Virtual Season Two
  • Blood and Thoughtstalking
  • Psychodiagnostiks
  • 360 Maple Grove
  • Oestrus
  • Game Over
  • The Loyal Ones
  • Hypnagogia
  • Electioneering
  • Dreamscape
  • Callipso
  • Teporingo
  • The Jade Monkey Project
  • Bitter Revenge
  • Red Tide
  • Chi
  • Human Nature
  • Asthenopia
  • Ley of the Land
  • Everything To Live For
  • Warden
  • Grimm
  • A Piori

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  • 2X17



    Millions of people every second hook up to their modems, not one of them thinking of the detrimental effects that it could have on them. Their eyesight, mental state, personality, all can be altered if one isn't careful. And when it does happen, when they can no longer see or associate with others; when they are plunging into the depths of a depression, they think, Oh, I must have spent too much time in front of the television set. No one ever blames his or her online sponsor. No one blames their server, they just sign on mindlessly, intent on shopping or chatting or whatever else they feel like doing. Not once do any one of the millions of them ever consider that maybe the damage done to them is intentional.

    Far-fetched? You bet.

    Impossible? Hardly.

    I know. I was once part of a conspiracy mimicking the aforementioned schpiel. I left after I found it ridiculous and pointless to damage the vision of innocent people.

    But one never really leaves. They escape, in constant fear for their lives.

    This is my story: A story of deception, betrayal, lies, and rivaling consortiums. It's the story of two agents brave enough to unveil the secrets of the world's questionably largest Internet provider: AOL.

    "Hey, Scully, take a look at this." Special Agent Fox Mulder declared, causing his partner to sigh and roll her eyes.

    "Boy, you're on a roll today, aren't you?" Dana Scully mumbled as she crossed over to where her partner was sitting, hunched over a file.

    "You like it." Mulder quipped, grinning self-consciously. "Anyway, a man blows his head off in his home-based office as his four-year-old daughter waits for him to read her a bed time story. My question is"

    "Why?" Scully finished her partner's thought and licked her lips. "You're the Behavioral Psychologist here, you tell me."

    "Ah, that's where you're wrong. you're going to tell me why. You're the pathologist."

    "Mulder, I was looking forward to a week of paperwork. I have a lot to catch up on." Scully whined, brushing an errant strand of hair out of her eyes.

    "Scully, were you lonely in high school?"

    "Anyway, Mulder, where did you get this case?"

    "Hot off the desk of A.D. Skinner."

    "And why..."

    "Is this an X-File? I don't know, Scully, but we'll find out." Scully sighed, grabbing her coat and heading for the door. "It'll be fun."

    "Said the spider to the fly."

    Yes, it was bound to be fun for them, at least, but I had work to do.

    There were a few technologically inclined people on our staff, I, however, was not among them. We never paid much attention to them, they just did what they had to do and left for the day. And I've heard they never even installed computers in their own homes.

    Oh, well maybe it was for the best.

    I'm not saying technology is bad, certainly not. I guess I'm saying that it's particularly dangerous if not taken with a degree of caution. But I don't take this idea to an obsessive level. To do so would be to become another "Unabomber". That man was crazy, you know.

    Anyway, back to the past.

    At that time, I was a worker bee, a drone, only to work and never to ask questions. It reminded me of a quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Spoken by John F, Kennedy, another one of us. That catch-phrase would twist and contort itself in my head until I could only understand it to be, "Ask not what your consortium can do for you, but what you can do for your consortium."

    But all that we would ever ask was what our little syndicate could do for us. We were always concerned with our safety and our privacy, and especially with our money. This online escapade was us, the members of the syndicate, showing what we could do for our consortium.

    "I told you, Scully, the best pancakes in New England." Mulder chewed, swallowing a bite and watching as his partner did the same. Scully nodded and swallowed, then pointed to her watch.

    "We have a half an hour, Mulder. Better get cracking on those eggs."

    "I want to finish my pancakes first." Mulder said, taking a sip of his coffee.

    "Yes, but I have an autopsy to perform. Speaking of which, do you have any idea how many suicides there are every year in Massachusetts alone?"

    "It's been years since I've studied psychological statistics, Scully, enlighten me."


    "And how many of them are driven to kill themselves?" Mulder inquired, finishing off his pancakes and giving his partner an inquisitive glance.

    "Driven to suicide, Mulder? By what?"

    "I don't know their families, friends, jobs, drugs or even their own computers."

