Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2001 3:23 PM

 Paranoid 1/2


By Humbuggie

© 2001-05-22

edited by Mori

 Please read the full story at

 Disclaimer : None of these characters belong to me, Iím merely borrowing ;)

 Story: Mulder and Scully are contacted to investigate the disappearance of a young wife and mother. Mulder's theory leads to one possible murderer ... the ten-year-old daughter. When he pursues his theory, everyone thinks he's paranoid. But is he really?

 Spoilers: Spoilers for 'Eve', 'The Calusari' and 'Sein und Zeit'. The story takes place during the season seven timeline, basically ignoring most episodes. It has no references to Season eight.

 Type:Lots and lots of MTA, MulderAngst, ScullyAngst and MSR. Oh yeah, and Skinner. :)

 I think I'm paranoid, And complicated

I think I'm paranoid, Manipulated



 ZoŽ Kerns hurried through the house, running up the stairs when she couldn't get out the front door. Her hands were hurting like hell. She held them before her, trying not to bruise them further by accidentally hitting the walls. Tears ruined her make up. Her face was distraught. She could feel her own heart beat like it was going to burst out of her body at any time.

 She could hardly see where she was going but she knew the house by heart. She knew where she would be safe. Or at least where she thought she would be okay. She could call for help when she had locked herself in. She would make sure someone came to fetch her.

 She rushed into the main bedroom and shut the door behind her, pushing against the wood with her wrists. She couldn't use her fingers. They felt numb by now. The room was dark. She knew there was no electricity.

 With effort ZoŽ wrapped a handkerchief around her right hand so that she could pick up the phone and dial. But there was no tone. It had no use. She threw the phone on the floor and rushed to the window, trying to open it with her damaged hands. She cried in pain as she tried to force it open. It wouldn't budge. She couldn't get it to move, damaging her hands further when she attempted to do so.

 Then there was a hard bang on the door. It became worse as she turned around. Suddenly she was surrounded by shadows that seemed to be everywhere. She felt a cold wind in the room. The shadows seemed to have a life of their own, touching her from head to toe. She felt something grab a hold of her. She couldn't move anymore. She wanted to scream, to cry out for help. But she knew it had no use. No one would hear her.

 Numbness set in. Her body gave into fear, exhaustion and pain. Slowly she was lifted. Weightless she let herself go as the door opened from the outside and her body was pushed through it. Before long, she was brought down the stairs.

 And when she was brought to her final resting place, her daughter stood in the doorway and watched as they killed her.

  Part One


 The town was so small Scully thought they would never be able to find a decent motel. She hadn't asked Mulder if they were planning on staying in Grover or were to return home that same night. After all, it was just a 3-hour drive back to DC. They could easily return if they wanted to. But since it was already fairly late, chances of getting back home were very slim.

 Of course Mulder hadn't told her why they drove to this place in the first place. During the long, boring trip she'd had all sorts of visions of flukemen, snowmen, werewolves and bugs. She had asked him about it. And of course he had given her a 'Mulder-response', refusing to talk about why they were here.

 Only when they stopped for gas about an hour from Grover, he took the effort of handing her a report that made her startle and then moan. Her partner didn't say a word when he got back behind the steering wheel. Nor did he interrupt her when she spoke out loud a few times, remarking on things she read in that file. But when she started reading the report, she knew why.

 She didn't like cases that involved children. Neither did he. Especially when the preliminary report made by him clearly stated that the only possible suspect at this time could be a ten-year-old girl. She was surprised to read the report. Clearly he had been working on the case during the previous night. That explained why he looked so tired now and distressed with his own findings.

 "I don't understand, Mulder," she said as she scrolled through the file and broke the silence between them. "This is not an X-File. It's a missing person's case. I understand that we might be involved. But shouldn't the local sheriff's department be coordinating this?"

 "It's a murder case," her partner corrected her. "Given the evidence I don't see how Mrs. Kerns might still be alive."

 "Even more reason to give this case to the sheriff. Why is the FBI involved? More particular, why are we involved? This has got nothing to do with our department."

 "We've handled missing person's cases before," Mulder said. "But I don't think that's what we should be focusing on here. Every normal search route has been followed to track ZoŽ Kerns down. Generally speaking, everyone believes she is dead. She's been gone for three weeks now. But I believe that we might have a good chance of finding a paranormal killer in the small town of Grover."

 "Why?" Scully asked, even more surprised. "Your report clearly stated that the daughter did it. And even that is a farfetched conclusion. There's no evidence to state your claim!"

 "Actually, there is."

 "She's a ten-year-old girl!"

 "Ten year olds can kill, Scully. You should know that by now."

 "She's not an Eve, Mulder. She's a young girl that happened to be at home when her mother vanished. If that's what you base your assumption on, you might be grasping at straws."

 "Listen to me before you counteract my conclusions," Mulder said calmly as they were about fifty miles from Grover. "ZoŽ Kerns has gone missing from her home, leaving traces of blood all over the main bedroom, stairs and hall. She has most likely been murdered. The house has been turned upside down, yet no one has been able to find her. Her body vanished from a locked up house. She alone had the key that was found on the door lock of the front door. Her daughter was the only one at the scene - the only witness. She claims she saw nothing and was playing upstairs in her room."

 "And you are saying that the girl killed her own mother?"

 "It has happened before. We've read about it before."

 "How would a child murder an adult? How could she have gotten rid of the body?"

 "By using telekinesis. The movement of objects without touching them."

 "Has there been any evidence that this girl has such powers?"

 "That's what we're here to find out. All other options have been played. No one has come up with a plausible scenario. No one has suspected the girl."

 "What motive could that girl possibly have?"

 "Did she need a motive? Perhaps her mother didn't want her to go out and play. Perhaps she was denied a cat or a dog. Children want a lot in life, Scully. And when that is denied to them, their revenge might be hard."

 "Have you talked to Skinner about this?" Scully said, shutting the file. "I can't believe that he went along with this."

 "He knows that I wanted to investigate the disappearance. He doesn't know I suspect the girl."

 "He wouldn't have given the approval, now would he?" Scully remarked. "He knew you would never pull it off."


"I am pulling it off. I know I'm right about this, Scully. And you know why I'm right? Because I read that girl's history. I know that she is using extraordinary gifts that we might not even be able to grasp. Not yet."

 "Does the local sheriff know about this suspicion of yours?"

