The Fox and the Howned
by. K. D. Enriquez (SciNut@aol.com)
What a wonderful day! Special Agent Fox Mulder thought to
the hundredth time as he sat on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. The
sky was a bright blue that usually accompanied Spring instead of early
December. Though the now beautiful sky had threatened it yesterday, D.C.
still awaited its first snowfall.
Mulder sank deeper into his coat as a slight breeze blew across the
river. But even the chill would not be able to freeze his good mood today.
He and Scully had returned to D.C. yesterday after finally being released
from quarantine. They'd spent four long weeks in a large, sterile, white
room. After twelve hours, he'd started to miss, of all colors, green:
grass, leaves and little flowering plants.
Mulder shook his head and allowed himself a nice long gaze at the grass.
(The trees had long since lost their leaves.) He'd become so damned
philosophical during quarantine. He sighed. It really didn't matter anymore.
They were out and he felt great, for once. He felt like celebrating.
Suddenly, he bounded to his feet. He'd take Scully out for a victory
dinner. She'd be surprised that he was actually going to buy for once.
She'd been acting sort of strange after she'd finally returned to work,
but that was only to be expected. Though, he really didn't want to think
about it right now. That was one train of thought that could blow his good
mood right out a window. And he was really feeling just too damn good.
Todd Howned watched from the shadows of the Jefferson Memorial
fox quickly stood and began to walk, with an easy and relaxed stride, back
towards the J. Edgar Hoover building. He laughed, quietly, to himself. He
couldn't wait to see the look on his face when the fox realized the Hunt
had begun again.
Dana Scully sat at her desk and fumed. There was no way the
going to do this to her. She read the memo once more just to be sure:
From the desk of Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner
Special Agent Dana Scully,
It has been recommended that you take an extended leave of
absence by the FBI psychiatrist. Effective immediately.
She waded up the bit of paper angrily. Nope, she hadn't
memo. How could Skinner do this to her. She wanted to work, she needed to
work. She sighed and leaned back in her chair.
The day she had first returned to work, Scully thought she would be able
to put the ordeal with Duane Barry behind her. Not that she'd never been
kidnapped before. Hell, she'd been abducted once by one of her closest
friends. But that's not what was bothering her. Besides, Duane Barry was
But, she couldn't remember.
No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't seem to remember where that
month had gone nor what had happened to her during that time. It had been
taken from her and that's what disturbed her most. The time was gone and
there was no way to get it back.
<It was only a month.> Her inner voice chided. But that wasn't the point.
So much had happened in that month. Her mother had told her by the long
phone calls during quarantine. She could see it in the people around her.
She had told Mulder that she'd lost too much time already and now they were
going to force her to lose more time. She shook her head, sighed and
realized she'd really need a shrink if she actually took a vacation
She was about to see if she could flick the waded paper onto Mulder's
desk (he would never notice it) when he burst through the office door.
"Hey, Scully," he said with the largest smile she'd ever seen on his
face. "Let's ditch out of work early and celebrate."
She couldn't help but smile. "Celebrate what?"
"Anything, everything... pick something. I'm in a great mood so it
"What, are you buying?"
"Of course." He replied then paused. He eyed her briefly. "What's wrong?"
Scully sighed and tossed the wad of paper at him. "Sure, we can cut out
of work early. I've been forced to take some time off."
Silence settled in the office as Mulder read the short memo. Suddenly,
he grinned, "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it." He grabbed her
arm and pulled her out of the office.
"What do you mean you'll 'take care of it'?"
"Don't worry, we're celebrating. Where do you want to go for dinner?"
Todd Howned watched them exit from the FBI building. He
across town to a semi-decent restaurant. He sat at a table behind them and
listened while they ordered, ate and conversed. He could barely contain his
excitement. The Hunt would begin again and, this time, Todd Howned would
"It's a great place," Mulder said as he and Scully
left the restaurant.
He had wondered if he could talk her into going for a couple of drinks.
She'd agreed rather easily and he was relieved that her earlier dark mood
"I already said yes, Mulder." She replied with a smile. "You don't have
to convince me. Besides, it's been awhile since I went bar hopping."
"It's not a bar," Mulder said defensively. "Bars are nasty dives. This
place is a pub."
"Whatever you say, Mulder." She said in submission as she watched a
man, some distance ahead of them, turn into a dark alley. She turned back
to find Mulder staring at her again. "Would you please stop that?"
"Stop what?" Mulder asked with false innocences.
"Staring at me like that." Scully said a little uncomfortably.
Guiltily, he looked away. "Sorry."
"Mulder," Scully began, placing a hand on his arm she stopped walking,
bringing him to a halt. "I thought we covered this already. We should have
dealt with this fully during the quarantine but we weren't alone then." She
sighed. "It's over, it's done with. Move past it and get on with life,
He met her eyes and she saw a sadness there. "I've tried, Scully." He
paused and seemed to come to a decision. "You may not remember what happened
to you, but *I* remember what happened to *me*."
"My mother told me about it... as well as Melissa." Scully replied. She
understood that he was trying to be honest with her and that he realized
how selfish he sounded. But she knew that wasn't what he meant.
"I'm sorry, Scully," he said gently. "But you weren't there."
"Then you tell me," she pushed. This was what he needed. He needed
He looked away and she could see him forcing himself to relive that
month. "I went with your mother to pick out your headstone." He closed
Scully just stared at him quietly. Her mother hadn't told her that part.
They had actually given up on her and it was clear that Mulder hated himself
"I tried to give her hope," he said with his voice full of self loathing.
