As the darkness slowly receded from her vision, Scully became aware of several things at once. She was lying in her bed, fully dressed, staring unseeingly at her ceiling, and someone was shouting in her ear. Or rather, into the telephone, which was currently pressed against the side of her head.
** How did that get there? **
âAgent Scully! Are you all right? Hello?â
Drawing in a deep, ragged breath, she blinked rapidly several times trying to clear the last vestiges of sleep from her brain. Her body felt, heavy, sluggish, the left side of her face tingled painfully as if still asleep, and was that gasoline she smelled?
She struggled to sit up, instinctively grabbing the phone as it threatened to slip from her ear. While gradually the lethargy and tenderness subsided, the strange odor did not. She sniffed lightly at her hands, her blouse, the bedding around her, and unable to detect a source, wondered vaguely if sheâd suffered some kind of a stroke.
âCan you hear me? Agent Scully! Iâm sending someone over there.â
Finally recognizing the significance of the molded plastic pressed to her right ear, Scully shook herself out of her stupor and responded before she found herself surrounded by concerned FBI agents.
âNo, Agent Brentwell, thatâs not necessary. Iâm fine. I, um, mustâve dozed off. It took me a second to wake up.â
His retort was a short bark of laughter, part amusement at her statement, part relief at hearing her answer him at last.
âA second? Scully, weâve been on the phone for over two minutes now. That mustâve been some dream you were having.â
Scully found that she couldnât recall any dreams, good or otherwise, and for some reason, that fact bothered her profoundly. She considered the uneasiness that engulfed her, only dimly aware that Agent Brentwell was once again speaking. It wasnât until he said the word âMulderâ that she remembered why she was lying in her bed in the first place. Mulder. The bracelet. Had it worked? Searching her memory, she was further distressed to find that it was blank. She remembered going to sleep, nearly two and a half hours ago according to her alarm clock, and then nothing. Nothing, save for the lingering smell of gasoline.
âI canât remember,â she whispered.
It was then that she began to realize her mistake. She had gone to sleep with the belief that upon waking she would retain the knowledge gained in her dreams, when in fact, on the previous two occasions, she had remembered nothing. It was only later that bits and pieces had come back to her, vague remnants of a larger whole. Both times, she had managed to pass along the pertinent information to a third party whilst still under the spell of the bracelet, once to Mulder, and once to her laptop. But this time, there was no Mulder to call, no self-written computer messages to read, and she didnât have time to wait around and see what tidbits came trickling back. She needed to find her partner before it was too late, that much she did know. And she had the beginnings of an idea on how to do just that.
âCanât remember what? Agent Scully?â Finally realizing sheâd tuned out again, Brentwell halted his monologue mid-stream.
âNothing, itâs nothing. Iâm sorry, Agent Brentwell. You were saying? Have you found Mulder?â She realized that all this worrying might be for nothing, and maybe it would be a good idea to actually listen to what the other agent had to say.
âNo, nothing yet on Mulder. I called to tell you that it looks as if you were right to want to take a closer look at Brown. Seems he doesnât exist.â
âI donât understand. What do you mean he doesnât exist?â
âWe ran a basic check on him, and everything seemed ok on the surface, no trouble with the law, spotless driving record, excellent credit report, he seemed like an all-around great guy, but there was one minor discrepancy. His address. The address listed for him in the Metro database turned out to be a Pizza Hut in Falls Church, Virginia. Thinking that it may just be a typographical error on the part of the clerk entering the data, we tried to check the address he gave on his actual job application, only to find that his entire personnel file is mysteriously missing.â
âWhat about the Department of Motor Vehicles?â
âWell, the Virginia DMV had a different address for your Mr. Brown. Different, but no less phony. This one was actually a residence, but the family who lives there, and has for the past eight years, claims no relation to or knowledge of anyone named Stuart Brown. He has no car, no phone service, no records with the gas and electric company, and prior to being hired by the DCMTA, no bank accounts. He has one checking account which has only enough money in it to keep the account open, and he used the same bogus address to open that account as the one on his driverâs license. We dug a little bit further and found the name âStuart George Brownâ and corresponding social security number only two more times. One was on a birth certificate for a little boy born on July 6, 1965 to a Michael and Christina Brown.â He paused for dramatic effect, and Scully willingly obliged him.
