trace of debris or charred remains.  Just peculiar ash similar to what we found in Long Island.”

“Bingo. Hey—you’re good.  You sure about that telepathic thing?”  

“Huh,” said Scully, frowning, trying to come up with some viable theory she could volley back at Mulder. “So what’s the connection?  You mentioned Cecil Lively—“

“Yeah,” said Mulder.  “So I was thinking back to a UFO convention I went to in 97.  I met up with an old friend of mine, a philosophy junkie by the name of Wilson who did some freelance profiling for the BSU before he took up novel writing permanently.  He had some quirky theories about the government, about their interests in aliens—or alien technology, if you will.”

“Alien technology,” Scully echoed.  

“Yeah,” Mulder continued, “Specifically, he had ideas about genetic planning; why are certain Olympic athletes are so good at what they do—almost to the point of invincibility?  The ability level is dramatically higher today than it was years ago, and Wilson doesn’t think that it’s coincidence or the result of harder training.  What makes athletes, athletes?  Or what makes doctors, doctors? You know the science; the distribution of certain traits, certain abilities inherent in our DNA structure helps mold us physically and mentally.  We find something unusual and we call it a fluke, a mutation, an evolution of species even, but we don’t think twice about the possibility that the mutation could have been orchestrated purposely.  Are we random or are we engineered?”

Scully squinted as she processed this.  For whatever reason, she pictured the conveyor belt at a chocolate chip factory; each chip manufactured, turned out, unoriginal.  “You’re talking about genetic engineering,” she said.  “But in wide-scale format.  Mulder, that kind of technology exists, but it’s only in its infancy.  And even if such a program did exist, how could the government engineer super-traits in ordinary children without their mothers ever knowing?”

“How do they ever do anything without our knowing?” said Mulder.  “Besides that, it’s not even… it’s more than genetic pick-and-choose, Scully. I’m talking about a project that goes right back to my sister, right back to the government and the truth we’ve been searching for all these years.  I’m talking about experimentation with alien DNA and human DNA to create something… I don’t know.  Not necessarily alien, but more human than human.  What if they’ve been trying to create… some sort of superhuman?  What if all these years, the Cecil Livelys and the Gibson Praises of the world have been throw-out results of early experimentation with alien DNA and the human brain?”

“Superhumans,” murmured Scully, still not quite sure what page she’d just flipped to in Fox Mulder’s Book of the Grotesque.  “Humans with enhanced brain function or enhanced physicality, with active DNA mingled with either alien DNA or inactive DNA that may or may not be alien in origin.  For what purpose?  Prolonged vitality?  The fountain of youth? Defense? Against who?”

“I don’t know,” said Mulder.  “But I think the more appropriate question would be, ‘defense against what?’ ”

“And you think Lily is one of these… these engineered humans.”

“I think it’s possible.  Genetic selection isn’t without precedence, Scully; the technology may be in its infancy, as you put it, but it is out there.  Parents choosing a baby’s eye color and hair color from a lineup of colors; it’s the future of genetics.  But what if they’ve gone farther than that?  We both witnessed Gibson Praise utilizing a part of his brain that goes otherwise unused by the rest of us, but neither of us knows how he ended up with that specific ability.  What if ESP is but one enhanced capability of the human brain?  What if…these scientists, these conspirators—or whatever you want to call them—what if they’re working with borrowed technology and using ordinary people in hole-in-the-wall towns to further these experiments?  A zealously religious, previously childless couple would be perfect candidates for such a program, don’t you think?”

Scully took a breath, blinked a few times in bemusement to process this.  “So… let me get this straight… You’re saying that Lily and her sister are test subjects in a program designed to force the hand of evolution.  And because we came too close to this truth, the entire X Files division was dragged through the mud and you were thrown out on your ass.  Well.”  She shook her head.  “Them’s fighting words, Mulder.”  She turned her chin into her palm.  “Where’s your proof of this?”