 "I kind of hinted it to him," Mulder grinned boyishly. "He's getting the picture. In fact, he called me paranoid."

  "You are paranoid."

 "Of course I am," he winked, "but let's keep that a secret, shall we? I wouldn't want the sheriff to know my reputation before I even started."

 "You're still not making sense, Mulder," Scully laughed, despite the fact she found herself lured into another strange theory once again. "Care to elaborate?"

 Mulder's facial expression changed. He became more serious when he tried to explain. She knew he could understand one's pain when a loved one died or disappeared. She knew he didn't want to blame a child without good reason. If he had a theory, she wanted to hear about it. At least then she could find plenty of reasons to exclude a possible child-murderer.

 "The daughter is a liar, Scully. I haven't met her, I haven't talked to her, but I can tell by the way she gave her statement to the sheriff. Nothing she said made sense. It didn't collaborate with the evidence. She couldn't tell him when she noticed her mother gone. She couldn't say what she was doing. She's not a four-year-old. She should at least have an idea of what went wrong."

 "Isn't that too much to ask of her?"

 "No. I don't think so. Besides, there have been strange events in the past. Before her death ZoŽ Kerns has been treated for multiple burns, cuts and bruises at the local hospital. In fact, she has been at the same ER six times over the last year. At first they thought her husband was responsible, but he's a salesman travelling around the country. He's hardly at home. For three of the six accounts he couldn't be held responsible because he was in another city."

 "Might the wounds have been self-inflicted?" Scully suggested. "She might have sought out attention - to get her husband back home."

 "Perhaps. But I find it more logical to blame the child. The girl, Jenny, was at home every time it happened. Several times she has been seen arguing with her mother. More evidence shows that she might have kept her mother hostage inside her home. Abuse of parents still is something no one ever talks about, Scully. It happens a lot, but it never is outspoken."


 "No problems whatsoever. She's a brilliant kid. She's got a very high IQ and can be considered a prodigy. Everything the child does becomes a success. She's multi-talented. She paints, dances and plays the piano."

 "There you have it," Scully said. "Prodigies don't mix well in the community. The girl might be pestered at school. Perhaps ZoŽ Kerns didn't know how to raise her child properly. That too might have strained her life."

 "This is no ordinary child, Scully," Mulder said as he switched highways, looking for the right exit to Grover. "This kid is outright brilliant. I cannot use another word for it. But she's a child with a tendency to hurt. Or to kill."

 "And that's what you fear the most, isn't it?" Scully said softly, remembering how they had once almost been drugged and killed by two murderous girls.

 "I just want to find out," Mulder said as they entered the town of Grover.

 Scully sighed. "I suggest that you find us a motel first then."



 "It's been three weeks," the sheriff said as he put his hat on the table and looked around the hall of the house he had seen so many times now. Before ZoŽ's disappearance he had hardly ever been in here. The only time he had met Matt Kerns was at a party downtown. The man had seemed distant and uninterested in getting to know his neighbours.

 The Kerns had always been very private people, not mingling with anyone. They had lived in Grover for over ten years. Some people still remembered the couple getting married after living together for two years. No one had been invited to the wedding. In fact, there hadn't been a party. Before long ZoŽ had given birth to Jenny, a beautiful baby girl. They seemed the perfect couple.

 But at times Jenny had lived alone at the house for weeks while her husband was gone on business trips. His business afforded them enough luxury to be considered one of the wealthiest couples of Grover, but rumours went that ZoŽ's inheritance had something to do with that too. Once, a few years ago, she had told one of her neighbours that her parents had died in a plane crash and had left her everything since she was the only daughter.

 The house was a Victorian house, standing in a beautiful lane with restored houses just like it. Its white wood shone as if it had been painted yesterday. It was a monument that reminded the agents of the grand houses standing in New Orleans. It took up a lot of work, but the Kerns didn't care about that.  Matt Kerns had the habit of hiring folks to do the work he obviously didn't want to do himself. While he was out of state, constructors repaired and renovated his house. There always was something to do. Gardeners fixed the lawns and flowerbeds. And a housekeeper came two times a week to spare his wife the daily tasks.

 When asked, no one really knew Matt. Sure, they had seen him driving around in his BMW. They knew his wife took the task upon her to drive him back and forth to the airport in that car. Everyone knew she was always alone at the house with her daughter. They also knew the couple had grown apart and hardly spent any time together these days.

 Rumours had it that he was having an affaire and that his so-called business trips were merely a set-up to spend as much time with his lover as he could. But when his wife died, he had been properly investigated and no one could confirm this so-called affaire.

 He had been questioned about his 'habits'. He had been interrogated for hours even though he had the perfect alibi for the time of his wife's disappearance. He had been on the other side of the country, at a business conference. Several people had confirmed his presence there.

 When they finally located him after she was gone, he rushed home, taking the first redeye out. He had arrived at home around eight in the morning, staring at the empty house. Then he had seen the blood on the woodwork and floor. He had put a hand before his mouth, gasping as he stared at the scene. The sheriff had been a witness, picking him up at the airport at his own request.

 His daughter had stood in the kitchen door, looking at him. When he turned towards her, she hadn't rushed into his arms. "It was as if they hardly recognized each other," so the sheriff testified. "I had never seen anything like it. If it had been my daughter, I would have hugged her to death - so to speak."

 Then Matt Kerns had questioned everyone as they questioned him. He had given permission to turn his place upside down to find traces and evidence. He had allowed them to invade his life and ask intimate questions and give intimate remarks. He had not objected to the investigation. But he had objected when they focused on the daughter. He refused to let his little girl be subjected to questioning. Every time she spoke to a policeman he had been present in the room, interfering when they got too close.

 Mulder had not responded to the sheriff's words but looked around. The traces of blood were gone now. The house had been fixed up and cleaned as if nothing ever happened. But there were plenty of pictures to go through that showed every single detail of the evidence.

 The murder - if and when and she was murdered - had taken place in the main bedroom. There all the traces were very clear. Then the body had been dragged downstairs, even though there hadn't been that much blood. And then there was nothing left.

 "Did you get the chance to confirm the blood tests?" Scully asked as she walked into the kitchen and stared at the spotless counter. The house had something cold over it, like it was never decorated. It seemed impersonal. Nothing had ZoŽ's mark on it. There were hardly any pictures on the walls. There was nothing personal in the kitchen. It was as if this house was up for sale, ready to be taken over by the next couple. Yet the sheriff had told them that Matt Kerns and his daughter still lived here. Matt hadn't taken steps to move out.

