2X20 - WARDEN
When Dana Scully arrived at work Monday morning, she wasn't surprised to see her partner already buried up to his neck in case files. It wasn't unusual for him to be there hours before she showed up, due to the occasional insomnia that drove him out of his apartment at all hours of the morning.
"Morning, Mulder," she ventured as she wriggled out of her light jacket and tossed it at the coat hook. There was no response from the desk.
She took another look at the dark head that was craned over a thick file. She frowned slightly, noted that the silent figure was breathing, and shrugged. With a half-annoyed roll of her eyes, she arranged herself in her normal chair, turning her attention away from the seemingly-catatonic man across from her. She focused it instead on a white paper bag she had brought in with her.
As she unwrapped a bagel from the bag--real cream cheese already applied--she watched Fox Mulder again. His eyes were moving, she realized. He was so deeply engrossed in the file that he hadn't noticed her presence. Worse yet, he hadn't noticed the presence of food less than four feet away from him.
Finally, perturbed to point of drastic action, Scully pulled an apple turnover from the bag and waved it around in front of her.
No response. Not even a twitch of his eyelashes.
Forced to something radical, Scully took the turnover and physically jabbed Mulder in the nose with it. With a high- pitched "Yaiii!" his head finally raised from the file.
Sheepishly, he took the offered pastry. "How long have you been here, Scully?" he asked as he munched.
"Long enough to wonder if you were comatose," Scully said, daintily biting into her bagel again. "What's so exiting that you'd ignore me for ten minutes?"
He smirked. "It's a new case. Just came in yesterday." He polished off the turnover and looked longingly at the bag Scully still held on her lap. She shook her head.
"No way. No more breakfast until I have the full story." She was secretly delighted that she had a way to force the truth out of him without a lot of exertion.
He pouted. "You'll love it, Scully. It's a haunting. A completely traditional ghost story."
"A ghost," Scully echoed. Her tone was less than thrilled. "You're making me go ghost-hunting again? Tell me there's more to this than just rattling chains and creepy noises."
"Well, there's the five missing workmen..." Mulder added offhandedly, watching her reaction out of the corner of his eye.
She stared back at him coldly. "And as always, the ghosts are more important to you than the people involved? You've pulled this stunt before, and it gets old." She crossed her arms over her chest, drumming her fingers irritably against her sleeve.
Mulder sighed, knowing he had pushed too far again. "Scully, you know I enjoy the paranormal aspect, and I like to forget that you don't. I'm sorry, okay? Next time, I'll start with the important stuff." He tried to look penitent.
Scully cracked a tiny smile. "That'll be the day."
Mulder tried to look innocent and failed miserably. For a split second he thought she was still truly angry, but then he saw her lips twitching as she fought against a grin. Satisfied that he wasn't in trouble, he glanced down at the file and started his trademark briefing.
"As I said, five workmen are missing from Albany, Georgia. They're part of a team working on the renovation of Flint River Jail. It was closed back in the late nineteenth century, and now they want to make it into a museum of some kind. Anyway, the work started on July first, beginning of this month. Since then, there have been complaints of cold spots, cell doors opening and closing, all the aspects people associate with ghosts. The first workman disappeared on the tenth. The other four disappeared on the twelfth, thirteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth. After the last disappearance, yesterday morning, all the information was faxed to me."
"How did they know to involve you?" Scully wondered, tossing the white bag absently at Mulder. He found a Danish as Scully took the case file.
"The man in charge of the renovation used to be in the VCU. Apparently the job didn't suit him, but he remembers us. I think I saw him around once in a while before he bailed out. Anyway, we've got the case and I think we'd better get down there. At this rate, by the time we get there we might have a sixth victim to deal with."
Scully frowned slightly as they approached a shining silver Quonset hut perched precariously on the edge of the river bluff. It wasn't big enough, or old enough, to be the jail, but there were no other buildings in sight. A reflective sign over the door proclaimed it to be the Renovation Office for the Flint River Project. A decidedly self-important name, Scully thought.
"Are you sure we were supposed to come out here this late? Why don't we come back in the morning?" Scully asked as she eyed the dark office. It looked deserted.
Mulder bit his lip. "Dr. Zellman said to come out when we got in, no matter how late it was." He looked undecided. Finally he tapped lightly on the office door. There was a flurry of sound from inside, and the door opened a crack.
"What is it?" An unseen man snapped irritably.
Mulder flashed his badge, not knowing what good it would do in the darkness. "Agent Mulder, F.B.I." he announced. "This is my partner, Agent Scully. Are you Dr. Dan Zellman?" This last was said with a degree of doubt in his voice.
The door flew open, surprising them both. "Agents!" The man cried. "You made it! Please, come in." He hustled them into the blackness of the building. Hurriedly he lit an oil lamp. "The electric is turned off after ten o'clock," he explained off their expressions. "We've had... incidents." He didn't elaborate on what kind of "incidents" they'd had.
