February 4, 1998
Upstate New York
"Uh? Ashley? Are you okay?"
"I need to talk to you."
"What time…Ashley it’s two in the morning. Did you have a bad dream?"
"No. Grampa said to get you."
"Grampa wants you to call 911. He says Mrs. Angley is having a heart attack and she needs an ambulance.
"Doris, what’s going on? It’s the middle of the night."
"Ashley said Mrs. Angley is having a heart attack."
"How would she know that?"
"Tom, get on some clothes and go check."
"Go see if Mrs. Angley is all right."
"It’s two a.m. I could give her a heart attack just showing up at her door this time of night."
"Tom, don’t argue with me, go over to Mrs. Angley’s!"
He continued to grumble, but he did slip on his jeans and grabbed the flashlight from beside the bed. "If she calls the police on me, you better be ready to bail me out."
"Just go Tom!"
Doris led her daughter back to her room. "Go back to sleep now, Ashley. It’s late and you have school in the morning. Daddy and I will look after everything."
"Umkay." She was already mostly asleep.
After tucking her in, Doris turned out the lights and proceeded downstairs to see if Tom was having any luck. Before she reached the bottom step she could hear the sirens. Was it the police or an ambulance? In moments, both flashed past her house and she watched the small crowd of rescue personnel rush into her neighbor’s home.
Tossing her coat over her nightgown and making sure her keys were in her pocket, she headed outside.
Several neighbors had already come outside to check on the commotion, and Doris hurried down the street to meet Tom coming out of Mrs. Angley’s door.
"It’s okay. The paramedics think she’ll be fine since they got here so quickly." He raised his voice and called to the other neighbors. "Everything’s okay. Sue may have had a slight heart attack, but they think she’ll be fine. Go on back to bed."
The neighbors began disbursing and Tom took Doris’ arm. "What happened, Doris? How did she know?"
Doris shook her head, she wasn’t even sure she wanted to know.
March 24, 1998
Upstate New York
"Thank you for coming Agent Mulder, Agent Scully. Please come in. Can I get you anything?" as she led them to the sunroom at the back of the house.
"No, thank you." Mulder took in the pictures on the one wall in the room that wasn’t glass. Scully was watching Mulder’s face. What she saw caused her to approach him.
"Are you okay, Mulder?" He pointed. The girl in the picture had long dark wavy hair.
"Is this your daughter?" Scully asked.
"Yes, that’s Ashley. She turned eight in December." Scully placed her hand lightly on Mulder’s arm, not sure if she was offering support or leading him toward the sofa.
"We heard that your daughter had a scare yesterday." Scully started the conversation, since Mulder didn’t seem to be able.
"Yes. She was walking home from a friend’s house, just down the street. A car pulled up, a man jumped out of the passenger side and tried to grab her."
"Did he touch her?"
"No. She started running and one of my neighbors saw what was happening and ran over to her. The man jumped back in the car and they raced off. The police have a description of the car and took pictures of the marks on the road where they peeled off, but I haven’t heard what they found."
"Do you have any idea why someone would go after your daughter?" Mulder finally joined the conversation. "Could you or your husband have any enemies that might…"
"No, I don’t think that’s what this is about. It’s not about money either, at least not directly. I mean, if someone wanted a large ransom they didn’t do their homework. My husband and I are very comfortable, you saw the neighborhood. But there are people all around us that are wealthy. These people have children too. No, Ashley was targeted."
"So you have some other theory?" Mulder prompted her.
"Yes. That’s why they directed me to you. I mean, I called the FBI, it was an attempted kidnapping. After they talked to me, they gave me your name, Agent Mulder."
No one but Mulder would have discerned the slight eyebrow movement on Scully’s face. He, however, had been watching for it.
"What is your theory, Mrs. Kincaid?"
"Doris, please. It’s hard to explain, it just sounds so crazy. I need to give you a little background. She took a deep breath and stared at her hands.
"This all began almost two months ago. Ashley came to my husband and me in the middle of the night and told us that her Grandfather had told her to wake me and have me call 911 because a neighbor down the street was having a heart attack."
"Excuse me, does your father live here? Maybe he saw something from a window."