"But, I'd already lost mine. And then, poof, you were back. No one knew how
or when and 'they' refused to give me any answers. But I dug anyway." He
met her eyes and the rage she saw there scared her. "I know who was
behind it, Scully. I nearly murdered him in the name of 'justice'." He
made the word sound vile.
"Why didn't you?" She replied shocked to hear this from him.
"Because he was me, if I were to cross the line I had been treading and,
besides, revenge is a bitter tasting dish no matter how it's served. When
I realized how much we were alike... I couldn't stand it. I resigned. At
least I tried too. Skinner, of all people, talked me out of it."
"Who was it, Mulder?" Scully asked finally.
He sighed and looked away again. "Take your own advice, Dana." He replied
after a lengthy silence. "Let it go. Don't dig any deeper, it's not
worth it. Believe me, I know and it nearly ruined me."
She felt her anger rise. How dare he not tell her. "What happened to the
He tried to met her eyes and couldn't. He knew she didn't understand,
couldn't understand. He sighed again, wearily, and studied his shoes.
Scully watched half angry and half fascinated as grief and sorrow, at his
inability to tell her, passed behind his eyes. Her anger won as she bit
out, "What happened to finding the 'truth'?"
She was ashamed at the small feeling of pleasure she felt as pain took
dominance on his features. She knew he didn't deserve this. She could
imagine the spiral downward that he had described to her. She did know
how he felt about her after all, she'd have to be blind not to see it.
But his reply sapped out her anger, squelched her feelings of guilt and
pleasure at his expense and made her realize just what kind of hell
"Sometimes..." He paused and took a deep breath. "Sometimes the truth
isn't worth the price." He was silent and then he turned to her again with
a forced smile. "Anyway, I thought we were supposed to be having fun, so
He turned and began to walk up the street once more. Scully watched him
for a moment before following him. She sighed knowing that he'd tell her
only when, and if, he felt ready. She knew she could never force him and
now, she wasn't sure she wanted to know. Finally, Scully decided to do as
he had said. She let it go.
She caught up to him fast enough, though Mulder felt his forced desire
to have fun begin to fade. He had known that particular topic of
conversation would kill his good mood. <Move past it> he told himself.
<Get on with your life.> He sighed and listened to himself. Damn it,
he was going to enjoy himself.
He had nearly convinced himself when he passed a darkened alley and his
paranoid nature surfaced out of instinct. He pushed the emotion away and
tried to ignore it. He didn't see the man lurking there until it was too
late. He didn't feel the blow to his head that sent him to ground, stunned.
Todd Howned drew his .45 and pointed it at the woman before
get her own weapon out. He shook his head and gestured to put her hands in
the air. She complied as he knew she would. He'd read the FBI manual too.
Sticking the police baton under his arm, he tossed a pair of handcuffs at
The fox moaned from the ground and started to get to his knees. Todd
grabbed him by his coat lapel and dragged him into the alley. God, Todd
loved D.C. There was no one on the street to see anything. He threw the fox
back to the ground.
He turned back to the woman, who had finished putting on the handcuffs,
and liberated her from her weapon. Grabbing her arm, he pulled her further
into the alley as well.
Todd giggled as the fox push himself unsteadily to his knees, again.
He grabbed his baton and delivered a powerful blow to the fox's shoulder.
"Do you remember me?" he asked watching as the fox's vision cleared.
"You should remember me."
Todd smiled as he saw recognition and fear cross the fox's features.
"Sleepy-time for the fox." He said raising the baton.
Fox Mulder sat at a desk that was still too new to him. He
looked at the
pile of paperwork that had already been completed and just awaited his
signature. Bless Reggie's heart, Mulder thought. He was glad he wouldn't
have to deal with writing up anymore reports on his first day back.
The investigation into his actions during the confrontation with John
Barnett was over and the Board had declared Mulder did have justification
for shooting Barnett. While Mulder felt the investigation was rather silly,
considering Barnett had killed two people including Agent Steve Wallenburg,
he knew that it was important when the time came for Mulder to testify.
Mulder sighed and played the incident over in his mind. He should've shot
sooner then maybe Wallenburg would still be alive. He could still hear
Steve's wife after she'd been told. She didn't blame Mulder, even though
A rough slap to the back startled him out of his thought's. "Well,
Mulder. I can see you're daydreaming again. I thought I told you to think
about the ladies off work when you could actually go and chase them." The
gruff voice declared from behind him.
Mulder smiled and turned to face the man who had been the first to listen
to a 'Spooky' idea. "Hi Reggie."
Reggie Pardue was a very large, intimidating black man. Taller than Mulder
and twice as broad, he had taken Mulder under his wing when he first arrived
from Quantico even though, and he told Mulder this quite often, he thought
Mulder was full of 'it'.
"Thanks for writing these up for me." Mulder added.
"No trouble," Reggie responded as he grabbed a chair from an adjacent
desk and sat. "I know how much you hate filling that stuff out and since
anyone can do it... well, all you need to do is sign the stuff."
Mulder made a show of grabbing a pen and signing the first sheet of paper.
Reggie smacked the back of Mulder's head as if he were a misbehaving
adolescent. Mulder smiled.
After a long moment of silence Reggie spoke. "You know Mulder, I talked
to the Bureau psychiatrist."
Mulder looked up from the paperwork. "The one I had to see?"
"Yeah, and he's right. You did what you could. Don't let it eat you,
alright? You're too good an agent for us to lose because of your own damn
Mulder looked down at the surface of his desk then smiled. "How do you
know I'm good? I've only been on one case."
Reggie smiled in return. "Oh, I've an eye for these things." He paused
then glanced at his watch. "Come on, let's go to lunch."