While he scurried around, picking up things and generally tidying up the place, Scully took stock of him. Dan Zellman was a very small, round man, but with none of the unpleasant attitude that would often accompany that type of person. He was obviously a little scatterbrained, judging by the mess, but based on the various papers she saw, Scully decided that he was probably very smart. He was also, she realized, extremely jumpy. Most of his energy seemed...unnatural.
He seemed scared out of his wits.
Oblivious to the fact he was being sized up, Zellman kept prattling about how absent-minded he was, how he'd fallen asleep waiting for them, and how creepy the place was at night. Both agents supposed that was his way of explaining why he had seemed so hostile when he first opened the door.
Finally his energy ran out and he plopped down in a battered armchair. He waved the agents to the couch across from him.
"What can you tell us about the situation?" Scully asked, flipping open a small notepad. She gazed expectantly at the doctor, who flushed slightly.
He cleared his throat. "I'm afraid you're going to think I'm batty, Agent Scully, but--"
"Nothing you say could surprise me," Scully cut in, giving him an encouraging smile. "Just tell us exactly what's been going on here."
Dr. Zellman shifted in his chair, took a deep breath, and let it out
in a frustrated sigh. "I can't tell you what's been going on because I
don't really know myself. All I can tell you is that bizarre things have
happened in the jail, and now my workmen are vanishing at a startling
rate. All work has been suspended until we can figure out what's going
on, and we're losing money every day!" He threw his hands up in an extravagant
gesture of annoyance. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about profit.
We're going to lose the funding that's keeping us going if we can't work!"
He put his head in his hands and sighed again.
HOLIDAY INN ALBANY
Scully flopped heavily on the hotel bed, kicking off her heels with a groan of relief. She groaned again when she heard knocking on her door.
"Mulder, don't you ever sleep?" she asked the door. It cracked open slowly.
"Scully, you awake?"
"Mulder, we just got here five minutes ago. I'm awake." She tried to keep the exhaustion out of her voice and only half succeeded. Mulder looked contrite as he entered.
"I thought maybe we could go over the file again?" He took one look at her face and backpedaled toward the door. "Or, we could check it out later. How about breakfast at nine?" Biting his lip, he retreated. A second later Scully heard the door of his room close.
Half a second after that, Scully busted out laughing.
Mulder poked his head in again. "I heard that. You know, if you're not going to sleep, we could look at the file again."
"What's so fascinating about this case, Mulder? You spent hours on the plane drooling on it, not to mention when I got to the office this morning. You've dragged me cross-country and now you won't let me go to bed. Why is this one so much different than all the rest?" Scully waited patiently while he chewed on his lip some more.
"It's the ghost story," he said finally. "I think there's a really great ghost story here, and I'm a sucker for those."
"So you prefer ghosts to aliens now?" Scully asked sweetly.
"Oh yes, definitely," Mulder agreed, deadpan.
"All right, bring in the file, but in an hour I'm going to bed," Scully warned.
"Is that a promise?" her partner leered. She pitched a shoe at him and he headed back to his room for the file. He came back with both the file and the shoe.
At three in the morning, Scully woke up, surrounded by paper and photos. Mulder was perched on the side of the bed with his glasses on, poring over the file again.
"Don't you have your own room?" she asked, voice scratchy from sleep. She was still dressed but under the covers, and she couldn't remember how she'd gotten there.
Mulder looked up, startled. "I thought you were asleep. Did I wake you up? I'm sorry."
"When did I doze off?" she asked, a little embarrassed.
"About one-thirty. I was tempted to change you into pajamas but I thought you'd probably kill me, so I just tucked you in," he said absently, exchanging the paper in his hand for one on the bed.
"And then you used me for a table," Scully observed, as she motioned towards the neat stacks of photographs balanced on her legs. "You're lucky I didn't roll over and spill them all over."
"Actually you did. Twice. Did you see this picture of the whole work crew?" He handed her a photo.
It was a good picture, black and white, of twenty men and women. There were red circles around five of them, marking the men who'd disappeared.
Then she took a closer look. "Oh, look at this!" she said, pointing. "There are twelve men and eight women, but all the missing workers are men. Do you think that's significant?"
"I don't know. I was hoping you'd notice that. It seems that with an even crew, some women should have been taken as well as the men. But that's not the case here." Mulder took the photo back and studied it again. "I don't know what it means at all," he added, yawning.
"Mulder, go to bed. We've got to get up in the morning and I don't want to be sleepy." Mulder didn't argue, and started gathering up papers. When he got to the door he turned back.
"Do you still want to do breakfast at nine?" he asked, as he juggled the disheveled file.
"It's a date."
He smiled playfully and left. Scully changed quickly into pajamas and fell asleep.
Her dreams were full of ghosts and cells and horrible noises that she couldn't explain.
FLINT RIVER JAIL
When the agents pulled up to the renovation building for the second time, Scully still couldn't figure out where the jail was. Even in broad daylight, there was only the Quonset hut. She shrugged. It had to be there somewhere.
Standing outside the building were two men. One was Dan Zellman, and the other was a large, burly workman. Scully and Mulder left the car to meet them.
