I also finished another chapter of my ongoing bit-off-more-than-I-can-chew X Files story, The Mulder Files (one of those really great Ideas that really doesn't work in practice) so I'm gonna copy/paste that in here. This is Chapter 4, "The Jersey Devil". The whole thing is at my fanfiction.net site, http://www.fanfiction.net/~drtaylor, but you don't really want to read it there because there was a thing with trying to write two multi-chapter fics at once and long story short I have to replace some chapters. The first few up to Jersey Devil are pretty good, but I still need to wait a bit to post it, so you can read it here for now.
Actually I'll probaby post and then revise.
But back to what I was saying, I'm so excited about this movie because not only is David Duchovny hot and the show amazing and not only do I share Gillian Anderson's birthday (too cool) but I love that they're ditching the mythology for this movie. Could there be anything more wonderful?
Don't get me wrong, I reaaaaaly want to see how this all ends, but... classic X-Files. Big screen. Yeah.
And just to be annoying, my chapter...
Eugene Tooms attacked Scully on July 24 and a week later we had the report signed and corrected for spelling errors and ready to go. I's dotted, T's crossed, and so on.
Man, was that boring.
We tried, we really did. Toom's physical was strange enough to warrant further study, but somehow his jackass lawyer managed to get the results of the DNA tests we ordered withheld. Which meant that we couldn't prove any of my theory – all we had was his attack on Scully to keep him in the psych ward. And I know psych wards – they're overcrowded things, which means eventually he'll get released.
So the report we filed with Blevins said something along the order of, “We think this is the guy, the murders have stopped, no evidence, Agent Scully cannot confirm or deny.” I can tell that Blevins is just gonna love that. He's a loving kind of guy, Blevins.
Suffice to say: by the 31st, we were done with this case and back to throwing pencils at the ceiling. Or at least we would have been had Scully not come down with a chronic case of clean-the-desk.
It all started when I got to work the following day armed with a fresh box of #2s, to find Scully in the hallway with my slide projector cart. Only my slide projector wasn't on the cart. It was empty.
“Scully,” I asked, “what are you doing?”
She gave me the look you give someone when they catch you eating chocolate at a health-food symposium. “Just getting some supplies, Mulder.” She nodded at the cart. “I needed the wheels.”
She's cracked. “Oh...kay...,” I replied. I tried to smile convincingly at her and headed into the office.
Scully returned ten minutes later with my cart loaded with garbage bags, cleansers of various scents, and paper towels. “Okay, Mulder,” she said, “the time for pencil darts is over. We are going to clean this office. Do you know how many germs and molds love to grow in the dark and the dank?”
I couldn't think of anything to do but stare.
Focus, Fox. “Scully, um... why now?”
“Because we have the time, Mulder. I'm sick of working in this unhealthy environment. God only knows what I've been exposed to...”
She continued on that vein for quite some time, scrubbing out her desk drawers in an energetic manner. But I knew why she was really doing it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist – just someone who's read a psychology textbook. She was cleaning her desk because of Tooms. Because of what Tooms did to her. I felt, very strongly, that that sucked. Scully deserved better than that.
Oh well, I'll just have to try harder to keep her safe. Just because it happened once doesn't mean it'll happen again. She's an FBI agent – She lives for danger. And eventually she'll get past it and never ever get attacked in her own home again.
So why do I feel so uneasy?
Scully cleaned the entire back area of the office before the next week. She straightened the files in their drawers and made me shift the cabinets to scrub the walls behind them. She cleaned all the drawers and mopped the floor, possibly for the first time ever in the history of that floor. I know it hasn't been done since I worked here, for example.
I was hesitant to come in on Monday. What if she was still cleaning? But instead, she isn't there.
Well, maybe she took a personal day. She deserves one. This wacko almost ripped out her liver.
Give me a chance to get back to my work. This morning, the gunmen called me up to tip me off that a woman had given an interview about being abducted by aliens to a magazine. I picked one up on the way in and pulled it out to read through her story while I wait for something better to do.
Anything is better to do than, say, watch Scully go quietly nuts.
The door opens, and there it is. Scully, in all her Scullyish glory, with an extremely amused look on her face.
Which is about when I realize how this looks. I'm sitting at my desk reading “Hanky Panky” magazine. Not that I don't have an entire drawer of porn in the bottom left, but this is right out there in public where any Scully could just walk in – business hours and everything.
“Working hard Mulder?”
I turn the magazine around so she can see. “This woman claims to have been taken aboard a spaceship and held in an anti-gravity chamber without food and water for three days.” And the picture looks like the anti-gravity had an effect too.
“Anti-gravity's right.” I chuck the magazine at the desk. I hate when she reads my mind. “I hate to interrupt your serious investigation, but I just heard a story that'd just about take your knees out.”
Reeeeealy? No cleaning? “What's that?”
“They found a body in the New Jersey woods yesterday, missing it's right arm and shoulder. They think they may have been eaten off, by a human.”
Wow. A real Jersey Devil. “Where in New Jersey?”
“Just outside Atlantic City.”
That fits, but she'll have an explaination. “Not an uncommon place to lose a body part. They think it's the mob?”
“It was a homeless man. There doesn't seem to be a motive.”
Well, no motive usually screams X-File. Also, it happened before – in 1947. I grab my jacket. “You feeling lucky Scully?”
“Relative to whom?” The file is right where I left it in the drawer by my desk. “It's not our case Mulder, the local police are handling it.” I hand her the file. “An X-File?”
Yes, yes it is. “Ever hear of something called The Jersey Devil?”
“Yeah, it's a beast that's supposed to come out of the woods and attack cars, right. Kind of like an East Coast Bigfoot.”
Close enough. We have the drive to Atlantic City to figure this out. “Read the file about the case in 1947.”
She follows me out of the office. “Save me the trouble.”
We get in the elevator. “Do you know the story of the Jersey Devil?”
She nods. “My brother told me about it when I was a kid. Something about cursed kids living in the woods.”