"It's only ten o'clock," Mulder chuckled.
"Hey, I'm your boss. I make the rules here. Let's go."
Scully glanced into the rear view mirror as she heard Mulder
the back seat. After the man had beaten Mulder into unconsciousness, he
had forced her into the driver's seat of a tiny, old Dodge Horizon. He
had then tossed Mulder's limp form into the back seat, gotten in the
passenger side, stuck the barrel of his .45 in her side and told her to
She had driven for about twenty minutes before Mulder began to stir in
the back seat. That was a good sign, she had thought to herself. She'd
been worried. He had received several dangerous blows to his head and,
for a moment, she had thought the last one had killed him.
"Okay, stop the car." The man said from the seat next to her.
Scully complied and pulled the car to a halt.
"Get out," he ordered. When she hesitated he shoved the gun barrel
painfully against her ribcage. "I said get out."
Scully glanced into the back seat and reached for the door handle, hands
still handcuffed. She didn't want to get out. If she did, she'd certainly
be leaving Mulder to die and if she didn't there was no doubt this man
would shoot her. She couldn't help Mulder if she were dead.
She stepped out of the vehicle and gazed into the back seat. He was
laying on his side and blood covered his face. That last shot to his head
must have opened a very large wound.
Seeing the man, from the corner of her eye, settle into the driver's
seat brought her attention back to him. He met her eyes and grinned a smile
"You tell Special Agent Reggie Pardue that the Hunt is about to begin and
the Howned has the Fox." With that he giggled and the car took off with a
squeal of tires.
"But," Scully called realizing the man could no longer hear her.
"Reggie Pardue is dead."
When Mulder finally returned to his desk, he was in a better
knew him too well. He really did need to just talk to somebody other than
a psychiatrist. Mulder was a psychologist after all and was quite qualified
to analyze himself. But Reggie had a different outlook on life that he said
he'd gained after his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. From what he'd
told Mulder, she'd passed on sometime ago and it was obviously painful for
Reggie to talk about it. Mulder never pushed.
Mulder looked down at the top of his desk to see a file, which hadn't
been there when he'd left. He opened it and discovered it was his next
case. Well, his second case. He read through it and, after each page,
he felt himself growing more and more nauseous.
"I see you found our next case, Mulder." He heard Reggie say, again
behind him. Mulder was always amazed that the man could sneak up on anybody.
"This... this is evil," Was all Mulder could say. He felt, rather than
saw, Reggie's nod of agreement. Mulder continued to read.
Six times in the last four weeks a child had disappeared from a local
elementary school. All young girls between the ages of six and ten.
However, a week after the first disappearance, a foot had been found in
the small field between the school and the high school track. A foot which
the coroner had discovered as belonging to the first girl. Her other
remains were never found.
So the pattern developed. A week after a child's disappearance a body
part would be found, usually a hand or a foot, but never in the same
place. The police had staked out the field where the first three parts were
found but then the remains began to be discovered in a different spot.
The last child disappeared five days ago and as yet nothing had turned up.
The police then asked the FBI for assistance. The case had been assigned to
Mulder and Reggie as a supervising agent.
"Well... let's get going." Reggie said as Mulder slowly closed the file.
<Who says there's never a cop when you need one,> Scully
herself as the cruiser she had flagged came to a stop. <Now, a phone on the
other hand...> Disgusted, Scully let the thought trail off. She'd been
walking for several minutes looking for a public phone with no luck while
her cellular was safetly tucked into her desk drawer at the office.
"Ma'am?" The officer asked rolling down the window cautiously.
"My name is Dana Scully and I'm with the FBI," she said as she held up
her cuffed hands. "My partner has just been abducted and I need you to
call in an APB and get me some back up."
The officer didn't hesitate. "You have any I.D.?" He asked as he sprang
out of the car and released her from the handcuffs.
She withdrew it from her coat pocket while she began to give him a
description. She was thankful that the officer was seasoned. "Can you tell
the dispatcher to get someone at the FBI to get all the cases my partner
and Special Agent Reggie Pardue have worked on for me, please?" She asked
as he grabbed the radio and began to call in to the station. He nodded in
Scully turned and looked in the direction the car had gone. She didn't
think he'd kill Mulder, not right away at the very least. The man's cryptic
final message gave her chills.
Oddly, Mulder awoke to a ripping sound and a feeling of
his left wrist. The fact that his face hurt, a lot, came as an after
thought. He couldn't open his eyes even though he really didn't want too.
A place just above his right eye throbbed and he sucked in a breath which
brought to attention a stabbing pain in his chest.
He heard the ripping noise again and felt something pull against his right
wrist. He twisted his hands gently and finally recognized the sensation:
duct tape. He took a deep, slow breath and concentrated on his
surroundings, which was hard to do between the throbbing in his head and
his apparent blindness.
He knew he was sitting and, it seemed, restrained. His right hand was
secured, vertically, to the back leg of a metal chair. He felt its coolness
begin to sap the heat from his body through his clothing.
His left hand, however, was secured on, what felt like, a stool at about
his chest level. It felt like the position the Red Cross used when he had
donated blood. He felt a cramp develop in his lower back and realized that
the position of his hands made it impossible to become comfortable.
The floor was made of concrete and its frigidness made him aware that
his feet were bare. He wiggled his toes, relieved that his lower body had
escaped any damage. His face throbbed again reminding his brain that it was
Suddenly, he felt a warm, wet cloth gently wipe against his face causing
him to gasp both in fear and pain. He'd forgotten that someone had put him
in this situation.
