Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2000
TITLE: Shady Rest
CONTENT: Some violence, MT, UST
SPOILER: Hollywood, A.D.
DISTRIBUTION: Written initially for "I Made This
Productions" Virtual Season 8. You may archive it
now if you want it.
SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully journey to an upstate
NY town to solve a mystery--is a ghost plaguing an
DISCLAIMER: All X-F characters are CC's and
company's; the others are mine.
FEEDBACK: I love it--if helpful or positive.
COMMENTS: Author's notes are at story's end.
Shady Rest (01 of 06)
August 17, 11:50 P.M.
Belcan, New York
A cool wind wafted into the room, blowing the
drapes toward the bed. In his T-shirt and boxers,
Mel Barker shivered, then sighed--the only noise
except for an occasional passing vehicle. Belcan,
New York, was not a place where he would stay by
choice normally, but he was a day early on the
final leg of a cross-country run, and Mel had
decided to splurge, stopping at the Shady Rest to
sleep in a real bed instead of the sleeping berth
of his Crown Industries tractor-trailer.
The Shady Rest, an old, three-story railroad
hotel, had been purchased by a city couple and
remodeled into a bed and breakfast inn. Built over
a hundred and fifty years before, the structure
had housed countless travelers waiting for
next-day trains to take them where planes took
their children's children today. Two floors now
served as a fine place to sleep or to have
Mel sighed once more, tired of the cool breeze. He
lazily rolled his fifty-two year old frame from
the mattress and plodded to the open window. His
truck was parked below, conspicuous in the humble
surroundings. Belcan wasn't much of a town: gas
station, volunteer firemen's hall, mini-mart, post
office, church, ramshackle houses, and a two-lane
highway. He wouldn't live here, but he'd tolerate
Mel's hands paused on the window casing. He could
see lightning flashes reflected in distant, heavy
clouds. The wind's velocity was increasing, and
the storm would probably reach Belcan within
twenty minutes. He inhaled the fresh country air,
glad to smell something besides his truck cab's
stagnant mixture of cigar smoke and Big Macs. But
as another cool gust hit him, he closed the
window, locking it from force of habit. He ran his
hands over the stubble on his chin, let out a loud
belch, and shuffled to the door to check that it,
too, was locked. When satisfied that it was, he
returned to the mattress, turned off the lamp on
the bedside table, and pulled the crisp, white
sheets and puffy comforter over himself.
As Mel's eyes closed, his mind re-ran countless
miles of expressways, of trees zipping by like the
railroad ties beneath a speeding train, of country
music songs blending as if they were all the same
composition. But these finally faded. Mel turned
toward the window, and his mind floated into
dreams of his wife and kids, of bringing their
gifts to them once he returned home.
But the dream ended quickly. Lightning flashed
across the darkened room, and thunder clashed like
a roaring cascade. Mel's eyes flew open. Storms
didn't scare him much, but sleeping through them
was difficult. He tried pulling the covers over
his ears. When that didn't work, he tried the same
with his pillows, but still the thunder's booms
shook him. Finally, he drew his head from beneath
the pillows, deciding to merely try to rest.
But slowly, a chill, like icy trickles of water,
crept up Mel's spine. Someone or something was in
the room. He could sense it. He lay still,
clutching the covers as if they would protect him.
He listened. But no noise--not even the sound of
breath inhaled or exhaled--could be heard. Mel
shivered, waiting anxiously to glimpse the
intruder in the next zing of lightning.
Mel shook. He tried to tell himself that this
couldn't be. The window and door were both locked.
No one could have gotten into his room without a
key, and surely he would have heard such an
entrance. He tried to breathe deeply. Wondered if
he should turn on the light. If he should say
something. Threaten the intruder.
Lightning. Mel's eyes closed instinctively at the
sudden flash. A hard rain suddenly pelted the
window. Clamorous thunder rolled across the sky.
Mel forced his eyes open just before darkness
returned. In that second and in the glow from the
streetlight, he suddenly saw a form before him. A
somewhat human form in white. Mel tried to catch
his breath, to force words from his mouth. But
there was no time.
The form raised its arms. In another lightning
flash, Mel saw the glint of daggers as they
plunged toward him. He felt horror as they
savagely stabbed into his body. He screamed in
terror and agony, but his cries disappeared in the
noise of thunder and rain, and dwindled to weak
groans as the daggers plunged into him
repeatedly...until, finally, Mel Barker took his
X X X
August 25, 2:48 P.M.
Outside Belcan, NY
"Oh, here it is." Dana Scully looked more closely
at the map spread across her lap, and then pointed
with her right forefinger. "We're about a quarter
of an inch from it."
Her partner, Fox Mulder, allowed a brief smile as
he steered the car around a curve. "Quarter of an
inch, huh? What's that in miles, Scully?"
"Hmmmm...about three. We're almost there." She
looked out her window at the vast green landscape
dotted with farms and cornfields. "Wherever
"Western New York state. Rural America. Not every
day that you get to see this."
"No, Mulder. You're right about that."
Her sarcasm was not lost on him. "Fresh air.
People know everyone's names. More relaxed
lifestyles. That's nothing to complain about."
"That's true," Scully agreed. "And I'll bet the
night life is just impossible to beat."
Mulder laughed. "Who needs theaters and nightclubs
when you can have clean air and stars?"
"And smell cows and listen to the corn growing."
"Now, Scully, you've been injured. What better
place to recuperate?"
Her temper flared briefly. "Flesh wounds, Mulder.
Not a big deal. Besides, they're nothing now."
He shook his head. "I'll bet." There was no use
arguing the point. His partner never pampered
herself when injured. "Anyway, you continue that
this-place-is-nowhere attitude, and the locals
won't like you."
Favoring him with a roll of her eyes, she replied
flatly, "Gee, I'll have to change that then."
"Gotta get these people to trust you, or they
won't let you see their ghost."
"Yeah, right. A ghost. Tell me once more, Mulder:
why were you called in on this?"
"Not just me, Scully. You were asked to come,
"Uh-huh. By whom?"
"By Belcan's post mistress. Clarissa McKinnie. The
post office is just across the street from the
Shady Rest, and--"
"Yeah. And she called *us* because...?"
"'Cause she saw--the movie," Mulder confessed
"'The Lazarus Bowl'?" Scully's head went back
against the headrest of their rented Oldsmobile
Intrigue. Her eyes closed. "That damn movie," she
breathed. "If it's the last thing I do, I will go
to Skinner, and I'll--"
"No you won't. Because I'm gonna get him first."
Mulder looked over from the driver's side. His
right hand came off the wheel, and he covered her
left hand, taking her fingers into his own. "This
won't be too bad, Scully. At least we're out of
D.C. for a bit. And the scenery isn't awful."
She squeezed his hand. "No, not if you like lots
and lots of green grass, trees, and fields."
"There are worse things."
"True." She withdrew her hand from his and began
to re-fold the map. "Okay, back to the case." She
straightened an edge that refused to bend. "This
"According to Clarissa, the Shady Rest--"
"Isn't that the name of the old hotel on 'Green
"Right. Really original then."
"Maybe so. The Shady Rest of Belcan certainly
pre-dates 'Petticoat Junction'. And besides,
Scully, if Betty Jo, Billie Jo, and Bobbie Jo are
there, this could be a great trip!"
"They'd be too old for you, wouldn't they?"
Her partner considered this. "Spoilsport."
Scully smiled. "Anyway..."
"Anyway, according to Clarissa McKinnie, the Shady
Rest has been around since the mid 1800s, and it
is known for having a ghost. In 1923, a railroad
conductor, one Cecil Miller, was murdered in the
hotel. He was supposed to ride a 2:00 A.M. train,
and when he didn't, the hotel owner called at his
room and found him dead. The murder was never
solved, and the townspeople claim that Cecil's
ghost has haunted the hotel ever since. However,
now the ghost seems to be murdering guests. Three
of them--the latest, Mel Barker of Burlington,
Vermont, just eight days ago."
"That's quite a story," Scully mused. "I'm shaking
in my high heels as you tell it."
"It's all true, Scully, I swear."
"And you really believe this murderer's a ghost?"
"We'll find out."
The car broke over a hill, and they could see a
flashing red traffic light about a half mile
before them. Several houses seemed grouped around
the light, and above them rose a three-story
"Belcan?" Scully's voice betrayed her disdain.
"Yep. I told you it was a little town."
"*Little*? Mulder, I--*this* is a town?"
"I believe they actually call it a hamlet."
"To-be-or-not-to-be a town? If this place were any
smaller, I'd miss it if I blinked."
Her partner smiled as he braked for the light.
"Then don't blink, Scully."
X X X
"Oh! It's you!" Clarissa McKinnie quickly dropped
the pile of letters she was sorting and came to
the post office's counter. Her brown eyes roamed
over the FBI agents, shortly dispensing with
Scully and lingering on Mulder.