Something like that. “Well, there's a couple of different legends. One was about a woman named Mrs. Leeds, whose thirteenth child was born with horns and hooves and ate all the other children and the parents before climbing out the chimney to begin terrorizing travellers on the local roads. The Devil is said to live near Winslow, New Jersey, but we don't really know what it is. Sightings go back to the 1700s. It's been blamed for killing livestock and people. Which brings me to the X-File.”
The elevator doors open and we head into the bullpen to get our car rented.
“1947, family watches dad get dragged off into the woods, cops find dad with a few appendages gnawed off. Cops corner a large naked man in the woods and gun `im down.” We stop at the equipment desk. “autopsy shows human flesh and bones in the man's large intestine. A beast man.” Doreen turns to look at me. “Requisition for a car please.”
“Is the autopsy report in here?”
I take the requisition form and begin filling it out. “No, the original disappeared from the Patterson PD's files a few years after the incident. But there is a statement from the attending pathologist.”
“Mulder it's the same story I've heard since I was a kid. It's a folk tale, a myth.”
I never thought it was a myth. “I heard the same story when I was a kid too, funny thing is, I believed it.” I hand in my form and get the keys. “Thanks Doreen.” I turn back to Scully. “Fact is, we got a cannibalized body in New Jersey, someone or something out there is hungry.”
And as far as I'm concerned, that's that. I head for the garage.
Scully catches me halfway to the door. “Mulder, how do you know it's the Jersey Devil? It could be anything.”
She doesn't get it, does she? “But no one knows what the Jersey Devil is. So it might as well be.”
Scully sighs and follows me to the garage.
The coroner, Dr. Glenna Santos, greets us in her office in the typical way of a coroner. “So, you're here to see the body with the arm eaten off?”
I love coroners. Straightforward. Like Quincy.
Scully looks taken aback. “Yes...” she replies. Even though she's a pathologist herself, she hasn't spent much time dealing with her own kind, I guess.
Glenna goes over to the morgue drawers and pulls out a body. “Er, they say animals can develop an appetite for human flesh but, this is no animal. You see the teeth marks, just below the clavicle, they're human.”
She takes off the gloves she put on without my even noticing and steps away to let Scully take a look.
Huh. I hate bodies. “Who found the body?”
Scully takes a look at the bite marks while I wander, looking for anything odd. Not that I'd really know.
“Was he alive when it happened?” she aks.
“Well, it's hard to tell.” I examine the toe tag. “There's a scull fracture but no sign of a struggle, his blood alcohol level was up, probably never knew what hit him.”
What hit him, anyway? “Any ideas about that?”
“The size of that bite mark, I'd say...”
“I want this on the QT,” someone says, and I can feel the air chill as the Local Territorial Detective approaches.
“...large adult male,” finishes Glenna as someone unseen promises to do his best. The Detective walks into the room and gives me the “I hate you, you unwelcome meddler” look. I know it well. “Er, Detective Thompson is handling the case.”
“Glenna?” he asks, though he's looking at me.
Scully steps in, waving her I.D. “Hi, I'm Special Agent Dana Scully and this is Agent Fox Mulder.”
“I don't remember anybody calling the FBI in on this.”
Terrif. “Well we're not here on an official capacity, Agent Scully's a medical doctor, we heard about your victim and, she thought she might take a look.”
“I'm sorry, I'm gonna ask you to leave. We have an investigation.”
Glenna's on our side. “For God's sakes Tommy, this is no time to get pissy.”
“We have jurisdiction here.”
He's gonna kill me. I hope he chooses something painless. “Any suspects yet Detective?”
“I don't work for you sir, and unless you hear different from the Attorney General, er, this case is a local matter.”
I'm about to retort, but... “Agent Mulder, we should go.”
Right. Breathe. “There's no need to get bent outta shape,” I tell the detective.
“On the contrary, I think I've been exceedingly polite.”
And now we're in a staring match. Stupid bastard's not worth my time. I turn away and leave.
We get to the car and hop back in to drive back to Washington. “So what's eating that guy?”
“He was perfectly in his rights. The FBI has no overriding jurisdiction in a murder case. Anyway, you'd feel the same way if someone was horning in on your work.”
Except I'm the only one who wants this job. “Yeah, chances are he's without a clue. He'll probably be scratching his head when they bring the next body in.”
“You missed your opening Mulder, you could've really humiliated him and told him who the perpetrator was The Jersey Devil.” Said with irony. She's got quite a sense of humor – before her, everyone but me treated my FBI pariah status as deadly serious.
I'm not quite done here, I realize. “Hey whadda you say we grab a hotel, take in a floor show, drop a few quarters in the slot, do a little digging on this case.”
“You're kidding, right?”
We're in Atlantic City! Come on, let's enjoy it, take a poke around. Have some FUN. “Okay, we can skip the floor show.”
“Mulder I have to be back in D.C.”
For what? “What you got a date?”
“No, I have my godson's birthday party at 6:30.” Can't argue with that, I guess. More for me. I chuck the keys over the car at her. “What are you doing?”
“A little poking around, maybe make a weekend out of it.”
I head for the nearest motel – the Galaxy Gateway -, and behind me, I hear Scully complaining about the length of the drive and the traffic, but she doesn't ask me to come back.
I drop by the casino across the street for dinner, and then check the phone book for the number for Parks Services.
“Parks Services, Rosette speaking.”
Another day, another secretary. “Rosette, this is Special Agent Mulder with the FBI. I need to speak to the ranger who found the body in the park the other day.”
She pauses for a moment. “Oh...kay..,” papers rustle in the background. “It was a ranger named Peter Boulay. I'll patch you through to his radio.” She pauses for a moment. “Good luck.”
Great. I finally get someone marginally on my side and it's a glorified Park Ranger secretary. Maybe if I need a good map of the park she can help me.
There is a click and a hum, and then, “Peter Boulay speaking.”
At least I reached him. “Mr. Boulay, this is Agent Mulder with the FBI. I wonder if you'd be willing to show me where it was you found that body the other day.”
There's a pause.
