Lonely Nightmare by Justin Glasser

Lonely Nightmare cover

Return to main Lonely Nightmare page

Lonely Nightmare by Justin Glasser

Lonely Nightmare cover

Date: 15 Jan 2000 19:12:55 GMT

Subject: NEW! Lonely Nightmare 0/13 by Justin Glasser

Title: Lonely Nightmare
Author: Justin Glasser
E-mail Address: Feedback happily read and answered at
Rating: R for violence and adult situations and language Category: X/UST
Spoilers: The story takes place between Never Again and Memento Mori.
Keywords: Mulder/Scully UST, X-file
Archive: Gossamer, yes; Ephemeral, yes; Spookys, yes; all others please ask first.
This story can also be found at my website: http://www.geocities.com/justinglas

Summary: After Scully comes back from Philadelphia and before she is diagnosed with cancer, she and Mulder go to Wisconsin to investigate the disappearance of several small town teenagers.

Disclaimer: No permission has been granted, no money has been made, no infringement is intended.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to Marguerite, because even though time and chance happen to us all, not all of us handle it with such grace and strength. For a remarkable woman.

This story was written at a white hot pace, and would have suffered immeasurably without the enthusiasm and aid of some key people.


Jordan—under whose guidance I have learned the benefits of dreams, and the importance of what is not said. (I have also learned not to bug someone who says your story is “fucking perfect, post is NOW NOW NOW” because even though she’s not right, she will not change her mind.)

JourneytoX—who despite being deathly ill, agreed to help me dot my “i”s and cross my “t”s.

Dawn M. Pares—who when I showed her the draft said “I hate you” and “let me do a read for you.” I like her for the former, and I’m grateful to her for the latter.

Meredith—whose help I enlisted on a totally different story that she still hasn’t seen, and who shifted gears admirably when I sent this instead, turning it all around in such a short time that I stand back in awe and appreciation.

Notes (in case you care):

“Because you’re lonely in your nightmare, let me in.”

The title of “Lonely Nightmare” and all of the chapter titles for the story come from the song “Lonely in Your Nightmare” by Duran Duran. Duran Duran, for those of you who don’t know, was (is?) a cheesy pop group most famous in the 1980s for such hits as “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Girls on Film.” They were an awesome group, frankly, and I highly recommend that you check them out (especially the Decade album, which has all their greatest hits).

At any rate, in a fit of nostalgia, I was listening to their second album, Rio, when I heard the song “Lonely in Your Nightmare” and the idea for the story came to me, complete, whole, and entirely finished in my head. I wrote the whole thing in three days. And I hope you like it. I will spare you the pain of enduring them here, but if you would like the lyrics to “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” (even if you hate the story) please feel free to e-mail me: there can never be too many people who like Duran Duran in my opinion. J.

Lonely Nightmare I: Delta Traces by Justin Glasser

“I see the delta traces living lonely out on the limb.”


He dreamed that Scully had a new boyfriend, which was silly because she didn’t even have an old one, but that didn’t matter in the dream. In the dream, he saw her walking down the hall of his old high school wearing the black suit he liked so much, the one with the long skirt, and holding hands with Tommy Christley, the captain of the basketball team. He stood by his locker, watching her as she walked by. His calculus book slid out of his arms and onto his foot and he thought, “I am sorry.”

Mulder woke up with a pain in his foot and empty arms.

He knew he should just shake it off—the dream was a combination of the growing distance between Scully and himself, and a recollection of his high school feelings of inadequacy and it didn’t mean anything, not really—but it followed him into the shower. He stood in the scalding hot water (he couldn’t get the water hot enough lately, not even when he came out looking like a freshly boiled lobster) and thought about the image of her all red hair and black suit against the blue of the lockers, passing him by without a second glance. Those had been his old high school lockers—blue and gold for the school colors—and he remembered standing just there, day after day, while girls walked by on the arms of the other basketball players. He hadn’t been good with women then. Not like now, he thought, reaching for the soap. Not like now, he thought, reaching for himself, shaking his head in disbelief.

Afterwards, though, the dream had not left him. He shaved, got dressed, looked at thin approximations of food in his kitchen and headed out the door, and the dream still followed him. It went with him as he got in the car, it hung out in the passenger seat when he almost rear-ended the woman in front of him, it hovered near his shoulder when he pulled into the parking lot. Over and over again, he saw the scene in his head, the flash of red and black and blue and Scully not looking at him, and the other guy not looking at him and the thud of the book hitting his foot. He no longer felt the pain, but riding the elevator down to the basement, he thought it was weird that the scene should stay with him so long. He had had dreams before, even dreams that seemed precognitive, hell, even dreams that were precognitive if you weren’t Dana Scully, but this one seemed different. It wasn’t telling him the location of a dead little girl. It wasn’t telling him that someone he loved was in danger. It wasn’t even telling him that he wanted to kill his already-dead father and have sex with his mother, which would have been disturbing as he’d always thought Freud was over-rated, but not surprising. The dream wasn’t telling him any of those things, but it certainly seemed to be trying to signify something.

He sighed and pushed open the door.

Scully was already there. Maybe he would tell her the dream and she would look at him like he was crazy and smile that broad goofy smile she always gave him when he was being a nutcase. Maybe she would be ridiculously flattered. Maybe she had dreamed of him too, last night, and maybe he had been naked.

“Hey, Mulder,” she said, looking up from his desk. She was typing something on the laptop, probably her version of the report from the last case. That was part of this new distance, he thought, hanging up his coat. Before, she would want to see what he had to say. She would read his reports, frowning in spots, looking up at him as if she could not believe he would put such things on paper. Then she would write her own reports and slide them over the desk, leaving him to respond to her words in his own version. They rarely agreed, but they had been partners, shoring up each others arguments with their own counter arguments. Now she simply typed and printed and turned them in. He sighed. He was pouting and he knew it.

“Anything good?” he asked, sitting in the chair across from her. She had sat there just two weeks ago, sat there and said, “everything isn’t about you, Mulder.” It had surprised him that he was surprised by that. Ten things you don’t want to know about your relationship with your partner for a hundred, Alex.

“Just a report. What do you have on your plate for today?”

“Mail opening. Reports. I’m desk jockey with a vengeance today, Scully.”

She looked up and smiled briefly, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same kind of smile she had given in response to his smartass bullshit three weeks ago. Mulder resisted the impulse to say something else and leaned forward, scooping the mail out of the in-box. Before he could ask, she slid the letter opener across the blotter.

“Thanks,” he said. She nodded, but did not look up.

He sliced open one envelope after another. Info he had requested as research on a case they had closed two months ago, an advertisement for time-share condos addressed to Ms. Fox Mulder, a notice that the Bureau health plan was about to be changed, several news clippings from the Weekly World News about aliens in Utah accompanied by self-important letters from believers (“I new that you shuld know about this, Mister. Mulder, because I was there and this IS THE TRUTH”-how come all of his fellow believers were wackos who couldn’t fucking spell, he wondered for about the six thousandth time), and an envelope with the address scribbled on it in big letters: Frank Mulder, FBI Paranormal Division, Washington D.C. The mail guys must have gotten a real kick out of that one, he thought, sliding the letter opener into the corner.

The letter addressed to Frank Mulder, Paranormal Division wasn’t the typical loony shit that usually came to him via the address-impaired. It was hand written, like all the rest of them were, but the handwriting was on notebook paper that had been torn out of a spiral binder—the left edge of the sheet was all fringed where it had been bound—and the handwriting was neat, but loopy, full of unnecessary bubbles and swirls.

Dear Mr. Mulder, the letter said.

I know that it is really weird to be writing to you like this because this is not how you get your cases, but I think there is something going on in my town that you should know about. I know you investigate stuff like ghosts and monsters and stuff like that because I saw your name in the paper when you solved that kidnapping case, and I think that something like that lives in my town. I’m not the only one who thinks that. I can’t really describe what’s happening here, because I’ve never seen it, but Alan has seen it and he thinks it’s the devil. I don’t think it is, but people are missing and if you don’t come who will stop it? The police are no help. They belong to it. I would really appreciate it if you could come and see if Alan is right or if we’re just being paranoid. I would be so grateful!

Thank you in advance, Lisa Nelson

Mulder flipped the letter over. Nothing on the back. He read it again. A kid. A kid who saw his name in the newspaper in—he flipped the envelope over—Wisconsin, and decided to write him a letter because her friend Alan was telling her boogie stories. He looked over at Scully, who was still typing, biting her lip gently in concentration. He glanced at his in-box, which was empty, and at the file cabinets, which were full. He looked at the letter again, at the blue ballpoint pen ink on the wide-lined paper. At the exclamation point at the end, which didn’t have just a dot at the bottom but a big circle. All the “i”s had circles, too, instead of dots, and he wondered what might be going on in—he flipped the envelope again—Onowani, Wisconsin that would cause a girl who used circles instead of dots to write to the FBI.

“How would you feel about a road trip, Scully?” he asked. She lifted her eyes to his and he handed the letter over. She glanced at the envelope. Read the letter.

“Mulder,” she said. “I thought you would never ask.”

Halfway through the paperwork he remembered the dream. It no longer seemed important enough to tell her.

Lonely Nightmare II: Ice Age by Justin Glasser

“Because you’ve made it through your ice age, let me in.”


He knew Wisconsin would be cold, but he only knew it intellectually, the way he knew you could stop a shark attack by hitting it hard on the nose, or that you couldn’t measure both the speed and location of a subatomic particle simultaneously. That Wisconsin in winter was cold was general knowledge, but Mulder didn’t have any actual experience with it. Until now.

Scully was at the luggage carousel collecting their suitcases and Mulder had left to get the cab. He had his coat on, of course, and his gloves in his pockets, and he was Special Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI, and he had been to places that had winter before, hell he’d been to the Arctic before, so he thought he could handle a little cab reconnaissance, even if the pilot on the plane had announced something ludicrously low as the local temperature. He went through the sliding glass doors, and the wind whipped his unbuttoned coat wide open and brought tears to his eyes, tears that seemed to be freezing even as they formed, and the blood in his hands seemed to be solidifying because he couldn’t find his pockets let alone his damn gloves, and he took a breath so sharp he thought his lungs would implode with the sheer simple coldness of it, and he turned and bolted back inside just before the doors slid closed.

“Fuck!” He clamped his hands down over his arms and rubbed. “Holy FUCK!”

“Mulder?” Scully was wheeling one of those carts that look like grocery carts on a crash diet, piled with their bags. “Are you okay?”

“It’s cold out,” he said, wondering how many of the people waiting for their luggage had heard him. Scully didn’t roll her eyes at him, but he thought she might have been, internally. “It’s really cold out,” he explained.

She nodded.

After a second, he let go of his arms and began to button his coat. “I’ll go get us a cab.”

“You do that,” she said.

He did it, cursing under his breath all the time, wondering why the cabbie didn’t fucking help with the luggage for Pete’s sake, until he realized that if he were making as much money as the cabbie was making, he wouldn’t be getting out of his nice warm car to help yahoos with their luggage either. He and Scully piled into the back seat in a bundle of long winter coats, and Scully leaned forward and told him the name of the hotel. She sat back, comfortably close. She tilted her head back against the back of the seat and closed her eyes.

“Tired?” he asked. He could see all of her neck, down into the collar of her coat. Her skin was very pale. She looked like the kind of woman who hickeyed easily. He wondered if Ed Jerse could validate that suspicion.

“You want to work?” She had not opened her eyes.

“Nah. Nothing to work on, really. Onowani doesn’t have any history of any usual occurrences, no folklore about mysterious disappearances, nothing. It’s just a town, like a thousand other small towns around here.”

“I thought you guys were staying at the Marriott,” the cabbie said.

“We are,” Mulder answered.

“Well, then, why would you go to Onowani?” the cabbie asked. Mulder caught his eye in the rear view mirror. “No place for a nice couple like you.”

Mulder noticed that Scully had opened her eyes and was watching the cabbie’s profile. “We have business there,” she said.

The cabbie laughed. “Business? That’s new. No one has business in Onowani, unless they’re a travel agent. Only thing going on in Onowani is leaving.”

“Why is that?” Mulder asked. The cabbie shrugged.

He sat back, hardly aware that he had leaned forward to talk to the man. “What do you think, Scully?” he murmured.

She shrugged, too. She had closed her eyes again, and was leaning against his side. She was indescribably warm.

