Previous story: Made for a Maid
Next story: The Fallout
Written for January’s Fic of the month contest: Mundane Activity gone wrong
My Mundane activity: a museum visit
Based loosely on “The Lord of the Rings” (you’ll figure it out)
Therefore, consider this my homage to both Tolkien and Peter Jackson, for writing/filming the best trilogy of our time.
I have lost my soul. That, which makes me who I am. I feel as if I’m lost to the world and gone in search of my inner self. I want to return back to who I was. Yet I don’t know how. I am away from God. Away from humanity. Freed from the burdens of mankind. From now on, it’s me against the world, Scully. Lucky and me. If I win, I win. But I know I’ll lose.
A long time ago a man told me that a human being is nothing more than a shell for a ghost that has lived since the beginning of time. Interesting theory that was.
Ghosts are not happy in this mortal existence. They are forced to live inside a shell that eventually withers away and dies after having experienced heartache and fear for many years. If they’re lucky.
These ghosts are us all. We have no choice in being created. We live, we breathe, we eat, we dance, we sing, we enjoy, we hurt, we die. There are no rules to tell us what to do. We walk and move, walk and talk according to set examples by the ghosts before us. We live as they have done. We live by their rules.
Yet, despite those examples, the world is not a place of joy and happiness. It’s a place of death and destruction.
Ghosts kill ghosts. When they become humans, they destroy. It’s in their nature to do so. The power that comes within reach, is the one thing that destroys any good sense anyone might have.
I couldn’t help thinking that Andie Morse’s strong hands were choking me. Her fingers ached. Dead cold. Her digits crushed my throat, clawing into my skin like a wild cat would do. She was no different than an animal in despair.
I couldn’t free myself from her. She was stronger than any woman I have ever encountered. Her body had become one powerful weapon, ready to tear me apart. This fight was for life and death, for the possession of the ultimate prize. We struggled against a stonewall that parted us from the rest of the world. I was at her mercy, clawing those stone cold fingers into me. It wouldn’t take long for her to kill me.
A rush of blood to the head. My body spun before hitting the wall for the second time, slamming her against the bricks behind me. Like a cat she had crawled upon my back, holding onto me for dear life. I could feel my strength relinquish and my forces being devoured by her will.
Ghosts kill ghosts.
Finally I gave up. My knees buckled. I heaved. My own fingers were still forced between hers, surviving me a few seconds longer, with all the time I could spare to give the people behind that wall the opportunity to save me. And at the same time, what I held in my right hand, gave me the strength to survive yet a little bit longer.
I could hear crashing sounds to my right, noises and eclectic sounds. Voices. She wouldn’t let go. Strong. Grasp. Sucking the life out of me. Those hands. My god, I have never felt such cold hands. Clawing at my own digits grasping onto the prize for dear life.
“Let go of him!” I heard Scully cry out. Shoot her. Shoot her now. Mind drifting off. It’s too late, I thought. It’s over. But then a single shot rang out in the basement, its echoes hammering through the still air. Her hands – even in death – didn’t let go. They had to pry her off me.
I could literary feel coldness rush into me, passing through my veins, past my heart, brain, abdomen. It was everywhere, gripping me so tight I cried out in sheer physical torment. It was the oddest sensation I had ever felt, surging through me and starting at the object I held in my hand. She finally slipped off of me, and we lay on the ground.
Careo Animus (deprived of a soul)
I have always pondered the human psyche. It’s like a hobby to me: to figure out what my fellow men are thinking, and what makes one person greater than the other. I want to know what pushes men over the edge, what thrives inside the hearts of serial killers, what they feel when they kill. It’s a world that I cannot access because I’m not a killer.
I often wonder about fate and destiny too. Have our lives been pre-destined the second the spirit becomes a human being?
Take politics for example: is one man or woman destined to become a country’s principal person from the moment he or she is born, or are they bred to follow in the footsteps of the greatest leaders of all time? Or sportsmen. Is it because someone noticed a 6 ft, 2 height, thus born to become a basketball player?
What about me? Was I destined to become Spooky Mulder when I was born, or has my sister’s abduction forced me in that direction? If she had not been taken, would I have become a boring college professor with nothing more to do than teaching about the psychological pattern that interests me so?
If I had a choice in life to go back and change it all, would I have? I would have chosen my sister to be alive. I would not have crawled into that basement office, thinking about the evil ordeals of life. I would not have met Scully. Or would I have? Throughout history we were destined to meet. How so?
We cannot change the past and future. We must live with the knowledge that this is the life we lead. I live with the acknowledgement that my sister’s abduction made me the man I was. Good or bad, I cannot change myself.
I am me.
In my hospital bed, far away from the basement underneath the Victorian house in D.C. that now harbours an exclusive diamond museum, and out of the cold deadly grip of Andie Morse, I could feel that something had changed within me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was a small sensation, perhaps even forgettable, but it stayed there. It breathed in my body and told me constantly that I wasn’t the same person I used to be. It’s a hunch. A sensation. That was the start of it.
It is odd really.
