JUNE 20, 2015
Mulder’s half of the bed is empty by the time Scully wakes again, but she doesn’t have time to dwell on it; there’s a knock at the door.
“Yeah?” she asks, bleary-eyed as she opens it to find a young woman with bright green eyes and a relentless smile.
“That’s me,” she says, suddenly self-conscious. Her bra is somewhere on the floor behind her, and Mulder’s dirty clothes are still strewn about in front of the shower. She forces a smile for this woman who’s stopped by unannounced, but eases the door around her body so she can’t see into the room.
“I just wanted to check in on you…I’m Mary. I heard you came in last night.”
“Yes…hi,” Scully returns, squinting.
“I just wanted to introduce myself, and ask if you needed anything?”
Mulder’s face appears over Mary’s shoulder, saving Scully the trouble of a response.
“Mm—George, this is Mary. She’s the welcoming committee.”
Mary beams. “Hi Mr. Hale, I was just about to tell your friend here that breakfast is in the cafeteria, and ask if you wanted to come with me? I can show you around.”
“That’s really nice, Mary, but I’m going to rest up today,” Mulder says. Scully arches an eyebrow as he continues smoothly, “I’m beat, we’ve done a lot of traveling and I have a bum leg. But I bet Dana would be happy to join you.”
“Oh, great!” Mary says, eyes shining, and Scully forces another smile. “You said you have a son?”
“Yes…Isaac…he’s there,” she says, gesturing to his door. “I’ll, uhh, get him and be right with you. I need to get dressed,” she says. “Carol showed us the cafeteria yesterday, can I meet you there?”
“Great, I’ll see you soon,” Mary says, beaming.
“Thanks,” Scully says, watching the woman retreat before turning back to her partner, muttering under her breath, “Thanks for ditching me, Mulder. Feels like old times. What are you planning?”
“I wanna check things out,” Mulder says under his breath after Mary has turned the corner, out of earshot. “I don’t want to get too comfortable.”
“It’s not overrun with extraterrestrials; how much safer can we get?”
“That’s what I want to find out. Oh,” he says, reaching behind him, to the back pocket of the new jeans that look about an inch too short. “I found this in my room.”
He pulls out the pistol, and Scully feels a twinge of relief. “They gave it back.”
“Just like they said they would,” Mulder says, frowning.
“That’s good—a sign of good faith.”
“They’re obviously not worried about us,” he murmurs. “Which tells me they’re genuine, or one gun isn’t going to matter against whatever they’re hiding.”
She resists rolling her eyes, but he’s already moved on. “Anyway, I’ll be around,” he says.
She nods. “Be careful.”
“Scully, you wound me. Since when am I not careful?” he says in mock offense, leaning in to plant a quick peck on her cheek.
She sighs, turning her back and heading to Isaac’s door. Tap-tap-tap.
“Isaac? You awake?”
There’s a shuffling sound behind the door, then he’s standing at the threshold, looking just as sleepy as she.
“I’m awake,” he says with a yawn.
“Want to join me for breakfast? We have a new friend who wants to meet us,” she says drily. “They’re friendly here.”
“Where’s M—I mean, uh, George?” he coughs.
“He’s…going exploring,” she says, lowering her voice, even though there’s no one else in the hallway save for them. “He’ll catch up later. Go ahead and get dressed; then we’ll find out how bad the cooking is.”
They meet in the same spot a few minutes later, Isaac’s hair still fluffy from sleep. She resists the urge to smooth it down.
The sounds of cheerful voices, clinking silverware, and clacking trays echo through the hall as they enter the cafeteria. Mary waves from a table across the room, approaching with what Scully has already come to think of as her trademark smile. Scully feels herself return the grin, though her cheeks have begun to ache.
“Dana! This must be Isaac,” she says as the boy fidgets, drawing back. “I bet you haven’t seen many other kids your age, huh? There’s a whole table of them over there,” she says, pointing to a table of curious onlookers. “Why don’t you go make some new friends?”
Isaac glances at Scully, who shrugs her approval. Mary is already walking to the serving counter.
“I hope you like eggs,” she says, wrinkling her nose slightly as the cook dips her spoon into a tub of yellow fluff. Scully’s mouth waters at the thought of a meal that hasn’t come from a box or a can. “They’re powdered. We grow and scavenge what we can, but it’s not very safe outside the fences.”
“I can imagine…”
The woman looks at her, all open-faced sympathy. “I bet you can. How was it out there? I mean, how did you make it? You said you were from the east? God, it’s a miracle you came this far.”