"That’s just it, my father died three months ago, January 4. But, you see Ashley barely knew my father. She only saw him a couple of times. He had been institutionalized since before she was born, nearly ten years. Alzheimer’s. He never knew her."
"Isn’t it possible that your daughter had a dream, woke up and saw something herself?" Scully asked.
"That’s what we wanted to believe. It made the most sense."
"But you don’t believe that now?" Mulder offered.
"If that had been the only time…"
They all turned as the young girl from the photo entered the room, followed by a man that was obviously her father.
"Tom, Ashley, I’d like you to meet Agents Mulder and Scully from the FBI."
Tom shook hands with both of them. Scully turned to Ashley.
"Hi, Ashley. Are you doing okay?"
"Um hum. You don’t have to protect me, you know."
"Why is that?" Mulder leaned forward.
"Grampa watches out for me and the whole town."
"Must be nice to have someone like that around." Mulder commented. Doris motioned for Tom to take Ashley out.
"Come on, Ash. Let’s let them finish up in here and you can make me a PBJ." Tom tugged lightly at Ashley’s ponytail.
"I know, I’m not supposed to listen. Can I have a soda?"
"Sure, come on." They wandered off, Mulder’s eyes following her.
"Sorry for the interruption. She’s an only child and probably spoiled beyond redemption, but we do tend to treat her more as an adult than a child."
"No problem. Please go on, you said there were more incidents?" Mulder coaxed her.
"Yes. Several days after the first incident Ashley called me from a friend’s house, the same one she was coming from yesterday when she was nearly taken, to tell me that Grampa wanted me to call 911 again because the janitor’s closet at the high school was on fire."
"And that’s not something she could have seen either?"
"Ashley’s only been to the high school a couple of times, to see plays with her class. It’s over two miles from here and she would never have been in the section where this closet is located. But it was on fire and because of my call, the damage was minimal. I can tell you, the people at 911 know my voice now and seem to sit up and take notice when I call." She smiled softly to herself.
"Have there been other incidents?" Scully probed.
The smile faded. "Yes, that’s what I think is happening now."
"What do you mean?"
"There have been a series of robberies over the last six months in town. Some very nice jewelry and silver from several friends as well as the electronic things that are so easy to steal. Apparently Dad told Ashley where some of the stolen items were being kept and, of course, she told me. When the police investigated they recovered some things, but not nearly everything. The people that stole the things got away before the police arrived, so they weren’t caught. I think they believe that Ashley knows who they are and want to stop her."
"Does she know?"
"No, Dad didn’t tell her, so I’m sure he doesn’t know either."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Dad has been, apparently, looking after the town through Ashley. He’s used names and addresses that Ashley wouldn’t know. The people doing this are strangers to him, which means they could be passing through, or they moved to town in the last ten years. Mr. Mulder, my father knew everyone from around here. He was mayor for three terms and he loved this place. I’m not surprised that he would want to help out, but…" Doris’ voice faded out.
"You seem to have accepted the thought of your father’s… your father’s spirit contacting your daughter fairly easily." Scully commented. Mulder glanced over at her, gauging her level of skepticism.
"No, but you’re meeting me two months and six or seven incidents later. It was harder not believing."
"Mrs…Doris, " Scully amended, "my partner and I need to do some investigating on our own, see what the police have discovered. We will want to talk with you and Ashley tomorrow if that’s possible."
"Of course. Ashley gets home from school at 2:45. If there’s anything we can do to help…"
They said their good-byes and headed for the car.
"Why did you get us out of there so quickly, Scully?"
"I was afraid you were going to start drooling, Mulder. You need to slow down and look at this case objectively."
"Okay, you tell me your theories, why don’t you? Explain all that away."
"I don’t have a theory yet Mulder, but I’m not going to just believe everything we heard without checking into it further. I know this is hard for you, Mulder. I see the parallels for you."
"Yes. A beautiful little dark-haired eight year old girl. Don’t waste energy denying it, but try not to let it influence you too much."
"I…I’ll try, Scully. Am I boring you?" He glanced over to see her stifle a yawn.
"No, I didn’t sleep well last night. Must be catching up with me. Go ahead with what you were saying."
He began going over the information they had so far. He turned to her to make a point and realized she had fallen asleep in the car. She’d done that before, on stakeouts, but not in the middle of the day. He wondered what had caused such a bad night for her.