"Agents! Wonderful to see you again. Did you have a good night?" Zellman bubbled enthusiastically. "This is Chuck Reston. Chuck, these are the agents I told you about, Agent Mulder and Agent Scully." He pointed to each of them in turn and Chuck dutifully stuck his hand out. It just about swallowed Scully's when she reached out to shake it.
"Chuck will take you through the jail and answer all your questions. If you need anything, I'll be in the office, but don't feel you need to check in with me before you go. I'm up to my ears in paperwork." With that, the little man bustled into the Quonset hut, leaving the agents and the workman staring at each other.
Finally, Chuck Reston shrugged. "I guess we'll start that tour now. I'll warn you, it's not a clean place, and there's a lot of equipment laying around. Be careful, and step where I step." He motioned for them to follow him, and they headed down a steep path, weaving back and forth along the bluff. After a few minutes, Scully got her first look at the Flint River Jail.
It was obvious why she hadn't seen it before. It was huddled right against the side of the hill, a practically impossible looking feat of engineering. The building was two-story, but the levels were offset, with the top level about twenty feet farther back than the lower level. Scully supposed that it was build that way to hug the cliff face better.
Below the stone walls of the lower level was a walled court- yard with a jumble of wooden beams piled haphazardly in the middle. Mulder was first to point it out. "What's that small walled area at the bottom?"
Chuck grunted. "That's where they sent the prisoners for fresh air. It's also where they used to string people up. That pile of wood, we think, is what's left of the old gallows. We haven't gotten that far," he added as they went through the door to the upper level.
"Haven't gotten that far?" Scully pressed, interested.
Chuck waved his hand toward the door they'd just entered. "That's the only way in or out of this place. It was built before things like fire escapes were practical, I guess. But that means we have to work our way through starting here and eventually ending up at the courtyard." All the while he was speaking, he was messing with a tangle of wires. "We have to make sure this level is safe and secure before we go down into the lower level, otherwise if there's a cave-in our only way out is blocked. Ahh, here we go," he said as a series of electric lights flickered on. "These wires are always such a hassle, and Joe doesn't help."
"Joe?" Mulder and Scully echoed as they followed Chuck farther into the jail.
"Joe. Our mysterious ghostly visitor. We came back one morning and found 'Joe' carved into one of the cell walls about ten times. We've just called it that ever since." Chuck tried to laugh it off, but the agents could both tell he was ill at ease. "He likes to mess with the wiring. Damn near electrocuted us all one day."
The incident that Dr. Zellman mentioned, Scully realized.
"Just take us through, and show us where things have happened, and we'll be out of here soon," Mulder said. "I know you probably want to get this over with."
Chuck snorted again, which seemed to be trademark with him.
They tramped through an office area, and then into the main cellblock. "This is where the creepy things happen," Chuck told them, his voice betraying a slight tremor. "I've heard things..."
"Like?" Scully prompted gently.
"I've been in jail before, Agent Scully, and I know what it sounds like. I heard those same kinds of sounds in here, when the last prisoners were gone over one hundred years ago." He swiped at his forehead. "There are cold spots, and every single worker has found at least one, but there are also hot spots. I've never even *heard* of hot spots. I thought they were only cold, y'know?"
Mulder nodded, but Scully was distracted. She craned her head around, a peculiar prickly feeling coursing down her spine. It was a well-known feeling.
The feeling of being watched, stared at.
She glanced back again, and this time Chuck caught it. "You feel it too, Agent Scully? The watching feeling?" Scully glanced back yet again, despite herself, and then nodded.
"It's really strong. I can't explain it," she murmured.
"We all feel it, every one of us, while we're working. It don't matter what we're doing, shoring up a wall or fixing the ceiling or what. Those eyes are always there." Chuck kept walking down the hall between the cells.
"There are sixteen cells on this level, all for petty cons who won't be staying long. According to records, there are sixteen more on the lower level, more serious crimes like murder. The nineteenth century version of death row, too. We don't know how accurate that is, since we haven't gone into the lower level yet. We got stalled right before we started down there. Hopefully we'll still get a chance to finish the work," he remarked with a wistful tone in his voice.
Chuck stopped before one of the cells, and led the agents inside. "Look here," he said.
There was no need to point. The carving, Joe, was a huge angry blemish on the smooth wall.
"Could someone have snuck in and done this?" Scully asked, probing the deep cuts with one finger.
"Not in one night they couldn't," Chuck declared. "Those carvings are much too deep. It wouldn't take less than a month to make them. And we found something else odd..." he trailed off, moving up next to Scully to poke at the cuts himself. "The carving isn't fresh," he finally revealed. "It appeared in one night, but everything about it says that it was done a very long time ago."
He left the agents in the cell to chew on that. Scully followed him out, while Mulder took a turn at prodding the carving. It was like they all believed that by messing with it enough, the thing would tell them what they wanted to know.
"Why was the jail closed?" Scully asked Chuck as he waved a flashlight into the darker recesses of the cellblock.