 "We're positive it was ZoŽ's blood," sheriff Green confirmed. "Her doctor had taken samples of her blood weeks before when she came to the ER and we compared them. There is no doubt."

 "Were there scratches on the woodwork?" Mulder asked. "Is there proof this woman fought?"

 "Nothing," the sheriff said curiously. "In fact, there was no sign of a struggle either. We do know she has been attacked upstairs in her bedroom, as you already know. We found traces of blood on the windowsill and glass. There was blood all over the carpet as well. She has lost a lot. There were trickles of blood in the hallway, on the corridor and staircase. And there were traces right in front of the door. But nothing was turned upside down, and Jenny Kerns claims she hasn't heard a sound."

 "Have you talked to her daughter?" Scully asked. "In this report I see a statement of the girl but that was taken by a police psychiatrist. I was wondering if you questioned her as well?"

 "I did," the sheriff confirmed. "She was the one making the call. When we got here she opened the door and showed us in. We saw the traces of blood instantly of course and asked her about her mother. She said that she didn't know where she was."

 "Do you believe she could be responsible for this?" Mulder asked as he walked into the living room and rubbed his finger past the piano. A chill ran down his spine. He felt uncomfortable in this room. In fact, he had felt that way all over the house.

 "I know what your theory is, Agent Mulder," Sheriff Green said hard, "but I'm not buying it. How can a young girl like that be responsible for murder?"

 "She was the only inside the house. All the doors were locked. No one could get in or out." Mulder didn't move a inch but looked straight into the man's eyes.

 The sheriff laughed cynically. "Come on, that's crap. She's ten years old, for goodness sake!"

 "We have seen child-murderers before, sheriff," Scully said to Mulder's defence. Mulder looked aside, not able to conceal his surprise as she continued, "everyone has evil inside him or her. Age does not make a difference."

 "You make very fast conclusions, agents," Sheriff Green said angrily, thinking how he would feel if his little girl would be accused like that. "You haven't even spoken to the girl."

 "That's what we're planning to do now, sir," Mulder said. "Our job is to find Mrs. Kerns and the only one that can help us do so is ten years old. We cannot change her age or the circumstances. But you have to put your trust in us and let us proceed. It's been three weeks and you called the FBI for help. You've been talking to a few colleagues of mine and asked for advice. Since you have officially handed over this case, we want your full cooperation."

 The sheriff nodded slowly. "I have spoken to your Assistant-Director about this case and he said you were the best persons to do this. Agent Mulder, you have a history of profiling. I've seen your name before. I know what you can do. I hope that your background will help. Perhaps you will be able to get through to that girl. I certainly couldn't. But please don't expect me to believe that she could kill her mother upstairs, drag her body downstairs and get rid of it somewhere."

 "Do you have another theory, sheriff?" Scully asked.

 "No, I don't. I don't think Mrs. Kerns took off. I can't explain how she vanished like that. That's why you're here." Sheriff Green picked up his hat from the table and twisted it in his hands. "I know that you have solved that case with that Santa Claus-serial killer. I saw you on the news back then. All I hope is that you are just as successful here."

 "This is not a serial killer case, sheriff," Mulder said, "but you can be sure that we will put our full efforts into solving it."

 The sheriff nodded and said, "Jenny Kerns and her father should be home soon. Matt knew you were coming and wanted you to do a check on the house first. He didn't want to get his daughter more upset than she already is. You've got about twenty minutes left to go through the house."

 "That's all we need," Mulder said, glancing at Scully.



 Mulder walked up the stairs, into the bedroom that once belonged to ZoŽ and Matt Kerns. It had been left the way the police had found it. Matt had been sleeping in the spare bedroom since he came home. He hadn't wanted to spend the night in a room with blood all over the floor and window. The investigative team had left their mark as well. Kerns had refused to believe that his wife died in that room, yet he had refused to move back in there as well.

 The room was comfortable yet very cold. Again here was hardly any decoration at all. The walls were blank. There was no any decoration; no paintings, no mirrors and no photos. The large bed was covered with a white blanket that seemed to have been washed many times. It had lost its softness.

 Mulder walked over to the window and looked outside. The room looked out on the gardens. Someone was working in them. A man, wearing a hat for protection against the sun was working on the flowerbeds. 

 Below, concrete paths lead to the back of the house.

 There were small scratches on the windowsill. Traces of the black powder used to track down fingerprints were still clearly visible on the white-painted wood. Mulder's finger scratched the wood before he turned and examined the rest of the room.

 Scully came in and watched him for a moment. She shivered, wondering again why all the rooms felt so cold. Didn't anyone ever turn up the heating?

 Mulder looked at the floor noticing black spots on the white tiles. At first it seemed like they followed a pattern, but they didn't. He knelt down and rubbed the spots with his finger, trying to get them off. But it wasn't dirt that he touched. His finger felt scratches.

 "Sheriff, do you know what this is?" he asked as he pointed at the black smudges.

 "It looks like burns," Green remarked, touching the tiles with his finger as well, wondering why he hadn't noticed this earlier. In fact, he hadn't really paid attention to it.

 "I think they might be. Could you do me a favour and take a photo of these?"

 "I would have to get my camera at the station but I could be back in ten minutes," the sheriff said.

 "Please do so, sir," Mulder said as he got back up and turned. All around him were the same black smudges on the floor. They formed some sort of circle around the exact spot he was standing. A cold shiver ran down his spine.

 "Can you tell me exactly where you find the most blood, Sheriff?" Mulder asked, rising up and stepping outside of the circle.

 "It was right where you were standing," Green said.

 The sheriff left, promising to be right back. They were alone at the house now.

 "Don't you find it odd that there aren't any pictures in this house, Mulder?" Scully asked as she sat down on the edge of the bed. "This house is so cold. It's like they just moved in, yet they have been living here for over ten years. There aren't any pictures or decorations."

 "Perhaps they were removed for some reason."

 "No, there aren't any holes in the walls or traces of pictures. The walls have been painted so we would be able to tell. It's peculiar."

 "ZoŽ Kerns must not have wanted them in her house. Perhaps she didn't like decorating."

 "Perhaps," Scully said, walking over to the girl's bedroom. Again here it was hardly noticeable this room belonged to a young girl. It was just as cold as all the others. It could have been a spare bedroom. Scully didn't open any drawers or look in closets. Somehow that seemed too intimate.

