She stirred and looked over at him. He was in the driver’s seat, but he was facing her . . . and they weren’t moving. She sat up, looking around at the trees that seemed to surround them. “What are we doing here?”
Her eyes narrowed, “And is there a reason why we’re just sitting?” He could be so damn aggravating at times.
“Well, we . . .” he looked her sheepishly. “we ran out of gas.”
“Out of . . . you aren’t serious,” her voice was total exasperation.
He nodded, looking uncomfortable.
“That might explain why we’re stopped, and I’ll get back to that, but why are we here? This doesn’t look like the highway.”
“Yeah, uh, well I knew you were in a hurry to get home because - “
“It’s Halloween! Mulder!” It was nearly a whine.
“I know. But the radio said there was a major backup on the highway, so I got off and came this way.”
She just looked at him.
“Didn’t I tell you to fill up? Maybe you really believe you can get to Alaska on fumes, but you can’t,” she knew she sounded like a shrew, but damn it all! She turned away from him.
“If it helps, I’ve already called AAA, but it might be awhile. I am sorry, Scully. I know you wanted to be home, handing out the caramel apples to the little ghouls and ghoulettes.”
She cut her eyes at him.
“I bet you have a black cat cutout on your door, or maybe considering your profession, real skulls.”
“Mulder, how long are we going to be here?”
“They said they’d be here as soon as they could.”
She sighed and shook her head. “So what are we supposed to do in the meantime?”
He shrugged. “We could sit here and I can tell you about the vampire moon.”
“The what?” she demanded.
“Vampire moon. The Vampire Moon is the unholiest night of the 18-year vampire cycle,” the Marty voice was what caused the slight shiver down her spine. “All around the world, vampires come together to celebrate their immortality. A sacrifice is made of a virgin of purest heart. Her red life’s blood renews them with the power of evil. Then they initiate their apprentices. When they drink the blood of the sacrifice, their apprenticeships are complete. They join as true vampires, children of the night! Do you dare hear more?”
“You’re so full of it, Mulder,” she turned from him, shaking her head.
“Hey, I’ve never told you Halloween stories before.”
“Maurice and Lyda?”
“That’s Christmas, not Halloween,” he explained patiently.
“Right. So we’re going to sit here while you tell ghost stories.”
He seemed to shrink slightly at her tone and she felt guilt creep up on her. She tried to shove that away. She had nothing to feel guilty about. She had reminded him to get gas, but . . . She hated it when he got that look on his face. He did hate when he had spoiled something she planned, even inadvertently. After all these years she knew that. She felt herself thawing a little. It was hard to stay mad at this man.
“You’re not going to do your Boris Karloff imitation.”
He seemed to brighten immediately at her dry teasing and took her hand. “Of course not.”
Oh god, his ‘Marty’ voice again. That was worse. It affected her way too much.
“There’s a story from Albany about a couple returning home from a trip to New England. They were driving home in a carriage, and were somewhere near Spiegletown. As it grew dark they knew that they would have to seek shelter for the night.”
He was caressing the hand he still held; why didn’t she pull away?
”The husband spied a light through the trees and turned their horse into a small lane leading up a hill. A pleasant little house stood at the crest, and an old man and his wife met the couple at the door. They were in nightclothes and were obviously about to turn in, but they welcomed the travelers and offered them a room. The old woman bustled about making tea and offering freshly-baked cakes. Then the travelers were shown to their room. The husband wanted to pay the old couple for their lodgings, but the old lady shook her head and the old man refused any payment for such a small service to their fellow New Yorkers.
“The travelers awoke early and tiptoed out of the house, leaving a shiny fifty-cent coin in the center of the kitchen table where the old couple could not miss it. The husband hitched up the horse and they went a few miles before they broke their fast at a little restaurant in Spiegletown.
”The husband mentioned the nice old couple to the owner of the restaurant and the man turned pale. ‘Where did you say that house was?” he asked. The husband described the location in detail.
“You must be mistaken,” the restaurant owner said. “That house was destroyed three years ago by a fire that killed the Brown family.”
“Of course the husband didn’t believe him, and assured the owner that the old couple were alive and well the night before.
“After debating for a few more minutes, the couple and the restaurant owner drove the carriage back out of town towards the old Brown place. They turned into the lane, which was overgrown with weeds, and climbed the hill to the crest. There they found a burned out shell of a house, without even a creaking door to show where they had left the structure now inhabited only by spiders, if the cobwebs were any indication.
“Thinking he had missed the track, he turned when his wife gave a terrified scream and fainted into his arms. As he caught her, the husband looked into the ruin and saw a burnt table with a shiny fifty-cent piece lying in the center.”
He noted her shiver and leaned toward her slightly. “Did I scare you?”
She cut her eyes at him. “Hardly. It’s getting chilly in here.”
He nodded. “I’d offer to turn on the heat but . . . “ He shrugged. “Why don’t we get in the back seat?”
“Excuse me?” her eyebrow was rising now.
“With the console we can’t exactly share body heat here. We could get in the back and cuddle,” he said, grinning.
“Cuddle,” she sounded slightly incredulous.
“Come on, it’s better than getting sick,” he was cajoling now, but it was getting cold. His eyes widened slightly as she shoved her door open, but he was right behind her as she got into the backseat..
