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  • 2X21


    4:12 P.M.
    Tennessee Woodland

    Once upon a time in the woods, there were two little girls
    with their legs in brown shorts and their hair in small curls.
    Both had sashes with patches and vests colored brown
    and one had a purse she had bought back in town.
    They stumbled blindly through trees and patches of flowers
    having been lost for what seemed like millions of hours.

    One girl named Brianne suddenly let out a shout
    and at seeing blood on her knee, she started to pout.
    "Sandy, can we please stop? I'm hot and thirsty and tired!"

    Sandy stopped and groaned - it was clear she desired
    for them to find their campground as soon as they could.
    "Will you come on Brianne, it's just a splinter of wood!
    I don't want to spend the night in this place again!"
    She complained, stopping and wiping dirt off her chin.
    Shielding her eyes, she looked up at the sun
    the dense leaves in the trees filling her vision.
    Then she looked back at the ground as she heard her stomach grumble.
    She was about to ask for chocolate when she heard Brianne mumble,

    "This wouldn't have happened if we'd stayed on the trail
    like Counselor Barbara said!" She proceeded to wail.

    "Look, I am not the one here who?s to blame!?
    She stopped, and waited until Brianne came
    to her side, then proceeded to give her a scowl.
    When they were stopped in their tracks by a long, low howl.

    The two girl scouts stood silent, not making a sound
    hoping it wasn?t a wolf, just a lonely baying hound.
    After a minute, Brianne started to cry.
    "Sandy, it's no use! We're going to die!
    Those wolves are going to come and then they'll eat us!"

    Sandy shook Brianne, gasping, "No they're not going to beat us!
    We're going to find our way back, we're not going to give up!"
    Brianne looked up through tears, knowing she could never live up
    to that strong scout standard like Brianne did.
    She's only ten, but she doesn't act like a kid.

    So squaring her shoulders, she sighed, "OK.
    I guess we can lead the way."
    So they headed off again into the tall trees
    Feeling their curls rustle in the spring breeze.
    They continued to walk, sighting birds, squirrels and an owl
    but throughout the whole time, they did not hear the wolf's howl.

    Half an hour later, Sandy suddenly stopped.
    She stared ahead in the trees, and then she dropped
    to the ground. Then she pulled Brianne near.
    "What is it?" Brianne asked. "Do you see a deer?"

    Sandy pointed. "Tell me...what do you see?"

    Brianne squinted. "Just that old cherry tree..."

    "No, past that!" The girl excitedly exclaimed.
    Brianne looked past the tree, and when she strained
    her eyes she saw it: in the distance, a small cottage
    offering an end to their long and tiresome voyage.
    The two girls looked at each other, then exchanged happy grins
    and raced towards the house, bushes scraping their shins.
    When they got close enough, they stopped at the forest rim,
    and began to wonder if their eyes were deceiving them.
    For what was in the clearing surprised both Brianne and Sandy...
    The cottage they had spotted was made entirely of candy!

    The roof was almond cake and the walls frosted gingerbread,
    the windows smooth rock candy and their sills licorice thread.
    The roof trim was hard white frosting, and the tops
    of the roof were lined with colorful gumdrops.
    At first the girls stood in the clearing, still unsure,
    but the candy before them was a very powerful lure.
    After all, the past day they?d eaten just nuts and berries,
    and here they could have as much food as they could carry.

    Sandy made the first move, and walked out of the grass,
    her gaze fixed on the plate of that rock candy glass.
    When she reached the house, keeping her movements slow,
    she snuck close and pressed her tongue against the window.
    She was filled with delight...the window was so sweet!
    So she broke off a piece of it and sat down to eat.

    At seeing Sandy dig in, Brianne came over as well.
    This'll be better than any blackberry or apple!
    In a moment, both girls were eating on the ground
    quite happy with the stroke of luck they had found.
    They were so busy gorging themselves they did not even see
    the small animal pen or even the silver Toyota Camry
    in the candy garage. Nor did they hear
    the man in the house with his animal near
    until he came out of the house and looked them straight in the face.
    They stopped, completely shocked, and their hearts started to race.
    The man had sky blue eyes and a beard coarse and gray,
    and he wore long, bright clothes in a colorful display.
    He had at his side a wolf or dog...they couldn?t tell.
    They looked like something out of a story or novel.

    Completely terrified, they stood up to run away.
    "Don't go!" The man cried. "I beg you to stay!"
    Their instincts told them to go, but his words caught them like a net.
    And if they ran, all that was waiting was more woods and more thicket.

    They stopped, turned around, and saw the man's smile.
    Thinking it could be okay to stay for just awhile.
    He held out his arms. "See? I'll give you no harm.
    I?m sorry if my dog gave you cause for alarm.
    I have food, and soft beds, and a long-distance phone.
    For I'm sure you poor girls will want to call home."

    The mention of such things brought light to the girls' eyes.
    They could barely express their immense joy and surprise.
    Exchanging relieved glances, they followed the man through the door
    knowing now they wouldn't have to wander through woods anymore.

    Two weeks later
    9:06 A.M.
    FBI Headquarters, Washington D.C.

    Weeks later, in the depths of the FBI basement
    walked a short, redheaded female federal agent.
    With a juice in one hand and a folder under her arm,
    she anticipated her partner?s morning vigor and charm.
    Scully opened the door, and just as she had suspected,
    while she was gone, Mulder had skillfully erected
    a stack of papers and files and folders from long past,
    and he sat musing over them as he munched his breakfast.

    ?So what?s that? New case?? Scully came up and said.

    Mulder answered without looking or turning his head,
    and closed his folder. ?Scully, you wouldn?t by any chance
    have heard of two girl scouts and their strange disappearance??

    Scully sighed. ?Mulder, that?s a pointless question to ask.
    For you know the whole purpose of your morning task
    is to convince me that this is some important case we must take.
    Like the lives of all the world?s girl scouts are at stake.
    So let?s hear it: get to the point, and don?t be so cryptic.
    Is it ghosts, or werewolves, or something else mystic??
    She paused. ?Don?t say ?alien abduction.??

    He grinned. ?Aw, Scully, you are no fun.?
    Seeing Scully?s waiting expression, Mulder finally complied.
    ?Well, these two scouts had decided to abandon their guide
    while out on a hike through the Tennessee forest.
    And the local authorities have tried their best
    to locate the girls, but they?ve had no success.
    Needless to say, the parents want to assess
    how well this scout guide was taking care of their children.
    And if there was a lawsuit...we both know who would win.?

    ?Mulder, kids get lost in the woods all the time.
    It?s not unusual, and it isn?t a crime.?

    Mulder added, ?But more than those girls have gone missing.
    So much that the locals have started noticing.
    Three boys and four girls in all
    have vanished in those woods since last fall.
    No clothes or bones; couldn?t find a single trace.
    Wouldn?t you call that a legitimate case??

    ?I?ll admit the large numbers are puzzling to me
    but it?s not outside the realm of possibility.
    They could?ve been lost in a swamp or quicksand,
    or perhaps wolves or bears are what?s at hand.
    All this case needs is some logical thinking.
    It?s not aliens - which is what you are thinking.?

    ?Well, I think the large numbers are a bit irrational
    for just a simple swamp or an animal maul.?

    ?Do those reports you?re holding make your claims right?
    Were there loud sounds, or burnt trees, or flashes of light??

    ?They didn?t see anything or find traces of ash,
    but the authorities were there and out in a flash.
    Obviously, their search wasn?t very thorough.
    And that?s why we?re being assigned to go.?

    ?That may be so, Mulder, but I guarantee you
    we?ll get there and find we have nothing to do.
    This case will just be a big waste of our time,
    when we could investigate a real crime.?

    Mulder stood and gave Scully a mischievous stare
    as she calmly pushed back a loose strand of her hair.
    ?Whether or not it?s a waste, we still have to see.
    Pack your bags, Scully...we?re off to Tennessee.?

    3:11 P.M.
    Valmoudes, Tennessee

    A short plane ride later they arrived in Valmoudes,
    a small town on the edge of the Tennessee woods.
    Their flight had been late and their car ride was hot,
    and Scully felt her back bunching into a knot.
    Scully was certain a swamp had taken the children,
    while Mulder was banking on his little green men.
    But despite different opinions they both agreed
    they must find whatever had done this fowl deed.

    The agents now stood by the ranger station
    watching its owner give a good demonstration
    of the naiveness of the local authority.
    ?Are you sure you guys won?t be needing me?
    We have men and equipment that we can provide
    and a good friend of mine is an experienced guide.?

    Mulder shook his head. ?I think we?ll go alone.
    Thanks for the help, but we?ll do it on our own.?

    ?Very well, agents, but I?d like to know why
    this case is a concern of the FBI.?

    Scully looked at her partner; his expression was unsure
    as he searched the ground for an appropriate answer.
    ?Well, the police found nothing but a campfire?s burnt birch,
    so we felt that we needed to conduct our own search.
    And on our path I?ll be leaving red marks on the trees.
    If we?re not back in three days, send some search parties.?