âAnd the other?â
âThe other instance was on a death certificate issued on May 27, 1966 when Stuart George Brown, son of Michael and Christina Brown, died at the age of nine months and three weeks due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.â
Scully closed her eyes briefly, her mind racing. âSo even the name isnât his. What about fingerprints?â
âWe pulled some prints from the security booth that donât appear to match up with any of the other guards, but we didnât get a match when we ran them through the database. I suspect that this guy has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that there are no computer records of him at all.â
âWhen does he work again? Maybe he doesnât know weâre on to him yet.â
âWould it surprise you at all to hear that he has the next three days off?â
âHe does? What about during the other four disappearances? Was he off then too?â
âBelieve me, Agent Scully, something that blatantly obvious would have been noticed during our initial investigation. Records indicate that he worked at least two, if not all three days during each disappearance.â
âHas he always worked at the Eastern Market station?â
âYes, since completing his training about ten months ago.â
âThe cameras. Have you checked the tapes in the security cameras?â
âYes, we have, but as we already knew, theyâre incomplete. Video surveillance was lost last night briefly between 8:45 and 9:00pm. We have Mulder walking in the station, looking around, but as he approaches the security station, all the cameras go dead. By the time they come back up, thereâs no sign of Mulder or Brown.â
âWhat about the other nights?â Some vague idea was niggling the back of Scullyâs mind, and not knowing whether it was caused by the bracelet, by intuition, or simply a scientific wild-assed guess, she decided to go with it.
âWhat do you mean?â
âHave you checked the cameras at the Eastern Market station on the nights that the previous victims were taken?â
âNo, we havenât. The other people werenât taken from that station, Scully.â He spoke carefully, gently, as if he were trying to explain to a child exactly why she couldnât have ice cream before dinner.
She sighed. âI know that Chris, but maybe they were taken to that station.â
He started to protest, but she interrupted.
âNo, just hear me out. It makes sense. He would want to keep up appearances by being at work, but at the same time, heâd want to have them nearby. Someplace where he could check on them from time to time, hurt them if he felt like it, remind them who was boss. Someplace cold and dark, underground, where the noise from the trains might mask their screamsâ¦â Her voice trailed off, and she shuddered from something that might have been the ghost of a memory.
âWell, I suppose it canât hurt to check it out,â said Brentwell. âAlthough, if heâs down there in that subway system, it could take weeks to find him. Those tunnels go on for miles and miles.â
âMulder doesnât have weeks. He has two days,â came her soft reply. âCall me if you find anything.â
âWhat will you be doing?â
âIâve got to pay a visit to Americaâs Most Paranoid,â she joked. ** Right after I shower and change clothes. This gasoline smell is nauseating. **
She hung up the phone and headed for her bathroom.
Office of The Lone Gunmen
As Scully waited somewhat impatiently for the Gunmen to determine that she was in fact Dana Scully, and not some government engineered, conspiracy driven clone, she slipped a hand into her jacket pocket to lightly touch the bracelet that lay there.
** Mulder, if this doesnât work, I donât know what else to do.**
Just as she was raising her other hand to ring the doorbell a third time, she heard the sounds of multiple deadbolts and chains being disengaged on the other side of the heavy, steel door.
âFinally,â she muttered under her breath.
The door opened to reveal Melvin Frohike, oldest of the strange trio, bent over at the waist in a formal bow. He straightened and gestured her in with a grand sweep of his arm.
âAgent Scully, to what do we owe the pleasure?â
Before closing the door, he craned his neck to look outside, searching the alleyway behind her. âAnd whereâs your worse half?â
âThatâs why Iâm here. I need your help.â The smell of gasoline rose up once again, sudden and strong, and she looked at Frohike in surprise. âDo you smell that?â
The Gunman leaned toward her, breathing in deeply. âAh, the sweet smell of apricots. Very nice, Agent Scully.â He waggled his eyebrows at her comically.