“Sure, I guess. Where are you now?”
“Atlantic City. A casino called-” I glance at the sign- “The Galaxy Gateway.”
“Okay, I'll meet you at the main gate in, say, an hour?”
Sounds good. “Thanks, Mr. Boulay. See you then.” I hang up the phone.
Park rangers. Now it's park rangers.
I pull into the free parking and Boulay drives me out to the spot where he found the body. He doesn't talk on the drive and I don't try to initiate conversation.
Park rangers, by the nature of their jobs, are more security officers and nature conservators than police. While they may deal with camper-related crimes, they don't get the usual assault and murder stuff we get out in the real world. Finding a body in a state park is the kind of thing that happens so rarely that there's no training for what to do if it happens – they have to rely on what they learned watching Quincy.
He stops by a creek and we get out of the truck. He points toward the water. “Found the body just over there, lying face down in the rocks. Thirty-two years with the park service, I've come across some weird stuff but I tell ye, never anything like this.”
I wonder where he was killed. “Victim was a homeless man, you get many of them wandering around out here?”
“Well, occasionally, see some but, most are scared of the woods.”
What a shock. “Scared? Of what?” The Jersey Devil.
“I don't know, the devil.”
I love being right. “People say that's just a myth.”
He shrugs. “Depends on who you talk to.”
“What do you think?”
“Well like I said, now thirty-two years, I see alot of weird stuff. Like one time, a little over four years ago, I saw what I thought was a, large man come out of a, copse of birch trees, not, not a stitch of clothing. And he was about, sixty yards away, and he starts, sniffing the air, you know like a dog. And then he looks straight at me, and I swear he smelled me because he took off into the woods so fast, you'd swear it wasn't human.”
The Jersey Devil. “Really. You never saw him again?”
“No, but I feel him. And, I found things, some scat, half buried like a cat's only more human. Found a half eaten rabbit with what looked like a human cuspid tooth in it. And some beer bottles, looked like they'd been sharpened into tools.”
Well how about that. The Gods Must Be Crazy. “You think it might be what's responsible for the body you found?”
He chuckles. “I got a pension coming up in a few years, you know, you say the wrong thing.”
So he does think so, but I'll never hear it. “Yeah.”
“I'll tell you one thing, I don't ever come out here without my weapon anymore.”
So the killer had to get the body to the park. “How far is it into town from here?”
“`Bout a mile, mile and a half.”
Well, I think I can find my way back, and he should get back to work. “I'm staying at the Galaxy Gateway for the next couple of days, if you think of anything, will you call me?”
I follow the path next to the creek, deeper into the woods. It's kinda pretty out here, in a woodsy sort of way, but it's creepy too, probably because of what Boulay told me. It's a good fifteen minute walk, which gets my thoughts in order. The killer must have got the victim from the city. He walked down this path, found a Roger Crockett, and brought him into the woods. At some point, he killed Crockett and left the body by the creek.
The path comes out in an alley filled with homeless people and their boxes. I wander through them, asking if anyone knew Roger Crockett. If this is where the killer got his victim, someone may have seen it happen.
However, no one wants to talk. They just want my change. And then
“What d'you wanna know?”
Bingo. “Did you know Roger Crockett?” He nods. “Did you hear how he died?”
“Any ideas who might've done it?”
“You a cop?”
“No, I'm FBI.”
To the homeless, that's better. “I'll show you something.”
He takes me into another alley. “I need some money.”
The man rummages through his bag and pulls out a piece of paper. He opens it, revealing a drawing of a really shaggy-looking man.
The Jersey Devil? “What is this?”
“Stuck in the pocket of a jacket I found.”
That doesn't give me much. “Does it mean anything to you?”
“I've seen it.”
Now we're talking. “Where?”
“Right here, digging in the trash.”
You're kidding. “Here? Are you hustling me?”
“Swear to God.”
Why would it dig through the trash? “Who do you think it is?”
“I don't know, scared the hell out of me.”
The path does come out right here. “Has anybody else seen it?”
“Oh yeah, everybody's pretty freaked.”
Freaked? That means publicity, of some kind or other. “Anybody told the cops?”
“You think they don't know.”
I should stay here tonight. “Where're you sleeping tonight?”
“You're standing in my bedroom.”
Well, since I'm not gonna be using my room, someone should. “You know The Galaxy Gateway?” I hand over my key. “Room 756. Go ahead.”
“Hey, they got HBO?”
Good thing I checked the TV program. “Yeah, they do.”
I've never slept in an alley before. It's not very cold, but the ground is unyielding and it sure feels like it should be freezing. I don't know how people do it.
I can't believe Scully left me here alone.
She's probably within her rights. It's not like she doesn't have a life, or plans. It's not like I don't have a life, at least in theory, that would be better served by being at home than being in Atlantic City sleeping in an alley. Who's gonna feed my fish if I don't go home?
At least I remembered to cancel my standing order from the Chinese place for tonight.
It's something that hasn't occurred to me. My work tends to run in streaks – and Scully may not know that. She might not be at her godson's next birthday party. Or her parents' anniversary, or her siblings' weddings. We won't always be in Atlantic City. She won't be able to catch a train back from New Mexico, or rural Idaho at a moment's notice.
These are things we need to keep in mind. Or, rather, I need to keep in mind, since it's really because of me that she's in this stupid quest to begin with. I mean, I guess it's actually Blevins' fault that I “need” a partner, but Scully is my responsibility and if I'm going to ruin her friendships and her relationship with her family it'd better be worth it. The problem is, not having any friends other than the Gunmen and not having a relationship with either of my parents kind of makes me not know what I'm missing. I guess we'll just have to handle long-distance plans when we come to them.
A can rattles. I take a good look around.
There's a shadowy figure at the end of the alley, digging in the trash. Isn't that more of a daytime activity? The man/woman/thing sniffs the air as I approach, but doesn't run off. Once I'm about ten feet away, it climbs the fence at the end of the alley.