“We were very lucky,” she agrees, averting her eyes. “So how do you get water here? It’s a desert; you must have to pipe it in?”
“The engineering team can tell you more about it, but there were pipes run underground back when this place was used by the feds. There are wind centers quite a ways out, for electricity,” Mary explains. “And the facility was prepared with solar backups, though we haven’t had to rely on those yet. We have everything we need.”
Scully accepts a mug of coffee—the real stuff, not instant—and a bowl of fruit. She glances over her shoulder to check for Isaac, who appears to be the talk of the table. Mary’s voice draws her attention away before she can catch his eye.
“So have you been assigned yet?”
“Assigned?” Scully asks as they take a seat at a small table along the perimeter. There are perhaps seventy men and women eating in the room with them, all of them trying not to make their interest in the new people obvious. She tries to ignore the attention, basking in the aroma of her coffee.
“Mmhmm. You’ll be assigned to a team,” Mary says, nibbling at her fruit. “What did you do? Before the infection, I mean.”
“Ahh…I was a medical doctor,” Scully says.
“Oh?” Mary breathes. “Another one. Well, we pretty much have that covered…”
Scully raises an eyebrow. “Really? A community this size?”
“You met Carol—Dr. Stevens—when you checked in. I’m a nurse myself, but we don’t get many patients. Laborers are in short supply, though. Are you any good with gardening?”
“Umm,” Scully says, thinking of the houseplant she’d kept at their farmhouse, the one that always drooped. “I’m happy to learn,” she says.
Mary beams. “Peter would take you in a heartbeat. He’s a scientist by trade, but he’s done wonders for the greenhouses here. I think he’s overwhelmed, though he’d never admit it. Have you met Mosely?”
“Ahh, no. I’ve heard of him. He’s the leader here?”
“He heads the medical team,” she says. “I’m sure you’ll meet him at the next gathering, he likes to check in with the newcomers. We haven’t had many of you lately; if I’m being honest, you’re the talk of the town right now,” she says, leaning forward.
“You said that before…not many survivors left, I take it. Are there other communities?”
“Oh…I don’t think so,” she says. “We’d have heard about them by now.”
“You said there was a gathering?”
“Once a week on Wednesdays. That’s tomorrow, actually. You’ll get to meet everyone. You came in with Mr. Hale, right?”
“Yes,” Scully says, almost too quickly. “Yes, he’s, ahh, a friend. My son and I met him on the road. He helped us,” she says, careful to keep it simple, not to embellish with details she’ll forget later.
“He seems nice,” Mary says carefully. “You had a husband?”
“Yes, he passed away.”
Mary’s face falls. “I’m so sorry. The infection?”
“No,” she says. “I was a widow. It’s been just me and Isaac for a while.”
“Oh…well…I’m sorry for your loss.”
Scully sips her coffee, blowing lightly to clear the steam. “Did you lose anyone?”
“I did,” the woman says. “My mom and sister…I still don’t know why I was spared.”
Scully frowns, remembering her last conversation with her mother.
“But we were spared,” Mary continues with forced cheer. “Mosely says we’re survivors. We are.”
Scully’s lips twitch upward in a smile, but it’s too difficult to consider them lucky.
Mary checks her watch. “I’m not on shift until 10. Would you like a tour in the meantime? It’s not much, but it’s home.”
Scully accepts, and they make their way to the front to deposit their trays. She casts a last look over her shoulder at Isaac’s table, but the kids—including Isaac—cleared out while they were talking.
“Oh, don’t worry about him,” Mary says. “They’re probably showing him around. You know how kids are with new people—he’s practically a celebrity.”
Scully nods, but can’t quell the nagging fear at being separated, and makes a mental note to find him as soon as the tour is done.
The compound is larger than it looks from the outside, much of it situated underground. The dorms are the first level, but the lab areas and work spaces are located below. They take an elevator to the second floor, opening into the main part of the hospital wing.
“We haven’t had many major injuries, thank God. We rarely have a full ward,” says Mary as they walk. “I think there are only three beds occupied today, two of them are precautionary. Stomach bug going around.”
“Have you seen any infected since you settled here?”
“Not one,” she says.
“And you don’t find that unusual?”
Mary frowns. “It’s unusual, but we’ve just been so…so grateful…”
“You didn’t want to question a good thing,” Scully says, finishing the thought.
