Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: A gruesome murder has Mulder believing old legends while Scully remains skeptical.

"Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise."
Cadence Clearwater Revival

January 31
Washington, DC

The moon, fat and full, hung in a cloudless sky, spreading its meager light over the city below. Shadows danced between lamp posts and moonlight, hiding and revealing in equal amounts. Somewhere in the city, in the darkness of night, somebody was getting hurt and others were making love. Equal amounts of hate and love, joy and sorrow made the world tick, gave the living breathing entity that was the world a feeling of being truly alive. Emotions created electrical currents which some claimed to be able to see. Most denied the existence of what could not be seen, what could not be explained in a rational way, though. Most wanted to believe that everything was basically good at heart. But not everything was.


In a loft in the better part of town, an artist with an obscene amount of money was quizzically regarding his latest acquisition. Not one of his creations. This creation had no name and he had already considered giving it his. It was obscene, the statue standing there in the moonlight, gnarled fingers reaching out, the stony wings folded halfway in as if it had frozen in flight, in an attack on an unknowing victim. The body was humanoid. The face vaguely so. It was twisted into a grimace of utter hatred, its fangs bared, the split tongue halfway out. The artist paced around it, trying to find a suitable name for it, a suitable explanation for something so hideous. "My greatest creation," he mumbled, stopping briefly with his arms spread out in preparation for the day when he would present this thing as his own to the public. "A gargoyle," he added and resumed his pace in a circle around it. He stopped in front of it, just barely out of reach of the stone-claws seeming to grab for him. "A demon," he corrected himself. "You are one ugly mother, aren't you?" he asked it, smiling a little nervously. He in no manner believed in old wives' tales or superstition, but this creature had something about it, something so utterly awe-inspiring that he almost forgot to breathe. It sent shivers up his spine, making him feel like never turning his back on it. "Ah well, I'll find a name for you soon enough. Sleep on it and tell me in the morning, why don't you?" With that half-hearted little joke, he turned and headed toward the stairs leading down to his apartment below.

The loft was his studio, his place of inspiration. As he slowly walked toward the stairs, the darkness in the loft became more complete as a rare cloud passed in front of the face of the moon. And with the increased darkness came the sound. He stopped short in his tracks, freezing to the spot at that sound. A flapping sound. Like the sound of someone shaking out a leather blanket. He stood there, his back to the loft, the stairs only a few steps away, and he felt that they might as well have been miles away. The wisdom brought on by fear was a gruesome experience and moments later the other tenants of the building were roused by a piercing, almost inhuman scream.


February 1

The following morning, the mangled corpse of the artist was found at the foot of the stairs leading up to his loft. Near the end of the loft, the statue he had acquired the day before stood with its stone arms reaching out, its mouth open, its fangs bared. The floor, the walls, the ceiling even was spattered with blood and gore, the mortal remains of a pompous man with too much money to spare now decorating the loft in a gruesome and sickening display of art.


March 2
Washington, DC

An art collector with a taste for the bizarre walked aimlessly through the antique store, trying to find something which could rouse her out of her bored existence. She needed a new piece for her collection of odd and frightening statues and pictures, something new she could devote her time to restoring or simply admiring. Most of her collection would turn the stomach on a seasoned cop from the worse parts of town. Most of her pictures would give people with a tendency for nightmares many restless nights. Eyes seemed to follow one everywhere in her home. Evil eyes.

When her eyes fell on the statue, the demon from the slain artist's loft, she knew she had found her piece. Walking up to it, she admired the dark stone in was chiseled from, the hideous features of its twisted face. She almost lovingly ran her fingers along one arm to the shoulder and admired the incredible detail that had been put into the statue. There was no doubt in her mind that she needed to own this one. It sent shivers up her spine just looking at it. Delightful shivers. So she bought it, at a bargain even, and had it delivered to her home before the day was over. The mansion she had bought to harbor her collection had plenty of room to spare and she knew just where this new piece would find its place. In the attic, near the large skylight where it would be bathed in moonlight during the night. Only the night would be a fitting setting for this creature. Only moonlight would bring out its true essence.