"You're Clarissa?" Mulder observed that the post
mistress was 5' 6", well-endowed, dark-haired, and
in her forties, and she possessed an amazingly
beautiful face. And as Scully's shoe hit his
ankle, he stopped staring and commented, "It's
hard to tell how someone looks from email."
McKinnie waved a flirtatious hand at him, silver
bracelets clinking on her arm. "Isn't it? You're
much better looking than Garry Shandling."
Scully cleared her throat. "You two met via
"Clarissa--um, Mrs. McKinnie--called me first,
Scully. We decided to correspond through email
because it's cheaper."
"Yes, Agent Scully. And email is better. You get
to know people through what they write. I saw 'The
Lazarus Bowl', and I knew immediately that you two
would like the story of the Shady Rest. And
corresponding with Fox showed me that I was
"I see." Scully looked up at her partner, her
eyebrow raised and lips set in a flat line. "Mrs.
McKinnie, what does local law enforcement think of
this ghost idea?"
"Who knows? Local law enforcement consists of the
County Sheriff in Ridgemont, and the New York
State Police who are forty miles from here in
Wellston. There's a Troopers' satellite station
down the road a bit, but they don't do anything
without the main base's permission. The Troopers
turned the case over to The Bureau of Criminal
Investigation, but they're in another county, and
bigger cases take priority over ours. They did
investigate the murders but couldn't find any
motive--no robbery, no signs that anyone in town
knew the murdered guests. And they found no
fingerprints, hairs, or fibers. Not even
footprints. Doors and windows were locked from the
inside. And we haven't heard anything from BCI as
to their conclusions." Clarissa rubbed her hands
together. "The plot thickens, eh?"
Scully was unimpressed. "That's easy enough to
explain. The owners must have a master key to each
room. Are the owners under suspicion?"
The post mistress shook her head. "You'd have to
ask the Troopers for sure, but I don't think so.
Bruce and Sheila Morgan are fairly nice people.
And they were visiting friends the nights the
murders were committed. So they had an alibi."
"How long have the Morgans had the Shady Rest?"
Mulder asked, leaning his elbow on the counter.
"They started it up again last year in October."
"Started it again?"
Clarissa leaned on the counter, too. "Well, it had
been out of business since the early 60s.
Passenger trains weren't that common around here
then, and any real businesses in the area were all
either shutting down or moving to Buffalo or
Rochester. So the old hotel wasn't making money.
Train usage through here was finished by the 70s;
the tracks were even taken out shortly after
"And the hotel?" Scully persisted.
"Continued to rot away, basically. The Morgans are
city folks, and they wanted to start a business in
the country. Two years ago they came out here for
our Indian Summer Festival--that's in October--saw
the Shady Rest, and decided it was their new
project. They renovated and opened it as a bed and
breakfast last October. There's also a craft shop
on the first floor. Sheila makes things, or does
consignment for the area's other craft people."
"Why hadn't this *ghost* bothered the town before
January?" Scully wondered. "Where was it
throughout the past four decades?"
"You see, no one went into the hotel in all that
time," Clarissa explained. "There was no reason
to. The place was falling down; the windows were
boarded up. We figure ol' Cecil was happy in there
by himself--and then when the Morgans came, he
went berserk. He obviously didn't want to share
his living quarters. But why he waited from
October to January to be violent is beyond me."
"He'd never killed anyone before?" Mulder asked.
"Nope. From the time he was murdered till the last
guest stayed there in the 60s, Cecil only rattled
windows or moved things around in the rooms. Made
some noises--opened cupboards or closets in the
middle of the night. But never violent."
Scully nodded and extended her hand. "It was nice
to meet you, Mrs. McKinnie. I think we've got all
the information we need for now."
"Nice to meet you, too, Agent Scully. I can't
believe I'm meeting the real people behind those
great agents in the film. Tell me, how are things
with you and that handsome boss of yours?"
Scully shot a quick look at her partner. "There
are some things on film that aren't true in life."
Clarissa smiled knowingly. "I'm sure." She took
her hand from Scully's and stretched it out toward
Mulder. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Fox."
"Pleasure's all mine," he told her. "And thanks
for the heads-up on this case."
"Don't mention it. Hey, I live in the apartment
over-head. I hope you might stop by while you're
here. I suppose I'm being selfish, but can I
expect to see you again?"
"You just never know," Scully replied, using her
hand to turn her partner toward the door.
X X X
End (01 of 06)
Shady Rest (02 of 06)
The Shady Rest Bed And Breakfast Inn loomed like a
skyscraper as Mulder and Scully left the Post
Office. Directly across the road, the old hotel
was framed nicely by huge maple trees whose
multitudinous leaves were already beginning their
change to the rich reds and golds of autumn.
The Inn had received its renovations well. Painted
white, and its windows trimmed in navy blue and
matching shutters, it stood out in the small
hamlet like a human among zombies. The FBI agents
stared at it as they waited for several vehicles
to pass on the fairly busy road.
"I'll bet the Shady Rest once had balconies or
outside walkways," Mulder observed.
"You could ask Clarissa."
He laughed and shook his head. "I want to live to
"I knew you'd think so." He donned his sunglasses.
"You know, Mulder, I think you're on the internet
entirely too much. What did you do--advertise
yourself in cyberspace after that film came out?
'Step right this way, folks. Have the *real* Fox
Mulder solve all your paranormal problems'? Even
before that. All these women you meet through
email. It's scary, Mulder."
"You're just jealous."
"Of the fact that even via modems, women can't get
enough of me."
Scully coughed, hiding a laugh behind her hand.
"Guess I'll find a man on the 'net for me."
"Don't bother." His hand went to the small of her
back, guiding her into the street so they could
quickly cross. His hand then moved to her waist
and gave it a slight squeeze. "Anyone who saw *The
Lazarus Bowl* knows you have your guy. Assistant
Director Walter Skinner." He quickly sidestepped
her vengeful swipe, then jogged to the Shady
Rest's front door and opened it for her.
Scully's expression showed she was desperately
trying to suppress her own smile as she walked
past him. "You wait, Mulder. I'll get you for
Inside, a large registration counter was the focal
point. It's polished oak grain and floral carvings
were from a time of proud craftsmanship. A petite
woman sitting behind the counter, looked up from a
ledger on which she'd been writing. Thin, wiry,
and blond, she nervously said, "Welcome to the
Shady Rest. Can I help you?"
Mulder pulled his I.D. from inside his suitcoat.
"Sheila Morgan?" When she nodded, he continued.
"We're Agents Mulder and Scully of the FBI. We
heard about some problems here, and we'd like to
"FBI?" The woman's expression contorted into a
grimace, then quickly returned to forced
politeness. "Are you based in Buffalo? Did the
State Troopers call you in?"
"No, Ma'am." Mulder noticed the wariness in her
eyes. "We're from Washington, D.C. One of your
neighbors contacted me about the murders."
"'One of my neighbors...'? Who?"
"I don't think it's necessary to tell--"
"Clarissa McKinnie, right? I recognize your names
now. She's been talking about that film since she
saw it. I wish she'd mind her own damn business."
"Apparently she felt the mystery needs to be
solved." Mulder ran a finger along the polished
oak counter-top. "Murder in a small town is
everybody's business, isn't it?"
"Everything in a small town is everyone's
business. That's one thing I hate about small
towns. At least a city allows people to be
"Why would you want to be anonymous?" Scully asked
her. "Do you have something to hide?"
"Me? No, of course not. But I hate this community
knowing every time I breathe. Try living here a
few days; you'll find out exactly what I mean."
"Is your husband here?" Mulder interrupted,
changing the subject before Scully could launch
into her own criticisms of small towns.
The woman hesitated, unprepared for the abrupt
switch. "No. Bruce has gone to Buffalo today to
get some supplies."
"Long drive. We just came from the airport,"
Mulder told her.
"Not that long. Hour and a half. If you live out
here, you come to expect long drives if you want
to get anywhere."
"I suppose you would. You're from Buffalo
"Yes, and a few dozen other places. We've lived in
Syracuse, Albany, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, the
"Why so many?" Scully asked.
"Why not?" Sheila Morgan flipped a strand of her
long, blond hair behind her shoulder. "We don't
like to stay in one place long. It gets boring."
"Then why did you come out here? It's a bit
different than your previous experience. And
Belcan's atmosphere doesn't strike me as
exciting," Scully told her. "I'm sure that for
whatever it must have cost to re-do this place,
you could have remodeled another or even built a
new inn near a city."
Sheila pursed her lips, ready to argue, but then
she sighed. "It was Bruce's idea. He was sick of
city living. Said he wanted fresh air and a slower
lifestyle. We came out here a few years ago to one
of their craft fairs; he fell in love with it."
Scully folded her arms. "You didn't?"
Sheila shrugged. "Where Bruce goes, I follow. It
could be worse. I get along."
