Sent: Saturday, October 07, 2000
Title: The Ley of the Land
Category: Old-fashioned X-file!
Spoilers: Blink and you'll miss one for Closure. Takes place between
Archive: Yes, but please email me
Summary: When two boys have a strange encounter in a rural New
cave, Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate a possible alien
abduction. But the truth may be far older and more powerful than
Author's Note: I've had to put writing on hold for a while due
swamping influence of a graduate program workload. But, this piece
written back in July, and just aired (with a slight alteration
timeline... October instead of April) as Virtual Season episode
http://www.angelfire.com/ky/ixnaysxfiles/fanfic.html . Anyone
learning more about the topics presented in this story can check
New View Over Atlantis" by John Michel.
A big thank you to Brianna L. for beta-reading!
(Oh yeah, Mulder and Scully and the X-files aren't mine, yada
I'm making no money on this, etc...)
The Ley of the Land
St. Michael's Church
Land's End, England
April 14, 2000
"Ryan, pay attention," Clarissa whispered in his ear.
Ryan rolled his eyes, and tried to focus again on the curator's
monotone, but he really wasn't interested in the history of some
measly collection of rocks. He'd tried his best to stay home today.
He hated field trips, but his mother had been adamant. It would
good for him, she'd said. But what did she know; it wasn't like
people stared at her every time she went out. And, despite her
insistences, she never came on these center-sponsored field trips.
He signaled Clarissa. "I'm bored as hell," he told her.
"Stop complaining," she whispered back. "Listen
and you might learn
Reluctantly, he focused his attention back on the curator, a stout
woman who looked flustered at the idea of giving a lecture to
wheelchair-bound teenagers. He could hear it in her voice. He
see it in her stance. She did not want to be talking to them.
But talk she did. Ryan sighed.
"The church here is in the shadow of St. Michael's Mount,
rivals Stonehenge in its age and design. This church was actually
built over a much older pagan shrine found at the southern end
the rocks on the Mount. The chapel behind me was just opened last
year," she turned and pointed to an alcove, "and is
remnant of the original shrine. If you go back there . . ."
started, and trailed off. The only way back around the altar was
through a short, narrow staircase.
Ryan smiled. Sometimes it was amusing to see people get so
uncomfortable, so quickly. It would be a chore getting anyone
this tour up those stairs.
He looked at the stairs again. It would also save him from this
ridiculous lecture. He got Clarissa's attention with a wave of
hand and, doing his best to feign real interest, half-signed,
pointed toward the stairs.
"I want to see the chapel."
Clarissa gave him a warning look. He wagered she suspected his
motives, but that wouldn't make him back down now.
"Will you fit?" Clarissa asked critically.
He moved his alphabet board in toward his lap, and studied the
stair again. He wasn't completely certain.
"Of course," he signed. Anything to escape this tour.
Clarissa raised an eyebrow. But she got the curator's attention.
"Ryan wants to see the chapel," she said simply, gesturing
direction. "I'll take him up, if you don't mind."
The woman was taken aback, as if she didn't expect that any of
kids could actually understand her. But after recovering from
shock, she gave a slight nod. "Yes, please, go ahead."
Ryan scoffed as he manouvered toward the staircase. Let her gawk
wonder. If she'd been talking about anything interesting, like
shuttles, instead of rocks, he'd even be asking questions. He
glance at the other students. Most were paying attention to the
lecture. Bobby Harris shot him a smile and gave him a sign,
"Got that straight," Ryan shorthanded back. They'd both
wanted to go
to the science museum in London, but they'd been outvoted. Ryan
Bobby was as bored as he was. Then Clarissa got hold of his handles
and started him up the stairs. It was a tight fit, but five minutes
later, he was in the hallway leading back behind the altar.
Ryan let Clarissa catch her breath, and went ahead. The hallway
almost as narrow as the staircase. It was arched, built out of
large stones. The trip was more than a little bumpy, and it was
almost like going underground. Getting his bearings, Ryan realized
he might even be going underground, into the hill that the church
built upon. It actually gave him a chill, thinking about it. He
heard Clarissa from behind, urging him to wait for her, but now
he was up, he found he really did want to see what was back there.
The hallway opened into a small rectangular room with stone walls
a stone floor. It was still damp, and it had a musty smell. The
rocks in the walls looked older than the ones in the hallway,
was for sure. The Christian altarpiece looked out of place, like
afterthought. And the floor. . . the rock patterns on the floor
were in a circle; they looked like a specific design, but he couldn't
quite make it out. Maybe if he could see it from the front . .
Ryan moved forward, into the circle. That's when he noticed the
humming. The whole room was humming, all around him.
The hum got louder. Frantically, Ryan tried to back up, but the
chair barely responded, getting only half-way out of the circle
before the room gave a concussive shake. Ryan found himself lurching
forward, out of the chair as it rolled away behind him. He braced
himself for impact with the hard stone floor.
The world exploded into light and noise, and then, there was nothing.
Cactus Flats Reservation
Cactus Flats, New Mexico
April 14, 2000
"What, you scared?"
Adam Swiftriver looked his cousin in the eye. No small feat, because
Janine was four years older and a foot taller than he was. Janine's
brother Frankie stood at her side.
"Yeah," Frankie added. "You scared?" He was
two years older than
Adam and two years younger than Janine, which meant that Frankie
along with whatever Janine said, especially if it picked on his
"No way," Adam said confidently. He ignored the sweat
his back; most of it was from the walk up here, anyway. No way
going to lose it in front of Janine. She'd never let him live
No way he was going to be outdone by a girl either.
"Well, go in then," Janine taunted him. "Unless
you actually believe
all those old stories."
"Yeah, go in," Frankie echoed.
"Fine, I'll go in," Adam snapped. He looked into the
mouth again, and
took a deep breath. It wasn't that he believed the old stories.
didn't. The Growling God was just a Navajo myth; this wasn't his
"What are you waiting for?" Janine asked. "The
longer you stand there
looking, the faster your heart starts beating, and then . . .
It was just that the cave was so dark. He wasn't going to let
that he was afraid of the dark. Not to Janine. No, he'd told her
he wasn't afraid of anything, and now he had to prove it. Stupid
Janine. He didn't think she had it in her to come up with this.
She'd masterminded the whole thing; she was gunning for him ever
since last night when he'd made that stupid comment. She and
Frankie ambushed him on the way to school, and now, she was holding
all the cards. He couldn't back down.
Adam took another deep breath, held it, and stepped into the cave.
"Keep going," Janine instructed.
He took a few more steps, trying his best to see what was in front
of him, but the light died quickly around him. His heart did start
beating faster, and he tried to ignore it. Make it through this,
told himself, and there's no way Janine will tease you. Another
Make it through this and you'll be the one who can dare the little
kids to do it. Another step. Make it through this . . .
What was that sound? Adam stopped in his tracks, listening. The
cave was humming. There was no denying the jump in his heart rate
this time. The hum sounded like a static buildup in his older
brother's guitar amplifier. It sounded electric. Like lightning.
Adam backed up, slowly. The hum got louder. He turned around,
then the hum exploded into light.
Adam screamed, louder than he'd ever screamed in his life. In
sudden brightness, he fell down onto the floor, scrambling to
away, screaming at the top of his lungs. The flash died, and the
now pitch darkness sprang to life around him, all rocks and sharp
Then he felt something wet grab onto his arm, and Adam Swiftriver
The humming ended in a flash of light and a loud, powerful crack
sent Janine and her brother sprawling from the mouth of the cave.
The silence afterward was deafening. Janine screamed, but to her
sounded like she was underwater, far away.
"Adam! Adam, are you okay?"
There was no reply.
She turned to her brother, who had a stricken look on his face.
saw the stain on his pants and the small puddle on the rocks.
had peed himself, and was practically hyperventilating. Well,
up to her. She wasn't going to leave her cousin in the cave, not
it was her fault he was there in the first place. Hands shaking,
wide, she grabbed her pocket flashlight and took as many steps
as she dared.
The cave was silent. Frantically, Janine tracked the walls and
with the flashlight. When the beam finally fell on her cousin,
let out a gasp. After a few seconds, she managed to find her voice
and screamed for her brother.
"Frankie! Get an ambulance!"
Cactus Flats General Hospital
April 15, 2000
Agents Mulder and Scully were met at the hospital entrance by
dark-haired man with a lean build. His police uniform was accented
by a large cowboy hat that almost completely hid his dark eyes.
introduced themselves, and he gave each of them a warm handshake.
"Agents, I'm Deputy Harold Fisher," he introduced himself.
are glad to have your help on this one."
"Glad to be of help," Mulder answered as they entered
The hospital was small but clean. It didn't have a pediatric wing,
though the last two rooms on the eastern ell had been turned over
the two victims, Swiftriver in 110, and the John Doe in 111.
Victims of what, no one was sure.
"Deputy, does the Cactus Flats police department have an
idea as to
what happened?" Scully asked.
Fisher shook his head. "Sherrif Brady had a thought it might
lightning, but it doesn't explain the, uh, substance found on
Mulder raised his eyebrow, a quick gesture meant only for his
Scully's first theory on hearing the case had been ball lightning.
The deputy was a few steps ahead, and Mulder leaned in toward
"Hey, you'll fit in here just fine," he said with a
hint of a southern
Scully gave him a tip of an imaginary cowboy hat. "Just keep
surrounding yourself with intellectuals, Mulder. It'll eventually
Substance, indeed. Mulder, in his usual enigmatic presentation,
just told her it was all 'real wrath of God type stuff.' "Lighting
and thunder, and primordial ooze in the one case," Mulder
Then, "I also have documented abduction cases with strikingly
It had been a relatively short slide presentation this time, mainly
because their flight was scheduled for departure in forty-five
minutes. Scully spent the plane ride studying the documented
abduction cases in further detail, as well as examining what little
information was available from New Mexico, and she wasn't convinced.
Deputy Fisher ushered them to the right. "Through those doors,
the end of the hall," he said. "I'll be waiting here;
the kid doesn't
want to see any more uniforms for a while, I'm sure."
