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© Starfleetofficer1, July 2007


SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully investigate a serial killer who can control time.


TYPE: X-files, MT, maybe implied MSR


RATING: 13+ for some violence and language


DISCLAIMER: I don't own X-files.  I don't own the characters.  I don't own anything but the story idea.  Please don't steal it-it's all I own.







MONDAY, OCTOBER 25th, 1996



Mulder walked into the X-files office, eyes glued to the file folder in his hand.  Scully looked up from her report, and raised an eyebrow.


"Mulder, we haven't even finished the report for our last case.  Please don't tell me you've got another X-file."


Mulder looked up, a smile playing on the corner of his lips. "Scully, I'm shocked.  The thought that I would be inconsiderate enough to let you write the report for the last X-file, while simultaneously making you work on another one wounds me."


Scully simply gave him a look, and Mulder put the folder down. "Besides, it isn't an X-file."

"What is it, then?" Scully asked skeptically, letting her eyes float back to her report as she rested her hands on the keyboard.


"Agent Harris in Violent Crimes faxed me the report.  It's a serial killer in Montana." Mulder sat down at his desk, and leaned back as he watched Scully type.


"No special powers, no telepathy or telekinesis or clairvoyance?  No genetic mutations or alien abductions?" She asked as she multitasked, finishing a paragraph and starting a new one.


"Not that I can see."


"Then why did he fax you the case?"


Mulder picked up the file, and opened it again. "He wants us to take the case.  Skinner agrees with him."


She stopped typing, and looked at him. "Did Skinner give you a reason why?"


"The serial killer captures and tortures his victims in a meticulous manner.  Harris is sending me the photos soon, and we can take a look then.  But from what Skinner tells me, the killer does more damage than they think is possible."


Scully raised an eyebrow. "All right," she said, a bit confused as to why that would make it an X-file. "When will we have the photos?"

"They should be in my inbox any minute," he said, and accessed his computer.  As he logged onto his email account, Scully continued typing. "You're almost done anyway, Scully."


Scully fought back a groan.  It was just like Mulder to drag her into a case when they hadn't even finished the last one.  Well...they had finished the last one, and she was on the last paragraph of the report.  But it was a good way to make him think he owed her something.  Maybe when he dragged her into this, and she decided it was time to leave the fleabag motel and declare the case as ‘not an X-file', he'd listen.  And maybe Jimmy Hoffa would fall through the roof of the X-files office and land on Mulder's head. 


A few minutes later, her partner got up and headed for the door.


"Where are you going?" She asked.


"To pick up the slides," he said with a smile. "I just got the photos from the email transferred.  I think Skinner's right."


She rolled her eyes, and decided now was the time to type furiously.  If she didn't get this report done now, it would never get written.






Mulder practically ran back into the X-files office just as Scully was printing the report.  "Great, you're done," he said with an eager smile.


Scully simply eyed him as he slipped his new slides out of the envelope and into the projector.  "You could just use the new computer projector," she said.


"What new computer projector?"


"Over there," Scully pointed to an unopened box. "I requested it last week.  It hooks up to the computer and displays what's on the screen."


"I'll be damned," Mulder said, unimpressed.  He finished putting the slides into the old projector and then placed it in front of their blank wall. "This one works fine," he said.


"You're not scared of the new projector, are you, Mulder?" She asked playfully.


"I'm not going to dignify that with a response," he said, his voice deadpan but a smile creeping on his face.


"You just don't want to admit you don't know how to hook it up."


"Excuse me, Scully, trying to work here," he said as he turned the old projector on, and picked up the file.


Scully smirked. He acted like such a baby sometimes.  She turned around, and the smirk fell off her face.  She was staring at a horribly mutilated corpse.  It looked like every bone in his body was broken. "Who's this?"


"Jeremy VanBuren.  Twenty years old, kidnapped from his dormitory in the University of Montana, allegedly driven forty miles to a cabin near Doctor Lake, in a thicket of woods.  Every bone in his left and right arms were meticulously broken," he said as he switched the slide to close-ups of VanBuren's arms.  Then a slide of VanBuren's legs was shown. "Every bone in both legs was also broken.  Clean breaks, as if done with a machine.  His pelvis was shattered, then each rib broken.  No organs were punctured.  His spine was snapped last, and that's what killed him according to the ME."


Scully looked at the slides, troubled.  "This is horrible, Mulder, but I'm not seeing how Skinner's right."


"One of Jeremy's friends saw the kidnapping take place at 8 pm two weeks ago.  The kid called the police and a chopper was tracking the car.  A road block failed, and the killer was able to reach the cabin.  It was surrounded and stormed only five minutes after the killer pulled up next to it.  When the police entered, Jeremy was in this state, and the killer was gone.  There's no way he could have done the damage he did while driving, or in the five minutes he was in the cabin.  Jeremy's body was discovered at 8:30 pm that night."


"He was only gone thirty minutes."

"Yes, and twenty-five minutes of that time was spent in a high-speed police chase in which the killer couldn't have possibly inflicted this torture.  There was no one in the car with the killer and Jeremy.  The choppers have film of the car and no one entered or exited except for Jeremy and his captor.  There were no instruments found in the cabin that could have accelerated this damage."


Scully frowned.


"That's not all," Mulder said, and switched slides.  This time a young girl was displayed. "Cynthia Paris, twenty years old, also abducted from her dormitory in the University of Montana.  Driven sixty miles to a similar cabin, undiscovered for two days.  Same meticulous damage," he explained, as he switched to slides of Cynthia's shattered bones. "But here's the thing.  This cabin is near a campground and four campers said Cynthia came to them in the middle of the night, having escaped from a killer who had held her for nine months.  They gave her food and water, let her stay the night.  She was taken two nights later, according to these campers.  She didn't let them call the police while she was with them, but they called when she was taken.  And it took the park ranger fifteen minutes to find the cabin.  It was the only cabin without a registered guest.  This is what they found inside."


The slide switched to a picture of Cynthia's body next to a small pile of hay, with an odd snake-like thing on top of it.  Scully recognized it instantly. "An umbilical cord?"


Mulder nodded. "Nine months, Scully. Cynthia claimed to have been held for nine months.  It was two days, but here's an umbilical cord."


"Do we have a DNA match?"


"Not yet, but they're working on it.  Obviously you understand why Skinner wanted us to take this case from Harris."


Scully looked troubled. "You're not trying to suggest this killer has the ability to...slow time?"


Mulder had that look in his eye.  Scully knew she had hit the nail on the head. "What other explanation could there be for this?"


His answer was an unsatisfied look from his partner.