"It flooded," he answered simply. "The river doesn't rise this high, but there's a lot of runoff from above. When the storms got bad enough, it was like having a house in the middle of Niagara Falls. There were small, minor floods the whole time the prison was operating, but then they changed the drainage system in 1886. The floods got a lot worse, until the Big Storm of 1887--the locals refer to it that way so you can hear the capital letters--washed through here. They finally realized the place wasn't safe and relocated everyone to the nearest available prison, in the next town."
"How can it be renovated then? It isn't still dangerous?" Scully asked.
"They've changed the drainage again, and now everything gets routed through culverts upstream. We won't flood again," he assured her.
Suddenly, there was a resounding clang from behind them, followed by a yell that was unmistakably Mulder. Scully ran back to the cell with Chuck right behind.
"Mulder!" Scully gaped as Mulder tugged fruitlessly at the bars of the cell, which had inexplicably closed, locking him in.
Chuck glared at the cell bars and helped pull at them. After an eternity, the gate crashed open and a frightened Mulder came shooting out. He glowered at the cell from behind Scully, while trying to look brave. He was clearly shaken.
"Don't tell me that happens a lot?" Mulder asked, his voice a little less than steady. Scully squeezed his arm softly, lending him a little of her stability. They both looked at Chuck, who was looking remorseful.
"I should've thought of that before we wandered off and left you," he said. "That's another one of the problems we've had around here. The cells like to close and open, and when they close sometimes they lock. That's not supposed to be possible, by the way. These cells were designed to be locked with a key, not to lock automatically."
"I think we found a fault in the design," Mulder said dryly. He had regained his composure and his natural curiosity. "Does it always happen when there's someone inside?"
Chuck shook his head. "Doesn't matter. Most of the time there isn't anyone near the gate. But we can hear them crashing open. Sometimes we can hear the same thing from down there, too." He pointed to a dark circular stairway that led down into blackness. "That's the lower level. No one has been down there yet, but we can hear the clang of the doors. Makes it even creepier knowing no one has touched anything down there for a century."
Scully shivered. This time it was Mulder squeezing her arm for support, and she smiled up at him.
"There's really not much more to see," Chuck said, sounding eager to get out of there. "I can't take you downstairs, and I can't think of anything I haven't told you." Scully nodded, and Chuck led them back out of the cellblock. Once they were outside in the sunshine, the strange feelings she had in the jail seemed to fade away like mist.
"One more thing, Chuck, before we go," Mulder said suddenly as they approached the car. "Do you know of anything that happened while the jail was in service? Something tragic or traumatic? Anything at all," he added, looking hopeful.
Chuck paused, nibbling on a fingernail. "Actually, I think there was something odd that happened just before the place closed, but I can't be sure. My knowledge is pretty much restricted to structural things, like knowing about the floods because it affects the stability of the building."
"All right, thanks for your help," Scully called and got in the car. Mulder followed, and she was just about to pull out when Chuck jogged over.
"If you really want to know about the history of this place, head into town. I'm fairly certain there's a historian that will be able to help you more."
FLINT RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
After lunch at a charming diner, Scully and Mulder found the town historian, an ancient man who still seemed to have all his marbles in the right places. He introduced himself as Andy Meyers and accosted the agents with tea and cookies.
"Eat up, dear, you're skin and bones," Andy pressed Scully. "Of course, you men now...you like them that way, don't you. I can tell," he added pointedly, gazing at Mulder with sharp eyes.
"Mr. Meyers, we'd like to ask you some questions about the old prison," Scully interjected smoothly.
"Make it Andy, please. What can I tell you?" He seemed eager to help out. Scully reflected that he probably wasn't called on to tell stories much anymore.
"Something happened just before the jail closed. We'd like to know exactly what that was. In detail," Mulder said, knowing somehow that this man was a fount of information.
"Just before the place closed, hmmm," Andy closed his eyes and drummed a finger against his chin. "I do believe you're talking about the Charmain scandal. That's the only thing out of the ordinary to happen there in the years before it closed for good."
"Can you tell us what happened?" Scully asked.
The old man's eyes twinkled. "Of course. Now, shut me up if I get too long winded, all right?" He was reassured by their attentive postures that he wouldn't be hushed this time.
He cleared his throat like a master storyteller and began to weave his tale.
"In 1883, the warden at Flint River was Gregory Charmain, a rich man with a beautiful wife, Eloise. They had just had a daughter named Laura when tragedy struck. Gregory came home late one night and found a murder in progress. A man named Joseph Wallace was in his wife's room. He had raped her and was finishing off killing her when Gregory burst in. Since he was the warden, the case got a lot of publicity. Because Joe was caught in the act, so to speak, there was a very quick trial and an even quicker sentence of death. He was hanged in the courtyard within a few days."
Scully glanced over at Mulder. Joe, she mouthed, and he nodded. He caught it too.
Andy was still talking. "What made the case interesting is that Joe's story was the exact opposite of the warden's. Joe alleged that he was a friend of Eloise Charmain, and was visiting. When the warden returned, he killed his wife out of jealousy and blamed Joe for it. Obviously, no one would believe Joe over Warden Charmain, so he died."