“So you haven’t made any attempts to study the virus?”
“Not that I’m aware.”
Scully doesn’t have a chance to press further, swallowing her disappointment as they round a corner.
“This is the generator room, the emergency power supply, and storage,” Mary says, gesturing to the short hallway, three doors. “The third level down is more storage and waste processing, I won’t bother you with that,” she says as they head back to the elevator and up to the first floor.
“These wings are dorms,” she continues as they pass three hallways. “And down this way is the school.”
The “school” is a single room, a former lab divided by four large, round tables. Two teachers address the group as Scully peers in through a small window in the door.
“Robert was a physics Ph.D.,” Mary murmurs. “He does grades 1-8. Steven has a medical degree, but when the hospital work is slow, he does the high school and college levels.”
“College?” Scully asks, eyebrow raised. “They look young.”
“They’re a bright group. They get a lot of one-on-one attention here, as you can probably imagine.”
“Mmm,” Scully says, then frowns, noticing the great number of blonde and red-haired children. “Are they…wow, are they from the same family?”
“Ahh, you noticed,” Mary beams. “We have three sets of triplets, and a set of twins. The rest are singletons; most are orphans.”
Scully spots Isaac at the back, sitting with a group of two girls and two boys who look about his age. So rare are these moments, when she can fully take him in from a distance, that she stops Mary with a touch on the elbow.
“They’re fine. I don’t want to interrupt.”
“Suit yourself. There’s not much more to it; you’ve seen the meeting hall—that’s the cafeteria. Let’s go outside, and I’ll introduce you to Peter.”
They exit the compound through a different door than the one they came in yesterday; the hall is brighter, with windows, perhaps a former reception area in the building’s long-forgotten youth. The outside is landscaped—or used to be, she thinks—with shrubs and cacti dotting the path to what looks like a former parking lot, now covered with sand.
They walk around the complex, which Scully is surprised to find is built into the side of a large rock formation, jutting out like a large gray brick from the burnt red landscape. Unlike its many winding underground passageways, the structure is nearly a perfect square.
Mary shows her the greenhouses—two of them, makeshift, but sturdy. “And this,” she says, stepping into one of the greenhouses, the larger of the two, “is Peter.”
The man turns around; he’s balding, wears glasses, and instantly reminds Scully of Skinner. But his face is kinder, Scully thinks as shakes the man’s slim hand.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” he says in greeting.
“Already? Jay and…and…” Scully struggles, trying to remember the other man’s name.
“Bruce,” Peter fills in for her. “Yeah, they’re the muscle around here,” he smirks. “Have to keep the rest of us wimps in check. Are you a gardener, Dana?”
Scully bites the inside of her cheek. “Actually, I’m a doctor, but I’m told you have an opening here. I’m interested, if you’ll have me.”
Peter looks her up and down, then gives a slight shrug. “I don’t see why not. Can always use an extra pair of hands.”
“Oh, look at the time. I need to get to work,” Mary chirps. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Mrs. Scully—“
“Please, call me Dana.”
“Are you OK here? You know how to get back in?”
“I’ll show her,” Peter says amiably.
“Great. I’ll see you at dinner, then.”
“Sure,” Scully says, turning back to Peter, who’s tending a particularly bright specimen of…something, she thinks, realizing she has no idea what kind of plant it is.
“Want to get started? I can show you how to prune the new fruit trees, they’re overdue.”
Scully turns to him and gives him her best can-do smile. “Show me where to start.”
Mulder’s footsteps echo down one of many hallways, but this one is oddly dark, unlike its fluorescent counterparts upstairs. He’d found the elevator, discovered the second and third levels, but so far all he’s found for his trouble is…
…junk, he thinks, surveying a room full of equipment that time forgot. There are musty mattresses and furniture, cardboard boxes that open open to reveal simple laboratory equipment, office supplies, and reams of dusty paper. Nothing out of the ordinary.
It’s too easy, he thinks, remembering how they’d struggled. The attack on Scully, the lingering sense that something was always watching. How an entire clan of people could hide out in the desert, virtually untouched for weeks at a time, and have everything they needed at hand…
Like someone knew this was coming.
Mulder frowns, closing the door on the fourth random junk room he’s explored. He walks, taking lefts and rights until he reaches dead ends, then turns back to start the process all over again.
Room to grow, he thinks, remembering how his mother used to buy him shoes two sizes too big, because they knew he’d be straining the seams in six months.