    The forest ranger nodded; just a little confused,
    and couldn?t help feeling he?d been somehow abused.
    ?Very well...just watch out for animal attack,
    and I hope both you two make it safely back.
    If you need any help, I?ll be right by the phone
    and call some backup so that you can get home.?

    They said their farewells then headed out to the pines
    just as they had done before in many past times.
    Both agents were loaded down with huge backpacks,
    carrying their food, water and tents on their backs.
    Each had their own cell phones and of course their own gun
    And both had medicine for possible snake venom.
    They were ten minutes in the trees and well on their walk
    when Scully decided that it was safe for her to talk.

    ?Mulder, why?d you turn down that ranger?s assistance?
    If we had more people we could cover more distance.?

    ?Scully, we both know from mistakes in the past
    that the local authorities never quite last
    with the sort of cases that we investigate.
    Do you remember that time back in Florida state
    when we were trying to locate and stop the moth men?
    What a great help those experts had been.
    I think we?ll be much better off on our own
    so we can handle things we?ve dealt with and known.?

    ?Mulder, I thought all our cases involved something new.?
    Scully said as she scraped some mud off her shoe.

    ?Well here we are, in the woods, looking for a missing kid!
    Doesn?t this sound like something that we already did??

    ?Well you are the one that brought us out here,
    and of course, at the coldest time of the year.
    Well, we better find whatever we?ve been issued
    or I will not be in a very good mood.?

    So hefting their backpacks they walked through thicket
    and headed off quickly towards the bright sunset.

    Just as day began to dissolve into night
    the two agents stopped and set up their campsite.
    They picked a flat stop by a clear water hole
    that was full of fish, swans and tiny tadpoles.
    Although they had spent the day in a quick trot
    they were still no closer to what they had sought.

    And now, after hours of walking through the forest
    they finally had stopped for a well-deserved rest.
    The agents kept warm by the light of their fire,
    still dressed in their wet wilderness attire.
    Scully stared distantly at a lone blinking star,
    while Mulder kept content with his last candy bar.

    In the pond, the swans moved lightly and quick
    their white wings coated with crystal magic.
    Scully soon turned her attention to the swans,
    strangely enchanted by their garbled bass songs.
    Mulder turned, noticing she was not speaking out.
    ?Hey Scully...what are you thinking about??

    Scully looked back at him, then released a sigh.
    ?I remember a time way back in junior high,
    there was a bully in my class named Maxwell John,
    and I was the kid that he liked to pick on.
    I tried to stand up to that smart-talking jock,
    but that kid had a head as hard as a rock.
    So one day he met me and exclaimed I was ugly.
    Needless to say...that really upset me.?

    Mulder sat up and looked sadly at Scully
    as if to pull his gun on that past bully.

    ?I pretended his comment hadn?t hurt me a lot
    but that day my throat stayed in a tight knot.
    I ran home that day practically in tears.
    I just couldn?t take any more of his jeers.
    I went and told mom and she gave me a hug...?
    She paused to take a sip from her steaming mug.
    ?She said that anything ?ugly? about me would not last long;
    that I was an ugly duckling, and would turn into a swan.?

    Mulder gave Scully a look that she could not miss.
    ?Personally, I don?t think swans do you justice.?

    Scully said nothing and turned her head
    to hide that she was turning blush red.
    Even so, Mulder noticed Scully?s hidden reaction
    and it brought him some strange inner satisfaction.

    ?Come on...we better go get some sleep,
    tomorrow the walk will be rocky and steep.?
    So they put out the fire as the swans took flight,
    and crawled into their tents to stay for the night.

    8:18 A.M.
    Friday, December 8th, 2000
    Tennessee Woodlands

    The next morning, as the sun started to rise,
    they awoke to the sounds of mockingbird cries.
    Scully awoke to find Mulder, and she managed to wince.
    ?Come on...we need to go find some more evidence!?
    Mulder said, hoping they wouldn?t have to go far.

    ?Mulder, we haven?t found anything so far!
    We?ve gotten absolutely nowhere on this crazy trip!?
    She said, flicking a mosquito off of her hip.

    ?Come on, there?s something out here...I can feel it!
    And we do have a job to do, you have to admit.?

    Scully felt she should protest, but finally complied,
    although she really just wanted to stay in and hide.
    They did not talk much as they packed up their things,
    and the pond had no swans or ugly ducklings.
    Scully put on her backpack carefully and slow.
    ?Okay, we?re all done...which way do we go??

    Mulder stopped...his sense of direction was gone,
    especially now that they had no clues to go on.
    ?I?m not sure...but I think that we should go west.
    We?ll walk until lunchtime, then stop and rest.?

    Scully had no objections, so they agreed,
    and headed off again at a good speed.
    They had conversations, and spotted some crows,
    a deer, two foxes, and a group of swallows.
    There was the babbling book and the occasional hawk?s call...
    by all appearances these woods seemed perfectly normal.
    But after hours of walking without much success,
    both agents were full of exhaustion and stress.

    After lunch they didn?t stop until around three,
    and stopped to rest beneath an ancient oak tree.
    They settled themselves on the tree?s giant roots
    and talk about things over a snack of fruit.
    By now their backpacks seemed to weigh over a ton.
    Even Mulder was discouraged with this mission.

    ?Mulder, I?m not sure how much more of this I can bear,?
    Scully said to Mulder, giving him a tired stare.
    But Mulder appeared uninterested with Scully?s anxieties,
    for he was looking at something beyond the pine trees.
    Scully noticed. ?Mulder, what are you looking at??

    Mulder blinked, and pointed. ?I?m looking at that.?

    Scully looked where he was pointing, and matched his stare.
    ?What on earth is that house doing in the middle of nowhere??

    Mulder looked on curiously, pushing back his dark hair.
    ?I don?t know...let?s see if anyone lives there.?

    ?I wonder who would put themselves in this situation...
    I mean, we?re miles away from any civilization.?

    Mulder and Scully started towards the clearing,
    completely enchanted by this mystery thing.
    When the pine trees gave way to wide open space,
    they instantly knew this could be a strange case.

    ?Mulder, is it just me and this high altitude...
    or is that house made completely of food?!?

    Mulder nodded, his face breaking into a smile.
    This was downright weird...even for an X-file.
    ?This would be a strange place for someone to dwell...
    I mean, it?s directly out of ?Hansel and Gretel?!?
    Finally emerging from the densely-packed foliage,
    they quietly observed the large candy cottage.
    But after getting up close they saw this was no trick;
    the candy and sweets were completely authentic.

    Mulder said, ?This thing is a work of art!
    I mean, wouldn?t it normally fall apart??

    Scully finally came up and tapped on the wall.
    ?They must have concrete vital.
    But someone who could build something of this design,
    must have had lots of money, ambition and time.
    It?s practically a miracle of engineering!
    How come no one?s ever found this thing??

    ?I don?t know...but just look over there!
    There?s even more to this edible lair!?

    Scully looked where he was pointing, and was quite surprised to see
    an identical candy garage that contained a silver Toyota Camry.
    Scully sputtered, ?How can they drive...there?s no road!?
    With all this nonsense, she looked about to explode.

    Still always curious, Mulder walked through the grass,
    seeing his reflection in the rock candy glass.
    On the other side of the house he found an animal pen,
    and a strange, knowing smile crossed his face yet again.
    He called, ?Hey, Scully...come look over here!?
    She came, still wondering who could possibly live here.
    She expected more, but what she saw didn?t bring shock...
    there was just a dog, a cat, a donkey and a cock.

    ?Mulder, nothing in that pen?s strange or unreal.
    It?s just some what?s the big deal??

    Mulder leaned in closer and gave her a grin.
    ?Look at them...the Bremen Town Musicians.?

    Scully tried to keep calm, but in the end she just turned pale.
    ?Tell me this place isn?t a manifestation of fairy tales.?

    Mulder responded, ?Well, what else could it be?
    What with this house, and even that donkey.?

    ?Mulder, this place doesn?t make sense at all!
    Don?t you at least think bugs would eat away at the wall??

    Mulder just looked around, then pointed to the ground.
    There were lots of bug repellers; the kind that make sound,
    and could make any insect or pest go away...
    the stuff worked better than any bug spray.

    Scully said, ?Okay that I can understand.
    But what about the other animals in this land?
    Wouldn?t they come here too?? She said, now scowling.

    Their answer came in the form of a low growling.

    Scully jumped with surprise and grabbed Mulder?s arm,
    for now both agents were filled with alarm.
    From behind the wall, its eyes hot like flames,
    came a wolf...hungrily bearing its fangs.
    From between its teeth came a low, throaty growl,
    its long, hairy face pressed into a scowl.
    Mulder pulled out his gun and pushed Scully ?round back,
    should the dangerous beast dare to try and attack.
    But Scully wasn?t about to just turn and run,
    so she came beside Mulder and pulled out her gun.