“Lily’s my proof.  If we could find her, Scully…My God, we’d have all the evidence we needed.  Everything in the X files—from the key to telekinesis, to ESP, to Eugene Tooms.  Look… Do you think…hypothetically speaking… that it’s possible for the human brain to exhibit abilities beyond what medical science tells us is possible?  We’ve seen evidence of the fantastic in our work, and we've already established that there are men out there doing experiments, tagging us through our small pox vaccination scars.  What if genetic enhancement is part of the grand experiment?  How would we know if it wasn’t?”

“I suppose we wouldn’t know.”  Scully paused carefully before speaking again, squinting, considering the idea.  “Hypothetically speaking…No, it wouldn’t be impossible.  I mean… we know so little about the human brain as it is—why certain synapses react to stimuli the way they do, what would happen if we could…could, in fact, turn on the inactive three-fourths...”  She shook her head.  “But—what then, Mulder?  You think the government is using ordinary people as guinea pigs for the ultimate Frankenstein experiment? To do what?  Create supersoldiers?”  She sighed.  “I’ll admit the possibility is intriguing from a hypothetical standpoint, but it’s farfetched at best.  More than that, we’d need a jumping off point to even start looking for anyone connected with this sort of technology.  And--and what about the inherent differences in each case that hinder making those connections?  In one instance, there was a strip-mall fire, while in another, there was the levitation of objects and the presence of strange, atmospheric conditions.  Seeimingly unrelated events. If ‘the men of God’ aren’t mentioned, how would we even know where to look?”

“Technicalities, technicalities,” said Mulder, and he sighed into the phone.  “I told you.  The theory’s rough.  There are still holes; I’m working on it.”

There was a pause.  Scully frowned; she felt tingly, electrified.  Almost, almost--

“Wait—hold on a second,” she said, “I think… I think I--” Her focus blurred and then wavered; the living room wall swirled in and out like a moving rip-tide, fading, eroding, until her framed paintings swam like colorful little boats. Rafts of blue and red and green, bobbing up and down on a thick, cream-white sea.  Drifting.  She was…She felt like…floating. Or something.  

Her mouth opened and words just started pouring out.

“The technology is advanced, alien--difficult and unfamiliar. They've tried everything, but have been unsuccessful in creating the ultimate superhuman, or a completely invincible human without any intellectual or physical frailties; it's the final and as of yet uncompleted step in this genetic program.  So instead of engineering the perfect human, they’ve had to build up to it slowly; they’ve engineered original functions to be specific to each, individual, magnetic impulse.  One child can manipulate electronic fields and transform energy into heat, while another can manipulate synapses and read minds.  The last step in this program...  That would be…would be...”

Scully's heart-rate slowed, and she listened for each heavy beat resonating in her rib cage.  She felt a flash of…violation: a girl lying on a hard, white sheeted bed.  Neurosynapses short circuiting, a knife, a scalpel, the smell of fresh scrubs, a sound, a voice, someone: she’s crashing. Keep the parents in the next room, tell them it’s the word of God.  Someone get---

Mulder’s voice broke through.  “Scully, would it piss you off if I said I was really turned on right now?”

She blinked back to the conversation.  Damn, she needed to get some sleep.

“Scully?  You there?”

“Yeah, sorry,” she finally said, slightly embarrassed.  “So, ah, hypothetically speaking, it’s interesting.  That—I mean…this theory of yours.  But what about these men of God.  You think they’re…what?  Scientists?  Operatives?”

“I don’t know,” said Mulder, serious again.  “But ten to one they’re not part of any religious organization.”  

“I’d have to agree.  But let’s not bet on anything quite yet,” said Scully, unbuttoning the top button of her blouse with one hand.  She was tired, so tired.  “I—“

There was a sound.  A clanging: a humming, almost like…. What was that?  Something metallic shivering against the kitchen counter.  She frowned and listened harder, but the sound disappeared.  She shrugged, and went on, “But I don’t see what we can do about it at this point.  As it is, you’re suspended until further notice and I’m looking at a long fight ahead of me to keep the FBI from nailing your ass to the wall.  We don’t know who’s been following us, taking pictures of—“

That damned humming again.  But louder this time.  Or no.  Not humming.  Not exactly.  It was more like…Rattling.  Like a dozen sets of house keys being dragged across a linoleum surface.  