When they were getting out under the canopy of the Marriott, bell boys hustling in ski jackets with the name of the hotel emblazoned on the back, Mulder leaned in the cabbie’s window.

“Why do people leave Onowani?” he asked, handing the cabbie the fare money.

The cabbie shrugged again. “No reason, man. Small town. You know.”

“I don’t know,” Mulder said, drawing a fifty out of his wallet. “Why don’t you tell me?”

The cabbie took the money and smiled. “All I’m saying, man, is that if you got business in Onowani, you want to get it done while the sun shines. Place like that is not a place you want to be when it gets dark.” He started to roll up his window.

“Wait!” Mulder held his gloved hand over the edge of the window; it kept going up. “Why not?” he yelled. The cabbie, safe behind the glass of his closed window, smiled and shrugged.


They had the cheapest rooms at the Marriott, which was was a little like saying they had ordered the cheapest caviar at the Ritz, Mulder thought, sprawling on the soft mattress. Rooms like this were not covered in the expense account, but he had some extra room on the credit card, and the room stipend would cover some of it, so he’d figured what the hell. After his bleak introduction to Wisconsin winter, he was glad he had added the expense.

Scully knocked on the connecting door.

“It’s open.”

She had already changed too, but her men’s cut pajamas and white socks seemed so much more adult than his sweatpants and raggedy gray t-shirt combination. Scully was put together even when she went to bed. It was a quality he alternately loved and hated about her.

“What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?” he asked, tapping the empty end of the bed with his foot in invitation.

“Funny, I was just going to ask you the same thing.” She didn’t sit down. He changed a channel on the t.v. aiming the remote from above his head.

“Is this the part where you challenge my judgment about the nature of the cases we should be taking and tell me that this isn’t an X-file?”

She smiled, but leaned in the doorway instead of sitting down. “I was just wondering, Mulder.”

He smiled. Changed the channel. “I got a letter, it seemed interesting, the holidays are over, and we got nothing but time. I figured we might as well see the sights, Scully.”

She nodded. “I figured. For the record, this isn’t an X-file.”

“Duly noted, Agent,” he said. She turned to go back into her room. He wished she’d have sat down. He watched the channels change on the t.v.

“Hey Mulder,” she said, and even though he knew it would be nothing, he felt his heart stutter in his chest.


“Next time you want to see the sights, can’t there be an X-file in Hawaii?”

“Good night, Scully,” he said, and he knew that he was smiling.


He came awake abruptly to the sounds of a man shouting, and Scully tearing at his blankets.

“Hey!” he yelled, not sure if he was yelling at her, or for her, if he was helping or hindering. It was a weary and familiar feeling. Scully pushed at him, tugging at the sheets, shoving her hands under his body. Mulder felt his back arch upward.

“Hey!” he yelled again, this time definitely at her. The man was shouting something about TEMPERATURES STAYING LOW FOR MOST OF THE WEE—

—and then there was silence.

And Scully dropped back down on the edge of the bed, and dropped the hard and rather heavy remote control onto his chest.

“You fell asleep on it,” she said.


She sat there for a moment and he could see her face in the glow of the light from the t.v. that said MUTE in big red letters at the bottom of the screen, and he could see that she wanted to say a thousand things to him, that she was tired, and he had woken her by falling asleep on the remote, and that she had come running in here scared out of her mind, and he knew that she wouldn’t say any of this. He didn’t really want to say anything to her especially not—

“Sorry,” he said—

because he didn’t mean it. What he meant was “stay,” but he couldn’t say that, that was impossible, so he was just forced to lie here and listen to her sigh and say—

“It’s okay.”—

but it wasn’t okay, not really, and it hadn’t been since she had gotten snowed in in Philadelphia because he had been a jerk. She sat there for a second, watching the flash of the images change on the silent t.v.

“Put that on the table,” she said. Then she leaned over and picked her gun up off the floor and he knew she really had been scared.

“I will,” he said.

“Good night, Mulder,” she said. He didn’t say anything, because he only wanted to say “stay” but that was impossible. So he kept quiet, and when she had gone he noticed how cold it was in his own room and got up to turn up the heat.

Lonely Nightmare III: Barren Garden by Justin Glasser

“Because it’s barren in your garden, let me in.”


They were on the road by ten, driving west on highway 94 toward Madison. Mulder drove, only half listening to the hum of voices from NPR. Scully looked out the window. They would be in the car for about three hours today. Lisa Nelson was expecting them to meet her at the diner (“the only one in town” she’d said on the phone when Mulder asked for a name) at five. They had reservations at the Onowani Lodge (“the only motel in town” Lisa had said when he asked her where they should stay) right off the highway. Mulder suspected that the accommodations would be somewhat less glamorous than they had been at the Marriott.

“Remember when we were here before?” Scully asked.

Mulder nodded. “Yep. Couple of times.”

“I never told you our family came here one summer camping.”

He glanced over at her. “No, you never did.” He wondered what that had been like, camping with Scully’s family. They had probably had picnics and made smores and sung campfire songs in six-part harmony. He knew he had an idealized picture of Scully’s childhood, but he couldn’t stop himself from imagining that she had grown up in the Navy equivalent of the Cleaver family. Somehow, it made him feel better about his own tortured youth to think that Scully had escaped some of that, that she’d been normal until she met him.

“Did you like it?” he asked.

“I did, mostly. But at night, it was strange. We were up north, much further than we’re going today, almost to Canada, and the forest there … It’s old, Mulder.”

“Are you saying it was spooky, Scully?”

She shot him a disgusted glance. “I’m saying that there was so much there, so much vegetation, so thick and green. The forest seemed alive, Mulder, not necessarily in a bad way, but I was nine. It was a little scary, especially at night.”

“And now?” he asked, waving his hand at the window. The hills sloped away from the car, and trees seemed removed, as if they were prevented from reaching the road, which seemed to stretch on in front of them forever. It snaked like a black line through the gentle white humps of the hills, and Mulder imagined that life out here between Milwaukee and Madison on bright empty winter days was quieter, somehow, than the one he had been leading in D.C. He knew people out here had the same problems as they did in the city, but looking at the placid landscape, white, black, evergreen, it didn’t seem the same.

“I was a girl, Mulder. Now it seems empty.”

He nodded, unsure of what to say.

“I miss him, Mulder,” Scully said, and there was something in her voice that told Mulder he should not look at her, not if he wanted to preserve her dignity. Not if he wanted to pretend that their partnership was all right. “I don’t want to anymore, but I do.”

He cleared his throat. “We don’t get to choose,” he said, not sure if she could hear him.

She did not answer.


They stopped and had lunch in Madison at some chic college-town restaurant that served “world cuisine” and micro-brews, and Mulder had two with his hamburger, which he had had to special order by talking to the cook specifically (the hamburger being some strange and exotic food outside of the U.S. and pretentious world cuisine restaurants), so Scully drove the rest of the way to Onowani, not talking, and somewhere along the way Mulder fell asleep and didn’t wake up until he felt the car slowing down to take a curve.

He opened his eyes, and realized that he was hearing Scully sing, not along with the radio, which was off, but just to herself, kind of out of tune and mostly under her breath.

“—sister golden hair surprise, and I just can’t live without you—”

He didn’t smile, but stretched, so that she would know he was up.

“Hey,” she said, giving the impression that she was looking both at him and the road at the same time. “Perfect timing.”

“Hmm?” He pulled his seat back upright and looked around.

“Welcome to lovely Onowani, Mulder.” Scully stopped at a stop sign. They were at an intersection surrounded by pines and other evergreens. There was nothing else in sight except a sign: Onowani Township, population 171.

“Where’s the town?” he asked.

The town, such as it was, was ahead about a half a mile, buried in the coniferous forest. A general store, a gas station, the diner, a hair salon, a bar and a couple of miscellaneous store fronts lined the block that was the main street. Mulder could see about two blocks more of houses, some fairly large with big porches, others nothing more than double wide trailer homes. Further down he saw a long low building he figured was the high school.

“Well, Disneyland it ain’t, Scully,” he said.

“This was your idea,” she answered, opening the car door before he could even pull his coat closed.


The diner was decorated in a fifties style, not, Mulder suspected, out of any desire to capitalize on the retro appeal of a fifties restaurant, but because the diner had, in fact, been decorated in the fifties. The posters and record album covers on the wall seemed slightly yellow with either age or grease, and the linoleum was cracked and warped, but the formica speckled counters were clean as far as he could tell and it was both bright and warm inside, so he had no complaints. They even had an Elvis clock, his pelvis ticking back and forth like a metronome.

When he was young, before Samantha … went, his parents would take them on road trips up and down the coast. Sometimes they would visit relatives, or historical sites, or sometimes they would just head to the beach. And they would stop at this type of place, the roadside diner, and his mother would order for them, hamburgers and shakes, or tuna salad sandwiches with pickles and chips, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy, and he would always be delighted when the food came. “These places always have the best food,” she would explain, and his dad would lean over and hug her to him and say she just knew what to pick. They had been happy once.

As he followed Scully, who followed the heavy set waitress to a booth, he thought of her and her family, driving the rolling Wisconsin highways further and further north where there were no McDonald’s or Wendy’s, eating what her mother picked out from a plastic covered menu.

“When was our summer?” he asked.

Scully turned, her coat half off her shoulders.

“What did you say, Mulder?”

The waitress was looking at him, too, but she wasn’t really interested. She was waiting for them to sit down so that she could ask them whether they wanted coffee.

“Nothing.” He shed his coat and sat.

“What did you say, Mulder?” she asked, after the waitress had gone to get them coffee and soup.

“Nothing important, Scully,” he said. “I wonder where Lisa is.” He glanced at his watch. 5:01.

Nothing important, he thought, but he sometimes wondered about that, especially since he had come back from his vacation wishing he had never left. The trip to Graceland was supposed to have been fun, whimsical, stupid, and it had been all those things until he had called Scully from the King’s house and realized the depths of his error. He had let her go—forced her to go—to Philadelphia alone, and she hadn’t wanted to. She had wanted him to stay. To say something. And he wondered now when his and Scully’s summer had been, when they had had the halcyon days of their partnership without his noticing, and when those days had ended, never to return. When had they had their summer, and would it ever be warm again?

Scully said something about the girl being on her way, probably.

“Scully,” Mulder said, knowing that he couldn’t let this moment pass. Something was happening to their partnership, and he had to say something now, or there would be a case and the case would get in the way, or their wouldn’t be a case and the return trip would get in the way, or he would lose his nerve, or something.

She looked up from her menu.

“I just wanted to say that I’m glad you came. This is probably nothing, and I’m glad you came.” The words sounded stupid when he strung them together like that, but at least he had done something. He had taken steps. She opened her mouth to speak, but her reply was lost, because at that moment a young blond girl stopped at the table and said:

“Mr. Mulder, I’m Lisa Nelson. I wrote you?”

Lonely Nightmare IV: Stone Range by Justin Glasser

“Because it’s cold out on your stone range, let me in.”


There was a case, as it turned out.

Lisa Nelson shed her coat, revealing a black and red cheerleader’s outfit with a big red O on the front, and long john pants under her skirt. She flopped down next to him, blond ponytail bobbing, the embodiment of every fantasy Mulder had ever had when he was fifteen. She smiled at him, across the table at Scully, and he could see that she was one of those pretty girls who had “the right upbringing,” the kind of girl who would be polite and friendly at her mother’s funeral. He thought for a second that Samantha would have been this type of girl, too, only with a brunette ponytail, and a blue and gold cheerleader’s outfit.

“I’m so glad you came,” she said. “You have no idea.”

“Why don’t you tell us?” Scully asked. Mulder wondered if she had ever worn a cheerleader’s skirt.

“Okay, um, yeah.” She toyed with the silverware in front of her. “See, it’s not even like I totally believe this, but Alan says that it’s true, and I believe Alan thinks it is true, and weird things have been happening. I wanted him to write the letter, but he thought it would be better if I did, you know, because of this,” —she waved her hand over the O on her sweater— “‘cause I’m more credible, or whatever. No one listens to Alan.”

“Lisa,” he said. “Why don’t you start from the beginning?”

“Huh?” She turned to him, blue eyes wide. She was a movie teenager, he thought, a stereotype. “Oh, you mean, like what exactly is going on. Sure.” She nodded again. Mulder knew she would get good grades in school, not only because of that blue-eyed innocent look, but because she would catch on. Once she got a read on you she would start leaping ahead, understanding what you wanted. Lisa Nelson was a people person.