    ?Well, I think we now know why no creatures come here...?
    Mulder said, trying hard to conceal his own fear.
    The wolf opened its mouth; its teeth pointed and large,
    and pulled into a crouch and prepared to charge.

    ?STOP!? The agents heard a man?s voice shout.
    They quickly turned to see who was about.
    From out of the house stepped a man in colorful clothes,
    and he presented an aura of mystery from head to toes.
    The wolf saw the man and stopped dead in its tracks,
    knowing the punishment for unprovoked attacks.
    ?Sit!? The man said, and so the wolf sat.

    ?Wow!? Mulder whispered. ?Did you see that??

    The man looked at them with eyes bright blue and wild,
    but at the same time holding the interest of a child.
    ?I?m sorry if he scared you,? He said with a grin.
    ?He?s only nice to me and to children.?

    ?Who are you?? Scully said, trying not to be rude.
    ?And what are you doing in a house made of food??

    He gave them a smile that was both sweet and alarming.
    ?My friends, I like to go by the name of Prince Charming!
    I don?t get many visitors out here in the forest...
    wouldn?t you come in for some food and some rest??

    The two exchanged glances, still having their suspicions.
    But then again, if they had to they could use their guns.
    Mulder said, ?I think it will be okay in this place.
    And perhaps he can give us some help on our case.?

    Scully glanced at the man with his bright colors and beard.
    ?I don?t know about this...I think this guy?s weird.?

    ?Weird or not, I don?t think he?ll pick a fight,
    and we now have a place we can stay for the night.?
    The man entered the house with a long, steady stride.
    The two agents shrugged and followed him inside.

    Inside the cottage it was pleasant, yet small.
    Unlike outside, it didn?t seem unusual.
    There was a bright fireplace where the ?wolf? lay down,
    and all of the furniture was a polished oak brown.
    From what Mulder could see the house wasn?t extensive...
    just like any place that a bachelor would live.
    Except very well looked after Mulder also thought.
    Considering he lives in a house than can rot.

    Scully noticed the television, radio and phone.
    This guy knows how to make himself at home...
    Although she was glad they no longer had to hike,
    there was still something here that she didn?t like.

    The strangely-dressed man offered both of them a chair.
    ?I?m sorry if my dog decided to give you a scare.
    The fellow has got a lot of wolf in him, of course,
    but he?s a better companion than any horse.
    I?ll go get us some fruit and rolls and some tea,
    and you can explain why you?re here to see me.?

    When he left, Scully whispered, ?This doesn?t make sense!
    This guy lives in this house and he calls himself ?Prince?!?

    ?I?ll admit he?s the strangest guy that I?ve ever met,
    but he hasn?t been least not yet.
    If there was trouble, we outnumber him two to one.
    But I don?t think there?ll be problems, in my opinion.?

    Soon Prince Charming returned with two trays of food.
    And they had to did look pretty good.
    Accepting his offer, they immediately began to eat.
    Prince Charming smiled, and then took his own seat.
    He asked, ?So who are you and why are you here
    with those backpacks and all of that gear??

    ?This is Agent Scully, and I?m Agent Mulder,?
    He said while still eyeing the wolf over his shoulder.
    ?We?re from the FBI,? Mulder said, looking grim.
    ?And we?re out here looking for missing children.
    Three boys and four girls in all have never come back.
    My partner suspects swamps or perhaps animal attack.
    As for me, my suspicions are quite different on this issue.
    You wouldn?t have seen any children recently...would you??

    Prince Charming stopped for a moment to think,
    then shook his head and sipped from his drink.
    ?As I said, I get few visitors out here on my lonely isle...
    you two are the first people I?ve seen in a long while.
    Certainly no children have come out this way...
    that?s quite a distance for a child to stray.?

    Scully said, ?It is, but we thought you might know,
    since this is the farthest a lost kid could go.
    Are you sure you can?t remember if anyone came here?
    Or can you think of a reason why they would disappear??

    ?I assure you that everything I tell you is true...
    if I knew anything, I?d be the first to tell you.?
    Prince Charming then stopped, stared at Scully and smiled
    in a way that was ?charming?, but somewhat scary and wild.
    ?And I?ll be the first to tell, Agent Scully, if you?ll let me,
    that your entire presence radiates with unsurpassed beauty.?

    Scully said nothing, just squirmed in her chair,
    and an uneasy silence hung in the air.
    It was then when ?Prince Charming? Mulder began to despise,
    and he frowned and watched for trouble in those blue eyes.
    Scully decided to ignore the comment?s effect
    and saved things by quickly changing the subject.
    ?Now, ?Prince Charming?, we?ll ask you questions...
    Why?d you build this house? Where?d you get the funds?
    Why the name, and the wolf, and the rest for that matter??
    Scully hoped that he wouldn?t answer with another flatter.

    Prince Charming stood and spread his arms wide,
    giving the impression he had nothing to hide.
    ?Can?t you dog is from ?Little Red Riding Hood!?
    And ?Hansel and Gretel? is for the house made of food!
    And the Bremen musicians...why they are just some
    of the amazing rewards that I have now won.
    I have broken away, I?ve escaped the rat race!
    Out here with nothing but me and this space
    I am without restrictions, as free as the breeze!
    I can believe fairy tales just as much as I please!
    For as you can see, fairy tales are my life...
    I wouldn?t give it up for a job or a wife.
    So I?ve left civilization with its rules and its jails,
    and have constructed my life just around fairy tales.?

    The agents sat, puzzled by the man?s sudden exclamation,
    and Scully started to think that he needed medication.
    They exchanged glances, then went back to their food.
    After waiting a minute, Mulder then continued.
    He asked, ?So...Prince...just when did you start
    this fairy tale business that you take to heart??

    Prince answered, ?Oh, way back when I was young
    and all of my days just revolved around fun.
    I became interested in fairy tales when I was nine,
    and just started thinking about them all of the time.
    I?d stay up till midnight with books full of them,
    reading over Aesop?s Fables and the Brothers Grimm.
    And of course time passed and I soon grew older...
    and as that happens the world decides to grow colder.
    People at school said those things were for little kids;
    of course they called me the usual ?weirds? and ?stupids?.
    I went through most of my school life that way...
    just wishing, wishing that I could run away.
    And as soon as college was over and through,
    I knew exactly what I wanted to do!?

    He thrust his hands at the house to display his dream
    that he had obviously taken quite to the extreme.
    ?I would build this house and immerse myself in fairy tales,
    and then I would be free of all life?s troubles and gales.
    I saved up a lot and bought all the things I would need,
    and then set out to these woods with all of my speed.
    First I built the house frame with steel and concrete,
    and then I put over it all the things you can eat.
    It took quite a while to finish, to say the least...
    spent hours just cooking the miraculous feast.
    Needless to say, cooking is now a hobby of mine,
    and I make myself personal banquets all the time.
    Most of the candy I keep on with strong glue...
    the gumdrops and licorice and rock candy, too.
    The gingerbread wall I baked right on the house frame
    And yes, the house is expensive to constantly maintain
    But I think that it?s worth it, and I like it a lot.
    I mean, out here in the woods, it is all I have got.
    I?ve been almost 20 years away from society...
    so you showing up is quite an event for me.?

    Mulder and Scully weren?t sure how to react to this man?s strange ways...
    He had completely perplexed them with his exuberant displays.
    After Mulder had taken another bite of his bun,
    he felt it was safe to ask another question.
    ?But why so much interest in fairy tales, of all things?
    What?s so wonderful about wolves and candy and things??

    Prince Charming looked at them as if it were obvious.
    ?Why, it?s fairy tales that bring out the best in us!
    They?re easy to follow and to characterize,
    and the bad qualities are just in the bad guys.
    They demonstrate how good should conquer all,
    And they entertain you at your beck and call.
    There?s no real fear or terror or pain or dislike...
    fairy tales are what life should really be like!
    So I?ve gone the true way, just as you can see.
    Fairy tales can be real...don?t you agree??

    Mulder thought while scratching his 24-hour stubble...
    he really hated to have to burst this guy?s bubble.
    ?Well in my opinion, I really don?t think you are right.?
    Prince Charming looked at Mulder with a face full of fright.

    ?If you really think about it, fairy tales are not so grand
    With the things they contain you?d think that they?d be banned.
    Like the violence in ?Riding Hood?...and ?Hansel and Gretel!?
    Some of those stories are just not pleasant to tell.
    Fairy tales have some good points, I?m willing to admit,
    but there are some things about them that just do not sit.
    I?m sorry if we?ve upset you in any way...
    But Scully and I really cannot stay.?
    With that statement, he and Scully stood up to leave,
    just a little disturbed with what this man believed.

    Prince Charming?s face exploded with sudden panic.
    ?I beg you...wait and just hear me out real quick!
    Now you believe differently, that?s plain to see,
    and it?s alright with me if you want to disagree.
    And do you really have to be leaving so soon??