âGod Doohickey, shut up, youâre making me sick!â Ringo Langley, the aging hippie of the group had entered the room, followed closely by John Byers.
âShut up yourself, Ringo, she asked me to smell her. What was I supposed to say, that she reeks? No wonder you canât get a date!â
Byers ignored his arguing comrades and greeted Scully with a nod of his head, formal as always.
âAgent Scully. What can we do for you?â
Ignoring his question for the moment, she stepped between the other two Gunmen before they could come to blows. âWait a minute!â she shouted. Once she had their attention, she looked slowly from one to the other. âYou donât smell gasoline?â
The trio chuckled for a moment until it became apparent that she was serious. Byers stepped forward and gave her a look of concern.
âDo you, Agent Scully?â
Scully saw the looks passing between the three men and decided that, given the strange request she was about to make of them, perhaps it would be best to keep her olfactory hallucinations to herself for the time being.
âNever mind, itâs nothing. I probably got some on my hands at the gas station. Anyway, Iâm here because I need your help.â She took a deep breath before continuing. âI need you to hypnotize me.â
Three pairs of eyebrows raised simultaneously, as they each look at the other, at a loss for words. Byers recovered first.
âDoes this have something to do with Mulder?â
âYes, heâs missing, kidnapped, and this is the only way I can think of to find him. Look, I know it sounds crazy, and I really donât have time to explain it now, even if I could somehow make sense of it. I need you to find someone who can come here today, now, and hypnotize me, no questions asked. Can you do that?â
She looked between the three of them hopefully, not knowing what she would do if they turned her down.
All was quiet for a moment, until Byers spoke. âI know someone.â
She sank down into a chair in relief and smiled gratefully at him. âThank you.â
Office of The Lone Gunmen
The two-hour wait for the hypnotist seemed to Scully more like two days. She called twice to check on the progress of the FBI team, only to be told both times that there were no new developments in the case. She composed a list of questions that she wanted to be asked under hypnosis and made sure that there was a tape recorder with a blank tape and fresh batteries available to document her responses. She washed her hands several times, still unable to rid herself of the scent of gasoline. She even forced herself to eat some of the Chinese takeout Langley ordered for an early lunch. Yet, despite her best efforts to stay occupied during the wait, Scully still found plenty of time to second-guess herself. Was she making a huge mistake? Were there possibly other, more legitimate avenues she could be out exploring right now? Was she in fact endangering her partner further by wasting what little time she had on this insane endeavor? A month, hell, even a week ago, her answer wouldâve been a resounding âyes!â, but now she was no longer quite so certain that the possibility of some âotherâ power being at work here was all that ridiculous. Of course, she could never tell that to Mulder once this was all over with. Sheâd never live it down.
A knock at the door and a sudden flurry of activity from the only three men on the planet more paranoid than her partner marked the arrival of Byersâ friend, Dr. Tom Strickland. Heaven forbid they would just open the door when someone knocked on it. But no, Frohike went to the door while Langley ran to the monitor that was fed by a video surveillance camera hidden in the alleyway. Scully knew that if a visual image wasnât enough to satisfy them, they were prepared to request that the visitor place his thumb on a pad built into the door that would supply them with an instant, electronic thumbprint which they could compare to their database. As it turned out today though, that wasnât necessary. Langley gave Frohike the all-clear, and the process of turning locks and opening chains began.
Scully leaned back in the Gunmenâs overstuffed, navy blue recliner and considered the level of craziness her life had sunk to in the past week. She had, of her own volition, put on a bracelet and gone to sleep with the intention of finding some sort of psychic lead as to her missing partnerâs whereabouts, and now she was about to be hypnotized by a friend of John Byers in an attempt to retrieve that information from her subconscious. She had to admit to herself, though, Dr. Strickland didnât look at all like sheâd imagined a friend of the Gunmen to look. In fact, he seemed incrediblyâ¦normal.