 Mulder didn't walk after her but stayed behind in the hallway. The wooden floor showed the same black spots as the bedroom did. But the girl's bedroom didn't have them. Mulder knelt and touched the wood. His fingers felt the scratches again. This time the pattern didn't form a circle. They lead from the master bedroom to the staircase.

 "I think it's acid," the agent said, startling Scully as he walked into Jenny's room.


 "Only acid can make burns like that. That's what I think they are -- burns. It would explain ZoŽ's disappearance."

 "You mean she might have been resolved in an acid bath?" Scully said convulsed.

 "It's been known to happen. The entire Russian Royal family has been disintegrated like that. Acid doesn't leave any traces except for fillings and stuff like that."

 "It would have happened inside the house. The gardens have been thoroughly checked. They would still have found traces of it."

 "I'll check downstairs." Mulder walked down the stairs and searched until he found a bathroom with a large bathtub. He knelt down touching the smooth edges. There wasn't a trace of black spots or acid burns there.

 The agent left the bathroom and opened the door to the garden. The lawn and flowerbeds were smooth and beautiful. They were perfect as if they had been taken care of daily. If the remains of ZoŽ's body had been dumped here, someone would have seen it.

 Mulder walked back to the house, only to see a man coming over to him. He was attractive and charming. It didn't take an expert to see that. A little girl held his hand. She looked beautiful and innocent. Freckles painted her nose. Her bright blue eyes looked sad. She wore a white dress with blue flowers on them. It looked a bit old-fashioned. "Mr. Mulder," the man said, offering his hand. "I'm Matt Kerns."

 "Pleased to meet you," Mulder said, accepting his hand while he glanced at the girl whose face didn't speak of emotions. Only her eyes seemed to mirror her sadness. Or was she simply uncomfortable? "I'm very sorry for your loss."

 "You are accepting the theory that my wife is dead?" Kerns asked as he let go of Mulder's hand.

 "I'm afraid that for now that is our bases to work on, yes," Mulder said. "The circumstances of her disappearance are very disturbing and do not point at a possible voluntarily leave." Mulder looked at the girl and said, "You must be Jenny."

 The girl nodded.

 Scully walked outside and was introduced by her partner. The party moved back into the house. Scully asked Kerns and his daughter to stay in the living room with her while Mulder and the sheriff moved back upstairs and took the photos. The sheriff had arrived just a few moments after Kerns did.

 Mulder scratched the floor with his pocketknife until he had some of the black substance on the blade. Carefully he placed the knife in a plastic evidence bag and got up.

 "I'm not sure what you think this is," the sheriff said, "but at this moment I don't think I want to know."

 "I don't know what it is," Mulder said. "But if I'm correct, we might indeed find something that is out of the ordinary."

 "What are you going to do next?" Green asked resentful.

 "Let's just say that the girl needs to be questioned once again," Mulder said. "I'm sorry, sheriff, but she's our only lead right now."

 "I understand," Green said. "Let's just get this over with, shall we?"


To be continued Ö




The first thing Scully noticed was that Matt Kerns and his daughter hardly
spoke or touched each other. They both took place on another couch and
looked at each other awkwardly. She wondered how it had ever gotten this far
that a father considered his daughter a stranger, and a daughter didn't turn
to her father for his comfort.

Then she remembered the difficult relationship she's had with her own father
and felt sorry for the girl. This was an age where a daughter should be
counting on a mother. Now that ZoŽ was gone, there was no one to inform
Jenny about the normal things of life that a girl went through.

But if Mulder was right, Jenny Kerns needed to be considered a suspect - no
matter how unlikely it was. He had been right though; they had seen it
before. Michael Holvey had been a child too when the devil got to him. The
Eve-girls were just as dangerous, attempting to kill them without remorse.

Jenny Kerns looked like a little angel. Her hands rested graciously on her
lap. She reminded Scully of the way young, decent women were raised during
the Victorian age. She had something extremely old-fashioned over her and it
wasn't just the dress. It was everything about her. She seemed too fragile
for this world. Yet when she stared at Scully with those angel eyes, the
agent felt uncomfortable. She could only guess at what rested in that girl's

"I hope you understand that you have our full cooperation," Matt Kerns said,
sipping the drink he had poured himself. "My wife and I loved each other
very much. I want to know what happened to her. I need to know."

"Do you have reason to believe anyone wanted to harm her, sir?" Scully
asked, taking out a notebook and pen to jot down any remarks Kerns might

"Not at all. She was loved in this community. She had no quarrels with
anyone. She was a regular, beautiful woman that didn't deserve this fate."

"It was my understanding that she didn't have many friends?"

"That is right. She had only a few friends but she preferred it that way.
She spent most of her time raising Jenny. She wanted everything for her
daughter and devoted her time to that."

"Can you tell me more about her hospital visits, Mr. Kerns?"

Matt Kerns' expression changed. "The sheriff has asked me the same painful
questions. There's not much to say about it really. She burned herself while
cooking. Or she hit her hand against the cupboard in the kitchen. She was
clumsy. It happens. She couldn't stand the pain. She didn't know that you
could treat minor burns yourself."

"Did she call you to tell you she burned herself while you were out of

"I don't remember, really. She loved to cook. She used the oven quite a bit.
She regularly burned her fingers and hands. I'm just glad she never had a
serious accident."

Kerns glanced at his daughter who sat quietly on the other couch. Her hands
still rested on her lap but her fingers fidgeted. Other than that she could
have been a statue. Her eyes glared constantly at the piano before her.

"Do you play the piano, Jenny?" Scully asked just as Mulder and the sheriff
came in.

The girl nodded.

"Can you play a bit for us?"

The girl got up and moved to the stool before the piano, lifting the lid.
She placed her fingers awkwardly on the piano and closed her eyes. Suddenly
it seemed as if something magical took over - as if the muse itself entered
Jenny's body and told her what to do - what to play.

Scully recognized 'FŁr Elise' instantly. It was one of her father's
favourite pieces. Instantly she was brought back to the past, where her
father taught her to play this immortal piece. But she had never been good
at it. She didn't have it in her.

But this girl - this girl was brilliant. She played it with so much heart
that it moved everyone in the room - except for Mulder. Scully relished
every second of the play and when the music died, she realized she had
closed her eyes to listen.