"I'm going to book our tickets.  We'll probably leave tonight for Montana.  We need to talk to the ME who examined both bodies, and I'd like you to take a second look.  Verify whether Cynthia had ever given birth.  We'll need to poke around a little at the sheriff's office, look at the evidence ourselves and then visit the University of Montana to talk to these kids' friends.  And their parents."


For once, Scully didn't seem to be arguing.  This was clearly a case that, X-file or no, they would need to be in Montana to investigate.  "I agree," she said. "But Mulder...please...we're going to be spending a lot of our time collecting other people's DNA.  I don't want to find any in the motel we're staying at."


Mulder smirked. "Absolutely," he said.  But Scully knew it was too late.  This case had caught his eye, and he was too far gone to care about what motel they'd be sleeping in. 


With a sigh, she stapled her report and walked out of the office to deliver it to Skinner.  Here we go again, Scully thought.






MONDAY, OCTOBER 25th, 1996



Mulder knocked on the dormitory door, glancing around the hall as Scully tried to avoid the gaze of a naked boy running for his dorm room.  Seconds later, another boy covered only by a towel, and holding another towel, ran after him only to have the door slammed in his face. 


Mulder caught Scully's eye and then glanced over at a condom thumb-tacked to a bulletin board.  He smirked, and his partner rolled her eyes.


The door in front of them opened, revealing a red-eyed student about twenty years old, dressed in a t-shirt and flannel pants. "What do you want?" he asked.  It was quite obvious he had been crying.


"Mr. Wilkovski, my name is Fox Mulder, and this is my partner Dana Scully.  We're here from the FBI," Mulder said, showing his badge.  "May we come in?"


"No.  What do you want?"


"We just want to ask you a few questions.  I'm sorry to disturb you," Scully said.


"I already answered all the cops' questions.  So ask them." He moved to close the door, but Mulder stuck his hand out.


"We've already talked to the cops, and we have some more questions.  We won't be long."


The boy stared at them, clearly annoyed, and opened the door.  He moved aside, and Mulder and Scully walked in.  "Sorry ‘bout the mess," he said. "My roommate sucks."


‘Mess' was a bit of an understatement.  If Wilkovski's roommate was responsible for the biohazards Mulder and Scully were witnessing, perhaps the EPA would be better suited handling the situation than the FBI.  Mulder shoved moldy pizza aside with his foot as he looked around for a place to sit.  He didn't find one.

"What do you want?" Wilkovski asked.


"We're wondering about what you saw two weeks ago."


"I told the cops that."


"You told them you saw Jeremy get into a car against his will with a man about thirty years old," Scully said. "This happened right outside the dorm.  How many other people were around?"


"No one else. Just me and him."


"Why didn't you intervene?" Mulder asked.


The boy glared at them. "You think I wouldn't have if I could've?  You have no fricken clue what happened!  We were just waiting for some people...I swear it was the first time we ever..."


Scully raised an eyebrow. "The first time you ever...what?"


"Okay...we were selling pot, okay?  Jeremy got it from some guys and made a deal...we were gonna use the money to pay off some other guys.  Gambling, you know?  Jeremy got into some trouble," Wilkovski was crying now.  "I never thought it'd turn out this bad.  I never thought...and then...God, they even got Cynthia!"


"You knew Cynthia Paris?" Mulder asked, highly interested.


"She said she'd give us a couple hundred bucks, just to pay off the poker guys for a little bit...until we got the rest of the money.  She...she was my...we went out a few times."


Mulder put a hand gently on the boy's shoulder. "You're not in any trouble," he said. "We just want some information so we can catch the people who did this to your friends."


"Are they gonna come for me next?" he asked, his eyes betraying his fear.


"We can protect you if you give us the information we need," Scully told him. "We'll take you away from this...trash heap," she said with a small smile, "And you can live in a safe house until this is over."


Wilkovski walked over to his desk, and picked up a notebook.  "I've got a midterm tomorrow...the quarter system, you know.  I can't miss this midterm.  I'll fail Bio."


"We can talk to your professor.  These are extenuating circumstances," Mulder said. "Listen, we'll drive you to the safe house, and we can talk there.  Would that be better?"


Wilkovski seemed to think about it, and then he nodded. "Let me grab a few things."


"If you can find them," Scully said, eying the dumpster load on Wilkovski's floor. 


Wilkovski chuckled, something Scully took as a good sign.  He wiped his nose with the back of his hand, and then said, "My roommate's such a jackass...brings his damn girlfriend in here and then sticks his damn condoms on the bulletin board outside like it's some damn trophy."


Mulder sniffed the air conspicuously, and then said, "Mmm, college life.  Brings back memories."


His partner eyed him disapprovingly. 


In another few minutes, they had Wilkovski packed and in the back of their car, and they drove toward the local sheriff's office.  They were coordinating with a Sheriff Patterson who could put them in touch with a safe house, and get them a suitable guard. 


When they arrived at the office, they were greeted by an onslaught of shouting, officers running from cube to cube and computer to computer, and a receptionist on the phone, who halted them with an impatient finger. 


"No, we never got a call. Don't you understand what I'm saying?  I've been saying it for the past ten minutes." Mulder held up his badge, and she rolled her eyes. "Wait a minute, will you," she said into the phone.  She looked at Mulder. "What do you want?"


"I'm Agent Mulder; this is Agent Scully.  We have a witness we need placed in a safe house.  We were told it was being arranged."


"Yeah, well that was before three more victims came in from this guy.  At the same time.  You want to wait a minute while I finish this call?"


"Actually, if we could just talk to Sheriff Patterson-"


The receptionist gave them a bitter glance, and the corner of her mouth twitched.  "Good luck with that.  She was one of the victims."






MONDAY, OCTOBER 25th, 1996



They waited for what seemed like forever.  Wilkovski was getting antsy, looking at the door every few minutes as if expecting someone to come in and kill him.  Mulder looked at his watch compulsively and Scully decided if he did it one more time, she was going to slap him.


Luckily for Mulder, someone approached them wearing a sheriff's badge on his uniform and a cast on his wrist.  "Agents Mulder and Scully?" He asked.


"That's us," Mulder said as he stood.  "I'm Mulder, she's Scully. This is Greg Wilkovski.  He's a witness in the case you're investigating."


The man nodded. "Acting Sheriff Roy Pontabulus," he said as he stuck out his good hand.  Mulder gave it a good shake, and beat down the urge to make a joke about the Fabulous Pontabulus.  Or something of that nature.  He'd figure it out when he was alone with Scully.