When they reached the hotel he touched her shoulder. "Come on sleepyhead, we’re home."
"What? Oh, Mulder, I’m sorry."
"No problem. You didn’t miss anything."
They headed upstairs. "Look, Scully, why don’t I make a few phone calls, set things up for tomorrow and you finish your nap."
"I’m fine, Mulder."
"I know, but we’re going to be here for at least a couple of days, an hour won’t mess us up either way."
She looked up hopefully, "You sure?"
"Yes. Go stretch out."
She smiled and let herself in the room. She checked to make sure the connecting door was unlocked and then pulled the extra blanket out of the closet and fell back asleep.
Mulder made several phone calls. The officers he needed to speak with would be back on duty in the morning. He checked their messages at the office, then checked on her. Scully was still asleep, so he took a quick shower and changed. He was getting hungry, so he checked on her again. It looked like she was beginning to stir so he went on in.
She looked so relaxed. He almost never saw her like this, loose and uncontrolled. He leaned over her and brushed her hair off her forehead, and before he could stop himself, had cupped her cheek in his hand. Her hand joined his and she nestled into the pillow. Was she…god, did Dana Scully really know how to purr? If she caught him now she’d shoot him again. How was he going to get out of this one?
If he could get back to the door, but she was cuddled up with his hand and if felt damn good. No, grow up, Mulder.
"Scully? Wake up."
When she stirred he moved his hand away quickly before she was really awake.
"Mulder? What time is it?"
"Six? I didn’t mean to sleep that long."
"You obviously needed it. Are you coming down with something?"
"I feel fine, Mulder. I hope I can sleep tonight. You’re hungry aren’t you?"
"Okay, let me freshen up and we’ll go find something to eat."
He held out his hand to help her up and was only a little surprised when she actually took it.
The next morning saw them at the Sheriff’s office meeting Sheriff Barton Hayes and his deputies, officers Green and Camp. They were all very helpful and Officer Green was extremely intrigued by the paranormal aspects of the case.
The stolen items that had been recovered with Ashley’s help were still being held in the evidence room and included some nice jewelry and pieces of silver. "That broach belongs to Mrs. Tilley, it’s the only piece of hers we’ve recovered, and it’s been in her family for generations. It’s not the most expensive piece but the sentimental value to her more than makes up for it. She’s anxious to get it back when we crack this case." Sheriff Hayes had taken the agents back to view the items. "I realize you aren’t here to help with a string of robberies, but if Doris and Tom are right about who’s trying to take little Ashley…"
"We’re more than happy to help out, Sheriff Hayes. Have you had any luck identifying the car?"
"No, but then we don’t really have the manpower to scour the entire town looking for tire impressions. And neither Sharon nor Ashley had a very good description of the car. They were both too rattled to get much except color – silver. Not a big help."
They drove out with the Sheriff to the location of the recovered items and got a layout of the town. It was quite affluent, and Sheriff Hayes pointed with pride to the furniture factory on the edge of town. "That’s been the real reason we do so well here. The employees own the company and it’s craftsmanship, not volume. They could make three times the orders they get daily and not catch up. My wife works out here in the office and both of my sons spent summers out here. Most every kid in town has been out here for part-time work and a lot of them come back and go into it full time after school. My son does upholstering here now, after getting his degree in design. It’s a close knit town."
"Sheriff Hayes, I couldn’t help but notice everyone around seems to be fairly affluent. Do they own stock out here?"
"I imagine most people in town do. I certainly do. But it’s more than that, we all grew up together for the most part and even though Skip Downs is CEO to his own computer company and I’m the ‘lowly’ sheriff, we‘re in the same investment club and go to the same church. His house is bigger, but I’m in and out of it just like when we were kids. We help each other out and I take it personally when someone robs a friend of mine, they know that."
"Not many newcomers?"
"Sure, some. If by newcomer you mean they’re parents weren’t born here. Some people have moved in, but we don’t seem to attract a lot of people. We don’t have a lot of shopping or nightlife, but the schools are great. We’ve probably had twenty families move in over the last four or five years. But once they get here they want to keep it secret too, so it won’t change."
"Could we get the names of those families? The ones that have joined the community in, say, the last ten years." Mulder asked and avoided Scully’s look.
