February 17
03.40 a.m.

He woke up with a start. Pushing himself up on his elbows, he listened intently into the silent house, trying to distinguish what has aroused him from his almost comatose sleep. After a moment where nothing happened, he blinked heavily and slowly eased down on the bed again, burying his face in the pillow with a heartfelt sigh. Then he froze. He could hear it clearly now. Although the call was faint, it was very clear.


There was panic in the childish voice calling his name. Panic he knew only too well. Before he knew what he was doing, he was out of bed, his heart racing away in his chest, his breath stuck in his throat.

"Fox. Help me."

He closed his eyes hard for a moment, then opened them again. "No," he whispered, shaking his head. It was the right voice, but the wrong surroundings. Pinching himself he tried to figure out if he was sleeping or not. But it hurt. With wide eyes, he raised his head again and stared at the door.

"Fox, please. Don't let them take me away."

The voice became more frantic and he became more nervous, taking a hesitant step toward the door leading out into the corridor beyond. "No," he repeated more firmly. Trickery. That was what this was.

Then the girl screamed. The fear was overwhelming. She was terrified and the memory of that voice and his inability to help her clouded his mind. The spell was upon him and he raced out the door and into the corridor, briefly hesitating to orient himself, then ran away from the stairs leading down to the ground floor, along the corridor to the last door. He ripped it open and the screams of fear and terror became more potent. He pounded up the stairs, unaware of any pain from his back, and reached the same door that had stopped Scully earlier. Now it was unlocked. He ripped it open and continued his hazardous ascent toward the attic. He nearly tripped over the last step, hitting his toes painfully hard against the wood.

Wincing, he limped into the attic and looked around, scanning every crevasse he could see for the source of that scream, not thinking clearly any more. And then he saw her. Floating in the air like she had then, screaming his name in terror. For the first time since it had happened twenty-four years ago, he broke the spell and ran toward her. His hands found her arm and he ripped her out of the beam of light and into his arms, stumbling backward a few steps until he nearly lost his balance and came down hard on one knee. Holding her little body tightly against him, he sobbed in relief when the light died and she was still with him.


Her voice in his ear, her arms around his neck. He held onto her for dear life, the tears cruising down his face. "Samantha," he countered hoarsely, holding her, squeezing her to him. "I've got you. You're okay." Words he had longed to say. Words that had burnt their way into his heart, into the very core of his soul. Those words he had wanted to say twenty-four years ago.

"Fox, why didn't you come?" The whispered words burnt him.

Freezing to the spot, his eyes widened in shock. "But you're okay, Sam. I'm right here. I've got you," he insisted.

"Why didn't you help me, Fox?" There was pain in that voice. Resentment. Emotions that did not belong in the voice of an eight-year-old girl.

Mulder slowly shifted his hands up her back to her shoulders and very slowly pulled her away from him.

"Why? I counted on you. I needed you, but you didn't do anything." The words held disappointment and they came from the skeletal mouth of the bones he held in his arms. The bones of a little girl in a dirty, faded nightgown with a heart-shaped hole right over where her heart had been.

And that was when he screamed. He just couldn't keep the horror at bay as he flung the skeleton from him, got staggering to his feet and backed up. "NO. NO!"

"I counted on you, Fox." The voice was his father's and it came from somewhere to his right.

With the back of his clenched fist pressed against his mouth to keep any further sounds of terror at bay, he turned his head and saw his father standing there, much like he had when Mulder had been a kid, the resentment, the anger in those eyes burning holes into his soul. He shook his head, staggering sideways away from the apparition of his father.

"I counted on you to take care of your sister. And now look what you've done. You've killed her." Bill Mulder's eyes burnt angrily down at his son. "You've killed your sister, Fox."

"No, dad. Please," he begged, completely lost in the scenario, unable to fathom that this wasn't real. That he was re-experiencing his childhood trauma in a highly exaggerated manner. "No, I didn't. I didn't kill her. I..." he began, but his father cut him off by lashing out at him.
"Get away from me, you ungrateful brat," Bill Mulder hissed. "You've taken the only joy I ever had from me. My daughter. The only thing I ever cared about."

"No, dad," he whimpered, backing away a little.

The apparition of his father faded away.

"You've destroyed the family, Fox." Those words came from his mother, who had taken his father's place, hurt and angry eyes staring at him with the accusations unspoken for so many years. "You've destroyed it. I can never forgive you for all the evil you've done to this family. Never."