Scully shook his hand, and glanced at his broken wrist. "What happened?"


Pontabulus rolled his eyes. "Had a run-in with a suspect last week.  Unrelated to this case.  Will you follow me?  I'll put you in touch with someone who can take Greg to a safe house."


"We'd like to look at the guard manifest before he's sent," Mulder said.  At Wilkovski's glance, Mulder added, "And we'd like to accompany him."


"Sure, anything you need.  Sorry about the confusion.  We just lost one of our own."


"Yes, we heard.  I'm sorry," Scully said sympathetically.


"I knew Sheriff Patterson since she was promoted to her damn sheriff Missoula's ever seen.  You folks do everything you can to catch this bastard."


"We will," Mulder promised.


They were led to a questioning room, given water, and then left for another fifteen minutes.  Mulder started checking his watch again, and his partner glanced impatiently at the door.  Soon, a tall woman walked in.  "My name's Jan York.  I'm the safe house coordinator," she introduced.


"I'm Agent Scully, and this is Agent Mulder, from the FBI.  We're investigating the case involving Greg Wilkovski's friends, and Sheriff Patterson."


She nodded as she shook their hands. "I'm aware of the situation.  Greg, we're going to put you in a safe house where you can live as long as you need to, until this is over.  We'll contact whoever we need to, to inform them of where you are and that you're safe.  You'll be out of contact with everyone but your guards and law enforcement personnel until this is over.  It's for your own safety.  Do you still consent to go into safe house protection?"


"Yes," Wilkovski said, as if he were forcing the answer out of his throat. "This guy killed my friends.  He's gonna come for me next."


"We're going to do everything we can to keep you safe," she told him.  She looked to the FBI agents. "I've made the arrangements.  We can transport him as soon as you're ready."


"We asked to see the information about the guard manifest and the security systems before we leave," Mulder said.


"Oh, of course.  I'll grab the specs and be right back.  Then we can take off."


"We'll be accompanying Mr. Wilkovski to the safe house," Scully stated.


Jan nodded. "That will be fine.  I'll be right back," she said, and she left the room.








Mulder and Scully walked out the front door of the otherwise normal-looking safe house, settled in a suburban neighborhood and indistinguishable from the other houses on the curb, if it weren't for the two guards outside.  There were two more in back, and several inside.  Greg was getting ready to go to sleep, having said he was exhausted.  Mulder and Scully had just questioned him for the past half hour, and gotten all the information they believed they could.  They headed back to the sheriff's office to look at the latest evidence.


"Wilkovski obviously saw something odd about the man who took Jeremy," Mulder said.


"But he said he couldn't put his finger on it.  He's probably just imagining the man didn't look normal because he killed his friend."


"You don't think it's odd a man was able to drag two full-grown men by himself down two flights of stairs, out the front door, then shove one into a bush and the other into a car so quickly that no one saw the entire thing?" Mulder asked skeptically.


"Yes, I think it's exceptionally odd, but that doesn't mean the man himself looked out of place.  How did he even get into the dorm?"


"Wilkovski said he didn't know.  But they probably opened the door for him because they thought he was the pot buyer."


Scully nodded in agreement. "And it doesn't take a genius to get past initial dorm security.  But that doesn't explain how Wilkovski got in the bush."


"His exact words were that he was in his dorm one minute, and in the bush the next.  He didn't know how, and he wasn't hurt."


"I'm aware of what he said, Mulder."


"The only explanation was that this killer was able to slow down time enough to drag Wilkovski over to the bush, and leave him there while he put Jeremy in the car."


"Or maybe he had help.  Maybe the killer isn't picking random victims.  He might have been involved in the gambling debt or the drug dealing, and now he's cleaning up the evidence."


"Scully, that doesn't even make sense.  If he was part of the drug dealing, he just needed to get his pot from Jeremy and leave.  That much is simple.  If he wanted to clean up the evidence, he wouldn't have mutilated the corpse to the point where we got involved.  It would have been a simple gunshot wound and body dump.  And if he was involved in the gambling debt, he would have taken some of Wilkovski's money during the jump in the dorm."


Scully was quiet.  Mulder had a point.


"Even if you don't believe me, at least admit this killer doesn't have anything to do with the gambling debt or the drug dealing."


She frowned, and said, "He probably doesn't."


"Good, now we can move forward.  I want to look at the evidence from the sheriff's office, and you can take a look at the bodies in the morning.  We'll just find out the details from these latest three victims before we go back to the motel.  Deal?"


"Fine," Scully said.


"I detect a hint of frustration in your voice."


"Me, frustrated?" Scully asked sarcastically. "You know I could never be frustrated with you, Mulder."


Mulder simply grinned, and chucked a sunflower seed shell out the window of the car.


Back at the sheriff's office, they discovered several key pieces of evidence that left them at the same dumbfounded spot they were previously in.  The Sheriff was murdered in her office, and how the killer escaped to murder a twenty-year-old man a mile away was beyond any of them.  Both were murdered in the same meticulous fashion, and the Sheriff's officers claimed to have only heard one fairly long scream.  They came running, and found their sheriff in the same condition as Jeremy and Cynthia.  She was exactly thirty years old to the day.


"What a nice birthday present," Mulder had muttered as he examined the files.


The murdered twenty-year-old's time of death was at nearly the same time, and he suffered the same fate as the other victims.  His last name caught Mulder's eye.  "Tom Shepard."


"Yeah, what about it?"


"Look at Wilkovski's file," Mulder said, and handed her the file. 


Scully paged through it until she came across what he was talking about. "Oh my God.  This is Wilkovski's half-brother."


"I think this kid's more in the middle of this than he even realizes."


"The third victim has no relation to him, though.  And neither did the sheriff."


"I think the sheriff was simply getting in the way.  Most likely, Pontabulus is at risk, too.  And so are we."


Scully was quiet as she read through Wilkovski's file. "What was the name of the third victim?"


"Marissa Dilk.  Why?"


"She's listed as one of Wilkovski's foster sisters.  Actually...Tom Shepard lived in the same foster home for two years."


Mulder looked up. "Any connection with Sheriff Patterson?"


"Let's find out," Scully said. "That could be the target right there.  This foster home."


"That doesn't explain Jeremy and Cynthia, though."


"It might.  Let's find out."









A lot of digging and multiple cups of coffee had gained them nothing more than the name of the foster home, the names of the children who had lived at the foster home, and the name of the caretaker in charge of the children.  They now knew where the foster children lived and worked, and would start investigating them in the morning.  Mulder wasn't even slightly tired, but he knew Scully was dead on her feet and ready to crash.