"What do you think?" Mulder asked.
"I don't know what to think," Andy replied matter-of-factly. "I know that Gregory Charmain could be a ruthless man. That fact is well attested to in the histories. If anyone could kill his wife and get another man hanged for it, it would be the warden. On the other hand, Joseph Wallace had a criminal record and wasn't an upstanding citizen, so it's hard to believe he'd be a friend of Eloise Charmain. She was the picture of high society."
"The plot thickens," Scully remarked.
"Oh, it's thicker than you think, my dear." Andy grinned, delighted at having such a good audience. "You didn't ask me what happened after he was hanged."
"What happened after he was hanged?" Scully asked obediently and Andy laughed merrily.
"Thank you," he responded brightly. "After the hanging, there were a number of strange occurrences. For one thing, the cons complained of cold, odd noises, et cetera. Typical ghost stories that may or may not be true. One thing that is blatantly obvious is that escapes increased by over three hundred percent."
"Say what?" Mulder exclaimed, astonished.
Andy snickered at his reaction. "The yearly numbers were well kept, young man. It's all a matter of town history. There were three successful escapes in 1882. In 1883 that total jumps to thirteen. Numbers from 1884 say that rose to twenty. Now when you consider they only held about thirty people at any one time, that's a pretty shocking increase."
"No kidding," Scully breathed. "How was that accounted for?"
Andy shrugged. "No one has the foggiest idea, but the superstitious said Joseph Wallace was wreaking havoc on the jail. They say that maybe he was innocent, and that's his revenge. I couldn't say for certain."
"Do you know what happened to the warden and his little girl?" Scully asked.
"The family moved on to the next town over. I think there are still Charmain's there, but I think the name has changed. Look up Laura Charmain in the town records, you should be able to trace her pretty easily. These are small towns."
The woman at the door frowned at them. "Who's calling?" She looked suspicious.
The agents flashed their badges and introduced themselves. The woman relaxed a little. "I'm Laura. Please come in."
"I have to apologize for being rude. I get all sorts of wacky people coming to my door. Sign of the times, I guess," she said mournfully. "Now what can I do for the F.B.I.?"
"We'd like to ask you a little about your great-grandparents if that's all right," Mulder said. Scully let him take over the questioning, since she still wasn't sure what the point of this visit was.
Laura's eyes widened. "Good heavens, whatever for?"
Good question, Scully grumbled to herself.
"It's a long story, but we think that the situation with Eloise Charmain back in 1883 might have some bearing on a missing persons case we're working on," Mulder explained.
"I don't understand how that old scandal could have anything to do with what's happening now," Laura said uncertainly, "but I'll be glad to help in any way I can."
Mulder dove right in. "What can you tell us about what happened back in 1883? Did you keep any family histories that might have information? All we know are the basics of the case."
Laura smiled without humor. "Then you don't know anything, do you," she stated dryly. "I take it you came for the real and honest truth?" she asked.
"It would be helpful, yes," Mulder replied, a bit nonplused by the woman's statements.
She brushed a hand through dark hair that was starting to gray, and regarded the agents for a moment. "If I lend you some papers and such, I expect to get them back intact."
"Of course," Mulder answered, mystified, and Laura went up the front stairs to the second floor. He looked over at Scully, who shrugged. Who knows? her gesture said.
After a few minutes, Laura appeared back in the parlor with a book and an envelope.
"This is a diary that Eloise kept in the year before she was killed," Laura said, waving the book, "and this is a letter that she left, to be given to her daughter and my namesake on her eighteenth birthday if Eloise was to die before then. Everything I could tell you is in these, so I'll just let you read them and make your own interpretations."
With that said, the interview was obviously over, and the agents retreated to the car. They pointed it back to the hotel to examine their new evidence.
October 4, 1882
Dear God, I'm going to have a baby. I know it's not by my husband, and I pray he never realizes the truth. Perhaps once the baby is born we can run away, so far that he'd never be able to catch us, but I feel he'll find us no matter where we go. We must watch and wait, and hope for the best.
From the diary of Eloise Charmain:
June 13, 1883
I have a wonderful baby girl! Gregory named her Laura after some old friend of his from his childhood. I don't mind that he chose the name since I like it. I suppose if it had been something horribly quaint I'd have to try and change his mind. Not that it would make a difference. I'm still in bed now, I barely have the energy to get up. All I can do is look at my baby girl with the blonde hair, like mine and like *his*, but so different from Gregory's black hair. I'm glad she doesn't look like him, at least not yet. If I do escape him, I want no reminders of him. The scars and the bruises on my body and my soul are quite enough, thank you. *He* is coming next week to see his daughter for the first time, because Gregory will be out late at a council meeting. We must be careful. Now we can begin making plans to leave Albany and start a new life. I've already begun saving money since he has so little. God, guide us!
June 19, 1883
If you have received this letter, it means I have passed on and you are now eighteen, quite an adult. You're old enough to hear the truth, but you must never reveal what I tell you to Gregory Charmain.