March 3

The following morning, the eccentric art collector was found dead in her living room, mangled beyond recognition, her innards spread out over a gruesome setting of pictures and statues of devils and demons. Her latest acquisition stood in the attic near the skylight, its wings folded in, its arms outstretched, its face twisted and ugly.


March 31
Washington, DC

An art exhibition featuring pieces from the collection of the late Mary Starkweather opened at nine in the morning with the title: DEVILS AND DEMONS OF THE MIND. Many artists had contributed, many recognized their art from Mary Starkweather's collection, too. Almost all the pictures and statues had names on them. Except for one. And this piece attracted considerable attention. The founder of the exhibition had no intention of parting with this particular piece, though. He found it too ugly to give away, too priceless to sell. He needed to own it himself. The exhibition was in a gallery he had rented across town and he had made certain that the setting was within the realms of what Mary Starkweather would have done. It was a tribute to her collection and the fact that a couple of artists, who were into the bizarre, had inherited her considerable fortune with the understanding that they would keep creating what she had called their marvelous art.

"Demon or devil, this piece was a new acquisition of Mary's. Unfortunately she did not live long enough to truly enjoy it," he said, waving at the demon standing with its arms stretched out toward the audience, its soulless eyes seeming to regard them as victims, as meat for the beast. Many of them shuddered when they looked at it. It was obscenely ugly. "I believe it would have been Mary's wish that this particular piece should be displayed for all to see. It will be part of this exhibition for as long as it runs. After that, you can all feel free to come by my house to see it whenever you wish." The audience applauded, most of them artists and their followers. A tightly-knit little group of people who valued the fascinating in the art of the bizarre, the supernatural.


April 1

The founder of the exhibition was found dead in his apartment the following morning, his intestines spread out over his living room, blood soaking his carpets and furniture. In the corner of his living room, the demon statue stood with its arms stretched out, its wings folded halfway against its body, a sneer frozen on its face.


J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC

Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner stared at the file in front of him for a long while. Then he opened a drawer and pulled two further files out and placed them next to the first. Three brutal killings within the span of two months. Three influential people within the art world. Three very rich and influential people. All three had left their money to some kind of beneficial foundation which supported the arts. The last two had specifically left their money to the bizarre arts. "Demons and devils," he mumbled and sighed. There was no apparent motive, no witnesses to the crimes committed. The sheer brutality of the murders alone made his skin crawl. Why would anybody want to do that to another human being? One thing was clear in all this. The perpetrator was insane. He had to be.

Skinner reluctantly opened the first file and stared at the pictures taken from the crime scene. There was nothing natural about the way that artist had died. He opened the second file and stared at the pictures taken at the second crime scene. They were even worse than the first. The third one managed to turn his stomach. He had already decided to skip lunch and he wasn't too certain he would have dinner tonight. These cases needed to be solved, the murderer had to be caught and convicted, preferably to death. A person capable of that kind of mangling was not human any more. And according to the coroner's report on all three victims, they had died of the sheer shock of having their innards ripped out. Whoever the killer was, he didn't bother to kill his victims first. He gutted them alive. With a visible shiver, he quickly closed the files again and swallowed to keep his breakfast down. Usually it took a lot to upset his stomach. Most of the time it just didn't happen. But this was too much even for him.

Punching the button on the intercom, he leaned toward the machine. "Kimberly, would you get a hold of Agents Mulder and Scully and send them up here, please? Thank you." He released the button again and leaned back. There was no one else who was better at solving crimes like this than Special Agent Fox Mulder. The man had a knack for getting into the killer's head and expose him that way. Skinner just wasn't so sure he wanted Mulder to get into this man's head.