"Sure. I can have that for you in just a little while. Probably could do it in my head on the way back to the office. Well, if you’ve seen enough, we can head on back."
He dropped Mulder and Scully at the office so that they could get their own car and promised to get the list for them shortly.
"You want a list of people that moved in after Mrs. Kincaid’s father was institutionalized." Scully stated.
"You know me so well. Why not start there? We can have the sheriff check those cars, it would certainly cut down on volume."
"Keep an open mind, Scully. Let’s grab some lunch and see what we can dig up. Then we can talk to Ashley this afternoon. Unless you want to take another nap?"
"I slept fine, thank you."
"You know, you shouldn’t party all night when you know we’re going out on a case the next day."
"I’ll try to remember that, Mulder." She responded dryly, not giving him the information he was obviously asking for. But to be honest, she didn’t have a clue why she had been so tired yesterday. She’d only used the night before as an excuse. It had been all she could do to keep her eyes open at the Kincaid house.
They visited with Mrs. Kincaid while waiting for Ashley to return home from school. Everyone in town had heard of the attempted kidnapping, so the carpool was being especially vigilant. "I had a hard time letting her out of my sight at first, but these are all mothers and they’ll look after her. We agreed we didn’t want to scare the children too much with a drastic change in routine."
"That’s probably the wisest course of action. Who’s driving today?"
"Sharon, uh, Mrs. Wilson. She’s the woman who ran after the man when the whole thing happened."
"We’d like to talk with her too."
"Of course, I’ll introduce you when she gets home and you can see what’s convenient for both of you."
Mulder went upstairs to check out Ashley’s room while Scully waited with Doris. Sharon and Ashley came in a few minutes later and Scully arranged for them to go next door when they were finished talking with Ashley.
They all moved back out to the sunroom when Mulder came back downstairs and he began asking Ashley to describe what she could remember of the events that had taken place. Scully watched as her partner became more involved with the girl, obviously more concerned than he usually was in their cases, but how could she blame him?
Suddenly Ashley turned to her mother, "Grampa wants you to call 911. Mrs. Thornburg fell, she may have a broken hip."
"Ashley, is your grandfather here now?" Mulder tried, unsuccessfully, to keep the excitement out of his voice.
"Sure, he’s over there." She pointed toward the door into the living room. Scully moved closer to the girl, checking for physical changes. Her eyes were not dilated; her pulse was strong and steady, not elevated.
"Doris, go ahead and call 911. We’ll stay here with Ashley." Scully moved to sit beside the girl. "Ashley, how are you getting this information?"
"I can hear him talking."
"Are his lips moving?"
"Yes. He says you can’t hear him, but it just sounds normal to me."
Mulder began moving toward the door where Ashley had indicated. He held his right hand out, testing for anything he might be able to detect.
"Mulder!" Scully was on her feet.
"It was cold." She was beside him now and took his hand.
"Oh my god!" His right hand was like ice. "What did you do?" She began rubbing his hand between her own. He didn’t really need it, his hand was warming up quickly, but he always enjoyed her attentions.
"Nothing. You saw me."
"He shook hands with Grampa. Grampa’s dead you know." Ashley offered in totally adult tones, as though that explained everything, making both agents feel quite naïve.
Mulder realized that Scully was no longer rubbing his hand, but rather clutching at him to remain on her feet.
"Scully? What’s wrong?"
"I can’t…Mulder, I can’t hold my eyes open."
"Come here." He had his arm around her. "Here, put your feet up."
"I don’t feel faint, Mulder. I’m sleepy."
"We need to get you out of here."
"The ambulance is on the way to Mrs. Thornburg’s. What happened here?" Doris took in the scene in front of her.
"I have to get Scully out of here. I’ll call you shortly."
He lifted her off the couch, ignoring her hissed, "Put me down." He got her in the car, and she was asleep before he could get in himself. He leaned across her and buckled her in.
This was totally unfamiliar to him. Nothing that he’d ever read mentioned phenomena like what was happening to Scully. When he stopped the car at the hotel she didn’t stir. He gathered her into his arms and carried her inside. She weighed nothing and this was dangerously close to a fantasy he’d had several times regarding his partner.
