Two pairs of eyes looked up in surprise at the sudden intrusion, one hazel and full of hope, the other blue and full of maniacal rage. Recovering quickly, Brown moved to stand behind Mulderâs chair, placing his hostage between himself and Scully. He thrust one hand roughly into the hair of the bound man, pulling his head back until Mulder gave a tiny, involuntary moan of pain.
âDonât come any closer,â Brown warned, âunless you came to attend the barbeque.â In his free hand he held a silver lighter, which he ignited with the flick of a thumb. âI suggest you pass that message along to anyone else you brought with you, as well. My friend here has had a nice gasoline bath, with a little rocket fuel mixed in for good measure, so just one little kiss from Zippo here, and heâs toast.â
He smiled, and Scully could see how he had managed to pull off all of the previous murders right under the noses of the Metro Transit Authority, the DC Police Department, and the FBI. With his blonde, close cut hair, sparkling blue eyes, and boyish grin, Brown epitomized the proverbial âboy next doorâ. No one would ever suspect that inside this well-toned, clean-cut poster child for the Boy Scouts of America beat the heart of a madman.
âAnd donât even think about shooting me, hoping that Iâll drop this lighter. It stays lit, and Iâll make sure I drop it right on my friend, Agent Mulder, here.â To prove his point, he removed his thumb from the button of the lighter, and the orange flame continued to burn.
Scully spread her arms out wide in a conciliatory gesture. âIâm not armed,â she said softly. âAnd no one else knows Iâm here, either.â Keeping her hands up, she turned around slowly in place, allowing him to see for himself that there were no weapons concealed on her person.
Completing her circle, she stopped and waited, keeping her eyes locked with Brownâs, while he judged the sincerity of her words. She knew that if he didnât believe she was alone, he wouldnât hesitate to kill Mulder right here in front of her, determined that if he was going to die, he wouldnât be going alone. Everything in this insane rescue attempt, and Scully decided that she must indeed be insane to be here alone and unarmed with no real plan to speak of, depended on Brown accepting her word and letting down his guard. Somehow she knew that if she could just get him away from Mulder, everything would be alright.
Brown said nothing as he continued to study her with narrowed eyes. Scully stood her ground and stared back, fighting the urge to turn around and survey the tunnel behind her. Certainly Frohike had called Skinner by now, and it wouldnât be long before Brentwell and his agents arrived. In her mindâs eye she could see Chris Brentwell and six agents dressed in combat gear huddled around an aged blueprint scrutinizing the schematics of a tunnel no one had remembered existed. Over the agentâs shoulder was a large shelving unit that covered an entire wallâ¦She blinked slowly and the image faded away. She needed to get this show on the road, now, but didnât know what else she could do to earn Brownâs trust.
In the end, she didnât have to do anything. Mulder did it for her. During her stare-down with Brown, she could feel her partnerâs gaze searching her face, trying to decide for himself if she was bluffing. She knew the instant he reached a conclusion, because he immediately began to struggle in his captorâs grip.
âJesus, Scully, are you nuts? Get the hell out of here,â he hissed.
That honest reaction from his hostage seemed to be the deciding factor for Brown. He blew out the lighter and released his grip on Mulderâs hair, satisfied for the moment that he was still in charge of the situation.
âYes, Special Agent Scully, enlighten us. Itâs Dana, isnât it? Just what is it you hope to accomplish here, Dana?â
Her eyes met Mulderâs for the first time, and she felt only the mildest surprise, not at his battered appearance, but at the fact that she had already known exactly how he would look.
âI came to get my partner,â she said quietly. âRemember Mulder?â
His eyes left hers for a moment as he took in the bracelet on her left wrist, and when they returned, she could see he remembered their shared dream. He nodded slowly.
Brown nodded too, the wide grin firmly back in place on his handsome face. âThatâs very touching,â he said. âYou two must be pretty close. How very fitting that youâre going to die together.â
Brown moved away from Mulder, walking towards the shadows off to the left side of the tunnel. Abruptly, Scully became aware of several things at once. Although there had been no sound, no indication at all, she knew without a doubt that Brentwell and his team were now entering the tunnel and would be here within minutes. She was also positive that Brown was going for the gun that heâd taken from Mulder. Her mind raced as she scanned the end of the tunnel trying desperately to come up with a solution to this situation that didnât result in a shootout between Brown and the FBI with her and Mulder caught in the crossfire.