"Or at least you did until the ghost showed up..."
"That ghost," Sheila muttered, her eyes cast down.
"I thought it was all myth until I heard it."
"Care to tell us more about that?" Scully asked.
Mrs. Morgan favored her skeptically. "Bruce and I
were in bed one night, and we--just heard him.
Doors closing, pots and pans rattling, footsteps
in the hallway. And we were the only ones here at
the time. No guests. Doors locked. It was awful.
But Bruce said I'd get used to it, and I did.
Until the murders..."
"Mrs. McKinnie says that you both had an alibi for
each night of the murders; is that correct?"
"Y-yes. We went out with friends to eat in
Wellston. It's the *only* town in the county that
has anything to do. We went to a restaurant, and
afterward, we went to the movies. Each of those
nights, we didn't get home till around 2:30 A.M."
"Long movies," Scully commented.
"The movies ended around 11:30," Sheila sneered,
"and we went for ice cream afterward. And then
back to their home to talk. The police have
checked all this out; you can contact them.
Waiters and waitresses confirmed our being there,
as did our credit card receipts. Besides, you
think we'd jeopardize our own business? You think
we'd kill our own guests?" Her hard stare at
Scully was a mixture of resentment and pain.
"Well, someone wants to kill your guests."
"It's not us; I assure you."
"Have the police suggested shutting down the
hotel?" Mulder asked.
"Yes. But Bruce wouldn't hear of it. We've no
proof that it's not someone in the community who's
just jealous that we're making money. No one else
in this town has a cent. And the inn was empty for
nearly forty years; maybe someone had a secret way
"And you think these townspeople are coming in now
to--what?--frame you?" Scully asked.
"That would get rid of us, wouldn't it?"
"You think they want to get rid of you?"
"It wouldn't surprise me. They're not happy to
have city folk among them. They're all right to
our faces, but we've heard talk of how we don't
fit in. And now, they're taking advantage of the
fact that the ghost lives here, and they're
exploiting him--and us."
"But you've no proof of that," Scully observed.
Sheila's shrug was confirmation.
"Could we see the inn?" Mulder asked.
"You gonna stay overnight here?"
"We don't usually stay in a spot we're
"Then you got a warrant?"
Mulder sighed. "Mrs. Morgan, parts of this hotel
have been a crime scene. And Agent Scully and I
*are* from the FBI. If there's nothing to
incriminate you here, then why would we need a
warrant? We want to see where the murders were
committed to get a better idea of who--or what--
might be responsible."
Sheila bit off a remaining piece of nail from her
forefinger. Mulder noticed that she'd chewed all
her nails to beneath her fingertips.
"You can accompany us to the rooms," Scully
Sheila snorted sarcastically and eyed Scully with
disdain. "And leave the front desk?"
Mulder glanced at the large, oaken lobby and its
plush, maroon carpet. To the right were stairs and
a door that opened into a small, abundantly
stocked craft shop. He could see stuffed ghosts,
and T-shirts, placemats, and post cards printed
with the Shady Rest's logo or photo. To his left
was a door to a nicely furnished dining room. But
the inn seemed empty of other customers.
"Mrs. Morgan, certainly if a customer was to come
in, you'd be able to hear him?" Mulder asked.
Sheila looked at her watch. "Well, it's nearly
4:30. People may start arriving any minute now."
"Are you afraid to go up there?" Scully asked.
"Are you afraid you'll see the ghost yourself?"
Sheila stiffened. "Of course not." She looked at
both agents and then reached below the counter for
a set of keys. "Fine. But I want you to leave
if...well, if I say you should. Otherwise, I'll
call 9-1-1, and the Troopers will move you out."
"Okay." Mulder tossed a glance at Scully as he
followed Sheila to the stairs. His partner's gaze
showed him she felt as he did about their hostess.
"All three murders were committed on the second
floor," Sheila said over her shoulder. "Bruce and
I keep the third floor for ourselves, and you're
not going up there without a warrant."
"Mrs. Morgan," Scully asked, taking the steps
carefully, "what's on the first floor other than
the lobby and craft shop?"
"The dining room, obviously. And the kitchen. Our
"And the second floor is strictly rooms for rent?"
"Is there a basement as well?"
"Of course. But it's a mess. Bruce and I plan to
clean it out someday; the inn takes priority."
Sheila reached the first landing of the wide
staircase. "Originally, there were twelve rooms on
the second floor, three on each wall. Bruce and I
had the four middle rooms re-done to serve as
bathrooms for the rooms that bordered them. So in
other words, now just eight rooms are available to
Mulder pulled at his lower lip with his thumb and
forefinger. "Must have been quite a bill in an old
place like this."
Sheila nodded, allowing a small smile at what she
perceived to be his appreciation. "Sure was."
"May I ask what you and your husband have done
throughout your careers?" Scully asked.
Suddenly, Sheila's pride disappeared. She turned,
her gaze darting from one FBI agent to the other.
"Wh-What do you mean?"
"What work did you do? How could you afford the
money to re-model this place so extensively?"
Sheila resumed her climb, her plaid skirt swishing
about her calves. "We've always run motels. But we
did *this* with an inheritance," she murmured. "A
long lost relative died."
Behind her, Mulder and Scully once again exchanged
looks, and he gestured for her to precede him.
"You can't believe this ghost story, Mulder,"
Scully whispered as she passed him. "Nothing
ghostly is happening here. I *do* think there's
something shady about the Shady Rest, though. And
it's not just the trees." She turned before she
saw her partner nod his agreement.
X X X
Room 25 overlooked the main part of Belcan, NY.
Mulder stood at the window, holding back maroon
drapes and seeing Mel Barker's rig parked on an
unmown lawn about a block away. He could read the
"Crown Industries" lettering and see its logo on
the side of the long trailer. The clipping
Clarissa McKinnie had sent him reported that
Barker had suffered over twenty-five stab wounds
to his body--ten of which could have been fatal.
Poor Mel had come across the country on a hectic
run to be murdered in a tiny hamlet. It struck
Mulder that someone working for a company called
"Crown" deserved a more regal end.
Scully and Sheila Morgan continued to talk about
position of the body and other details, but Mulder
ignored them. Barker's room had, of course, been
cleaned, and for all Mulder knew, the Morgans may
have rented it since Mel's death. But he absorbed
the room around him anyway. Fake oak paneling
covered two of the inner walls, and cream
wallpaper with tiny maroon flowers adorned the
outer wall. The room was fairly large and square,
and its fourth side held a built-in closet and the
The bathroom was fairly spacious, and the floor
was white tile linoleum. Mulder carefully leaned
across the set-in bathtub, expertly running his
hands around the tile walls. Feeling no breaks--no
way for any of the tiles to be easily removed and
then replaced--he opened a narrow linen closet,
finding it well-stocked with clean towels,
washcloths, and sample toiletries. The ceiling,
done in white wallpaper, also held no breaks.
Mulder left the bathroom, finding that Scully and
Sheila had exited the room and were discussing the
other rooms in which murders had occurred. He
ignored their conversation once more and turned to
the built-in closet, opening its two doors. He
pulled a flashlight from his pocket and began to
inspect its inner walls.
X X X
"The other murders occurred in Rooms 26 and 28,"
Sheila was saying. "Those rooms don't look any
different than 25."
"And what was the manner of death for each
murder?" Scully stopped outside 26 which was on
the same wall as 25. She placed her hands on her
hips. "Were both of the other victims stabbed to
"No." Sheila's jaw set. "Look, why don't you and
your partner go to Wellston and talk to the
Troopers? Or go to the county seat and talk to the
Sheriff? You could get their reports, and I could
get back to work."
"We'll probably do that. But surely you could tell
me how the others were killed."
Mrs. Morgan sighed heavily. "The first one was
beaten to death, and the other was strangled."
"And the police have no motives--"
"Nope. The first guy was a private detective--his
name was J.J. Austin--and the cops thought maybe
the murderer was whoever he was looking into. But
nobody in this community had hired the guy or was
being investigated by him. The second man was an
arrogant creep--a salesman. His name was Byrd. I
doubt that anyone even misses him."
"I'd like to see the other rooms, please." Mulder
surprised them as he exited Room 25.
"They look just alike--"
"I want to see them." He saw Sheila Morgan cower
at his tone, and he followed as she inserted a key
into the lock of Room 26.
Just then they heard the inn's main door open.
"Oh! I have to go--there's a customer..." Sheila
looked torn between whether to stay with the
agents or to return to her duties.
"Go ahead. I just want a look," Mulder told her.
"I'd rather you wouldn't while I'm not here--"
"Then consider this room--and number 25--taken for
the night. Agent Scully and I *will* be staying."
Sheila nodded uncomfortably. She quickly glanced
inside the room and then nervously scurried past
the agents and down the stairs.
"When did you decide this, Mulder?" Scully asked.
"I don't think we have a choice, Scully. We *have*
to see this ghost ourselves, don't you think?"