Out of earshot from the deputy, Scully spoke her mind. "I
to be a stick in the mud, Mulder," she said, "but I
don't think the
evidence here points to abductions. I mean, the Navajo boy wasn't
abducted, he didn't suffer any missing time, and we really don't
enough of anything about the John Doe to make conclusions."
"Well, let's wait for the eyewitnesses," Mulder replied.
Swiftriver is being released today."
"Adam Swiftriver wouldn't have even needed a hospital stay
hadn't fallen and suffered a mild concussion," she said,
the boy's file. "Not a good argument for the clout behind
of God, either."
Mulder turned to his partner. "I guess the thunderbolt missed.
Anyway, the abduction cases . . ."
"No one was abducted," Scully interrupted. "If
anything, we've got
one too many children here. I mean, if no one was abducted, and
wasn't the wrath of God . . ." she trailed off, slowing her
"Then we've got the largest hairball on record from the rogue
Mr. Mistoffilees," Mulder deadpanned. "And he even gave
them a show."
Scully stopped short. "I didn't know you saw 'Cats',"
"Only in my deepest, darkest nightmares," her partner
knocked on the door to 110.
A Navajo woman, presumably the child's mother, answered the knock.
After looking at their badges, she consented to let the two agents
talk with her son. Of the two victims, Adam Swiftriver definitely
appeared to be the lucky one. While the John Doe was drifting
and out of consciousness, the 10-year-old Navajo boy had only
laceration on the back of his head, and lingering headaches.
Adam sat in bed, squinting at the two agents.
"If the light bothers you, we can close the shades,"
The boy waved a dismissing hand, and his mother spoke for him.
"He doesn't like the dark. I tried to tell him, but he's
Mulder spoke up, addressing the child again. "Afraid of what,
What did you see?"
Adam spoke quietly. "I was afraid to go in. I guess, um,
the reason. . . " He trailed off, then took a deep breath.
I already told the police. It was lightning." He fidgeted
bed. "Talk to Janine. It was her idea to go to the Growling
"The Growling Cave?" Mulder asked. "Is that its
"It's a loose translation," the boy's mother offered.
"The cave is
named after the Growling God -- he's also called the Thunder God.
old story is that if the Growling God senses fear in your heart
you go in the cave, he will strike you down with lightning."
The two agents exchanged a glance before urging Adam to continue
his story. The boy recounted his tale haltingly; he entered the
on Janine's urging, and then there was a low humming, and lightning.
He fell, he hit his head, and he thought something grabbed onto
arm. The something, as was later learned, was the other boy, whose
identity was still unknown, and who had been found in the cave
head to foot in a strange gelatinous substance.
"Janine said it looked like Ectoplasm," Adam said, then
added with a
sulk. "Am I done here?"
Mulder thanked both the boy and his mother for their time, but
asked one more question before they left.
"Adam, do you remember seeing the other boy in the cave,
Adam shook his head. "I didn't know he was even there at
until he grabbed my arm."
In the hallway, Mulder cornered his partner's attention.
"Coincidence?" he asked, gesturing at the door. "The
seems to have some truth to it."
"It could be a hoax," Scully countered. "Kids around
know about the legend. And our only eyewitness so far is a 10-year-
old child who was scared out of his mind."
"And his two older cousins," Mulder added quickly. "Do
you think it
was a prank? Do you think the John Doe was in on it?"
"Could be. Maybe they got carried away." She paused.
"What was that
last question all about?" she asked.
"Well, if no one was abducted, maybe someone was returned,"
offered. "It's the next logical conclusion."
"Just because Adam Swiftriver didn't see the other boy on
of a dark cave when he was already too frightened to think straight
doesn't mean the child wasn't there," Scully pointed out.
likely got lost from a camping trip." Then, "Are you
heading up to
Mulder nodded. "I'll get the cousins' statements, and check
'Growling Cave,'" he said, fishing for the keys to the Taurus.
he added, "Meanwhile, I want the low-down on this other boy
uh, goo, found on him."
After a dusty, bumpy ride, Mulder learned a new appreciation for
term 'outskirts.' Deputy Fisher had assured him that the reservation
was 'on the outskirts' of the town of Cactus Flats; he didn't
was an hour-long trek northward along the winding Pecos River.
the Growling Cave was another half-hour hike from the reservation's
main road. Mulder stumbled on the gravel path for the tenth time,
and for the tenth time wished he'd worn hiking shoes.
"There it is," the deputy pointed to a small, arched
opening in the
cliffs in front of them. Mulder eyed the cave, trying to envision
where the three cousins had been standing during the incident.
He had taken statements from both Janine and Frank Swiftriver.
Janine was contrite; it had been her idea to visit the cave, and
that way, she felt responsible for what had happened. Both children
were frightened from their encounter. They corroborated their
cousin's story about lightning, and about the other boy in the
Janine had only noticed the other boy after the lightning, when
searched the cave with her flashlight. Frankie had called for
ambulance, and that was that. In Mulder's opinion, there was nothing
in the interview to support the idea of a prank. Janine and Frankie
were not the culprits; they were just as scared and confused as
Mulder caught Deputy Fisher's attention. "Was there any evidence
the site of a prank or a hoax of some kind?" he asked.
"We had people up here all day yesterday," the deputy
find any wires or electrical devices. Couldn't find much of anything
at all, really. A few beer bottles, but they were old. You wanna
Mulder nodded, and the two men made their way up to the cave.
closer inspection of the opening, Mulder stopped. The mouth of
cave was actually a gap outlined by two large rocks, each a part
the cliff face. The rocks themselves were obviously part of the
natural landscape, and most of the opening in front of them was
an extension of the gap in the cliffs, but the arch above the
was a different story. While the gap between the rocks extended
twenty feet upward, the cave entrance was only about seven feet
It culminated in the arch, made by three large boulders wedged
the gap with what looked like human precision.
"Is this man-made?" Mulder asked, pointing out the smooth
curve of the
"If it is, it's a might older than anything around here,"
answered. "You'd have to ask the Dineh to be sure, but I
always been that way."
"Dineh?" Mulder echoed.
"Dineh. The Navajo name for the tribe. You know," he
at the archway again, "I'm sure of it. Four is the magic
the Navajo. The Thunder God is one of four gods." He passed
over each of the boulders. "The story, which is as old as
says even the other three gods think twice about going in, and
to wait outside instead."
Mulder eyed the stones again. If they were natural, then nature
much more precise eye than he'd like to think.
"Well," he said, "They can wait out here as long
as they want, but I
suppose we've got to test our mettle with the Thunder God."
Deputy Fisher gestured to the opening. "After you,"
he said with a
Mulder turned on his flashlight and ventured into the cave. The
way curved off toward the left, and the outside light soon faded.
was amazing how dark the cave got in such a relatively short distance.
Panning the flashlight around, Mulder found himself at the far
a small, almost rectangular room with a high ceiling. The walls
far from smooth, but there also seemed to be spots lined with
type of boulder that made up the archway at the entrance. There
a pile of rubble in front of him. Mulder panned up again, and
could almost make out the spot where, ages ago, part of the rock
ceiling had collapsed.
"A quaint fixer-upper," he muttered under his breath.
Studying the floor again, Mulder noted that it was mainly worn
and clay. But again, there were a few spots where boulders seemed
be set in the hard clay, meeting with almost seamless precision.
"The other boy was found over here," came Deputy Fisher's
behind. Mulder started, and then, abashed, turned around to meet
deputy. Fisher pointed toward the center of the cave. Moving around
the rubble, Mulder noticed more of the boulders set into the clay.
"It's almost a pattern there, isn't it?" the agent said,
"Like a circle." Indeed, the stones seemed set in a
circle about ten
feet across. Mulder walked forward, trying to get a better look
the floor. But as he knelt down to study the circle in more detail,
his flashlight flickered and went out.
Fisher pointed his own beam in Mulder's direction. "You alright?"
"Fine," came the reply. "My light went out, though."
"Happens sometimes," the deputy answered, stepping around
Mulder pointed to the floor in front of him. "I was trying
this circle here," he started. Fisher bent down, intent on
some more light on the subject, but as he did so, his own light
flickered and died, leaving the two men in darkness.
"Damn," came Fisher's voice from Mulder's left. "That's
time, too. Can you backtrack? There should be a little bit of
toward the entrance."
Mulder tried to force his eyes to adjust, and looking behind him,
could make out the tunnel where they'd entered. "Yeah, I
got it," he
said. Both men carefully picked their way back to the entrance
emerged from the cave, blinking in the bright sunlight.
"I just put new batteries in this thing," Fisher said,
flashlight against his hand in an attempt to knock some life into
No luck; the beam was completely dead. Mulder's light fared no
"You said that was the fourth time this happened?" the
"Mmm-hm," Fisher affirmed. "The Swiftriver girl
mentioned her light
going out, and we didn't think much of it. Then the same thing
happened to deputy Marks yesterday. But it wasn't a big deal,
we mainly just used a track light at the entrance." He eyed
in front of them. "Would've brought it this time, but the
Mulder nodded in understanding. "We'll bring it next time,"
"I think I've seen enough for today."
The Ley of the Land
Cactus Flats General Hospital, Room 111
Through the observation window, Scully let her eyes wander from
chart in her hand to the unconscious occupant of Room 111, and
to the chart again. It didn't matter how many times she looked.
results were no less astonishing. The patient was no less a mystery.
In fact, there was absolutely nothing about this boy that made
Being found in a remote cave covered with an unknown gelatinous
material was just the tip of the iceberg.
"Is he awake yet?" Mulder asked, looking through the
window at the
child. Scully focused her attention outward again, trying to figure
out how long her partner had been standing beside her.
"Uh, no. Not yet," she said, finally tearing her mind
away from the
chart. "However, I did manage to find out quite a bit about
Mulder looked at the chart, his untrained eyes seeing only random
scrawls and checks. He couldn't pick up on the specifics, but
Scully's rapt attention, it was going to be good.
"Lost camper?" he asked innocently.
"Hardly," she replied. "The police department has
been doing a check
on missing children in this county and all the surrounding ones.
far, they've come up with nothing. But that's not the half of
She held up the medical chart as though it were a carrot on a
"You're going to love this."