He stumbled over his own feet and hit the floor sideways, bruising his left shoulder without feeling it. Instead of trying to get up again, he crumbled up, wrapping both arms over his head to avoid looking at the cold, hard eyes of his mother. And all the while, Samantha's helpless cries rang on in his head, driving him insane. "Mom, no," he sobbed. "Not again. Please, no more."

The pain from his back and the cold of the attic enveloped him, wrapped around him and forced him to curl up on himself. After a long while, the attic finally fell silent again, all the taunting, hateful voices of his past subsiding into the whisper of the wind around the gable of the mansion, and all he could do was lie there and cry. He cried like he hadn't cried since he was a kid. All those things he had thought about when he had been twelve and later when his parents had split up. My fault, it rang in his head. My fault, my fault, my fault. "No," he begged in a hoarse whisper.


06.15 a.m.

Scully jerked awake, frowning in confusion. Blinking, she glanced around the room, then remembered where she was. With a sigh, she eased back down on the bed and closed her eyes for a moment. Life could be better, she thought. But it could definitely also be worse. Draping an arm over her face, she sighed again. It was only six and she couldn't sleep any more. Then it slowly started seeping in what had aroused her. Frowning again, she pulled her arm away from her face, trying to estimate what that strange feeling against her lower back was. Sticking her hand under her back, she touched the moist spot, a thousand thoughts rolling through her head at once, trying to explain what it could be. She pulled her hand out again and raised it. "Oh my God," she snapped and sat bolt upright, staring in horror at her bloodied hand. Pushing away from the spot, she turned to look down at a wide-spread blotch of blood on the sheet. Her immediate reaction was to reach behind her and touch her back, feeling for any cuts, but found none. Although her pyjamas was moist from the blood, she didn't believe it came from her back. Horrified, she looked down herself, trying to figure out if she had suffered a hemorrhage during the night, but allowing herself a moment to sense her own body, she didn't feel as if she had lost any blood. And there was a lot of blood on the sheet. With a shiver running through her, she slipped off the bed and hurried to the bathroom, where she checked herself out more thoroughly. No indication of any injuries or busted blood vessels anywhere. Her period wasn't due for another two weeks either and she certainly didn't bleed that much. She pulled her pyjamas top off to get a better look at the fabric and frowned. There was no sign of the blood. With a kind of detached feeling of silliness, she raised her right hand which had previously been covered in blood and saw that it wasn't any more. She smiled uncertainly and gingerly touched the fabric of her pyjamas top and sensed no moisture there.
"What is this?" she whispered, not certain she wanted to know. Putting the top back on, she returned to the room only to find no trace of the rather big blood stain in the center of the bed. "What the hell is going on here?" she whispered, looking around the room for a moment.

A sudden uneasy feeling made her stride quickly toward the door to the next room and open it. She stepped through, already knowing that her partner would not be in his bed. And he wasn't. The covers had been thrown aside and the door to the corridor stood ajar. Following a hunch, she opened the door fully and stepped back out in the corridor, looking either way. Under any other circumstances she would have thought that he had taken a walk through the house because he couldn't sleep. But she had a bad feeling about this and that made her think differently. "Mulder?" she called.

Hugging herself in the chilly air, she listened for a response, for any sound, and wasn't surprised when all that greeted her was silence. "Mulder?" she called again, more loudly. Still nothing. Heaving a deep breath, she tried to think where he might have gone and what could have persuaded him to go exploring. "Mulder?" Uncertain about what to do, she stood there for a moment, then decided to get dressed first and then set out to look for him. He had to be somewhere in the house.


07.10 a.m.

Jezek jumped when Scully touched her shoulder, trying to wake her up. "What?" she almost gasped, looking around her room in confusion for a second, then fixed her eyes on Scully. "What's up?" she asked, looking a little unraveled.

"Mulder has disappeared," Scully countered, already dressed. "I'm going to try and find him. I just wanted you to know so you don't worry about us."

Jezek stared at her for a second, then let out a suffering sigh and dropped back down on her bed. "And you wake me up at this god-forsaken time of day to tell me that?" she moaned. "Jeez, Dana, he's probably found Wilson's porno collection or something."

Scully couldn't help smiling. Jezek really didn't like getting up early. "Yeah, maybe, but just in case he hasn't, I'm going to look for him." With no mention of her odd experience earlier, Scully turned around and went back out into the corridor, closing the door behind her. She looked toward the stairs leading down and frowned. Somehow, she had the distinct feeling that he would be anywhere but downstairs. Turning a little, she looked toward the other end of the corridor and first then noticed the open door up to the attic. "Mulder?" she called and started toward it. She stopped when she reached the stairs and looked up at the next door, which was wide open. Obviously, he had found the key. She started up the stairs, listening intently to her surroundings. There was no sound to be heard.