“Hold on a second, Mulder…”

Harder.  And louder, and louder.  The sound of clutter swishing around in a drawer.  Thrashing.  Against what?  The cabinet doors?  The tile?  Scully’s mouth went dry; her body went still.  Her weapon was on the opposite end of the coffee table.  She could reach it, but she was lying on the couch.   If someone had somehow gotten into her kitchen, they wouldn’t be able to see her unless she reached for her Glock.  Of course, if she remained unseen, she had the upper hand.  But then again, she also stood the chance of getting shot with her own gun if she stayed put.  Weapon or no weapon?

The clanging grew louder, more insistent.

Weapon or no weapon, weapon or no weapon?

“Scully?”  Mulder’s voice sounded tinny, far away.  “Scully, are you alright?”

Thrash, bang, crash—muffled but distinct, like pots and pans dancing on a padded counter.  Briefly, Scully flashed back to a nightmare she’d had when she was little, of kitchen utensils growing mouths and legs and chasing after her, eating her alive.  She closed her eyes and took a breath.  Calm.  Had to not think of foolish things.

“Scully?  Did you hang up on me?”  

She dropped the phone onto the cushions.  Slowly, she peeked around the armrest, glancing into the darkened kitchen.  

The clanging stopped.  

Nothing was there.  At least, nothing she could see.


Mulder was still talking to her.  Scully’s brows furrowed, her pulse pounding so furiously she could hear her heartbeat like a drumroll in her ears. She picked up the phone again and rose, sitting, to peer over the back of the couch.  

“Scully,” he went on, “I know you’re still there.  See, the number one rule of obscene phone calling is to call someone who doesn’t know you’re calling him and um… hang up….immediately…”

Phone in hand, she rose on shaky legs and flipped on the couch-side lamp. The clicking switch echoed in the silence of her apartment, but otherwise, the light bulb was dead.   Great.  

“I’m here,” she whispered, picking up her weapon off the coffee table.  Flipping the safety, she backed up against the far wall, moving in special-agent-pounce-mode towards the kitchen.  Slowly.  She had to move slowly.  The hallway was shadowed, dark but calm, alit in hues of blue and goldenrod; the sun was setting through the half-opened living room blinds.  

“Everything alright?” Mulder rumbled into her ear.  “I thought I heard… something…You want me to come over there?”

She touched a hand to the dividing wall between the living room and kitchen, poked her head inside, the gun at her hip.  If anyone came at her from the hallway, she’d be ready.  “No,” she said distractedly, gazing at the cabinets, the fridge, the sink. Nobody was there. Nothing jumped out at her.  She sighed in annoyance.  “It’s fine,” she said.  “I’m fine, Mulder.  Tired, mostly.”

The room was dark, the color of watered-down india ink.  Her Quantico mug still sat on the counter, her keys splayed on the tiled floor.  She took a breath, swallowed back an acidic taste, and worried for a moment whether she was finally losing her mind.  All those years of chasing ghosts and aliens, and she’d be done in by silverware hallucinations.  The powers-that-be finally had a reason to put her away.   

She turned her back to the kitchen and cocked her head to one side, gazing around the foyer and into the living room, where navy shadows danced to the tune of the setting sun.  Why the hell did she feel like someone was watching her?  It was crazy.  The walls were silent, stilled, almost as if waiting for something to happen.  Maybe she’d heard pipes clanging.  A leak upstairs?  The neighbors working on their bathroom?

“Sorry, Mulder,” she said, depositing her gun on the kitchen table.  Suddenly, she felt foolish.  With a sigh, she bent down to pick up her keys before she tripped over them. The tiled floor gleaned navy-blue in the dark, and she fumbled with her nearly camouflaged keyring.  “I thought I heard—“

An ear-shattering bang reverberated behind her.  Scully froze, the keys slipping through her fingers, clamoring to the tile.  Metal crushing metal--something grinding, squealing. And then a crash, and another, a cacophony of metallic sounding thrashes--hard, impatient; the racket right behind her. Jesus, it was right behind her.  But--but nobody was in the kitchen.  She turned her head and--

The silverware drawer crashed outwards as if pulled by some unseen hand; it twisted on its hinges, warping in and out, shaking back and forth, jutting out and slamming furiously back against the counter like a living thing trying to break free of a trap.  