    "Mulder, it's almost impossible to determine what exactly caused someone to end their own life, you know that. Maybe this one individual that I'm studying was just having a bad day."

    "I know that, Scully, but he hadn't exhibited any of the signs"

    "Psychosis, then, Mulder. What about psychosis?"

    "No signs of that, either. He had been perfectly sane at the time of his death."

    "You don't know that."

    "He had visited a psychiatrist a few times, once six months before his death, again three months before his death, and finally a third time two days before his death. Now, we don't have those records yet, but I'm willing to bet that they will indicate that he was of sane mind."

    "But not exactly at the time of death, Mulder. You don't know what could have happened within those two days."

    "That's what we're here to find out, isn't it?" Mulder mumbled, placing a few dollars on the table and rising from his seat. Scully finished her tea and got up, following her partner to the door.

    The funny thing about conspiracies is that they are discriminatory, but to an inconspicuous extent. What I mean by that is the following: they don't care about race, religion, gender, creed, sexual orientation or occupation. They do, however, harm you in whatever way, shape, or form they choose according to where you live. That happened in this case, anyway. In other cases, one may be killed because of something he saw or heard or for refusing to keep his mouth shut.

    The people in this situation are just unwilling, misunderstanding innocents who live in a suburban community in Massachusetts.

    Okay, this conspiracy is not going to make sense to the lay person just yet. It's not supposed to. I mean, a man kills himself and this is after seeing a psychiatrist. Where's the conspiracy in that? Do you have any idea how many people do that on the Eastern Seaboard alone?

    Don't worry, it'll make sense later, when you find out what else is scheduled to happen. Heads will roll, vision will deteriorate and people will check their e-mail on AOL. But nothing could prepare you (or did prepare me, for that matter) for what happened between our two favorite Federal Agents and myself. The climax is coming, just you wait.

    Oh, it's hell being a narrator. I'm tempted to break the suspense...but I don't want to.

    "Gross external examination reveals nothing out of the ordinary, beginning on the anterior side." Special Agent and Pathologist Dana Scully monotoned into a voice-activated tape recorder attached to a pole hanging above her head. Staring down at the corpse lying on the cold stainless steel table before her, she first looked at the legs, then slowly up at the lower abdomen and midsection before focusing on a chunk of brin matter on the cadaver's shoulder. She grabbed a small ruler and measured the position of the bloody lump. "Chunk of cerebral matter measuring one quarter of an inch is found resting one eighth of an inch from the top of the left shoulder."

    She swallowed as she reached the dead man's neck, then looked straight into his face.

    Only he didn't have a face anymore.

    What was once an attractive feature on an otherwise unattractive man with blue eyes and brown hair was now a gaping hole that opened up into the shell of what had once been a head. The remainder of the brains were found spattered all over the back wall of his office, save for a nectarine-sized clump attached to the back of his skull.

    "Apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head by a high-caliber weapon is the cause of death. The chin is intact, but not much else in the head region is. The top of the head and the entire face are completely absent, consistent with the determined cause of death. The weapon was placed in the mouth and the trigger pulled. Toxicology reports indicate the victim, Jack Warner, was not under the influence of any mind-altering substances at the time of death."

    Scully then mumbled under her breath, picking up a scalpel.

    "Damn bastard knew how to do the job right."

    Okay, I'll admit it. I didn't stay around too long for the autopsy. I don't like that kind of thing.

    Oh, and I suppose I should tell you that I was involved in the part of the conspiracy that monitored Agents Mulder and Scully. I was the only one stealthy enough to do the job. Kirschev, of course, didn't agree. I had very few dealings with that man, he's an elusive character. He also happened to be my boss.

    Mark Kirschev. Why do all these syndicate people have Russian names? I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, but there was Michael Kritschgau and Alex Krycek...

    Anyway, from what I've heard, my boss wanted me to actually be a part of another conspiracy, something having to do with dairy products and soy substitutes. I had never received a direct order from him, not once. He would always send some worm to deliver orders to me.

    This time, though, I went behind his back. That's something not many people have lived long enough to do. Hey, I told his drone that I was quiet and sneaky. It's not my fault they didn't listen.

    Funny thing is, though, that I had just started out in the syndicate a little over two months prior to this little "event". I was already starting to figure things out on my own and had set out to help the innocent victims of this conspiracy that I could.