Not for long though. I climb up the fence and see it moving down a catwalk toward the street. It would be quicker to climb over the fence, but I don't want to startle it, so I just follow along the side of the fence until I hit the street. I can see something moving on the roof of a nearby building. So I do the manly thing. I whistle. It stops, turns to look at me, and maybe I have a chance, but-
Cops. A car and a van. They have their brights on, and they pull up to the curb in front of me. An officer gets out. “Sir.”
I point upwards. “You got a man up on that roof.”
“Nothing to be afraid of, we're gonna give ye a warm place to sleep it off.” He tries to grab my arm.
Oh, come on. Just 'cause I slept in an alley - “Hey back off.”
“Alright, calm down.”
Shouldn't they be investigating? “I'm telling you, there's a man up on that roof.”
“Get in the car, now.”
They're not gonna investigate. I let him cuff me and put me in the back of his car.
I'm taken straight to interrogation. This sucks. I'm usually on the other side of the two-way mirror.
Detective Thompson joins me. Just when my night couldn't suck more.
“What the hell do you think you're doing?”
I think I was hunting for a killer. “Enjoying the night life here in beautiful Atlantic City.”
“I'll go right to the D.A.'s office if I have to, obstructing an investigation, misconduct.”
You're kidding. I wasn't obstructing anything. And, yeah, I guess sleeping in an alley would be misconduct, but I was awake, thank you. “That's good, let's go see her together, and while we're at it, why don't we add withholding evidence to the list.”
“Wadda you talking about?”
Didn't he interview the witnesses? “Statements given to you describing something stalking the back streets of Atlantic City.”
“This is the fishing trip they get me up at three-o-clock in the morning for. Unbelievable”
I know he must have interviewed the witnesses. “Why else would you be sweeping the streets tonight? You know it's out there.”
“I got a perpetrator out there. Whether it's Hannibal the Cannibal or Elmer Fudd, I've got a job, to protect people.”
Maybe a little gangster talk? “Oh is that your job, or is it to keep the dice rolling, keep the tour buses rolling in. You can't fill those casinos, this town disappears like a quarter down the slot.” Or not. I decide to put my cards on the table. “I've seen it.”
I pull out the picture the guy in the alley gave me. and wave it in his face. Thompson chuckles. “You've been spending too much time in supermarket check-out lines.” Moron. “This story's as old as the hills.”
Groan. Scully in a tie. “Who's going to be responsible when you lose your first tourist, Detective? You are.”
“No, you are sir, because you're wasting my time, and impeding the solution of this case. He opens the door and then turns back to glare at me. “You wanna go on a safari, go to Africa. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend.”
I have a feeling that Africa is not a place I would enjoy, and I'm not entirely sure why that is. Anyway, Thompson leaves me sitting there alone, wondering how it is I'm supposed to call Scully and tell her to pick me up from jail.
My turn for my one phone call comes about ten minutes later. Still no idea what I'm gonna say. I call the office, but there's no answer, so I call out to the bullpen, where she probably is anyway. Someone named Alice Hoffman answers the phone and hands it over to Scully.
Thank God Alice didn't ask where I was calling from. I think she might have gone into cardiac arrest from the sheer gossippy joy of it.
“Where are you?”
I wish Alice had asked me. Then I wouldn't be getting interrogated right now. “I'm not far from where you left me.”
“You're still in Atlantic City?”
Yeah... “Scully, you got anything happening this morning?”
“What's that noise in the background?”
Indeed, there is someone vomiting in my immediate vicinity. Three guesses what he got arrested for.
“That's a guy getting sick.”
“Mulder where are you?”
This should be fun. “Scully, I've been locked in a room with people getting sick all night. Where do you think I am?”
“The drunk tank.” She sounds resigned.
“Yeah, and I was wondering if you could drive up here and get me.”
“From the drunk tank.”
“I wasn't drunk,” I point out.
She sighs. “I'll be there.” She sounds resigned again.
“At least I'm not hung over,” I tell her.
“I'm at Central Booking.”
“I'll be there,” she tells me, and I wish, just a little, that I could melt through the floor.
She gets there in three hours and she's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Really. And that's when I realize her hair is red.
It's a funny thing – to me, it seems blond, but just for a second I realize that what I've seen as kind of a flat, uninteresting color, is, in fact, reddish. Just because I can't see the color doesn't mean it's there. It's something to remember about her. There's more to her than what I can see. Like loyalty.
The woman just drove three hours to fish me out of the drunk tank when she should have let me rot. She bailed me out. For whatever reason, she's not leaving me here to make my own way home. That's loyalty.
“What did you get arrested for, anyway?” she asks as we wander out the door and into the sunlight.
“Vagrancy.” I mutter.
“Well, it's not hard to see why they mistook you for a vagrant,” she says, nodding at my clothes.
“You gonna rag on me or you gonna take me to get something to eat?” I ask her. God, I could eat a horse.
“Am I buying or did you manage to panhandle some spare change while you were at it?”
Hardy har har. “Let me check out of my hotel room, and then I'll buy you breakfast.”
I'm starving, but Scully sticks to coffee and a muffin. I don't know why – it's one of the better restaurants I've been in since I started traveling all over looking for aliens. As soon as our food arrives, Scully begins the interrogation. “Mulder, what on Earth possessed you to spend the night in an alley in Atlantic City?”
I decide that cryptic answers probably won't help the situation. “I went out to see where they found the body, followed a path back to an alley full of people who said that someone's been hanging around rummaging through the trash at night, so I decided to take a chance.” She polishes off her muffin in silence after that.
“I saw it around three in the morning, digging through a dumpster,” I tell her and get no reaction except to watch her drink her coffee.
“It moved like a cat, quick and graceful. There's no way a human could've got up on the roof that fast,” I add, knowing she'll just ignore the fact that suddenly there's a roof in this story.
“What's gonna happen when word of this gets back to the bureau?”
That's what she's worried about? “They dropped the charges, that guy Thompson, he ran me through the system just to spite me.”
“I'm talking about this Jersey Devil thing.”