Twenty feet beyond the glow of the candlelight, the tunnel ended abruptly, but there seemed to be a small recess on the right side, the side that shared a wall with the neighboring tunnel. The recess seemed to be the right size and shape to possibly beâ¦a door? Searching her memory, she recalled her own voice, nearly unrecognizable as such on the cassette tape of her hypnosisâ¦ âthe only other way in or out is by a door at the far end of the tunnel which leads to the eastbound tunnel of the blue line.â That was it, she decided. Somehow she had to get Brown to follow her into the other tunnel. Preferably before he picked up the gun.
âThe only one whoâs going to die here today is you, Bobby,â she said as she moved closer to Mulder, closer to the end of the tunnel. It was only after the words where out that she thought to question them. **Bobby? What the hell?**
Distracted from his task, Brown whirled on her, all traces of humor gone from his face. âWhat did you call me?â
âI called you Bobby. Would you prefer Robert? That is your real name, isnât it? Robert Neidert?â
âHow do you know that?â he questioned darkly, his hands balling into fists at his sides. He stalked slowly towards where she now stood alongside Mulder, the gun all but forgotten. âHow do you know that?â he shouted.
**Believe me, buddy, I wish I knew the answer to that one myself,** she thought. Out loud she said, âI know all about you, Bobby. I know about Houston. And Syracuse. Chicago. Youâve been a busy boy. Only thirty-four years old and youâve already killed 27 people. You must be so proud,â she said sarcastically.
âOh, I think that numberâs about to increase,â he said. âBy two.â
Scully could practically feel the FBI team moving closer and closer. This was taking way too long. She needed him to be so pissed off that heâd forget all about Mulder, and that gun, and come after her. She risked a quick glance at Mulder, who had been quietly observing the exchange between her and Brown. Scully saw concern in his hazel eyes, not for himself, but for her. It was if he knew somehow what she was planning, and she realized that after so many years together, that was probably the case. Being able to know what the other was thinking was part of what made them such a good team. She gave him a tiny smile of reassurance before focusing once again on the lunatic before them.
âI know about the cellar, Bobby.â
His blue eyes darkened until they were the dark gray steel hue of the ocean before a storm. He said nothing as he circled around in front of Mulder, effectively cutting off any chance of escape through the entrance of the tunnel. Simultaneously she moved from her partnerâs left side until she stood behind him, her hand squeezing his shoulder gently once. She could feel him tense beneath her fingers in anticipation of whatever was to come next.
âI know about that time when you were seven, Bobby, and your dad locked you in the cellar. The school bus got a flat tire, and you were late getting home, isnât that right?â
âShut up,â he whispered.
âHe told you what an irresponsible little bastard you were and locked you in the cellar, with no food, no water, and left you there. And when you cried and banged on the door, begging him to let you out, what did he do? He turned out the light, didnât he Bobby?â
âI said shut the fuck up!â
âHe turned out the light and left you there, all alone in that cold, dark cellar, just you and the rats, for three days, right Bobby? Three agonizingly long, terrifying days. I bet you thought he wasnât coming back, didnât you? You thought he was just going to leave you there until you died of starvation, or thirst, or fear, or a combination of the three. And after the second day, when you broke down and drank your own urine because you were so thirsty you couldnât stand it anymore, you wished you were dead, didnât you Bobby? You wished he would just come back and kill you and get it over with. Is that why you like this place so much? Does it remind you of that cellar, Bobby?â She began to slowly back away from him, towards the end of the tunnel, anticipating his reaction.
âYouâre going to wish you were dead by the time Iâm finished with you, you bitch!â he ground out harshly as he tossed the lighter he still held to one side and lunged for her.
Scully turned and ran for the door, half-expecting to feel a hand on her arm as an enraged Brown, or Neidert, or whatever the hell his name was, grabbed hold of her. A sudden crash and groan of pain from Mulder stopped her in her tracks. **Youâre supposed to come after me**, she thought.
Fearing the worst, she turned quickly, and was surprised by what she saw. Neidert hadnât attacked her partner, after all. Somehow Mulder had managed to tip his chair over into the madmanâs path, using himself as a human speed bump to buy her a little time. Not much though, as Neidert was already picking himself up off the ground.