Scully leapt backwards as if burned.  The phone slipped out of her hands and clattered to the floor.  Thinking an animal must have gotten trapped, she steadied back into a crouched position, her hands pressed to the room divider.  She’d have to somehow catch the poor thing before it got loose. 

The receiver called out her name, and she remembered Mulder.  Distracted, she gazed down at the phone and called back, “Mulder?  I think something got in—“

But the drawer slung free as if on a spring, and she gasped, her hands flying to her head to shield her face.  She winced as silverware splashed out and up as if from a geyser, a waterfall of spoons and forks and knives flying to the ceiling, the walls, the sink, the floor. 

No wild animals leapt out in liberation. 

The drawer was moving on its own.  Jesus.  It was moving on its own.  

"This isn't happening," said Scully, backing up against the wall on unsteady legs.  "This  isn't happening..."

As if in response, the cabinets doors flew back on their brass hinges, springing and recoiling in violent symphony, laughing hysterically at her with their oblong mouths. Plates and bowls seized in ceramic vibration on their shelves, bobbing in frightening musicality to wooden edges, where they teetered and fell to their shattery deaths.  

A single fork, dark and shadowed in the half-light, spun straight up out of the silverware drawer: a gleaming concerto conductor for the unexplained.  Scully's eyes widened as the fork paused for a second in mid-air, suspended, shining, as if staring straight at her and smiling.  Scully backed towards the wall and managed, “oh my God—“

And the fork shot out at her like a bullet from a gun.  With a strangled shriek, Scully hit the deck.  The fork narrowly missed her forehead and pierced the wall behind her.

Hands shaking, Scully crawled across the tile on her stomach, feeling around in the dimness for table legs.  The silverware drawer slammed back on its hinges with a scream—and then pushed out again, pitching a piece of wood outwards like a spear. A glass dish shattered at her feet. Scully rolled back to avoid the debris and crawled sideways, her hands desperately seeking purchase.

After a half second of clumsy searching, she finally found what felt like a chair and pulled herself beneath it.  She pushed a second chair over in front of the first chair and squeezed her eyes shut as wood slammed against tile. Glass screamed in jagged pieces.  Darkness grasped at her like pointy fingers.  Her old childhood nightmare rushed back to her, grasped at her, spun her brain around until she was dizzy.  Forks with glistening, bloody mouths, with glaring teeth, eating her alive, dissecting her whole--

A deafening thunk jabbed the wall above her head, and she lurched.

And then another thunk.  

And another.  

And then four more, all in succession: thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk.  

On the last ‘thunk,’ the kitchen fell mercifully silent.  Scully peeked through the cracks of her fingers, still unsure as to whether or not she should move.  The silverware drawer had been splintered in half; the wood hung limply from a broken hinge, gutted out from the formica counter top like an autopsied stomach dangling by its intestines. Homeless silverware and shattered dinnerware glinted on the floor, glimmering at her, winking.  

Scully raised her head and finally turned, squinting to see clearly in the dark.  Eight forks had embedded themselves in the wall above her head, their silver handles bent all the way back at impossible angles.   The wall itself was cracked down the center, broken.  

Scully pushed up on her elbows, gaping at the arc of forks in the wall.  Right about now, someone with a microphone was supposed to jump out at her and yell, “Just kidding, you’re on Spy-Cam.”  Otherwise, eating utensils didn’t just fly through the air like that.  They didn’t.  It was impossible.  She was dreaming. Or else she was sleepwalking. Or else she was just fucking out of her mind.

Suddenly, Scully’s stomach twisted in on itself, and she bent forward to keep from breaking in half. She groaned, coughed, gasped for air. Glittered stars danced in her watery line of focus.  She gagged, trying to breathe through her nose.  Nothing came up but air, and she gagged again.

-- Damned red lights hate these things why is it I always manage to hit every single one--

Scully’s eyes went wide.  