She reached the top after a moment and stopped to look around. The attic was huge and rather empty. No cobwebs, loads of dust and hardly anything stashed away up here. Frowning, she took a few steps forward, her eyes trailing over the interior. And then she saw him. He was sitting on the floor near a small window in the gable, his knees hugged to his chest, his face pressed against his knees. "Mulder?" she asked and started toward him. One thing was that he was up here. She would have expected that. But not like this. She stopped in front of him, staring down at him with a feeling of dread steadily building in the pit of her stomach. "Mulder," she tried again and squatted down. She reached a hand out to touch his hair and felt the tremor going through him. It was cold up here and he was dressed only in his sweat pants. "Mulder, what are you doing up here?" she wanted to know. He didn't move. Running a hand through his hair, she tried to estimate his state of mind and could only determine that he was either severely depressed or unaware of his surroundings. "Mulder, look at me," she urged him. He stirred, then slowly raised his head to stare at her. The look in his eyes made her almost recoil. He was depressed. That was for sure. So depressed that she felt her heart tighten in her chest. "What happened? Why are you up here?" she wanted to know, making a feeble sweep toward the attic.

"I heard her calling me," he whispered incoherently, the look in his eyes becoming distant.

Scully frowned, but had a pretty good idea who he was talking about. "Who, Mulder? Who was calling you?"
"Samantha," he countered and tears welled up in his eyes again.

"Mulder, Samantha isn't here. Whatever you thought you heard, it wasn't true," she tried to sooth him without knowing exactly what had transpired up here.

His eyes focused on her and a single tear broke loose and cruised down his cheek. "It was so real. I could feel her. I was holding her and I could feel her."

Scully reached out and wiped the tear away from his cheek, her expression serious. "It may have felt that way, but it wasn't. Do you hear me? It wasn't real."

His next action was one she had not anticipated, but had to admit that she didn't mind it, either. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against him with a painful sigh. For the first time in the five years they had known each other, he didn't let go after a moment again. He clung to her, holding on for dear life, more than ever feeling that she was the only thing still keeping him sane. He knew, somewhere deep down, that what he had experienced here had not been true. But -- and this was the most important aspect -- it had hurt nonetheless. Having your deepest fears pulled out of their hiding place and paraded in front of you, true or not, was never a good thing.

Scully just held onto him, one arm around his shoulders, her other hand pressing his head lightly against her chest. And she let him cry without saying a word. She knew he was aware that it hadn't been real, but he was hurting. Hurting so badly it made her want to find who or whatever had done this to him and beat the crap out of it.


08.30 a.m.

Jezek wandered through the house, looking for her partners. She knew they were supposed to be there somewhere, but didn't know where to look. Smirking to herself, she wondered if they were involved in less partner-like activities than before. She reached the closed door to the library and frowned briefly when she thought she heard voices from inside. Then, grinning in the belief that she had found her partners, she opened the door. The grin on her face froze and oozed away as she stared at the scene unfolding before her with disbelief.


08.45 a.m.

Scully gently ran a hand over his hair, wondering if he was ever going to speak again. The attic was cold, slightly drafty, and her somewhat awkward position was really starting to put a strain on her back. "Mulder, let's go back downstairs," she finally said. "It's cold up here and you're not really wearing anything," she added.

With a sigh, he slowly released her and pulled back a little, letting her get up. He sat back on the floor, glancing up at her. "I feel stupid," he mumbled.

Scully reached a hand down to him and he took it, letting her pull him gently to his feet. "You're not stupid, Mulder. You're anything but," she told him, reaching up to brush the knuckles of her right hand over his cheek. "I'm not entirely sure what happened here, but I know one thing. It wasn't real. Nothing in this house seems real."

Blinking at his partner's statement, Mulder finally met her eyes. "What do you mean?" he wanted to know, grateful that she was giving him something else to think about.

"I mean, it dawned on me this morning when I woke up. This odd feeling I've had ever since we came here. I thought it was..." She hesitated, searching for the right word, then shrugged "... in want of a better word... eerie. But now I know that it's because this place doesn't feel real. It's like a dream, somehow. I can't explain it." Shaking her head, she took his hand. "Come on, let's go back downstairs before you end up with pneumonia."