Who cares? They probably won't pay any attention, just like always. Or I'll get fired for doing my freaking job. “I saw it, it's exactly the way the ranger described it, the way it moved, the way it sniffed the air. It's come out of the woods, probably in search of food.”
“Yeah, I'll say.”
“It was peeking through the garbage Scully, if it was a man-eater, why didn't it come after me? Probably felt threatened in some way...” Animal behavior. Think primitive man...
“Mulder, listen to yourself. You're already ascribing it a motive and an alibi. This thing, chewing somebody's arm off is not exactly a defensive posture.”
“But you do believe that I saw something, don't you?”
“You saw something, I'll give you that but I'm not about to go in and sell it. Not when it's nothing more than a sighting in a dark alley.”
“I still got a hotel room I'm paying for,” I tell her, which I meant to check out from before I ate, darn it.
“Yeah well, I have got to get back to Washington by 7:30, so er...”
“Another birthday party?” Does she never have a night off?
“No. I have a date.”
A what now? I need her! “Can you cancel?”
“Unlike you Mulder, I would like to have a life.”
That hurts. “I have a life!” Says the man who just got arrested after trying to spend the night in an alley. On purpose.
Scully chuckles. “C'mon, I have somebody I want you to meet, on the way home. C'mon.”
I force another few swallows before she can drag me out the door.
“On the way.”
I distinctly remember her saying “On the way.”
So how come we're adding an hour to our drive time by going past both our place of work and our homes “on the way”?
There's only one explaination. Scully's snapped.
Of course, I don't want to say anything. Thou Shalt Not argue with the person who just drove to Atlantic City to bail you out of the drunk tank first thing in the morning on a Saturday after you made her drive home alone on a Friday night in traffic with a time crunch.
And what was she doing at the office on Saturday anyway?
And why is it that we're pulling into the University of Maryland on a Saturday? Is anyone likely to be here? At all?
We drive through campus while Scully mutters to herself under her breath (no doubt trying to find parking, which in Universities is practically impossible to find). We end up in someplace called Union Lane, which, judging by Scully's muttering is a good place to be, and wander through the endless walkways that are the staple of university life to Woods Hall, land of the anthropology department.
Lucky for me, the anthropology department has coffee, because I'm rapidly running out of steam. Scully takes a look at a floor directory, then pulls me into the office of a Doctor Louis Diamond. My head hurts. I'm so going to kill her for this.
Louis Diamond also has coffee, I notice in a kind of abstract way.
Scully greets him warmly, and he also has to remember her. “Dana! Wonderful to see you? Last I heard, you were in medical school. Are you practicing?”
Scully kind of winces. “Actually, I joined the FBI. I'm here on a case, we were hoping to get an opinion from the anthropological perspective.”
Diamond frowns. “Dana, I'm not really someone who the FBI commonly-”
She cuts him off. “I just need some background. My partner here-” she gestures to me “-thinks we've found the Jersey Devil.”
Doctor Diamond looks at me closely, with kind of a perturbed frown. I swoop in and shake his hand. “Hi. Fox Mulder.”
“The Jersey Devil?” he asks.
I nod. “Yep.”
He gestures to the chairs in front of his desk. “Have a seat.”
I sit, but Scully remains standing. Doctor Diamond begins pacing around the room in that annoying way academics have. “The Jersey Devil is an archetype, Mr. Mulder. I don't think it's likely that it actually exists, although parts of the myth may be based on actual people or events.”
So the Leeds family actually existed but never had a demon child? “Do you mind if I-” I gesture to the coffee maker. I'll need some fuel to stay awake through this.
He nods once and then resumes pacing. I jump at my chance for caffeine. “Just about every culture has one. Yetis, Sasquatch, Russian Almas, Dsonoqua.”
I don't get it. “Why is that?”
“Oh, it's a kind of universal wild man myth. A symbolic fear of our dual natures as humans, as creators of life and destroyers of it.”
There is a chart on the wall behind the coffee machine. It's a map of the world with a lot of x's on it. “What's this chart?”
“It shows the historic entry of man onto each continent and the effect it had on other animal species, which as you see has been disastrous.”
I can't help myself. “Why?”
“Well, we humans have retained hereditary traits through evolution that have proven to be extremely destructive. We tend to be tribal and aggressively territorial, oriented by selfish sexual and reproductive drives that make, co-operation beyond the family-a-tribe, extremely hard for us.”
He's walking right into my point, and Scully's gonna kill me. “So we kill other species in order to survive.”
“Yeah, humans are top carnivores, we sit at the top of the food chain and we, reduce other species' chance of survival.”
“Nice to know Dana left here with more than a degree,” says Doctor Diamond.
“But what if something entered the food chain above us?” I ask.
The doc grabs himself a cup of coffee and Scully sits down. Yep. Got 'em now. “It won't happen, see our intelligence virtually insures us, barring the introduction of some alien life-form, we will live out our days as rulers of the world.”
Barring aliens. Great. “But, but what if through some fluke of nature, a human was born, who reverted to it's most animal instincts, a kind of carnivorous neanderthal. Wouldn't he occupy a space above us on the food chain?”
The doc chuckles. “Oh sure, all he'd have to do is wait outside any fast-food restaurant and eat us on the way in.”
“Right, yeah, an.and, and haven't there been cases were, men have been raised in the wilderness by animals who have no language and hunt like predators?”
“Oh yes several, but you see cannibalism is rare, even among the lower mammals.”
Except we're not talking lower mammals. “But even when faced with extinction?”
“Well maybe in the jungles of New Gineau or, it's just, highly unlikely that what you're suggesting could've survived civilization, a revolution, out in the woods of New Jersey.”
“Yea, highly unlikely, but not outside the realm of extreme possibility?”
“Well, it would be an amazing discovery.”
I look over to Scully then, victorious, but she just turns away.
Anyway, she takes me home in silence after that and goes back to her life and her date and whatever else the normal do on a Saturday night and I shower and change and drive over to headquarters to have a peek at some of my Jersey Devil pictures and do some comparing and some contrasting and maybe some psychology/anthropology type stuff, and while I'm at it dig through my head and see if any relevant stray information pops out at me.