-- This intersection is the worst I don’t know why I went this way and I should get gas on the way back where are those damned sunflower seeds --

Remembering the flying forks and the flying silverware drawer, Scully went rigid, paralyzed, at the sound of a foreign voice in her kitchen. She hadn't been wrong; an intruder was in her apartment.  Someone must have come in, drugged her or something, and she just couldn’t remember.  Yes, that had to be it.  But then she’d broken free of her captor and woken up in the kitchen somehow and…

Her hand closing around a butterknife, Scully curled her knees into her chest, waiting to strike at the next thing that dared launch itself at her.  She was an agent of the FBI goddamn it.  That she should be cowering on the floor of her own kitchen was ludicrous.  This was her home. Nobody was going to terrorize her in her own home, not a person, not a fork, not a spatula, nothing--especially not after the day she’d just had.  

-- Did I remember to charge my cell phone no battery looks low it’s still working but she didn’t call me back come on come on damned Mercedes make the fucking turn already I have to get to Scully’s—

Scully frowned, and then cocked her head to one side to try and hear better.  

-- Crazy ass driver what the hell God forbid anyone uses a turn signal oh great I'm going to sneeze need a tissue oh wait nevermind should I call Scully again maybe just in case--

Scully sighed and banged her fist on the floor at her own foolishness.  Her fingers loosened on the knife: It was only Mulder, for crying out loud.  

Breathing in relief, Scully reached across the tile and felt around the floor for the phone. After a minute, she found the headset and pressed it to her ear.  “Mulder,” she said.  “I think you’d better get over here after all.  Something… strange just happened to me. I’m not sure—Mulder? Are you there?”


“Mulder?  Hello?”


But she heard…was sure she heard--

--she’s okay I’m sure only five more minutes until I get to the building and I can find out what the hell’s up with her and I wonder what underwear she wears to bed and holy shit why am I thinking about her underwear  Forget it not in this lifetime buddy that’s why there’s porn maybe I should go ahead and call Mark to see if anything came up and I wonder if The Lone Gunmen know anything about genetic engineering--  

Scully gazed at the receiver in disbelief.   That voice, it wasn’t coming from the phone but it was definitely coming from Mulder.  Where the hell was he?  Was he in the house?  

“Mulder?”  she called.  “Mulder, are you here?”

She was answered only by the sound of her own breathing.   

Scully frowned into the warm darkness of her kitchen with the phone dangling from two fingers.  The goddamned thing didn’t even sound as if it was turned on.  

-- turn on the radio when is this light gonna change oh Tom Petty this is a good song oldie classic I wonder what music Scully listens to how come I never ask her  I should ask her one of these days oh yeah like when  After that Mexican goatsucker thing that would have been a good time or how about when we’re both covered in mud after sloshing through a swamp--

Scully groaned.  She felt seasick, tilted.  The crack on the wall turned into two cracks, and then three, and then four, all waltzing in and out of focus.  

-- I heard crashing and that’s weird because Scully’s apartment is so neat not like when I leave things on the edge of my counter and they fall off I mean she even organizes her towels and maybe I should shower over there because it’s been over a day and she has the expensive shampoo and what’s going on I should probably use my key just in case she fell or something--

And he just kept going and going.  Most of the words she couldn’t even make out because there were too many of them and too fast, like a power surge blowing all the circuits.  Scully took a shuddered breath, dropped the phone into her lap and swallowed the urge to lie down until the ceiling caved in on her.  

-- I upset her did I upset her  She sounded upset something’s wrong maybe it’s the baby thing again last time she was this upset it was about not having a baby but what if it’s really about the case because she’s still mad at me for taking the rap then maybe I should apologize but no why should I so sick of justifying myself to her I did it for her and oh God I’m thirsty damned red lights here’s another one I should have bought iced tea at the store maybe Scully has some in the house she always has food--

She put a hand to her eyes and pressed down as hard as she could.  She couldn't even hear her own thoughts.  There was too much...too much interference, too much gibberish.  She couldn’t breathe.  Couldn’t move.  She was going to vomit, oh Christ, she was going to split in half and explode all over the floor if Mulder didn’t shut the hell up.  

“Oh God,” she managed, gasping for air.  “What’s happening to me?  Oh God, I’m losing my mind…”

End of Part 2

Continued in Chapter 16