She blinked and opened her eyes only to look at Mulder. His eyes were
focused on the girl. And then he looked at Scully, and she knew he wanted to
tell her something. As if nothing had happened Jenny slid off the stool and
sat down on the couch again. The chemistry was gone.

But something had changed about her. She seemed exhausted; empty almost, as
if to play had drained her from the inside. She moved her hand to her face
and spoke for the first time with a soft, gentle voice. "Can I be excused,

Matt Kerns glanced at Mulder who nodded. The girl moved up from the couch
and walked up the stairs. When they heard the door upstairs lock, Mulder
turned to the sheriff and said, "I think we'll be here for a few days. Can
you recommend a good hotel?"

"Sure," the sheriff said. "There's a small one in town, about five minutes
from here."

"Great," Mulder said, offering Kerns his hand. "If you don't mind, sir, we
would like to talk to Jenny tomorrow morning. I believe she has school
holidays right now?"

"Yes, she has," Kerns said. "Around nine a.m.?"

"Perfect." Mulder turned, tripped and smacked against the doorpost with the
side of his head. The blow came so unexpected that none of them had seen it

"Mulder," Scully said, standing near her partner in a second. Grabbing his
arm she saw the sudden paleness in his face. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I am." Mulder grinned boyishly. "Stupid of me to trip." He put his
hand to the side of his head and rubbed the spot where he had hit the post.
Scully gently let go and said, "That's going to be a hell of a bump. What

"I just tripped." Mulder waved her hand away and glanced at Matt Kerns who
stood a few inches before them, watching him. Mulder shook his head,
ignoring the pain to his head and said, "Let's go, Scully."

Kerns showed them out after saying goodbye to Scully and the sheriff and
closed the door behind them. Mulder and Scully walked over to the rental
car, followed by the sheriff.

"You've got something, haven't you?" the sheriff said.

Mulder didn't give a direct answer to the question. "I think we need to go
over some things in the morning, sir. Right now it wasn't such a good time
to do so. It is obvious Jenny Kerns knows more than she's telling us and we
need to find out what it is. But that can wait for now. Can we use the local
hospital to research this substance for us?"

"Of course," the sheriff said, accepting the plastic bag. "I'll take it
there for you."
The sheriff hesitated for a moment before asking, "So you've agreed with our
findings that ZoŽ Kerns is most likely dead?"

"There never was a reason to doubt that, sir," Scully said, understanding
why the sheriff felt so defensive. It wasn't every day that the FBI knocked
on the door to investigate.

"Well," the sheriff said, "why don't you follow me and I'll show you to the
hotel. They've got an excellent restaurant and there are some small bars
nearby if you're looking for something to do tonight."

"Great," Mulder responded with a thankful smile.

The sheriff got in his vehicle and guided them to a small hotel with twelve
rooms that were hardly ever occupied. Grover was a lovely town but it didn't
exactly draw buses of tourists. It wasn't difficult for the agents to get
two adjoined rooms.

"I'll knock on your door for dinner, Mulder," Scully said as they parted in
the hallway with their overnight bags in their hands.

"Just be careful not to knock my head."

"Does it still hurt?" she asked with a glint of worry.

"Not really. My head feels a bit numb."

"Do you want a rest a bit first before we eat diner?"

"Scully, I'm fine," Mulder smiled. "I don't have a concussion or anything.
It was just a simple, stupid little accident. I don't even know what

"Half an hour then?" Scully asked, unlocking her door.

"Perfect." Scully stepped into a beautiful room that reminded her of those
English cottages one saw in magazines. It was a pleasant surprise. She sat
down on the bed and closed her eyes, still recalling those beautiful tones
the girl had played on her piano. It had been sheer perfection.

She opened her eyes again, sighed and unpacked her bag. A quick shower would
do her good. She felt tired after the long drive and the tense moments at
the Kerns residence.

In the adjoining room Mulder sat down too and got out the file on the
missing woman and his laptop. Within minutes he was typing away furiously as
he added remarks and facts to his preliminary report. A few minutes later he
called Skinner and informed him that they would need a couple of days to go
through everything. The case might be more complicated than originally

Skinner agreed and asked to be kept up to date. The case had drawn a lot of
media attention and needed to be closed as soon as possible. No one liked it
when a little girl was a witness to a possible murder. They wanted to keep
the case quiet until the woman was found.

When Skinner asked him what his first thoughts were, Mulder gave a vague
answer. He wasn't willing to give away his vision just yet. If he did, the
investigation would soon be over.


The sheriff had not been lying when he said the restaurant offered an
excellent meal. After spending over an hour at the table, enjoying homemade
soup, chicken curry and chocolate mousse, Scully ordered coffee and relaxed
while enjoying a chocolate.

"So, talk to me," she finally said after they had discussed just about
anything but the case.

"What do you mean?" her partner asked, quasi-innocent.

"Come on, Mulder. I know you too well. You've got a theory, don't you?
You're pursuing your child-killer theory."

"Says who?"

"I can see it in your eyes. They've got this little glint in them that you
always have when you want to tell me some wacky theory but don't know how to
start explaining it. I know you too well."

He pulled a face and grinned. "How long have we been working together now -
seven years or so? You know a lot about me, Scully, but you still don't know
how my mind works."

"Of course I do. You see things and put them in that photographic memory of
yours and then you tell me what you're thinking. Then I'll argue with you,
counteract your theory and then we somehow get in trouble while trying to
resolve this case."

"You're being paranoid," Mulder grinned. "Besides, who's talking trouble?"

"I am. I know us."

"We're just here to solve this case. Isn't that what you said to me seven
years ago?"

"It is," she smiled. "And you're right - that's what we're here for. But
when you have this theory to share with me, I'm sure I'll be going "Oh
Brother" and then you'll try to convince me that you're right. Am I correct
so far?"

He smiled. "I guess so." He drank his coffee and put the cup down again.
"What did you think of that girl's piano-play?"

"It was brilliant. I've never seen or heard anything like it. She's much
better than most adult pianists. She might have the muse in her. If she
does, I hope she pursues it. She's got a career ahead of her that could take
her to see the world."

"Do you believe she's a prodigy?"

"I don't know. According to you she's good at everything she does. Does that
rank her a 'prodigy' or child-wonder?

"Do you know how prodigies are created?"

"They're not created - they are born," Scully corrected. "You cannot develop
your brain in order to become brilliant. You have to have it in you. You're
born with it."