“Okay, so, here’s the thing. Last year, some of the senior class had this great idea to have a bonfire in the woods on the night of Homecoming. And we did, and it was really cool, kind of like that scene in Grease, where they have the big speeches and the football team gets introduced and everyone has a good time, right?” Mulder nodded. He had no idea what she was talking about. He hoped Scully was a young Travolta fan. “Okay, so, it was all cool and we followed all the safety regulations, like, completely, and everything was good until they found out that Jeremy Stricher and Angela Jameson were there and didn’t come back.” She paused, and took a sip of Mulder’s water.

“So, there was this huge search party, and they didn’t find them, like, at all, like any of them, you know? And everyone just kind of assumed that they had run away together, which didn’t make any sense at all, because Jeremy and Angela weren’t even friends, which I know because she was on the squad with me, and we hung out all the time, but everyone just kind of assumed that they did, because that was like, the most obvious explanation, you know?”

Mulder glanced over at Scully. She was not looking at him.

“Have there been bonfires since?” Mulder asked. Lisa looked at him as if he had just asked her what she thought of Clinton’s foreign policy, and Mulder suddenly remembered that he had been a dork in high school.

“As if. No way is the school going to let us have bonfires after that. But, see, that’s the thing. It doesn’t matter, because kids have still been disappearing and no one is doing anything about it. There was Leroy Williams and Jenny Miller last winter, and Suzie Choy and Brian Farlow in the spring, and John Martinez and Jenny Anderson in the summer, and Bobby Oakes and Juliana Marshall right after school started.”

“It’s always couples?” Scully asked.

Lisa nodded. “Yeah, it’s always boy-girl, but that’s the whole thing, they aren’t couples. They’re, like, people that hardly talk to one another at all, like totally different—” Lisa’s hands were pulling apart, making a motion that was the opposite of clapping.

“Cliques,” Mulder said.

“Yeah, cliques.” Lisa nodded again. The endless movement of her ponytail was making him dizzy.

“I’m not sure why you thought of us, Lisa,” Scully said. “This sounds like something the local police should be investigating.”

“See, that’s the whole thing!” She slammed her hand down on the table. “Every time something like this happens, they do investigate it. They call out the dogs and go through the woods and they never find anything and then they say that they were just following the example set by Jeremy and Angela and took off for, like Chicago, or something, but it’s not true!”

“How do you know?” Scully asked. Her voice was low, calm.

“I just do!” Lisa hissed. Mulder could see tears welling up in her eyes. “And Alan thinks he’s going to be next! He’s heard the beast and he’s going to be next and they’re going to say that he ran off to Chicago with some girl, maybe Kim Bertram, or Shelly Potranski, or whoever and it won’t be true, just like it’s not true with any of the others, because Alan is gay, but that doesn’t matter because he’s going to be taken and no one will do anything about it!”

They sat in silence for awhile, Mulder sipping at his coffee. Scully handed Lisa a napkin to wipe her face.

“Thanks,” the girl said, her voice muffled by the napkin.

“Lisa, where is Alan now?” Scully asked.

“At our house.”

“You live together?” Mulder asked. Times had changed, but—

“Duh. He’s my brother.” She gave him another one of those looks.

“Maybe we should go talk to him,” he said. Lisa nodded and stood grabbing her coat.

“Yeah, he said you’d want to, but he wouldn’t come out because it was getting dark.”

“He’s afraid of the dark?” Scully paused, her hands up around her collar.

Lisa pulled her ponytail out of the collar of her coat, and Mulder was relieved to see that he wasn’t the only one in this partnership who would be getting the “duh” look on this case.

“Wouldn’t you be,” the cheerleader asked, “if you thought the beast would take you?”


Lisa Nelson lived in one of the houses on Main Street, one of the big houses with a front porch and a mailbox shaped like a little cottage. The house was wide and white, and still had wreaths and lights on it from the holiday season. It looked like a postcard for small town life. It looked exactly like the type of house Mulder would have expected Lisa Nelson to live in.

Her brother Alan did not look exactly like the type of brother Lisa Nelson would have.

He came out of his room when she called to him from the brightly lit foyer.

“Alan! Alan, they’re here.”

Alan Nelson was a tall, painfully skinny boy with dyed black hair and pale, pale skin. Where Lisa looked pale and glowing, vibrating with energy, Alan resembled more of a corpse than an actual living human being. He leaned against the wall in the hallway.

“Hey,” he said. “Nice to meet you.”

Mulder blinked in surprise. He had expected many things from this boy in a ripped black t-shirt and camouflage pants, but he hadn’t expected manners.

“They want to talk to you,” Lisa said. “I’ll call Mom and tell her I need shoes.”

Alan nodded.

“Shoes?” Mulder asked him.

“She needs a certain kind of shoes for cheerleading. They only sell them in the next town. You wanna come in?” he asked, extending is arm toward his room.

Mulder nodded.

The room was … black. It was covered with posters from floor to ceiling, bands that Mulder had never heard of, and suspected he wouldn’t have even if he didn’t listen to the classic rock station in D.C. The ceiling had a black sheet hanging from it, and was strung with purple Christmas tree lights. There was one lamp on next to the bed, and a black light over the fish tank. Mulder hoped this was not a typical teenager’s room.

“Here.” Alan moved some stuff of a chair for Scully to sit down. “You can sit on the desk,” he told Mulder. “Just throw that stuff on the floor.”

Mulder scraped a pile of books and magazines off the desk and set them on the floor. They tipped over, but Alan didn’t seem to notice. Surveying the rest of the detritus on the floor, Mulder was not surprised.

“Lisa was telling us about what was going on in town over the last year. Why don’t you tell us what you know?” Scully asked.

Alan flopped back on the bed, grabbing a pillow and curling his arm around it. “I don’t really know anything,” he said. “Things have been happening around here, and I think I’m next. Nothing else to tell.”

“Why do you think you’re next?” Mulder asked. He felt stupid, his feet dangling from the desk, leaning forward to talk to this kid who could only stare at his pillow.

“I heard the beast. Last week outside my window. I heard it sniffing around my window. I heard it asking for me.” He pointed at the window, and Mulder noticed for the first time that there were nails in the frame.

“Did you tell your parents about this?” Scully asked.

Alan laughed. It was a depressing sound, Mulder thought, mostly because no one as young as Alan Nelson should have sounded so old and hopeless.

“My parents would not be interested. They think I have problems.”

“Do you?” Scully asked. She was leaning forward, too, her hands folded in her lap. Mulder loved that voice, the voice that said you could tell her anything, that she would understand, but Alan didn’t seem to feel the same way.

“Lady, does this look like the room of a well-adjusted adolescent?”

“Your sister said that you were homosexual, Alan—”

“Jesus!” Alan sat up, glaring at him. “And you think this is some gay-bashing thing? That I’m a paranoid fag in a small town in rural Wisconsin, and that’s all there is to this? Fuck! I thought you guys were supposed to help!”

“We don’t think that, Alan,” Scully said. She reached out and touched his arm. “We’re just trying to figure out what happened here. We’re looking at all the possibilities.”

Alan shook his head. “I know. But I also know what I heard, and I know those kids didn’t ‘run away’ together.” He made quotation marks with his fingers. “Those kids, they didn’t really know each other, and even if they did, they didn’t like each other.”

“Lisa said something in her letter,” Mulder said, pulling it from his breast pocket. “Something about how the police belong to the beast?”

Alan sighed. “She’s guessing. I mean, we don’t know. Lisa’s not so smart, you know, but she gets people, and she said we shouldn’t tell Mom, and she said the police knew what was happening and we shouldn’t tell them anything.”

“You believe her?” Mulder asked.

Alan shrugged. “Lisa isn’t usually wrong about stuff like that. I figure better safe than sorry, right?”

Mulder nodded. Scully stood, rubbing Alan’s arm once before she let go. “We’re at the Onowani Lodge,” she said. She pulled a card from her pocket. “This is our cell phone number if you think of anything else you need to tell us. We’ll be in touch.”

Alan shoved the card in his pocket, and ushered them out to the foyer again.

“Hey,” he said, watching as they pulled their coats on. Mulder turned. “You aren’t going to tell them, are you? The police?”

“We’ll do our best to keep your name out of it,” he said. Alan nodded, toying with the collar of his shirt. He had black fingernail polish on, Mulder noticed. He could see the thin line of Alan’s collarbone framed by the stretched out collar of his shirt. Alan looked like a sick bird.

“Hey,” he said, just before they opened the door. Alan looked up. “You think it can get in?” Mulder asked.

Alan looked around, at the brightly lit living room and the large bay windows. He shrugged. “I don’t think so, man. I think it has to be invited.”

Mulder nodded. He reached out and clapped Alan on the shoulder. “We’ll be in touch,” he said, knowing Scully was watching him. She opened the door, and they stepped out into the cold dark night.

Lonely Nightmare V: Passing Glimmer by Justin Glasser

” … and a passing glimmer warm beneath your skin … “


The Onowani Lodge was back near the highway, about fifteen minutes from downtown. Scully drove. The headlights cut through the dark and the light sprinkling of snow that was beginning to fall. Mulder looked out the window into the utter blackness of a winter night without streetlights or the moon to brighten it. He didn’t know if Alan Nelson was right, but he understood why the kid was afraid.

They had adjoining rooms, of course, and Mulder shucked his outer clothes and piled the thin pillows of the bed up against the faux headboard that was nailed to the wall. The Marriott it was not. The bedspread beneath his socks was pilled in that strange way of polyester blends that had been washed one too many times, and the mattress felt like a board beneath his ass. What could you expect for $21.99 a night, he supposed, listening for the sound of Scully’s shower.

She was a night showerer, another sign of their innate incompatibility. How could someone shower at night and then go to bed and get up and put clean clothes on? It seemed wrong to him in some complete and universe-defining way, but when he had tried to explain it to Scully, she had just looked at him with a blank expression on her face, as if his statement had been below the effort of her response. Lisa Nelson’s expression had been remarkably similar, come to think of it.

He plugged in the laptop, and the phone cord, and got to work. Disappearances, folklore of Wisconsin not specifically tied to Onowani, the yeti, occult activity … he ran through the databases on intuition, darting here and there, searching, reading, saving, seeing if he could pull together something that would make sense of the case in an X-files universe. He would wait for Scully to cover the more mundane possibilities: serial killer, kidnapper, pedophile, coincidental and/or copycat runaways. He found nothing. Some interesting Native American legends about animal spirits and hauntings, but nothing that entailed the kidnapping of teenagers.

Scully’s shower went off, and her heard her rummaging in her room. After a while she showed up in her pajamas, her own laptop tucked under her arm. She had no make-up on, and her hair was still damp. He remembered the first time he had seen her this way, on their second case. That first case, also involving disappearing teenagers, he remembered suddenly, making a mental note to go back through that file, she had come to his room afraid that she had been marked. She had hugged him, he remembered, and he has been fool enough to not really hug her back.

But the second case, she had not come running to him, just knocked and come in, in her thick robe, her computer under her arm and her face clean of make-up, just like she was now, only slightly younger. Mulder had been touched by her confidence in revealing her naked face to him so soon in their partnership. It seemed like a brave thing for a new female agent to do. It still touched him, sometimes.

“Anything good?” she asked.

He shook his head, running down all the possibilities he was looking into. She picked up where he left off, with the human offender possibilities, and they were off and running.


Three and a half hours later, they still had nothing. Actually, they had less than nothing, because Scully had accessed the local web version of the newspaper (“welcome to the twenty-first century” he’d said with amazement, when she turned her screen triumphantly toward him), and the dates of the disappearances did not seem to coincide with any discernible pattern, either of the occult or of a ritualized serial killer.

“So if he is human, he’s not following a pattern we know about,” she said, resting her chin in her hand.

“And if he’s not human?” Mulder asked, mostly because it was required of him.

“We’re fucked,” she answered. They both laughed.

Scully sighed, closing her laptop with a definitive click. “That’s it for me,” she said. “I’m going to bed.” When she stretched, her pajama top lifted, almost revealing her stomach. Mulder tried not to stare, hoping. He was sorry for what he had said to her, before, about needing to get away from her, about knowing she would be in Philadelphia. He was sorry, because he thought that someone else might have gotten to see her stretch before bed, and he hadn’t realized it at the time, but he didn’t like that thought.