"You know what happened the last time we saw
"Or thought we did."
She smiled and shook her head. "You know, Sheila
Morgan isn't going to win any Miss Congeniality
awards. I can't tell if she's just scared or
hiding something. Either way, I think she knows a
lot more than she's saying."
Mulder had already entered the room. "I think she
could tell us lots of things, Scully. But I'd
rather have that conversation with her husband.
C'mere. I want to show you something."
X X X
End (02 of 06)
Shady Rest (03 of 06)
August 25, 8:50 P.M.
Near the Shady Rest
"Chips, please." Scully was propped on her elbow
on the gravel shore of the Genesee River. Before
her, an unfolded newspaper lay beneath a can of
iced tea and a styrofoam plate holding half of a
turkey sub. A little beyond her reach were several
file folders, papers sticking past their edges.
Mulder passed her the bag of potato chips with one
hand while holding his own sandwich to his mouth.
He had another file folder balanced on one knee.
He sat on the shore, dressed in jeans and a
sweatshirt, feeling too warm on this mild August
night. His gaze wandered over Scully's legs--which
stretched from beige shorts. He could see the
bandage covering the flesh wound she'd received
during a previous case. And he smiled at the
"Shady Rest: The Haunted Inn" T-shirt he'd bought
and insisted that she wear for the evening. On it,
the image of a cartoon ghost rose amicably past a
sketch of the Shady Rest.
Pinks and oranges of the sunset reflected in the
rippling river. Mulder stared at the sight while
he finished his iced tea, then took another can
from the plastic ring of the six-pack.
"Want another one, Scully?"
"Not yet, thanks." She munched a chip and then
looked up at her partner. In the dusk's tones, he
appeared more tan and younger. But the look she
knew so well was in his eyes. Mulder was on the
hunt; nothing excited him more than a new case.
"So what do you think?" he asked her, indicating
the file folders with the hand that held his
"I think you did a lot of research before we got
here. I think you called people all over this
state without letting me know you were onto
something. I think you've been in contact with the
New York State Troopers for weeks, maybe months."
"And you're not disagreeing with me? I'm turned on
by that, Scully."
She nodded. "I think you have this case solved,
and I really don't know why we're here, Mulder."
He grinned. "You wanna know why we *really* came?"
"Other than to meet Clarissa?"
"Yeah, other than that." He swallowed a bite of
sandwich. "I knew it was the only way you'd rest.
I thought we'd have fun and get a little R & R."
"What rest will I get if what you have planned for
tonight takes place?"
"I wasn't necessarily anticipating that."
"I'm still not so sure we should do *that* without
a warrant anyway. But then, since when have you
played by the rules?"
Mulder sobered. "Since playing by the rules got
someone killed." When he noticed that he'd caused
his partner to sober, too, he grabbed the bag of
chips from her. "Enough of these, G-Woman. You'll
lose your great figure."
"Since when have you worried about my 'great'
"Since about twenty minutes ago when you began
devouring these *and* a turkey sub."
"Thanks for your concern."
Scully stretched her free arm toward the sky, a
yawn escaping her lips. "It's pleasant here. Too
bad we can't go for a swim."
"Would be nice. But I that water's not clean. You
don't need some infection in those wounds."
Scully sat up. "Forget about my wounds, would you,
please? I've had far worse."
He nodded as he finished his sandwich. He noticed
that Scully was done with hers, too. "You think
Bruce Morgan might be back from Buffalo yet?"
"Probably." She looked toward Belcan, only two
blocks away. She could see the Shady Rest's roof
from her seat on the gravel. "Meeting him will be
"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it." He stood,
drinking the last sip from his newly opened can of
tea, and tucking garbage into the grocery bag in
which their purchases had been packed. Then he
extended a hand and pulled Scully to her feet. He
intertwined his fingers with hers as they bade a
silent good night to the softly rippling river
bathed in sunset hues.
X X X
"Agents Mulder and Scully, I presume."
The man who approached them as they entered the
Shady Rest's well-lit lobby, was tall, balding,
and chubby. He stretched out a hand to Scully and
smiled. In his mid-forties, he displayed none of
his wife's nervousness, and his handshake was
nearly bone-crushing. Scully tried to read his
eyes, but they had already focused on Mulder.
"Bruce Morgan?" Mulder stated more than asked.
"One and the same, sir. It's nice to meet you
both. My wife tells me that someone in the
neighborhood aroused your suspicions about our
establishment. I'm more than happy to cooperate if
there's anything you'd like to know."
"Actually, there's quite a bit we'd like to know,"
Morgan gestured to a maroon couch and chair that
were off to the lobby's side. As the agents moved
toward the seats, another man who'd been reading a
newspaper there rose, folding the paper and
tucking it beneath his arm.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Allen. I didn't realize you were
here," Morgan said, his voice full and loud.
"Um...that's quite all right," Mr. Allen replied
softly. He was short, in his 60s, and scrawny.
Dressed in a black business suit, his thinning,
white hair neatly combed, he bit his lower lip and
shuffled past the Shady Rest's big owner.
"Mr. Allen's our only other guest tonight," Morgan
told Mulder and Scully. "And Mr. Allen, these are
FBI agents from Washington, D.C."
Allen's head lifted as the introductions were
made. Scully stifled a gasp as she saw a deep scar
lining the right side of the man's face--the
result of an injury obviously suffered long ago.
His right eye was covered by a milky blue film.
She shook his hand, muttering, "Nice to meet you."
Mulder was saying the same, and if he was shocked
by the scarring, he didn't show it.
"Nice to meet you as well. I assume you're just
passing through?" the little man asked.
"Well..." Scully looked at Morgan whose face
nearly pleaded with her not to mention the
murders. "Our visit is work-related."
"Oh." Mr. Allen was unimpressed. He turned to his
host. "My bags?"
"Yes, sir, you'll find them and extra towels in
"Very good. A pleasant evening to all," Allen
murmured as he slowly headed up the stairs.
Morgan chuckled. "Strange man--the type I need to
see after a trip to Buffalo."
"Yes, Buffalo," Scully said, "that's one thing
we'd like to talk to you about. May I ask, for
instance, what supplies you need to travel so far
Morgan gestured for her to sit on the couch.
"Sheila needs various things for her crafts." He
sat in the chair facing the couch, and continued
after Mulder sat across from him. "And we get
paper goods in bulk from a warehouse supplier.
Much less expensive than most places around here.
And once a month I go there to stock up. Today was
my 'once a month' day."
"Must be a good supplier. Our research shows that
you've journeyed to Buffalo once a month for
several years--from all over the state. Do you go
"A friend goes with me," Morgan replied, an
Mulder nodded. "Mr. Morgan, if I may, I'd like to
ask you a few questions about the Shady Rest and
Morgan's smile remained on his lips. "Of course.
Anything I can do to help the FBI."
"And to solve the murders, I would assume," Scully
"Oh, absolutely. Of course."
"Mr. Morgan," Mulder started, "the murders took
place in three different rooms--"
"Yes. When the first one occurred in Room 28, we
decided that we wouldn't rent it out to guests
again. But then in April, the guest was killed in
26, and then just a week or so ago, the murder
happened in 25."
"You've no theory on these murders, sir?"
Morgan shrugged, his hands raised to shoulder
level. "The ghost. That's the only way I can
explain it. Sheila and I were away--"
"Yes, we've already heard about that," Scully
replied. "What about your friend, Mr. Morgan? Does
he have a key to the Shady Rest?"
"Friend? Oh--no, he doesn't. Nor does our help.
Sheila and I both have a key. That's it."
"And what time do you lock the doors?" Mulder
"Usually at 10:00 P.M. We ask all our guests to be
in by that time. We stay in the lobby until 11:00,
though, just in case someone's late."
"Have any of your guests ever brought other people
in--maybe that you didn't okay?" Scully asked.
"No. Most of our customers are truck drivers or
salesmen who just want to stay overnight. There
aren't many motels in the area, and this is a
major route to Buffalo from this county. Most of
the time, a person passing through will stop and
be gone the next morning." Morgan shifted his
shoulders. "Of course, we hope that they'll pass
on word of the Shady Rest, and that soon we will
have vacationers staying with us."
"For what?" Scully wanted to know. "What's around
"A state park, colleges, and universities. The
area is rich in Indian history; it was a stop on
the Underground Railroad. And, of course, until
ol' Cecil started killing people, we were hoping
to appeal to the more--how should I say it?--
mystical vacationers. People who'd want to stay in
a haunted hotel."
"You don't think shutting the place down till 'ol'
Cecil' is exorcised is a good idea?" Scully asked.
"No," Morgan returned seriously. "It's our bread
and butter, Agent Scully. Rebuilding this place
wasn't cheap, and running it isn't cheap either.
We can't take a loss because some ghost comes out
of the woodwork."
"Who are your other employees?"