"Wake-y, wake-y, Fox," he heard the deranged voice say sounding like a
three-year-old trying to wake his parents early on a Saturday. "Your face
got all dirty and that just won't do. Will it?"
Mulder found he didn't have the energy to speak. He felt the cloth
reverently against his left eye and wash away the dried blood that had kept
Sight returned to him and as it did he wished he were blind again. He
had hoped that he'd been imagining the whole thing. He had hoped that the
pain in his head was just the result of a Friday night bender that he
But it wasn't a delusion. It wasn't his imagination. Kneeling in front of
him, gently washing his face... was Todd Howned.
"Come on, Mulder, don't dwell on it." Reggie said
looking worriedly over
at his friend.
"You can't tell me it doesn't bother you," Mulder returned still sounding
"Of course it bothers me." He fired back only semi-serious. He did have
a self-imposed duty to lighten Mulder up a little. "If it didn't... aw,
hell you've heard this speech a thousand times already. But I don't dwell
on what happens to the victims of my cases. They're not men. They're not
women or children. You can't think of them that way or you'll go nuts.
They *can't* have names. That makes it personal. They're victims or corpses
or bodies. While you're on the job, at the very least, otherwise, you won't
be able to think clearly. You understand me?" Reggie finished from the
passenger seat of the FBI rental.
"I'll try. It's easier for you though... you are a *little* older than
I." Mulder said with a small smile as he turned the car into the elementary
school parking lot.
"Hey, I'm a *lot* older than you and don't forget that."He replied
Mulder and Reggie stepped out of the car and greeted a short round man at
the entrance. He wore glasses, a tie and definitely suffered from male
pattern baldness in a bad way. He took a step forward and introduced
"Hello, I'm Paul VanHuess... the principal." He spoke nervously.
"Special Agents Pardue and Mulder with the FBI," Reggie answered
flashing his I.D. VanHuess shook their hands gratefully.
"We can speak in my office."
"Have you considered closing the school?" Reggie asked from a chair
directly in front of the principal's desk. Mulder sat by the door dutifully
taking notes even though he didn't need to.
The principal shifted in his seat. "Yes, I've thought about it. What,
with many of the parents keeping the children at home the attendance is
barely enough to keep the doors open. But the school board doesn't think
we should, Bureaucrats."
"You mean some parents are actually still sending their kids?" Mulder
asked somewhat dumb-founded.
VanHuess' answer was merely a shrug. "As far as we know, the children
were being taken during recess. That was probably the best time because we
don't have enough teachers to watch them outside. The first class after
lunch is generally when they are missed. We've kept the children indoors
"No one has seen any strangers?" Reggie asked.
"No, no one out of the ordinary."
"Could we see the school yard, please?" Reggie said as he stood.
"Certainly," VanHuess replied standing as well.
Scully sat at a desk in the nearby police station surrounded
numerous agents. Sometime ago, someone had set a cup of coffee in front
of her but she had only stared at the steam rising from the dark liquid.
The steam had long since stopped as the coffee had cooled.
She prayed Mulder was still alive. Scully couldn't explain why, but she
had a feeling that he was. He would call it a hunch, she called it instinct.
<Potatoe, potahtoe.> His voice echoed in her head and she found herself
The maniacs parting message confused her. Who was he? What was going on?
And why? But she could do nothing until those back files had been dug out
and brought to her. She felt as useless as the other agents standing around
drinking coffee and eating doughnuts.
"Agent Scully?" a voice called out from the far side of the room.
"Over here," she replied standing and turning in the direction the voice
A young man, probably in his early twenties, raced to her desk and handed
her a stack of case files. "Assistant Director Skinner had me hot foot these
over to you."
"Thank you," she said already dismissing the man and turning her attention
to the files. Mulder and Reggie had obviously worked well together. There
were at last twenty cases sitting before her.
She picked one off the top and immediately put it aside. She *knew*
John Barnett had nothing to do with this. Barnett had been Mulder's first
case with the FBI. Barnett had been robbing armored cars and going on a
killing spree as well. Mulder had finally helped to catch Barnett only to
have him presumably 'die' in prison of a heart attack.
Instead, Barnett had been experimented on and had been made younger.
Then he'd come back for revenge. In the process, Barnett had killed Reggie
Mulder had taken Reggie's death badly even though he had held a tight
rein on his emotions when he was in public. Too quick to judge himself,
Mulder felt guilty for Reggie's death. However, when Barnett had tried to
kill Scully, Mulder had shot Barnett and, finally, the man was dead.
Scully reached for the next case file. It was Mulder's second and upon
opening the file the first thing in the folder was one of Mulder's profiles.
She stopped confused. Psychological profiles usually went near the back of
the file but for some reason this one was out of order. <Probably just a
bad file clerk.> She thought.
She lifted the profile out to look at the picture of the suspect that
should be the first thing seen in a properly organized case file. She
froze as a steely glare greeted her. When the man had first jumped her and
Mulder in the alley, she had noticed the eyes. They had gleamed with an
evil madness. This was him.
Scully opened Mulder's profile and started to read.
Mulder turned the corner first and bumped into a wall of a
Barely shorter than Mulder, the man was solidly built with dark hair,
dark eyes and an army tattoo on his right forearm.
"Sorry 'bout that," the man said moving out of the way.
"That's Todd Howned, the school janitor," VanHuess offered. "Todd these
are the two FBI agents who are looking into the kids' disappearances."
"Oh," Todd answered. "Well it's about time. Those poor kids... and the
police not being able to do anything."