He hasn’t done the math, but he knows that a population of approximately 150 people divided by the pre-outbreak population of the United States is several fractions of a percentage point. They’re facing an army with the equivalent of a toothpick for a weapon.
And yet…this community in the middle of the desert is pristine in its seclusion, its virtual peace. He hasn’t seen a weapon since the two guards picked them up at the border, and they weren’t quick to draw.
He muses on this as he makes his way back to the elevator. He’s about to push the button when the machinery groans and shudders, signaling its descent from the ground floor.
Startled, and not quite knowing why, he ducks into one of the nearby rooms, letting the door snick shut just as the elevator doors slide open. Voices and footsteps outside; he catches bits and pieces of the conversation between two men, but can’t see their faces yet, crouching behind the door’s narrow glass window.
“…new ones, just came in last night.”
“…she’s a doctor, apparently. Not sure what the guy does, he wasn’t in his bunk when Rich went to check on him this morning.” Bruce’s voice is recognizable.
Mulder slips out of the room behind them, careful not to let the door’s hydraulic hinge squawk, and follows the echo of the mens’ voices down the hall, turning a corner in time to see them disappear into a room. He waits a moment before sidling up to the door.
He moves to the next door instead, but it’s dark, unlocked, and a glance inside reveals more clutter. He’s backing out when a voice speaks from over his shoulder.
“Looking for something?”
The man is tall, about Mulder’s height, with stark, close-cropped white hair. His eyes shine in the dim, fluorescent light, and there’s a commanding air about him despite his casual attire. Without introduction, Mulder knows this must be the compound’s self-professed leader.
“Uh, yeah, guess I’m lost,” Mulder coughs. “This place is a maze.”
The man considers this, studying Mulder’s eyes, and then appears to relax. “Of course, it is. You must be Mr. Hale? George, right?”
Mulder nods warily, wondering if he’s about to be dragged off into a darkened corner.
“I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Mosely, Robert Mosely.”
The man holds out his hand, and Mulder takes it. “I hear you’re the man to talk to around here.”
Mosely smiles, revealing deep crinkles around his eyes, but aside from the white hair, his face looks young. “That depends on what you want to talk about. I take it you were looking for the cafeteria?”
“I—yeah, I’m starving,” Mulder lies. “Got turned around.”
“Easy to do,” Mosely says smoothly. “Walk with me?”
They pass the locked room from which Mosely must have exited, and Mulder notes there’s no sign of the other man. Mulder, in his renowned impatience, feels himself asking the question before he can fully think it through.
“What’s in there?”
Mosely glances over his shoulder, but doesn’t blink. “Ahh, that’s the waste management system. I had engineering down here to take a look, the west wing’s backed up. We keep it locked; don’t want the children getting in,” he says, stepping aside to let Mulder enter the elevator.
“Yeah…kids. They like to get into trouble,” Mulder murmurs.
“Not unlike some adults I know,” Mosely smirks. “So what is it you do, Mr. Hale? Or, I suppose I should say, did?”
Mulder bends the truth easily. “I was a writer, actually.”
“Anything I’d know?”
“God, I hope not. Never got published.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything.”
“Not much of a market for us literary types. But this…this is quite an effort you have here,” he says. “You seem to have everything you need for your people; food, water…protection…”
Mosely nods. “Yes, I think you’ll find we’re very safe here. It’s incredibly fortunate you and your friends made it this far without falling prey. How was that, exactly?”
“It was no picnic, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Mm. You were attacked?”
“How’d you know?”
“Your friend had injuries—I’m sorry,” he says, noting Mulder’s alarm. “I don’t mean to pry, but we’re a close group. Word gets around.”
“Thankfully the damage was minor,” Mulder swallows, feeling the man’s eyes on him, studying him.
“You have no idea how lucky you are, Mr. Hale.”
Mulder is about to ask what he means by this when Mosely interrupts.
“Well, here we are, this is the cafeteria. They’re just finishing up breakfast, but there’s cereal, fruit, the usual staples. Mr. Hale—”
“Call me George.”
“Ahh—George, then. I have business to attend to in the medical ward this morning…but I’d love to take you on a tour of the compound if you’re available later.”
Mulder raises an eyebrow. “I’m sure you have better things to do than hold the newbies’ hands, Mose—can I call you Mose?”
The man’s distaste is almost imperceptible, but Mulder sees it, a flicker, light a like switch going on and off.
Mosely grins. “Call me whatever you like.”
