We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Notes: Thanks to my wonderful beta
reader, Patti (MightyMouseML). Without
her, I would be posting all sorts of typos
and grammatical errors.
Synopsis: Mulder goes ghost hunting.
Mulder entered the kitchen and immediately required
the one item he had forgotten: A flashlight.
He stood still for a moment, allowing his vision to adjust
to Willow House's gloomy interior. The first thing he noticed,
was the total absence of scavenger or rodent infestation.
Other than the occasional cobweb, there seemed to be no
other insect population.
Setting his bag on the still sturdy table, Mulder extricated
his video camera, hoping the battery was fully charged. He
could use its light to navigate by as darkness descended,
preventing a broken ankle or worse.
Moving slowly about the kitchen, Mulder examined the ancient
remnants of the servants' domain. Canned goods neatly lined
the shelves. Rusted cutlery and antique appliances graced the
counter tops. Everything appeared to be exactly as it was sixty
years ago. Mulder was surprised curiosity seekers and vandals
hadn't ransacked the house for souvenirs.
Heading through the service door into the formal dining area,
Mulder was astounded by the sheer size of the room. The
enormous oak table would seat at least thirty. The ornate
china cabinet held service for at least that, possibly more.
Heavy velvet curtains covered one entire wall. Mulder approached,
planning to open the drapes and allow any remaining sunlight to
enter the darkened room. As his fingers touched the dusty velvet
cord, Mulder heard the first clap of thunder and jumped. Wrestling
with the moldering cloth to expose the window, Mulder was astounded
by the dark clouds that covered the sky. He'd been inside less than ten
minutes and a storm of biblical proportions was already brewing!
He decided to check out the second floor right away. If the roof leaked,
he could always return downstairs, and remain relatively dry. Switching
on the video camera, Mulder used its brilliant beam to light his path while
ascending the grand staircase. Hearing noises from the floor above him,
Mulder assumed the increasing wind was responsible. Tree limbs
scratching on windowpanes were surely the source of the eerie sounds.
At the head of the stairs, Mulder took a deep breath and walked softly
to the door of the master bedroom. It swung open on rusty hinges
causing Mulder to cringe at the loud squeak. Shining the light from
the video camera inside, Mulder gasped when he spied the dark
stained linen still adorning the four poster. Evidently, no one had
ever bothered to clean the room where Ruprecht murdered his wife
Lightning flashed flooding the bedroom with an almost blinding white
light, followed immediately by a booming crash of thunder.
Mulder was petrified! During the instant of brilliant illumination, he
was positive he'd seen a man silhouetted against the window!
Backing out of the master bedroom, Mulder turned to stumble
down the stairs. He thought he'd lose his grip on the video camera
and his sanity, as he heard footsteps follow him.
Risking a glance over his shoulder, Mulder whimpered softly as he
saw a shadowy form moving toward the stairwell.
Another flash of lightning.
Mulder shrieked as the hallway was momentarily lit by the glow
from the bedroom window.
A skinless corpse shuffled down the first step, clutching a rusted
hunting knife in its bony fist. Tattered ribbons hung limply from its
wrists and ankles. Eyeballs bulged from lidless sockets, white teeth
grinned madly in a lipless mouth.
Skinned Tom met and held Mulder's gaze, before the flash from
the lightning faded.
Dropping the video camera, Mulder plunged down the stairs,
taking them two at a time. He refused to look back again, knowing
madness and death would surely follow.
In the darkness, Mulder missed a step, rolling the rest of the way
down to land in a heap at the base of the stairs. Struggling to regain
his footing, he shrieked again as a cold bony hand clutched at
Twisting and turning, Mulder pulled free from Skinned Tom's grasp
just as the hunting knife swiped past his ear.
Walter Skinner tried Mulder's home number twice, getting the
machine both times. Concerned that Mulder might be really ill,
he decided to drop by the younger man's apartment to see for
Using the spare key, Skinner let himself into Mulder's apartment
and went straight to the bedroom. Finding an empty bed, Skinner
nearly lost his temper. Taking a few deep breaths, he speed dialed
Scully's number, "Our Fox has flown the coop, yet again. Do you
have any idea where he might be?"
Scully growled in frustration, "No, sir. No doubt, he's left all sorts
of clues, though. He never remembers one or both of us will check
out his story. Look around, I'm sure you'll find something. Please
call me back."
Dropping the phone into his pocket, Skinner began a methodical
search of Mulder's apartment. Finding several discarded scraps of
scratch paper on Mulder's desk, Skinner sat down and immediately
turned on the computer. Silently thanking the powers that be, Mulder
never bothered to password protect his system, Skinner logged on
and pulled down the history menu. It took him less than five minutes
to figure out where Mulder had gone.
While the map and directions were printing, Skinner called Scully with
his discovery, "I'm leaving right now. It shouldn't take more than an half
an hour. I'll call back, as soon as I get my hands on him."
Scully giggled, "Very good, sir. Let me know if there's anything I can
do, like tend his injuries once you've finished with him."