“You don’t want to watch some bad interviews on late night t.v.? It’s on an hour earlier here in the Midwest.”

She smiled. “No thanks, Mulder. Tomorrow we go to the high school, right?”

“Fun with adolescents,” he said. “I can hardly remember myself being that young.”

She stopped in the doorway, considering something. “I was thinking,” she said. “I don’t remember being that old, when I was their age.”

“The world moves on, Scully.”

“Yeah.” She sighed. “Maybe it shouldn’t. G’night, Mulder.”


Ten minutes later, she was back in the doorway, two pillows in one hand, and a thin cotton blanket in the other. Mulder looked up.

“If you’re spoiling for a pillow fight, I should warn you that I forgot my negligee,” he said.

She wrinkled her lip at him. “My heater’s broken.”

“Uh huh. So you’re not interested in the fact that I wear women’s clothing to bed?”

“It’s broken,” she said.

He went and looked, and sure enough, it was broken: the knob would turn and turn on both directions, but the electric heating coils would not kick on, and there was no answer at the front desk because it closed at nine according to the cardboard flyer in the nightstand drawer. Mulder wondered what they would have done if they had not had two rooms to begin with.

“Okay,” he said, pulling back the covers. “Come into my parlour.”

He knew that she knew he was kidding, but her smile was still strained, and after she lay down, she turned on her side away from him.

“Will the t.v. bother you?”

“Where’s the remote?” she asked.

“Chained to the table.”

“I’m fine,” she said. She was apparently telling the truth, because a few minutes later her breathing had slowed and she was asleep.


He woke up from a dream of sex in total darkness, anonymous fucking with an unknown woman who was definitely Scully although he couldn’t see her face, couldn’t even touch her, just slide in and out and in and out and want to die because it felt so good, and he knew that someone was looking for him, someone dangerous, someone snuffling around the window, but he couldn’t give this up, he couldn’t stop fucking Scully, and he woke up hard, and rubbing a little against the mattress, and mortally embarrassed that he might have woken her as well, with his own private horror show pornography.

He hadn’t.

She was still asleep, facing him now, her skin reflecting the silver blue flicker of the t.v. screen. She had one hand under her face, and the other curled against her chest, and her face was so close to his that he could feel her breath, almost. Her mouth was slightly open.

Mulder pulled his hand up from underneath his stomach. He slept on his back on the couch all the time, but in bed his body rebelled and he inevitably ended up on his stomach, hands and arms numb from being slept on. The psychologist in him felt that this was a sign of insecurity, that the increased room in the bed left him feeling vulnerable. He often ignored the psychologist in him.

He reached over, touching his fingertip to the smooth skin of her lip. Her breath was warm and moist against his finger. She did not wake.

He wanted to slide forward and kiss her while she was still asleep, so that he would feel her wake up against his mouth. He wanted to taste her return to consciousness. He wanted to drape his arm over her shoulder and pull her to him, so that she would be curled up against him and the wind could howl all night, and when he woke up from its noise he would feel her breasts against his chest and sigh and go back to sleep. He sighed, and did not move.

Besides the fact that she would probably knee him in the balls if he laid a hand on her, he couldn’t do these things because he wasn’t sure why he was doing them. Sure, Scully was beautiful; sure, Scully was smart; sure, Scully was everything he could ever want in a woman and she had danced through his private fantasies more than once over the last three years or so, but these almost irresistible impulses had never been there before, not until he told her he was taking a vacation. Not until he found out she had maybe taken a little vacation of her own. Not until Ed Jerse.

So he couldn’t, no matter how much he wanted to. Not until he was sure that it was Scully he wanted, really Scully, and he was just having some territorial pissing contest with some wacko murderer who had, despite his wacko murderer status, quite possibly seen his partner naked.

Mulder sighed.

He was a pathetic jealous jerk. A pathetic, jealous jerk with a hard-on.

He watched Scully for a while, watched her shoulders rise and fall with the even tide of her breaths, watched her eyelids flicker in REM sleep. After a while, he joined her.

Lonely Nightmare VI: Light and Shade by Justin Glasser

“C’mon show me all the light and shade that made your name.”


The police station, like everything else in Onowani, was on Main Street, and after breakfast at the diner he and Scully walked over. The snow was just deep enough to creep over the tops of his shoes, and the news was predicting more for “Madison and points west” tonight, but that meant it was warmer. His snot wasn’t freezing when he breathed, so Mulder supposed he should be grateful.

The station was a small tan brick building with the word “Police” in metal letters over the door, just like a thousand other civil service buildings built in the 1950s. The fifties seemed to have been a banner year for old Onowani. Inside the station, three men sat at office chairs around a big desk, drinking coffee and listening to the radio. One of them had a newspaper in his hand: another had his feet up on the desk. They looked up when the sleigh bells hanging from the door handle jangled.

“Hi,” Mulder said. “I’m Fox Mulder, FBI.” He held out his I.D. “This is my partner, Dana Scully. We’re looking for Chief Henry Austin.”

The oldest man stood up. “Yeah, that’s me.” He glanced at the I.D., leaning over the table. “You want some coffee?”

“No, no thank you,” Mulder said. “We’re here about some disappearances reported in the area over the last year. We were wondering if you could tell us some of the circumstances surrounding the cases.”

“Disappearances?” One of the other men smiled. “What disappearances?”

“We’ve had reports that a number of teenagers have gone missing over the last year. Is that true?”

The Chief stepped from behind the table, and leaned back on it, crossing his arms across his chest. “You mean the runaways.”

“You think that ten kids ran away in one year?” Mulder asked.

Chief Austin shrugged. “Onowani’s a small place, Agent Mulder.”

Mulder nodded. “I wonder how many children you have that you can afford to lose ten and not blink,” he said.

“I wonder if you’ve ever lived in a really small town, Agent Mulder. I wonder if you’ve ever been a teenager in a place so small that everyone knows your name, and who you’re going out with, and whether or not you have a pimple. I wonder if you understand just how close a small town can be. How much pressure a town small like Onowani can exert on a teenager. A kid feels that, he might want to run away, do you think?”

“I wonder,” Scully said in a voice that might have been relaying facts about the weather, “if you know that hampering an FBI investigation is a federal offense?”

Chief Austin looked at her. Then he smiled. “She’s a smart girl, huh?” he said to Mulder. Mulder pretended to smile back.

“Listen,” Chief Austin said. “We’re not hampering anyone. You go and talk to whoever you want. Investigate.” He waved his hands at the street outside. “Just don’t come running back to me when you find out those kids took off for Milwaukee and Chicago to live the glamorous lives of hookers and drug dealers. Pleasure to meet you, agents.” He went back around the desk and sat back, putting his feet up again.

“Thank you, Chief.” Mulder opened the door.

“Excuse me, Chief Austin?” Scully asked.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Is this your whole police force?”

“No, ma’am. I’ve got three more men who come in and do the night shift.”

Scully nodded. “Do you just cover the township here, or are you shared with some other towns?”

“We’re Onowani police, Agent Scully. Can I ask why you’re so interested in the workings of my force?”

“No reason.” She shrugged and gave him the wide pleasant smile that Mulder knew meant trouble. Scully’s real smile didn’t have nearly so many teeth in it. “I was just wondering how a hundred and seventy one people managed to pay the salaries of six policemen.”

Chief Austin’s smile grew wider. “I see,” he said. “Again, it was a pleasure.”

“Thank you, Chief,” Scully said.

“Jesus, Scully,” Mulder said, when they got down near the diner. “Rip his throat out. What was that all about?”

“Something I picked up living in a small town, Mulder. Onowani is a township. It’s barely incorporated. You want to tell me how this town can support a police force of its own without the help of neighboring communities? I’d love to know.”

“You think that means anything?”

She shook her head, opening the passenger side door. “Not anything we’re here to investigate.”

“So you just brought up the fact that the Chief of Police might be embezzling, or taking blackmail money, or be involved in the black market or the drug trade for cash because … “

“He called me a little girl, Mulder.”

“He called you a smart girl, Scully.” She gave him the Lisa Nelson look that said he was being stupid and should shut up while he was still ahead.

“Things like this are good to know about you, Scully.”

“Shut up and drive.”


The principal of Onowani High, Mrs. Johnson, didn’t give them any trouble. She had a student body of just under a hundred (unlike the police station, the high school did share its services with the surrounding communities) and the disappearance of ten percent of her student body had disturbed her greatly. She set them up in a classroom across from her office, and called Lisa Nelson to the office of the p.a. to speak to them.

Lisa showed up in jeans and a sweater, her hair held back by a headband. Jesus, Mulder thought, and then felt like a dirty old man. He caught Scully looking at him, and felt even dirtier and older.

“Hi!” Lisa said. “Alan said you all might be coming. Okay, so, what can I do for you?”

“You knew most of the people who were … the kids who are gone, right?” Mulder asked. She nodded. “We’ll need their names, and the names of their friends.”

“Basically,” Scully said, “we need to talk to anyone who has any idea what’s going on here. Anyone you can think of.”

“Sheesh, that’s, like, the whole student body. You’re only going to need the important ones, though,” she said. “And the ones who’ll talk. Okay, so, do you have something for me to write on?”

Mulder handed her his pen and notebook.

“Cool!” she said, turning it over in her hands, feeling the leather cover. “Do you, like, get one of these when you join the FBI?”

“It was a gift,” he said, glancing at Scully, who had been the giver of that particular gift. Scully seemed not to be paying attention.

“Wow. She must like you. This is, like, calf’s leather, or something, and I used to work at the mall in Lamona, so I know. Your girlfriend gave you this, right?”

“If you could just write down the names, Lisa,” he said. His face felt hot. Scully was looking at the bulletin board displays.

“Okay, sure.” She began to write in that looping bubbly handwriting that was on the letter. Mulder went over to stand next to Scully in front of the countries of Europe display.

“Remember when all of this was just U.S.S.R.?” he asked, pointing. She smiled.

“I’m still not sure what we’re expecting to find, Mulder. We don’t have any leads.”

“Velly true, comrade,” he said.

“So what happens if we talk to all these kids and we don’t get anything?”

“We haf vays of making them talk, Scully.”

“Seriously, Mulder.”

“Seriously?” He shrugged. “We talk to them and see if we get anything interesting out of them. These kids are the only contact we have with the phenomenon, if there even is one. If we don’t get anything, then we go back to your friend Chief Austin, and ask to see his files on the `runaways.’ There might be something in there we can follow-up.”

“And if there’s not?”

“That’s what I love about you, Scully, your sunny outlook.”

“I’m just trying to be realistic, Mulder. I know you want to help these kids. I do, too. Alan Nelson is scared out of his mind, and I’m not sure he shouldn’t be, but there doesn’t seem to be anything here. You don’t even have a theory.” She was staring up at him, her voice a harsh whisper so Lisa couldn’t hear.

“Well, actually … “

“What, Mulder?”

“A demonic beast comes and kidnaps kids in pairs at night, and the Police Chief calls the disappearances runaways because he serves the beast?”

Scully hung her head, shaking it slowly back and forth as if to clear it.

“Unbelievable,” she said, but he could hear the smile in her voice. “You are unbelievable.”

“I aim to please,” he said, and went over to see how Lisa’s list was coming along.

Lonely Nightmare VII: Danger on the Wind by Justin Glasser

“Only get a second chance when danger’s on the wind.”


“Mulder,” Scully said, after the door had closed behind Amy Thaller, the last girl on Lisa Nelson’s list.

“I know.” He held up his hands in surrender. “We’ve got nothing. You hungry?”

She nodded.

She was right. He wasn’t simply giving in this time to Scully’s pragmatic nature, or to her desire to wrap up something that could not be wrapped up: they really had nothing. Ten kids were missing, and for all they knew the Chief of Police could have been right and they could have all taken off for the busy anonymous streets of the big city. He and Scully sure didn’t have any proof to the contrary.

Almost all of the kids on the list had been eager to share what they knew about the disappearances, but what they knew amounted to a big pile of not much. Some of the kids said they heard rumors about a madman who lived in the woods. One girl said that she heard it knocking on her windowpanes at night when the wind was bad. One guy said he’d given up taking his girlfriend to make-out in his car because he was afraid they would be next. The only thing they shared was that they were all afraid they would be taken.