    But I obviously wasn't a quick enough study. I had no idea what the ramifications were.

    There was first the sound of an electronic key sliding through the lock of the motel room door, and then a click as it unlocked. Special Agent Dana Scully stumbled into her motel room and dropped a 20-page thick file and her car keys on the night table as she slipped off her oppressive pumps and sat wearily on her bed. Fatigue gnawed on every muscle and pain mauled the area behind her right eye. She rubbed her temples for a second, momentarily trying to clear her head, and looked at the bedside clock. The red numerals claimed it was 3:35 in the morning and she sighed, getting up and grabbing a towel in preparation for her shower.

    The mental pictures plagued her, as was a common occurrence in the moments following a gruesome autopsy. But these mental pictures were combined with other, similar pictures that had hidden themselves in a dark corner in the deep recesses of her brain. She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head slightly. No, she didn't want to remember that.

    She disrobed and stepped into the stifling shower, welcoming the feeling of the hot water beating against her back. "Eau de Autopsy", Mulder had called it: the stench of working with a dead body and the pale, fatigued look associated with it. She hated the smell, though she had become accustomed to it over time. The look was even worse, though easily hidden by the quick application of some makeup.

    Suddenly it was 1975 again, and she was getting out of the back seat of her parent's suburban. They knocked on her uncle's door while she dug her toe into the dirt at her feet. No answer came and her brother Bill was getting restless and had begun pacing. She walked over to her brother and placed a hand on his arm, sighing.

    "You know Uncle Chuck always takes a while to answer the door. He's not in great health, Bill. You'll have to be patient." Her brother pulled away from her and paced further away from his family, gritting his teeth. Dana followed him and decided to look around her uncle's new yard, at the leaves that had fallen due to the ferocious breezes of Autumn. She chanced across his garage door and stopped pacing, for something had disturbed her. A dark red liquid had leaked from the garage, forming a coagulated puddle about two feet from the closed garage door. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that the door was not completely closed, and, being the inquisitive one in the family, pulled it open, thinking that it could have possibly been transmission fluid. Yeah, that's it, Dana. Really cold transmission fluid.

    There was the faint smell of gunpowder and a spent shotgun cartridge resting on the garage floor. Next to that was her uncle's lifeless body, his face blown off and his head nothing but a bloody shell. She screamed then and backed away a few steps, shaking severely.

    Special Agent/Pathologist Dana Scully knelt in the shower and sobbed, holding her face in her hands, the hot tears mixing with the cleansing shower droplets.

    There had been an incredible increase in visits to the optometrist since this conspiracy had started way back when. Our plot was working and soon the suicide rate would at least double.

    Or would it?

    Only time could tell.

    Agent Scully was thorough in her autopsy; I know that because I read the report. I noticed that some of her cursive was strained, as though emotion were trying to let itself be known. But she's a professional, I've seen her work. She wouldn't do that. Anything that involves personal emotion is either left behind and forgotten about or cried over in private.

    Which is probably why I looked up our file on her when I was still with the consortium. Yes, our file was rather extensive on her, as it was on her partner. The consortium seems to have been a Scully Family heritage, but poor young and naive Dana didn't catch on to it until too late, when it had already destroyed the lives of some of her loved ones. Her Uncle Charles, for instance, nick-named Chuck. They all thought he killed himself because he was tired of being ill. That is not the case. His life was in danger by a force that he could see very clearly: the syndicate. Let me clear something up for you: Chuck was a good man and a great pawn. Until he began wanting to change his life, everything in and around it was stellar. He had a change of heart in late 1974. He wanted to quit and live a normal life, as opposed to the solitary alternative that he had been living. As I said before, one never quite leaves the syndicate. There are too many dangerous secrets to keep and too much life left to live after you go. And so, in December of 1974, the resignation was tendered and the members of the consortium began their dirty work on Chuck.

    It started with a cough and became Hepatitis B. He began having trouble walking and breathing and all the while he knew it was the syndicate.

    Then came the prowlers late at night--people who would watch him sleep through the window behind his head. They wanted to make sure he was home at all times, to monitor his schedule so they could schedule a time to kill him. And again, all the while he knew. So he decided, much like the Ancient Romans, that it was better to kill himself than to let his enemy win.

    Why didn't they just off him right after he handed in his letter of resignation, you ask? Well, the syndicate is almost like the tobacco company in that respect: if they showed all the bad that could come from being involved with them, they would never be able to draw the large masses of young, aspiring conspirators that they do. Hell, look at Alex Krycek. He joined up at a very young age and he's lost so much because of it.