She led him down the hallway and out to the main building, then
through a set of swinging doors toward Radiology, talking as she
"The staff did a CT scan of the patient yesterday morning.
looking for signs of swelling or hematoma in the brain, neither
which were present. But for the most part, the scan was almost
unreadable. The material he was covered in was actually interfering
with the instruments, and they were also having a tough time keeping
him still, despite his semi-conscious state." She stopped
at a small
office, removed a few films from an envelope she was holding along
with the chart, and illuminated one on the wall display in the
The film showed sixteen small pictures from what Mulder assumed
the CT scan.
"Here," she said, pointing at what looked to Mulder
like a bright
white blob on the film. "No major problems, but it's really
make anything out."
Mulder squinted. "Of course," he said.
Scully continued. "Last night, the duty nurse said he was
she thought were some sort of febrile seizures, but he didn't
fever, and his vitals were strong and healthy, though they said
looked malnourished when they brought him in." She put up
film. "Today, I had them run another CT. As you can see,
still a few that didn't come out because of his movement, but
all it's much better resolution than the first, and it says a
Mulder studied the equally enigmatic film in front of him. "Like
what?" he prompted.
Scully pointed to a whitish spot at the bottom of one of the blobs.
"See the damage to the basil ganglia here? It actually extends
further out, to other parts of the brain, but when I brought it
attending physician's attention, he came to the same conclusion
Especially after looking at the patient, and given the reports
night, I'd say it's athetosis, and from the rigidity in the leg
muscles, I wouldn't be surprised if he's got spastic diplegia
"English?" Mulder asked helplessly.
"He's got severe cerebral palsy, most likely from birth."
Mulder stared at the film in front of him, letting that fact sink
for a few moments.
"It couldn't be a result of recently suffered trauma?"
"Not given his muscle tone and bone deformities," Scully
"Those develop over time. It's obvious when you look at him.
only reason no one saw it beforehand was because no one was expecting
it, given where he was found."
Mulder thought back to his trek to the cave that morning. He'd
stumbled more than once, and he was a healthy field agent. "You
don't think he could have walked to the cave," he stated.
Scully's eyes grew slightly wider, and she snapped the film off
the wall display. "I'll be surprised if he can talk,"
she said, "let
alone walk. There's no way he could have gotten there on his own."
So much for a lost camper. "So what we should be searching
Mulder said simply, "is a wheelchair without its occupant."
"Makes sense. They didn't come across anything like that
at the cave?"
"No, but I'll broaden the search radius. Speaking of the
Mulder changed the subject, "Deputy Fisher assures me it's
the hills', and not made by the Navajo, but I'm positive it is
Scully didn't look up from the film envelope she was closing.
"Restricting construction to the human race, are we?"
"Now that you mention it . . ." Mulder retorted, then
"Someone must have dropped this boy off here. The question
and why? Did you get a look at the material found on him?"
Scully shook her head no. "Not yet. They've got an expert
it downstairs. That's my next stop."
Mulder raised an eyebrow. "They've got an expert on gelatinous
he asked. "In the basement?"
"Biology and biotechnology, actually," Scully corrected.
basement is a lab, not some dungeon. Really, Mulder." She
back into the hallway, still a little too serious for her partner's
tastes. Mulder caught up with her in easy stride, and ventured
"Did I mention the cave drained the batteries of four flashlights?
It just sucked them dry, from what I could tell."
Scully stopped at the stairwell, and sighed.
"Right now, nothing is going to surprise me. Your alien architects
could drop from the sky, right in front of me, and I'd welcome
with open arms."
With that, she opened the stairway door and headed for the basement.
Mulder watched her descend for a minute, then turned his eyes
"Well, there went your chance," he implored to whatever
listening. "Honestly, I give and give in this relationship
. . . "
He shook his head and headed for the parking lot and Police
Headquarters. He had an empty wheelchair to look for.
"It's not a collagen or a suspension, but it's not uniform,
Scully peered into the microscope at the translucent gel, then
at Dr. Lee. "Did you get its molecular makeup?" she
"For the most part," the stout Navajo woman answered,
"It's carbon and
silicates. I'm no geologist, but if I had to make a guess, it
like the same makeup as the earth's crust, minus the metals. It's
almost the perfect insulator."
Scully thought back to the patient's CT scans. The staff had tried
to get most of the stuff off the boy before the procedure, but
still interfered. "Is there anything in its composition that
explain interference with X-rays?" she asked thoughtfully.
Dr. Lee checked her notes. "There are a few calcium compounds
makeup that I haven't seen before. Could be something there that
absorbs X-rays. I sent a sample to the lab in Albequerque; I can
them to test for it."
Scully nodded in assent. "I'd like a copy of your report,
notes, if you wouldn't mind."
"No problem," Lee answered amicably. "Anything
"Um, yes actually," Scully replied, picking up a petri
scrutinizing the material inside. "Do you have any idea how
made? I mean, is it a natural compound?"
Dr. Lee shook her head. "It's like nothing I've ever seen.
said, though, its makeup is definitely terrestrial."
Scully quickly turned her gaze away from the petri dish, meeting
doctor's statement with a questioning look.
"Well," Lee said, smiling. "I've heard the UFO
stories going back and
forth between the staff. Just because I'm down here in the basement
doesn't mean I'm out of the loop. And it's not as far-fetched
you'd think. You'd be surprised at how much creepy stuff I've
across in my time."
Scully smiled inwardly at the irony in the woman's statement.
have to get my partner down here," she said, looking up at
on the ceiling. "You and he can swap stories." At Dr.
smile, Scully turned her attention back to the substance in her
"So it's carbon and rock," she said. "How did it
end up looking like
Lee shrugged. "Beats me. Some form of molecular breakdown.
be something a lab could reproduce, but I've spent the past day
a half trying to figure out even where to start, and I've come
with nothing." She paused, staring at the small dish in Scully's
hand, and offered one more conclusion.
"If it's man-made, it's a technology we've since lost."
Before Scully could ruminate further on the implications of Dr.
statement, there was a quiet rap at the open door. One of the
nurses, looking out of place in her soft pink scrubs against the
backdrop of the windowless basement hallway, stood in the doorway.
"Our John Doe is awake," she said, leaning on the door.
she added, "You said you wanted to be informed."
"How is he doing?" Scully asked.
The nurse gave a sigh. "Scared. Frustrated." She gestured
toward the main wing. "I'm heading to the Physical Therapy
room now, to see if they've got anything like a letter board.
trying to talk to us."
Scully could see frustration in the boy's eyes as he slowly and
painstakingly tried to make himself understood. He was trying
communicate with some form of sign language, but it was simplified
and subtle due to the difficulty he had with movement. If there
were any doubts as to his ability to reach the Growling Cave on
own, they were put to rest when he awoke. His disabilities were
plainly and painfully evident.
Athetoid cerebral palsy caused spasms and involuntary muscle movement
which left the boy with little control over fine motor action
upper body, and which also affected his speech. He could sign,
was difficult to tell which gestures were signs and which were
result of tremors or muscle contractions. Scully also noted that
legs stayed relatively rigid; a sign that the child suffered from
spastic diplegic cerebral palsy as well. Despite his physical
limitations, though, Scully detected no signs of mental retardation.
His eyes reflected a keen intellect, and though he had initially
reacted with quite natural fear to his unknown surroundings, he
quickly calmed himself down, and was handling the situation admirably.
She did succeed in asking him a few basic yes or no questions,
which he answered with either a slight nod or shake of his head.
he wasn't in pain. No, he didn't need any medication. Before she
could continue, however, the boy raised his hand slightly, pointing
her direction, and inclined his head. It took her a minute to
understand; he was asking her name.
"My name is Special Agent Dana Scully," she answered,
had been so intently focused on the patient that she had forgotten
about introductions. "I'm with the FBI," she continued.
pointed to the corner where deputy Fisher had taken an inobtrusive
seat, "is deputy Fisher, and this is Dr. MacDonald,"
she pointed at
the attending physician. Then, "Do you know where you are?"
A shake of his head. No.
"You're in Cactus Flats General Hospital. You were found
in a cave
about an hour north of here." She started to say more, but
moment, the door opened. Scully saw nothing but relief in the
eyes as the day nurse appeared with a complete alphabet board
under her arm. The nurse positioned the board on the boy's lap,
slowly, he spelled out a simple question.
U. S. A. ?.
Scully gave him a questioning glance. "Yes, that's right.
Cactus Flats, New Mexico."
The boy's eyes grew wide, and before Scully could ask another
question, he started spelling.
G. B. Pause. D. O. R. S. E. T.
Scully watched, but was unsure of the meaning. "Is that your
she asked. "G.B. Dorset?"
The boy let out a sigh of frustration and shook his head, then
R. Y. A . . .
"His name is Ryan Harkness, he's fourteen years old, and
Dorset, Great Britain. He was on a trip to St. Michael's Church
Land's End when he disappeared."
All heads in the room turned to the door, where Agent Mulder stood
with cellphone and fax in hand. Ryan pointed to Mulder and nodded,
his eyes filling with tears. Mulder approached the bed and spoke
directly to the boy. "Everything's going to be fine, Ryan.
parents and sister are on their way. They'll be here in about
hours, but we're going to do our best to understand you and answer
all the questions you have between now and then."
Fisher spoke up. "I'm not familiar with Land's End. Never
St. Michael's church, either." Before Mulder could answer,
his partner was already peppering him with more direct questions.
"Nine hours? Where are they coming from?" And finally,
"How did you
Mulder chose to answer the last question first. "I broadened
search radius a bit," he stated, "and then some more.
I kept looking
further, until I found an article in 'The Evening Post'."
He held up
the fax, an article with a prominent picture of the lost boy.
disappeared from a church in Land's End, _England_ , around four
yesterday," he finished.
The room fell into complete silence, like a moment frozen in time.
Only Ryan Harkness moved, tracing his fingers slowly across the
bringing silent light to the question on everyone's mind.
H. O. W. ?.
Mulder shrugged, breaking the spell, and gave the boy a tired
"Well, we're, um, not too sure about that one yet. Deputy
tell you more, if you're up to it."
Ryan gave a nod, and also made a quick sign with his left hand.