Morgan smoothed a crease in his navy blue slacks.
"We've three women who work here during the day.
Heather Pearce is our waitress. She's only part
time. Laura Kiefer is our cook--again, only
morning help. And Cynthia Katz. She spends a lot
of time on the floor." He chuckled as if this
might be a private joke. "She's our full-time
maid. We have her clean every room daily, whether
it was rented or not."
"You wouldn't suspect any of them?"
"Agent Scully, you've seen this town. How many
employment possibilities are there? These fine
ladies are grateful for their jobs."
"Okay." Scully looked toward her partner.
"I don't believe I caught your friend's name,"
Mulder said, meeting her gaze, and prompting
Morgan. "The one who accompanies you to Buffalo."
"Does it matter?" Morgan shrugged. "He lives
nearby. We call him Lenny. I've known him...
um...since we've been here. He wouldn't have any
grudges against us, I'm sure."
"Mr. Morgan, I've checked into your history
somewhat," Mulder said, placing the file folders
on the coffee table that separated him and Scully
from their host. "Your inheritance--which your
wife told us about this afternoon--actually came
upon the death of your younger brother."
Morgan's head tipped toward his lap. He brought a
hand up to shield his eyes. "Yes."
"He died in a fire?"
"A theater fire, yes. In Poughkeepsie--a regional
theater. He was trying to save the director--
that's what the investigators decided." He took a
deep breath. "This is not easy to talk about."
"Your brother's name was Charles?"
"Charlie. Charles, of course. Yes."
"He had quite a past," Mulder observed. He opened
one of the folders. Shuffling a few papers to the
front, he read, then commented, "Charlie lived in
New York City for several years. Started as a
stage hand and worked up to acting. Says here that
he was one of the main stars of an Off-Broadway
actors' group--the Academy Arts Theater Company on
"Yes, the AATC. Those were his best years." Morgan
looked up, his eyes dry.
"He quit in--"
"Yes, he quit. Acting doesn't pay many bills,
especially in the City. Even back then--in the
70s--apartment rent was sky-high. He came upstate.
My parents and us--we lived in Syracuse then. He
got a teaching job at a high school--English lit.
and drama. He was excellent at it."
"But he quit that, too--after four years?" Mulder
"It wasn't the same for him. He lived to act."
"And then there seems to have been some sort of
Morgan sat up straighter in his chair. "Where are
you getting all this information from?" His voice
became less friendly.
Mulder shrugged. "Police record. Some other
government documents. Phone calls here and there."
Morgan leaned forward. "How long have you been
"Does it matter?"
Morgan took a deep breath. As he exhaled, he said,
"My brother had a nervous breakdown. He became a
recluse as he underwent therapy."
"And tried to act again--"
"And assaulted a director in a podunk town--for
which he was arrested and fined. Yes, I know these
"Assaulted him--and then later tried to save him
in that fire?" Mulder asked.
Morgan stood, turned his back on them, and thrust
his hands into his pants pockets. His body seemed
to shudder. "Agents, my brother is dead. He's been
dead since 1992. What does any of this have to do
with the murders at the Shady Rest?"
"You're right." Mulder also stood. "Sorry. Just
got carried away. Your brother's history
fascinated me; such a great talent laid to waste."
Morgan nodded. "Well, tomorrow we can talk again."
"Count on it," Mulder replied. "Scully? Ready?"
"Yes. Good night, Mr. Morgan. And thank you."
"If we can find some way to get rid of Cecil, I'm
willing to help you all I can." Morgan looked at
his watch and moved behind the registration desk.
"It's late. See you in the morning. Breakfast
starts at 8:00."
Mulder waited for Scully to take the stairs ahead
of him so that her ear would be near his lips as
he whispered, "And off we go to a shady rest,
X X X
End (03 of 06)
Shady Rest (04 of 06)
August 26, 3:10 A.M.
Room 25, Shady Rest
"Sorry, Mulder. The alarm clock is slow."
"Always an excuse, Scully. You *did* sleep?"
"Of course. You didn't?" She stepped from the dim
hallway and watched her partner as he closed the
door behind her.
"Nah. I had to stay awake in case 'ol' Cecil' came
"Yeah, that's what Cecil's planning." She sat on
Mulder's bed. "So have you heard *the ghost*?"
Mulder smiled. "Yeah, as a matter of fact."
"Really? I didn't think he'd be around tonight."
"Footsteps in the hallway. I opened the door, but
saw nothing. A few minutes later, this light--" he
indicated the bedstand's lamp, "--flashed on and
off and then back on. I even heard a few doors
open and close. But not yours, Scully, so I wasn't
"You're kidding, right?" She looked closely at
him, failing to find his usual smirk.
"No, I'm really not joking. And I can't explain
it. Was it a ghost? Or just someone trying to make
it seem like one? That's for them to know and for
us to find out."
Scully noticeably shuddered. "Okay, now I *am*
shaking in my high heels. Dark building where
murders have been committed. Ghostly noises at
night. Mulder, you must have been a hoot at Boy
"I was an Indian Guide, Scully."
"Shhhh!!" Mulder suddenly stopped her, his finger
to his lips. "Hear that?"
Scully's eyes widened. "What?"
"Nothing. Made you listen, though," he laughed.
"Mulder, sometimes I really hate you." She stood
and started toward his closet.
"You're not really wearing high heels, are you,
Scully?" He leaned over to look at her feet
beneath her black slacks.
"You're always concerned about the most important
details," she replied. "Actually, I'm wearing very
"Good. But they make you a lot shorter."
"Keep it up, Mulder, and I'll point ol' Cecil to
"Shhh!!" Again, his finger went to his lips.
Because of the look on her partner's face, Scully
listened. Unmistakingly, there were footsteps on
the stairs. Slow. Deliberate. Footsteps. "Mulder,"
she whispered quickly, "let me look." She started
to the door.
"No, Scully, if that's him, then now's our time to
get moving. C'mon." He led her back to the closet
which he opened noiselessly. "Got your
"Of course." She shone it for him as he began to
remove a piece of paneling from the back wall. "I
still don't know how the police could have missed
this. They couldn't have looked too closely."
"Three murders--they should have scoured the
place." Mulder reached behind the paneling to
dislodge a stay. "But then we wouldn't have been
able to come to Belcan."
"True. And what a miss that would have been."
With a slight click, the paneling came away from
the wall, revealing a dark opening. A musty smell
greeted their noses, and when Scully shone the
flashlight into the blackness, they saw a landing
between rooms 25 and 26, and a shaft into which a
"I always thought walking through walls was easy
for ghosts, but Cecil must do things the hard
way," Mulder observed.
"Cecil or someone who wants ghosts to seem real."
"I'll go first." Mulder used his own flashlight
and guided its beam over the floor of the cavern.
"It's spotless. No footprints in dust. Heck, no
"Cecil's a clean ghost."
"Yeah, right." Mulder moved into the hidden room
and trained his flashlight on the area below.
"This shaft goes all the way to the basement. But
there are two ladders. One must stop at the first
floor. Must be an opening into the gift shop."
"Mulder! I hear footsteps." Scully motioned him
back into his room. "Hurry!"
He joined her, and they quickly put the paneling
back over the hole, then stood quietly.
"Agent Mulder?" The voice in the hallway was
hushed and easily recognizable.
Mulder looked at Scully who was staring at him
quizzically. He left the closet, closing the doors
softly, and leaving her behind them. He opened the
door of his room. "Mrs. Morgan?"
Sheila wore a full-length, white terry-cloth robe
which dwarfed her. The lit candle she carried sent
eerie shadows over her face.
"I saw your light," she murmured. "I wanted to
sure you were--all right."
"Afraid the ghost may have gotten me?"
"Afraid that maybe you were afraid to sleep," she
replied. "We sell over-the-counter sleeping pills
in the gift shop."
He shook his head. "No, I'm fine, thanks. Just
going over some files."
"You're a workaholic. And an insomniac."
Mulder was surprised by her suddenly friendly
manner. Apparently, Sheila Morgan wasn't always
the timid yet ornery person she'd seemed in the
afternoon. "I guess you could say that. You're not
much of a sleeper yourself, I take it."
She peered into his room, then focused on him
again. "I don't sleep well. Not since all of this
"All of what? The murders or something else?"
"You're still dressed." She nervously smiled at
him. "I'll let you get back to work. You should
get some sleep, though. Good night." She hurried
to the door that led to the third floor's
stairway, and was out of sight in seconds.
Mulder watched after her, then closed his own
door, wondering about her words. He returned to
the closet. "Did you hear all of that, Scully?"
But when he peered inside, the paneling had again
been removed. And Scully was no longer there.
X X X
Mulder shivered in instant panic. He quickly
entered the hidden room, shining his flashlight
into the ladder shaft. He could see no one, no
glint reflecting off the lovely red silk of
Scully's hair. He tried to calm himself, to think
before doing anything rash. Impulsively rushing
into action wasn't one of his better traits.