And they all called that fear “the beast.”

“It’s like the Bogeyman,” Scully had said, after the third interview in which the “beast” had been mentioned. “These kids are all convinced that something out there is coming to get them.”

“One key difference, Scully,” Mulder had said, picking at his fingernails with the edge of a piece of notebook paper.

“What’s that?”

“The Bogeyman only comes to get you if you’re bad.”

So they had nothing. They’d commandeer Chief Austin’s files tonight, if possible, and start in on the parents of the missing kids tomorrow. Mulder buttoned his coat and pushed open the doors for Scully. Snow swirled around their heads and blew past them into the hallway. It wasn’t even three-thirty yet, school was still in session, but the light already had that blue twilight quality from the clouds. The six streetlights were already on.

The car crept down the unplowed streets like a big cat, snow crunching under the tires. Mulder pulled up in front of the lighted police station and left the engine running.

“You stay here, little girl,” he said to Scully. “I’ll see what I can get.”

“What I wouldn’t do for a penis sometimes,” she said, her breath coming out in a sigh.

Mulder peered in, one hand on the roof, one on the car door. Scully looked at him. Her smile danced around her head, but didn’t actually appear on her face. Finally, still speechless, he slammed the door on her, and heard her laughter. He paused in front of the station door to wipe the smile from his face.

One of the men from that morning sat behind the table, watching t.v. on a little 9 inch set on top of one of the file cabinets.

“Hi,” Mulder said. “Fox Mulder, I don’t believe we were introduced this morning.”

“Umm … yeah. Danny. Danny Kowalski.” Danny Kowalski shook the hand that was offered to him.

“Steellllaaaa!” Mulder said, smiling. Danny Kowalski looked at him. “You know? Stella? A Streetcar Named Desire?”

Danny smiled a little. “Yeah, sure,” he said, and Mulder saw that this kid had no idea what he was talking about. “What can I do you for, Agent?”

“Well, Officer Kowalski, I need the files for all the kids who’ve disappeared over the last year.”

“Uh huh. Do you have a search warrant for those?”

Mulder smiled. Easier than taking candy from a baby. “No, Officer. I don’t need one. I just need you to agree to hand them over and we’ll be all set. Search warrants are for suspects.”

“Oh! Oh, right. Sorry!” Danny looked around as if his ass had fallen off suddenly and he was looking to see where it landed. “Um, okay, lemme look.” He went in the back room. Mulder heard the sound of filing cabinets being opened and shut. He looked at the papers on the table. Paper work on traffic stops, a domestic violence thing, an accident report. Nothing useful. Officer Kowalski came back out with two folders in his hand.

“I could only find these ones,” he said. “The rest of them are probably in the basement. I can look for you if you want.”

“That’s fine, Officer.” Mulder held out his hand for the folders. “I’ll come back for the rest, okay?”

Officer Danny Kowalski nodded. “Can I ask you something?” he said.

“Sure,” Mulder turned back from the door.

“Was it hard, you know, um, getting into the FBI?”

Mulder looked at the young officer. He thought of the FBI entrance exam that he’d hardly studied for, the physical fitness qualifications that he’d passed with no problem, the classes that he’d soared through, breaking the curve again and again. He thought of his classmates, both eager to get close to him and resentful of his success. He looked at the young officer in his too-big polyester uniform, standing in the town that he grew up in.

“Yeah,” Mulder said. “Yeah, it was pretty hard.”

Danny nodded again, one hand on the back of his neck. “Yeah, I figured. Have a good night, Agent Mulder.”

Mulder saluted with the folder. “‘Night, Officer.”


They were the folders for the last two kids that had disappeared: Bobby Oakes and Juliana Marshall. Juliana Marshall looked up from her file photo, a puppy on her lap and a sunny smile on her face. She wore a majorette’s uniform, and her dark hair was in two ponytails on the sides of her head. She was chubby and pretty. Bobby Oakes couldn’t have been more different. He was thin and sullen-looking, with spiky blond hair, and heavy eye make-up. He had a dog collar on, and a black t-shirt with a band logo on it, and he looked as if a smile would have cracked his face in two. Bobby looked like someone Alan would have known well.

“Look at this, Scully,” he said, handing the photos across the gap between the bed and the cheap pressboard table where she sat with her laptop.

“Hmm,” she said.

“Hmm? Tell me, Scully, do these two kids look like they would run away together? Do you really see Juliana Marshall and Bobby Oakes together?”

“No, Mulder, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t.”

“What about the other kids? Do they match this same pattern? Lisa said the first girl was a cheerleader. Juliana’s a majorette. What about the other girls?”

Scully skimmed through the data she’d culled from the newspaper accounts, shaking her head. The phone on the night stand rang. Mulder rolled over onto his side to pick it up.


“Agent Mulder, this is Chief Austin. I understand you paid a visit to my office this afternoon.” The police chief’s voice sounded tight with anger. Mulder cupped his hand over the bottom of the phone and mouthed “Austin” to Scully. She smiled, and went back to her computer.

“I did.”

“I also understand that you manipulated one of my officers into provided some of our files to you.”

“No sir. I asked Officer Kowalski for the files and he gave them to me.”

“I want them back, Agent Mulder.”

“Sorry, sir,” he said. He knew that the chief could hear his smirk over the phone but he couldn’t help it. “Until we determine that there’s nothing of use in those files, they are in the possession of the federal government.”

“They’re my files!”

“We can’t return them until we’re guaranteed access to them. Are you prepared to do that, Chief Austin?”

“God damn it, Agent Mulder—”

“And we’ll need access to the files on the other runaways as well, sir. We’ll be by for those tomorrow, if that’s convenient.”

“Agent Mulder, I—”

“Have a good night, sir,” he said, and dropped the phone back in its cradle. “Chief Austin is mad at me, Scully.”

“You’d better hope he doesn’t find Skinner’s number,” she said.

“Gimme whatcha got, baby.”

“That’s the problem, Mulder. We’ve still got nothing. Leroy Williams was on the football team, but the girl that was taken with him apparently didn’t do anything of note: she’s just described as a ‘student.’ Suzie Choy was headed to Madison on an art scholarship and the boy who went with her was a gas station attendant after school. There’s no pattern here, Mulder.”

Mulder tipped backwards onto the pillow. “Damn.”

“Anything in the reports?”

“Nothing. Missing person report, details on the search, termination of the search paperwork. Same old, same old.”

“May I?”

He passed the folders to her, and folded his arms behind his head.

“Mulder, did you see this?”

He looked over at her.

“The reports on the search, did you look at these?”

“I skimmed. What do you have?”

“Mulder, these are exactly the same.”

He scooted over to the edge of the bed and took the reports from her. At the top, the names of the subjects of the search were different, and the names of the participants had been changed, but after that. She was right. Exactly the same. Procedure, area covered, timeline, evidence found (“a folder known to be in the possession of the subject”), all exactly the same.

“Damn, Scully.”

“We need—”

She was interrupted by the pounding on the door. “Agent Mulder! Agent Mulder!” The door rattled in its frame.

“You think Austin’s that mad?” he asked, before he went to answer the door.

But it wasn’t Henry Austin or one of his lackeys. It was Alan Nelson standing out in the dark his sister said he never went out in, in a t- shirt and jeans and black boots and nothing else, the snow melting on his blue-black hair.

“Alan?” Mulder asked.

Alan looked at him, his face even paler than Mulder remembered, his skin wet with sweat and melting snow.

“It wasn’t me the beast was after,” he said. “It wanted Lisa.”


Lonely Nightmare VIII: Empty Promise, Empty Hand by Justin Glasser

” … when empty promise means empty hands … “


Mulder had seen his partner like this a hundred times, but it was better to be the one watching rather than the one receiving her ministrations. It involved less physical pain, at least, he thought, watching her crouch in front of Alan Nelson, pulling the blanket tight around his shoulders.

“Did you walk here, Alan?” she asked, moving her finger in front of his eyes. Mulder had a vague sense of deja vu. How many times had she done that to him, one hand resting on his forehead, her blue eyes staring into his.

“I ran,” he said.

She nodded.

“And your sister?”

“She’s gone,” he said, in that same dull monotone.

“How do you know?” Scully asked, settling back on her heels.

“The door … ” Alan swallowed, and began again. “I was asleep. And I heard something, and the door was open, and there was … ” He bowed his head into his hands and Mulder knew that he was trying not to cry. “There was blood on the door. Her hand. A hand print.”

Scully draped her arm over the boy’s back, rubbing gently at his shoulder. Mulder nodded at her.

“C’mon,” he said, grabbing his own coat and handing it to her. She slung it over Alan’s shoulders. “We have to get you back home before your parents get there. We can’t let them find the bl—the door open.”

The snow had increased: everything was a flurry of white. Alan’s tracks up to their door were already half full of snow, and Mulder wondered how the kid had seen to even get to the motel, how he had run what must be at least five miles in this blizzard. Scully climbed in the back with Alan, and Mulder slid behind the wheel, feeling absurdly like this had been happening to him over and over again. Somehow he was always sitting in the front seat alone. He pulled out of the parking lot slowly, fighting to see through the endless swarming movement of the snow.

He couldn’t go more than five or ten miles an hour, squinting to see the sides of the road.

“The lights,” Alan said.


“Turn off your lights. You’ll see better.”

Mulder flicked the lights off. Without the glare from the headlights, Mulder could see the illumination from the town on the clouds, and the dark shapes of the trees on either side. He sped up to twenty miles and hour and had to leave it there. Any faster and they would fishtail into a ditch and Lisa would be lost.

It took them almost half an hour to get back to Alan’s house, where, sure enough, the door was still hanging open and the lights were blazing. Mulder wondered what had happened to small town hospitality that none of the Nelson’s neighbors would have come over to see why their door was left standing open in the middle of a fucking blizzard, but when he looked around, all the other houses were dark. No one seemed to have seen. Or no one wanted to be seen, not when the beast was loose. It was stupid, but Mulder shivered anyway.

They took Alan inside and sat him in the living room. Mulder looked at the door. It looked like Alan had been wrong: the beast didn’t need to be invited in, it just knocked on the door and took you when you opened it. Right there, near the middle of the white door, right above the middle marker, was the handprint. It was a palm print, actually: the palm had hit the door and then been dragged downward, smearing the marking. No fingerprints. Of course, if it was Lisa Nelson’s, the prints probably wouldn’t have matched anyway. Girls like Lisa didn’t have records.

Mulder held his right hand over the print, measuring its size. Small, like Scully’s hand, probably smaller. And high up on the door like that: the print someone would make reaching for the door, if she were trying for the doorknob, say. If she were being carried away over someone’s shoulder.

Mulder spun on his heel, hand on his gun.

“Who’s there?” he demanded. He couldn’t see past the edge of the porch: everything was a blur out there, a swirl of shadows and snow. Nothing seemed to answer.

Mulder turned and went into the house, locking the door behind him. The wind howled.


Alan sat in front of the television, sipping soup from a cup with a glazed expression on his face. There had been a message on the machine for “Lisa, dear, and Alan” saying that Mr. and Mrs. Nelson would be staying in Madison overnight because of the storm, but not to hesitate to call if anything went wrong. Mulder had glanced at Scully when he heard that, but she had shaken her head. Best to wait, she was thinking, and for once, Mulder agreed completely.

They sat at the dining room table, looking at the back of Alan’s head, arguing in whispers.

“It’s a blizzard, Mulder!” she hissed. “We can’t go out there and look for her. Even if she’s still alive, we could never find her in this weather. We don’t know who took her, we don’t even know where to start.”

“Scully, you want to just sit here until his parents come home?”

She was angry, he knew, but not at the idea of going after Lisa. He knew that she wanted to do that more than anything. If anyone knew what it was like to go missing, Scully did. She didn’t want to sit here with a nice hot mug of coffee at her elbow and watch Alan Nelson slowly go into catatonic shock. Scully was reasonable, and she was right. They couldn’t go out in the storm, and they couldn’t just stay here.

Mulder stood up and grabbed his coat.

“Mulder!” she hissed, shaking her head at him, trying not to catch Alan’s attention. He leaned in close, so close that he could smell the scent of her soap on her neck.

“Stay with him,” he said. “I’m going to go to the police station, see if I can get the rest of those reports. Maybe there’s something in there.”