Three hours later...
Well, that's not precisely accurate. It's just that the psych isn't any use, exactly, because whatever this thing is it acts like an animal. And the anthro isn't really my specialty, so I have to do a lot of reading, which means anthropology books, which I sort of had to go out of my way to find any of those and then I had to read them. And it's kind of boring to do this kind of work alone and I wish Scully was here and I can't believe I just thought that.
Usually when we do any kind of research we don't even talk. She reads medical journals and I read Weekly World News looking for crop circles. She raises an eyebrow when I rip out an article and I try to puzzle out the meanings of the medical terminology in the titles of her articles. It's a ritual, one I depend on, and without it I'm bored to tears.
At some point she became necessary to my work, like breathing or food or the ability to read. I could probably go back to how it was before, of course. And she really should ditch the basement as soon as she can. Best to get her gone before I get too attached.
Any day now.
It's 7:55. They're probably eating something wonderful in some nice restaurant instead of the leftover Chinese I picked at while I brushed my hair with the other hand.
The phone rings, startling me out of my daydream.
“Agent Mulder, this is Peter Boulay of the Jersey Parks Department.”
Oh boy. “Oh yeah, hi.”
“Hi, I found a body out in the woods today, it looks like it's been dead about six to eight months. A long haired male, missing the same tooth I found in that rabbit a while back. It could be your devil.”
I love it when things get easy. “Where's the body now?”
“I turned it over to the coroner's office.”
Of course, they always get difficult again. But animal societies have carefully defined gender roles which explains the whole 'why would it suddenly turn to cannibalism' thing. “You're sure it was a male?”
“Well, it had all the plumbing.”
Okay, so that's one problem solved. I'll have to get Scully to take a look at it in the morning.
“Could you go down to the coroner's office in about three hours?” I ask him.
“Sure, I guess,” he replies, “Why?”
Someone is going to have to help me convince her. “I need backup.”
“Okay, Agent Mulder, I'll see you there.” He hangs up.
I have to get Scully to take a look at all of this, tonight. Before someone else dies. She probably doesn't have her cellular phone with her now, but her pager should be in her purse.
Just in case.
I page her and then start gathering the evidence in neat piles so I can dazzle her with my brilliance. The phone rings about five minutes later. “Scully -” I begin, but she cuts me off.
Cringe. “Sorry to interrupt your evening.”
“That's okay, what's up?”
“I just had an amazing thought, maybe it isn't a beast-man we're looking for after all.”
“What do you mean?”
“What if it's the beast-man's mate?”
There is a significant pause. “Mulder, I don't know if-”
“Scully, can you just come meet me? I've been doing research at headquarters and I have scientific evidence that validates my theory, and they just found the body of a naked man in the park in Jersey.”
And then... “Okay, Mulder. Give me half an hour?”
Half an hour? I can live with half an hour.
Half an hour later I am crawling the walls and I don't want to admit it. I just want to see the look on her face when the evidence is all laid out in front of her, and here we are with a three-hour drive ahead of us to get to Atlantic City, and then we'll have to deal with the cop – or rather, avoid dealing with the cop – and Scully'll have to autopsy the body and admit that I'm right and then we have to find the Jersey She-Devil, and then we have to lock her up or whatever it is you do with She-Devils, and then the Bureau will admit that I'm somewhat legit, and then-
“I'm here, Scully.” She wanders into my office, where I have migrated to pack up my assorted evidence. “Come on. You can look over my evidence while I drive.” I grab my briefcase and head for the car lot, and she remains silent. Deathly silent.
It occurs to me that this is not good, and that it doesn't bode well for me, and that I broke into her date to drag her to Atlantic City, a place that she probably is not too fond of at this point, to go look at the body of something she doesn't believe exist.
I also call in Doctor Diamond and have him meet us too. When he objects to the late hour, I simply tell him we've got the Jersey Devil in the morgue.
Yeah, I better hope she's on my side, because if not I'm going down. She spends the trip in silence. I mean total silence. She doesn't make a peep when we stop for gas, or when I almost swerve off the road to avoid a possibly drunk driver. She grunts when we pass the Atlantic City limits, and every once in a while she turns a page in the stuff I've packed in the briefcase I packed her and she grunts at times – about when I would think she's hitting the more defining parts, or at least that's what I imagine. But she never demands that I let her out at a bus stop, and she never demands that I turn around.
I pull into the street in front of the coroner's office, and we go to find Glenna. I don't have to go far – she's in the lobby and yes, it is, in fact, after 11 at night. Some people have just as small a life as we do.
“Agents,” she says, “let's step into my office.”
We traverse the distance in silence, up an elevator and into the hallway full of autopsy bays, with me about to be bouncing off the walls if this drags on any more. She takes us into an office and there are Doctor Diamond and Peter Boulay. Thank God, a voice of sanity. We shake hands while Glenna digs into her filing cabinet and starts digging around. They both look extremely serious. Boulay looks at Scully. “The Body's gone.”
Well, crap. Scully looks daggers at me.
Glenna returns with the file. “Well, if they picked it up, nobody logged the body on the chart. I sure haven't seen it.”
Boulay looks confused. “Well, I don't understand. What else would they have done with it?”
Scully winces. “I'm afraid we may have called you down here for nothing.” She's moved over to exchange greetings with Doctor Diamond.
“They're going to try and sweep this whole thing under the carpet,” I announce. As if they didn't know.
“Why?” Or maybe the academic-minded among us really don't know.
“Any publicity and you're got the streets crawling with the kind of people who aren't here to play the crap tables. Word gets out there's something still on the loose, forget it,” I explain in a nutshell.
“You said it was a female,” Diamond talks like he's continuing, but I think he skipped a few rails, and I think Scully fills people in faster than I ever thought possible. Without slide shows.
“The body they found was a male, there's a fifty-fifty chance there was a mate. We may never know unless we find out ourselves.”