He held a deep breath and listened. He heard
footsteps overhead; Sheila Morgan had returned to
Bruce. He wanted Scully to return to him.
He mounted the ladder. The wood was sturdy, its
paint fairly new. He began a slow, quiet descent,
taking one step and then shining the flashlight
below him in case he could see movement.
Scary thoughts flashed through his mind. Of Scully
in the hands of a murderer. Of her being stabbed
repeatedly. Of her being strangled. He'd seen the
results of real violence wreaked on her body and
mind, and such memories haunted him in nightmares
He took his fifth step. Suddenly, a horrendous
boom resounded above him as if something massive
had fallen--a sound distant but thunderous. And it
had definitely happened on the second floor.
For an instant, Mulder wondered whether to
continue his journey or to rush toward the sound.
He couldn't leave Scully, but he couldn't be sure
the boom hadn't involved her. What if something
had been dropped on her? Or she'd been thrown
against a wall or...
He was already stepping off the top rung of the
ladder. Suddenly, he sensed movement. Something
drove into his torso and knocked him into the wall
with a force that sent him to the floor. His side
screamed in pain, and his hands instinctively
pressed against his ribs. Breathing was difficult;
the wind had been knocked out of him. And his
flashlight had been knocked from his hand.
Whatever had hit him was now on top of him. The
weight was not much, but it had him pinned. Not
being able to gasp a breath, he found struggling
against his captor nearly impossible. But he
wriggled--only to receive what he was sure was an
elbow to his jaw. His head flew backwards, hitting
the floor with a crack that sent glittering
pinpoints behind his closed eyelids.
"Federal Agent! Lay still, moron! I'm armed!"
Mulder blinked. He stared up toward the voice. The
hidden room was dark, but he'd left the panel off
the back of his closet. The light from his room
touched a few silken strands of red hair.
"Oh my God--Mulder?"
The weight quickly left his chest, and she tugged
him into a sitting position.
"Mulder, what were you doing? I didn't know that
"Scully, where did you go?" He struggled to take
deep breaths. "I thought--I thought he had you."
"Cell phone, Mulder. While you and Sheila were
chatting, I found I'd left it in my room. Going
through the panels was a lot less obvious."
He shook his head, trying to get what were now
silver streaks to leave his vision. "I was
She touched his shoulder. "Are you all right? Did
I hurt you?"
"Nothing a few weeks in the hospital won't fix."
He shook off her hand, cocking his head toward the
Footsteps were flying down the stairs.
"Where was it?" Bruce Morgan's voice leapt at them
through the walls.
"I don't know!!" Sheila yelled. "Agent Mulder!
Come quickly!! We think there's been another
Mulder started up, discovering that his ribs were
bruised more than he'd thought. He winced with
"You okay, Mulder?" Scully asked.
He muttered a doubtful "yeah" as he ushered her
through the passage. Then, holding his arm against
his aching side, he followed Scully into the now
brightly lit hallway.
X X X
End (04 of 06)
Shady Rest (05 of 06)
August 26, 4:25 A.M.
Room 21, Shady Rest
Mulder's long legs quickly took him across the
foyer to Room 21. He ignored his screaming ribs;
he would deal with them later.
Sheila Morgan stood behind her husband, her hands
clasped over her mouth; her eyes, wide in terror.
Her long, white robe was tied tightly around her
tiny figure, and it swayed against her legs, slow
to calm after her run to this room.
Bruce Morgan struggled with a key, trying to
unlock the door as fast as he could. His hands,
however, shook, and Mulder, his gun in a safe but
ready position, moved to take over.
"Sheila, go back. I don't want you to see it this
time," Morgan said as allowed Mulder to turn the
doorknob to Mr. Allen's room.
"Your husband's right, Mrs. Morgan," Mulder told
her in the calmest voice he could muster. "Go back
to my room and just wait." He turned, forcing her
to meet his gaze. He waited until her terrified
eyes saw him nod, and then she shuffled toward
Room 25, her hands still over her mouth. She
didn't close his room's door.
Mulder aimed as he opened Room 21. "Federal Agent!
I'm armed!" He managed to click on the ceiling
light switch with his elbow.
Seeing no one in the room, Mulder and Scully edged
further inside. Scully quickly moved to the open
closet doors, but the false panel had already been
replaced. She next moved to the bathroom, finding
it empty as well.
"Oh my God. Not again." Bruce Morgan stood behind
them, staring at the center of the room.
Scully and Mulder followed his gaze and eased
their aims. Mr. Allen was nowhere in sight. But
the big double mattress and its boxed springs were
completely off the oak frame of the bed--and
overturned on the floor. But they weren't laying
completely flat; something was beneath them. And
because of the dark, spreading stain on the maroon
carpet, they were quite sure of Mr. Allen's
Mulder and Morgan swiftly lifted the heavy bedding
off the tiny man and back onto the bed's frame.
But it was obvious to all present that they were
too late. Though Scully checked him for vitals,
Mr. Allen had been suffocated and crushed; Mulder
wasn't sure in which order. The dead man's face,
frozen in horror, was splattered with blood. But
his film-covered eye shone through the sticky
crimson liquid like a beacon.
Mulder's mind raced as he turned to his partner.
But a scream interrupted him.
"NO!! Get out of here! We don't want you here
anymore!" Sheila Morgan's voice shrieked from
Mulder's room. Her hysterical cries were suddenly
silenced by a loud slap.
"Sheila?" Mulder yelled. He raced to his room,
forcing his body to stop before he ran over the
Shady Rest's hostess who was on the floor in a
heap, her arms wrapped around her head. "Sheila?
Did he hurt you?"
"I--can't stand it--anymore. I--want him--gone."
"Honey, hush." Morgan knelt at his wife's side,
and his hands went to her shoulders, urging her to
get up. The sobbing woman did so, welcoming the
comforting touch. He guided her to sit on Mulder's
bed, and continued to hold her.
Scully entered and noticed that Sheila's face was
bleeding from a nasty scratch between her
cheekbone and chin. She quickly produced a wet
washcloth and held it to the woman's face. "I
called the police; they're on their way," Scully
told her partner.
"What? No. Please." Morgan looked up from his wife
to the agents. "Don't bring them here."
Mulder met his gaze. "It's Charlie, isn't it?
Charlie isn't dead."
Sheila took over the washcloth. She looked up at
Mulder and slowly nodded.
"Sheila!" her husband protested, his expression
"He lives--in the basement?" Mulder continued.
Again, Sheila nodded. "He was--he was
never--right--again. The nervous breakdown. He
hated that director. The idiot fired Charlie."
"Charlie killed him, didn't he?"
"He strangled him. And he started the fire."
"Be quiet! Don't tell them this!" Morgan pleaded,
his face turning red.
Scully peeled the washcloth away from the scratch
to check on it, then guided the cloth over the cut
again. She ignored Morgan. "But there were two
bodies. Whose was the other?"
"A homeless man. The play was about homeless
people, and Charlie always researched his parts.
The man had no teeth. Neither does Charlie--he got
dentures so he could have a perfect smile."
"The bodies were burned beyond recognition,"
Scully finished for her, "and there was no way to
do a dental I.D."
Sheila nodded again. "We got the inheritance.
Bruce and Charlie had always been close. And Bruce
used some of the money to move us from place to
place, hiding Charlie. That became the prime goal
of our marriage--to hide Charlie."
Morgan rose, trying to intimidate his wife with
his towering presence. "If you don't shut up--"
"Charlie goes to Buffalo with you, doesn't he?"
Mulder asked the irate man.
"Yes. Charlie's psychiatrist is there," Sheila
answered for her husband. "She's put him on
various drug combinations, trying to decrease his
psychosis. But he just gets worse."
"His hallucinations--he thinks he's still acting,
"What? Mulder, what?" Scully looked at him.
"The first murder--that was just paranoia, wasn't
it? J.J. Austin was a private detective who
Charlie thought was looking for him."
Sheila nearly whispered. "Charlie thought he was
Morgan reeled. "I don't believe you're doing this!
"The second murder--Mr. Byrd," Mulder continued,
watching Bruce from the corner of his eye. "He was
strangled in a strange way--with a rope while he
was in bed. In Poughkeepsie, Charlie was in a
production of 'Trifles', Susan Glaspell's play
about a husband strangled in his bed by his
wife--because the guy killed her canary."
Sheila's hands dropped to her lap. "Charlie was so
good in that. He played the Sheriff."
"What about Mel Barker?" Scully prompted her
"Crown Industries. He was stabbed to death in bed.
I'm guessing that's from 'Macbeth'--where Macbeth
kills King Duncan to satisfy his own ambition--and
to become King himself."
"And tonight's murder?"
"The eye," Mulder murmured. "'The Tell-Tale
Scully nodded. "Look, we have to stop Charlie. Is
he in the basement?"