âScully, run,â Mulder wheezed. That little maneuver probably hadnât done his already injured ribs any good, she thought, as she took his advice. She hoped for Mulderâs sake that one of those men in blue rapidly approaching the bend in the tunnel was a medic.
When she was about five feet from the door, Scully risked a glance behind her. Neidert was about fifteen feet back, and gaining.
âRight behind you, Dana,â he sneered.
As she hit the door and stumbled into the eastbound tunnel of the Metro Blue line, she wondered vaguely what she would have done if it had been locked.
Eastern Market Metro Station
Special Agent Donald Peterson looked up in annoyance at the harshly barked question, intending to put its inquisitor in his place for such a display of rudeness. That plan was changed significantly when he realized just who the man before him, waiting rather impatiently for an answer, was.
âAssistant Director Skinner! Uh, Agent Brentwell and his team are in the tunnel, sir,â he said nervously.
âWhatâs going on down there? Have they located Agents Mulder and Scully yet?â
Suddenly Peterson wished he could be anywhere else on earth but where he was. He knew this particular AD only by reputation, but even that was enough for him to know that he didnât want to be the one passing on this information.
âWe, uh, donât exactly know, right now, Sir.â
âExcuse me? Agent, what is your name?â
âItâs Donald Peterson, Sir.â
âAnd please enlighten me, Agent Peterson, how it is that we âdonât exactly knowâ whatâs going on with this investigation?â His voice was deceptively calm, but Peterson could feel the tension coming off of him in waves.
âWell, Sir, Agent Brentwell and six men from his team entered the tunnel approximately ten minutes ago, after finding what we believe to be Agent Scullyâs service weapon and jacket in that supply room over there,â he indicated the door behind the security kiosk, hoping to at least momentarily direct the manâs steely gaze anywhere other than at himself. Skinner, however, wasnât so easily distracted.
âGo on,â he coaxed.
âWe were in constant contact with them as they made their way down the tunnel, which according to the blueprints, is approximately fifteen hundred feet long. They were about halfway down the length, when the radios, uh, gave out. We lost contact. Weâre not sure why, Sir. Something is interfering with the signal, either something in the construction of that tunnel, or the trains are on the same frequency, we just donât know. Agent Andrews is working on it, trying to get them back, but hasnât made any progress yet. In the last communication, they heard voices coming from the far end of the tunnel, but hadnât yet made a visual confirmation. That was about five minutes ago.â
Skinner closed his eyes briefly and ran his hands over his head in a gesture that had to be reminiscent of days long gone when there used to actually be something there to run his fingers through.
âHas anyone else gone down there?â
âNo Sir, Agent Brentwell told us to wait.â
âOk, so letâs see if I have this straight. There is a killer running around loose somewhere inside this metro station. Our first strike team is incommunicado, no one else has gone in to investigate further, and we still have commuters running around here as if nothing were going on. Do I have it right so far?â
Peterson lowered his eyes to the ground. When he put it like thatâ¦
âYes Sir, thatâs about right,â he said apologetically.
To Petersonâs surprise, the Assistant Director shook his head and gave a short bark of laughter, saying something under his breath that sounded like âonly Mulder and Scully.â When he looked back to Peterson, however, all traces of amusement were gone from his visage.
âOk, first of all, I want this station cleared out of all civilians. Now. I donât care how you do it, but I want everybody out of here, and I want no less than six agents at the doors to make sure they stay out. Second, get on the line with whoever is in charge of the running of these trains over at Metroâs central headquarters. I donât want any passengers disembarking here. Until further notice, all trains are to bypass this station. And finally, get me a vest and two agents. Iâm going down there.â
Eastern Market Metro Station
Dana Scully burst into the Blue line tunnel and found herself on the edge of a tiny alcove, no more than eighteen inches deep. Careful to avoid the two high-voltage rails that powered the subway cars, she jumped from the tiny ledge to the tunnel floor, instinctively heading to her right, towards the east, and the safety of the station platform, still some fifteen hundred feet away. She took a half a step in that direction, and stopped suddenly, the mysterious tape recorder in her brain once again kicking in, as she âheardâ her own voice fill her earsâ¦ âall I know is that the way I want to go, the way logic tells me to go, is going to be wrong. If I go that way, I will be killed.â
She stood in the center of the tunnel, torn with indecision. Certainly to continue further into the tunnel was suicide. She had no knowledge whatsoever of these passages, while her pursuer had apparently spent quite some time studying them. Even if she somehow managed to avoid being hit by an approaching train, Neidert was sure to catch her. Everything in her cried out to go towards the platform, towards help. She had learned from their recent research on this case that these tunnels held an emergency call box every eight hundred feet, a phone that was built into a tiny alcove, safe from the passing trains. Straining her eyes, she could barely make out a weak blue light to the east, maybe five or six hundred feet away. To the west, the tunnel curved rightwards as it made itâs way toward the Capital South station. Beyond fifty feet or so, she could see nothing.