    ?Well, we do want to get out there before the moon.
    We still have a case we need to investigate,
    and we must be going before it gets late.
    Thanks for the meal and the warmth and everything...
    you have the most interesting house we?ve seen.?

    Although Mulder and Scully felt that they needed to go,
    Prince Charming was determined to keep their going slow.
    ?Do you two really want to spend the night in a tent?
    If you?re going to come, make it a stay well spent!
    I never get visitors...especially an FBI pair!?
    He eyed Scully. ?Or people with gorgeous red hair...?

    Scully blushed, and decided to stare at the floor.
    Prince pleaded, ?Won?t you stay for a little bit more?
    Just for the night, and the moment it is day,
    you can be packed and headed back on your way.?

    Mulder and Scully turned to look at the Prince,
    and his pleading pout nearly made them wince.
    They looked at each other and finally gave in.
    It wouldn?t get them closer to the missing children,
    but they wanted to allow themselves a little luxury.
    Prince Charming looked as happy as a person could be.

    ?I knew I could get you guys to change your mind!
    Just go down the hall there and I know you will find
    a guest bedroom with two beds that are already made.
    Trust will not be sorry that you stayed.?

    The agents set down their bags, glad that they could rest their feet.
    Prince added, ?If you are hungry, I?ve still got plenty to eat...?

    Mulder said, ?No, the stuff you gave us was great.
    All of this hospitality we really do appreciate.?

    ?I?m sure you two know how to get ready for the night.
    I?m in the other room, but I?m sure you?ll be alright.?

    So with restful minds and a tired tread,
    Agents Mulder and Scully went off to bed.

    They found the bathroom and were soon ready to sleep.
    Mulder first collapsed onto his bed in a heap.
    He squirmed uncomfortably. ?Man, this bed?s small...?

    Scully said, ?Coming from a man who is six feet tall...?

    Mulder yawned. ?I can?t believe that I am this tired.?

    Scully answered, ?Really? I am just completely wired.
    Especially after all that has gone on today...
    Can you believe that guy likes to live this way?!
    I don?t know about you, but I don?t like him one bit.
    He?s just some strange fairy tale-obsessed hermit.
    He thinks the entire world is filled with danger and dread...?
    Scully cut herself off as she collapsed onto her bed.
    She had to admit...the bed was a little small.
    And she was without the excuse of being tall.

    ?Well you have to admit, he is hospitable.
    And that food was good; I am completely full.?

    ?Hospitable or not, I?ll be glad when tomorrow we set out.
    There?s still something about what he said that?s cause for doubt.
    He said he gets no visitors, so why the guest bedroom?
    At least someone must come, we have to assume.
    He?s not completely society-free, for he has no food crop,
    which means that he has to go into town to grocery shop.?

    Mulder lay still, thinking about what Scully said,
    and he was starting to get more comfortable in this bed.
    He settled his head on a pillow full of down,
    ?We?ll ask about him when we get back in town.
    Out here in the woods he can?t walk very far...
    and I seriously doubt that he uses his car.?

    Scully nodded her approval and laid down and sighed.
    She was silent, then rolled over and lay on her side.
    She tried to get comfortable, but had no success.
    ?I think there?s something wrong with this mattress.?

    ?Really? I think this bed is perfectly fine.?
    ?It may be for yours, but it isn?t for mine.?
    Scully squirmed some more and stuffed her pillow under her neck.
    ?Maybe there?s something under the mattress...I?d better check.?

    So Scully threw off the covers and stumbled out of bed.
    There was no way that she could sleep in this bed.
    Mulder sat up as Scully got down on her knees,
    searching for a fork or a bundle of keys.
    Mulder finally said, ?So have you found anything??
    He was half expecting there to be a magic bean.

    Scully searched the mattress from the front to the rear.
    Finally she said, ?Hey...I?ve got something back here!?
    When Scully withdrew her hand, the only thing to see
    was a very small, very round, wrinkled green pea.

    Mulder stared at Scully with a look of disbelief.
    He finally mumbled. ?Well...Scully, good grief!
    How on earth could you feel something that small??

    Scully shook her head at the little green ball.
    ?I don?t know, it was just really annoying me...
    I felt like I would sleep in complete misery.?

    Mulder smiled at Scully...he knew how to portray it.
    Scully started. ?Mulder, don?t you even say it!?

    Mulder sighed. ?Just another thing to add to the list.?
    Scully started to yell, but she just chose to resist.
    She just collapsed with a sigh onto the bedsheets,
    spending the night in this house made of sweets.

    ?Good night, Scully...hope you don?t find any more peas.?

    Scully?s last words were a groan... ?Oh Mulder, please.?

    The next morning...

    Mulder awoke the next morning still feeling quite lazy.
    He opened his eyes, but his vision was still hazy.
    The first thing he noticed was that his bed was quite rough...
    it felt like cement instead of feeling like fluff.
    He let out a cough as his mouth filled with dust,
    and his nose was filled with the scent of old rust.
    When he became fully awake he nearly let out a roar...
    He nice, warm bed had been replaced with cold floor!

    He quickly stood up, and got up seeing stars...
    Until he finally noticed the thick iron bars.
    Mulder forced himself to keep down a shout of rage.
    Someone had took him and locked him in a cage!
    He instantly yelled... ?Scully!! Scully, where are you?!?

    And at that moment Prince Charming came into view.
    His smile gave Mulder plenty of reason to fear.
    ?Agent Mulder...I?m so glad you could be here.
    I assure you your beautiful partner is just fine...
    I believe it is you who will have the harder time.?

    Mulder quickly observed this place where he had been sent.
    As far as he could tell, it looked like the house?s basement.
    There were lots of tables and the walls were old stone.
    This was obviously a place not meant to be shown.
    Mulder was still in his night shirt and without his gun.
    The jerk must?ve slipped me a sleeping potion!
    Mulder angrily shook the bars, but they just remained solid.
    He was starting to wonder what secret this Prince guy hid...

    ?Look, what is this?! I need to see Scully!?
    Mulder exclaimed to this fairy-tale bully.

    ?Look, Agent Mulder, you?ve upset me enough already...
    your bashing fairy tales just does not keep me steady.
    But you will soon learn who is wrong and who?s right...
    when you are the main course for my supper tonight!?

    Mulder bit his own tongue and choked on his surprise
    as he saw the mad glaze in Prince Charming?s eyes.
    For a moment he could not gather the strength to speak,
    and when he did his voice was very strained and weak.
    ?What the...? Hey! Hey, wait, you cannot do this!!?

    Prince Charming?s answer came in the form of a hiss,
    ?In ?Hansel and Gretel? know what the house?s owner did!
    But unlike the story?s female character, I am not so stupid.
    You will not be getting out of this predicament...
    perhaps you were better off in your old tent.?

    It was then that Mulder noticed the large oven in the corner.
    And as for Scully...well, now Mulder really needed her.
    Mulder stuttered worriedly, searching for what to say.
    ?Wait ...what about the stuff you said yesterday?!
    After what you were cannot eat me!
    It completely goes against your own philosophy!!
    You said the bad qualities were only in the bad guys!?
    But Prince paid no attention to Mulder?s sad cries.
    ?You?re not the playing the part of the witch!?
    although what he wanted to say was the crazy son-of-a-b*tch...

    Prince Charming said nothing, just prepared for his meal.
    Mulder slumped to the floor. This is completely unreal...
    Then he suddenly heard Scully?s voice from over his head,
    but her tone was that of sincere uncertainty and dread.

    ?Mulder! Mulder, where on earth can you be??

    ?Scully! Scully come down here, it?s me!!?

    Prince gave Mulder a look that told him to quit.
    ?I will not have you making such a loud racket!?

    ?I?ll make all the racket I want, you stupid crazy old loon!?
    And it was then Mulder realized that he had spoken too soon.

    Prince sniffed, ?Whoever said that revenge was sweet,
    obviously must not have had someone like you to eat.?
    He looked up as Scully suddenly shouted again,
    and then turned back at Mulder with an evil grin.
    ?With you out of the way, Agent Scully will be mine!
    I was thinking about her...but you?ll be just fine.
    You?re big enough for dinner and tomorrow?s breakfast!
    Enjoy today, Agent Mulder...for it will be your last.?

    With that last threat, Prince headed upstairs,
    eagerly going up each stone step in pairs.
    Mulder stared up at the door where Prince had left,
    and then hopelessly gazed around the cold basement.
    He saw very large knives and dough made of whole grain...
    This guy simply has got to be COMPLETELY INSANE.
    All that talk about escaping society?s troubles was bull...
    this guy?s some kind of fairy-tale Hannibal the Cannibal!

    Although Mulder could see little from his cold iron cell,
    he could see one thing...this case was not going well.

    Scully was wandering through the small living room,
    beginning to feel a sense of descending doom.
    She had woken up this morning and found Mulder gone.
    Where could he be?...Something here is very wrong...

    When suddenly, Prince Charming appeared from behind a chair.
    ?Why, it?s the divine Agent Scully, I dare to declare!
    I trust last night you slept well?? He said with a smile.