So they went back to the Sunrise Motel, where they had left their bags in their adjoining rooms.  Scully was asleep in moments, but Mulder stayed up for another few hours, watching a random movie on TV and then chasing a spider that kept crawling dangerously close to him.  He hated spiders.


He finally fell asleep, only to be woken up what seemed like moments later.  He glanced at his watch, and saw that it had stopped working. "Oh, damn it," he said, looking at the 0240 eternally etched onto the digital screen.  He got up, and grabbed his gun as he went to investigate whatever had made that noise outside his door.


He pulled back the blinds, and saw a downed tree blocking his exit. "Shit," he said angrily, surveying the damage.  The porch roof and part of the building were destroyed.  Mulder slipped some pants over his boxers and a t-shirt over his bare chest, and then picked up his cell phone.  He dialed Scully, and waited for the answer.


"Mulder, what's wrong?"


"There's a tree in front of my door.  Didn't you hear that noise?"


"No," she said, her voice sounding surprised.


"I need you to unlock the adjoining door.  I've got a bad feeling about this..."


"Mulder, just go back to sleep.  I'm sure someone will take care of it before morning.  The motel manage couldn't have missed a tree falling in front of your door."


Mulder heard a window break, and realized what was happening. "Scully, my bathroom window just shattered.  Open that door, now!"


It took his partner only a few seconds to open the door, but by that time it was too late.  Mulder had fired three shots at the figure coming through the bathroom window, and still pointed his gun at the empty window a moment later.


Scully put her hand gently on his shoulder, and looked at him with a worried expression. "Mulder, no one's there."


"Someone was just there, Scully.  I know they were!  I saw it!  I think I may have hit it!"


"I was here the entire time you were firing and I didn't see anyone."


Mulder slowly lowered his gun. "He's trying to take us out," he said.


"What do you mean?"


"We're getting too close to him.  To his foster family.  That tree fell, blocking my exit.  You didn't even hear it.  Then my bathroom window shatters and someone tries to crawl through-they were trying to get to me, Scully!"


She gave him a worried look.




"I don't see a tree, Mulder."


Mulder looked shocked and disturbed. "What?  Come here, come with me."


He ran over to his door, and opened the blinds. "Look out, right-holy's gone!  That's why he climbed back out!  He realized he didn't have enough time before you looked out the window.  He needed to get it cleaned out first!"


"Mulder, there is no tree."


"Then why is there a stump right there, Scully?  There was a tree there before. It fell.  He knocked it down!  He stopped time-I looked at my watch and it was 0240 when this started!  What time is it now?"


"0243. That's about right," Scully said. "Maybe a little slow...but he didn't halt time."


Mulder looked terribly confused.


"Go to bed, Mulder.  I'll keep the door unlocked."


He watched as she walked back into her room, and then collapsed into his own bed.  He didn't sleep, though.  Any chance of that was obliterated.









"I'm just telling you there would have been damage," Scully argued as they got out of the car.


"He repaired it!  Those floor boards were new, and so was the porch roof!"


"He repaired it in the three minutes we thought someone was there?" Scully asked skeptically.


"It wasn't three minutes for him, Scully.  And he wasn't counting on me calling you.  He may not have even known about you."


"Then why didn't I hear the tree fall?"


"I don't know," Mulder admitted. "Maybe it's because time only stops in a bubble...around his suspect."


Scully threw an annoyed glance at him as they approached the door of the foster home.  "Right, sure," she said as she rang the doorbell.


A woman in her sixties came to the door, along with three children.  One was African American, one was Asian, and the third was Hispanic.  They were all around five years old.  "Little ones, we have company and what did I tell you about company?"


The children took three steps back from the door, and stood with their hands behind their backs. 


"That's better," the woman said with a smile.  She turned to Mulder and Scully. "Little ones will talk to any stranger they see...Can I help you?"


"Ms. McGregory?  I'm Agent Fox Mulder from the FBI.  This is my partner Agent Dana Scully.  We have a few questions for you.  Would you mind if we come in?"


"Of course not," Ms. McGregory said, and opened the door wider for the FBI agents.  When she stepped aside to let them in, they saw four children playing a game of hopscotch on the wooden floorboards, having constructed the numbered blocks with masking tape in an open area.  Two older children were playing video games on the couch, and one child read a book by himself on the stairs. 


"Would you like to sit down?" Ms. McGregory asked, and glanced at the two teenagers on the couch. "Matt, Sammie, we have company.  Go upstairs and play there, not here."


"Awwww, I don't wanna!" Matt whined, but Sammie got up and turned the game off.  "Come on," she said to her foster brother, and they walked reluctantly up the stairs.  Matt gave the child on the stairs a good kick, and the child did nothing back.


"Matthew, you just lost your video game privileges, and if I see you with a game in your hand in the next two days, you'll lose your room and sleep down here at night.  Understood?" Ms. McGregory said sternly.


Matt grumbled some invective as he stomped the rest of the way up the stairs.  Ms. McGregory motioned to the couch, and apologized. "Matt's given me more trouble than the others.  He was mistreated before he came here...this is his fifth foster home."


"We understand," Mulder said kindly as he sat down on the couch.


"Can I get you anything to drink?" Ms. McGregory asked.


"No, we're fine, thank you," Scully said. "We have a few questions about some children that left your foster home two years ago." She dug a list out of her bag, and handed it to the older woman as she sat down in a chair. "Do you remember any of these children?"


"Of course I do, dear," she said kindly. "I remember all my children.  Greg Wilkovski was one of the best behaved teenagers I had ever taken in.  He came when he was fifteen, stayed here three years before going off to college.  He was amazingly well-mannered.  And yes...I remember Hattie Patterson very well.  She was so misbehaved when she was a young child.  Stayed with me for ten years, from the time she was eight until she was eighteen.  By the time she left, she was sure she wanted to go into law enforcement.  And she went to the University of Montana.  Earned a degree, was very successful.  I...I heard what happened...on the news."


"We're sorry," Mulder said apologetically.


"I don't know why anyone would target my kids.  I've never turned out a criminal.  I've been doing this for thirty-five years now, and I've never turned out a criminal.  They're all good kids--why would anyone do this, Mr. Mulder?"


"We're trying to figure that out," Mulder said.  "I understand that most of the victims knew each other while they were here.  But did Sheriff Patterson come back here while the others were living in this house?"


Ms. McGregory thought hard.  "I know she came back a few times.  Talked to the kids about law enforcement...Marissa Dilk was so interested.  I remember her reaction...she was fascinated by the entire thing.  So yes, yes, Hattie did come back when the other victims were here.  Greg and Tom...Marissa and Cynthia-"


"Wait a moment, did you say Cynthia?  Cynthia Paris?" Mulder asked.