She sighed, and he knew she wanted to argue, but she wouldn’t. It wasn’t a great plan, but it was reasonably safe and might even help. She wouldn’t argue with him.

“Fine,” she said, finally. “But be careful.”

“Always am,” he said, smiling.

She grabbed the lapels of his coat and tugged on them suddenly, sharply. It was unlike her to be so abrupt: Mulder found himself staring down into her blue blue eyes.

“I mean it, Mulder,” she said. “Don’t go ditching me again. Be careful.”

This is what fear looks like, he realized, seeing the brief faint tremble of her lip. She didn’t want to hear any of glib promises now, or any of his smart remarks. A girl had done missing in the middle of a blizzard and left only a bloody handprint on the door, and Scully didn’t need his careless humor. She needed his truth.

“I will,” he said, and tried to smile, but she was already looking down, looking away, the way she always did when it was too much for them to look him in the eye. Someday, he thought, someday he would take her chin in his fingers and force her to look at him and that would be the day when he kissed her. “I will,” he said.

She let go of his coat.

When he turned back to pull the door shut against the wind, he saw that she was still standing there in the bright dining room, her arms folded around her waist, watching him. He did not smile.

Lonely Nightmare IX: Shadows Turning Red by Justin Glasser

” … soldiers coming home like shadows turning red … “


He had been out in the snow before a thousand times. He had driven in it, had skied in it, shoveled it. He had spent enough time in the snow to consider it familiar, even friendly. Mulder remembered going outside after midnight during a blizzard when he was ten, he and Samantha allowed to get lost in the white sea of snowflakes because the yard of the rented cottage they were at was fenced in for the dog. He remembered the feeling of being lost only a few feet from the back porch, the throb of his excited heartbeat when he realized that he could die out in the storm, but not really. His dad had come out fifteen minutes later, holding one end of a clothesline and walked them back in, carrying Samantha under his arm like a giggling sack of potatoes. Hunched against the snow in a small town in Wisconsin, Mulder suddenly missed his father.

He wished someone was coming after him with a clothesline, then thought of the bloody handprint on the door, and reconsidered. He had crossed the street immediately after leaving the Nelson’s house: the police station was on the opposite side of the street, and he had thought it would be easier to follow the houses and not accidentally walk past the station. He hadn’t considered the direction of the wind, however, and snow whipped off the roofs of the buildings across the street, adding to the frenzy already falling around him.

Snow swirled in his ears, and piled up in his shoes. It sifted into his collar, melting in silvery rivulets down his back. It kissed his cheeks with cold witch kisses and flew up his nose, trying to suffocate him. Scully had been right: this was a stupid idea.

But the police reports on the last two kids had been exactly the same and that wasn’t right. And an anomaly like that should be investigated, especially in a missing person’s case, unlike, say, a traffic report where the cut and paste on the computer was a cop’s best friend. And these were just kids, so the searches should have been conducted more carefully. And the Chief had seemed surprisingly angry about his reports being missing, instead of mildly pissed.

And it was the only lead they had.

Someone tapped his shoulder.

He shouted, turning into the wind, but all he saw was the dancing whirling of the snowflakes.

“Fuck,” he whispered, closing his eyes. Despite the snow, he turned his face upward, breathing hard through his nose. The cool slither of snowflakes on his throat seemed calming. After a moment, he continued on.

The police station was still lit, but he couldn’t see anyone inside through the slats of the blinds. He pushed the door open.

“Hello!” he shouted, stamping his feet on the welcome mat. “Agent Mulder! FBI!” No response. Even the drunk tanks in the back must have been empty. The coffee pot ticked once. The police radio hissed with static. The t.v. on the filing cabinet danced with images, but no sound. “Hello,” Mulder said again.

They were probably all out on calls, helping people out of ditches, checking for downed power lines and stranded motorists. He would have to help himself.

Technically, he hadn’t had the right to the files when he came in before: he and Scully had no cause to question the local law enforcement’s classification of the cases and without jurisdiction he couldn’t demand access to information about kids who had simply run away. Without evidence of an X-file he was overstepping his boundaries. Technically. But since Lisa Nelson had apparently been kidnapped, and since she was related to the case they were investigating, and since, X-file or not, kidnapping was a federal crime …

Officer Kowalski had gone into the storage room behind the table for the first two files, but he’d said the rest were in the basement. Basement, basement.

He went around the desk, into the storeroom where Kowalski had gone. No doors. Down the short hall, past the four empty holding cells. No doors. He turned to go back and saw it, behind the door which lead out into the main office, another door, situated so that they both couldn’t be opened at the same time.

Mulder went and turned the knob. The door opened. The stairs were dark, but the switch turned on fluorescent lighting all the way down and he could see the green tile on the floor down there.

It wasn’t a full basement, and Mulder felt a little crowded by the low ceilings, but it was clean, and fairly well-lit. Two long card tables sat in the middle of the room, along with some cheap wooden-slatted folding chairs. Boxes lined one wall. A red, white, and blue rolled-up banner reading “olic for uly 4” was propped against them. And along the far wall, file cabinets, long ones.

He pulled open the drawer that read “1996.” Unlike most rural police stations, where the filing system was usually one old secretary who just remembered where she put things, Onowani seemed to have all their ducks in a row. There were dividers making each month, and manila folders with case names all written in the same neat hand. Mulder wanted to kiss the anal-retentive Chief Austin flat on the mouth.

Lisa had said that the first couple was taken after the bonfire for Homecoming. He began sifting through the folder marked “September.” Halfway through “October,” Fox Mulder hit the jackpot.

He pulled the rest in a matter of minutes, holding them in one arm, while he leafed through the cabinet with the other hand. They all had the same basic forms in them, varying only in the number of witnesses interviewed. A cursory glance deflated his hopes of some kind of police cover-up: none of the other folders had the same search reports as the ones Scully had found. Apparently, that was just some cop trying to save time by cutting and pasting instead of typing up a whole new report like he was supposed to. Still, there might be something in the files, some common thread that would determine why Lisa Nelson had been—


Fuck, fuck, fuck.

They had all been taken in pairs. There was always a boy and a girl, that was how it was always done. Taken at approximately the same time so that parents and friends would think they had run away together. There were always two.

Who was the other one?

Mulder slumped in one of the folding chairs, setting the files down on the table in front of him. Who was the other one? He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and pressed *1.

“The person you are trying to reach—”

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he whispered. He would just have to go back and tell Scully in person then. It wouldn’t be Alan, he was pretty certain of that. If whatever had taken Lisa Nelson wanted her brother, it had had the perfect opportunity and passed it by. Besides, Scully was there. He hoped Chief Austin had some spare trashbags around so he wouldn’t have to try to carry these things under—

The top folder slid away from him in slow motion, gliding off the pile as gracefully as a swan, opening and fluttering its manila wings as it vomited its contents all over the green linoleum floor.

“Fuck!” Mulder said again, feeling not only like a klutz, but like a redundant and unimaginative klutz. He dropped the rest of the files back on the table, reaching one hand out to steady them, and crouched down to pick up the loose papers. The file was that of the first boy who had been taken, Jeremy Stricher. His picture showed a big blond boy in a flannel shirt standing next to a cow. A farm boy. A hick, maybe, who according to Lisa Nelson was not friends with cheerleaders. Mulder gathered up the papers and tapped them on the floor to straighten them. When he picked them up, a sheet of notebook paper fluttered to the floor.

Leaned down to pick it up, recognizing the handwriting as the same neat penmanship that was on the label in the file cabinet.

“Stricher, J.” the writing said. “Jameson,A. “Williams, L. “Miller, Je. “Choy, S.”

There were more, about twenty more, Mulder saw, last names and first initials, the top eleven with small neat checkmarks by them. He was not surprised to see that the last name checked was “Nelson, L.” The next name on the list—Rhodes, J.—did not have a checkmark. Whoever that kid was, John or Jim or Jason Rhodes, was next. Looked like the police were involved after all.

“Holy fuck,” Mulder breathed, and that was the last thing he said before the chair came down on his head.

Lonely Nightmare X: Earth Turns to Fire by Justin Glasser

“Please tread gently on the ground when all around you earth turns to fire.”


She held his arms above his head while she fucked him, her cool fingers circling his wrists in an iron grip. It hurt a little, but Mulder didn’t mind, because this was Scully, her breasts sliding sweatily over his chest, her liquid warmth enclosing and releasing him.

She went slow: he could feel every millimeter of himself slipping into her and then back almost out. He could feel the clench of his muscles, the grind of her pelvic bone against his. He could hear the slow hiss of her breath in his ear, and he wondered what he had done to deserve this. How had he earned this gift? What had he said to get her to agree to slide him in and out of her body, in case this was a dream and he woke up alone in a crappy bed in the Onowani Lodge?

She nipped at his neck, moving faster now, her breasts swaying, rubbing against his chest hair, her thighs clenching around his hips, and he pushed against her trying to catch her rhythm, trying to hear what she wanted in her harsh breath. She was slippery wet and wide open for him, at that stage of sex where the rougher it gets the better it is, her mouth sucking at his neck and her fingers clenched tight around his wrists, and he felt it, felt it, his balls tightening, and his hips beating against hers, and he wanted to tell her that he loved her, that he always would, but her breath was hot in his ear and all he could choke out as he came was

“Scu—scully!” in a hoarse whisper.

and she laughed in his ear, a low rough sound, that seemed not like her, but the voices of several people, not all necessarily female, and he wondered if maybe he should have called her Dana instead, but it didn’t really matter, because he woke up with his next gasping breath, and it had been a dream, and it was still dark, and he hoped he hadn’t said her name out loud and woke her up, and why couldn’t they get her damn heater fixed because this whole sleeping together thing was getting out—

—and then he realized that his hands were still held above his head.

And he still heard laughing.

“Who’s there!”

The laughter stopped.

He was on his back, on a table or a board or a floor or something. He seemed to be blindfolded. His hands were tied. His ankles were tied, he discovered, trying to lift them. He didn’t seem to be^wet, despite the dream he just had, but his neck felt raw, as if it been chewed, and his pants were open. And there were people in the room with him. God, Scully.

“Who’s there?” he shouted again, but no one answered. If he listened close, he could hear them breathing, moving, but they did not speak. Lisa’s letter came to his mind, the frayed notebook paper, her loopy handwriting: the police belong to the beast, she’d said.

“Austin!” Mulder said. “Austin! Untie me. We’ll forget the whole thing.”

Still no sound.

“Kidnapping an agent is a federal crime, Austin,” he said, trying to keep his voice from shaking, trying to take charge. “I can make sure no one knows about this.” Promise them anything, his instructor at the Academy had once said. The hostage taker wants something, and if he thinks he’s going to get it, then you stand a better chance of getting them out alive. If he could get them talking, get them to engage him, he stood a better chance. Especially if the other officers were as young as Kowalski.

“Kowalski! You don’t want to be a part of this, do you? Kidnapping a federal agent? I could pull some strings for you at the Bureau, Kowalski, but you have to let me go.”

Footsteps, soft and steady. Maybe it was just him, the young officer who wanted to be an FBI agent, and would let Mulder go for that chance. “C’mon, Kowalski,” he said. He kept his voice soft, encouraging.

The footsteps came close, closer, then stepped past him and went away. More than one person. Three? Four? He couldn’t tell, but they all went past him without even pausing. He heard the turn of the doorknob, felt the slight rush of air on his face (but, thankfully, not on his dick—he seemed to be at least partially covered), and heard the snick of the door being shut. He was alone.

Mulder yanked his arms and felt the cool bite of handcuffs. Probably his own fucking handcuffs, he thought, yanking at them again. They were hooked over some kind of pipe: he could feel the smooth metal when he tried to press his hands together. He tried to pull his legs up. Rope. Rope on the ankles, each one individually tied to something, handcuffs on his wrists, tight enough and high enough above his head that he had no leverage. He could thrash around a bit, but he could not break free.

The police belonged to the beast, and he belonged to the police, we all lived happily ever after, he thought, and for a second he was overcome by panic, and he yanked and yanked and yanked at the handcuffs and tried to pull his ankles free, kicking out like a wounded bird, kicking and kicking, shouting Scully’s name until he could no longer breathe, the pressure of the blindfold over his nose almost unbearable, and he was forced to lay back, letting his head drop and his mouth hang open, sucking air, not crying, he was not crying, he was trying to breathe and that was all, dammit—

—something brushed his ear.

