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Chapter Eight

 

"You already know who it is, Agent Mulder," Jacob whispered.

Luke. Mulder’s stomach dropped at the notion.

Jacob’s voice became even softer, shaking in apparent fear for deciding to make the deal.

"I almost turned him in once," he began. "That’s when he targeted Amanda. He already knew everything about her and he knew I loved her. The others, Carmen and Nora, they didn’t even know what was going on. They still don’t.

You see, when we started the business we established that co-workers minds were off limits. Not something you read in the protocol everyday, huh? I shouldn’t have broken it. If I hadn’t, Amanda may still be alive--"

"But some other woman would have died, anyway, Jacob," Mulder said.

"I know. I know . . ." Jacob began to weep.

"How does he do it, Jacob?"

Jacob drew in a shaky sigh, calming himself. "We can all do it, Agent Mulder. The dreams, I mean. That’s how we work. Dreams are the window to desires and fears. We took those dreams and we used them to guide our customers."

"You told them what they wanted to hear."

"The power of suggestion is a remarkable tool."

"Don’t I know it," Mulder scoffed, memories of Modell flooding back.

Jacob gave a half-smile as he remembered his once pure purpose. "If we gave them a push toward their desires and away from their fears, insecurities just sort of flicker out. We gave them a reason to live."

Mulder crossed his arms and frowned. "And Luke?"

The smile on Jacob’s face fell. "Luke gave them a reason to stop living. He wasn’t always like that, I need you to know that. I don’t know what happened, but my only guess is he does it because–-"

"Because he can. The most cliché of all motives," Mulder mumbled to himself. Reality hit him full force. With Luke as the killer then that meant Scully was still very much in danger.

He pulled out his cell phone and hit speed dial one. Silently he begged to whoever was listening that Scully was drinking coffee in the lobby, safe and sound.

XxX

"There’s no way out, girly-girl."

A long white corridor presented itself suddenly. The voice, that familiar haunting voice, of Donnie Pfaster echoed off the walls, surrounding her as if proving that not only will the endless hallway prevent her escape, but the voice had her trapped as well.

She began to run, twisting in and out of rooms with no doors, hitting the walls in frustration with her fists.

"There’s no way out, girly-girl!"

She wanted to yell at Donnie, tell him to shut-up, but her voice wouldn’t allow it.

Banging on the walls left her breathless, and she collapsed to the ground, tears choking her throat. Footsteps began echoing, the voice having gone silent. She knew it was no longer Pfaster threatening her, but the man in shadows. Collecting herself with deep breaths, she stood and began to walk down the corridor, the air thick and black.

She then saw the glow of light from one of the empty rooms. Entering the room, a place of sanction could be seen, candles lit atop a long table. A woman was sitting in front of it, praying.

Mom? Scully asked silently. A closer look proved that it was Margaret Scully, clutching Rosary beads and mumbling a soft prayer. A plea.

Scully took a step toward her, wanting to ask what was troubling her mother. Crying interrupted Scully before she could even speak. Not a child’s weeping; not her mother; not a man. The sobbing figure presented itself from the shadows. It was . . . her. Scully saw herself donned in a hospital gown, clutching an x-ray.

In this place of darkness, the Chemotherapy and radiation treatments had taken their toll. This shell of a woman was hairless, bones protruding here and there and dark circles accentuating sunken eyes.

It wasn’t long before their gazes met. Scully felt as though she’d been hit in the stomach, so much that she clutched it and bent over in pain. Her apparition turned away in sorrow, disappearing into the shadows, leaving nothing but a memory in its wake.

The footsteps were back, and as they beat against the pavement the candles began to die down, curtains of darkness engulfing her once more.

XxX

I shouldn’t have left her, Mulder thought. I could have brought her with me, let her observe with Gavin and Trisha, anything but leave her alone.

You didn’t know, another more rational side of him soothed. You thought you were protecting her.

Deep down I knew Luke was still a threat. Since when do I ignore instinct? Stupid stupid stupid . . .