“Great. So, Mose, you seem like a busy man. I’d love a tour, but I don’t want to put you out.”
“It’s no trouble. Meet me here at one; I’ll have finished my rounds by then. We can chat.”
“I’ll be here.”
Mulder grabs an apple from the cafeteria and wanders outside, intent on exploring the surrounding property. He finds Scully in the greenhouses at the front of the complex, apparently working with one of the gardeners; they make eye contact from a distance, but he doesn’t approach her. He waves, and she gives him a nod before turning back to her task.
He takes a right out of the main entrance and heads to the back of the complex to look around, but there’s little to be seen. Scrub brush off to the side, a broken-down path that leads to the retired main entrance, and the occasional tumbleweed.
Nothing. Nothing, and more nothing, he thinks, searching the desert landscape.
There’s a garage in the back, a run-down shed that holds three trucks, where two men and a woman appear to be working. Three nearly identical kids—triplets? Mulder wonders—dash in and out around the legs of one of the men, who remains seemingly oblivious to their antics, occasionally stopping to shoo them away without much conviction. Mulder watches from a distance, partly hidden by the corner of the building, and listens to their conversation.
“Hey, get outta there! Simon! I told you, for the last time—“
“Let them play, George,” the woman says, sniffing, wiping her hands on a blackened rag. “They’re fine.”
“Not a good place for ‘em,” the man mutters. “Not safe out here, with all these tools.”
“The only tool I see here is you, George.”
The third man is quiet, busy with his work. Mulder recognizes him as Jay, one of the men who’d met them at the gate. He’s working on one of the trucks, which is cranked up on a lift.
“Transmission’s nearly gone on this one,” he says eventually. “Damn. Let Mosely know we need to do a salvage run soon if we want to keep her working.”
The three children appear from behind the shed, giggling and shoving each other; same haircuts, same eyes, the only difference between them their clothes.
“We just went out last week,” Tammie mutters, then turns to the kids. “Cassie! Simon! Get back here…”
Mulder watches the children scatter, and the woman throws her hands up in the air.
“Yeah, it’s too soon,” Jay agrees. “We have the other truck, though.”
“Patrol’ll have a field day with that,” George mutters. “This is the only one with A/C.”
“They can roll down the damned windows,” Jay says.
Tammie frowns at the broken vehicle. “If George didn’t crank on that poor thing so hard, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
“Screw you!” George barks. “Not my fault the stupid thing’s got a picky clutch.”
“Sure,” Tammie leers. “Doesn’t have anything to do with your big-ass lead feet, huh?”
“Cut it out, you two,” Jay snaps, and the others go silent. “We’ll plan another run in a couple weeks, the guys on patrol will have to use what we got ’till then. End of discussion.”
Mulder lingers for a few more minutes, hoping to hear more about the salvage run, but their talk turns to other topics—expired sports teams, the food quality at the compound—normal, easy things, and eventually Mulder turns away.
As promised, he meets Mosely outside the cafeteria after lunch.
“Hey, Mose,” he says in greeting.
“Hello, Mr. Hale. I hope your morning was productive.”
“Oh, sure,” Mulder says, glancing around. “I hear one of your trucks needs a new transmission.”
Mosely gives him a curious look. “Yes…yes, Jay said something about that. How did you—”
“I have a bit of experience with auto repair,” Mulder jumps in. “In case you have a gap to fill.”
This appears to catch Mosely’s attention. “Oh? So what does a former writer know about the inner workings of a ’96 Chevrolet, Mr. Hale?”
“Gotta make a living somehow. Truth is, I’ve done a number of odd jobs over the years. I’m retired now.”
“You’re either younger than you look, or that’s a euphemism for ‘unemployed’,” the man returns kindly.
“Ah, you got me,” Mulder grins, putting his hands up in mock surrender. “Trust fund baby.”
“Hence the unsuccessful writing career,” Mosely prompts as they head outside, squinting against the sun. “A lack of motivation to better oneself.”
“No, I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m a terrible writer,” Mulder replies drily. “Not that it matters now.”
“Truer words have never been spoken. Well, did you have any questions for me? I get the impression you’re curious about this place. Perhaps even suspicious.”
Mulder pauses a fraction of a second, caught off guard. “Curious yes, and I suppose suspicion comes with the territory.”
“That it does. But I think you’ll find things are different here,” he says. They’re inside the building now, passing the cafeteria, which is relatively quiet. Mulder can hear idle chatter from a few stragglers, the faint clang of pots and pans as the staff prepares what he assumes will be their evening meal. Mosely glances into the room as if looking for someone, then continues onward.