    What was I talking about again?

    Oh yeah, the autopsy. A great literary genius I am not; I go on alot of tangents.

    Something on the autopsy report satisfied my devil-owned soul. The occipital lobe was left intact and clinging to the back of the skull. The only problem that was encountered with that is the fact that it was twice the size of a normal occipital lobe. Gee, I wonder why...

    Scully awoke to the sound of the phone ringing loudly in her ear at 7:30 in the morning. Three-and-a-half hours of sleep was not nearly enough, so she almost didn't answer the phone until the persistent ringing grew to be more than she could stand.

    "Hello?" She answered groggily, trying to hide the homicidal edge from her voice.

    "What are you doing sleeping at this hour? Do you have any idea how late it is??" The voice on the other end of the line chirped cheerfully.

    "Mulder, is the sky blue in your world?"

    "I can't imagine what you mean by that."

    Mulder, it's dark-thirty! What the hell are you doing up?"

    "I just decided to see how my favorite pathologist is doing."

    Have you been online this morning?" Scully asked, still fighting the fatigue from her voice.

    "Yes, as a matter of fact I have. How could you tell?"

    "You have that certain web-drunken slur to your voice."

    "'Web-drunken slur'? Does it turn you on?"

    "There must be some other reason why you would decide to call me at the crack of dawn."

    "I just wanted to see if there were any developments in the autopsy you performed last night." Mulder yawned, ditching his cheerful exterior and getting down to business.

    "Jack Warner died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He committed suicide, Mulder, and we don't know why without benefit of a note."

    "Nothing was found in his blood stream?"

    "No, nothing out of the ordinary, just a low-grade painkiller, like Advil."

    "Ah, the 'advanced medicine for pain'."

    "That's the one. That wouldn't cause him to kill himself, but whatever pain he was in might have."

    "Have you discovered a reason as to why he would be in such pain?"

    "As a matter of fact, Mulder, I have, and I think you're going to like this one..."

    "What is it?"

    "His occipital lobe, the part of the brain that controls vision was enlarged."

    "How can that be? He blew his head off, for Christ's sake!"

    "Fortunately, his occipital lobe was left mostly intact, and the part that remained showed signs of enlargement."

    "So you're basically saying that our good friend Jack Warner had a bad headache?"

    "If any part of the brain enlarges, it creates pressure on the rest of itself, which puts pressure on different nerves surrounding the brain. The brain itself cannot feel, but surrounding nerves can. So yes, Mulder, I am saying he had a pretty intense headache."

    "So now we just have to figure out why he killed himself."

    "I thought that you obtained Mr. Warner's psychiatric records?"

    "I did, but all he complained about was a headache. He gave no indication of wanting to end his life."

    "Everything was absolutely perfect in his life."


    "Damn, Mulder, what are we dealing with?" Scully sighed in frustration, sitting up in bed and brushing an errant strand of hair out of her eyes.

    "I don't know, but you have another autopsy to perform in about an hour. A 21-year-old woman with the same cause of death, presumably, and the same symptoms."

    "Common age for someone to kill herself, Mulder."

    "Not so common when you take the other factors surrounding her death into consideration." Mulder chimed, and hung up, leaving his partner to marvel at the hum of the receiver.

    Fools. Don't they know already? Haven't they figured it out? It's so simple, so elementary that it should have been figured out long ago. Or is it? Is it really as simple to understand as it seems? Maybe to the common conspirator, it's a piece of cake, but to the lay person Federal Agent, it might not be.

    The psychiatric records of a Mr. Jack Warner were quite a treat to read. I often wondered if Agent Mulder could sense me reading over his shoulder. There were times when he would look up from what he was doing and disassemble the smoke alarm, and I would be so sure that I had been spotted. But he would never suspect that I'd been watching him both in person and via electronic devices. He's a paranoid man, but not enough to catch me. In order to reveal me, one needs to be approaching psychotic-level paranoia, and while Agent Mulder is close, he's not there yet.

    The suicide rate seemed to be rising: two in one small New England town alone. As I said before, the conspiracy was not biased against anyone. This second victim was 21-year-old La Tonya Cooper. Poor thing had just moved from her parent's home and had finally been able to get a phone line hooked up. She had been e-mailing her parents and chatting with her boyfriend when she suddenly decided to perform a swan-dive with a half-gainer out of her twelfth story window, landing face first on the pavement below.