Mulder and Scully arrived ten minutes later. Skinner waved them to the chairs in front of his desk and waited for them to sit down. Then he shoved the case-files across his desk toward Mulder. "We need your profiling-skills on this one, Agent Mulder. We seem to have a particularly vicious killer on the lose and the sooner we get him behind bars, the better."

Mulder pursed his lips, grabbed the top file and opened it. He stared at the pictures for a moment, then handed it to Scully and grabbed the next one. "Has anybody tried to profile this killer yet?" he asked after a moment and closed the last file.

"No, not to my knowledge. Apparently it is somehow connected to that statue, which seems to turn up in the possession of the victims." Skinner paused, eyeing both of them for a moment. Neither seemed overly shocked by the pictures and he attributed that to the fact that both of them had seen their share of ghastly killings. "These killings are, as you can see, rather gruesome and the sooner we can put an end to it, the better. I suggest you go to the last crime scene and take a look around." Fixing his stare on Mulder, he caught the younger man's eyes. "And don't try to run this one alone, Mulder." Mulder stared back at him, neither committing nor denying. Scully picked up the case-files and both of them rose again. "Be careful," Skinner warned them. They both nodded silently and left again. Skinner leaned back on his chair, staring absentmindedly at the closed door. "Be very careful," he mumbled under his breath.


Basement office

Mulder dropped down on his chair, a feeling of dread building in the pit of his stomach. He had left the VCS because he wanted to get away from cases like this. Staring at the case files that Scully had put down on her desk, he swallowed almost audibly.

Scully eyed him for a moment, fully aware what this was already doing to him. "Are you okay with this?" she wanted to know, knowing that he wasn't.

He took a moment to respond, then nodded. "Yeah. It's my job, isn't it?" he replied.

"Mulder, I think Skinner would be more than understanding if you told him that you couldn't do it. I mean, the few times I've seen you do this, you've hit rock bottom. I don't want to see that again. It's not good for you." Her tone of voice held more concern than she had originally intended to display, but she felt strongly about this.

Smiling weakly, he leaned back on the chair. "Thanks for your concern, Scully, but I'm not going to tell Skinner that I can't do it when I can. If it means saving lives, I can do it. I'll survive. I always do," he told her, hoping to put her fears to rest although he knew she was right.

Cocking her head to one side, she studied his face for a moment, seeing the half-hidden lie as clear as day, and sighed. "All right. If you think you can do it, good. Just remember that I'm here if you need me."

His smile brightened a little. "I know," he replied. "Hand me those files and let's see what I can come up with."


The home of the late John Wilks

The statue had not been moved and nobody questioned its presence in the home of the exhibition founder. Mulder looked around the gruesomely decorated living room, trying to figure out what could have done that horrible deed of basically gutting the man and spreading his intestines all over the place. Drying blood spattered the walls and furniture and the outline on the floor gave an all too clear picture of how the body had looked when found. The housekeeper had found the man and she was in the hospital with a nervous breakdown now. Mulder didn't blame her. He had studied the pictures of the corpse and felt nauseous just looking at them. The precise description of the body and what had been missing from it had made him consider if this was a human being who had done this. Looking around the living room now, his doubts intensified. According to the coroner's report, the victim had been ripped open from collarbone to crotch and all that was significant to the man's survival had been torn out. That in itself wasn't unusual for cult-related murders, but Mulder doubted that this was cult-related as there was nothing apart from the murder method which indicated this. Besides, the report also stated that as far as the coroner could tell, no instruments had been used. The only way he could describe the wounds was that they looked like they were caused by claws of some kind. A wild animal, he had suggested.