Skinner chuckled dryly, "Good bye, Scully. I'll call you later."
As Mulder began to run, he nearly fell again from a sharp pain
in his ankle. He must have injured it tumbling down the stairs.
Biting his lip to keep from crying out, Mulder limped as fast as
he could, trying to reach the front door, before Skinned Tom
could catch him again.
The storm was raging full force, now. Mulder whipped open the
door, only to find his car mired in mud and a rapidly filling pool
of rainwater. Slamming the door closed, he staggered back toward
the kitchen. His ankle wasn't going to support his weight much
longer, so he had to find somewhere to hide.
Another crash of lightning revealed the small door tucked under
the stairwell. Mulder rushed to conceal himself. He hoped Skinned
Tom was fooled into thinking he'd escaped outside into the storm.
Skinner pulled his cell phone from his pocket, then put it back.
He'd rather take Mulder by surprise. If that wily Fox had any
advanced warning, he would simply run again. Skinner had no
intentions of spending his entire weekend chasing after Fox Mulder.
Driving slowly in the pouring rain, Skinner referred frequently to
the printed map. He almost missed the turn off, and had to slow
to a crawl on the rutted lane. The sodden willow branches brushed
against the roof and windshield of the car, making it even harder for
him to see.
Pulling into the circle drive, Skinner was nearly blinded by a massive
bolt of lightning. Leaving the headlights on to light his way, Skinner
made a mad dash toward the house. Reasoning that Mulder might see
him, he detoured around the side of Willow House, planning to sneak
up on his prey from behind.
Skinner forced the swollen servants' door entering the same way
Mulder had. He shook the rain off as best he could, wiping
ineffectively at his glasses with his sodden shirt tail.
Finding Mulder's bag dropped casually on the kitchen table made
Skinner even angrier, if possible. Swallowing the urge to shout,
Skinner padded softly into the dining room. Finding it empty, he
glanced outside at the storm, before exiting into the main
hallway to discover Mulder's video camera lying on the floor
near the staircase.
Worry began to replace some of his anger, as Skinner scoped
out yet another empty room. He stood absolutely still, listening
for any sound other than the howling wind and driving rain.
Hearing nothing, he proceeded cautiously. He risked calling
softly, "Mulder? Are you in here?"
Mulder's ears perked up at the familiar voice. Yet, he remained
silent, just in case Skinned Tom was trying to trick him into
revealing his hiding place.
Skinner called again, a bit louder this time, "Fox Mulder? If you're
in here, you'd better say so. Right now, son!"
Mulder sprang for the closet door. "Walter," he hissed, "You've
got to be quiet. He'll hear you!" Trying his best to drag Skinner
into the butler's closet, "He nearly killed me, Walter! If he finds
us, he'll kill us both!"
Skinner shook Mulder firmly, "What's the matter with you, Fox?
You look like you've seen a ghost!"
Throwing himself into Walter's arms Mulder sobbed, "I have seen
a ghost! He's seen me, too! He tried to kill me, Walter. You've just
got to believe me. If he comes back, we're both dead meat!"
Shaking Mulder again, "There's no one here, Fox! You've
just scared yourself. Come on, let's get out of here. Now."
Leaning heavily against his savior, Mulder limped toward the
kitchen, "I've got to get my bag, Walter. Then, I'm ready.
Believe me, I'm more than ready!"
"Forget your bag, Fox. We're leaving by the front door,"
Skinner insisted. He bodily turned the smaller man toward
the front of the house, "Start moving."
Huddling under Skinner's protective arm, Mulder allowed his
supervisor to lead him without argument, "I really did see him,
Walter. He grabbed me. He tried to stab me with a knife, too.
I barely got away from him! It really happened. I know I didn't
Mulder's ankle gave way, as they stepped out of the door and
he stumbled heavily against Skinner, "Sorry. I'm okay, I just
hurt my ankle, when Skinned Tom was trying to kill me!"
Sighing, Skinner lifted Mulder into his arms and carried him
the rest of the way to the car, "Your car isn't going anywhere
for a couple of days. Once the mud has dried up, we'll come
back for it and the rest of your belongings.
Staring back at Willow House over Walter's shoulder, Mulder
stiffened as Skinned Tom appeared in the open doorway,
"Hurry Walter! He's coming after us!"
Whirling around, Skinner did not see the apparition, "There's no
one coming after us, Fox! Stop it. You're with me now, and you're
safe. We're going home, right now."
He set Mulder down to lean against the side of the car, as he
opened the passenger door, "Get in. I don't want to hear any
more nonsense about ghosts, either. Just do as you're told."
Mulder climbed quickly into the car, slamming and locking
the door before cinching his seat belt firmly into place.
As Skinner rounded the car, he thought for just a moment, he
saw someone standing on the porch. Shrugging it off, he climbed
into the driver's seat and fired the engine, "Do you have any idea
how much trouble you're in, Fox Mulder?"
Mulder laughed softly, "No, Walter. I don't, but I'm sure you're
going to tell me."
End of Part II
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