    Now Scully was beginning to feel that this man was vile.
    ?What is going on? What have you done with Mulder?!?

    Prince waltzed over and placed a hand on her shoulder.
    ?My dearest princess with such radiant, fiery hair...
    would you prefer I have him well-done, medium or rare??

    Scully wrestled herself out of Prince?s grasp,
    and choked back a shout with a desperate gasp.
    ?What on earth are you saying?! I need to see him!?

    Prince Charming?s answer was angry and grim,
    ?I am following the story as it has been told;
    Mulder will be my dinner, even though he is old!?
    His voice became soft, but filled Scully with alarm.
    ?You however, my precious, will come to no harm.
    You were doomed as well, but it is you I have saved!?

    Scully quickly backed away as the crazy man raved.
    She searched for her gun, which was with her gear,
    but their travel supplies were not anywhere near.
    But Scully was determined to defend herself to the finish
    against this obsessed man and his disturbing fetish.
    Suddenly she heard Mulder?s voice from down below:
    ?Come down here, you mad freak, and let me go!!?

    Scully saw Prince?s expression and she wanted to cuss.
    She cried, ?Why on earth are you doing this to us?!?

    He explained, ?In the story it is I who must eat him!
    Why do you suppose it was written by the brothers Grimm?
    Only I have discovered that human flesh tastes quite nice...
    especially with steamed vegetables and yellow-brown rice.
    And I kid you not when I say that people taste great...
    After I have Mulder tonight I will have had eight.?

    After hearing this, Scully wanted to slap herself on the head,
    and at the same time scream aloud with fear and sincere dread.
    The missing children came perfectly obvious!
    And what Prince did to them he wants to do to us.

    As Prince Charming edged forward, Scully chose to backtrack.
    ?Now Prince, if you?ll just tell me where you hid my backpack,
    and then allowed me to make a few long-distance phone calls,
    I?ll promise we?ll get you a new home with nice padded walls.?

    ?No, Agent Scully, I see what you?re going to do to me!
    But I?m not letting you or your loud partner go free!?
    He raised his arms to her, his voice sad and pleading.
    ?Don?t you see, Princess Scully, that my heart is bleeding?
    Bleeding with hot passion that I can hold in no more
    the moment that your face appeared outside of my door!
    I have been captivated by you...who else can I blame
    when you put Sleeping Beauty and Snow White to shame?
    Your lips are like rose petals, your hair like sun?s fire!
    Enough to fill any man with instantaneous desire!
    Oh Princess, why do you stare at me with a face full of fright
    when your mere presence consumes me with unrestrained delight?
    I thank my stars they have given me this angel from above...
    No doubt about it, Princess Scully, I AM IN LOVE!!!?

    Prince?s speech then stopped, as did time and space,
    as Scully?s hard fist collided with Prince?s face.
    Scully backed away fiercely, ready should she again engage.
    and Prince Charming?s love speech became a shout of rage.
    ?I will have you for myself, my princess so fair,
    And no matter what you may think I refuse to share!
    So I suggest you submit and just come along quietly.?

    Scully?s answer was harsh. ?You just try and get me!!?

    Prince then gave a whistle that was long and pitched high,
    and the wolf soon appeared with the intent to terrify.
    The wolf began to growl and showed Scully its teeth,
    that with one bite could cause her a good deal of grief.
    But just before the wolf-dog had a chance to attack,
    something hit Scully?s head and her vision went black.

    Prince called off his dog as he put down his lead pipe.
    Now she?s my own and I won?t hear her partner gripe.
    He gathered the limp Scully up into his arms,
    still musing over her intense beauties and charms.
    She is even more beautiful when she is asleep!
    And best of all...she is completely mine to keep.

    As Prince stood up he heard Mulder again shout:
    ?Scully, where are you? Come down and let me out!?

    Prince sniffed with annoyance and headed for the door.
    I won?t be bothered by that man anymore.
    He walked out, keeping an unconscious Scully over one shoulder,
    and thinking of the delicious dinner he would soon make of Mulder.
    Knowing that his destination was a little bit far,
    he went straight to the garage and got into his car.

    When Scully awoke, she found that her head throbbed with pain.
    Then she remembered: I?m with a guy who?s completely insane!
    She jump-started herself and sat up way too quick,
    and then instantly felt like she was going to be sick.
    She reached up and touched a large bump on her head,
    and then realized that she was sitting on a bed.

    ?My Princess Scully, at last you have come back to me!!?
    Prince?s voice instantly filled her with sincere misery.
    Scully looked around and saw that she was in a small room
    that was made of cold stone and filled with wet gloom.
    There was a small trap door and a single window,
    but with Prince Charming here she had nowhere to go.
    ?Where am I? Where?s Mulder?!? She angrily demanded,
    quite unhappy with the situation that she had landed.

    He said, ?Aren?t you glad I have this new home for you?
    The trap door has a lock so that only I can get through.
    Don?t worry, you won?t spend all of your time in this tower...
    I?ll occasionally take you out for a walk or a shower.
    But as you?re aware, I have now made you mine,
    so you?ll be up here for most of the time.?

    Scully?s heart jumped with fright, and she ran to the window,
    and then saw how outside the ground was incredibly low.
    She saw a lot less of the trees than she did the sky.
    Shoot...I have to be up at least five stories high!
    She turned back to Prince. ?What do you think you?re doing?!
    I do not at all like this situation that I am viewing!!?

    Prince answered, ?Allow me to explain this little shack.
    I found this abandoned tower here some years back,
    and I liked it so much that I decided to keep it.
    It?s peaceful, and too high for animals to leap it.
    I created a road for it from here back to my home,
    and I come here sometimes when I want to be alone.
    But now that you?re here, this is where I?ll keep you!
    And you will stay here until your life is through.?

    Scully stormed back to Prince with her face red and hot.
    She refused to just stay in this stone cage and rot.
    ?Now listen, I want out of this tower, you freak!
    I?m not the gorgeous princess you say that you seek!
    Now...if you let Mulder and me get out of here,
    I promise your punishments will not be so severe.?

    Prince Charming was quite unhappy with what Scully said,
    and he poisoned the room with the contempt that he spread.
    ?I was hoping when you woke up you?d have changed your mind,
    but I see that is not true, I am quite very sad to find.
    But perhaps you?ll develop a better liking of towers
    if I leave you in this one for a couple of hours!?

    He went to the trap door and opened it with a crash,
    muttering curses to himself and feeling like trash.
    Scully ran for the trapdoor and although she tried,
    she was too late, and Prince locked it from the outside.
    Scully let out a cry and slowly slumped to the floor,
    not knowing if she could take this crazy guy anymore.
    She looked around this place where Prince had put her...
    it was small and homely and way too secure.
    There was the window, a bed, a table and a chair.
    She looked all around and then groaned with despair.
    She knew when Prince got home Mulder would disappear.
    I just need to find some way to get out of here...

    10:21 P.M.
    Prince Charming?s House

    Mulder was watching through the bars with his spirits quite low,
    as Prince Charming was busying himself mixing some dough.
    He had been gone for two hours, but had finally returned,
    eager to start on the dinner that he very much yearned.
    He was now surrounded by ingredients and recipe books,
    and he frequently cast Mulder some observing looks.
    ?What have you done with Scully?!? Mulder demanded of Prince.

    But his captor just glanced at him and then feigned ignorance.
    ?She?s not here, but I don?t need to tell you anyway,
    since you?re going to remain in there until I say.?

    Without another word, Prince went back to his preparing,
    while Mulder went back to his sitting and glaring.
    I?ll have to get out of this through diplomacy...
    I have to somehow convince him to set me free.

    Mulder stood up and looked at Prince with sad eyes,
    hoping he could get the psycho to at least sympathize.
    ?Now come on, Prince Charming, you don?t want to eat me...
    I am not good and soft, I?m all tough and stringy...
    And I?m way too skinny!? Mulder added in a haste.
    ?I mean, good can a grown man taste??

    ?Actually I find it very easy to make a meal of men
    whether they are tall or short or plump or thin.
    The only problem is I can?t decide how to cook you...
    whether fried or in pastry or perhaps in a stew.?
    He thought for a moment while Mulder sat in misery.
    ?Oh, never mind...I?ll just have to have all three.?

    ?Come on, isn?t there anything I can do so you?ll let me go??
    Mulder pleaded as Prince Charming began kneading the dough.

    ?Seven other people in that cage have tried to bargain,
    and they all were delicious,? He said with a grin.

    Mulder thought, This person is just seriously sick!
    He?s just some tale-telling cannibalistic psychotic!

    Now Mulder was beginning to get a little desperate.
    ?So you just catch kids and eat them and that?s that?
    Then it?s too easy! There is no challenge involved!
    No way out for the victim, no puzzle to be solved!
    Why don?t you for once try and earn your big feast?
    You can then entertain your victim, at the very least.?