“WHO THE FUCK IS THERE?” he shouted, jerking away.


No sound.

Not really a sound.

The non-sound of something moving, stirring the molecules of air in the room, but not enough to hear, especially when your own rasping breath was so loud in your own ears. And Mulder couldn’t hear it, not really, but he knew what it was, he knew the sound of the beast when he didn’t hear it, and suddenly he thought he knew what had happened to all of those runaways. They had run away to this room and had made a new friend. This was it. He would make a friend, too, and the police would say that he had run away with the pretty blond high school student to Chicago or New York and there would be a scandal and Scully would know it wasn’t true, but she wouldn’t have any leads and eventually Skinner would force her off the case, and she’d get a new partner and he would be down here still, with his friend the beast.

There was heat, now, the steady tidal heat of something breathing on the bare skin of his ankle, where his pants leg had been rucked up by his struggle. There was no sound of breath, but there was heat, and the faint moisture of air expelled. Mulder’s arms shook as he strained against the handcuffs.

“Leave me alone,” he said, and his voice seemed too loud in the quiet.

The air in the room flexed, and Mulder turned his face against his shoulder, and knew that whatever it was, it was above him now, crouched around him, looking down, and suddenly the blindfold didn’t seem like a bad idea at all. Suddenly, the blindfold seemed like a gift from a merciful god, and then there was that breath again, that breath on his throat, and he didn’t want to, but he did, he whimpered—

The door opened, and the breath was gone.

He almost wept with relief, but there were footsteps again, staggered and heavy this time, as if they were struggling under weight, and he heard movement, and the harsh gasping of real breath, human breath, and he understood that something was happening. That was bad. That was the thing you always wanted to prevent from happening in any hostage situation. The goal was to keep the perps as calm as possible, to make them comfortable, to establish a routine, because when you did that they got accustomed to you and to their hostages, they became complacent. Above all, you did not want “things” to happen. Because when things happened, those things were usually followed by the most dreaded of all things: escalation. And Mulder thought that the sound of footsteps, of something heavy coming into a room where he was tied and gagged, seemed, in his professional opinion, like escalation of the worst sort.

The footsteps stopped, and there was the thud of something being put down, maybe on a table three or four feet from him, and the clink of handcuffs. At least, he thought, I might not be chained up with my own, and then he realized that handcuffs meant hands, and he said again, for the six hundredth time—

“Who’s there?”

And this time he heard gasping and the sudden intake of breath, and a girl’s voice drifted to him. “Help me,” it said.

“Lisa?” he shouted. “Lisa? LISA!”

“Frank?” the voice said. “Frank, make them stop! Help me. Help me, FRANK!” and then the voice stopped crying and started screaming, and Mulder realized that he was Frank, and that Frank was of no help to anyone.

Lonely Nightmare XI: Darkest Night by Justin Glasser

“Even on the darkest night … when the lights of hope are fading quickly … “


—it wasn’t the same as dreaming of monsters, because in dreams you could see. See Scully, see Scully run. See Scully save her partner Frank from the thing that breathes, from the beast, but careful, careful, not too quick, what big teeth you have—

—Scully hadn’t let him apologize for the tattoo joke. He’d tried more than once to say he was sorry, to draw her out about what had happened in the city of brotherly love, brothers were supposed to protect their sisters, keep them safe and he hadn’t been able to do that, not any better than Alan had been, because everything was about him, and he had sent his Scully right into the mouth of danger, right into Philadelphia, right to have her heart cut out, and she had come back anyway, marked now, marked for life, and told him everything was not about him, and when he had found the hearts and wanted to cry, Scully had let him press his face against her, but she hadn’t let him apologize and now it looked as if he had lost his chance for good—

—he wished that he didn’t believe. He wished he were Scully, so full of science that there was nothing in this room but other people. He wondered if it would work like that, if it were a matter of belief and if he could convince himself that hell was only other people and not that which swirled around his ankles, purring, licking up the spilt blood—

—the blood tasted like copper, like licking a copper penny, and it leaked into his mouth. They hit him, they, not it, they hit him when he tried to talk to the Lisa, to stop her screaming. She didn’t not scream anymore. He was not sure, but he thought that Lisa might never scream again, not even in happiness when her team made a basket with the blue and gold pom-poms in her hands, and he thought “that’s a shame,” because she was probably good at it in a way he could never be, that she was a people person with pretty pretty blue eyes, and all he wanted to do was look into those eyes and put his fingers in her short red hair and kiss her, and hear her cheer for him—

—it was his need to urinate that made him wonder how long he had been here. He didn’t know. He couldn’t tell, and when he asked they did not answer him. Was Scully looking for him? Had the storm outside lessened enough that she could venture out herself, or was she still at Alan Nelson’s house waiting for his parents? How long had it been since he left? Had he gone at Alan’s house? He couldn’t remember. Were Alan’s parents back already? Had days passed? Had he been missing for days? The table pressed against his shoulder blades and his buttocks: his lower back ached from the angle, his shoulders burned, his legs shook. He knew, then, that it didn’t matter whether or not he had been here for hours or days, he would be here for eternity. He would never escape—

—you can’t see love in someone’s eyes. He knew, because otherwise she would know already and he wouldn’t feel like there was something stuck in his throat, something that would suffocate him if he didn’t keep swallowing it down—

—he could see Scully everywhere, she was everywhere, and he knew he was blindfolded but that didn’t matter because he could see her, in her tailored suits, and her short, shorter, shortest hair, looking up at him and smiling, looking down and him and frowning her cool small hand on his forehead. “What’d you do, Mulder?” she said, and smiled. He wanted to answer her, but his throat hurt, his throat had been chewed, and he could not say, and he knew that she was not here, that he was blindfolded, and he couldn’t keep doing this couldn’t keep watching her, because then he would go mad and what help would that be? And then he thought, what help am I now? But he tried not to see her anyway—

—they did not speak, the men with the footsteps, so after a while he began to speak for them, asking them questions and then providing their answers in a sing-song smiling voice, wagging his head back and forth while he listened to them moving and grunting in the room. “Why did you do this?” he asked them. “The better to see you with, my dear,” he answered for them. Eventually, someone came over put a rag over his mouth, a rag wet with something, and pressed, until he was frantic with the need for air, and then they took it away. He stopped speaking, then—

—he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t like this. Even in his memories of childhood, his first day of school, his tenth birthday party, Samantha’s abduction, his arms burned and his breath came in rushed harsh gasps. This pain had been there all the time, in his every conversation with her, just waiting for the right time to come to the surface, to reveal itself and show him the truth about himself, that he was weak, that he was a failure, that he was worth no more than this—

—the room was never empty. He wanted it to be, he wanted to be alone so that he could think of Scully and how she would find him, and cry with self pity, and stop being so damn afraid, but the room was never empty, he was never alone. The beast that breathed was always there, just waiting for the others to leave so that could climb up on the table with him and walk back and forth, stalking around him like a cat stalks along a fence top. It would taste him, his wrist where the blood seeped, his forehead, where the sweat beaded above his brow, with a long serpentine tongue, and he would flinch away and not scream and know that it was smiling. Smiling and waiting until it was hungry again. He thought maybe it was better than none of those kids had been found. Maybe they had gone insane from this—

—he thought that he had never understood this, that maybe Scully would understand better than he was what was happening to him, and what it meant. He had been kidnapped, sure, that he understood, but there was something else here, something that he felt in the pit of his stomach, something that maybe had been watching him when he looked at a bloody handprint on Alan Nelson’s door. Something that was waiting for him. And Mulder thought that even though Scully was a scientist she would understand this better, because, although he had thought he knew what she meant, he was realizing now with every breath that he had never really understood the nature of evil—


—as long as there were footsteps he was okay. He hadn’t wanted the footsteps because footsteps meant men and men meant bad things for Lisa, very bad things, but it had been one of the times when there were no footsteps and Lisa had been crying softly on the table next to him, and he had been trying to whisper to her, when he had heard the soft sound, the wet sound, and the end of Lisa’s crying. He had smelled a smell he was too familiar with, the smell of copper, and he had been afraid then, that there would be breath again, breath on his throat, and when the footsteps had come back he had been grateful. The men reeked of evil, but they did not bite—

—he knew that there would be a time soon when he no longer hoped for rescue, for Scully on her white horse, when he would hope only for death. In the meantime, he counted footsteps and hoped that Lisa had gone to heaven—

—outside there would be snow piled high in the road and blowing from the rooftops. The whole town would look like something out of a fairytale, off a greeting card, something perfect and pristine and flawless, and Scully would step off the porch and onto the walk and shade her eyes from the bright cold winter sun, and she would smile at him and say “What did you do, Mulder?” and he would smile back and say—

—he is sorry, Scully. He is sorry—

Lonely Nightmare XII: Homing Angel by Justin Glasser

“I’ll be your homing angel, I’ll be in your head.”


He wasn’t entirely sure when it happened, but eventually Mulder realized that he was living the final hours of his life. His shoulders and ass had gone numb, his bladder ached from pressure, and he could feel his heart thudding in his chest, and suddenly he understood that this was it, that whatever he had been put on this earth to do was finished. It seemed a little anti-climactic.

For a while, it had seemed certain that he would die at the hands of the shadow government, blown up or shot or captured in pursuit of a higher truth, but that no longer seemed to be the case. No great and noble death for him. Instead he would die here, in Podunkville, Wisconsin, killed by a group of small-town rogue police and their pet demon because he couldn’t hold onto a bunch of files. He had a feeling his high school shop teacher would not be surprised. “You’re a bright boy, Fox,” Mr. Murphy used to say, “but you haven’t got the common sense God gave a rock.” If Mr. Murphy were here, he would look down at Mulder trussed like a hog, and shake his head, smiling. “Couldn’t just get the files and go, could you?” he would say.

Mulder looked up at him, smiling back. It seemed funny, now. Didn’t people always say that: you’ll look back on this and laugh? It was nice to know that even while “this” was still going on he could look back on it and laugh. It was nice to know he hadn’t lost his sense of humor.

He heard footsteps still, soft and padded, as if they were walking on dirt and not linoleum flooring, now. He suspected that was what the men were doing all this time, in the ages since there had been a sound from Lisa. Bringing in dirt and scattering it around. Ceremonial, he thought, idly marking that thought in his mind for the report he would never make. lSome dust had gotten on his mouth, and he licked it off before he thought about it, then wished he could spit. It was dry, but it had tasted oily, somehow.

When they went out for more, the other thing—the thing that Mulder had given up all pretense toward and just called the Beast now—always came back. It had stopped licking him for a while, when the dust was still in the air, it seemed, but that had resumed. Its breath was hot, still, and smelled stale as if it had been kept inside not just for the few seconds that it took to inhale and exhale, but for ages. Centuries.

Mulder found that it no longer bothered him, not now that he was dying. That was the beautiful thing about death, he thought, once it was actually happening, you could kind of go with the flow and ignore the big and scary thing leaning over you, even when, say, a drop of something that should have been saliva landed on your cheek and burned like acid. It was all over but the shouting, as his dad used to say, and Mulder wished that one of the men would go ahead and shout, or that they would at least have the common decency to leave the room long enough for the beast—who apparently had issues about killing with people in the room—to rip his throat out. He was starting to see what condemned men meant when they said that the death penalty wasn’t cruel and unusual punishment, but the wait was. He was getting a little impatient.

The men were out of the room now, getting some more dirt maybe, or ceremonial robes, or some other god damned thing—Mulder had never fully understood what a pain ritualistic killings were until now—and it was back, winding along table beside him. He thought it had four feet and a tail, probably, sometimes when it turned away from him, he felt something brush his cheek like a tail. And it had teeth, he figured, and it definitely had a tongue, and it liked to walk, back and forth, back and forth, and look at him, stare down, he imagined, breathing on him until he flinched away from its moist mouth. It was more like a cat than he had realized at first: it liked to toy with its prey. It was big, though. When it had stepped onto his stomach, pressing one what? claw, foot, paw, he didn’t know, into his belly, all of his air had rushed out in one whoosh, and Mulder had clenched his teeth to keep from wetting himself. It had paused there for a second, watching, Mulder figured, to see what he would do. He had done nothing—what could he do?—but gasp for breath and pray that it would not step lower.