"Yes, why?  Didn't you realize she was one of the victims as well?" Ms. McGregory asked.  Scully could tell she was trying not to cry.


"No, we were aware," Scully said. "But she wasn't listed as one of your children."


"Cynthia was only here for a few weeks.  It was the oddest thing.  She was here, and then gone.  The paperwork barely had a chance to get through.  It was a formality, really.  She was about to turn eighteen and she needed to be moved from her old foster home.  They were all around the same age-the victims, I mean.  That day that Hattie came, they were the most affected audience.  They were starting to choose careers.  All they wanted was to have a chance in this world..."


That's when Ms. McGregory lost it.  She began crying, and it attracted the attention of the little children playing around the downstairs.  They all approached carefully, looking concerned.


"I'm okay," she told them. "Something very sad has happened.  It'll be fine. Why don't you go back to playing."


"You sure?" A boy about nine or ten asked, holding a magic marker in his hand.  He had a slight southern accent.

"Yes, I'm sure.  And John, don't forget to put newspaper down before you start coloring with that marker."


"Yes'm," the boy said, and ran back into the kitchen.  The other children seemed to take that as their cue to keep playing.


"Ms. McGregory, I'm curious," Mulder asked once the tears weren't so abundant. "Why aren't the children in school?"


Scully handed the older woman a tissue, and she blew her nose.  Then she said, "It's Records Day.  No school today.  All the children are off."


Mulder smiled slightly. "Ms. McGregory, we have just a few more questions for you.  Do you recognize the name Jeremy VanBuren?"


The woman thought for a moment, before recognition flashed across her face. "Yes, yes of course.  That was Greg's best friend from high school.  He asked him over several times."


"Ms. McGregory, was Jeremy here when Sheriff Patterson came?"


The older woman closed her eyes in thought.  Mulder glanced at Scully when seconds passed, but finally, Ms. McGregory opened her eyes, and said, "Yes.  He was here.  And he brought another boy with him.  Harry, or Henry, or something like that.  I don't remember.  They were all interested in law enforcement at that time.  It was a phase, lasted about a week, but it attracted them to Sheriff Patterson without a doubt."


A little girl ran past with a pair of scissors in her hand, and Ms. McGregory caught her arm with cat-like reflexes.  "Katherine Valerie, what did I tell you about running with scissors?"


The six-year-old lowered her head in shame, and Ms. McGregory took the scissors from her. "No more scissors until you learn to control them.  Go and play with the others."


Scully smiled as the little girl sulked her way to the kitchen.  "Do you remember if anything odd was said during that meeting, Ms. McGregory?  Anything Sheriff Patterson said that might have triggered something?"


Ms. McGregory shook her head. "No, all the children were fascinated, but all she told them was that law enforcement helped protect the people, and control the criminals.  She explained what a police officer's job was, and what her daily life was like."


"Do you think you could point out Jeremy and Greg's friend from school, Ms. McGregory?  If we gave you a yearbook?" Mulder asked.


"Of course, I'll do anything you want me to, to help this investigation.  I appreciate the fact that the FBI was called in.  Something might really get done."


Mulder smiled.  "And we appreciate your help.  We're going to ask some officers to come over and keep an eye on the house, just in case.  We think you might be in danger."


Ms. McGregory didn't look shocked, but she did look troubled. "Alright.  Of course.  They're always welcome here."


Mulder and Scully stood, and shook Ms. McGregory's hand. "We'll be back soon," Scully said.


"Thank you again, Ms. McGregory," Mulder told her.  She showed them to the door, and closed it behind them.


"Back to the sheriff's office?" Scully asked. 


"You know it," Mulder said, and they got in the car.


They didn't get two miles down the road before Mulder's cell phone rang.  "Hello?  Yes.  Okay, we'll be right there."  He hung up and turned the car around, heading the other way.


"What is it?" Scully asked.


"Another victim.  The crime scene's still there.  They want us on scene."









Mulder pulled up on scene, flashed his badge, and got out of the car. The police officer who had greeted him said, "This vic's an employee.  Electrical technician, twenty years old.  Robin Lefler."


"One of the foster kids," Scully recalled.


"Same MO?" Mulder asked as he was led into the plant.


The police officer nodded. "Yep.  We thought you folks might want to take a look before we did anything.  We just got the call a few minutes ago."


"Witnesses?" Scully asked.


"One witness.  Another electrical technician.  She was in the room with Robin when she said she was forced to watch hours of her friend being tortured, while she was tied to a chair.  She was found tied to a chair, but it couldn't have been hours.  They started the maintenance at 1013.  It was 1015 when the supervisor came to check on them, and found Mr. Lefler on the floor in the same condition as the other suspects."


Mulder nodded. "He got in and out in two minutes, Scully," he said. 

Both Scully and the officer looked at him like he was insane, but Mulder ignored it.  He was so used to those stares that he might have been worried if they didn't occur.


They were led into the electrical maintenance room, where an array of computers and monitoring devices were beeping and flashing.  Two electrical technicians were waiting just outside the yellow tape, and moved to ask questions when Mulder and Scully were led through the line.


"You can ask questions later.  These FBI agents are investigating the situation, and we'll tell you what we know when we know something," the officer said before the technicians could get a word out.


A woman in a technician's jumpsuit was sitting with some paramedics, partially covered by a shock blanket and holding a cup of coffee with shaky hands.  Mulder and Scully approached her immediately, getting back out of the crime scene.


"I've got this, Mulder.  Go check out the crime scene," Scully told him.  He nodded, and went back into the room.


Scully smiled at the woman, and sat down next to her.


As she started asking questions, Mulder examined the body and the scene.  There was no evidence to speak of, but the bones were definitely broken in the same manner.  A clean break, right between joints, and a final snap of the spine to finish the job.


"Did you dust for fingerprints yet?" Mulder asked.


"We got a few, and we'll run them, but they were all on the controls and the toolboxes.  Chances are, they were Lefler's and Wellington's."


"Wellington was the other technician in here?" Mulder asked.


"Yeah," the officer told him.  "Can our ME start now?"


Mulder surveyed the body. "See if you can get any prints off of it.  Don't start an autopsy when you ship it back to the station.  My partner will do that."


"Alright," the officer agreed.


"Excuse me, Agent!" A technician yelled from outside the barrier.  Mulder turned, and approached him. "Yes, what do you need?"


"I think I may have some evidence pertaining to this case.  Will you come with me to the other electrical maintenance room?"