Tomorrow, Joseph Wallace will come here to meet you for the first time. You are only a baby now, of course, and you shall not remember this first meeting. Hopefully, you won't need to. Tomorrow we begin plans to leave the man you now think is your father, Gregory. You must know that he is not your real father. You are the daughter of Joseph Wallace, who I have loved for over a year now. Gregory doesn't know and I don't want him to. It can only cause hardship now.
I was trapped into a loveless marriage and found my love somewhere else. If you are reading this, a new century has dawned and I pray it brings happiness to you. Don't let yourself be made a prisoner of marriage.
I'm sorry that this letter is rambling a bit. I'm tired and Joseph is coming tomorrow. I just needed you to know who your father is if I never am able to tell you myself.
All my love, my darling. Be true to your heart.
"Good lord," Scully ventured as they reached the end of the diary and finished the letter to Laura.
"Yeah," Mulder muttered. "I'm guessing that Eloise died on June 20, the day Joseph Wallace was coming to visit. Her husband came home too early, and boom."
"Boom," Scully repeated, looking sadly at the diary. "It looks like Joseph Wallace was innocent, and the warden was the killer. What a horrible way to die, hanged for killing someone you cared so deeply about."
"That explains why Joseph's spirit is still in the jail. He wants revenge for what happened to him," Mulder blurted out. "I think that while the jail was operating, he fulfilled that by freeing other prisoners. When the jail closed, he wasn't able to do that any longer."
Scully shook her head. "If he *was* in the jail, why would he target people indiscriminately now? The workmen never did anything to him."
"Well, he was alone, trapped in that jail for a century. Maybe his spirit went a little crazy. From boredom, maybe?" Mulder shrugged innocently, knowing Scully would never buy it for a moment.
He was right. "Are you suggesting cabin fever, Mulder?" she asked, disbelief fairly dripping from her voice.
"I think that all he wants now is to take revenge, in the only way he can. By going after the workmen."
Scully raised an eyebrow. "Oh, it all makes sense now."
"Listen, Scully, I'm going to run back over to the jail, see if there's anything we missed earlier that might tell us how to get rid of the ghost of Joseph Wallace," he said, taking his coat off the hotel chair and flying out the door.
"Mulder!" Scully called after him, "Mulder, it's after dark and it's going to storm! It can wait until tomorrow!"
There was no answer, save for the howl of the increasing winds outside her window and the soft tapping of the rain.
Annoyed, Scully grabbed the case file and looked at the photos of the vanished men. There was something there, a detail that was just beyond her...if she could only make her mind figure out what it was.
With a defeated groan, Mulder pulled up to the Quonset hut and realized everyone was gone. It served him right for running out on Scully like that.
After a moment of internal debate, he snatched a flashlight from the car and headed for the jail. If he stayed out of the cells, he shouldn't have a problem.
When he entered the jail, he didn't even bother messing with the lights. He was more likely to kill himself on the wiring than tromping around with a flashlight.
There was a resounding clank as one of the cells flew open and slammed again. Moments later a second one repeated the action. Trying his best to ignore the clanging metal and that watched feeling, Mulder made his way down the hall, flashing his light into each cell without entering. He had no intention of spending the night there.
When he reached the iron circular staircase, he shone the light down. It barely penetrated the darkness, but from the lower level he could hear the same rhythmic crashing. There was a cell gate that was having way too much fun down there.
Mulder weighed the benefits of going downstairs against the possibility that he was doing something extremely stupid. Then he started down the steps anyway.
Scully kept staring at the photo of the work crew, with its five red circles. All men, even though half the crew was female. Then, she realized what the missing detail was. She looked closely at the picture again. Then she paged back to the announcement of Laura's birth from Eloise's diary.
...so different from Gregory's black hair...
Then she looked back at the photo. Twenty people, and in the black and white photo thirteen had light colored hair. More than half the group. But the missing men were all dark. In the photo they all had black hair.
Don't even think it, Dana. It's crazy.
But if Joseph was seeking revenge on the warden, then he'd go after people that resembled him. Men with dark hair. Obviously he wasn't thinking any farther than that.
Dana, there's no such thing as ghosts. Especially ones that go kidnapping people that look like their mortal enemies.
It sounded ludicrous. But the fact was there, in black and white. Or black and blonde.
And the next thing to cross her mind was an image, a mental picture of a dark head bent over a fascinating case file.
Scully was out the door in seconds, heading for the hotel's front desk.
Mulder went slowly, listening for any sounds that would tell him if the staircase was going to collapse. It creaked with the decay of a century, but seemed stable enough to hold him until he got to the bottom.
All the same, he breathed a sigh of relief as his foot touched stone.
This area was cluttered with debris from the flood of 1887. It was obvious that no one had entered this area since then. Mulder's progress down the hallway left blatant footprints, the only ones visible. None of the missing workers could be down there.
Mulder turned back to the staircase to return to the safer upper level, when he heard a cell start opening and closing again. With fear and curiosity battling for control, he turned from the stairs and followed the sounds straight to one of the cells.