"I guess that's a 'yes'" Scully said. As Fisher moved
closer to the
boy, Scully captured her partner's attention. "Can I talk
outside?" she said, ushering him into the hallway. Once there,
studied the fax he'd brandished in the room, searching for something
Finally, "This can't be right," she said, pointing to
"Greenwich Mean Time is, what, five hours ahead of us? He
have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in two hours."
"Actually, you're still thinking on DC time," Mulder
Flats is seven hours behind London. And Scotland Yard double-checked
it for me. He disappeared out of his wheelchair, and out of an
enclosed chapel room, right around four P.M."
"Which means . . . " Scully started.
"Which means," her partner finished, "he traveled
across the Atlantic
Ocean, not in two hours, but more like two minutes."
Office of the Lone Gunmen
1:30 pm (EST)
"Turn off the tape, Langly, it's me."
Langly stretched his legs out to rest on the desk in front of
"So tell me Mulder, when did you get the idea you were immune
tape anyway?" he said in mock seriousness. "I mean,
you're a G-man,
the establishment, the enemy. You've got the secrets, you know
real story. You know . . ."
"I know what really happened to Frohike's tape archive last
Mice, ha, that was a good one . . . "
"Jeez! Okay, okay, it's off," Langly hissed, then whispered,
talk so loud, the man's got elephant ears."
"What about Britney Spears?" Frohike asked from the
"Nothing, nothing," Langly yelled back, then focused
his attention on
his phone conversation again. "So, what's up?"
"I want to know about Land's End, England. Specifically a
Michael's Church or a St. Michael's Mount."
"St. Michael's Mount," Langly repeated. "Doesn't
ring a bell. . .
wait, Byers is making goo-goo eyes at me across the table."
the phone down. "What?"
"St. Michael's Mount? In England?" Byers was practically
of his seat.
Langly took up the phone again. "Looks like we have a winner,"
said to Mulder, then tossed the phone to Byers. "Okay, it's
Byers, ever the straight man, started lecturing as soon as he
the receiver. "St. Michael's Mount, Mulder. It's the western
one of the most prominent and famous ley lines in England, all
prehistoric sites dedicated to serpent killers -- St. Michael,
George, St. Margaret, those types. What? No, L - E - Y, and get
mind out of the gutter. This is deep stuff, Mulder. It's all about
pre-history, the lost civilization. Atlantis, Stonehenge, the
the Covenant. Harnessing the earth's natural energy . . . yeah,"
Byers cradled the phone against his shoulder and started typing
laptop. "Yeah, okay, I'll give you some references . . .
Cactus Flats Police HQ
"Ley lines?" Scully echoed. Given the amount of books
and maps her
partner had in his hands from four hours at the library, any question
was just inviting a lecture, but Scully was prepared. Mulder set
references down on the table, and began unrolling maps, talking
usual understated monotone as he did so.
"In 1921 an English merchant named Alfred Watkins made a
discovery about his native countryside in Hereford. Watkins was
a hill, checking his map when suddenly he saw a web of lines linking
holy places and sites of antiquity within his view. These lines
connected mounds, old stones, old crossroads, churches placed
pre-Christian sites, legendary trees, moats and wells in exact
alignments that ran over beacon hills to cairns to mountain peaks.
Watkins called these tracks 'leys' after noting an abundance of
along the alignments with that name."
Mulder unrolled a small map of southern England and Wales, and
out about twelve different straight-line tracks traced across
countryside in pen. "The lines could continue uninterrupted
usually ending on a mountain peak or high hill," he added.
really a new discovery. There are parallels in China, the South
Pacific, Australia, and North and South America."
"So they were old roads? Trade routes?" Scully asked.
"Possibly," Mulder answered. "Watkins thought so.
But he was
extremely wary of the occult; he didn't ever speculate further
the existence of leys beyond their use as trade routes. He didn't
want to incur the wrath of God." Mulder gestured toward Scully's
Cactus Flats files, as if stating an example.
"Smart guy," Scully quipped.
"Well, all lightning bolts aside, others have theorized that
lines are a holdover from much earlier times, that they indeed
maps of elemental power lines inherent to the earth. Their layouts
are usually in accordance with what numerologists refer to as
'precessional numbers,' numbers reflecting an extremely precise
knowledge of the cosmos, and it's speculated that they also map
resonance points in energy pockets created by the earth's magnetic
field." He paused, noting Scully's skeptical stance.
"Such ideas are even evident in the Old Testament,"
he added, trying
to spark her interest. "Most notably in tales of the Ark
Covenant, which brought such ills to the Philistines that they
only to be rid of it. They set it on a cart drawn by oxen and
the beasts to find their own way back to the Iseraelites. But,"
checked a scrawled note and fished out a book from the middle
stack, "the oxen started humming, then set off in a straight
across the desert, ending at a standing stone marker on the border.
As if," he glanced at Scully again, trying to gauge her receptiveness
to further information. She had uncrossed her arms and was looking
the small library he'd amassed in his research, which he took
"As if," he continued, "the Ark itself drew power
from the straight
path, and guided them. Stories like this one have many researchers
convinced that the secret to leys, the pyramids, Stonehenge, and
other seemingly miraculous ancient sites, lies in a universal,
elemental science, a type of technology known to the ancient world,
but which has since been lost as civilization drifted from harmonious
coexistence with nature toward the more destructive tendencies
categorize modern scientific discoveries . . ."
He had enough breath for at least another sentence, but Mulder
off. Something he said had caught his partner's attention. During
his speech, she had looked up sharply from her perusal of his
to focus more intently on the stream of information he was sending
way. Then, almost as an afterthought, she had gone back to staring
at the books.
Scully looked up again, confused at his silence. "What? I
attention, I swear."
"No, I know," he answered. "What did I say? You
started at it. You
looked up." It was like pulling teeth to get her to admit
possible paranormal slant, or to lend credence to his research
he was in lecture mode. He figured it was nothing personal; she
just trying to maintain an objective, scientific mind when his
most open. He didn't begrudge her that, but he still wanted to
what had sparked her curiosity.
Now was no different. "Nothing," she said, then changed
"As much as I'd enjoy a discussion on the merits of futurism,
. . ." she started, but he wouldn't let it go so easily.
"No really, I want to know," he interrupted. "Something
elemental earth science?" he asked, keying in on her deflection.
She sighed in defeat, like a child caught with her hand in the
jar. "Something Dr. Lee said to me today, about the material
Ryan Harkness," she said, looking him in the eye. "I
asked her if it
was man-made and she said if it was, then 'it's a technology we've
since lost.' Those were her exact words. I guess I wasn't expecting
to hear almost the same statement from you."
He knew why she had tried to cover it up; it was nothing more
creepy feeling and a weird coincidence. No evidence. No proof.
"Kind of gives you the chills, doesn't it?" he asked.
His partner didn't answer; she only looked away for a brief moment.
Then, she traced her finger along one of the leys on the map,
ventured a question. "So what does all of this have to do
Harkness' disappearance, Mulder? The boy suffered missing time,
not . . . "
She trailed off, noting her partner's incredulous look. "Well,
must have suffered some sort of time lapse," Scully added,
defensive. "In order to travel as far as he did." Still,
nothing. Scully gave a sigh of exasperation. "What I mean,"
clarified, "is that I thought you were following up an abduction
and you come back here with pre-history instead. What does it
do with alien abductions?"
Mulder smiled, happy for once to be on the receiving end of a
retreat, and then decided to come to the rescue. "Not much
believe Erich Von Daniken and the whole 'Chariots of the Gods'
he answered. "Not that I'm saying I don't, I'm just saying
now, I'm not convinced we're dealing with alien abductions anymore.
And I'm not sure Ryan Harkness suffered from missing time, in
sense that we know it."
Scully threw up her hands. "I can't win," she complained.
"You'd think I set that up," Mulder teased. Scully gave
him a warning
look, and he turned his attention to the map. "But, I think
are more elemental forces at work here. Look," he pointed
ley, extending southwest from an area north of London down to
southernmost tip of the peninsula separating the Bristol and English
Channels. At the tip, he remarked, "Here's Land's End, where
Harkness disappeared. You'll notice it's at the end of quite an
"I noticed that," his partner replied coolly.
"This ley is also known in lore as the Serpent Road. Most
sites I've circled here are dedicated to dragon killers. St. Michael.
St. George. St. Margaret. The others, like the Avebury rocks here,"
he pointed much further north on the line, "while not dedicated
serpent killers, do have an insignia in common. In Avebury, it
built into the landscape in megalithic style, a monument of huge
stones that ran for miles."
"What's the insignia?" Scully asked.
Mulder searched through a stack of maps and papers, finally
withdrawing a small sheet of white paper from the pile. "This,"
said proudly. On the paper was pictured a snake passing through
winged circle. "A feathered serpent," he added. "This
image," he gave the paper a shake, "is actually ancient
origin. But, it's painted across the British countryside in stone,
it shows up along the edges of Mayan temples, it shows up in ancient
Chinese stories, and," he saved the best for last, "I'm
positive it's built into the floor of the Growling Cave, Cactus
Flats, New Mexico."
Scully studied the picture, trying not to let her partner's excitement
color her judgement. "You saw it?"
"Before the circle sucked the life out of my flashlight batteries,
Scully crossed her arms again. "So, just so we're square
we're not dealing with alien abductions anymore. Instead, a severely
handicapped boy somehow got himself . . . transported . . . across
the ocean using elemental Atlantian powers -- ancient terrestrial
powers that may or may not have alien origins."
"Oooh, can I quote that in the report?"
"No. You know, I read Von Daniken back in med school."
"Scully, you're turning me on."
"It was a particularly hellish finals week, and a friend
it as evidence that there were people out there crazier than those
us taking Physiology and two O-chem labs at the same time."
Mulder smirked, then stood up from the table, gathering books
papers. "Still counts."
Scully gave a sigh, and started helping her partner gather up
research materials. Mulder was already back down to business,
focusing on the case at hand.
"Tomorrow," he started, "I want to talk with Ryan
see if he saw a similar serpent insignia in the chapel. Then we
can get Deputy Fisher to take us back out to the cave to be sure."