"Sure.  And you are?"


"Polk," he said.


Mulder thought it was odd that he only gave his last name, but he nodded to Scully as he followed the man down the hall.  An officer followed not far behind.


"Right in here," the technician said. "Some things are disturbed and I can't explain it.  They weren't like this before all this happened.  I think someone may have gotten in."


Polk opened the door for Mulder, and Mulder walked through, looking at the room. It looked alright to him, but then he wasn't an electrical technician.  Then Polk shut the door behind him. "What are you doing?" Mulder asked, confused.


Polk pulled out a gun. "Don't move," he said.  "Just sit down.  Right now, sit."


Mulder realized he couldn't do anything now that Polk had a weapon trained on him.  He temporarily obeyed.


"Now take your weapon out of its holster, and drop it on the ground.  Kick it over to me.  Slowly, with both hands visible."


Mulder listened, all the while saying, "What's your first name, Mr. Polk?"


"That's none of your business," the man said. "Give me the backup too," he ordered.  When Mulder had kicked both over to him, he smiled, and said, "Take out your handcuffs, and handcuff yourself."


"Behind my back or in the front?"


"You can handcuff yourself behind your back?"


"No, but you can," he said. "I'd be more secure and you're less likely to shoot me if I'm more secure," Mulder said, letting false fear creep into his voice.


Polk hesitated. "Want to save your own ass," he muttered as he walked over to Mulder.  He was just about to handcuff him when Mulder stood up and slammed the chair into Polk. It knocked the lowered gun out of the man's hand, and Mulder punched him in the face as he ran toward the door.  He opened it and ran out of the room. "Scully!" he yelled. "He's in here!"


He slammed the door closed behind him and held the handle, moving aside to avoid being shot if Polk tried to shoot through the door.  Scully leapt up and ran over to him, covering the other side and tossing Mulder his backup weapon.  "On three," she said.


"One...two...three!"  They kicked in the door, and had about three officers behind them at that point. But no one was there.  A ceiling tile was displaced, and Mulder's weapons lay on the floor.  The broken chair was up against the wall where Mulder had rammed it into Polk.  Mulder approached the scene, looking annoyed and frustrated.


"His name is Polk," he told Scully. "That should make it easy for Ms. McGregory to ID him."


"Mulder...what's that noise?" his partner asked.


Mulder listened for a moment.  "It's...just beeping.  I think it's one of these machines."


"That's definitely not one of those machines," a technician said from just outside the door.


"He's right, Mulder. It's too low-pitched," Scully told him.


Mulder followed the noise they were talking about, until he crouched under a computer desk.  "Oh, shit.  Scully, get out of here!  Right now!  Get everyone out, we've got a bomb!"


The ME, the officers, the technicians-everyone-ran as quickly as they could down the hall.  Mulder shoved Scully in front of him as they ran for the emergency exit only a few feet out of their reach.  The bomb detonated just as they touched the door lever, sending them flying through it at an enormous velocity, only to plow into the pavement outside the plant.


Seconds later, Mulder's ears were ringing loudly, and he looked around desperately for Scully.  She wasn't far, but she wasn't moving.  He stumbled up and ran over to her, only to fall to the pavement below.  He yelled in pain, and looked at his leg.  A piece of glass was wedged into his thigh, and he feared pulling it out would lead to uncontrollable bleeding.  He half walked, half crawled over to Scully's position, and asked in a hoarse voice, "Scully? Scully, you with me?"


She stirred, and rolled over.  Her hands were scraped from trying to catch herself as she fell, and her clothes were torn.  But she sat up, determined that her injuries were negligible, and then stood.  She was dizzy for a moment, but she met Mulder half-way and supported some of his weight.  "You alright, Mulder?"


"I'm okay," Mulder said. "Just have to get this thing out," he looked down. "I'd like to think I'm not so transparent..."


Scully smiled slightly. "That's not funny, Mulder."


"You'd think you can see right through me.  But I'm not as fragile as glass, Scully."


"You're delirious, is what you are.  Come on, we'll get you to a paramedic."


"How long was I in that room?" Mulder asked as she helped him over to the ambulance that was pulling into the parking lot just then.


"Seconds. Milliseconds.  The door closed and then it opened again.  How long did it feel, Mulder?"


"Like about five minutes.  Maybe a little longer."  Scully eased him into the back of the ambulance, and the paramedics started doing their thing. "Easy, guys," he said. 


"It'll only take a few minutes to remove," the paramedic told him. "Then you'll be on your way. It'll be a little sore, but it doesn't look like it's punctured any arteries."


"That's good news," Mulder said, and winced when they started sanitizing the area.


Scully stood next to him with her arms folded, supervising the process. "We have to see what's left of the crime scene," she told him. "And then we have to get that class list for Ms. McGregory.  We'll run Polk's name, but I want you to think about this, Mulder.  Think for just a minute.  The technician you went with was in his thirties."


"Which is the age group Greg described.  Scully, if Greg and Jeremy's classmate abducted Jeremy, don't you think Greg would have known about it?"


"I think we have some inconsistencies here.  Greg told us the man was in his thirties.  But any classmate would be in their twenties.  And Polk is clearly in his thirties.  So chances are, the boy Jeremy brought with him to meet Hattie Patterson is not responsible."


"What if it ages him?" he asked.


Scully looked confused.


"What if when he-owwwww!  Could you watch it?"


"Sorry, Sir."


Ignoring the paramedic with a pointedly annoyed glance at Scully, Mulder continued. "What if every time he slows time, he feels the effects but the rest of the world doesn't?  What if he's only twenty, but he feels and looks like he's thirty?  Because he's had more time than the rest of us."


"More time than the rest of us.  Mulder, you tried to pull this on me before.  Time doesn't disappear.  It's a universal constant.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again if that's what it takes to get it through your head."


"Just entertain the notion for a minute, Scully.  Doesn't it make sense?  Doesn't it explain everything?  Owww!"


"It's out now, Sir.  We'll give you some liquid stitching and you'll be on your way."


Mulder just looked at his leg, annoyed with the entire situation. 


"If someone could control time, they might have been able to do this.  But we still don't have a motive," Scully said.

"I suspect we'll figure that out when we find Polk."


Scully didn't say anything.  She didn't agree with Mulder's notion, but it might just lead them to what they needed to find.  As soon as they found this Polk man, maybe they'd find a lead.










"Look at this.  Harry Polk.  That's the man that trapped me in the room, Scully.  But he's ten years younger here.  Tell me you don't remember what that technician looked like.  Tell me that's not his photo."