Something in the man's tone set off bells in Mulder's head. It was a
subtle emphases on a couple of the words. Mulder wondered if Reggie had
Mulder stuck out a hand, "I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder and this is
Todd shook his hand firmly. "Fox, huh. Cool name."
Mulder involuntarily took a small step backwards. Something was wrong.
All his inner alarms were going off. This guy scared him even though he
seemed very pleasant. Mulder gave the guy another once over.
Todd Howned was dressed in blue coveralls that were typical with
janitorial work. He stood, rather relaxed, in front of a mop bucket which,
mysteriously, had no mop. His boots were a worn and faded shade of black.
He looked like the type of man who'd wear lots of gold chains but instead
had a gaudy pink thing, that looked like it was made of plastic, around his
neck. At the end of the 'necklace' hung a flat charm with a sticker of a
unicorn stuck slightly uneven on it's surface.
"It's from my niece." Todd said fingering the charm. "She gave it to me
for Christmas last year. She made me promise to wear it all the time. The
little girl is just precious."
Mulder smiled, "I'm sure she is." For some reason Mulder couldn't shake
the uneasy feeling that settled over him. "What's the tattoo from?"
Todd glanced at his arm. "Vietnam," he said but offered no more than that.
<When did I pass out?> Mulder thought to himself as he
consciousness. He slowly opened his left eye while his right had swollen
painfully shut. <Where am I? What happened?> The memory slowly returned
and he felt an uneasiness surface at the speed in which it had taken.
He knew he had a bad concussion with the black outs and short memory
losses. He needed a hospital and he thought, as the right side of his face
"'Bout time you woke up again," he heard Howned say from behind him.
"This won't be very enjoyable for me if you can't stay awake."
"Sorry," Mulder croaked through split and swollen lips.
"Oh, that's okay." He offered cheerily as he walked to stand in front
of Mulder and patted the injured side of Mulder's face causing his head to
explode with little spots. Consciousness wavered and Mulder unsteadily
fought to stay awake.
"What do you want?" Mulder asked after the pounding subsided.
Todd turned cold eyes toward him, "Revenge, of course. I want the Hunt
back but first, I want you to feel what I had to feel in that pit of Hell
you call Greenside. Agent Pardue as well. Where is he anyway? I couldn't
"He's dead," Mulder offered weakly as consciousness again threatened
to leave him.
"Oh," Todd said sounding disappointed. "Well, that puts a little cramp
in my plans. I can't have a Hunt unless there's someone to chase and be
chased by now can I?" He sighed and sank into a chair across from Mulder.
"Well, I'll have to change my plans then. But first, the fun part."
Mulder followed Todd with his eye as Todd bounded to his feet and crossed
to a cabinet along the wall. The room was only about ten by twelve and
Mulder didn't see any windows.
Todd walked back over to him holding a syringe.
"What's that?" Mulder asked nervously.
"Unfortunately, not Thorzine. Do you realize how hard it is to get a
hold of that stuff?"
"What is it?" Mulder repeated.
"Well, in Greenside, they gave me Thorzine. I wanted to give you Thorzine
too but I couldn't find any. But, I'm told this has some of the same affects
and will work just as well. It's a lot easier to get, too." He bent over
Mulder's left arm and slipped the needle into his skin.
"What is it?" Mulder asked again fear beginning to grip him.
"Heroine," Todd answered with a self-satisfied gleam in his eyes as he
pushed down the plunger.
"So, Mulder, any thoughts?" Reggie asked from across
They had gone to a diner after they had left the school. It was an
ancient, battle scared place but still served good food.
Mulder sipped at his coffee. "The kids were taken in broad daylight
without anyone seeing anything. I think it's someone on staff."
Reggie smiled to himself. The kid was good. "And why do you think that?"
"Kids are too observant not to notice a stranger and none of them saw
anyone who didn't belong there. But someone who works at the school wouldn't
be considered out of place or out of the ordinary."
Reggie nodded in agreement. After all, he'd already come to that
conclusion as well. "Any suspects?" This was the question that Reggie
really wanted to hear an answer for. Mulder always saw more than anyone
else. He picked up on the subtleties that even Reggie missed.
"Well," Mulder paused. He had an entire list of suspects and decided to
narrow them down. "One would be the principal, VanHuess. He was just a
little too nervous I think."
"Yeah, his hands were a little too sweaty."
Mulder smiled, "You decide on suspects by how sweaty their palms are?"
Reggie shrugged, "Everyone has their own methods. Any others?"
"The janitor, Howned."
"Why?" Reggie asked. He didn't think Howned was all that suspicious.
Mulder shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know. He just rubs me the wrong
way... I can't explain it. He..." Mulder trailed off.
"He what?" Reggie prompted.
Mulder sighed, clearly uncomfortable discussing this. "I don't know...
he scares me."
"What about Durren?" Reggie asked changing the subject. He was
unwilling to push Mulder into conclusions. Mulder could come up with good
ones given a little time. Besides, Reggie hated to see him squirm.
"The P.E. teacher?" Mulder shook his head.
"He doesn't seem the type." Mulder answered.
Reggie laughed, "Not the type? Just what is the type? The nice, quite
boy next door?"
Mulder smiled. "That did sound silly, didn't it?" He paused. "I don't
know. It's like with the janitor... it just doesn't *feel* right."
"Okay. Anyone else?" Reggie asked excepting the explanation for now.
He agreed Mulder could be 'spooky' at times but no one else had his
insight. Reggie guessed that was probably how the stupid nickname had come
Mulder thought, silently, for a few minutes before shaking his head.
"I want to talk to the last girl's family, though. 'Nothing' has turned up
yet and we could get lucky. This one might not be connected."