He laid her gently on the bed and rather than leave her alone, signed onto her laptop and began checking every site he could find regarding haunts and their manifestations. Nothing. He finally called the Gunmen to have them take over the search.
When she finally stirred, he was immediately at her side.
"How are you feeling?"
"Rested and a little embarrassed."
"There’s nothing for you to be embarrassed about. I don’t think you’ve developed narcolepsy, but I don’t think you should go back to the house."
"Mulder, that’s where our investigation…"
"You can lead the other part. The Sheriff is getting us that list of newcomers. You can start checking them out and work out of here or the Sheriff’s office. Oh, and Mrs. Thornburg did break her hip, but she’s in the hospital and her prognosis is good."
"I know you don’t believe my theory. Wanna give me one of yours?"
She looked away, not prepared to argue the possibilities.
"I’ll call Sheriff Hayes and see if he’s ready, then I’ll drop you there. Are you up to it, Scully?"
"Yes. I’m not sick, Mulder." He nodded and dialed the Sheriff’s office. Since Hayes was not quite ready, they stopped for an early dinner and then met at his office.
"This shouldn’t be too hard, Mr. Mulder. Most of the new people live in one of the three new sections of town. They’re not that large. We should be able to finish one up this afternoon and if need be get the other two tomorrow."
"Good. I’ll leave Agent Scully with you and I’ll try to finish up with the Kincaid’s neighborhood. Call me if you find anything."
He interviewed the neighbor who had witnessed the actual kidnapping attempt and returned to the Kincaid home to continue his interview with Ashley.
She was obviously used to talking to adults and was quite articulate. Suddenly she turned and faced the door.
"Ashley?" Mulder felt his adrenaline rise.
"Your wife’s in trouble."
"I’m not married, Ash…Scully?"
"Yes, the woman you’re with."
"What’s happening, Ashley. Where is she?"
"They couldn’t get me, so they took her. He doesn’t know where they are. He can’t recognize it."
"Is she okay?"
There was silence for a moment. His anxiety rising with each second.
"They hit her over the head. She’s not awake."
"Scully." He whispered it as he grabbed the phone from his pocket. "This is Agent Mulder, do you have Sheriff Hayes and Agent Scully’s last location. This is urgent."
"Sheriff Hayes is here. I’ll put him on."
When Hayes picked up the line, Mulder was ready to explode. "I thought you were with Scully, investigating the neighborhoods!"
"I was going to, but Deputy Green was so fascinated with the paranormal side of the case, he asked to help her."
"Green." He thought a moment. "Was his name on that list?"
"Well, yeah, matter of fact it was."
"He’s part of it. He’s part of the robbery ring and he has Scully. Where were they headed?"
"Oh shit, do you really think…? I recommended they try to do New Circle this afternoon." He gave quick directions. "I’ll meet you at the entrance."
Mulder gave Mrs. Kincaid the information he had and made her promise to call him immediately if Ashley received any more information. He caught up with Hayes shortly.
"I did a drive through, didn’t see Green’s car anywhere. How do you want to handle this?"
"Are you sure they came here first?"
"No. I can check out the other neighborhoods while you keep looking here."
"Do that, and call me. You got the list? I’ll start at the beginning, see if they’ve been here."
The Sheriff peeled off and Mulder drove to the first home on the list. Two of the first three houses were empty and the third has not seen anyone from the Sheriff’s office. His frustration level was threatening to boil over. She could be badly injured and he didn’t know where the hell she was.
When his phone trilled he nearly ripped his pocket getting to it. "Mulder."
"We’ve found Green’s squad car, out on the highway, abandoned. There’s no sign of them."
"Which development is it nearest?"
"Adam’s Farm, that’s about four miles south of where you are on highway 27."
"I’ll meet you there." He hung up and raced back to his car.
Mulder arrived first and was scanning the area. There was construction still going on here, plenty of places to hide things.
When the sheriff pulled up, Mulder was at his car. "We’re going to need extra men. I want to call the bureau and get some reinforcements."
"Fine, whatever you think we need. In the meantime I can pull Camp out, that puts one of us in each development. My wife can handle dispatching. She’s done it before."
"Yeah, do that. Agent Scully has a head injury. We’ve got to find her as soon as possible."