He frowns. “If it's true, what're the chances of catching it alive?”
Best idea I've heard all night. Scully, however, looks aghast. “Alive?”
I think my grin scares her. “Alive.”
Peter Boulay has a tranq gun in his truck and Diamond has the expertise and Scully has the sarcasm. We set up in the alley where I got arrested for sleeping outside and wait for her to show up and have a snack. Diamond lectures the whole time about primates and their habits as we cut through the fence, finishing up with “If it is a primate, it would have a natural fear of heights. It would also want to stay close to it's food source.”
We step into an abandoned building next to the alley and take a look around. Diamond is wrong. “This thing has no fear of heights. We'll stay together and start with the lower floors. How much time will that dart give us?”
“It'll put down a five hundred pound bear for an hour, if I hit it,” Boulay tells me, which doesn't really give me any kind of answer. We go inside, content not to know, hiding in the shadows, listening to a faint sound of cars outside, waiting for something that may not come, might not even show up-
Or it might.
It will. It has to.
We search nooks and crannies and piles of rubbish, and then-
It's Diamond. We all convene around him and the scrap of cloth he's holding. “It's blood. She could be bringing her killing here. She could be injured.”
In the back of my mind for some reason I register a metallic sound outside. Sounds like it's a ways away. Scully and I climb the stairs to the next level, searching for something that does exist, has to exist, has to show up tonight because otherwise it's over. Scully will put up with a lot, but she has to know now what it means to be attached to me. Sure, it's worth it to me, but not to her.
Never to her. It can't be. I'm pretty sure she can spend more than two seconds with her family without someone saying something perfectly nasty to someone else. I don't want to ruin that for her.
Not unless it's worth it.
And it will never be worth it unless she's making Important Scientific Discoveries. Like the fact that the Jersey Devil is a real thing. I look out into the alley but I don't see anything. What if I'm wrong? Would I really care, if I got shut down. So long as Scully doesn't get dragged down with me.
Of course, if she's the one to shut me down I'll be royally pissed.
She's standing next to me, I realize, looking into the alley. “What if it is a female Scully? How close is she to you or me? Does she feel emotion? Or are her days just spent looking for food?”
“Maybe she spends her day shopping.”
“Eight million years out of Africa, I don't think we're all that different,” I tell her. Scully's a woman. Maybe they'll share a common bond.
“Mulder, we've put men into space, we've built computers that work faster than the human mind.”
Yes. “While we over-populate the world and create new technologies to kill each other with. Maybe we're just beasts with big brains.” She doesn't respond. “What?”
“No I was just, thinking about my godson's birthday party, eight little six year old boys running around, talk about primitive behaviour.”
What kind of territorial agression would take a godmother away from her godson? What is it that could really be worth that?
There is a voice below me. I look down and see Thompson talking to Diamond.
Dammit. Time's up.
“Now look, his name is Mulder and he's a federal agent, you ever hear of him?”
Huh. “You know him?”
Scully opens her mouth and I put a finger to my lips. She peers over the railing.
“Well what are you doing here?”
“I'm a professor of Anthropology.”
“Mulder, does that sound familar to you? Look, I know he's here somewhere. Would you check you upstairs Andrew, go check upstairs. I want this place searched...”
Some guy, Andrew I assume, moves off and we head upward.
There is a noise on the next floor, and when I turn my head someone runs by a busted out window. I chase her and hear Scully follow, and I slow and turn a corner in a rotting hallway and behind me -
“Mulder? Mulder where are you?”
Out the window is a woman, running over the next building. (Mulder looks out a window and sees the figure, the beast-woman, running across the top off an adjacent building. Next to the window is a hole in the wall, and I can jump onto that building and follow and Scully will find me later and be safer. Just later. I ignore the thump behind me. Across the roof a shadow moves and I duck so I won't be seen and then I crawl toward her and then suddenly she is there and boy does she smell. She walks by me and I tackle her to the ground, which is probably not my brightest move but I don't care because if I can prove the Jersey Devil is based on something then I win.
Only she's too fast for me and crosses a walkway to the next building and then I have to chase her of course and so I do that and I'm inside and down some stairs and it's dark but of course flashlights would not help right now and naturally the person who designed this saw a sci-fi movie and there's a spinning fan. Nice touch.
And there she is and she is mad and on top of me and not in the fun way. I land on my back and for a second I can't breathe and she's gone and then she's back and on my legs. Great.
I sit up but she smacks me down – hard. Now my head hurts too.
That gets her off my legs and the She-Devil is gone.
She's here. Why the hell did she follow me?
I try to sit up but she won't let me. “Lay back. Oh, Mulder you're hurt.”
“You should've seen her, she was beautiful.” Proof. Real proof.
“Yeah well, she just about ripped your lungs out.”
Scully's hand comes away from my chest bloody and I decide shutting up would be good about now.
It's not as bad as she made it sound, and the paramedics are able to patch me up. Diamond keeps an eye on me while Scully deals with the inevitable bureaucracy but I'm too excited to wait for her to be done. “She could've torn my head off Scully but she didn't, she sensed that I wasn't a threat..”
“You've gotta hold still,” says the paramedic.
Scully is on the phone. “Yeah I need to talk somebody who can get me federal jurisdiction on this case.” She looks at me. “Mulder.”
“How old would you say she was?” asks Diamond.
I stay on Scully. “What?”
“The US assistant D.A.'s on the phone with the bureau right now, he wants to know what the hell is going on up here in Atlantic City.”
Oh boy. “Well tell him he's got a real live neanderthal on the loose.” I turn to Diamond. “She was young, I, I, I don't know...It's hard to say exactly what, what, what...”
“The Atlantic City major crime unit has filed a complaint that we're endangering a murder investigation.”
There goes that. “That is such crap, you can...” how bad it is will be determined by how much of this sentence I get to finish.
“Agent Mulder, they got her cornered, in a building,” says Boulay over the P.A.
Oh dear. “Let's go.”