    So Prince Charming stopped to consider Mulder?s plea.
    No matter what he says, he can?t outsmart me.
    And he instantly had a game for him and Mulder to play.
    ?Alright then, Agent Mulder, I will do as you say.?

    Mulder?s face instantly lit up with a huge smile.
    I can soon outsmart him with my ability to profile.

    ?I promise you can go free if you win this game,
    and correctly say aloud my true first name.
    But if you cannot guess by the time I finish fixing this dinner,
    then you are the main course and loser and I am the winner!?

    At first Mulder panicked at having to play a game like this,
    but then he thought of an answer he knew couldn?t miss.
    Mulder stood up straight, ready to soon take flight
    from this dangerous man and his cannibal appetite.
    ?This is just too easy...your name is Rumpelstiltskin!?

    ?No,? Prince answered. ?I suggest that you try again.?

    Uh oh. Mulder felt a descending sense of panic;
    so much that he felt like he was going to be sick.
    I have to keep trying...I can?t give up yet!
    ?Then is it William or Samson or Dick or Brett?
    Danny or Nick or Clyde or Fred or Tommy or Joe??

    But to every single name Prince calmly answered ?no.?
    Mulder started listing all the names that came to mind,
    but it seemed the correct one wasn?t the one he could find.
    ?Skylar, Kiley, Brendan or Jack?
    Edward, Henry, Patrick or Mack?
    Tyler, Adam, Jeffery or Tim?
    Janis, Bobby, Johnny or Jim?
    Peter, Jamie, Tucker or Ben?
    Justin, Robert, Neil or Steven?
    Benton, Charlie, Josh, Paul, George, Nathaniel or Spitz?!?
    Prince just kept shaking his head as he diced up carrots.
    Mulder then left common names and turned to the outrageous.
    ?Saxon! Dartanian! Polaris! Alexor! Or Bobcat or Gus!
    Juliett! Wolfgang! Luigi! Magellan! Tyrel! RINGO!?
    And as Prince suddenly stopped, Mulder thought...Bingo!

    Prince turned to Mulder with his face as red as a beet,
    unable to believe that he had so easily been beat.
    He then lost his temper. ?Why you DIRTY OLD RAT!
    He began to storm around, waving his hands in the air.
    ?How could you have guessed?! It?s simply not fair!?

    Mulder watched with interest as ?Ringo?s? rage ran through.
    guess tonight he will not be having any Mulder stew.
    Mulder waited patiently as Prince stormed around the room.
    ?Are you going to be letting me go free anytime soon??

    Prince then stopped and groaned. ?I am a man of my word.
    But how you could have guessed it is completely absurd!?
    Sighing sadly, he dug the keys out of his pocket,
    and went to the cage so that he could unlock it.
    Mulder stood in and waited with glad anticipation,
    happy to be out of this dangerous situation.

    Prince opened the door, but before he could check,
    Mulder flew out and grabbed him at his neck.
    With Mulder?s fingers on his throat Prince struggled to breathe,
    showing that Mulder was demanding more than simply to leave.
    ?WHERE?S SCULLY?!? He yelled. ?YOU MUST TELL ME NOW!? Prince wanted to speak but he wasn?t sure he knew how.
    Just as Prince?s face began to turn the color of chalk,
    he gestured desperately to show that he wanted to talk.
    Mulder finally complied, and he let Prince go...
    which was the wrong thing to do with this psycho.
    For the first thing Prince Charming said when he could speak,
    was ?WOLF!!? He was answered by a long, howling shriek.

    The wolf then came sprinting through the basement door,
    with the opposite intentions of a family Labrador.
    The wolf charged at him with eyes piercing and green,
    and before Mulder even had a chance to perhaps scream,
    the hound had jumped with an amazing bound
    and had easily pinned him to the hard ground.

    Just before the wolf?s fangs had a chance to pierce his skin,
    Mulder grabbed it by the neck, keeping it in suspension.
    The wolf roared and snapped while Mulder just held on...
    it was obvious that the beast was incredibly strong.
    They rolled around in the dirt and hit the table leg.
    ?SIT! STAY!? Mulder commanded. ?PLAY DEAD!! BEG!!?

    But the wolf would not obey anyone but his own master,
    and he just proceeded to go at Mulder even faster.
    Then suddenly the wolf got the upper hand over Mulder,
    and it sunk its sharp teeth into his right shoulder.
    Mulder howled with pain, and with a burst of energy
    grabbed the wolf by the nose and pulled his arm free.
    Mulder continued to fight against the crazed animal
    until he felt his back hit the hard stone wall.
    At first Mulder thought he might lose to this cur,
    when he got an idea, and grabbed it by the fur.
    He rolled over again, catching the wolf in a spin,
    then pushed the howling creature into the oven.
    He then slammed the iron door shut with a BANG!,
    glad that he was finally able to rest from the strain.

    Mulder slowly stepped away as the wolf howled and pounded
    terrified with this place that had him suddenly surrounded.
    Mulder continued to back away, allowing himself to breathe,
    and wiping some sweat off of his head with his sleeve.
    Mulder quickly looked around, but just as he feared
    during the scuffle, Prince Charming had disappeared.
    That fight with the wolf was just a distraction!
    Mulder thought, quite upset with Prince?s action.
    There?s no telling how far he could have gotten by now!
    But I?ve still got to find out where Scully is somehow.

    Leaving the wolf to his howling, Mulder went upstairs
    glad to be leaving this basement full of nightmares.

    When Mulder was back in the house, he found it empty
    and with nothing to tell him where Prince chose to flee.
    He may have Scully, but he won?t get away with it!
    So Mulder instantly went to search in the closet.
    Inside he found their tents, overnight bags and things
    which told him that Prince had suspected their doings.
    And so, with his gun and the attitude of a warrior,
    Mulder started his search and headed out the door.

    3:35 P.M.
    Prince?s Tower

    Scully was suddenly awakened with a shock
    as she heard someone opening up the lock.
    Scully instantly hardened and her gaze became cold
    as Prince Charming entered with a smile full of gold.
    ?My dearest!? He said. ?You?re doing better, I see!?

    Scully?s response was sharp. ?You stay away from me!?

    Prince slumped. It was clear she didn?t care for his loving displays,
    so he would have to discover another method to change her ways.
    ?Whatever past you?re holding on to, you should forget it,
    for your partner has already made his delicious exit.
    He will not be making any miraculous return...
    so you should submit and not be so stubborn.?

    ?You?re a liar,? Scully growled, her gaze growing colder.
    ?I don?t believe for an instant that you actually ate Mulder.
    And not matter what you say or whatever you think of,
    I guarantee you this will only be a one-sided love.?

    Prince?s face scrunched up like he was going to cry.
    ?But my dear Princess Scully...why, I ask, why?
    Why won?t you accept me as your dream come true??

    ?I?d figured it would be pretty obvious to you!
    I?m not meant to stay days are not spent.
    I have Mulder, a home, a family...I?m a federal agent!
    Not to mention the fact that you eat little kids...that is sick!
    There?s absolutely nothing about you that is grand or romantic!?

    Prince Charming stood still and didn?t speak for a time,
    thinking over his habits that she considered a crime.
    But then he remembered how this problem could be scraped
    into his plan he had made quickly since Mulder had escaped.
    ?I?ve given you second chances, I?ve said I?ve loved you so,
    but I?m afraid I must draw the line at letting you go.
    A person who finds a rare unicorn does not let it go free!
    And so it must be the same way with you and with me.?

    Scully refused this man, refused that Mulder had been ate,
    and most of all, she absolutely refused to cooperate.
    Both people contained their thoughts, but Prince was the first to speak.
    ?But putting all other things aside, you?re looking hungry and weak.
    So you want some sort of snack that will keep you well?
    Some leftovers from dinner, or an orange or apple??

    I can?t accept it, she thought, I know just what he?ll do!
    He?ll poison me or something so that I can?t continue.
    I?ll just have to do something before he gives me the food,
    even if it?s something that would be painful or rude.
    I?ll just wait till he leaves again and when he comes back
    I?ll be ready for him with my own method of attack.
    I can hit him over the head with something big, like a chair,
    then I?ll have an open door and be able to get out of this lair!

    Knowing what she could do, she chose not to decline.
    So she finally agreed..."I guess an apple is fine.?
    ?Very well.? He smiled, then went back through the door,
    and Scully quickly picked herself up off of the floor.
    She instantly began searching for something big and hard
    that she could use to knock the sense out of that retard.
    But her first good idea did not receive a high score
    when she found the furniture was bolted to the floor.
    She began searching the room for anything she could use,
    whether a hammer or two-by-four or a pair of hard shoes.
    But before she could find a good object that could bash,
    Prince Charming had gone and returned in a flash.
    She stopped moving at once, hoping he would not suspect.
    But if Prince did have doubts, he didn?t try to inspect.

    ?Just as you told, I have brought this,? he said,
    and extended to her the apple all shiny and red.