The Ley of the Land
Cactus Flats General Hospital, Rm 111
April 16, 2000
Ryan scrutinized the drawing in front of him for a few minutes,
"Yes, I think that was it. I didn't see very much of it,
and it was
at quite an angle. I tried to get a closer look -- I moved forward,
and then the room started humming. There was this amazing explosion,
I fell, and that's all I remember before waking up and talking
Mulder turned his attention to the teenaged girl at Ryan's bedside.
Clarissa Harkness and her parents had arrived during the night.
Mulder tried to pick up what the girl saw in her brother's silent
language, but it was nearly impossible. In her shy, feminine voice,
tinged with a lilting British accent, Clarissa gave every one
brother's subtle signs a different meaning, a different nuance,
in her tone of voice. At a casual glance, one might think the
was practicing mental telepathy.
The boy's parents, exhausted from their flight, were sleeping
of the nurse's stations. But Clarissa had refused to leave her
"What about you, Clarissa?" Mulder asked. "Do you
anything on the floor of the chapel?"
The girl shook her head, and answered in her own voice this time.
"I really couldn't see past the empty wheelchair. If you
imagine . . ." she had to blink back tears, "I'd just
lost my brother.
He was gone . . . disappeared, right in front of me . . . "
trailed off, giving her brother's hand a squeeze.
Mulder let out a heavy sigh, trying to focus on the girl in front
of him instead of a shadow of his own past. Ryan signed something
that made his sister laugh, a short, fluttering sound that was
like nervous relief, and Mulder broke eye contact for a second,
focusing his gaze on the ceiling.
"Only if you're lucky," Clarissa teased, smiling at
through her tears.
There was the slightest touch on his hand as Scully stepped forward
from where she had been leaning in the doorway. She was giving
him a moment to focus again. He didn't need much time, but it
a help, and rather than snapping at her or giving her the all-
encompassing 'I'm fine' glance, he just let her take over.
"Clarissa," Scully started. "Can you tell us what
you do remember?"
The girl took a few deep breaths. Then, "He was trying to
of a tour . . . don't give me that look, Ryan, I know when you're
being sly . . . So when the guide mentioned the chapel, Ryan told
he'd like to see it. Well, the woman was not the most interesting
person in the world, so I supposed I'd humor him and take him
the chapel, in spite of the steps."
At Mulder's glance, Scully ventured a question. "There were
Clarissa nodded. "Five or six. It was a tight fit, but I'm
stronger than I look." She gave them a shy smile.
"Did any of the other students go to the chapel?" Scully
Ryan signed something, and his sister translated with only a
glance. "No, just me. Nobody else . . . it was an old building,
not accessible at all. it was a trial simply getting all of us
Clarissa finished her tale; Mulder noted that she also saw some
sort of lightning when she was in the hallway, as well as hearing
a heavy, concussive boom, 'like a fireworks rocket going off.'
When she looked in the room, her brother was gone.
After hearing both Clarissa and Ryan's stories, the agents thanked
the Harkness children for their time, and turned to leave. Scully
exited to the hallway, but Clarissa stopped Mulder before he could
"Thank you so much for finding him, Agent Mulder," she
"Thank everyone here for me for taking care of him. I . .
don't think I could've forgiven myself if something happened to
him, not when I took him there."
Mulder met her gaze and saw an all too familiar pain behind it.
"No matter what the outcome, Clarissa, it wasn't your fault,"
he said, maybe a little more tenderly than he would have liked.
He tried to think of a reason that both he and the girl could
believe, something that wouldn't turn his stomach like the
too-sweet, over-compensating platitudes he'd heard his entire
life. When he finally sorted it out, he even found a part of
his own spirit lifting, as though he'd never realized it
"You got caught up in something that the whole world is still
trying to explain, and maybe they never will," he said. "Blaming
yourself is just too simple of a solution."
The path was narrow enough that, at times, the three investigators
to travel in single file -- Fisher in the lead, followed by Scully,
with Mulder taking up the rear. As the cave came into view, however,
the trail widened, and Mulder drew alongside his partner.
"So, Scully, how much do you remember from your undergraduate
days at Maryland?"
Scully picked her way around some loose rocks in her path, then
stopped to catch her breath, meeting her partner's glance with
"You want me to try and explain the physics behind an elemental
power conduit?" she asked.
Mulder raised an eyebrow expectantly.
"Do you even know the amount of energy we're talking about
"Not at all," Mulder answered, offering her a helping
a large boulder. "Care to enlighten me?'
"Believe it or not, I was actually thinking about something
mentioned last night," Scully said nonchalantly. "Science
harmony with the earth and that. You know the earth has a molten
"Yeah, I think I learned that back in tenth grade,"
"Well," Scully remarked as they neared the entrance,
exerts a force on this molten rock as it rotates around it,
disturbing it. Hence, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the magnetic
field," she waved an arm about her, as though this were the
"How does that explain anything?" Mulder asked.
"It's a matter of finding the energy to power your conduit,"
explained. "Millions of tons of spinning molten rock is quite
a dynamic energy source. If you could harness that . . . "
"You'd have no problem rocketing someone across the ocean?"
Scully held up a hand. "I'm not saying that's what happened.
saying that if the technology existed, it would probably be able
provide the energy levels you would need." She let out a
than that, I'm not sure what kind of technology could do it."
Mulder shot her a grin. "Aliens versus Atlantians, Scully.
benefactors come from the vast empty reaches of space, or is it
probable that here on earth, where we know intelligent life has
developing for thousands of years, a civilization could have been
born, thrived and died in the distant past, leaving us nothing
few structures and hints of its technology in age-old legends
"Sounds like 'Planet of the Apes,'" Scully countered.
Cornelius and Zira."
"I don't know. I always pictured myself as more of the 'Charleton-
Scully smiled, then took on an air of mock indignation. "Mulder!
That casts me as the mute!"
"You said it, Scully, not me. . ." he anwered as they
mouth of the cave. Scully merely shook her head and let the subject
drop as her companions unloaded their gear.
Deputy Fisher had brought a large track light for placement at
entrance to the cave's main room. Mulder had brought his own share
equipment as well. Packed into a medium-sized duffel bag were
cameras, a voltmeter, a flashlight with extra batteries, and,
weren't enough, he was also lugging along a rather large and heavy
car battery. Scully eyed the bag with skepticism, but she kept
comments to herself. Mulder handed her a camera, and the three
them studied the entrance before them.
"Shame the Harkness boy couldn't come with us," Fisher
setting the light on the ground. "He's probably got a better
about what's going on than we do."
Mulder nodded in understanding. Fisher had talked at length with
the night before. For the most part, Ryan had to use the alphabet
board, but he was still able to ask pertinent questions and pose
own theories as to the technology behind his miraculous journey.
deputy had been duly impressed, and surprised. It wasn't until
Clarissa's arrival that Ryan could talk in detail about his passion
for physics and space travel.
Mulder gestured to the mouth of the cave, silently offering his
with the light. Fisher accepted, and the two men made their way
the cave, while Scully stayed behind to take a few pictures of
arch at the entrance.
"We'll just have to document everything thoroughly,"
Mulder stated as
the two men disappeared into the shadows. A few minutes later,
called to his partner. Scully lowered the camera and made her
into the cave, to find her partner and the deputy standing in
of a well-lit, circular design built into the rocks on the floor.
"Feathered serpent, Scully, just like I told you," Mulder
stated. He moved toward the circle, brandishing the voltmeter.
Scully watched as he set the leads on either side of the circle,
one at the serpent's head and one at the tail. The needle jumped
to life, springing immediately to the maximum reading on the
meter. At Scully's request, Mulder handed her the meter.
"Quite a potential," Scully remarked, standing up. "Deputy,
look at this. . ." she said, and started to hand the meter
circle to Fisher.
"Scully, don't. . ." Mulder started, but it was too
soon as the voltmeter passed the boundary of the circle, the
needle died as quickly as it had come to life.
"If that ain't the strangest thing," Fisher remarked,
the dead meter, but Mulder cut him off. The agent held up a hand,
seemingly concentrating on the air around him. Finally, he spoke.
"What's that noise?" he whispered.
The cave grew silent as the three investigators froze. Then, Scully
heard it as well. A low humming noise, faint at first, but getting
"Scully, back up from the circle," Mulder warned quietly.
The hum grew still louder.
"Mulder?" Scully asked expectantly, but she couldn't
hide the fear
behind her voice. The hum was gaining intensity, and she had
no idea what it was or how to stop it.
There was a breath of still silence, and then Mulder suddenly
up like a statue coming to life. "It's coming from outside,"
quickly, already on his way out.
Scully followed close behind, but not without giving the circle
front of her a wide berth. As they neared the mouth of the cave,
the humming grew still louder, and it took on a pulsing beat.
air outside the cave was violently disturbed; the wind picked
red dust and small plants, flinging them around to the pulse in
the air. Mulder shaded his eyes and looked up. He tried to
say something to his partner, but the noise swallowed his words.
Instead, he simply pointed.
Trying to keep her hair from whipping around her head, Scully
looked up, already knowing what she was going to see. By the
time Fisher made it out of the cave, the green helicopter was
at eye level, landing on a flat strip about a hundred feet from
the three incredulous investigators.
As the copter blade powered down, Scully made her way over to
her partner's side.
"Who called in the cavalry?" she demanded.
Mulder shook his head. "More like infantry," he said
watching as armed, fatigue-clad soldiers exited the transport.
He turned around, intent on going back into the cave, but stopped
when he heard the telltale clicks of about ten automatic weapons
being aimed his way.
"Nobody move! Hands in the air where I can see them!"
Both agents raised their hands in mute frustration.
Cactus Flats Reservation
"Kirtland Air Force Base is a hundred miles away from here!"
raged. "You can't expect us to believe you're running training
excercises. This is private property, and we've got every right
to continue our investigation!" It was bad enough that the
of them were marched from the cave at gunpoint. Then, the Air
Force had the gall to hide the whole damn operation behind the
lousiest, most inconceivable excuse possible, as if to flaunt
in the FBI's face.
Major Reynolds just stood calmly in the doorway, weathering the
agent's tirade with an air of bored resentment.