Thompson's got her cornered when I get there, and he's ready for the kill. I try to get to him, to stop him, to get in his face, but he has his goons.
“You could take her alive,” I tell him, but he doesn't listen.
“What's going on in there?” he asks his radio.
“I got a man down, I got a naked woman just jumped from a second storey window.” Oh no. “Suspect is headed south into the woods on foot.”
“Call the dogs,” Thompson tells the radio, and I know it's all lost.
Scully, oddly, is the one who wants to continue. “Come on, Mulder,” she tells me as she pulls me toward the car. “I bet we can get Boulay to help us search a lot faster.” She shoves me in the passenger side and then pulls out her phone and dials. “Mr. Boulay? This is Agent Scully. I need to meet you in the park – the cops are coming with dogs to find this woman-” There is a pause. “Right. South gate, keep away from the police. Okay, we'll see you in a few.” She hangs up to notice I'm staring at her.
“Do you think it's the Jersey Devil?” I ask.
She doesn't answer me for several minutes, and then she tells me, “I don't know what I think. I don't know what that woman is doing out in the woods. But she's there, and it's possible that at some point she has been mistaken for the Jersey Devil, so yeah, I guess in a way I do.”
She pulls into a side road and in the mirror I can see a line of police cars go past on the main road. “I just figured you didn't believe at all,” I tell her.
Another pause of several minutes. “I do believe, Mulder, but not what you believe. I was raised to believe in what I can't see – I was raised Catholic, did you know that?” I kind of suspected. She wears a cross most of the time. “Mulder, the difference is that I like to have clear scientific evidence. Now if we find this woman, whatever she is, I'll have evidence of that. You're ready to make her and her ancestors the Jersey Devil people have been talking about all this time – I don't know about that. But right now? She might as well be.”
There's a truck parked by the side of the road and we pull in behind it and get out. Scully leads me to the cab and climbs in, and I climb in afterward. Boulay is at the wheel and Diamond in the passenger seat, although I don't know how we managed to work that out.
“I think I have an idea of where she's headed,” Boulay tells me, and pulls down a “road” to our right. It's little more than a gap between trees. “There's a spot where she could really easily be hiding out.”
He stops at the bottom of the road. I can hear dogs in the distance, and I can see what he means. “I know these woods, if she's going for cover, she'll be down by the rocks,” he adds.
We begin climbing down, looking around, when Boulay speaks. “Look.” She is there, up above us, not where she could easily fall.
Now's as good a time as any. “Can you reach her from here?”
“I can try.”
He fires, and the dart hits her, but she pulls it out before it can deliver it's full dose. She runs away, across a bridge over the river, and I follow. I can hear the others behind me. And then ahead of me I hear gunshots and it's all over. “I got it. Up ahead. I got it. She tried to take my arm off. Watch it right here.” We run that way, but it's too late. All over now. My chest hurts and I don't care. “Right there. Looks like she was trying to bury herself.” She is partially buried in leaves on the ground. I squat next to her. She would have been beautiful, I think, had she joined the rest of the human race. I close her eyes.
And then I turn to Thompson. “Why did you have to kill her?
“Same reason you kill a rabid animal.”
I really want to hit him, but Scully takes my arm and somehow I know it's okay to just... not. We walk back to the car, even though it's a good mile and my side is killing me, leaving Peter Boulay and Doctor Diamond to chew Thompson out. From the sounds eminating from the scene of the shooting, it sounds like they're doing fine.
I took a few hours to get checked out at the hospital before Scully drove me home, and then we have to file a case report to Blevins. It's not really easy, because it takes a week to get the autopsy results, which Glenna finally has to Xerox and take to the post office herself.
It seems they keep getting “lost”.
When they arrive, I carefully sort the photos and put them in my cabinet with the rest of the Jersey Devil file. I guess that's over and closed.
Scully comes in and sits across from me, and then passes me a file she's carrying. “Hi, this just came through, it's the posthumous medical exam on the woman's body. They found fragments of human bones still in her digestive tract, they estimated her age to be twenty-five to thirty years. Now they allowed Dr. Diamond to do a medical exam of the body but he found nothing that suggested prehistoric bone structure or physiology. Now the ACPD has her listed as a Jane Doe, and a search for her identity in state psychiatric records has begun, in earnest.”
She won't be there. “Good luck.”
“They have also released the medical exam from the male body that they found, his age is estimated to be about forty years.”
I get it now. “There would have been offspring.” Case not closed.
“The medical exam of the women's uterus does seem to indicate that she may have given birth.”
“She was just protecting her children Scully, it all makes sense.” The last piece has fallen into place. “The male dies and she comes out of the woods in search of food.” I get up and get my coat, I need to go see that guy at the Smithsonian.
“Mulder will you do me a favour, will you just go out and have a beer, will you take the day off. I'll cover for you, will you just, take some time for yourself.”
“Thanks for the offer but I've got an appointment at the Smithsonian with...” The phone rings and I head to pick it up “...an ethno-biologist, I can't wait to tell him about this.” I finally get to the phone. “Mulder.”
“Hello? Is Dana available?”
It's her date. “Just a second.” Sigh. I turn to Scully. “It's for you.” I leave her to reclaim her social life and head up to get the car. Maybe she doesn't have to go to all the stuff?
I make it as far as Fran's desk when Scully reaches me. “Who was that on the phone?” As if I don't know.
Huh. “A guy. Same guy as the guy you had dinner with the other night?”
Do I have to get out the torture devices? “You gonna have dinner with him again?”
“I don't think so.”
“No interest?” I hand Fran her form.
“Not at this time.”
Fran hands me my keys. “Thanks Fran.” Not at this time, huh? What does that mean? She follows me to the door. “What are you doing?”
“I'm going with you to the Smithsonian.”
She should go have dinner and I know it. “Don't you have a life Scully?”
“Keep that up Mulder and I'll hurt you like that beast-woman.”
She pauses with her hand on the door handle, and something inside me compels me to say, “Eight million years out of Africa-”
“Look who's holding the door,” she finishes, and we leave for the Smithsonian.