"You won't take my brother," Morgan avowed.
Sheila turned mournful eyes to him, though
speaking to Scully. "He could be anywhere in this
hotel. He has a network of secret passageways.
They date from the Civil War and the Underground
Railroad. That was one of the reasons Bruce chose
this place. He figured Charlie wouldn't get bored.
You can get to them through the closets."
"We've already found those. Does he ever go to the
"No. Because of me. He stopped liking me when he
heard us arguing about moving here. I hated the
idea, but Bruce insisted. And Charlie always sides
with Bruce. Bruce thought that being a ghost by
night would be a perfect job for Charlie. What
better to bring in the tourists than a great actor
playing a ghost? Charlie was wonderful at first,
but then he just--just got into the part too
"Sheila!! Will you shut the hell up?! So help
"Hey," Mulder cautioned, struggling to draw Morgan
to the doorway, "you've no choice but to end this.
You're in enough trouble."
Morgan put his hands on Mulder's shoulders,
impatiently imploring understanding. His voice was
higher-pitched in his hysteria. "Look, my
brother's a good man. And this--can be our secret.
The Troopers will come; we'll say it was the ghost
again. They'll investigate as they always do, find
nothing, and in a few days, this will all wash
over. I promise I'll take Charlie away somewhere.
Please, don't do this."
"I can't and won't do that. Help us get him. Now."
"I have money--what will it take?"
Mulder shook his head. He moved from the man's
Morgan howled. "NO!! Charlie!!" He quickly ran
from the room and headed down the stairs.
"Right!" Scully drew her weapon and edged toward
the closet, behind her partner. "Mrs. Morgan, I
want you to go--right now--across the street. Do
you understand me? Go to Clarissa McKinnie's
apartment. Stay there until we come to get you."
Sheila looked dazed. "Bruce--"
"Go, now! Do you hear?" Scully persisted.
Mrs. Morgan looked from Scully to Mulder and back.
Finally, the instructions seemed to register.
"Yes." She clutched her robe around her and ran
from the room.
And as the Shady Rest's front door opened and
closed, Mulder and Scully entered the open passage
in the closet.
X X X
End (05 of 06)
Shady Rest (06 of 06)
"Don't know about you, Scully, but after all these
years, I'm really tired of dark rooms."
They had descended the ladders to the cellar and
had cautiously explored the furnace and laundry
rooms. Finding no one, they'd carefully entered
Charlie's modestly furnished basement apartment.
But the lights were off, and Mulder and Scully
continuted to rely on their flashlights.
They had searched a bedroom, bathroom, and
hallway, opening doors and closets, even looking
under the unmade bed. Now, their backs against the
opposing walls of a narrow hallway, they were
headed toward what had to be a living room and
"There could be crawl spaces above, Mulder,"
Scully whispered. "The furnace and plumbing pipes
would have been added in the remodeling. Such an
old building wouldn't have had them originally."
"True, but I think he's here, waiting for us."
"And his brother."
Though his partner couldn't see it, Mulder nodded
in agreement. They had reached the end of the
hallway. His weapon drawn, he took a deep breath
and glanced in Scully's direction, somehow knowing
that she mirrored his actions. He turned his
flashlight into the large area that lay ahead,
allowing a brief look at a small living room.
Mulder swung the light, searching from side to
side, as Scully also did beside him. He could see
no one, but he caught his partner glancing at him
and starting to move into the room.
Instantly, her gun and flashlight dropped to the
floor. Mulder's light focused on a man's left arm
wrapping around her chest and a right hand
covering her mouth. "Don't touch her!" Mulder
yelled, bursting forward without hesitation.
Suddenly, something hard cracked against his head.
Silvery shimmers returned, multiplied. His eyes
squeezed shut against the blinding agony. And his
torso exploded in pain as it met the floor, his
belly-flop smacking his already aching ribs. But
more was to come. Suddenly, a foot connected with
his side. Hard. Mulder screamed as the kicks
continued, seeming to tear his skin and impact
directly with his bones. Finally, the torture
stopped. He fought for consciousness, but his
numbed mind demanded surrender.
X X X
"Mulder!" Scully screamed, having wriggled her
mouth free of her captor's hand. She'd seen Bruce
Morgan move into Mulder's flashlight beam, and
she'd heard him hit her partner. Terror had
gripped her as Mulder collapsed--and as she'd
heard his body being savaged with kicks. His
flashlight was now picked up by Morgan who shone
it at her partner as he stepped over the prone
"Bruce? What do I do now?"
The voice behind Scully's ear was eloquent,
resonant, each word enunciated clearly. The arm
that clutched her did so without hurting her, and
she felt herself being led backward. She was
forced to sit in a chair, but the hands that had
captured her remained on her shoulders, applying a
pressure that could easily turn violent.
"We need the lights back on, Bruce. Please? We
have them both now. We don't have to hide."
Scully heard Bruce Morgan plod forward, and a
ceiling light above her head suddenly radiated
light. She squinted against it until she could
look at the kitchen surrounding her. It was done
mostly in white, a few blue items used as trim.
She sat in a wooden chair beside a tiny table, and
there were no windows.
"Agent Scully, we need to get out of here," Bruce
said as he came into her vision. Mulder's gun was
in his waistband. With shaking hands, he tied her
wrists before her with an electric cord. "You
understand, don't you? We don't want to hurt you."
"Are you going to tie him, too?" Charlie asked.
Morgan looked back toward the darkened room. "He's
out. We'll be gone before he wakes--if he wakes."
Scully felt Charlie's hands leave her shoulders
and lightly rest on her head. Slowly, he began to
feel and then caress her hair. Shivers went down
her spine as the stroking increased in intensity.
"What are you doing?" she asked, trying to wrest
away from the insistent pawing. To further her
attempt, she turned up toward her captor.
Charlie Morgan was tall and bony. His face was
handsome but wrinkled; his hair, quite gray. At
the moment, his expression showed rapture toward
the copper locks between his fingers.
Scully's revulsion to his touch soared. To react
too harshly, though, could upset him, and she was
in no position to do that. Still, she tugged away
from his hands. But he was quick. He seized her
head, pulling it back against him, one hand firm
beneath her chin, the other continuing its
"Silky. Smooth," he cooed. "Soft. So soft."
"No, not now. C'mon, Charlie. We have to get
moving," Bruce instructed, his expression one of
sorrow and anger.
"No, George. Silky. Soft. Pretty."
"I'm not George. You're not Lenny. Do you follow
me, little brother? You are *not* Lenny."
"Like a rabbit," Charlie was saying. "Soft like
bunny." His hand now stroked Scully's hair so
intensely that her head was snapping back hard
enough to hurt her neck.
"C'mon, we've got to get out of here. The cops--"
"Pretty. Like a rabbit."
Scully felt the cord cutting into her wrists, felt
her neck becoming more taut each time Charlie
stroked her hair. She knew he could break her
neck, and she knew that moment could come shortly.
She worried about Mulder's injury, and she refused
to become hurt by or captive to the two men
planning their escape.
She watched as Bruce Morgan came closer, as he
implored his brother to return to reality. The
elder Morgan now stood within her reach, and she
lashed out with her right foot, connecting a
powerful kick to his groin. His face went white;
his eyes bulged. And he crumbled to the floor,
groaning in pain.
Scully sprang to her feet. Then she reeled,
looking for Charlie. He stood behind the chair,
shocked. She took advantage of his hesitation,
quickly scanning the floor for her partner's gun
which Bruce had dropped. It lay a few feet from
her, and she started for it. But hands grasped her
ankles, and she fell forward, barely able to break
She kicked, knowing that Bruce had recovered
enough to bring her down. He was pulling her
backward, but she fought to crawl toward the gun.
Before she could reach it, though, she felt
Morgan's weight pinning her to the linoleum floor
and forcing her to take shallow breaths.
"Get the gun, Charlie! Get it!"
Charlie did as told, lifting the weapon as if it
were a delicate artifact.
And Bruce roughly hauled Scully to her feet and
held her. He also gasped for air, and his posture
was bent as he favored his own injury. "You take
her, Charlie," he instructed. "I'm going to get
the van. Meet me outside." He shoved Scully into
the hands of his confused brother. "Shoot her if
you have to." He hobbled off to a door, left it
open, and limped up cement steps.
"You have to let me go, Charlie," Scully gasped,
searching his vacant gaze. "You don't want to hurt
me, do you?"
"No, he doesn't. And he won't."
Mulder appeared from the darkened living room. And
as Scully calmed, she could see that his eyes
weren't focused and that being upright was costing
him dearly. Lines of pain streaked his face, and,
unable to stand straight, he held his elbows
tightly against his rib cage. But even in this
state, he was thinking. His right hand held her
weapon. She was glad Bruce had overlooked it.
"Avaunt, and quit my sight!" Charlie suddenly
shrieked, pushing Scully away with such force that
she fell to the floor. "Let the earth hide thee!"