After reaching her voicemail a third time, Mulder decided that something wasn’t right. He left the station saying just that to Gavin and Trisha: Something’s not right. He’d been saying that for the last twenty minutes. Now he was stuck in traffic, beating himself up for not thinking.

He didn’t have time for this. Swooping into the only open spot he could find, Mulder slammed the car into park. Pushing the door open, he jumped out of the car and evaluated his surroundings, devising a shortcut using alleys and sidewalks. Mulder took a deep breath and faced North.

He ran.

XxX

She could feel him in the room with her. The only way out was where he was and that wasn’t an option. What else could she do? Curl up in a ball and hope that her pursuer showed mercy on her?

Instead, feeling a pull from her gut, she began to run toward the wall where the place of sanction had been. Throwing her arms in front of her body, as cushion, she prepared to feel the concrete impact from the wall. Just as she was about to hit the wall, a tingling sensation washed all over her body. Her eyes shut and jaw clenched, she met the wall and the sensation was gone. Opening her eyes, she was amazed to find herself on the other side of the wall. She’d passed through the it.

The new room resembled the one she’d just left, but with candles in each corner.

But he was right behind her and she could see his eyes glistening in the candle-light. Remembering the last wall allowing passage, she began to charge at the looming wall in front of her. Again, she passed straight through.

 

XxX

Familiar buildings welcomed Mulder with each corner he turned. The panic was making his lungs constrict, slowing his pace and blurring his vision. His body told him to stop but his panic pushed him forward.

If Scully died . . .

How many times had he been faced with that thought in their years together? No matter how often he’d contemplated that possibility in the past, it never became easier to fathom. Today was no exception.

Finally he saw the hotel and forced himself to press on.

If Scully died . . .

XxX

Over and over she passed through the rooms, and he was always a second behind her. She was getting tired and breathless, not sure how much longer her feet would carry her. Would she be running like this forever, or until her body failed her?

The eerie silence was deafening. All she could hear was the beating of her heart and the pounding of her feet, followed by the foot falls of the man in shadows.

Another wall, the same as the others, stood in front of her and she continued running, confident she would pass again.

Smack.

She crumpled to the ground.

Crawling to the nearest corner, she pulled her legs up to her chest, tears stinging her eyes.

There was no way out this time. Why now?

The dark figure slowed his pace, hovering only inches from her body and stretching his arm toward her. Each second he stood there, the cadence of her heart began to beat more rapid and less evenly. Memories flooded back, the nightmares now fulfilling their purpose.

Her heart was dying.

XxX

Bursting through her hotel door, Mulder saw Scully sleeping. Slowly he approached the bed, sweat trickling down his face. Stripping off his coat, he threw it to the side and knelt down beside the bed.

Aside from her furrowed brow, she seemed fine. Mulder took a deep breath and began to say her name softly, smoothing her hair back from her face.

"Scully."

Nothing.

A little louder. "Scully."

Her body jolted, as if shocked, but not to the state of consciousness. Scully began to writhe, clutching the sheets and her chest; gasping, her face turning red.

"Scully!" He grabbed her body, shaking her in hope that she would wake up.

Thirty more seconds passed before her body ceased movement entirely. Mulder began to feel her face, inching his fingers down her face to her throat, feeling for a pulse; any sign of life. The pulse was there, but it was thready.

Mulder was reaching for his cell phone, ready to call the paramedics when a flood of people burst through the door. At the rear was Chief O’Donnell, shouting for people to hurry their asses along.

Mulder didn’t even bother to ask, just began explaining Scully’s condition the best he knew how, moving out of the way so that the professionals could do their job.

He began pacing, waiting for her eyes to pop open to reveal life. Waiting for her to offer a weak smile and a greeting. Or even to ask what the hell was going on. But she just lay there, motionless.

His world shattered with one word.

"Code!"

Mulder felt his knees buckle as he watched the paramedics rubbing the defibrillator pads together, his partner’s body jumping with each jolt. He watched everything begin to move in slow motion, the paramedics seeming to not work fast enough in saving his best friend’s life. He watched Chief O’Donnell yelling at someone on his cell phone, veins popping out from his temples. He watched his own body tremble in rage and fear.

He watched Scully die.