"Like some people have a feel for language and others for maths?"

"Exactly," Scully said. "There are tests that can determine a child's
development when its two or three years old. Those tests are fairly accurate
because a child - even at that age - will be brilliant. The results cannot
be altered or fixed."

"Do you know how many children are child wonders?"

"Not many. I read somewhere that approximately one out of three hundred
children has an above-average IQ," Scully said, wondering where her partner
was taking her.

"Do you know how extraordinary it is that this child wonder is good at

"I don't know," Scully said. "You tell me."

"It's fairly implausible and impossible." Mulder leaned back and looked at a
couple sitting at another table. They were laughing and holding hands. "I
have a photographic memory, Scully. Yet that doesn't make me good at playing
the piano or painting. I'm good at remembering, at analysing. I do what I'm
good at. But I still trip over my own feet and I still can't play 'FŁr
Elise' like a pro."

"What's your point, Mulder?" Scully asked interested.

"My point is that there are prodigies out there, but they're very rare.
That's why they're considered so valuable. During college there was this
friend I had. He was considered a child-wonder. He had skipped years in high
school. He was brilliant in all his studies but he always flunked at
psychology. He just couldn't put himself in someone else's shoes. He wasn't
cut out for it. Yet at science he knew more than anyone I had ever seen. He
was very clumsy and tripped all the time. He sucked at football and
basketball. But when you asked him anything, he knew the answer. He became a
science professor and inventor. Now he knows what he's good at and how he
can use his abilities."

"And you're saying that that is how it usually works?"

"Exactly. My point is that this girl does everything correct - according to
the people that know her. She plays brilliant piano, she read when she was
four and she dances like a ballerina. Her grades are sublime. She has no
flaws. By the time she's twelve she'll probably speak three languages. She
doesn't trip or fall over. She's not clumsy. Everything she does is sheer

"That makes her a brilliant young girl that will grow up to become a
brilliant adult."

"But is she this brilliant because of she was born to be so, or has it been
orchestrated somehow?"

Scully put her napkin down, her eyes catching Mulder's. "You're saying that
she's been cheating?"

"I'm saying that she might not be as perfect as we think she is. She might
have help from the outside. She might be using paranormal abilities to
become this beyond perfect person." Mulder drank the last bit of cold coffee
and frowned. "There was something in her eyes, Scully. When she sat down at
that piano, she didn't know what she was doing. She placed her hands on the
keys as if she had no clue on how to play that thing. And then something
happened to her. Something took over."

"Are you saying she's possessed?"

"Call it possessed if you will." Mulder looked at his partner. "You said
that she might have the muse in her. What if she has some being in her that
makes her this perfect?"

"Might she not be a brilliant young girl that happens to be lucky and good
at everything she does?" Scully asked. "Aren't you grasping at straws now,
Mulder - trying to find something to clarify her perfection? Why shouldn't
she be who she is? Aren't we drawing conclusions based on something we have
never seen before? Every human being is unpredictable. Everyone is born and
raised differently. You grew up realizing you had a photographic memory that
helped you to become the brilliant investigator you are. I grew up with the
knowledge that one day I would devote my life to science. This girl grows up
with the beliefs she's good at everything. There's nothing paranormal about
it, Mulder."

"Isn't there?" Mulder asked. "You cannot deny there's something strange
going on in that house, Scully. The absence of personal belongings, the
coldness that we both felt in those rooms and the way this father and
daughter behave towards each other. Haven't you noticed that they're not
grieving? They talk about ZoŽ as if she was an object. She has no value to
them. She doesn't fit into their lives. She's gone and they're okay with

"They're in shock. There's a big difference."

"Call it whatever you want to call it. You know I'm right."

"All I know is that you're concluding things that aren't there," Scully said
tired. "And that wine is finally getting to me. I'm off to bed, Mulder. We
can argue about this in the morning if you like, but right now I'm just
going to sleep."

Mulder smiled as he shoved his chair backwards and got up. Scully started to
yawn. They had all forgotten about the time. In the morning, with a fresh
head, they would both pursue their own ideas. Taking the stairs Scully
swayed a bit.

"Hey," Mulder said, grabbing her by the arm. "You didn't have that much
wine. Stay on your feet, partner."

Scully smiled sheepishly, allowing her partner to open the door for her.
"Goodnight, Mulder. Get some rest and stop being so paranoid."

He didn't respond but grinned and closed the door behind her. In his room he
turned on the television and sat down behind the table where he had put his
laptop. A few minutes later he was typing away, jotting down notes that
would help to put everything together.

The dull sensation to the side of his head remained.

In the room next-door Scully was fast asleep.


Jenny Kerns stood in the middle of the living room and stared at the piano.
Then she turned and glanced at all the objects in this room. Everything was
strange to her. She didn't know how to handle them. She didn't know how she
could go on as if nothing had happened. She could not forget.

Her father stood in the doorway, watching her. "Do you regret that she's
gone?" he finally asked, breaking the silence.

She startled and turned. She hadn't seen him come in. "You frightened me,"
she simply said. "And yes, I do miss her. She was my mother."

Matt walked over to her and grasped her arms, forcing her to look at him.
All gentleness in his features was gone. He wanted her to listen to what he
had so say. "She was useless. She held you back. She stood in our way."

"She shouldn't have died."

Matt's grip became harder. "We have an agreement. I invested a lot in you,
Jenny and you told me you would do anything to get there. I'm granting you
your wish. Don't come crying now. It's bad enough that the FBI is here. I
don't want them near you."

"You know I must speak with them. They will suspect me even more if I

"I distrust that man. He sees right through you. You can fool the others but
you can't fool him. I don't like that." Matt shook his daughter. "Be careful
what you say to him. I'll be watching you. Punish you if you misbehave."
The room seemed to tremble. Matt let go of her and looked around. He didn't
like the darkness. He wanted all the lights to burn. Nervous he left the
room and walked upstairs, locking himself up in the guest bedroom. He didn't
want to see his daughter for the rest of the evening.
Downstairs Jenny still stood in the middle of the room and glanced at all
the things that didn't belong to her. She knew they had made a mistake.
To be continued .

Part Two


First thing in the morning Scully drove to the local hospital to pick up the
results on the tests the sheriff had asked to do during the night. She had
been extremely tired and slept until the alarm went off. After washing up
she felt a lot better and alert.