"Alright," Reggie agreed even though he knew better. Mulder was still
'green' and he'd grow out of that kind of 'hope' soon enough.
Scully shut the profile, disgusted. <How could anyone do
that?> she asked
herself. Mulder had begun the profile by calling Todd Howned evil. Scully
had thought, at the time, the opening sounded a little too emotional and
spontaneous coming from Mulder.
As she read further, however, Mulder had clinically and logically
described what evil was and used Howned's actions as his model. He had
backed everything up with strong evidence including his own eye witness
account that still left her a little weak to her stomach.
By all rights, Todd Howned should have fried in the electric chair.
However, as she dug further into the case file, Howned's defence attorney
had gotten the consultation of a 'more experienced and 'more reliable'
psychiatrist. This psychiatrist had, supposably, interviewed Howned and
had him declared 'incompetent to stand trial'. Howned had been locked away
at the Greenside Mental Institution.
Scully opened Mulder's profile again.
"...Todd Howned served two tours of duty with the 101st Airborne Division
of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war. According to Howned, during my
interview, he found a growing lust for violence. While most soldiers face
this same blood lust during battle, Howned confessed that he enjoyed the
'sport' of 'hunting' the enemy more than the 'kill'. Though he does agree
to have felt a certain degree of fulfillment at the act.
"Upon his return to the States, Howned attempted to relive the 'Hunt',
as he calls it, by going on camping trips and hunting deer and quail. When
this approach failed to have the desired affect, Howned resorted to a more
"According to Howned, his first real 'kill' was a vagrant in 1981. Since
then, he states that he scheduled a 'Hunting season' for himself to
coincide with deer season. Thus making his killings less conspicuous..."
Scully shook her head. Howned sounded perfectly aware of his actions to
her. But, since Mulder had been an agent with less than three months
experience and just off the Barnett case, the judge had listened to the
'qualified expert witness' for the defense. She felt herself grow angry
at the miscarriage of justice.
<Mulder,> she asked him silently. <Where would he take you?>
For the first time, in what seemed like an eternity, Mulder
consciousness without pain. In fact, he was feeling damn good. Nothing
hurt and, with the exception of a little weakness, he felt like dancing a
<Jeez, Mulder,> he chided himself. <You are so freaking high the space
shuttle is jealous.>
He attempted, somewhat unsuccessfully, to stifle a giggle. For one,
the thought wasn't quite that funny. Secondly, he didn't think he was the
type of person that would giggle.
Mulder suddenly found himself wondering what he'd thought was so funny
in the first place. He inhaled deeply. He was finding it harder and harder
to get a lung full of air. <How much did he give me?> Mulder thought to
himself and quickly felt the coherent question slip away. Between the
concussion and the heroine it was impossible to think straight.
"Well, good morning again, Fox," Mulder heard a voice say.
"'Mornin'," Mulder slurred. He had a strange feeling that the source of
the voice was important but he couldn't remember. He leaned his head back.
He was really starting to feel weird.
"And how do you feel today?" The voice asked pleasantly conversational.
Mulder thought about the question for a second before answering. "Fine,
"You think? You're not sure?" There was a pause. "Perhaps we should
discuss this a little further, don't you?"
Mulder was momentarily confused. There were too many questions, too fast.
He couldn't concentrate. "I... my head hurts." He finally answered and
realized that it *did* hurt and it was getting more and more painful.
He started to wince and stopped as a streak of fire raced across his face.
Then, Mulder felt a stinging in his arm and a soothing warmth spread
through his body easing the pain. He let his head slump to one side as a
numbness settled over him.
"Sorry 'bout that," the voice said apologetically. "Your medication
started to wear off there. I'll have to keep a closer eye on the time.
So... where were we?"
Mulder lifted a shoulder in a shrug.
"WAKE UP!" The voice shouted suddenly.
Mulder didn't feel the blow that nearly broke his jaw, but the taste of
blood in his mouth brought his memory back.
"What do you want from me?" Mulder asked weakly.
"Hey!" Howned shrieked. "I ask the questions here!"
"Why don't you just kill me and get it over with," Mulder responded,
proud that his drug fogged brain got all the words out.
The cold stare Todd turned on him made his stomach turn. "Oh," Todd
said too quietly. "The patient is not cooperating. That does not bode well
for his treatment."
Mulder watched as Todd walked to the cabinet again. He returned with what
looked like a car battery and a set of jumper cables.
Mulder closed his eyes and forced his brain to think but to no avail.
"What's that for?" He asked, not really sure he wanted to know.
"I saw this done in a movie once," Todd answered with a grin. "Time for
"Are you sure you want to do this, Mulder?" Reggie
asked him as they
approached the front door.
"Yes... absolutely." He replied as he raised his hand to knock.
"What do you hope to find by interrogating this poor girl's parents?"
"I don't know... maybe the suspect has been stalking her. Maybe they
saw something?" Mulder asked rapping lightly on the solid wooden door.
A slightly disheveled woman answered. She was attractive even though
dark circles marked the skin below her red rimmed eyes. She sniffled and
wiped her nose with a tissue. "Excuse me, please," She said gesturing to
her rumpled state. "May I help you?"
Mulder shook his head at her apology and withdrew his ID. "Special
Agent Fox Mulder, FBI." He paused, allowing her to get over her shock.
"I'm very sorry, Ms. Mason, but I was hoping that you could answer a few
She wiped at her nose again before opening the door wider and allowing
the two agents to enter the house.
"Thank you," Mulder said stepping through the door. "This is Agent
Ms. Mason nodded and shook both their hands, "Please, sit. Can I get you
"No, thank you, we're both fine." Reggie replied.