He settled in the backseat, his back resting partially on the door. “Take off your coat, Scully.”
“Take off my coat?” She was just watching him now.
“Yes. Sit here against me. I’ll put you inside my coat with me and wrap it around both of us and we can use your coat like a blanket.”
The man was crazy, but he was probably right about the sharing body heat thing, damn it. She did as he suggested and let her back rest against his chest, as she spread her coat over both of them. It was warmer and she could feel his heartbeat against her. Just as well he couldn’t see her face. His arms went around her, grounding her to him. She would’ve sworn she heard him sigh.
“Well?” she managed to keep her voice steady.
“Aren’t you going to tell me another one?” she squirmed back slightly and he sucked in a gasp. He would’ve sworn he heard her sigh.
Hell she was a medical doctor, she knew his anatomy. That was just plain mean, wasn’t it?
“Come on, Mulder. I know you have a million of them,” she brought his attention back to the present.
“Okay, here’s one. There was a man who lived near Dismal Swamp in Virginia. He fell in love with a beautiful young woman who was much too good for him, but he pursued her and pursued her until she finally fell in love with him. She agreed to marry him and they made all the preparations. Then, three days before the wedding she took ill and died.”
Did he realize his voice had gotten husky, or that his arms around her had tightened as though binding her to him?
“He couldn’t believe it when she fell ill. His betrothed was beautiful, strong, and healthy, but she just faded away before his eyes. He held her in his arms as she gasped out her last breath, and was inconsolable long after her coffin lay buried beside the Dismal Swamp.
“They buried her in her wedding gown on what would have been their wedding day. He was destroyed and no one could get him to leave her grave.
“Day after day, night after night, he grieved for his lost love. He scorned food and sleep, depriving himself until his mind gave way under the strain and he became obsessed with the idea that his beloved was still alive somewhere out of reach. Her family had sent her away into the swamp, he reasoned, and she was waiting for him to come and rescue her.
“I will find her,” he told his worried family, passionate in his conviction. “I will find her and hide her away from Death, so that he will never find her when he comes.”
“In vain his family tried to convince him that his beloved laid dead beside the swamp. He would listen to none of their pleas, violently breaking away from them and plunging into the swamp. He wandered for days, living on roots and berries and sleeping at night among the dank marshland.
“One evening at dusk, he stumbled upon Drummond’s Pond, which was a five-mile expanse of water in the middle of the Dismal Swamp. Upon the surface of the water, he saw the soft blinking of a firefly dancing hither and thither across the black surface.
“He rushed around, frantically constructing a raft of cypress branches so that he could reach his love before she disappeared. Lashing the branches together with vines, he leapt on top and floated out to join the woman he had lost.
“As he drew near the center of the pond, a strong wind whipped up and the raft was tossed and tumbled in the sudden waves it caused. He was thrown from the raft and sank down into the murky waters and drowned.
“They found him the next day, dead, with the most peaceful smile on his face. They buried him beside her, but they say on certain nights you can see them together wandering through the swamp, holding hands. Together for eternity.”
They were both silent then; she felt him nuzzling her hair. Geez, it was a garden variety ghost story, why were her eyes tearing? She turned to face him. In the deep dusk it seemed as though he was focused on her lips.
She didn’t realize she was moving closer as he leaned toward her. It was the bright lights of the tow truck slicing through the back window that startled them back from each other.
Mulder cleared his throat and she pulled her coat back around her. He opened the door and if her quick glance was correct, adjusted himself a little.
“You the guys’ outta gas?” the driver called as he swung himself down from the truck cab.
“Yeah. Your timing’s . . . incredible,” Mulder responded. The driver didn’t seem to hear the sarcasm.
‘Bud’ emptied a five gallon can of gas into the tank and led them to the nearest gas station. He waved cheerily at them as Mulder filled up and was gone.
Scully sat in the car trying to bring her heart rate back down, rewrapped in her own coat, her feet warming slowly.
Mulder headed in to pay. He handed over his credit card to the older man. “Sure glad Bud was able to help us tonight.”
“You want a Bud?”
“No,” Mulder raised his voice. “The guy in the tow truck.”
“Sorry, you can’t get a tow truck around here. Dave’s done gone out of business since his back went out. You need a tow?”
“Uh, no. Thanks.” Musing, he let himself out.
Mulder climbed back in and pulled on his seatbelt. “Well, maybe we won’t be so late you won’t get a few trick-or-treaters at the door.”
“Yeah, that’ll be good,” she agreed quietly. “Listen, if you’re not busy, maybe you could help me pass out the candy.”
His head swiveled toward her. “Uh, yeah.” His smile grew. “Yeah, I could do that.”
Author’s notes - Many, many thanks to Carol for adding a nice touch and of course the incredible beta!. Also thanks to S. E. Schlosser for his rendition of “The Fifty-Cent Piece” and “The Phantom Lovers of Dismal Swamp”.
In the spirit of the
upcoming holiday, I thought it would be fun to issue a little fic challenge.
Halloween fic, scary or not so scary, short or long, your choice. It MUST be MSR
(of course!!) and it must have the following elements:
a creaking door
a werewolf, or vampire moon
cobwebs and spiders
a Boris Karloff mention
a car running out of gas on a deserted road
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.