"That could be his cousin, Mulder, but not the technician himself.  That man is ten years younger.  And he looks like a baby in this photograph.  He doesn't even look eighteen," Scully said, staring at the yearbook photo.


Mulder stood up, and walked with a slight limp into the bullpen of the sheriff's office. "Can I have everyone's attention please?  Hello?  Attention, please? Thank you!  Alright, in case you aren't aware, my name is Fox Mulder and I'm with the FBI.  This is my partner, Agent Dana Scully.  We're working the case with you, and I need your help to bring in a man named Harry Polk.  We have an APB out on him already, but we need everything on the guy.  We need his records, his life story, and you guys can really help us out with this.  We believe he's responsible for the murders.  Please add the information that his first name is Harry, to the APB, and start getting us information.  Thank you for your help."


The officers moved into action, the thought of catching the monster who had murdered their sheriff overriding any grievances they had with a Fed telling them what to do.  It only took fifteen minutes for information to flood Mulder and Scully's temporary desk, and Mulder flew through it with incomparable enthusiasm.  Scully knew that look quite well.  He was on to something, and it was going to be her job to bring him back when he went too far.


"I've got it, Scully," Mulder said suddenly, right when she was about to make a connection of her own.  She looked up.  "Harry Polk was eighteen years old when he went to Hattie Patterson's speech she was giving the foster home.  He was convinced he wanted to go into law enforcement.  Right here, do you see this?  He was rejected from the police academy after failing initial entrance exams, at age nineteen.  He was in a car accident, and disappeared for three months afterward.  There's no record of him anywhere, but right here, in this report Officer Milton gave me...look at this.  Look at the third line."


Scully looked, and an eyebrow raised in curiosity. "He was seen on the security camera of a convenience store, but only for a split second.  The convenience store was robbed at the time he was there, but there's no record of him entering or exiting. Just...being in there."


"Exactly.  Something happened to him, Scully.  In those three months after the accident, something happened to him and he discovered this ability.  So he started committing these crimes.  He honed his abilities for a little over a year before he decided to go after the source.  The day he got interested in the police force.  The reason he drove his car, drunk, into a tree and shattered every bone in both arms and one leg.  The reason he disappeared for three months after getting out of the hospital-that one meeting, with a bunch of foster kids and their friends, at Ms. McGregory's foster home."


Scully didn't look convinced.


"It's right here in the records, Scully."


"I'll admit he started committing crimes after his accident, and I'll admit it would take a person about three months to fully recover from injuries like these...I'll definitely agree with you that he's someone we're looking for.  But I don't think he gained any special-"


"Good, we agree we're looking for the same person.  Let's find out if they've got anything on him," Mulder said hurriedly, and stood as he limped into the bullpen again.


"Agent Mulder!  Agent Mulder, a credit card was just used at a gas station near Ms. McGregory's foster home!  It's Polk's!" An officer shouted excitedly from his station across the room.


"All units, move in," Sheriff Pontabulus yelled at them, and got on his radio immediately.  "Let's get a road block around the area, put extra guard on Ms. McGregory's foster home, make sure no one gets in or out of that place."


"Copy," the answer came, but Mulder and Scully didn't hear it.  They were already out the door.









Mulder burst in the door without bothering to knock.  It was unlocked, anyway.  The children were nowhere in sight.  With guns extended in front of them, Mulder and Scully combed the downstairs.  They stepped over the previously happily occupied hopscotch area, and the foursquare court in the large space between the family room and kitchen.  They searched the kitchen, bathroom, and family rooms, before units began moving upstairs and to the basement and garage. 


Mulder took the upstairs, with Scully right behind him.  He started swinging doors open, only to find scared children huddled inside.  Using the radio in his ear, he called for units to cover those children.  Scully moved ahead of him slightly, and he kicked a locked door in.  He didn't have time to swing his gun in front of him before someone grabbed his arm and pulled him in, slamming the door behind him.  He tried to scream, but whoever had grabbed him had covered his mouth.


"Thought you could outsmart me, huh?  Yeah, that's right.  Failed a damn test ‘cause I wasn't smart enough, but a stupid Fed can't even beat me.  That's right." His captor took his gun, and gave him just enough time to glance over at Ms. McGregory, secured to a rocking chair.  He didn't have time to assess her condition, because Polk yanked his radio out of his ear and threw it away, shoving him into a corner and kicking him hard in the stomach.  Mulder doubled over, and coughed when he caught his breath. 


By that time, Polk had gotten duct tape and was securing Mulder's arms and legs to various furniture nearby.  Limbs all separated, Mulder knew what was coming.  He was going to start this horrific, meticulous process.  He had probably already slowed time for many seconds had passed for Scully?  How many milliseconds?  Had it even been a millisecond yet?  And how long would it take her to burst through the door with a contingent of men behind her, to kill this man who stood before him?


Polk smiled sickly and gave Ms. McGregory a good kick.  The older woman groaned in pain, and Mulder grimaced. "You want to kick someone, kick me!  Not an old woman, you coward!"


Polk turned to Mulder. "Oh, I'm going to get to you.  Ms. McGregory, you were the one who let that bitch Patterson speak.  You're the root of the problem.  But you..." he turned on Mulder. "You, G-man, are just a pain in the ass.  Bomb didn't work for ya, huh?  Let's see what does."


"How old are you, Polk?  Twenty?  Twenty-one?"


Polk glared at him.


"You look at least thirty years old, and how much is this going to age you?  You can't go on like this.  You'll be dead before you're forty.  You'll probably be dead before the end of this year."


"Well, good!  This horrible existence never did nothin' good for no one, Fed," he said.  He pulled a sort of C-clamp out of the backpack that was on his back.  "Invented this myself.  Since I'm such an idiot.  Right?  That's what you think of me, isn't it?"


Mulder shook his head.  One leg was secured to a dresser leg, while the other was tied to a desk not far from where he was.  His arms were secured to the other leg of the desk, and a pipe on the wall, respectively.  Polk approached with the C-clamp. "I never said you were an idiot.  No one ever said you were an idiot.  Just because you didn't pass a test doesn't make you an idiot.  You realize hundreds of people fail those things every day?"


"Bet you didn't fail that test they made you take," the man snarled.


Mulder didn't say anything.  In truth, he had been recruited.  They didn't make him take a test. 


The man surveyed Mulder's body.  "Where to start..." he approached his left arm, and stuck the C-clamp near his shoulder, but low enough to make a good crack.  "Here's good," he said.  "Nice and...quick for ya," he told Mulder with a smile.