“How are you different?”
“Well, for one, we’re survivors,” the man says, his low, even tenor is soothing, melodious. “We’re bonded together by virtue of our immunity. There’s a certain level of respect at the compound; an inherent knowledge that we’re in this together because we have no choice. For years, our kind were the predators; now we’re the prey. Such prey travel in packs, it’s only natural for us to reform, regroup, and protect the flock.”
The man’s eyes glitter, an imperceptible trick of the light, or perhaps something else; they’ve stopped at the elevator, and Mulder feels a sudden and unexplainable sense of dread, like a lamb being led to slaughter.
“Of course, no one is forced to stay,” he continues, tipping his chin downward. “But so far, everyone has chosen to. That says something about us, I think.”
“So you’re saying no one has left?”
“That’s what I’m saying,” he sighs easily as they step into the elevator. Mulder hesitates at the threshold, but curiosity gets the better of him. He steps in, the doors slide shut, but Mosely doesn’t press the button. Mulder’s unease grows, along with an acute sense of claustrophobia.
“And…what if someone wanted to leave?” Mulder asks carefully, eyeing the door, looking toward the ceiling.
“They would be free to go,” Mosely says, with the same measured ease. “It’s never happened, but we have no reason to keep someone who doesn’t want to contribute to the new society we’re building. We’ve been given a second chance at grace. A chance to take what we had and rebuild it, make it better, stronger, and avoid our past mistakes.”
“So you think God—”
The man’s careful exterior crumbles slightly as he snorts, a derisive laugh. “Hardly, Mr. Hale. I didn’t take you for a man of faith.”
“I’m not,” he replies. “You said—“
“You misunderstand. It’s not God who’s given us this chance. Fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it—these things don’t matter. Only the work matters here, Mr. Hale. The work is what will keep us together, keep us moving forward.”
Mulder nods, unconvinced. “So, where are we going, anyway?”
Mosely steps forward and pushes a button, and Mulder breathes a silent sigh of relief.
“To the lower levels; I noticed your, ah, interest this morning. I thought I’d show you the inner workings…prove we have nothing to hide.”
Mulder shifts from one foot to the other, uneasy at being so effortlessly read, but the tour itself is as uneventful as Mulder’s own explorations this morning. He notices that Mosely saves the locked room for last.
“And in here,” the man says, swiping the card and flicking on the light switch, “we have waste processing.”
Sure enough, the room holds a number of large tanks; they walk amongst them, listening to the hum and gurgle of the equipment, the vast pipes running over their heads, the faint smell of sulfur wrinkling Mulder’s nose. Mosely tips his head toward the problematic tank, the panel on the wall nearby marked WEST in capital letters.
“Everything gets fed into these tanks, filtered, and flushed out through an underground network of pipes. It all lands in a man-made swamp about six miles away. Occasionally the filtration system gets clogged, and that’s why I called engineering this morning. I was showing Bruce which tank to check.”
The room is dim even with the lights on, but there’s no mistaking it for anything sinister; Mulder can’t help but feel disappointed, although uncovering this particular secret does nothing to satisfy his unease.
They’ve reached the other side of the room; Mosely turns around, but Mulder notices something; another door, this one also has a keypad lock on it.
“A closet,” Mosely says without hesitation, eerily in sync with Mulder’s thoughts. “Storage for maintenance.”
“Ah,” Mulder says, although he’s intrigued. Why would they lock a storage closet in an already locked room?
“Coming?” Mosely is already standing at the threshold, his voice taking on a metallic twang as it echoes between the tanks.
Mulder throws a last glance at the keypad. “Yeah, sure.”
“I hope I’ve put some of your fears to rest, George. I want everyone to be comfortable here.”
“I can see that,” Mulder murmurs.
“Oh, I hope I’ll see you at the assembly tonight?”
“Yes—I run a weekly community gathering; announcements and such. I believe your friends will be there—the lady and her son? I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them yet, though I’m eager to.”
Mulder meets the other man’s eyes, feels his throat tighten.
He knows, somehow. He knows.
The thought isn’t rational—what has the man done?—but it’s persistent, and this tour has done nothing to put his instincts at ease.
“Great,” Mulder says. “I guess I’ll be there.”
“Wonderful. Why don’t we go see about finding you something to do in the garage?”
Mulder nods, and they step into the elevator.