While Scully tried to decipher the legal documents they had been
given upon their arrival at the reservation, Mulder paced the
seething. He had spent half an hour trying to get under the skin
of the CO, and then had been relegated back to the waiting area
for all his efforts, with no more information than the ridiculous
'training excercises.' Now, he was working on the unsuspecting
major standing guard.
"Mulder," Scully offered from the corner, staring in
at a piece of paper in her hand. "The investigation's been
classified. Read the fine print. They're taking it right out
from under us."
Mulder accosted the major once again. "We both know what's
on here, Major. This smokescreen is an insult to the intelligence
of everyone in this room."
"The only insult," Reynolds shot back, "is that
I have to stand
here listening to this instead of knocking you unconscious and
sending both of you back to DC where you belong."
"What kind of training excercises are these, Major?"
impugned. "Are you learning how to rob the Navajo of more
"Oh, like the FBI should talk," Reynolds shot back.
"Then what? Sending up weather balloons? Roswell's pretty
close to here. . ."
"Roswell is bullshit," the major answered.
"Well, I'll tell you what," Mulder said with a low intensity.
"Whatever is in that cave makes Roswell look like a cake
It was the subtlest of signs. Reynolds' bravado faltered for
just a split second, but Mulder was trained to pick up subtle
"Are you going to tell me your training excercises have nothing
to do with the Growling Cave?" the agent asked.
Reynolds set his jaw. "It's classified," he said through
"It's classified," Mulder echoed, "because the
military is scared
to death. They've got no idea what's going on here either, and
it's going to burn them, what with the Air Force's exalted history
of 'intelligence'. What do you think, Agent Scully?"
Scully usually let her partner make his own rash mistakes. She
was supposed to stay the calm, collected, and unthreatening
partner. But an hour of staring at trumped-up legal documents
had brought out some of her fire. Still, she played it straight
"I'd have to concur," she answered without looking up.
"They might as well be poking around a mine field with sharp
Mulder added. Then, "You remember what the legend says, don't
Scully gave a nonchalant "Mmm-hmm," at the same time
"This conversation is over, agents."
"Beware, ye of faint heart," Mulder said as Reynolds
and walked into the hallway.
"Take one step out here, Agent Mulder," Reynolds called
exited the doorway, "and I'll shoot you without a second
Mulder shot Scully a grin that silently claimed victory, then
walked over to examine the document she'd flashed at him.
Not only was Cactus Flats being turned over to the Air Force,
but the church at Land's End was also falling under military
Mulder slammed the paper onto the table in disgust.
"This isn't over, Scully," he said.
His partner sighed, then took the document off of the table, trying
again to decipher the text. "I'm willing to entertain suggestions,"
she offered, only half kidding. She anticipated Mulder's move,
didn't surprise her when he took the paper from her hand, crumpled
up, and threw it in the corner.
"How were the pyramids made?" he started, pacing the
was Stonehenge built? Why do feathered serpents show up in ancient
sites as far apart as Thailand and Peru -- how could the world
global themes before it was even possible for humans to traverse
continents?" He stopped, taking in the scene around him again,
gestured vaguely in the direction of the reservation cliffs. "That
cave could explain global mysteries from Atlantis to the Anasazi,
I'm not going to let some pig-headed, paranoid military brass
it under the rug with the rest of what they don't understand!"
"Speaking of pig-headed paranoia," came a voice from
Mulder and Scully looked up to see the CO, Colonel Chaney,
standing in the doorway. "You're to leave Cactus Flats as
as possible, Agent Mulder." Mulder saw Reynolds smirking
background as the Colonel continued. "Your investigation
and your presence here is no longer required or appreciated."
Mulder and Scully simply stared at the officer, not moving, not
speaking a word.
"Well, agents?" Chaney asked after a minute.
Scully shot her partner a quick glance, then gave the answer
both partners were thinking.
"We're waiting for the other shoe to drop, _sir_," she
"I assure you, agents, it just did," Chaney answered,
obvious. "There is no end game here. Reynolds will escort
back to the town to gather your things."
Scully tried to remain calm as she gathered up the papers on the
table in front of her. Mulder looked up to the ceiling, trying
to contain his own anger. He brought his hands to his forehead
and closed his eyes. He took two deep breaths.
"Let's go, Agents," Reynolds goaded them from the doorway.
Mulder had grown eerily calm. He was not to be baited. As though
set in a course of action, he suddenly decided to move, grabbing
his now empty duffel bag from the table.
Scully watched with a patient eye, raising her eyebrow in a silent
question. Reynolds was already half-way down the hall; he wouldn't
have heard even if she'd spoken aloud, but it wasn't necessary.
"There's always an end game," he told her before walking
Cactus Flats General Hospital
Scully had convinced Reynolds to stop at the hospital, on account
of the fact that their flight from Albequerque wasn't until 10pm,
and she had some insurance forms to fill out from her CT scan
requests. It was a flimsy plan, something to buy time -- maybe
a few more minutes of snooping behind their military escort's
back, but it was all they had at the moment.
It didn't give much, though, and Reynolds was no fool. They were
not to split up; Mulder would wait at the desk with Reynolds while
Scully filled out the forms. And they were not to talk to anyone
about the investigation.
"Anyone involved with this case has already been warned about
that," the major added. "So don't try anything."
Apparently, that warning already reached the ears of the Harkness
family. As Scully plodded away on the insurance forms as slowly
as she could, Ryan, Clarissa, and their parents came through
the swinging doors from the eastern ell. The family had reunited
Ryan with his wheelchair, but instead of using the motor, Clarissa
simply pushed him along. He looked exhausted. Mulder was sure
military debriefing had been a long and ardorous process.
Clarissa gave Mulder a half-hearted wave, and she and Ryan
approached the desk. Reynolds gave them a glare; though he
had not participated in the debriefing, Mulder was sure the
major knew of the British family and the disabled child.
"Ryan just wants to say goodbye, and thank you," Clarissa
casually as she set the brake on the chair.
Reynolds took one look at the boy in the wheelchair, and then
gave a dismissing wave. "He knows not to talk about anything
he saw, doesn't he?" the major asked.
Clarissa gave a nod. Ryan put up a hand, and started signing,
"Thanks. for . . . charging . . . to my. rescue. at the .
cave . . . " Clarissa translated haltingly. Reynolds gave
warning look, but Clarissa just shrugged. "Often, you have
more than once before he understands," she said simply. "He
wants to thank them."
Mulder wondered what was wrong. She had spoken so fluently for
him before. Then, Ryan accented his sister's plea with a
grunt, and Mulder finally realized that it got the desired
response. Reynolds turned away, suddenly focusing uncomfortably
on Scully's papers instead of the painfully disabled child in
Mulder's eyes widened, and he saw an answering twinkle in the
gaze. Mulder knew enough of the ASL alphabet to subtly sign Ryan
S.L.Y. . .
Ryan smiled and started signing again, and Mulder couldn't help
remember his conversation with Fisher at the cave that morning.
had Ryan picked up on that the rest of them had missed? Mulder
found himself concentrating on Ryan's gestures, trying to divine
"I. wish I. had the. capacity. to visit. longer," Clarissa
And Mulder knew the words to focus on. There were a few words
Ryan took the time to spell out, letter for letter on his board,
a trembling hand. And so far, some of them were not quite the
Clarissa so painstakingly translated.
"But, who knows? Maybe. we. will. meet again. one. day."
"Maybe," Mulder said smiling genuinely. "Look me
up the next time
you're in the colonies."
"I. look. forward. to the. trip. Another. time. perhaps?"
Mulder reached out and took the boy's hand, giving it a firm
shake. "Perhaps," he echoed. "I look forward to
it as well."
Ryan's face lit up, and he reverted back to shorthand.
"Take care," Clarissa translated effortlessly, then
brother's brake. Ryan took a moment to give a halting wave, and
then both children joined their parents for the trip home.
Reynolds watched the children depart, oblivious. Scully had picked
up on something, though, and she finished her paperwork with a
handing the triplicate forms over to the duty nurse.
As they exited the hospital, Mulder caught Scully's attention
with a slight glance. As Reynolds escorted them to the car,
Mulder leaned toward his partner. His terse murmur couldn't hide
the determination behind the words.
"We're not getting on that plane, Scully."
Albequerque International Airport
Scully pointed ahead of her to the jetway. "If you hadn't
noticed, we're getting on the plane."
"Not if I can help it," her partner answered under his
"You've got about sixty feet to make your move," Scully
as they entered the jetway. She turned around, noting Major
Reynolds' position at the front of the gate. Air Force or
no, the flight attendants had refused to let him past the
small terminal desk. Reynolds mouthed a silent 'bon voyage,'
then disappeared from view as the two agents turned a corner
on the jetway.
Scully was still looking behind her when Mulder took her arm
and whispered, "Thought we'd never ditch that Major Major.
to make our move." Then, she was being pulled to the left,
a small red velvet rope barrier, and up a slight, curving slope.
It was only then that she noticed the jetway veered off in two
directions. Built to service both small and large aircraft, it
had two walks. The higher walk, for larger planes, was not in
and only held a few airport wheelchairs.
"And what a move it was," Scully remarked as she and
crouched ignominiously behind the chairs. "I'm impressed."
Mulder answered in a flat monotone. "I spent the weekend
up my stealth points." He glanced around at the extra tunnel,
added, "That, and my serendipity."
After a few tense minutes, there was a rumble, and a jolt as the
backed away from the jetway. The two agents waited for a safe
of time before moving again, then simply backtracked their steps,
heading for the car rental stations. Reynolds was nowhere in sight.
One half hour and one short telephone call later, Mulder and Scully
were in a rental Taurus, ready to make the two-hour trip back
Cactus Flats. Before starting the engine, Mulder handed his partner
a small slip of paper, on which was written six words.
charging. cave. capacitor. one-way. trip. another.
"See if you can make heads or tails of that," he said
sigh. "So we know what we're looking for when we get there."
The Ley of the Land
Cactus Flats Public Library
April 17, 2000
Deputy Fisher shook his head as Mulder and Scully emerged from
alley beside the library.
