Chapter 40: Rescue

     Scully feels herself being eaten alive by the light. The pain radiates from the base of her skull, nerve endings alight with white heat as she’s drawn up, up, up, into its unforgiving eye.

     No, not this again, I can’t I can’t go back to that place no no no NO NO…

     Something jolts her out of the trance. Her body jackknifes inward as an invisible force hits her in the stomach, her hands leave Mulder, and she’s flying, falling…

     She feels the crack of her ribs as they’re crushed against the rock, a piercing thud resonates deep within her chest. The pain is immediate and cruel, her vision goes dark.

     When she comes to, she can’t take a deep breath. Her ribs scream at the effort, there’s a dull whistling in her chest. She tries to shift her weight onto her elbow to sit up, but can’t move for the pain.

     Fractured ribs, probably a punctured lung, she thinks dully, stepping outside the pain to take stock, diagnose her crumbling body as though she were her own patient, all the while gasping in shallow, labored hiccups. She can see Mulder a few yards away. He’s on his side, bloody and unconscious…

     Is he really unconscious, Dana? Look…

     Through the haze of her own pain she watches his chest for the telltale signs of breath, but his body is unmoving…so frighteningly still.

     No…

     She can’t get enough air to speak, but utters a guttural moan of helplessness.

     No, he can’t be…please God…

     Small, twinkling lights bob to and fro in the darkness beyond Mulder’s lifeless body, she hears a voice calling her name.

     Isaac?

     She tries to bring her hand up to signal to the boy, but this incites fresh, raw fire within her chest; the arm falls uselessly to her side as she sobs in dry, aching hiccups.

     He’s dead, he’s dead, and I can’t even get to him…

     The voices grow closer, not Isaac’s, but deeper, a man’s voice. “Hey! Over here! Think we found ‘em!”

     Dark shapes surround Mulder’s body, and for a moment she thinks the shadow creatures have returned. Panic sets in, gripping her heart and squeezing with cold fingers.

     She manages a dry, rattling whisper, “No…no…”

     “Scully? That you?”

     She squints toward the familiar voice, barely able to make out Agent Doggett’s face, backlit by a sea of high beams.

     She tries to whisper Mulder’s name, to tell Doggett to take care of her partner, that he’s dying, but her lungs don’t have the strength.

     “Don’t try to talk, Dana, we got ya. Mulder’s…gonna be fine,” he mutters, glancing over his shoulder at the man’s crumpled body. Doggett stands, calls back to the rescue team. “Get a medic over here! NOW!

     She sees more faces leaning over Mulder, working on him, watches them apply a mask, start chest compressions. She feels another mask being placed over her face, and breathes in short gasps of pure, sweet oxygen. Someone, probably Doggett, covers her with a heavy coat. She’s trembling violently, each spasm makes her chest ache, wave upon wave of pain crashing in on her, the world around her draped in gray as she struggles for consciousness.

     There’s shouting in the distance, cries of “We’ve got the boy!” but the rest of this exchange is lost as her body finally gives in to the shock, and her eyes slip shut.

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