"Ms. Mason," Mulder began lightly. "Before your daughter disappeared,
did you notice anyone near the house? Maybe walking up and down the street?"
Ms. Mason thought about it for a few seconds. "Not that I recall, why?"
Mulder crossed the room to a fireplace with photographs aligning the
"We thought maybe the suspect might have be stalking the kids before
taking them," Reggie offered.
"Have..."she paused collecting her courage."Have you found anything yet?"
Mulder felt his heart turn in pity for this woman. She had no illusions
about the fate of her recently missing daughter. She knew her daughter would
never be *entirely* found and the look in her eyes was one of wishfulness.
Wishfulness that she'd soon be able to put her daughter to rest. Mulder
wondered if he would ever be that strong.
"No, nothing yet," He heard Reggie answer as he turned to look at the
Mulder's gaze was drawn to one picture especially. A young blonde hair
girl smiled out at him. He knew from the police report that Jennifer Mason
had only been six years old but the picture that stared at him looked much
younger. Her shoulder length hair curled around her neck and ice blue eyes
seemed to bore into his soul.
Again, Mulder felt an uneasiness surface. There was something in the
picture that was important and he stared clinically at the figure. Reggie
and Ms. Mason's conversation faded into the background.
"Oh my God," Mulder whispered drawing Reggie's attention.
"What is it?" Reggie asked coming up behind Mulder.
Mulder pointed at the picture, his finger brushing the glass.
There, in the picture, hanging around Jennifer Mason's neck, was a
pink plastic necklace with a unicorn stuck unevenly on the surface of
Scully sat, staring at a map of Washington DC. She had
forgotten how long
she had been sitting there, thinking.
Todd Howned lived for the Hunt. Mulder had stated that fact over and over
in his profile. The hard part now was to decided where he had gone. She
had to keep in mind this guy's thrill of the chase. <Well,> she thought.
<What do hunters do?>
They hunt, the other half of her, that always pointed out the obvious,
<After that, moron,> she scolded. <After they've had a romp in the
forest, where do hunters go?>
Well, her father had always gone to a lodge or a bar with his friends.
<Bingo! You've hit the Jackpot!> Mulder's voice added in her mind.
She shook her head. Maybe she *did* need a vacation.
"Hey," she called to the nearest officer. "Can you get me a list of bars
that have shut down in the last couple of weeks?"
"Sure thing," the officer replied bounding to his feet.
He returned several minutes later with a printout. Scully took it from
him and began to scan the names.
"Hey, why'd this one close?" She asked the officer who had been reading
over her shoulder. "It's called 'The Huntsmen'?"
"A health code violation." He offered. "Something about dead cats, I
She checked it's location on the map of DC. "The Huntsmen" was near
where Howned had forced Scully out of the car. In fact, it was only about
two blocks south of the police station.
"You think that's where this guy has your partner?" The officer asked.
"Pretty sure, Officer..." she glanced at his name tag, "...Burke. Let's
get everyone suited up and over there."
Mulder pulled the car to a stop by the curb in front of the
rented by Todd Howned. He reached inside his jacket and checked that both
his gun and the search warrant were still where he'd left them.
As he stepped out of the car, he felt all his senses sharpen as adrenalin
began to pump through his body. He made his way up the walk to the front
door with Reggie right behind him. Other police cars began to pull up to the
house, their officers pouring onto the street.
Mulder knocked on the door as the police brought up the 'door opener',
a huge steel ram that brought doors down with little trouble. Silence
answered Mulder's knock.
"Todd Howned," Mulder called at the door. "This is the FBI, we have a
search warrant. Open the door."
Mulder motioned at the door and the police broke it down with no effort.
They entered the house and began to search the first floor.
Mulder eased into the kitchen, glanced around and froze in his tracks in
Several pots were boiling on the stove. The aroma that drifted out and
filled the kitchen reminded Mulder of boiling poultry. But the sight that
greeted him made his stomach turn and he fought down the urge to vomit.
Todd Howned stood behind a cutting table whistling while he dismembered
the body of Jennifer Mason. He was calmly de-boning the thigh and placing
the flesh into the boiling pots of water on the stove when he spotted Mulder
in the door way.
Abruptly, the whistling stopped and Howned harrumphed in disappointment.
"Well, I guess Hunting season is over for the year, isn't it?"
Mulder stared, horrified, over the barrel of his gun that he pointed at
Howned's chest. He nodded slowly. He heard an officer behind him retch.
"You know, you could've waited 'till after dinner," Howned remarked
putting down the butcher knife and pointing to the pots on the stove. He
picked up a strip of bloody meat, popped it into his mouth and began to
chew. "Mm... this one's good. Can I just fry this up and take it with me?"
Mulder shook his head, slowly, unable to look away from Howned's deranged
Howned sighed. "Alright, just let me wash my hands before we go.
'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' you know."
Mulder awoke to a semi-lucid state of consciousness. He could
skin on his chest beginning to blister from the electrical burns inflicted
by the car battery. It was a pain that the injections of heroine couldn't
quite mask. In a strange way, he was thankful for the heroine. He wasn't
sure how much pain he'd be in otherwise and the amount he was feeling now
was quite enough. It hurt to think. It hurt to move. It had begun to hurt to
A chill draft blew across his hypersensitive skin and he shivered
involuntarily causing all kinds of new pain to shoot up his body. The
shivering turned into small convulsions and he began to whimper in pain.
His head throbbed and all memory of why he hurt, how he hurt, where he was
and what had happened fled. All he knew was that *everything* hurt.