"I don't know why I'm doing this," he said. "Shadowy
military orders . . . I don't usually just break the law like
He tried to come up with a tangible reason for offering his help,
settled for a simple, "Consider yourselves lucky."
Mulder gave the deputy a firm handshake. "I'm glad you changed
M.O.," he quipped. "Can we get inside?"
Fisher nodded and led the two agents up the stairs. He unlocked
door, and the three of them ventured into the dim building. Mulder
headed straight for the reference desk, and started pulling up
maps and atlases.
"It's got to be here somewhere," Mulder murmured under
Fisher caught Scully's attention and drew her aside. "What's
on?" he asked. "What are you looking for?"
Scully withdrew Ryan Harkness' message from her pocket, and handed
the paper to the deputy.
"Ryan pointed us in the right direction," Scully answered.
debated about it in the car, and after agreeing on what his message
means and extrapolating, we thought it was definitely worth a
Fisher scrutinized the paper, trying to divine what the agents
"What's the story?" he finally asked.
"I don't know if you know how a capacitor works," Scully
pointing to the third word in the list. "It was our first
At Fisher's blank stare, she ventured an explanation.
"In a circuit, a capacitor stores energy. There are two components;
a charging component, and a release. When the circuit is on 'charge,'
the capacitor draws energy from a battery and stores it. Opening
circuit will stop the current from flowing, but the potential
in the capacitor is still present. Closing the second switch,
'release' switch, will cause the capacitor to discharge, releasing
Fisher scratched his head. Behind him, Mulder gave a soft curse.
"I can't find anything on the map," he said, standing
up from the
"Here, let me try," Scully said, sitting down.
"But what's that all got to do with the cave?" Fisher
Mulder exchanged glances with his partner, and took up the
"I don't think we'll ever know how long the chapel in Land's
was powered up," he started. "It was only opened to
year. Ryan's wheelchair must have been the first thing in there
a strong enough electromagnetic field to flip the 'release' switch.
When he crossed the circle, it closed the circuit, the capacitor
discharged, and the mechanism transported him across the ocean
a giant slingshot, depositing him here in the cave at Cactus Flats."
"But, the flashlights," Fisher countered. "They
didn't set off any
'mechanism' in the Growling Cave. Why not?"
"Because we're on the wrong side of the gate," Mulder
"Closing the circuit in Land's End discharges the mechanism.
Closing it in Cactus Flats charges the capacitor." Mulder
gave a sigh. "And since we have no idea how the Atlantians
charged the thing, I'd say it's got to eat about another twenty
million batteries before it'll work again." He gave a short
laugh before concluding, "The Air Force is in for a long
"Wait a minute," Fisher said, staring at the paper.
said this thing is a one-way trip. You called it a slingshot."
Scully spoke up from the desk, where she had been following
the conversation. "That's most likely a result of the earth's
rotation. You have to go against the flow."
Fisher stared at the last word on the paper for a long minute
before he finally understood.
"There's another gate," he said simply.
"Arrivals versus departures," Mulder answered. Then
back to the maps. "Now it's just a matter of finding . .
He stopped short as his eyes fell on a large globe in the corner
of the reference room.
"Scully, we're being stupid," he said. His partner looked
from where she had been scrutinizing a local area map of the
reservation. Mulder pointed at the globe. Beside it was a
small jar full of stick pins, and a few lengths of string for
marking distances. Mulder grabbed some pins and one string.
"We already know where the gate is going to be," he
Starting in southern England, Mulder secured the string in a
straight line extending from just north of London through
to Land's End. Across the Atlantic Ocean.
Across the northeastern United States.
Across the midwest.
Right through the Cactus Flats Reservation and points southwest.
Mulder traced a finger along the string, then stood up
"Looks like we just need to follow the ley of the land."
Cactus Flats Reservation
It took them two hours to skirt the mobile army camp surrounding
the Growling Cave. They had cover of darkness for most of it,
there were a few times they had to lie low to avoid a patrol.
Though the morning light made the two agents more conspicuous,
also allowed them to search the landscape. A few more precise
measurements at the library had given them the direction they
to follow. Mulder cradled a small compass in his hand, and he
Scully oriented themselves as close to 38 degrees south of west
they could manage.
Scully shifted the weight of her backpack. It wasn't heavy; she
carried only some hastily gathered food, a canteen, and an industrial
sized flashlight. But the backpack, on loan from Deputy Fisher,
too large. The flashlight kept grinding into her spine. Mulder's
was heavier; it held another voltmeter, replacing the one that
been confiscated earlier, and a bulky old video camera pilfered
the library's meager store, but at least it seemed to rest
comfortably between his shoulders.
She dug a fist into the small of her back, and tried to focus
on the terrain in front of her. "What exactly should I look
"Watkins called it 'the old straight track," her partner
suppressing a yawn. "Paths, or large stone markers, maybe
up with a cliff peak. We'll know it when we see it."
The landscape in front of them was red, dry desert. Hard-packed
clay gave way to large boulders and a few stunted trees. Rocky
cliffs jutted up from the desert floor; in some places it looked
like a violent collision, and in others, the rock looked as though
it had been chiseled away with fine precision. Mulder and Scully
were at the foot of the reservation cliffs that housed the
Growling Cave. Their position offered them a bit of high ground,
but both agents were still having trouble locating anything that
looked like a ley.
There were a few large boulders over to Scully's left that could
possibly afford her a better view. While her partner continued
survey the land in front of them, Scully scaled the largest boulder.
At the top, she started to look outward, but stopped, suddenly
focusing on a much closer landmark.
"Mulder," she called. "Can you take a look at something
She motioned for him to join her on the large rock. Once there,
she pointed to the stone beneath her feet.
"Is this the sign you wanted?"
The boulder, weathered and flattened on top, was chiseled into
almost perfect circle. From this view, extending down in two
directions, the rest of the boulders in the group suddenly gained
a precise order. Though weather-worn, the seams at one time must
have been flawless. Even now, the insignia was unmistakeable.
Mulder nimbly made his way down to the serpent's head, and studied
"There it is," he said, pointing. From the serpent's
landmarks finally came together to point the way. Aligned in a
perfectly straight path in front of them was a network of ancient
standing stones, stones the may have been mistaken for wind-worn
boulders at first, pointing the way to a break in the cliffs
some miles away.
"Follow the ancient-Atlantian brick road," Scully quipped
two agents made their way down from the serpent to the desert
"Sir, they're moving again."
Colonel Chaney motioned for the binoculars. Staring through them,
he watched the two FBI agents pick their way around a large group
rocks, then head off to the southwest.
"They're heading away from us, soldier," Chaney said
to the PFC,
Hicks, beside him.
"Yes sir," Hicks replied.
"Why do you suppose that is?" Chaney asked. Before Hicks
an answer, though, the colonel gave an order.
"Get Major Reynolds up here, and Jackson and Duan."
Hicks gave a quick salute and left. Minutes later, Reynolds
appreared, followed by the two infantrymen. Chaney handed the
binoculars over to the major and pointed out the two agents.
"I want you boys to keep an eye on them. Follow them, discretely.
I want to know what they're on to. And Reynolds, I don't want
Reynolds acknowledged the order with a quick "yes, sir."
this time. This time, the two agents were tresspassing, threatening
disclosure of classified information. Automatically, he checked
This time, he would be authorized to use any means necessary to
contain a possible breach of security.
Once sighted, it was easy to follow the old straight track. For
while, it seemed like they were getting nowhere; the destination
cliffs never grew any larger, and the ley just stretched out in
of them, marker after marker, in an unending, unfaltering straight
Eventually, however, the land fell away behind them. Their sightline
changed, and the desert floor crept up to meet the foot of the
As if making up for lost time, the cliffs grew impressively tall
the agents got closer, taller than either Mulder or Scully would
guessed from their view only an hour before, until looking up
them slightly dizzy.
The break they had seen, and that the ley directed them toward,
one of many huge fissures in the rock face. The light died quickly,
obscuring the interior in shadows.
Mulder checked the ley, stretched out behind them, and eyeballed
fissure. "It's right in line," he remarked, the first
of them had spoken in quite some time. The air around the agents
deadened the sound; instead of echoing off the rocks, Mulder's
reached his partner's ear in a hush, as though he'd whispered
to her in a closed room.
Scully looked up at the cliffs again, half expecting them to be
smaller than she'd first thought, but instead, they seemed even
larger. She tried to imagine the sheer power behind their creation.
She felt the ground beneath her for what it was; a relatively
shell of solid earth, and miles upon miles of roiling, molten
Mulder put a hand out and touched the rock face in front of him.
"Can you feel the energy here?" he asked reverently.
Is it something about the cliffs? It almost makes you feel. .
"Small," his partner offered. "I was thinking of
Both agents stared at the fissure in front of them, caught up
a moment of silence. Then, Mulder broke the spell, dropping his
backpack heavily to the ground.
"This has got to be the place," he said, fishing out
"If ever a power conduit . . . belonged. . . somewhere, it's
Scully shed her backpack as well and removed the offending flashlight.
Piercing the darkness in front of her with the beam, she led the
into the fissure. The path narrowed quickly and veered off to
left, so that the mouth of the fissure was soon out of sight.
only a few feet past the bend in the path, the walls receded,
the space around them.
Scully scanned the area with her flashlight while Mulder followed
line with the camera, stopping only for a moment in order to affix
his own smaller flashlight above the device. The cavern extended
forty feet until the rock walls came together again and the path
narrowed. As her beam passed the far end of the cavern, Mulder
caught his partner's attention.
"Back up, Scully. Let me see that again."
When Scully brought the light over again, Mulder had the camera
and ready. "Three boulders in an arch, just like the Growling
he said, pointing to the top of the entrance. Without a word,
agents traversed the cavern, coming face to face with an exact
of the Growling Cave.
There was no mistaking the nature of the gate. In comparison to
Growling Cave, it was in excellent shape. Huge stones came together
in seamless, interlocking patterns to form smooth walls. The ceiling
was one large, uninterrupted monolith, completely flat. Mulder
followed Scully's flashlight beam with the camera, keeping up
quiet commentary as he filmed. There was no need to whisper, but
Mulder found he didn't want to raise his voice.