Mulder willingly let her pull him along, a frown on his face. "Like a dream, huh?" he mumbled. He was still not out of the depression that had hit him full force during this mind-game the ghosts had played on him. "Like what I just experienced. That was like a dream, too. Like a nightmare-come-true."

Scully led the way down the stairs, never once letting go of his hand, and only once glanced back at him. "You should talk about it. Tell me what you saw. What happened," she insisted, somehow already knowing that he wouldn't. Whether it was because it hurt too much or because he was embarrassed or something else she didn't know. But she was accustomed to having him not talk to her about his deepest fears.

And, quite right, he had no intention of talking about it. For his own reasons. "Maybe later," he said, shaking his head. ‘Maybe never,' he thought, not wanting to draw her into his little paranoid universe any more than he already had. He didn't want her worrying over him. He didn't want her to fuzz over him. He was afraid of his own feelings, of how she made him feel sometimes. When she had held him up there, the feeling that he would never let her go again had overwhelmed him. Deeper feelings toward a woman always made him hesitate and pull back. Bad experiences in his past had made him weary of displaying his feelings. He didn't think that Scully would ever hurt him in any way, but he hadn't thought that about Phoebe Green either.

Once back in his room, he pulled his sweatshirt over his head, ignoring his still sore back with a vengeance. He realized how cold he really was and that he had a dry spot in the back of his throat, indicating that he was coming down with something. Sighing at the prospect, he slipped out of the sweat pants and into his jeans, pulled his socks on and stuck his feet into his shoes. First then did he realized that something was wrong. There was an ever so light tremble to the floor. If felt like a diesel-engine running somewhere nearby. Frowning, he looked down at the floor while rubbing his lower back absentmindedly.
"Scully?" he called.

She turned up in the door way to her room almost at once. "What?" she wanted to know after making sure he wasn't in trouble or in pain.

"Do you feel that?" he asked, looking over at her.

Scully frowned, looking a little confused for a moment, then she raised an eyebrow. "The floor's trembling," she finally said. "They don't have earthquakes in this area, do they?" she added, looked a little concerned.

"No, not as far as I know. This doesn't feel like an earthquake, though." He walked toward the door, attempting to hear any sounds, but there were none to be heard.

Scully eyed him curiously, aware that he had fully managed to push the incident from earlier aside and that once again made her wonder where he put all these feelings she knew he had. It would be a miracle if they didn't explode in his face one day. "It feels more like an engine, doesn't it?" she countered after a moment. "Let's go downstairs, find Tess and see if we can't get the hell out of here. I've had enough of this place."

Mulder nodded. For the first time he didn't argue with her because he knew she was right. He'd had quite enough of this place, too, thank you very much. "Okay," he said and opened the door to the corridor beyond.


11.02 a.m.

Scully shook her head in annoyance, standing in the middle of the library with her hands on her hips. "I don't get it. Where is she?"

Mulder kept looking around and up all the time as if he expected to see her on the upper shelves. "I have no idea," he mumbled. "And I would really like to get out of here," he added after a moment.

Scully realized instantly that he was very uncomfortable about being here. Not that she blamed him. Whatever had transpired in that attic, it had frayed his nerves. "Me, too," she consented, looking around for a moment. "But we can't leave without Tess."

Folding his arms over his chest, Mulder looked toward the door for a moment. "Let's check outside, then. Maybe she went for a walk," he said after a moment's thought.

Scully nodded. "Okay," she countered and walked up to the door. The entrance hall was quiet as the grave and Scully at first couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then she realized that the old grandfather clock had stopped running. The steady ticking was gone. Not thinking any further about it, she walked down the short little hallway to the front door, grabbed the doorhandle and pulled. Nothing happened. The door didn't budge. Frowning, she turned the key in the lock and tried again with the same result.

"Scully," Mulder called.

Scully turned, not liking the tone of his voice. He sounded scared. She briskly walked back to the entrance hall and stopped short at the peculiar look of fascination and dread on his face. Turning her head, she followed his line of sight and found that he was staring at the grandfather clock. At first she couldn't see what was so horrible about it, then she noted that the pendulum, which was visible through the glass-door of the clock, had not just stopped. It was stuck in an odd position, pointing to the left. She walked over to the clock, opened the door and took a hold of the pendulum. It was completely and utterly stuck. Leaning in a little, she looked up into the clock and could see no plausible explanation for why the pendulum seemed frozen in time. And that was when it hit her. For the first time in her life she was consciously aware of the birth of an new thought. Swallowing, she almost gently let go of the pendulum, closed the door and backed up until she more or less bumped into Mulder. "What's going on here?" she wanted to know, not taking her eyes of the clock.