"You were in an accident.  Something happened to you.  It was no one's fault, and you shouldn't-AAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHH!" Mulder screamed in pain as his humerus snapped.


"Now isn't that funny, the humerus," Polk said with a grin. "Haha."


Mulder's felt sweat stream into his eyes.  He breathed deeply against the pain, but every nerve in his arm was screaming for help. 


"Now for the radius...don't worry, we'll come full circle," he said, and then laughed hysterically at his own joke.


In the back of his head, Mulder thought that this was good.  At least this was giving Scully time to get here, to rescue Ms. McGregory so those poor children weren't least his death will have meant something.


The C-clamp tightened around Mulder's radius, and he screamed a primal, panicked scream.  It ripped through the room and reverberated off the walls.  


It tightened again around his ulna, and Mulder felt himself passing out, his scream mixed with a whimper.  Natural tears were now streaming down his cheeks, mixed with the abundant perspiration.


"Now look at this.  It has a setting for little bones...can't get this big thing around little bones, you know," Polk said happily, as he extended a smaller version of the C-clamp out of the bases of the larger clamp.  He switched the lever to the smaller one, and placed the clamp on Mulder's palm. 


"What did that accident do to you?" Mulder asked through clenched teeth. "And do you really a good use...of-AAAAAAGGGHHHH, oh, God-"


"Shut the hell up!" Polk yelled at him, and then cracked another bone in Mulder's hand.


"At a man...and face what...happened..." Mulder tried to say, but another bone was cracked before he got through with his sentence.  Right before the next one was broken, he managed to continue, "Don't take it out on...people that had nothing to do...with it!"


Polk stopped, and looked at Mulder. "Now see, you're one of the rare souls that believe in what you're doing.  I believed in what I was doing.  I just wanted to help people.  But they wouldn't let me. Ruined my life.  Ruined my whole god-damned life."


"No..." Mulder said, seeing dark spots in front of his eyes. He refused to let unconsciousness take him. "" he screamed again, his body jolting when the next bone snapped.  He could feel a hot, tingling feeling seeping through his bloodstream.  Then everything started to get cold.  He was going into shock.  "Where's" Mulder asked suddenly.


Polk stopped, and stared at him.


"Cynthia," Mulder insisted, holding eye contact.  "Her baby."


Polk smiled sickly. "Safe," he said. "Don't you worry about that." He stuck the device on Mulder's palm again.


Another bone, and then Polk started on the fingers.


But just as he was about to crack the lower digit of the pinky, the door burst open and Mulder heard an enormous bang.  Blood splattered out of Polk's head, and he dropped to the floor.  Scully ran over to where Mulder was, half-passed out, on the floor.

"Scully..." Mulder said letting his head fall back gently on the carpeting. 


"Just lie still, Mulder.  Just lie still, help is coming," she said as she began untying his limbs.  She left his arm where it was, realizing that the paramedics could put it in a splint before they untied it.  It was important that it stayed still.


Mulder began shivering, and heard Scully yell, "Get me the paramedics!  I need a two shock blankets, I have an officer down and an injured woman.  Get here right now!"  But her voice dimmed, and Mulder saw his vision getting darker and darker.  It was only a few moments later that he let the darkness take him.









Scully sat beside Mulder's bed, holding his good hand and watching his vitals.  Just making sure the shock didn't return, that his system was quieting down.  And it did.  Just down the hall, Ms. McGregory and her many foster children were in a temporary ward.  She would be able to go home tonight.  She had suffered nothing more than one cracked rib and a badly bruised shin.  For a woman of her age, it had concerned Scully.  But she insisted she was fine, and that her children needed her tonight.


She got word that Greg Wilkovski had been moved from the safe house back to his dormitory, now that it was safe.  But the news she had heard a few minutes ago was the news that disturbed her.  She would wait until Mulder awoke to tell him.


When she saw his eyes flutter open, she couldn't help but smile.  The final reassurance she needed that he was going to be okay.  "Hey," she said softly to him.


"Hey," he said, and glanced at the large cast on his arm.  It was secured in a sling around his neck.  He could see at least two pins, and he groaned.


"Are you in pain, Mulder?  Do you need more pain meds?"


In truth, his arm did hurt like a bitch.  But that, of course, wasn't why he was groaning.  Desk duty for four to six weeks; he knew the drill.  And it was going to suck.  "No, I'm fine," he said. "Ms. McGregory?"


"She's okay," Scully said with a smile. "She's going home tonight.  No major injuries."


Mulder smiled.  "That's good."  He tried to sit up, and Scully grabbed the remote for the bed.  She moved it up slightly, but didn't give Mulder too much leeway.  She didn't want him to push himself so soon after surgery.  "How long was I in there, Scully?  How long by your watch?"


"The minute the door slammed shut I burst it open," Scully said. "You were in there probably thirty seconds, not even a minute."


"Jesus.  And he did all this..."


"It's puzzling, you're right.  And another thing-when they started the autopsy, they noticed Polk's hair was turning gray.  They aged him at about forty.  Maybe forty-five."


"His excursions were getting to him," Mulder said.  "Where's the body?  Are we taking it back to Washington?"


Now for the hard part.  "Mulder..." Scully said, looking down and then back at his eyes. "I've got some bad news.  I was told a few minutes ago that someone stole the body.  No one appears on the security cameras.  No one signed in or out, and no one noticed any suspicious activity.  But they did notice one thing out of the ordinary."


"What's that?" Mulder asked, annoyance creeping into his voice.


"A single cigarette was found in the morgue.  It's a no smoking zone down there, Mulder.  No one was seen smoking on the security cameras, and the only ones known to have gone into that area have been questioned.  They don't smoke.  They're testing for DNA."


"They won't find anything," Mulder said, staring at the ceiling. "It was him, Scully.  They want Polk for some reason.  They want his body, at least..."


"It doesn't matter, Mulder.  After you're released, we're going home.  We caught the killer.  We can leave now."


Mulder didn't argue because he knew they wouldn't find anything else.  They were cleaning up.  For whatever reason, this was probably some experiment.  It had cost innocent twenty-year-olds their lives, it had killed a sheriff who liked to give back to the community by speaking at her former foster home, and it had used an angry twenty-year-old man's grudge against him, and so many others.  But it was done.  For now, at least.


Mulder couldn't help but wonder if the Smoking Man would track down the baby, and experiment on it.  Or if the baby turned out to be a lost cause, what town would be next?  Whose lives would be ruined in the name of whatever the hell the Smoking Man believed in?  But it didn't matter.  Wherever it was, Mulder would be there.  Because the truth was out there.