He heard a voice but could not be sure if it was addressing him. It was
vaguely familiar and sounded slurred to his ears. He couldn't make out what
it was saying and it hurt too much to concentrate on the sound in order to
figure out what it was.
Then he realized he didn't care who was speaking. For a reason he
couldn't remember, he didn't want to know who it was. He didn't want to
feel this pain anymore. So Mulder gave in willingly, once more, to
"Mulder?" Scully said worriedly as she stared at his
He was strapped to a metal folding chair with duct tape. The right side of
his face was completely swollen with a nasty laceration above his right eye.
His shirt had been unbuttoned and hung from his shoulders giving her a clear
view of the dozen or so large, red, blistering burns that dotted his chest.
As well as the ugly black and blue patch that suggested broken ribs.
She shone her pen light into his left eye. The pupil was dilated and
barely responded to the light. He was going into shock and she covered him
with the blanket Officer Burke handed her. She briefly considered cutting
him out of the duct tape but decided it would be safer for him to stay
confined until the paramedics arrived and made the convulsions subside.
Scully could hear the sirens wailing in the distance as well as other
police and FBI searching the condemned "Huntsmen" bar. The sirens began
to grow louder and she urged them to arrive faster.
Mulder's left arm jerked weakly and she noticed several puncture marks
dotting his inner elbow and forearm.
"Officer Burke," Scully called hurriedly. "Look around, Mulder's been
injected with something and the paramedics are going to need to know what
She heard the EMS unit pull up outside and she went out to hurry them
As the paramedics went to work on him, Officer Burke approached Scully.
"I think it was heroine." He said from behind her.
She turned to see him holding most of the material needed to have 'a good
"Oh, Jesus, Mulder," she whispered as the paramedics strapped him to a
gurney and took him out to the ambulance.
Mulder came to three days later in the Intensive Care ward of
He blinked in confusion, <How the hell did I get here?>
His mouth was dry and his throat felt like sandpaper. He tried moving but
realized he didn't have the strength for it. And he felt... warm. He
remembered being extremely cold before but couldn't remember where.
He was completely numb, though he was beginning to feel the early stages
of a massive migraine. He shut his eyes tightly against a slight throbbing
that had started.
He heard a door open and recognized two distinctive feminine voices.
"When?" He heard Scully ask with a mixture of concern and relief.
"Just a couple of minutes ago," a voice answered that sounded like
Scully's mother, Margaret.
Scully came into his line of sight. "Mulder?" She asked worriedly.
His first attempt at speaking failed. He licked his dry lips and
finally whispered, "Where am I?"
Scully sighed relieved as her mother put her hand on Scully's
shoulder. "You're in the hospital, Mulder. Again."
He closed his eyes as a wave of dizziness hit him.
"How you feeling?"
He took a breath and pushed down the nausea. "My head hurts and I feel
like I'm gonna be sick..." His voice trailed off weakly.
"You sustained a skull fracture, Mulder. Just don't move around too much
and I'll call the doctor." Scully turned but her mother was already on her
way out the door. She looked back to Mulder.
He was looking a little green around the gills, but that would
eventually pass. There was a white gauze bandage that covered the
seventeen stitches above his right eye. Hopefully, he wouldn't scar too
badly. Plus, the doctor had said that the three broken ribs were knitting
well. But it had been the skull fracture that had everyone worried.
Just then, the doctor walked into the room. "Good, you're awake. Now
we can see how bad the fracture was," he said picking up the chart at the
end of the bed. "My name is Doctor Ryan Johnson... Do you remember what
Scully watched as fear and pain entered his eyes before he answered
"Do you know the assailant's name?"
"Todd Howned," he croaked.
"Do you know what he injected you with?"
Mulder paused before answering, "He... he was upset at not having
Thorzine but I don't really remember what he did give me."
Dr. Johnson sighed. "This is important, Mr. Mulder. Howned gave you
heroine and because we don't want to risk any kind of chemical dependance
we are going to have to limit the amount of pain killers we give you.
You can heal without them. As soon as the medication we used to sedate
you wears off you will, no doubt, suffer withdrawal. Just a warning, try
not to shout at the nurses, they're being nasty today. Do you know what
the burns are from?"
Mulder sighed, weakly."I have a vague memory of a pair of jumper cables."
The doctor nodded. "Good. There doesn't seem to be any brain damage.
The slight memory loss is normal, under the circumstances, but I'm going
to order another CAT scan anyway. We'll move you to another room and keep
you until Thursday for observation, but I think the fracture will heal fine
on it's own." He stood and wrote something in the chart. "I'll be back in
a little while to check up on you."
Silence decended in the room following the doctor's departure. Mulder lay
with his eyes closed, looking too pale. Several minutes passed and Scully
thought he'd drifted back to sleep.
She began to make her way towards the door when she heard him whisper,
"Where is he?"
"Who?" Scully asked, a little startled.
Eyes still closed, he repeated, "Where's Howned?"
"I don't know, Mulder." She answered. "He wasn't there when we arrived.
Mulder opened his eyes and slowly turned his head towards her.
"Get some more rest, Mulder." She said. "I'll see you later."
Mulder watched her leave. Get more rest, she says. Sure, he thought,
he'd need it. He had a feeling that Todd Howned was willing to wait.
(or is it?)
Yes, I am working on a second part which is tentively titled
I'm trying to think of a suitable end for Todd Howned. I'm not quite sure
I made him 'nuts' enough, though I'm pretty sure I got close. I do sort of
have a working outline and I may have it finished by the end of next
I hope you liked it... email me your thoughts, comments.... whatever.