Mulder glanced around him, frowning. No wild animal was capable of this. Heaving a deep breath, he started paying attention to more than the murder-related signs. The pictures and statues standing around the living room gave him the creeps. Most of the paintings were displaying some kind of perverse pleasure-cruise, with people being spiked while having sex and women being raped by demon-like shapes. Then his eyes fell on the statue which seemed to be the one thing apart from the method linking these murders together and he wondered who would kill for something as ugly as that. Staring at it, he slowly walked closer, a shiver running up his spine. Not knowing anything about the art-collector himself, Mulder deemed the man as either utterly mad or just plain perverse just from the way he had decorated his home. But that naturally didn't justify his murder.

"It's ugly, isn't it?" Scully asked from the door.

Mulder glanced over at her, suddenly aware of how enthralled he had been by the statue. "Yeah, ugly as sin," he replied, glancing back at it but not making eye-contact. "And it's got a strange kind of attraction about it."

"Meaning?" Scully asked and slowly walked over to where he was standing, her hands in the pockets of her trench coat. She looked up at the statue, her brow furrowed.

"I don't know. I briefly felt the strangest need to own this thing," Mulder replied with a crooked grin and a nod toward the statue. "Do you think I'm certifiable yet?"

Smiling sweetly, she reached out to pat his arm. "You've been certifiable since the day we met, Mulder." Walking slowly around the statue, Scully tried to estimate its value and failed to do so. "What do you think this thing is worth?"

"Anything, really," Mulder replied. "It depends on how desperate someone is to own it. For a collector of this man's distinction, I think it might be worth a lot."

"Have you come up with anything yet? Any theories about who ... or what has killed him?" Scully wanted to know and came to stop in front of him.

Mulder looked down at her for a moment, then frowned. "What makes you think it might be a what?" he wanted to know, wondering if she was starting to think like him. That was one scary concept right there.

"Well, after reading the coroner's report, I got the distinct impression that the body had been ripped apart by something with claws rather than a human being with a knife or something along those lines," she replied, glancing around at the blood-spattered living room. "Besides, I've never seen a crime scene look quite like this before."

Mulder nodded. "My thoughts exactly. This wasn't done by someone cutting or carving through this man. Something ripped him open and tore his organs out." Shivering, he wondered briefly if there was a draft going through the house. He felt cold all over. "Let's get out of here. I can't get anything else out of this place," he added, put a hand on Scully's shoulder and guided her out of the room.


City Morgue

The downtown morgue was a place where Mulder always felt a little ill at ease. Today was definitely worse than usual. The thought of that guy, his mortal remains lying on a table covered by a sheet, almost made him want to leave at once. But he fought down the unease and stayed near the door.

Scully, clad in green scrub, latex gloves and protective glasses, had just opened one of the boxes that came with the corpse and raised a part of the man's intestines out of it. Squinting at the chilled coil, she made a mental note of the perforations along it. "This was probably not removed by a human being although I can't be certain," she finally said. "There are definite perforations at regular intervals. Although I have no idea what has teeth like this ... if these are indeed teeth marks."

Mulder swallowed, steeling himself and took a step closer, not particularly anxious to see it. "What does it look like? I mean, if you look at it with an open mind. What do these perforations remind you of?" he wanted to know.

Scully stared at the intestine for a moment, then pursed her lips and put it back in the box, replacing the lid. "Shark-bite," she finally said and turned to face her partner. "If I look at this with an open mind, ignoring the fact that this happened in an apartment, then it looks like the incisions of shark teeth. Triangular teeth."

Mulder stared back, slightly taken aback. "Triangular?" he asked and she nodded. "The statue had triangular teeth," he added almost as if on second thought, not yet having fully formed the idea behind that remark in his head.

Scully pursed her lips again, staring up at him with a set look in her eyes. "The statue did not kill this man. Mainly because it's a statue," she replied.

"How can you be sure?" he wanted to know.

"Mulder, you're grasping at straws here. You saw it. It was a chiseled statue, made out of stone. If you topple it over, it will break. This is not something that suddenly comes alive and kills people," she said, already fearing the direction he was heading in.

"Ever hear of gargoyles, Scully?" he replied. "They turn to stone when the sun comes up and come alive again at night."