He had graduated from Georgetown University in the top five percent of his class, and for the last ten years had run a thriving psychology practice on Pennsylvania Avenue, right down the street from the White House. His clientele included congressmen, senators, and even a few of Scullyâs own superiors at the Hoover Building, although doctor/client privilege kept him from naming any names. He came across as being intelligent and insightful, reading over Scullyâs prepared list of questions and even suggesting a few of his own that sheâd overlooked.
All in all, Scully was pleasantly surprised by the psychologist. She had been prepared to go through with the hypnosis even if the Amazing Kreskin had walked through the door, but luckily for her, that hadnât been the case. Scully felt herself begin to relax as Dr. Strickland prepared to start.
âOk Dana, now I want you to close your eyes, and weâre going to begin with some breathing exercises to help you relax.â
As she followed the psychologistâs instructions, Scully felt herself beginning to relax, despite her earlier fears that her extreme worry about her partner might keep her from doing so.
Her body felt light, almost as if it were floating above the chair, and she knew it would soon be time for the doctor to begin.
** Ok bracelet, do your stuff, ** she thought to herself absently, before another thought
whispered into her mind, ** You never put the bracelet back on. **
The doctorâs face registered surprise when his seemingly tranquil subject suddenly sat up and began digging frantically in her jacket pockets. âDana?â
âWhere is it? Itâs got to be here!â She hurriedly checked the other pocket, and there it was, nestled deep in the crevice. She held it up triumphantly before securing it to her left wrist. Leaning back in the chair once again, she looked apologetically at Dr. Strickland.
âIâm sorry, doctor. Can we begin again, please?â She didnât offer any explanations, and to his credit, he kept any questions he had concerning her strange behavior to himself. His only reaction was a quick glance over the top of her head to where the three Gunmen sat behind her, close enough to hear the proceedings, yet out of her line of sight so as not to distract. She didnât have to turn around to know that the three men were exchanging quizzical looks as they each wondered silently if perhaps working with Mulder all these years had finally pushed her over the edge of sanity.
The psychologist however, managed to school his features into what she knew had to be a well-practiced mask of professionalism. Scully supposed in his line of work, he was accustomed to a certain level of craziness and had learned long ago when to keep his thoughts to himself.
âAlright Dana, letâs try this again, shall we?â
As she reclined back into the chair and closed her eyes, the psychologist nodded at Byers to restart the tape recorder. He then spent several moments leading Scully through a series of breathing exercises designed to help her relax enough to reach a hypnotic state. By the time he had finished, she appeared for all intents and purposes to be sleeping. Head back, eyes closed, her breathing was deep and even and the tension he had previously noted in her face in association with worry over her missing partner had eased into a more calm and peaceful expression. They were ready to begin.
âNow Dana, I want you to imagine a place where you feel comfortable, someplace where you have felt safe and happy and protected in the past. Do you have a place like that in mind?â
After a momentâs pause she responded in a low, calm voice.
âVery good. Iâm going to ask you some questions Dana, about your partner and his whereabouts, and I want you to focus only on the sound of my voice. If at any time you feel upset, or afraid, I will tell you to remember your safe place and you will no longer feel frightened. Are you ready to begin, Dana?â
âOk. I want you to think back to this morning. You were in your apartment, in your bed, asleep. Did you have a dream?â
âCan you remember what that dream was about?â
âMulder. I was talking to Mulder.â
âYou dreamed that you were talking to your partner?â
âYesâ¦ wellâ¦no. I was talking to Mulder through my dream, not dreaming that I was talking to him.â
The doctor frowned in confusion. âIsnât that the same thing?â
âNo. I was asleep, but I wasnât dreaming. I was there with Mulder.â
âYouâre saying you could see your partner? Where heâs being kept? That you actually spoke with him?â Had Scully not been under hypnosis, she might have laughed at the incredulous tone the psychologist wasnât quite able to keep from his voice.