During breakfast they hadn't said much. Mulder had looked very tired and
sometimes rubbed the side of his head. Scully wanted to ask if he still felt
pain but didn't. She knew better than to smother him with medical questions.

After breakfast, Mulder was picked up by the sheriff and taken to the Kerns
residence. Scully would come shortly after.

Despite the good weather the house felt cold. The blinds were still down and
the sun was kept out. The rooms were filled with shadows. Mulder wondered
why they didn't like the light.

Jenny Kerns again wore a dress that somehow didn't fit her and sat on the
same couch she had chosen the night before. Her father was in the room,
standing near the window. He lifted the blinds a bit so that sunshine lit
his hair and face. He seemed in total control even though his hands

Mulder took a seat opposite the girl so that she would be forced to look at
him. He wanted to make sure her father wasn't able to boss her or give her
signals. There was a bond between them that he needed to break. The sheriff
was in the kitchen making coffee. The rattling of pots and coffee cups could
be heard.

"Jenny," Mulder started, leaning forward. "I know this is very hard for you.
You've been talking to a lot of police lately and you want it all to stop.
But you also know that your mother still hasn't been found and that Agent
Scully and I are here to find her."

"Yes, sir," the girl said polite, waiting for him to continue.

Mulder leaned back, disturbed by the dull pain to his head that seemed to
become worse. He stopped, rubbing his temples as if he was thinking. He took
a deep breath and focused on the girl, trying to concentrate on what he was
here to do.

"Please, call me Mulder," he said, looking at the girl again. "Everyone

"Is that your first name?"

"No. My first name is Fox, but no one uses that. So Mulder will do just
fine." Mulder relaxed a little, glancing at the girl's father who still
stood near the window. His eyes pierced in Mulder's as if he tried to tell
him what to ask. Mulder turned his back on the man again and made sure Jenny
didn't see him.

"Jenny," the agent said, trying to get through the girl's armour. "Did you
get along well with your mother?"

"Yes, I did."

"Were there ever fights or arguments, or things that you didn't like about

"No. She gave me everything I wanted. She drove me to school and ballet
class and piano class. She made sure I got everywhere in time. She prepared
my food and made sure that I got to bed on time. She took care of me."

"But did she care for you?"

The girl's eyes darkened. "What do you mean, si - Mulder? I don't understand
the question."

"I think you do. You speak of your mother as if she was someone that took
care of you like a housekeeper would do. She did everything for you. But did
you love her?"

Matt Kerns jumped away from his spot as if bitten by a bug. "What the hell
kind of question is that?" he snapped. "What questions are you asking a
ten-year-old girl? She shouldn't be taking this!"

"You know," Mulder said as he got up from his seat, "I have the feeling that
everyone's hiding behind Jenny's age here. But she's much older than we all
think, isn't she?"

"You're talking nonsense, Agent Mulder," Matt snapped.

Mulder frowned. That damned headache seemed to become worse now. It was
pounding like a sledgehammer, forcing him to realize he should have taken
Scully's advice and rest. He felt frustrated. "I mean that Jenny is wise and
sensible enough to know what is right and wrong. I just want to know what
she's feeling. What she saw."

The room seemed to tremble before his eyes. Mulder got up, grasping soft
pillows that lay on the couch. They didn't support him enough. He swayed on
his feet, trying to get a grip on where he was and what he was doing there.

"Agent Mulder," Sheriff Green said, grabbing Mulder's arm as he pushed him
back on the couch. "Are you okay?"

It took Mulder a lot of effort to admit it, but supporting his head with
both hands and barely able to look up, he said, "I don't think so. Could you
please call Agent Scully for me?"


"How do you feel?" Scully said, touching his face with the back of her hand.

"Better," he sighed, trying to get up.

"No, stay down." Scully's grip was firm when she forced her partner to stay
put. Mulder sighed, not willing to fight back this time. It only worried
Scully more. "Does it still hurt?"

"A bit. It feels numb more than anything. I don't even know what happened."

"You nearly went out of your mind with pain, that's what. You don't remember
what happened, do you?"

"Not exactly," he admitted, trying to relax a bit more on the bed. He
blinked his eyes, looking around the room. They sat privately even though in
the back there was still a lot of noise coming from the small ER. It was one
of the few times he was happy to be here. At least they had been able to
take away some of the pain.

"Do you remember coming here?"

"Vaguely. You kind of shoved me in the car. I didn't have much choice in the
matter, did I?" Mulder smiled. "But don't worry, I'm not pissed off at you.
Actually, I like this drug they've given me. I feel happy."

She grinned. "Don't get used to it. You're being released in an hour. As
soon as you feel a bit better, I'm taking you back to the hotel and this
time I'll make sure you rest."

"What about this pain?"

"Mulder, you've got a bump the size of an egg. Your head feels sore. You
slammed against the doorpost, remember? No wonder you were feeling faint.
It's normal. At least you don't have a concussion. Just a bit of rest and
tomorrow you'll be as good as new."

"I'll only go to the hotel if you're there to tuck me in."

"I always tuck you in, Mulder."

Mulder grinned and relaxed a bit as he leaned against the soft pillows of
the Emergency Room-bed. As long as Scully was satisfied that nothing was
wrong, he was satisfied. Less than an hour later the IV that fed the pain
medication through his system was removed and Mulder relaxed his sore arm.
Scully drove him to the hotel.

Even though it was only three p.m. Mulder didn't have any trouble taking a
nap on his bed. Scully left the room and called the sheriff's department
from her own room, informing him her partner was okay. Green seemed worried
when he said that Matt Kerns had called the FBI in Washington to complain
about Mulder. Kerns as much as admitted it when he called the sheriff to
tell him the FBI-agents were no longer welcome in his house.

Scully felt a chill when a few minutes later her cell phone went off and
Skinner told her they were summoned back to Washington. The AD didn't sound
too pleased when he reprimanded her on their methods and theories.

When she hung up, Scully knew they were in for trouble. Mulder wasn't going
to give up. Nothing would stop him once he was on the trail of something
that held his interest long enough. In this case he was sure he was right.
Instinctively Scully realized as well that there was something going on that
couldn't be seen on the surface. But deep down, beneath all those layers of
distrust and lies, the truth about ZoŽ Kerns' death could and would be


She walked inside Mulder's room and watched her partner as he rested
peacefully on the bed. But when she closed the door quietly, he opened his
eyes and said, "Skinner called, didn't he?"