Considering what to say for a moment, she closed her eyes and sighed audibly. "Okay, fine," she said. "For the sake of the argument, Mulder. What happens if this is a gargoyle?"

Mulder eyed her for a moment, expecting her to dismiss what he considered to be facts. When she didn't, he folded his arms over his chest. "The minute it gets sold off to somebody new, it will kill that person."

Nodding, she was unable to retain her growing frustration at this odd explanation of his. "Is that your professional opinion? Is that what you want us to tell Skinner? That the perpetrator is made of stone, but will come alive when sold off to somebody new and kill that person?"

Shrugging, he looked like a little kid who's favorite toy had just been broken. "Well, it's a theory at least," he replied.

"A very far-fetched theory. I don't want to believe that this could have been done by a human being. I find the thought very frightening that somebody has ripped this man open and removed his intestines while he was still alive. But ... and please don't take this the wrong way ... I have no doubt in my mind that this man was killed by another human being. The precision behind the ... well, in want of a better word ... gutting of this man indicates that the perpetrator knew exactly what he was doing. This is not the action of an animal. This is the action of a very sick individual."

"Who says it was done by an animal?" Mulder wanted to know, sounding a little miffed. "Gargoyles are not animals. They're ... like demons. Creatures from another dimension or time." He was trying to defend his way of reasoning, as always very keen on making her see things from his perspective.

"I am not going to walk into Skinner's office to tell him that the perpetrator is a gargoyle, Mulder. The statue does seem to have a part in this horror story, though. My belief is that the perpetrator believes that anybody who owns this statue has to die. Therefore he kills them once they have acquired it. The first artist was killed in his loft the very same day he bought it. Mary Starkweather died the same day she had it delivered to her house. And this latest victim," she said, jabbing a thumb at the covered corpse, "obviously wanted it at home. By having it moved there, he set himself up for the kill."

Staring back at his partner, Mulder had to agree that it sounded more plausible than the gargoyle story. Pursing his lips, he glanced down at the floor for a moment, thinking it over, then nodded. "You're right," he finally said and looked up to meet her eyes again.

Scully's jaw dropped. "What?" she replied, unable to comprehend that he would go with her explanation.

"You're right. It sounds much more plausible. And I guess I just don't like to believe that a human being is capable of that," he repeated, waving a hand toward the boxes and the corpse. "Besides, we've got a chance to prove this theory."

"How?" she wanted to know, still not over the fact that for once he was agreeing with her.

"Well, we can catch the perp if I take this statue home with me. That should lure him out of the woodwork and when he turns up, we arrest him. Simple as that."

Scully took a moment to digest this change, then finally nodded. "Right. That's a way

to do it. It's also dangerous. You're going to set yourself up as bait, Mulder, and that can easily go wrong." Turning back toward the boxes, she looked them over for a moment, then focused on the corpse still covered by the sheet. "Maybe we should do it in controlled settings. A safe house or something like it," she suggested, trying out this new found power she seemingly had gained over her partner.

"Won't that make it difficult for the guy to find me?" Mulder replied, rolling with the punches right now. He was still convinced that there was more to this than a human killer. But he was willing to try out Scully's side of things first. Mainly because it gave him a chance to study the statue a little closer.

Glancing back at him, she frowned. "If he really wants to find you, he will," she said and pulled the sheet off the corpse. Looking the man over, she shook her head. "Jesus," she mumbled.

Mulder stared up at the ceiling for a moment, then slowly adjusted himself to the open-chested corpse. "Guess he won't be going to any parties in the near future," he mumbled and swallowed hard. He wasn't fond of dead bodies, but on most occasions, he could stomach it. What he had something against were gutted bodies. That he didn't like.

"Try never again," Scully replied and turned the recorder on to start the autopsy.

Mulder took the opportunity to leave in order to set their plan in motion. But first he would have to talk it over with Skinner.