Isaac steels himself as he enters the clearing, stumbling over the plentiful rocks and stones, but not even his nightmares could prepare him for what he sees.
The shadows are many, bodies of negative space that shift and morph like flames in a wide circle around the rocky expanse. He sees Scully and Mulder in the distance, heads upturned toward the massive craft. Her hand clutches at Mulder’s arm, the fingers ghostly white, images from his dream flooding back to collide with reality.
White. Blood red.
The voices in his head are thick, making it difficult to see, to concentrate. He loses his footing, falls, feels his head split neatly open at the temple, blood gushing onto the stones in a red-black river.
Closer, Isaac, you need to get closer.
But I’ll kill them! I can’t—
You can control it, his father’s voice repeats, so still, so calm. You have to try, son.
His hands burn with it, and he writhes on the ground, a ticking bomb. The shadows are closing in, reaching for him, drawing on his strength, his energy; he feels himself go limp.
The boy grunts, squinting, looking upward, her shape familiar against the night sky; she’s screaming, forever screaming into the night wind. Mulder’s body is lifeless now, his head lolls forward, unconscious.
Light floods the clearing like an explosion from the sky. The agents’ black, shadowy outlines imprint themselves on his retinas as he shuts his eyes against a sea of never-ending white.
“NO!” He can feel Mulder and Scully begin to dissolve into the light like fading pixels on a screen. Darkness threatens to overtake him as the voices in his mind reach a shattering crescendo.
Isaac rolls onto his back, groans, fighting the forces that consume him. The shadows brush against his body, their feathery arms of death prickling his skin like cold, unearthly fire.
He calls up a memory that does not belong to him; a glowing room in a strange cabin, the woman holding a baby, cradling him, the warm, slick weight against her chest. He can sense her fear…but there is also joy, so much joy. The feeling spreads, fills him with determination; this is his memory now, too.
He struggles to his feet, weaving unsteadily as he tries to bring his vision into focus. His hands move outward as he concentrates, ignoring the awful pain, the voices, and he utters a silent prayer to a god he doesn’t believe in.
This is for my father, my mother. This is for the two who brought me into this world. For my future.
He feels the energy pulsing through him, feels the shadows recoil as it moves around him, surrounding and protecting his body like a shield. He harnesses it, channelling it outward. Like the merry-go-round the park, rusty at the hinges but gradually gaining speed, momentum carries him; he struggles to contain his rising alarm at the force of his own strength.
No, they won’t.
He takes a deep, shaking breath and sends the energy outward to Mulder and Scully, hovering in the sky like puppets on an invisible string, and pushes them away from the light. Suddenly they’re airborne, flying backward, then falling, falling, landing just out of sight. His heart hammers in his chest, hope flickering.
But you’re not done yet, Isaac. Focus.
He turns and closes his eyes, directing the energy at the shadows with greater force. The cacophony of shrieks in his head become indignant, their screams of agony rising above everything else, threatening to block out his thoughts, break his concentration.
It’s working! Don’t…stop…
The thought gives him hope, and he channels every last bit of strength outward until he is empty, drained, a shell. His vision goes dark, his body collapsing on the ground as his mind slips into blissful silence at last.