Behind her, the door slammed open, ending any more chance she had for debate. In an act of blind faith that wouldâve made her partner proud, she turned and ran west, deeper into the tunnel.
Eastern Market Metro Station
Mulder tried to force himself to take deep, even breaths, but the stabbing pain in his left side on each inhalation made the effort futile. He lay on his side, still bound tightly to the wooden chair, the injured side of his face pressed lightly to the cool tile. There had been no sound whatsoever since that maniac had followed Scully through the tunnel door. He wasnât yet sure if that were a good or bad thing.
He lay there with his eyes closed, trying to ignore the staccato beat currently being played on his brain by this latest concussion in favor of any kind of sound that might indicate his partnerâs safety. So focused was he on this endeavor, that he never noticed the approach of the cavalry.
Mulderâs eyes snapped open as he was suddenly surrounded by FBI agents, but he found it difficult to focus on any particular face. His chair was righted, and the sudden movement nearly caused him to lose consciousness. His head fell forward and he groaned as he struggled against the dizziness that enveloped him. He had to stay awake. For Scully.
Chris Brentwell crouched before the injured man. âAgent Mulder, can you hear me? Can you tell me what happened?â He gestured to one of the other agents. âGet these restraints off him.â
As the agent went to work on his bonds, Mulder raised his head and blinked several times until Brentwellâs face came into focus. Now that he was upright, he was finding it even harder to breathe. It felt like a hot poker was pressing into his side with each breath. âScullyâ¦Brownâ¦followed her into the tunnelâ¦that wayâ¦â He jerked his head in the direction of the door his partner had gone through, wincing as a sharp pain lanced through his head at the movement. âGot toâ¦stop the trainsâ¦â he wheezed.
âOk Mulder, weâll take care of it. Donât worry,â Brentwell soothed. âAgent Chang.â
A petite, Asian woman in her late twenties, her straight black hair pulled back into a severe ponytail stepped over. To Mulder, she appeared to be even smaller than Scully.
âAgent, is it my understanding that you currently hold the Quantico record for fastest Womenâs Hundred Meter Dash in the history of the Academy?â
âActually sir, it was the Thousand Meter, and it was fastest menâs or womenâs time,â she smiled.
âEven better,â he replied. âI need you to get a message to Agent Peterson. Tell him I want all trains between the Capital South station to our west and the Potomac Avenue station to our east stopped immediately. I donât care where they are or whoâs on them, I want them stopped. Weâve got an agent out there on that track somewhere. Also, have him call an ambulance and get a stretcher down here for Agent Mulder. Quickly, Agent.â
At that, she was already off and running towards the beginning of the tunnel, her âYes sir!â an afterthought tossed back to him over her shoulder.
âPaige, Ziegler, you two stay here with Agent Mulder until the EMTs arrive. White, Kramer, and Odbert, you three come with me.â Weapons in hand, the four agents headed for the door at the end of the tunnel.
Eastbound Blue Line Metro Train
Scott Wells picked up the microphone and prepared to pass along the message heâd just received to his passengers. This was going to piss off a few people, he was sure. In his experience, most folks just didnât take well to a change in plans, especially if that change took them a few miles out of their way. Yep, they were going to be ticked, and most likely at him. Not too many people seemed to realize that the Metro train operators didnât actually run the trains. No sir, that was all done at the Metro Headquarters Building via computer. His job was mainly to open and close the doors, announce the stops, and occasionally pass along messages like the one he was about to deliver. **Oh well, best get it over with,** he thought.