âWhat did you talk about?â
âI asked him where he was. It looked like some sort of subway tunnel, but it wasnât being used to run trains. It wasnât as large as the working tunnels. He said he thought that they never left the Eastern Market station, but he didnât know for certain. He was hurt.â
âCan you describe Agent Mulderâs injuries?â
âHe has multiple contusions to the left side of his face. His left eye is swollen shut. I believe he has a concussion. Possibly some fractured ribs. Thatâs the worst of it so far.â
âWhat do you mean âso farâ?â
âHeâs covered in gasoline. That monster intends to burn him. Alive.â
This came out as a tremulous whisper. A gasp from one of the observers brought the doctorâs gaze to Frohike.
âSheâs been complaining about smelling gasoline ever since she got here,â he said quietly.
Strickland returned his attention to his patient. âOk Dana, can you try and describe to me the place where your partner is being held? Maybe we can figure out where it is.â
âI know where he is.â
âYou said that your partner didnât know where he was being kept.â
âI found out where they are from Brown instead.â Her calm demeanor was marred by a sneer as she fairly spat the manâs name.
âWho is Brown?â
âThe bastard who took Mulder. Stuart Brown. Except thatâs not really his name. Thatâs just the name heâs using now.â
âYou spoke with your partnerâs captor?â
âNo. Of course not. Brown couldnât see or hear me.â
Stricklandâs eyebrows were raised questioningly, although the expression was lost on the woman before him.
âIf he wasnât aware of your presence, then how did he tell you his location?â
âHe didnât have to tell me. I touched him.â
âYou touched him? I donât understand.â
âI touched him, and I knew what he knows.â She shuddered a bit from the memory.
âAbout five feet from the security kiosk on the platform level of the Eastern Market metro station, there is a door which leads to a supply room. At the end of that room there is another door hidden behind a shelving unit which leads to an unfinished tunnel. It is approximately 1,500 feet long and runs parallel to the active tunnels. It was originally meant to be used as a service and repair tunnel, but before its completion the DCMTA decided to do that elsewhere, and construction was halted. Now itâs not used for anything. Most people donât even know itâs there. The 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. Brown learned about it through some old blueprints he dug up on the internet two years ago and was fascinated by the thought of a secret tunnel under the ground. Thatâs when he set out to do whatever it took to ensure that he had access to that tunnel. He set himself up with a false identity, with a squeaky-clean history, and was soon hired by Metro. With the exemplary background he created for himself, being assigned to the station of his choice was no problem. He gets off on knowing that theyâre so close to him, even when heâs working. He likes knowing he can sneak in there whenever he pleases, that he can make themâ¦screamâ¦and no one can hear them. The noise from the trains masks their cries for help.â
Her voice broke, and she cleared her throat before continuing. âHe wonât wait until Sunday to kill Mulder. Heâs supposed to wait three days, but he wonât this time. Heâs said what he wanted to say, and thereâs no more need for him to stick with the pattern. Heâs going to kill him today. Then heâs going to slip away and become someone else. I have to go find him.â
Her words took on a tone of urgency as she told of the fate that Brown had planned for her partner. The doctor tried to relieve some of her distress.
âDana, youâre getting upset. I want you to calm down and listen to me. Do you remember the safe place we talked about earlier? I want you to think about that place now, and let it help to relax you. Youâre safe here.â
Instead of the desired effect, the doctorâs admonition served only to agitate Scully further.
âNo! Timeâs running out. I have to get to Mulder. Iâll relax when Mulderâs safe. Wake me up. Iâve got to go.â
The psychologist scanned the list in his hand. Despite his subjectsâ entreaty to be released from hypnosis, he knew that her upset would be even greater should they leave any questions unanswered. It seemed to him that they had more or less covered all of the questions Scully had wanted to be asked, save one. And though he didnât honestly believe there was any way she could possibly know the answer, he asked it anyway.
âAlright Dana, weâre almost finished here,â he soothed. âJust one more question and then you can go find your partner. Is there anything you can think of to tell me that will be helpful to you later? Anything that you feel you need to remember in order to successfully find and aid your partner? Aâ¦warning, perhaps?â
She was quiet for a moment as she considered the question.