    The front of her face was flattened while the rest of her head was left intact. I should know, I was the first to see her lifeless form. After about two seconds, other bystanders started noticing and screaming. The police and an ambulance were called, but all attempts to save her were futile; she died right where she landed. I'm surprised her head didn't explode on impact. It was a pretty messy scene, I can tell you that much.

    Scully had arrived at the Medical Examiners' Office with less than her usual enthusiasm that morning, and it made her partner nervous. After completing his self-imposed assignment of reading Jack Warner's psychological evaluation, he decided to accompany his partner to the autopsy. She had been quiet during the ride to the Medical Examiners' Office, which was also cause for concern. Now, she stood above the body of a 21-year-old black female who had decided to jump out of her twelfth-story window, and it seemed as if her professional spirit were trying to break through.

    "You don't have to be here, Mulder. Go back to the motel." Scully sighed as her partner twiddled his thumbs in a far corner of the room.

    "No, Scully, I want to see what you were talking about before with the occipital lobe." Mulder protested, rubbing his forehead slowly.

    "We're just lucky she landed on her face. It seems a little too convenient that she did."

    "Do you think she was murdered?"

    "It's a possibility, Mulder. One which we can't rule out just yet." Mulder nodded, still rubbing his forehead. "You okay?"

    "Just peachy." Mulder sighed, motioning toward the awaiting corpse. Scully switched on the voice-activated tape recorder and began her observations.

    "La Tonya Cooper, 21-year-old black female, approximately five feet seven inches in height, 140 pounds. Gross external examination reveals nothing out of the ordinary. A small, two-inch scar on the right sixe of the naval is consistent with medical records reporting an appendectomy at age 11." Scully moved her eyes up slowly, carefully scrutinizing every detail for an abnormality. She stopped at the woman's chin and took a deep breath, going on with her investigation. "Multiple lacerations on the face, a few with pebbles embedded in them, indicating she skidded on her face as she landed. Multiple facial fractures are consistent with a fall of 120 feet. Her nose has been forced into her sinus cavity due to the impact of her face hitting the sidewalk. Her face has a slightly concave appearance to it, excluding the eyes, which appear to be protruding approximately seven millimeters out of the skull. I will now continue with the posterior examination."

    As his partner rolled the body onto it's side, Mulder cringed and rubbed his brow lightly. He had been developing a headache, but decided against taking anything for it. He also was not a big fan of autopsies, so he found his partner's professionalistic displacement disturbing. Being a psychologist, he knew why she had to be so professional, but that didn't mean that he had to be comfortable with it.

    "No marks on her back, no signs of drug abuse or lacerations of any kind..."

    "Scully...can we just get to the internal, please?" Mulder almost pleaded, nauseated because the corpse's crushed face was staring straight at him. Scully nodded and laid the body down slowly, grasping a scalpel in her right hand. She moved up to the head region, slicing just behind the woman's left ear and continuing the incision across the top of her head until it extended to just behind her right ear. She then proceeded to peel the cadaver's face forward, exposing the front and middle portions of the skull. Mulder gulped heavily and closed his eyes for a second, regaining his composure. The bone saw was hooked up and the top of the skull removed, exposing a brain that nearly oozed out of captivity.

    "Brain appears to have sustained irreparable damage to the frontal lobes. This is the determined cause of death." Scully scooped the brain out of the skull after severing it's connection to the spinal cord and inspected it closely. "Temporal lobes and auditory cortex seem to be intact but compacted, consistent with cause and method of death. Occipital lobe, however, seems to be twice it's normal size and appears to have been putting pressure on the medulla. This is inconsistent with the cause of death. Victim would have died in a matter of days had she died naturally."

    Mulder stepped forward and looked at the brain his partner was examining. He scrutinized it for a second, hiccoughing and then excusing himself, but not before Scully made a link between this case and the last.

    "Mulder, they were both using the computer at the approximate time of death. They were both online. They had both been using America Online."

    "So what does this mean?"

    "We're not looking at who killed these people, we're looking at what."

    Clever woman, that Dana Scully is. It didn't take her long at all to crack the case. But guess what? She wasn't going to find a conspiracy. Oh, no, not if I could help it. I had become something of a "double agent". I was trying to help the general public, but I was also trying to assist the syndicate in not getting caught. If only they knew...if only they knew...