    Shoot! She thought, I can?t refuse the apple now!
    I have to get out of this situation...but how?
    But Prince did not give her any more time to think,
    for the smile on his face was beginning to shrink.
    So all Scully could do was take it from his hand,
    feeling like she was received a red-hot brand.
    At first she was hesitant, having no appetite,
    but she pushed the thought away and took a big bite.

    The moment she swallowed, she felt that something was wrong...
    there was a strange taste in this apple that was way too strong.
    Her head began spinning, her vision became thick,
    and she hunched over like she was going to be sick.
    Unable to stay awake, she gave a final moan,
    and collapsed into darkness on the floor of stone.

    Prince smiled as he carried and placed her on the bed
    aware that she was only sleeping; not really dead.
    And after making sure that she was completely secure,
    he went out to wait for Mulder at his clever lure.

    4:59 P.M.

    Meanwhile Mulder had been searching for many long hours,
    looking down paths, behind trees and through lots of flowers.
    He did not go far from the house lest he easily get lost,
    but he was determined to find Scully at any known cost.
    At last he went back to the garage, which was empty,
    but he had no idea where the missing car could be.
    He had not discovered any roads it could take.
    That missing car is just some kind of mistake.

    But when he went back to the garage?s far wall,
    he saw a black curtain; not a wall at all!
    When he pulled back the curtain, he found a large door.
    Now why on earth didn?t I notice this here before?
    He went for the handle, and was not at all shocked
    to find that the garage door was already unlocked.
    He opened the doors and pushed them aside,
    and saw that it led him right back outside.

    And then he found something that set his mind at ease...
    a broad dirt path that cut its way through the trees.
    Wherever they went, they certainly went down this way.
    If I hurry, I can catch them before the end of the day.

    But as he began to walk, something else caught his eye...
    a small flash of white that he happened to espy.
    There, placed carefully under a small stone
    was a note, sitting and waiting all alone.
    Mulder removed the stone and picked up the note,
    and as he read it he felt a knot form in his throat.

    ?Congrats, Agent Mulder, you have finally came
    You are now ready to play my fairy tale game.
    The way to Agent Scully shall be revealed to you
    When you discover Cinderella?s little glass shoe.?

    Mulder instantly groaned with frustration and anxiety.
    I should have known that guy would play games with me!
    But there was nothing else that Mulder could do,
    so he set off down the road looking for the glass shoe.

    Night was approaching, and the woods were growing cold,
    shielding Mulder from the secrets the trees could hold.
    Mulder increased his speed from a walk to a jog
    as the woods became covered with a layer of fog.
    Mulder swallowed. Well, I should be alright
    as long as I can find her before it is night.

    The sound of a wolf howling somewhere caused him to jump,
    and his throat was instantly blocked with a large lump.
    It?s not Prince?s wolf...he?s still stuck in the oven. He thought, hoping he would not have to fight it again.

    Mulder walked for an hour before he saw something out of place.
    But when he finally spotted it, his heart started to race.
    For as he reached the end of the road he could see
    Prince Charming?s empty silver Toyota Camry.
    And beside it, a small shoe lying alone in the grass...
    but it certainly wasn?t a shoe made out of glass.
    It was one of Scully?s leather hiking boots,
    giving him reason to quicken his pursuits.
    Mulder picked it up and observed it carefully...
    there were no blood stains as far as he could see.

    But then he found something else that made his blood boil...
    inside the shoe was another note rolled into a coil.
    His feelings of anxiety were soon heightened to dread
    as he carefully read what the second note read:

    ?Congrats again, you have found the princess?s shoe.
    Now here is the second challenge that you must do.
    When you come to a bridge, you will pay no toll...
    Except your life if you happen to run into the troll.?

    A troll? Mulder thought. But there is no such thing!
    But with what had gone on so far, he could find anything.
    He may have been a believer, but he?d never seen a troll or an elf...
    Unless the madman decides he should play the troll part himself...
    He wouldn?t doubt it...Prince had already been the witch.
    Now it would be fitting for him to lie and wait in a ditch.

    More determined than ever, Mulder chose to press on.
    He thinks that he?ll win...I?ll soon prove him wrong.
    As for Scully?s shoe, he had nowhere to pack it,
    so he stuffed it under his arm in his jacket.
    Last but not least, Mulder pulled out his gun,
    and following the road he broke into a run.

    But something was bothering him as trees rushed by his face...
    Why on earth is Prince leading me on this pointless chase?
    How can all this serve his twisted interest?

    But he didn?t stop to think about it or rest.
    The sun was starting to would soon be night.
    Mulder began to wish he had brought along his flashlight.

    After an hour of walking he found what he wanted to see...
    A bridge, which was little more than a fallen tree.
    There were no other notes or signs that he could follow.
    Mulder stepped ahead once and managed to swallow.
    For as he came to the bridge, he didn?t know what to expect,
    although Prince Charming in disguise was his prime suspect.
    He gave the murky water below the bridge a quick glance...
    it didn?t look deep, but he couldn?t take that chance.
    A cropping of rocks and sticks hid what lay beneath...
    whether a crazy old man or a beast with sharp teeth.

    Mulder was not eager to jump into some creature?s nest,
    so he decided to give this ?troll? bridge a little test.
    He searched around and then got himself a rock
    intending to give the ?troll? a bit of a shock.
    Standing far away, he threw the rock with a lash
    and it landed in the creek with a loud, heavy splash.

    Suddenly, there came a loud and dangerous hiss
    from a creature that Mulder could not dismiss.
    From out of its hiding place and onto the shore
    came a very large, very scaly, gray alligator.
    The gator shuffled forward upon its massive frame
    in the direction from which the splash had came.

    Mulder saw his chance and grabbed the opportunity
    and quickly sprinted across the bridge-like tree.
    He luckily made it across to the other side
    before the gator could catch up to his stride.
    Once safely across, he gave a sigh of relief
    that he wasn?t between the monster?s big teeth.
    How on earth did he get that gator to stay there?
    Mulder thought with confusion and an angry glare.
    The alligator is somewhat unusual, and yet
    he did have that wolf-dog for his own pet.

    Although it was dangerous, it was not a creature of lore,
    and Mulder was secretly glad that he had seen it before.

    When he resumed his walk he could suddenly see
    A third note nailed to an old nearby pine tree.
    Mulder scowled as he snatched up the piece of paper
    clearly tired and frustrated with this crazy caper.
    But Mulder contained his impulse to tear and shred.
    and carefully looked over what the third note said:

    ?You are a brave man to have escaped the hungry troll,
    Now just one more task and you?ll reach your goal.
    Ten steps ahead of you you?ll find a mossy log,
    And on that log will sit a little green frog.
    All you must do is give the frog a kiss on the lip
    And you?ll have reached the end of your little trip.
    For the frog?s kiss will signal the appearance of me
    And I will tell you where you can find Ms. Scully.?

    Mulder crumpled the note and then he angrily threw it.
    Kiss a frog?! No, I absolutely refuse to do it!
    But he had precious little options left open,
    and if he didn?t do it, Prince Charming would win.
    Just go and rescue Scully, he thought. Don?t think.
    But his already-low spirits were beginning to sink.

    He began walking, but before he had time to start fearing
    he was out of the thick woods and in a small clearing.
    And, just as the note said, there was the mossy log,
    and sitting on it waiting was that stupid green frog.
    Mulder marched up and glared down at it.
    It just stared back and continued to sit.
    Mulder hoped that perhaps he could get out of this...
    if the frog hopped away he wouldn?t have to kiss.
    But the frog just looked at him with large, unblinking eyes,
    as if patiently waiting for his supposedly affectionate prize.

    But finally, Mulder felt that he couldn?t take it any more.
    ?Look, it was bad enough with the shoe and the alligator!?
    Mulder shouted aloud to the darkened, foggy forest.
    ?But I frankly am sick of this really stupid quest!
    So Prince, I demand that you reveal yourself now,
    or I?ll come find you!? Although I don?t know how...
    ?I know this frog is nothing special or magic,
    and I refuse to submit to some simple trick!
    So I tell you right now, I WILL NOT KISS THIS FROG!!?

    No one answered him except the trees and the fog.

    Mulder groaned aloud and then looked down at his feet,
    deciding that it might be time for him to admit defeat.
    He mumbled some curses in a voice that was whiny,
    and reached for the frog, which was fat and slimy.
    He picked it up after rolling up his sleeves;
    certain it would give him some deadly disease.
    This is for Scully, He thought over and over again.
    It?s just so that I won?t let Prince Charming win.
    He brought the frog up and shut his eyes tight,
    not willing to allow himself the hideous sight.
    And so, holding the frog by the body and neck,
    he quickly landed the thing a very short peck.

    As soon as he kissed, he flung the frog like a discus,
    and then proceeded to spit out in disgust and cuss.
    Mulder eventually nearly collapsed against a tree
    gagging, wheezing, coughing and writhing in agony.
    And as if things couldn?t worsen from this sad test,
    Prince Charming then appeared from the foggy forest.