He beamed the flashlight in without entering as the bars kept up their pounding. Then they stopped, cell gaping open.
Mulder had time for only one muffled yell as something cold shoved him hard in the back, sending him flying into the cell. As he flew toward the stone wall he could hear the gate shut behind him, and the telltale snick of a key that couldn't really be there.
Then, as his head hit stone, he knew nothing more.
Scully pulled up to the now-familiar Quonset hut in the hotel desk clerk's car. After flashing her badge at him, the dazzled young man tossed her his keys. With a promise that the car wouldn't be harmed, she had raced into the storm.
Now she parked next to their rental car and headed for the jail, flashlight in hand. She knew there was no time to waste. If Mulder was right, he was in a lot of trouble.
Oh, man, I'm in a lot of trouble.
Mulder clutched at his throbbing head and gazed out of his cell. He didn't think he'd been unconscious long, but it was hard for him to think anything with his head hurting. He thought he might have a concussion.
He knew he was in trouble, though. His flashlight was gone, but every few seconds there was an illuminating bolt of lightening. The windows would all light up long enough for the beleaguered agent to see the three cells across from him clearly. He could also see their grim contents.
Now what? he mused. Am I next?
The men he could see were obviously dead and discarded. Mulder had a bad feeling that something was about to happen. Something definitely unpleasant.
Then a freezing paralysis crept over his body, numbing him like an anesthetic. He couldn't move an inch as the chill pervaded every last part of him. Finally, it overtook his brain and he was, once again, oblivious of everything. The last thing he was conscious of was the cell opening again, and his non-responsive body beginning to leave the cell.
Scully burst into the prison, trying to keep her balance as she hurdled over discarded equipment. She could see the footprints from their earlier visit written clearly in the dust: Chuck's gigantic feet, her small ones, and Mulder's relatively large ones. But there were more of Mulder's, overlapping the older ones and leading back into the cell- block.
She followed, moving slower now. The feeling of being stared at, scrutinized, was back, but ten times stronger than it had been earlier that day.
Then she stopped dead in her tracks.
The sounds of the storm faded into the distance, seeming to be coming from far away.
They were replaced by things that couldn't have been there. The rustling of movement in the cells. The sound of a man snoring gently. Night-prison sounds.
Scully's breath caught in her throat. Against her own will she shone the flashlight into the closest cell. The cell was empty, dirty from years of neglect. And yet...was that the outline of a man, fast asleep in a century-old bunk? The shine of a porcelain toilet that had shattered long ago? Maybe the outline of a contraband drawing plastered to the wall to remind the occupant of home and family?
I'm not seeing this at all. Not at all.
Wrenching the light away from the cell, Scully sprinted down to hall. "Mulder!" she cried into the stairwell. "Are you down there?"
There was no answer, but there was also no doubt of his location. The prints went straight down the dirty iron steps and didn't come back up.
But why wasn't he answering?
"Mulder?" Scully called again, in vain. There was no option but to descend after him. She certainly wasn't going to leave him there.
When she reached the bottom, she realized what kind of trouble they were in. She heard Chuck's voice in the back of her head.
When the storms got bad enough, it was like having a house in the middle of Niagara Falls.
The roar of water was deafening. Scully was up to her knees in it as she sloshed down the hallway. With a grimace she noted the dead workmen in five of the cells, taking enough time to make sure none of them were Mulder. Then she came to a cell that hung open.
There was a sickeningly bright smear of blood on the stone wall, nearly washed away now by the cascading water. She knew somehow that it was Mulder's. But where was he?
The water was flowing out a door at the opposite end of the hall from the stairs. Scully realized that it must be the way into the courtyard. The water was determined that she head in that direction.
She didn't fight it. If Mulder wasn't in the cells, he must be out there.
The water was waist deep now, and the small agent was having a lot of trouble keeping her balance. She had the added problem of keeping her gun and flashlight above water. As it was, she was nearly swept right out the courtyard door.
Scully dug her nails into the rotted doorframe and hung on as she took in the courtyard.
The pile of wood that had once been a gallows was still there, but overlapping it like a bad photograph was the real gallows, tall and menacing, wood gleaming and noose ready for action.
"Mulder," Scully shrieked over the thunder of the storm.
He was frozen, standing atop a trapdoor that shouldn't have been there. The noose jerked once and lassoed him by the neck, tightening by itself. He stood still, eyes glassy. He didn't have a clue what was going on.
He couldn't save himself. And Scully couldn't save him either. The water was too deep; she'd be swept away if she let go of the door to go after him.
Like a child, she covered her eyes for a moment as the lever moved and the trapdoor opened. She waited for the crack of her best friend's neck breaking. She didn't hear it.
Looking back over at him, she realized that the flood had worked to his advantage. The trapdoor hadn't dropped like it was supposed to because there were four feet of water keeping it up. It had saved Mulder's neck. Literally.
Now he was mobile again, kicking and grasping at the rope. With a start Scully realized that he was choking. There was no where for him to stand.
Frantically she looked around for something sharp that she could use to chop the rope down, but there was nothing. Finally she pointed her gun and took a shot.