    Had they known what was going on, nothing of what was going to happen would have happened. Poor Agent Mulder.

    It was his responsibility to keep in contact with his supervisor. Why one of the most elite Law Enforcement agencies in the world would use AOL, I will never understand. They should have invested in their own e-mail service, but I guess Uncle Sam is cheap. He always has been, and I guess he always will be.

    The headache is always the beginning. It's just the occipital lobe expanding. I'm almost positive that his vision is already inexplicably deteriorating. You would think that after getting headaches and declining vision, these people, these innocent victims would make the correllation (albeit an innocent one) and get off the damn computer. But this conspiracy wasn't that easy to avoid. Of course it wasn't--do you think any of the conspiracies that have gone on throughout history were that easy to avoid by their unwilling participants?

    The consortium ws smart in constructing this one. You know, I've heard that subliminal messages don't I have seen that they do.

    In a dockside warehouse in Massachusetts, there was much ado about everything. Weapons were built and at the ready, as were the getaway vehicles. All that the members of the syndicate had to do was wait. The invasion was coming, and it was one of epic proportions. All members of the syndicate felt anticipation in their bones as the boat arrived, delivering their cargo.

    The captain of the ship stepped off as soon as the boat docked and took a deep breath of the twilight air. A man from the syndicate stepped forward, extending his right hand for the captain to shake. The captain shook the hand with determination and took another deep breath.

    "Are you sure they'll be safe here? I don't want them in any danger." The captain asked gruffly, unaware of the members of the consortium lurking in the shadows. The other man smiled warmly, effectively masking the snake he really was.

    "Of course they'll be safe. We have some of the best holding faciities in the world here. You have my word."

    The "cargo" stepped off the ship awkwardly, unsure of their surroundings and who to trust. They looked like young children, frightened by all they saw, but more by what they did not see. They did not see this warehouse as being a safe-haven. They gave the impression of being children for a reason: they were not completely human. They were alien/human hybrids and they could sense what was going on, so they huddled together in a small group behind the captain, whom they had come to trust. the syndicate member motioned for a co-conspirator to take the children into the warehouse so he could have a word with the captain alone. The huddled mass filed into the warehouse reluctantly, sensing evil.

    "What is your name, just for my own personal records?" The captain asked, unaware of what his "business" partner was about to do.

    The man's right hand flew into his jacket and pulled out a gun and, in one fluid motion, shot the captain in the head.

    "Alex Krycek, you bastard." The man said, walking slowly into the warehouse to finish the job with the children.

    Other syndicate members disposed of the bodies, all nine of them--eight hybrids and the captain. It was really a shame to see them go. It might have been interesting to watch them grow up or something. I mean, if you think the crap you're watching on Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones is bad, wait until these puppies grow up. "My Teenager Is An Alien/Human Hybrid...Help!" Oh, wait...has that already been a subject on a talk show?

    Anyway, I wasn't part of dumping the bodies. I had to remain in the shadows because I was trying to help the very people that could destroy the syndicate. I witnessed the murders, though. The bodies...they will never be found. Aside from being partially alien, when it all comes down to it, they were just frightened children, just innocent victims. So much of what I did back then involved the slaughter of helpless people.

    I actually tried going to church once, to repent for my sins. But I realized that I no longer believed in a just and merciful God. If such a God existed, how could the atrocities that I saw...How could they have ever been permitted to happen? I had been told as a child that everything happens for a reason. Well, what the hell is the reasoning behind the slaughter of innocent children? Why have people kill themselves? So they won't see the evil going on around them?

    The call had startled Scully from the tissue analysis she was conducting on La Tonya Cooper. The message behind it scared her even more.

    "Scully, please...I can't take it anymore. Please help me..." Her partner's voice gasped weakly from the other end of the line. He had a gun pointed at his temple and was sure he was about to end his life. Nothing could stop the headache that Mulder was experiencing, it just got worse and worse. Thank goodness he'd bummed a ride back to his motel room and left the car for Scully.

    His partner dropped what she was doing and raced to his motel room to find it locked. She entered her own room and tried the adjoining door, finding that to be locked as well.

    "Mulder?!" She shouted, pounding on the adjoining door, garnering no response. She called again, and again yielded no response. She backed up and rammed into the door, splintering the frame. She slammed into it a second time, knocking it from it's hinges and leaving it clinging awkwardly to a wall. She found Mulder whimpering, wearing his glasses and sitting in a chair with a gun pointed to his head. He was sweating profusely and barely jumped when Scully entered the room. His laptop lay on the table to his left, still on, with the AOL welcome screen illuminating his bed.