She frowned, not willing to tell him the truth just yet. It would upset him.
But she had no choice and wasn't planning on lying to him. "Yes," she said.

"Well, he can come here and pick me up if he wants to. I'm not going

Scully noticed the stubborn streak in her partner's face as he spoke and
knew he wasn't leaving. She sank down desperately on the side of the bed.
How could she tell him she didn't want to investigate this case in the first
place? That she got a chill that seemed to come straight from hell whenever
she walked in between those walls? She couldn't stand being there. Yet at
the same time everything that was sensible about her told her she was
overreacting. There was nothing in that house. There couldn't be.

"Scully, what is it?" he asked as he made himself more comfortable. "What's

"Everything's wrong," she said glum. "This whole case leads to nowhere.
There's nothing more we can do but wait and hope this woman turns up again.
We've explored the house and found nothing. Her daughter and husband aren't
willing to talk to us. And Skinner wants us to come back to Washington.
Kerns has threatened to sue the FBI should we pursue our investigation. What
is there for us to do around here?"

"A woman died," Mulder said seriously. "You cannot deny we've been lied to."

"I'm not denying that. I'm just saying that I don't feel like staying here
while we don't even know where to start. It's like that needle in the
haystack you were referring to earlier, Mulder. Besides, the fact that you
still think this little girl is responsible for her mother's death, comes to
show that we haven't gotten any closer to the truth."

Mulder moved up from the bed, swaying a bit as he stood on both legs. But at
least the headache subsided and he was able to walk about without that
sledgehammer pounding on his skull. He filled a glass of water on the
dresser and drank it. Glancing in the mirror he caught Scully's look. She
looked distressed and worried. But what was she really worried about?

"I'm sorry", she said as if she had guessed his thoughts. "I don't know what
is happening to me. I'm afraid." She just blurted it out. In shock he turned
and looked at her. When he sat down beside her, he grasped her trembling
hands and took her in his arms. She leaned into him.

"I'm so tired, Mulder," she whispered as she closed her eyes. "I don't know
what is going on with me but I've been tired ever since we got here.
Everything's just too much for me. And then there is Jenny. When she played,
that little girl, I felt a shock. I was thrown back into my past and forced
to see things I didn't want to see."

"What are you talking about?" Mulder asked gently, rocking her as if she
were a child.

"I used to play that piece for my father. When I watched that little girl
play the piano - that piece in particular - I saw myself as I were when I
was little. I remembered how my father told me that piece was the most
important piece of music ever written. It had everything in it; soul, beauty
and pain. Of all the pieces she could have played, she chose that one and
when I listened to it, I realized how much I missed my father."

Scully's teary eyes stared at Mulder as she tried to grasp at the pain that
clawed at her heart. "It has been seven years now," she whispered, "and I
still miss him. But I've been afraid to say it out loud. It's like a pain
that lives inside of me every single day."

"Why didn't you talk to me about it?" Mulder whispered, wiping the tears
from her cheeks with his index fingers.

"I didn't even know it was there," she answered. "I didn't realize it
existed until I saw her. And I think that's why I'm so afraid to go back to
that house. I hate it there. I hate the atmosphere created by parents that
obviously wanted the best for their child but somehow succeeded in making a
prison for her."

"Do you think that girl is being abused?"

"Physically? No. Mentally? Yes. Every single day of her life. She should be
living a regular life, Mulder, not one of a prodigy. She aches for
friendship yet all she receives is questions about her mother's death. I
don't think she killed her mother. I think she genuinely is innocent."

"No." Mulder got up from the bed, supporting his head as the headache
returned. "She is guilty, Scully. I think she's manipulating us somehow. The
way I tripped and hit my head against that post - I may be clumsy but I'm
not that clumsy. The reason why she played 'FŁr Elise' is because she knew
it meant a lot to you. She's been toying with us, Scully. She wants us to
leave because ZoŽ Kerns has been buried somewhere inside that house."

"What?" Scully stared in shock at her partner as he continued to explain his

"It's so obvious now. The Kerns never had many friends. The only reason why
those traces of blood stopped is because the body is somewhere inside the
house! Think of it. The sheriff told us this house has a history. It dates
back from the Victorian age, just like all the others here. It's been
renovated years ago, when the Kerns moved in. What if there are rooms in
that house we don't even know about? And what if that girl is possessed by
something - an entity, a ghost or something that lives inside that house and
makes her this brilliant?"

"Come on, Mulder," Scully said hard, "listen to yourself and to what you are
claiming. How can a woman's body be buried in a house that has been
thoroughly examined by several law-enforcement officers? I can understand
what you're saying but it doesn't make any sense! Why are you so keen on
accusing this girl? What you're saying is out of control! You tripped
because you were clumsy. She played 'FŁr Elise' because it's one of the
most-played pieces in the world. There's nothing paranormal about it."

"I'm not paranoid, Scully. I'm not seeing ghosts here. But we've encountered
poltergeists before. We've dealt with mind-manipulation. This is not as
far-fetched as you think. It's in fact a very real possibility that we need
to explore."

Scully got up tired. "We're going home, Mulder."

"I want to check up on that house," Mulder said stubborn. "I want to explore
its history and see if there have been more disappearances or girls like
Jenny Kerns. I will find out."

"Skinner ordered us to come home."

"Did he say when?"

"No," she responded weak, rubbing her eyelids. Why was she this tired? All
she wanted to do was sleep for the rest of the evening.

"Good, that gives us another night. We're going home in the morning but
tonight I'm going to find out what is going on. Agreed?"

"Mulder, you should rest," Scully began as her partner grabbed his jacket
and put on his shoes. "We've been to the ER with you. You can't just -"

"I can and I will," Mulder said, ignoring the bursting headache that had
returned in full. "You can stay here if you like but I'm going. I'm not
giving up. Matt Kerns can sue the FBI all he likes. He knows the truth and
I'm going to find it out."

"Do what you like, Mulder," Scully said fatigued. "Just let me know where
you're heading."

Her partner's eyes softened as he notices she was really tired. Gently he
said, "I'll call you, Scully. I'm just going to head over to the library to
do some checking up on that house. I won't do anything rash, I promise."

She smiled. "Why don't I believe that?"

He grinned back, closing the door behind him. She stayed behind in his room
and lay down on his bed. Before long she was sound asleep, not caring about
anything anymore.

To be continued .