âI have to go in, alone, unarmed. If he sees a weapon, he wonât hesitate to ignite the gasoline. Heâs not afraid to die, and if he senses he has no other choice, heâll do everything in his power to take Mulder with him. I have to get him to come after me. And when he doesâ¦I donât knowâ¦I canât see it.â
She stopped, clearly frustrated, then began again. 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. I donât know why, or how, only that itâs true.â
An unnatural light coaxed the psychologistâs eyes away from Scullyâs face and down to her left wrist to where the moonstones in her bracelet had once again taken on their mysterious glow. He nearly jumped out of his chair in surprise.
âWhat the hell?â The three men seated behind Scully came forward to see what had captured the doctorâs attention. Frohike was the first to recover his voice.
âWicked! Is it hot?â He reached out a tentative finger towards the bracelet, stopping only when it was jerked away from his touch at the last second.
For the first time since the session had begun, Scully opened her eyes and regarded him steadily. âI need to go find my partner now.â That said, her eyes once again slid closed as she sat quietly waiting for the commands that would release her from hypnosis.
âYou canât do this.â
As she reached out to eject the tape from the recorder, Scully felt a hand atop her own. Looking up at the owner of that hand, she was surprised to see concern in place of the comical leer usually reserved exclusively for her.
âI have to, Frohike. You heardâ¦what I said. Mulderâs life depends on it.â She gently shook him off and collected the cassette tape.
âYes, but at the expense of your own?â He begged the other three men for support with a single, beseeching look.
âHopefully it wonât come to that,â was her reply. âBesides. Mulder would do it for me.â
âAgent Scully, shouldnât you at least tell someone what youâre doing? Shouldnât you have some kind of back-up?â Byers injected.
âIf I tell Skinner or the SAC about this, I wonât be allowed to go in alone. Itâs against Bureau protocol,â she explained patiently. âBesides, theyâll want to know where I got my information, and what will I tell them? I saw it in a dream? Theyâll think Iâm crazier than Mulder,â she smiled.
The psychologist saw his opening and took it. âDana, I know that sometimes dreams can seem extremely realistic, and while they may sometimes contain certain fragments of what we call reality, they are still exactly that. Dreams. Nothing more than a series of ideas or images created and strung together by our subconscious during sleep. How can you even be sure this hidden tunnel exists?â
âI just know.â
At his disbelieving look, she chuckled. âBelieve me Dr. Strickland, if you had asked me that question a week ago, I would have agreed with you wholeheartedly.â She nodded her head toward the Gunmen.
âThese guys can tell you, Iâve never been one to believe in something without hard scientific evidence to back it up. Thatâs my partnerâs department. Someâ¦ things have happened over the last several days that I canât even begin to explain, and yet, I canât discount them either. Just the knowledge that they happened at all, to me, is evidence in and of itself. I know Iâm not making much sense here, and I donât really have time to explain it all to you now, but I have reason to believe that the dream I had was more than just the worried imaginings of my own subconscious. Reason enough at least, to set aside my own doubts for the moment. For Mulderâs sake.â
âLucky bastard,â Frohike mumbled under his breath as Scully turned and headed for the door.
She stopped with her hand on the knob, and smiled. âYou be sure and tell him that the next time you see him, Frohike.â
She sobered for a moment, regarding the group. âI appreciate your help, as well as your concern. I donât know what I wouldâve done without you guys. Now, will one of you show me how to open this door?â
Waiting patiently to one side while Langley went to work on the multitude of locks securing the exit, Scully studied Frohike thoughtfully. He held her gaze nervously for a moment before bursting out, âWhat?â
She narrowed her eyes at him contemplatively. âYou wouldnât be thinking about ratting me out, would you Frohike?â
His eyes widened in surprise before he quickly lowered his gaze to the floor. âNo, of course not,â he lied. **How did she know that? ** he thought.
She snorted in amusement as Langley finished his task and held the door open so she could pass through. âGood. See that you donât. Iâd hate to have to kick your ass.â
Once she was out of earshot, Frohike shook his head, muttering to himself, âGod, sheâs hot.â
End Chapter Eight