"I don't know, but we're leaving. Now," Mulder countered as he put both hands on her shoulders, his tone of voice displaying his state of mind.

"What about Tess?" Scully countered, still trying to force her mind to act rationally. It was getting harder by the second.

"If she hasn't left already, I don't think we'll find her here anyway," he said, his words making no sense to her.

"The front door is stuck," she said, glancing up at him.

"Shit," he countered, still staring at the clock. "Let's try the garden doors, then. If that doesn't work, we'll have to smash a window. I just know one thing. I'm not staying here."

Half an hour later, they were both ready to loose it. Scully not so much as Mulder. No attempt they had made at either forcing doors open or shattering windows had been successful. Mulder was standing at the garden doors in a greenhouse-like room, looking out into the lush garden, trying hard to keep from hyper-ventilating. He did not want Scully to know how scared he really was. The fact that they were caught in the belly of this house, unable to get out, unable to contact the outside world, and with Jezek missing, he felt that they may as well be dead.

"Let's look at the bright side," Scully said after a moment, still trying hard to be the voice of reason as she sat there on a couch a few steps behind him among flowers of all kinds. "Apart from the fact that we obviously can't get out of this house and that the clock is stuck at an odd angle, nothing else has happened."

Mulder turned around, his hands clenched into fists, and stared at her. "Aren't you forgetting that Tess is missing?" he countered, his tone of voice a little strained.

"No," she said, trying to stay calm. "I'm not forgetting that. We just don't know that she is missing yet. She may, as you said, have taken a walk." The almost frantic look in his eyes did not escape her.

Shaking his head, he turned back to the unbreakable glass doors leading out into the garden, fighting to stay calm. "Scully," he said after a moment. "I can't stay here. Not after what happened this morning."
She got up and stepped up behind him, trying to convey her understanding to him through her nearness. "I know, Mulder, but what can we do? We've tried everything," she said, wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed her cheek against his back. For the first time she could remember, she was afraid of the unexplainable. Whatever it was that prevented them from leaving this house. And she knew that if she felt that way, he felt it twice as strongly.

Mulder grabbed her hands with both of his in a fierce grip while he kept staring out into the garden. He had the distinct feeling that Jezek was still somewhere in this house. Why he felt that way, he didn't know. He just knew, somehow, that the house would not willingly let any of them go. Craning his neck, he looked up at the ceiling and sent a silent prayer out to the house and whatever it contained to at least let Scully go. Naturally, he received no answer.

The day seeped by like molasses on a hot summer day. Nothing happened all day and when the sun started setting, Mulder realized that the electricity in the house no longer worked. No lights. And the sky outside was clouded over, which meant that not even the light of the stars or the moon would reach them. Scully found matches and several candles, but quickly realized that the matches didn't work. Neither did the lighter she found.

Pacing the length of the dining room, Mulder kept glancing at the darkening sky outside through the large windows, cursing whatever instinct had brought him to this place. He didn't want to be here. And he certainly didn't want Scully to be here, either. This situation could become potentially dangerous for both of them, seeing as it had already turned bad for Jezek.

"Mulder." Scully interrupted his pacing by stepping into his path. "We need something to eat," she told him after having contemplated that they had actually eaten nothing all day.

Glancing at the door to the kitchen, Mulder nodded. "Yeah, we do," he agreed. She walked ahead of him and pushed the door to the kitchen open.
After finding that everything in the refrigerator had gone bad within the short time there had been no electricity, they found some bread and more durable food in the pantry. Scully stared at the rather limited pile of edible things they had found and couldn't help shivering. "What happens if we can't get out of the house within the next couple of days?" she asked, glancing up at her increasingly tense-looking partner.

He was staring at the food, too, unable to give her the reply she wanted to hear. "We'll find a way to get out of here. Tomorrow. Right now, I think we should take some of this stuff upstairs and lock the doors of whatever room we decide to stay in. And, no offence, Scully, but I don't think we should separate at any time."

She nodded. "I agree," she countered and went in search of a pitcher to carry water in. After finding one, she filled it, then turned around to face Mulder. "I'm not sure what's going on here, Mulder," she confessed, "and somehow, I don't want to know."

He stared back at her for a moment, then smiled weakly and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Don't worry about it. We'll get out of this one, too."