"That's from 'Macbeth', isn't it? What the Scot
says to Banquo's ghost." Mulder's voice was weak
but calm; his words, slurred. "You did that play
in Poughkeepsie. But I'm no ghost, Charlie." And
he added just loudly enough for Scully to hear,
"Though right now, being dead might feel better."
"I was an exquisite Macbeth," Charlie replied.
"I believe that. You were a fine actor," Mulder
agreed. "I read the reviews."
"You did?" Charlie stared at Mulder as if seeing a
"Yeah. Too bad you had to quit."
"I didn't quit." The younger Morgan suddenly
sneered. "I am the ghost of the Shady Rest."
"And a murderer."
Scully noticed that Mulder was taking small steps
toward them. Charlie, however, was caught up in
his own mental gymnastics and unaware of the
"Yes, a murderer," Charlie replied. "And a poor
player that struts and frets his hour upon the
stage and then is heard no more. Life, sir, is a
tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
"More 'Macbeth'," Mulder observed. "But the play's
over now, Charlie. Take a bow and ring the curtain
down. Your role here is done."
Scully sat up, planning how best to help her
partner. "He's right, Charlie." She noticed that
the gun remained tight in the actor's grip, his
forefinger idly smoothing over the trigger. She
struggled, trying to get the electric cord off her
wrists. "Let's call it a night."
"Bruce--Bruce is waiting for me. We've got to go.
I don't know where he's taking me this time." His
voice had become like a child's.
"Would you rather come with us?" Mulder asked. "We
can put you on the stage. We can help you."
"You can? Help me?"
Mulder nodded. "Put the gun down first, and then
have a seat. We'll talk."
"I--I don't know. Bruce. He takes care of me."
"Bruce can come, too. Put the gun down."
"Charlie? Come on!" Bruce Morgan's voice suddenly
echoed down the cellar stairway. "Bring the woman!
"Woman...soft. Silky." Charlie looked at Scully
lovingly, then glanced at Mulder. "I'm supposed to
break her neck, right? And then you shoot me in
the head, George."
"You're not in 'Of Mice and Men'--not on 57th
Street now," Mulder reminded him quietly. "This is
Agent Scully of the FBI. I'm Agent Mulder. We're
here to help you."
"Silky, soft...did I hurt you?" He turned back to
"I'm fine. Put the gun down, okay?"
"Charlie? Where are you?" Bruce's footsteps
descended on the cement.
"C'mon, Charlie, now. Put it down." Mulder raised
the weapon in his hand, breathing hard when the
movement increased the pain in his side. "Let's
surprise your brother."
"I don't want to go with you. I want to go with
"What the--" The elder Morgan appeared in the
doorway. His face fell as he saw a gun pointed at
"It's over, Mr. Morgan," Scully said, getting to
her feet. "Tell your brother to put the weapon
down. We don't want anyone else to get hurt."
"You want me to shoot 'em?" Charlie asked, his
eyes narrowing. He raised the gun toward Scully.
"I'll drop him in a second," Mulder warned Bruce,
his eyes not leaving the younger Morgan. "You
don't want me to do that, do you?"
Bruce Morgan's gaze darted from one to the other
of those who stood before him. No words came as
his mouth made several attempts at protest.
Finally, his shoulders drooped as reality dawned.
Tearfully, reluctantly, he stepped toward his
brother. "Do as they ask, Charlie."
The younger man turned his head in shock. "We're
going with them?"
"We have no choice."
Charlie slowly backed away from the table. He
moved toward his brother, extending his arm as if
to surrender the gun. "We always have a choice."
Just as Bruce was about to take the weapon,
Charlie darted for the steps. "I 'gin to be aweary
of the sun," he said, the voice he'd used earlier
as Macbeth resounding in the cellar. He then
bolted up the stairs before anyone could move.
"NO!!" Bruce screamed, starting after him.
With a final twist, Scully's wrists came free from
the cord. Mulder, his strength rapidly leaving
him, took a few wobbly steps but fell forward onto
the table. The pain in his head and ribs soared,
but he managed to wave Scully on.
She grabbed her gun from him and had made it to
the cellar doorway--when they heard a shot. Then
something dropped to the floor overhead. Her mouth
open in horror, Scully looked back at Mulder who
laboriously hauled himself to his feet. Bruce
Morgan had run upstairs, and they now heard him
"Scully, my gun," Mulder rasped. "Don't let Bruce
use it on himself."
She flew upstairs and into the Shady Rest's lobby.
In front of the big oak counter, Bruce Morgan
hunched over the crumpled body of his brother,
wailing. Cautiously, she moved toward the duo,
sliding past the elder and retrieving the gun
Charlie had turned on himself.
She knelt by Charlie but felt no carotid pulse,
and as she rolled him over, she found that he'd
shot himself through the heart. No CPR could save
"Bruce? Oh my God, Bruce?" Sheila Morgan's voice
came from outside the locked front door. Her hands
pounded rapidly on its wood.
Scully rose and let Sheila in, saying, "Charlie's
dead. And you're both under arrest."
"I know." Sheila ran to her husband, pulling the
tall man's head to her shoulder as he sobbed.
Scully heard a noise and turned to find that
Mulder had reached the top of the stairs. He
slowly hobbled toward her, becoming more pale.
She moved to support him, slinging his arm around
her shoulders. She gingerly touched his side and
led him to the maroon couch.
He melded into the cushions, lethargically moving
his arms from his side so she could do a cursory
"Cracked ribs and a concussion, I'll bet," she
said as his eyes failed to follow the forefinger
she moved laterally to test his focus.
"So much for rest and relaxation, huh, Scully?"
"Anyone ever tell you you have lousy taste in
"No, but I'm sure you will."
X X X
August 26, 9:25 P.M.
"I'm sorry that you have to leave so soon,"
Clarissa McKinnie said, leaning toward the
passenger side of the Intrigue. "Are you sure
you'll be able to travel?"
Mulder nodded drowsily. "I'm looking forward to
"I can't believe the hospital released you this
evening. You should have spent the night there."
"He can't wait to get back to D.C.," Scully
observed from the driver's seat. "Desk duty is one
of his favorite jobs."
Mulder winced at her words. "Clarissa, it was nice
to meet you."
"Likewise," she replied. She kissed him lightly on
the cheek. "And I want you to have this." She held
out a post card. "I got a few extra a while back,
and since the place is now closed down, you should
have the last souvenir."
Mulder squinted, reading the card in the car's
dome light. "'I survived the Shady Rest'."
"That's perfect," Scully smiled as she checked her
watch. "We've got to get going. Plane to catch."
"Gotta get back to her Assistant Director, eh?"
Clarissa whispered to Mulder. "Come see us again
sometime. And I'll talk to you on the 'net." She
waved at them, and turned toward her apartment.
As Scully started the car, Mulder looked across
the road at the Shady Rest, now completely
shrouded in darkness. "A shame, Scully. It really
wasn't a bad place."
She followed his gaze. "No, not with the right
people. Sorry there was no ghost."
"I knew there wasn't. But finding Charlie Morgan
after all these years was too intriguing." As his
partner shifted the car into Drive and left the
curb, he muttered, "Bye, Belcan. Parting is such
"I've had enough Shakespeare," Scully groaned.
"But tell me, why'd Charlie kill himself?"
Mulder unfolded their map and shone his flashlight
on it. "Maybe reality finally set in. He didn't
want to face prison or an institution. Or maybe he
just couldn't face giving up his acting. Maybe
suicide was his final lucid act."
Scully silently considered this. "Too bad his
mental illness wasn't given due awareness. If
Bruce had just...oh well. Too late now."
She looked over at him. "You have the map? How far
till we hit Buffalo?"
"About three inches."
They drove off, then, into the darkness. Behind
them, though, the lights on the Shady Rest's
second floor suddenly blinked. Twice. And on the
second time, a white figure seemed to appear in
the window of Room 25.
(End 06 of 06)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Thanks to William Shakespeare,
Susan Glaspell, Edgar Allen Poe, and John
Steinbeck for unknowingly lending me their titles,
characters, or words.
Heartfelt thanks to the wonderful Michelle,
FabulousMonster, Clarissa, Laura, Nicola, and
Catbird for invaluable friendship, beta work, and
encouragement. Special gratitude to Michelle
Kiefer and FabulousMonster for ideas that helped
this story immensely. And thanks, too, to Laine
and all the Crystal Shippers for being such good
people. I really don't deserve any of you!
Major thanks to the superb IMTP staff for their
great idea for and execution of the VS 8 season,
to GertieBeth for a great dustcover and illustration,
and to Laurie Haynes for a masterful trailer. See
these at http://www.i-made-this.com/
Please visit my website:
Please visit Laine's Crystalship: http://members.xoom.com/Crystal_Ship
Please visit IMTP's VS 8: http://www.i-made-this.com/