âAttention Blue Line passengers: Iâve just received word of a temporary closure at our Eastern Market station due to a possible power outage. We have been ordered to bypass this station without stopping until further notice. Our next stop will be Potomac Avenue. At that time, any passengers needing to return to the Eastern Market area may do so via shuttle bus, free of charge. The DC Metropolitan Transit Authority apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.â
Eastern Market Metro Station
Scully moved as quickly down the dark tunnel as she dared, wishing more than anything for a flashlight. The low, droning hum of the high-voltage rails was a constant companion, sounding not at all unlike an angry hive of bees daring anyone to try and steal the fruits of their labor. Scully knew that one wrong step in either direction would carry a much more deadly sting than any insect.
Not wanting to lose ground by looking, she judged by the curses and threats coming from Neidert that he was between ten and fifteen feet behind her, apparently just as wary with his steps as she.
She estimated that they had traveled perhaps seventy-five feet down the tunnel when Scully heard a sound that made her blood run cold. From somewhere up ahead, around the never-ending northwestward curve of the tunnel that obscured the view that she wasnât quite sure she wanted to witness anyway, came the low, rumbling drone that could only signify one thing: the approach of an oncoming train.
Apparently Neidert heard it too, for his constant, rambling narrative of all the things he was going to do when he caught her ended abruptly.
Not nearly far enough ahead for her liking, Scully heard the whine of the carâs dynamic brakes as it slowed down in preparation for the sharp curve that she and Neidert were at the far end of. She gave up all pretense of caution and simply ran as hard as she could, her eyes straining for a glimpse of the tiny blue glow representing her salvation. From the train, at least. The last emergency phone had been at least seven hundred feet in the other direction. The next one had to be close.
Finally she saw it, twenty feet ahead and on the right, so near, and at the same time so far away. The approaching train was so close now she could feel itâs vibrations in her teeth, and worse yet, she could see the first glow of its headlights shining around the curve of the tunnel. Fifteen feet, then ten, she could still hear the screeching of the brakes ahead of her, and imagined she heard the harsh breath of the monster behind her.
Not daring to hope that someone knew they were there and might stop the train in time, she forced herself to move faster, cursing not for the first time the short legs inherited from her maternal grandmother. Almost there, she readied herself to leap for the safety of the alcove, and was surprised by the sudden twist of her ankle that brought her to the ground. It was only pure luck, she was sure, that brought her arms out quickly enough to break her fall, stopping her with her face mere inches from the charged rail. She could feel every fine hair on her face standing on end, and let loose a shaky breath of relief as she struggled to regain her feet.
Neidert was right behind her now, no more than five feet away as the train at last rumbled into view. With a cry of pain as she forced her injured ankle into action, she launched herself towards the alcove that in the face of the looming train didnât seem large enough to accommodate even her own small frame. Pressing herself as close to the wall as possible, she turned her face into the cool brick and held on for dear life as she felt a tug on her arm that could only be her nemesis. She closed her eyes, thinking, **at least Mulderâs all right**, as she waited for it all to be over.
Eastbound Blue Line Metro Train
âMetro Center, this is Blue Line train number one-oh-one-three eastbound on track six. Please respond.â
âTrain number one-oh-one-three, this is Metro Center. Go ahead, Scott.â
âFrank, we were told not two minutes ago to continue on past Eastern Market to Potomac Avenue, and now Iâm coming up on Eastern Market getting a red signal. Please clarify.â
âTrain one-oh-one-three, weâve just received emergency notification that all trains in your area must be stopped temporarily. Thereâs the possibility of anâ¦ obstruction on the track up ahead. You should be stopping momentarily. Please inform your passengers that there will be a slight delay while we clear the tracks, and apologize for their inconvenience. Over.â
Before he could reply, Scott heard the metallic whine of the brakes as they began to gently slow the train from its current speed of sixty-five miles per hour.
As they entered the steep turn that headed into the Eastern Market station, Scott picked up the microphone to the onboard PA system and prepared to give his passengers this latest bit of bad news. He got as far as âLadies and Gentlemen, I regret to inform youâ¦â when the sight before him caused him to drop the mike as he rushed for the emergency override system. He hit the brakes as hard as he dared, not wanting to risk an even worse catastrophe by jumping the tracks, but when they slammed into the so-called âobstructionâ, they were still going a steady thirty-five miles an hour.
End Chapter Ten