    ?Agent Mulder!? He said. ?I see you have done well!
    You have kissed the frog and broken the spell!
    You have completed all the tasks for you fully,
    so I will now tell you where you can find Scully.?

    With this guy here I think I prefer the frog...
    Mulder thought as he walked out of the bog.
    He wasn?t sure what other tricks Prince had up his sleeve,
    but as long as Mulder had his gun, Prince couldn?t leave.

    ?Then show me now, and don?t cause any more injury!?

    Prince nodded and started off, apparently in no hurry.
    Mulder sighed and followed him blindly into the trees,
    hoping that Prince Charming would not try another tease.
    The two tread quickly through the dark forest gloom,
    while Prince Charming hummed some long-forgotten tune.
    But Mulder was getting more restless with every step he took.
    Just find Scully, and then you can stop this cannibal crook.

    When they finally arrived, Mulder had to glower...
    Prince had brought them to a tall stone tower.
    He pointed to the top. ?Your Scully is up there.?

    ?What next? Do I have to climb up her long hair?!?

    ?Oh no...just go in that door and then wait for me,
    for I am the only one with the trap door?s key.?

    Upon hearing Prince Charming?s short explanation,
    he sprinted to the tower without hesitation.
    He opened the door and found a spiral staircase,
    and he bounded upstairs as if in a close chase.
    When he reached the end he found the trap door,
    and realized that the ceiling was actually a floor.

    Since the door was locked, he had to wait for Prince to come
    before he could crash in and present to Scully her freedom.
    Prince Charming finally came slowly up the stairs,
    apparently not noticing Mulder?s angry glares.
    And moving slowly enough to move back the clock,
    Prince finally came up and opened up the lock.

    Mulder burst through the door, and much to his dread,
    he discovered Scully lying motionless upon a bed.
    She was either dead or perhaps asleep,
    but if she did, the sleep was very deep.
    Mulder came up to her and brushed his hands through her hair,
    not sure if this was a dream or some frightening nightmare.

    ?What have you done to her?!? Mulder turned and demanded in fright.
    Scully looked like something out of Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.

    ?Like all princesses, she?s getting her beauty rest,
    and if you can awaken her you can end your quest.
    She will only wake if two lips fit like a glove
    and she receives a kiss from her one true love.?

    (A kiss?!) Mulder thought. What sort of remedy is that? But at this point, Mulder was getting quite desperate.
    He was tired of finding shoes and running through fog.
    At least this?ll be better than kissing that frog...
    So before Mulder could let himself come to grips,
    he bent down and gave Scully a kiss on the lips.

    Despite the obvious oddness, his mind melted like butter,
    and for just an instant he felt his heart give a-flutter.
    Mulder stood back and waited for her hand to take up...

    But much to Mulder?s dismay, she did not wake up.

    Mulder felt his stomach bunch up into a knot.
    It must not have been hard enough, he thought.
    So he tried it again, this time extending the kiss.

    But she remained asleep; she didn?t even notice.

    After a heartbeat of terror, Mulder tried once again,
    this time massaging a bit of her lips and chin.
    Had Scully opened her mouth he would have gotten some tongue...
    But since she still didn?t wake up, he was not having fun.

    Mulder then pulled away, his eyes wide with fear.
    He whirled back to Prince. ?What is going on here?!
    You said she?d wake if, and I quote, ?Two lips fit like a glove?!?

    Prince shrugged. ?Then I guess you are not her one true love.?

    Mulder?s hands became fists and his face became hot.
    He may have been a believer, but believe that he would not.
    His anger was enhanced by the glare he was displaying,
    and he demanded of Prince, ?Exactly what are you saying?!?

    ?Well, her prince is supposed to wake her and take her to his kingdom,
    and since she did not awaken, you must not have been the one.?

    At this, Mulder reached in and pulled out his gun
    clearly showing that he was in no mood for fun.
    Prince knew well what that was, and he held up his hands,
    and Mulder pointed it at him as sweat seeped from his glands.
    ?I want you to tell me what you did to her,
    and whatever it is, you have to give me the cure!?

    ?I?m afraid I can?t help you,? Prince said with a shrug.
    ?For there is no antidote to this particular drug.
    There is nothing that you or I or anyone can do,
    unless she received a kiss from her love must true.?

    Mulder was now completely furious at the man,
    and was just about ready to make him a dead man.
    Prince suddenly realized he had nowhere to go
    except perhaps out of the tower?s small window.
    ?Give me the cure or I will shoot you right now!?
    Mulder said in a voice that made it sound like a vow.

    But before Prince could again explain Mulder was wrong,
    there came from Scully?s bed what sounded like a yawn.
    Both men spun around to see, both very surprised,
    and watched in shock as a sleepy Scully slowly rised.
    Mulder was most surprised by her well-timed action,
    and he thought, talk about a delayed reaction...
    She blinked sleepily and got the kinks out of her shoulder,
    and as she realized where she was, she mumbled, ?Mulder?...?
    At seeing her awake, Mulder breathed a relieved sigh,
    and felt his confidence return with Scully nearby.

    Scully then remembered where she had been left last,
    and she snapped out of her still-drowsy state fast.
    ?Where?s that guy?!? Scully said, expecting a scare.

    ?Don?t worry,? Mulder said, ?he?s not going anywhere.?

    With both agents awake and one holding a gun,
    it was clear Prince Charming had nowhere to run.
    Despite his imagination, he knew when he had been beat,
    so Prince sat down and stayed still to demonstrate this defeat.

    ?Alright,? Mulder stated, still lacking a smile.
    ?Prince, you?re going away for a good long while.
    But before we go back and we make this arrest...
    tell me why you sent me on that strange quest!
    Why the frog, the bridge, and why Scully?s hiking boot?
    With this sort of ending it makes all those tasks seem moot!?

    Prince smiled as if to say, It should be obvious to you.
    ?Why, with you I could make many fairy tales come true!
    How often do I get two people for fairy tales to express?
    Two smart adult people...a man and a woman, no less!
    There?s only so much a single person can tell...
    Little Red Riding Hood, or Hansel and Gretel.
    But with a couple there?s all kinds of things I can do!
    I can have Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Snow White, too!
    I only realized this when I was making tonight?s dinner,
    and with such an opportunity, I could afford to get thinner.
    So I took Scully to this tower and planned out this quest,
    and after Mulder escaped...well, you know the rest.?

    Mulder rolled his eyes to the ceiling and let out a sigh.
    I should?ve known I?d get that response from this guy.
    He doesn?t have any plans on some far-reaching scales...
    all he cares about is producing his fractured fairy tales.

    ?Well ?Prince?, your little game has come to an end.
    And where you?re going you won?t want to pretend.
    We?re going back to your house and we?re using your phone,
    and some people will come and get you a new home.?

    Prince wordlessly surrendered, accepting his fate,
    but with Mulder?s gun on him he didn?t dare hesitate.
    Mulder and Scully kept behind for they knew that they should,
    and the three of them left the tower and went into the wood.

    The next morning
    7:37 A.M.

    The next morning dawned very cold, quiet and humble,
    and the quiet was first broken by a loud engine?s grumble.
    Mulder and Scully stood and watched from the edge of the clearing
    as the driver of the bulldozer had a little trouble steering.
    But soon the bulldozer met with the gingerbread wall,
    and after a bit of resistance the wall started to fall.
    The gingerbread crumbled and was reduced to dust,
    leaving a pile of crumbs, wood, frosting and rust.
    All of Prince?s belongings had already been moved from his den,
    including the whimpering wolf still trapped in the oven.
    Many investigators were all still searching around...
    some human bones the dog had buried had been found.

    Mulder and Scully had reached the house the previous night,
    and luckily Prince had not put up any more of a fight.
    It had taken some time for all their help to arrive,
    but now the agents were thankful to just be alive.

    Now the two watched as Prince was being taken away
    in a van with the inside walls all padded and gray.
    Prince presented no real struggle as they led him inside,
    although a sad shuffle now replaced his grand stride.
    To his lost dog, lost house and lost cause he gave a sad calling...
    ?Oh, this is the end...the sky is falling! The sky is falling!?
    And then Prince Ringo?s cries were heard no more
    as the doctors locked shut the white ambulance door.

    Mulder said, ?I don?t think that he?ll make much of a fit.?
    He then added, ?I am disappointed, I have to admit.
    We came out here expecting to solve some great mystery,
    and instead there?s Prince Charming with his sick history.
    He leads us around with his traps and his tricks
    just because he thinks we?re good fairy-tale picks.
    But I don?t think you or I are very fairy-tale fit...
    I mean, if anything we?re the complete opposite.
    We didn?t save anyone and we broke this man?s heart,
    since now to cruel reality he is obliged to depart.?

    Scully paused and let loose a low sighing sound
    as the great candy house was brought to the ground.
    ?Well we may not have provided many happy endings today,
    but life?s not a fairy tale...let?s keep it that way.?

    So Scully left the scene with her partner and friend,
    and they all lived happily ever after......