Damn it, she cursed inwardly, and pointed again.
The next shot flew home, severing the rope and sending her partner plummeting through the trapdoor.
With a quick eye Scully realized that the underside of the gallows wasn't totally open. Knowing the time for guns was past, she holstered hers and allowed herself to be shoved toward the platform by the water. As she was about to fly past, she pushed herself over to it and yanked herself up.
Without a second thought she plunged through the trapdoor to find Mulder.
He was holding his breath and beating fruitlessly at the wooden fence that skirted the platform. He was starting to turn an uncomfortable shade of purple as Scully grabbed at his shoulder, tugging him back towards the opening above.
They surfaced moments later, gasping for air. Mulder's face began to regain its normal color as Scully hoisted herself back onto the platform and helped pull him up after her. For a moment they just sat there, catching their breaths and reveling in being alive.
There was a reverberating crash as something inside the jail collapsed.
"We've got to get out of here," Scully said, pulling on Mulder's limp arm. "The whole place is coming down, can you hear it? We'll be trapped."
There was a muffled groan from the man beside her.
"Come on, Mulder, you can't sleep anyway. I think you've got a concussion," she said, lowering herself carefully into the fast-flowing water.
"Oh, prob'ly," he answered groggily, allowing himself to be re-immersed in water. The cold seemed to snap him out of his reverie as they struggled against the current.
Once inside, they used the bars of the cells to pull themselves along. As they reached the top of the iron stair- case, it pulled away from its moorings and vanished into the darkness. They could hear its progress as the water threw it against the cell bars.
The going was easier on the upper level and they were soon out on the hillside path, limping their way back to the top of the bluff. As Scully looked back she could see the tiny courtyard with it's pile of old gallows-wood. There was no sign of the towering scaffold that had nearly killed Mulder.
From the top of the cliff they looked back again, Mulder leaning heavily on Scully. His breath came in short pants, and Scully decided they were going straight for the hospital as soon as they left here.
As they looked down the path to the jail, Scully started to notice a pronounced lean to it. In a matter of minutes, as they stood there in rapt awe, the jail crumbled away like a sandcastle in a rainstorm. It collapsed on itself and the remains started tumbling toward the river below.
It was over. Whatever it had been, it was over.
When Scully arrived at work with her customary white bag of breakfast, she was more than surprised to see Mulder there before her.
"Why aren't you at home? You should be resting," she scolded good-naturedly.
Mulder looked at the bag. Scully bit her lip. "I didn't even get you breakfast. I told you to stay home."
He shrugged. "I got bored. And I found some stuff about the jail that we didn't know before."
Scully's gaze shifted away. "I don't even want to think about it. Do you want half of my bagel?" She held it out like an offering. Don't talk about what happened at the jail and I'll give you breakfast. Deal?
"I'm still trying to figure out what happened," Mulder said, rubbing his neck. Scully was immediately attentive.
"Let me see," she demanded, grabbing his chin gently. She turned his head from one side to the other, gently touching the violent purple bruises.
He hissed slightly as she poked too hard. "Sorry," she said quickly, returning to her chair. Finally she spoke. "Do you really think Joseph Wallace was trying to kill the warden through you and those workers? It seems that a basic thing like dark hair isn't enough to kill a man."
"That's one of the things I found out when I was digging around," he said eagerly. "You know I can never leave things alone."
Scully decided not to answer that.
"Joseph Wallace was practically blind. That's one of the reasons he was low-class. He couldn't get a job that paid more than a pittance. After he died, apparently his vision didn't improve," he concluded.
"A blind ghost," Scully said dully. "You're having way too much fun with this, considering you almost got killed," she added with a touch of anger.
"But I didn't die, thanks to that shooting of yours. How many times have you seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, by the way?"
Scully chuckled a little at that. "I'm sorry I'm so crabby about it," she said slowly. "Everything that happened to Joseph and Eloise was such a travesty of justice, and I hate that more than anything. It's hard to blame him if he really did want revenge." Her voice was far away for a moment. "It's too bad he couldn't pay the warden back for what he did."
"Maybe he did."
Scully looked up quickly, startled out of her musings. "What do you mean?"
"That's the other thing I found out," Mulder said with a grin. "Warden Gregory Charmain was killed in the 1887 flood, the one that closed the jail. He was evacuating a prisoner from one of the lower level cells, and it slammed shut. It locked by itself and he couldn't get out. He drowned."
"But if Joseph got his revenge, why would he still be trying to kill more people? I don't get it," Scully said. "Not that I'm going for the ghost theory anyway," she added quickly.
Mulder gave her a strange look. "Who knows why the dead are active? Who knows if the dead are active? I just can't think of any other explanation for the things we saw."
Scully thought of the things she'd seen in the cells on her way through the upper level cellblock, the flashes of a time long gone, and shivered.
"What did you see, Scully?" Mulder asked quietly.
Echoes of a past long gone? Of people long dead? What did I really see in that prison?>
"Nothing, Mulder," she said finally. "I didn't see a thing."