Scully stepped forward, sweeping the area in amazement. Suddenly,
she came to her senses, tracking the floor in front of them for
insignia they knew would be there. She took a deep, steadying
as the serpent-decorated circle came into view only a few paces
front of her.
"Stay out of that," her partner offered. "We don't
know how much of
an electromagnetic field will set it off." Scully gave a
for all the wild speculations about the technology's origins,
was no denying the circle's documented properties. No one had
her twice. Keeping clear of the circle, the two agents set up
base in the corner of the room from which to continue their survey.
Mulder documented the scene around them with reserved calm. In
eerie silence, he filmed Scully testing the potential across the
serpent circle. He filmed the walls. He filmed the ceiling. He
filmed the floor. But his calmness dissolved when he set the light
to the part of the floor which, in the Growling Cave, had been
obscured by the collapsed ceiling.
"Scully, I think there's writing here!"
Scully turned toward him from where she had been studying the
intent on asking a question. But suddenly, she felt the hairs
back of her neck stand on end. She had only a moment's notice.
"Mulder . . ." she started.
There were two sharp clicks, and the cave was bathed in harsh
coming from the entrance. Two beams each captured one of the agents,
and Scully put a hand to her eyes, squinting in the new light.
"Don't move," came a voice. "Don't say a word."
Her partner gave a soft curse, then spoke up. "Reynolds,"
with bravado. "I see you decided to . . ."
The cave exploded in sound and light, deafening them. At the sound
of the gunshot, Scully jumped to her feet, screaming her partner's
name. The soldiers let her reach him. Shaken but unharmed, Mulder
indicated the ceiling behind him, where a single small hole marred
the otherwise pristine surface.
"I won't miss next time, agents," Reynolds' voice came
the light blind. Then, he stepped forward out of the shadows.
"That's the only warning you get. I said I wouldn't hesitate,
The agents said nothing. The major clearly had the advantage;
Mulder nor Scully even had any idea of how many soldiers he had
him. Enough, Mulder figured, squinting at the lights, for Reynolds
to make good on his threats.
After instructing them to face the wall, the major cursorily frisked
the two agents, removing their weapons.
"Jackson, head out and radio Command," Reynolds ordered.
to get another team out here." There was a faint 'yes sir'
movement, and then the cave fell into silence again.
"Duan, keep an eye on our FBI guests," Reynolds continued
started pacing the cave. From the wall, both agents watched the
as he took a few steps and then stopped in front of Mulder's still-
recording video camera.
"And get this thing out of my sight," he added, giving
the camera a
It could have been happening in slow motion. Both agents watched
horror as the camera skittered across the stone, heading straight
for the ancient insignia built into the floor.
"Not in the circle!" Mulder cried, turning from the
wall and lunging
desperately for the camera. Had Reynolds not been in the line
fire, those would have been Mulder's last words. As it was, Duan
shouted a warning, and the major came around on Mulder with the
and accuracy of a fighting machine. Intent on the camera, Mulder
no chance. Reynolds caught his arm, and with surprising speed,
Mulder sprawling through the air to land heavily on his back upon
Scully barely had time to turn around before the camera passed
feathered serpent and came to rest inside the circle.
"Dammit I said don't move!" Reynolds barked, as Mulder
soft moan and rolled onto his side.
The flashlight atop the camera flickered and died.
As Reynolds towered over her partner, continuing his tirade, Scully
realized that Mulder was now lying completely inside the circle.
The room gave a soft, electric hum, and Scully screamed.
She wasn't sure what the words were that she screamed. A warning
maybe. Periferally, she was aware of the other soldier, Duan,
moving toward her, but her main focus was on her partner. The
humming grew, gaining intensity until even Reynolds picked up
it and stopped, mid-curse, to glance up at the cave.
There was a breath of terrible stillness, over which the hum rose
a huge, powerful pulse, and then, in a concussive force like gigantic
stones being moved aside, the whole cave shook. Reynolds and Duan
fell to the ground, and Scully dove toward her prone partner.
Mulder felt the earth trembling beneath him, and he tried like
to get enough air into his lungs to breathe. He felt something
onto his shoulder and then his partner was screaming in his ear
pulling him backwards.
". . . out of the circle! Move!"
The fear behind her voice sparked him to action. Ignoring the
searing pain in his lower back, Mulder took a huge, agonizing
breath, and pushed himself toward his partner.
Mulder had barely enough time to turn his head back toward the
when there was a bright flash, overpowering the paltry flashlights
the room. In that split second of intense brightness, he could
only on the patch of stones he had just left. Impossible as it
the stones were moving, swirling like a liquid. But before he
even process that thought, the flash died in the wake of a terrible
crash of thunder, and the cave was plunged into pitch black silence.
He could have blacked out for a minute; it was hard to tell. But
first thing he was aware of was a splitting headache and a slight,
shaking hand fluttering over his face and head. Sound, when it
was muffled and far away.
" . . . okay? Mulder, answer me . . ."
He held up his own hand, fumbling for hers in the darkness. He
surprised to find that his was trembling as badly as hers. When
finally reached her searching fingers, she seized his hand, holding
on as though her life depended on it.
Or maybe he was the one who grasped her hand with such force.
coughed, still unable to hear the whole sound. His only strength
came from that petite, unyielding hand in his own.
"Still here," he finally whispered. She gave his hand
squeeze, and he let his voice fall silent. It hurt to talk anyway.
A light broke through the darkness, illuminating boulders and
shadows, until it finally lit upon the two agents and froze. Mulder
heard, far away, the panicky voice of the other soldier, Jackson.
"Don't move! Hands where I can see them!"
He made no move, but felt his hand rising, still tightly entwined
with that of his partner.
April 21, 2000
Conclusions were the worst, she mused. There were always questions
left unanswered, theories left unproven. And yet, the sheer number
of cases they had seen end this way had conditioned her, if not
accept this frustrating lack of evidence, then at least to give
the proper literary closure. Her conclusions were a mask, formulaic
at best, for want of real answers. She should really just leave
damn thing as open-ended and abrupt as it felt.
But something in that last bare paragraph stirred her. Sighing,
Scully began to type.
"As science gives way to speculation, we are left only with
whose proofs are as elusive as the technology we witnessed, and
must draw fantastic conclusions from fantastic observations. Agent
Mulder's claims of an ancient, advanced civilization are enticing
their philosophical and scientific implications; if our ancestors
possessed this kind of power, what became of them? How did the
Golden Age, if there was such, decline? And what does this imply
for our own future? For if this technology is borne of humankind,
it is either something we lost millennia ago, or something that
have just now begun to discover."
"He's been at that computer all day. He hasn't even eaten
Can you talk to him, dear?"
Clarissa shook her head. She had tried. But despite what her parents
thought, she couldn't unlock her brother's mind. He needed to
to her for her to translate.
"Sites on earth science, geology, astronomy. It can't be
him to tax himself this way."
She looked up at her mother, who had felt so lost at giving birth
to a son she deemed so far from perfect. If Mum could look past
physical, it would truly shock her to discover the power Clarissa
behind Ryan's inquiring eyes. But Mum would never understand.
Clarissa stood up from the table, suddenly tired of her mother's
"He only told me one thing," she snapped, signing shorthand
"'I have an idea.'"
Scully stared at the paragraph for a minute or two, rolling the
around in her head. She thought about reading it aloud and then
decided against it when the basement office door opened. Instead,
she kept typing as her partner entered the room, his hands full
maps and papers.
"If we instead discount these ideas, it must be noted that
in an age
of such unprecedented scientific discovery, we have been cowed
earth itself. And as we turn our eyes toward exploration of the
heavens, we must admit that we have not yet fully explored our
home, or uncovered all of its wonders."
She leaned back from the keyboard and hit 'Save.' Another pile
words that didn't add up to any real closure. She stood up, looking
past her partner's determined gaze to the large map of the Pacific
Ocean he was studying at his desk.
"Mulder, a person could spend their whole life looking for
gate, ley line or no," she offered, coming around her desk
Mutely, Mulder handed her a single piece of paper in answer.
She stared at it, not comprehending. It was a fax; a classified
document labeled top secret under the military jurisdiction of
Force. Presented in a long laundry list, with instructions to
annotations for further descriptions, were notes, items and files
confiscated from the investigation.
"Frohike dug that up for me," Mulder said, keeping his
eyes on the map
in front of him.
Scully scanned the items: two cameras, two voltmeters, medical
records, geological samples, faxes . . . the list went on and
Anything even remotely relevant to the case had been confiscated.
She looked up. "I don't understand."
"It's not what's on there that matters," her partner
Suddenly it hit her. She let out a sigh. "So you want to
hopping for a few years to recover it? It might be damaged, or
inconclusive, or, or anything, Mulder. Is it worth that much?"
Mulder just looked at her. She crossed her arms.
"You're not going to go all 'Mosquito Coast' on me, are you?"
asked, trying to lighten the mood.
It worked. Mulder gave her a wry smile and looked down again,
wistfully, at the ley he had drawn across the Southern Hemisphere,
before finally leaning back from the map.
"We'll see," he said, rolling up the map and tossing
it to his
"File this under 'L', would you?"
Vaitupu Island, Tuvalu
April 21, 2000
The barrow had been deserted for years, ever since the last of
last reigning king's lineage had died out. It had been a bloody
dynasty, and the only thing anyone wanted to do afterward was
The land was too marshy for development, and the water too rocky
fishing boats. As such, it was abandoned to the graves and the
The mound had been closed. No one would ever think to open it.
No one would notice the intricate stonework or the insignia on
floor of the royal tomb. No one would notice the incongruity of
the presence of a muck-covered, dead video camera, property of
Cactus Flats Public Library, lying underneath the Queen's wooden
deathbed. The island community had buried their past in the soft
northern marshes for a reason; they didn't want to exhume it.
A pitiful wail started up, but no one heard. Even the bodies had
long ago lost their ears. In the confines of that dank, dreary
no one would find Major Reynolds, no matter how loud he screamed.
"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
-- Paul Erdos
"I wish I were a nomad, an indian or a saint. The edge of
disappear, and leave me nothing left to taint."
-- Indigo Girls