    "Mulder?" Scully called gently, receiving just a whimper in response. "Mulder, put the gun down. You don't have to do this."

    "But I do, Scully, I do. It won't stop..." Mulder whispered very softly, cocking his gun. Scully pulled her gun out slowly and held it at her side.

    "What hurts?"

    "My head. God, it hurts...I have to end it..."

    "Mulder, don't you dare. I'll shoot you first." Scully growled stoically, aiming the gun at her partner's shoulder, where she had shot him before. She walked cautiously sideways towards the laptop on the table.

    "No! Don't turn it off!" Mulder screamed, causing Scully to flinch. Thanking her lucky stars that she had her finger on the trigger guard, she backed away.

    "Come on, Mulder. Don't do this. You have so much to live for..."

    "Like what?!"

    "The truth, Mulder. Live for the truth." Mulder laughed bitterly at this.

    "Yeah, right. Whose truth? Certainly not my own. My own truth doesn't exist. The only truth I'll ever find is the one dictated to me by dishonest men."

    "Please, Mulder. Put down the gun. If not for yourself, then at least do it for me."

    "I can't do that, Scully. I'm sorry...good bye."

    All the bystanders who had heard a commotion going on in room 10b also heard a gunshot to end the ruckus.

    The bullet passed through his head and lodged in a wall. Brain matter was everywhere, even on my hands as I screamed and crawled over to him.

    My partner, my one constant throughout this whole thing, had expired before he hit the ground. I told him to stay home. I told him I could do it on my own, but still Andrew persisted.

    The syndicate lost a valuable member today. Andrew Castellano was a hard worker, quiet as a mouse, he never complained and always got the job done. He liked to work in electronics, wiring things to assist the consortium. That was his job during the duration of this conspiracy. He had just re-wired Agent Mulder's room so that the frequency at which the subliminal messages passed across the laptop screen increased, causing Agent Mulder to feel more suicidal.

    Don't get me wrong, Agent Mulder is not dead. He did not shoot himself, he was startled by his partner's burst of gunfire and dropped his gun. You guessed it--Agent Scully spotted Andrew. She saw he was reaching for his gun. He wanted to kill Agent Mulder and make it look like a suicide by causing him to feel suicidal, anyway. She shot andrew with deadly accuracy. I was later spotted and now I constantly live in fear. I believe the syndicate may be after me since I left. But they're not going to get me. Oh no, they can't touch me. Because I'm not going to be around long enough for them to get to me. That's right, I'm dying. Right here and right now I'm ending my life as the conspiracy knows it and starting anew. No one can know what my name was or what my name is now. All they can know is that I was involved in this one conspiracy and lost my best friend and closest ally, thanks to Special Agent Dana Scully.

    Yeah, I'm talking to you, redhead. I have my eye on you.

    Watch your back.


    Agent Mulder was hospitaized and kept under observation for one week. Tests concluded there was drastic swelling of the occipital lobe, which caused his blurred and strained vision, otherwise known as Asthenopia. He was mildly sedated, to take the pressure off of his brain that being conscious can cause. He is not yet on active duty, he is currently assigned desk duty in his office. He returns to work in one week.

    The body of Andrew Castellano was found where it landed, a bullet through the brain by the undersigned agent had felled him. A female accomplice was spotted, but she quickly escaped. Being in the situation I was in, I, the undersigned agent, was unable to give chase. The boy of Andrew Castellano was transported via ambulance to the Suffolk County Coroners Office in Boston, Massachusetts where it was to await autopsy. The undersigned agent received a telephone call at 0938 this morning from the aforementioned coroners office, explaining that the body is now missing.

    America Online is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for undisclosed reasons. Due to the classified nature of that investigation, I am unable to discuss it further.

    The murder of Andrew Castellano has been ruled justifiable homicide by the Internal Affairs Board. They also rule that it would be safe for Agent Mulder to carry a side arm when he returns to active duty.

    The death of La Tonya Cooper was ruled a suicide and the case was closed. All evidence surrounding the case has disappeared and the body has been cremated. The sme holds true in the case of Jack Warner. I, the undersigned agent, request that this case be closed and filed under the subtext of "X".

    Dana K. Scully, Special Agent

    X-Files Unit