Now it weaved back and forth over him, pacing, crossing over first one ankle then the other, then his waist, then his face, and that was still bad, death or not, when the thing crossed over his head and he had to hold his breath or face the stale dry musk of its sex. He always turned his face to the side: he couldn’t help it. He would have to tell Scully about what that was like, see if she could class—

Scully … he stopped himself. He wouldn’t be telling her anything, not now. Not about this, or Lisa, or even what he was going to say in the basement that day, when she had said that it was her life, and he had wanted to reach across the desk and tell her that it was his life, too, that she could not go and do things like that because then he would lose her and what would become of him then? That was what he had wanted to say that day, but by then it was too late. She had gone and marked herself, trying to be rid of him. The last thing she wanted was for him to declare his need. And now there wouldn’t be anything more to declare. Easy. No point in thinking about her, about what he should have said, about what he should have done, about mistakes he had made. It was over. He was dead. All over but the shouting.

And suddenly there was shouting, and the brief pop-pop of gunfire, and something slamming up against the door, and he thought Scully but it was too late because the beast was on his chest, heavy and hot, and the beast owned the police and the police owned him, and without even thinking about it Mulder lifted his chin to give it better access because this was it, he was dead, and there were teeth at his throat and the door flew open, and the beast was heavy and hot—

—and gone—

—and someone was screaming and then there was something heavy and hot on his chest again, and he thought finally but there was no biting only a mouth over his wet and demanding, and he screamed, pulling his head away, thinking there had to be better ways to die, and there was a voice in his ear, gasping, harsh—

“Mulder, it’s me.”

—and the mouth returned, and of course it was her, it was Scully, and it was over, and he wasn’t dead, and he knew that he had been lying the whole time, that all he had wanted was to be worth saving, and since he was saved that was close enough.

“Scu—” he said, but his mouth wasn’t really working.

“Be quiet, Mulder,” she said. And he heard the clink of keys and his arms fell to the table, finally, finally, like so much dead wood, and he knew that they were going to hurt, but just for a second they felt so good, and free, and Scully was untying his ankles, and she pulled his blindfold off—

—and there she was.

Her hair was messed up, hanging in her eyes, and she had a scrape on one cheek, and her mouth was drawn together in that old lady expression of concern that she always got when he had done, or was about to do, something incredibly stupid.

He turned his head, trying to look past her.

“Lisa,” he whispered.

Scully shook her head. “She’s dead, Mulder. I can’t help her. I tried.”

He nodded and tried to swallow. “So did I.”

She smiled down at him, her fingers twining through his hair. “I know. I thought I told you to be careful?” she said. She brushed her knuckles over his cheek. “When are you going to start listening to me?”

Mulder felt his mouth twitch into a smile. “Scully,” he said. His voice sounded like it was rubbed over sandpaper. Screaming, he thought. That’s from when I was screaming.

“What, Mulder?” She was rubbing his shoulders now, trying to work the blood back into them. He was alive, so she was playing Doctor Scully, all business, rubbing their relationship back to normal as quickly as possible. Mulder wasn’t sure he wanted it back to normal so quickly. Mulder wasn’t sure he could handle normal right away.

“If you kiss me again, I promise not to shout.”

She stopped rubbing, looking down at him, her face smooth and blank. Then, abruptly, she leaned down and kissed him. He didn’t shout.

Lonely Nightmare XIII: Lucky Weather by Justin Glasser

“Must be lucky weather when you find the kind of wind that you need.”


He stepped out of the police station into the blinding glare of a sunny winter’s morning. The snowplows had been through already; Mulder could tell by the snow banks as high as his waist. Their rental car was plunged nose-first into one of these.

“Nice driving,” he said. He stood off to the side and waited for her to back out enough for him to get the door open.

“This is the last time, Mulder, I’m warning you,” she said, as he collapsed into the front seat.

“Uh huh. Make sure you put that in writing,” he said. Then he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

She went into the motel room with him to call the State Patrol.

“They’ll be here in an hour or so,” she said, hanging up. He sat on the edge of the bed, feeling like he’d just gotten home from the worst party of his life. “I’m going to go to the Nelson’s. They need to know.”

He nodded.

She sat down on the bed next to him, still smelling of the cold and fresh snow. “Make sure you drink some water, not too cold, and don’t get in the shower. Take a bath instead.”



He sighed.

“You probably shouldn’t sleep since they hit you over the head, but I’ll be back in an hour or two, so if you want to—” She nodded. “You’re going to be fine, Mulder.”

He sighed again. Sure, he would. Nothing a bath and a nap and some food wouldn’t fix. Scully seemed to understand that it was that fact that had him upset.

“Okay, I’ll be back,” she said. She hugged him with one arm, and was gone.

He turned on the t.v. and drank two tepid glasses of water, and took a tepid bath, and put on a clean t-shirt and underwear, and crawled under the polyester bedspread, and was asleep by the time the sand slid through the hour glass on Days of Our Lives.

In his dreams, he was not free. Scully was on the table next to him, her belly swollen and pregnant under her cheerleader sweater, but that didn’t stop the police, it didn’t stop Austin from rutting with her, her hands held above her head as she screamed and he screamed too, and Austin looked, but it wasn’t Austin, it was something else, something in a cop’s uniform, something swamp-colored and foul with a mouth full of teeth.

He must have shouted, because Scully was there, shaking him. He didn’t want her to look at him like that, like he was broken and needed to be repaired, although he supposed in some ways that was true. He sat up, away from her hands. His room was dark, the t.v. off, and he noticed that the lights in her room were on.

“Aren’t you cold?” he asked, gesturing to the door.

“They fixed it.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

“Mm hmm.” They sat in silence for a moment. Mulder toyed with the edge of his t-shirt. Scully watched him. “So since you’re up,” she said. “I was going over some of the stuff we got at the crime scene today, and I was wondering if you wanted to fill me in on some of the details.”

“Yeah. Yeah, sure.”

She left and came back with her laptop, sitting down on the bed next to him. “Here are the initial photographs … ” she said, and he told her what he knew about the storage room where he had been found, about the sounds and the dust, and the number of men he thought were present. Scully, in turn, explained to him what she had found when she had come in looking for him, the resistance of the police to her questions, the strange dust on their shoes, her coercing them into the holding cells in the back, the police officer she had been forced to shoot because he pulled his weapon on her when she had tried to get into the storage room door, the bites of indeterminate origin on Lisa Nelson’s body, and the confession of none other than Officer Kowalski, who was at least a decent enough human being to confess.

“It was them the whole time, Mulder. They were taking the kids and abusing them, and burning the bodies afterward.”

“The dust,” he said, remembering its thick oily taste. He did not feel like vomiting, but he wished he did. So Lisa had been right after all: not the devil, but the devil’s men.

Scully nodded.

“Why in pairs?” he asked.

She looked down at her hands, at the reports. “One of the officers seems to have had a preference,” she said.

“Oh.” He felt, dull, stupid. That was obvious: he should have caught that.

“It also made their cover story easy,” she said. “They conducted the search, there was no evidence of foul play, the kids ran away, and people stopped looking.”

“Yeah.” He knew she was looking at him, that she was waiting for him to say something, so he did. “What about the beast?”

“It’s one of those things, Mulder, like the Bogeyman. The kids made it up to explain what was happening. You said yourself that Onowani has no history of paranormal occurrences.” The words were the ones he expected to hear from her, the rational, the reasonable, but her voice was tired. They were going through the motions.

He wanted to tell her what he had felt in that room, that evil had placed its teeth against his throat and only she had saved him, but it seemed like so much. He felt like Sisyphus, rolling a rock up the hill only to have her push it back down again. He knew he should be feeling grateful to her for rescuing him, for being so completely the woman she said she was, and he was grateful, and maybe that was why he couldn’t mention it to her. She would ask questions, and he didn’t think he could answer them. He said nothing.

“What are you thinking, Mulder?” she asked.


“Okay.” She went back to the case file, and eventually he drifted back to sleep to the sound of her voice explaining the jurisdictional hairball that this was going to be.

When he awoke the next time, shuddering and sweaty with the memory of teeth on his throat, she got up from her chair at his bedside and lay behind him, propped up on one elbow. She ran her hand over his hair, and pressed her check against his, and whispered “tell me, Mulder,” her lips moving like kisses on his skin, and he told her.

He told her about Lisa calling his name, and the sound of the bites of “indeterminate origin” on Lisa’s body, and the smell of the beast as it passed over his face, and the feeling of its tongue on his skin. He knew without her even saying that she had seen nothing when she came into the room, no animal sitting on his chest, not even a house cat or a rat nearby to explain it. She would not believe him. She was Scully, and she would not believe his crazy story about some beast. But he told her anyway, because she was Scully. While he talked, he felt her heart beat against his back, and her breast pressed against his arm, and her arm curled around his body, and her hand holding his against his chest, and the next time he woke up it was morning.

The State Patrol took his statement the next day, and two agents from Madison, Meyers and Patruchillo, came up to handle the rest of the investigation of the Onowani police force, so Mulder had to provide a statement for them, as well as his number in Washington and Skinner’s contact numbers. Meyers and Patruchillo, who were both women and both had very short stylish hair, got along with Scully famously and seemed torn about how to feel about him. They had seemed impressed when he gave them Skinner’s name, but he caught them tossing him pitying looks out of the corner of his eye, and he knew that to them he would forever be the man whose woman partner saved him. It wasn’t as embarrassing as he might have thought, although Meyers kept wanting to pour him coffee and fix his tie.

Scully spent most of the day writing her own report. He would have to write one himself, he knew, and go see the counselor to make sure he wasn’t a danger to himself or others (he wondered why they only asked that after you’d had some traumatic experience, when it made so much more sense to ask it before: he knew some agents who had only become reasonably safe after some perp kicked the shit out of them and they learned caution) and Skinner would want the whole nine yards, but Mulder got out of all of that for the moment by holding his head a lot and pretending to be dizzy. Scully knew, of course, and kicked him under the table.

They went back to Milwaukee that evening, and stayed at the Marriott again, and ordered outrageously expensive room service and watched t.v. She slept in her own room, although the door was wide open, and they got up the next morning and had breakfast at the over-priced restaurant in the lobby and made it to their plane in plenty of time.

Mulder knew that he had been avoiding talking to Scully, really talking to her since the night he told her about the beast. That wouldn’t go in her report, of course, but he hadn’t mentioned it to the State Patrol either, or Meyers and Patruchillo. He had meant to go forward and tell them what he believed—speak the truth though the heavens fall—but when they had asked him to give them his version of events, somehow he had failed to mention it. He could always add it in later, he supposed, but somehow it didn’t seem as important anymore. It was as if the details of that night were fading the further he got from Onowani. He still remembered everything that had happened, but it no longer had the sharp edge of urgency it had when he was lying on the table resigned to death.

The other things he had thought, the things about Scully, those seemed to have lost their urgency as well. She read a magazine, or looked out the window, and seemed calm again, happy, as though saving him had restored an equilibrium to their relationship that had been missing for some time. For a second, he thought about telling her of the conclusions that he had come to on that table, that she was more than a partner to him, that even Samantha paled in importance next to her. He even spoke her name, but when she turned to look at him, he noticed she had gotten a nosebleed from the dry air on the plane, and she had to go the lavatory to get cleaned up. He thought that Scully seemed to be prone to nosebleeds this winter—maybe he would get her a humidifier as a thank-you-for-being-the-cavalry present.

When she came back, she looked a little pale and tired, and Mulder decided he would wait until they got back to Washington and things settled down make his Declaration. That was how he thought of it, in capital letters, and it didn’t seem right to make a Declaration in the coach seats of a passenger jet when your partner had a ball of Kleenex stuffed up her nose. It had waited this long, it could wait a little longer. He had all the time in the world.


If you’re lonely in your nightmare:


This file has been downloaded from x-libris.xf-redux.com. It contains work/s of X-Files FAN FICTION and FAN ART which are not affiliated with Ten-Thirteen or The Fox Network. No income is generated from these works. They are created with love and shared purely for the enjoyment of fans and are not to be sold in any format. The X-Files remain the property of Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen and Fox, unfortunately.

Individual stories and art remain the property of their talented creators. No copyright infringement is intended. Any copyright concerns can be addressed to .

Return to main Lonely Nightmare page

I'm getting closer to fixing everything, but there may still be temporary breakages as I'm still doing long-overduebackground stuff. Thanks for being patient.