Now I could see the world in a different perspective. I could still feel the Lucky Diamond held in my hand as I pried it away from Andie. I could still feel its cold, steel-like touch to my skin. The reluctance I felt when I woke up here and found it gone, back into the hands of its rightful owners. I ached for it. My brain, my muscles and my entire being wanted it back.
I had a deeper grasp of things. I had clearer view, different colours – I swear I could even distinguish between red and green! – other sensations. My intuition ran smoother, as sharp as a tack. My vision was sharper, and my tongue wittier. My thoughts ran faster and my hearing was better.
It was fun. I felt … alive.
It started with Scully’s hand resting on my arm when I woke up. Her touch generated an electric tingling in me. When she leaned over me to adjust the pillows underneath my head – a gesture she has done many times before – I could smell her perfume as sharply as the best-smelling food in the world. It sort of turned me on, I must admit.
Facing Scully, I clearly noticed different things about her. Her hair seemed red, and suddenly I realized I was no longer colour-blind. I had never seen that hair in its full glory before. It was blinding. Her eyes were a deep azure blue, clearer than ever before. Her mouth smiled and little twinkles toyed within her eyes. She wore regular jeans and T-shirt that I hadn’t seen before. She was all sex on a stick and again I felt my body reacting to it. Embarrassing. Truly embarrassing.
She told me that Andie Morse was dead. Shot to death to save me. Her hands still around my throat when we both fell to the ground. They’d had to intubate me to get air into my lungs. I couldn’t remember any of it, having drifted off.
“Serves her right,” I muttered, and Scully looked up startled.
“Do you really think so?” she mused. “I wonder. I think she had control over her evil actions, despite her erratic behaviour. It’s a shame we’ll never get to ask her. Perhaps there was truth to that legend after all, Mulder.”
I brushed off Scully’s comments and watched her. So sexy, she was. Damn it. If I could just get out of here and hump her senseless right here…. Stop it!
“They want to do some tests to see if you’re having any more trouble with your throat,” Scully explained. “She hurt you but good.”
“I’m fine,” I croaked. “Listen how sexy my voice sounds like this.”
Just hump her and -
Scully grinned, unaware. “Very sexy, but I prefer your old dulcet tones any time.”
“You can serve me ice cubes any time. It makes up for being a human punch ball.”
Serve them up on your naked, heated body.
She laughed, not reading my sensual thoughts. “So you like being kicked around, eh?”
“Anything to serve the good cause,” I muttered, banishing the lurid thoughts from my mind. This wasn’t me talking. It couldn’t be.
“Just don’t repeat this too much.”
“I can’t promise you that,” I shrugged. “It’s the name of the game.”
“Not a game I want to play often.” She stood up and walked to the door. “Can I get you something else?”
Yeah, a double bed and some fresh satin sheets. Why the hell does she smell so good, and why have I never noticed that fabulous cleavage framed in that T-shirt before? I shook my head.
Shut up, Mulder. She’s your partner. You’re not going to fuck her.
And that’s when I started to sense the differences even more clearly. It felt like being on a high. Like experiencing the world through a predator’s eyes. Animals experience this world much more differently than we do. A super sense. They go through all the motions but thrive on the kicks of smells, experiences and sensations. Their motives are different from ours: they live to survive. Whether it’s a bird or a cat, a snake or a snail: they all struggle to live. Humans have blunted down their emotions and instincts. They are blinded by the power that comes from thought.
What if that power is controlled by something else?
The Lucky Diamond is at the top ten of most famous diamonds of modern civilization. It’s almost as famous as the Hope Diamond, and nearly as expensive. Cut nearly two hundred years ago, from the mines of South Africa, when two English brothers gave up their wives and families to retreat for fame and fortune. When they found the diamond, they knew that they had found something extraordinary. They did not know back then that it would kill both of them.
Jacob was the first one to go. Holding the diamond in his hand, he didn’t see the huge rock coming at him. He was crushed holding the most prized possession any man could find. He didn’t know that his brother Clark would die less than a month after, after having brought the rough diamond to London where it would be cut into the precious stone that still exists nowadays. His death could not be explained.
The Lucky Diamond had been given a name that didn’t suit its reputation. Through the centuries, it moved from family to family, leaving a trail of unexplained deaths behind it. Some killed themselves; others went crazy and spent their final years in an asylum. Always a fatal outcome.
Early 1950’s, the diamond was given by one of the wealthiest families of the UK to a London Museum, who then sold it to the Antwerp Diamond Association. This Association, the largest diamond trade centre in the world, often ‘loaned’ diamonds to various museums over the world. It was stolen once, and its thieves didn’t live to see another day.
Several scientists have examined the Lucky Diamond’s history. One of them, a certain Dr. Peters – a diamond specialist living near Antwerp – claimed a few years ago to have found the link in the trail of death. The diamond destroys. Not the human body, but the human soul. Those who receive or handle it are left like an empty shell where a human used to be, and the mind strays. The thoughts drift away, the mind goes and all that is left is flesh and bone. An inexplicable virus of the mind.
I suggested visiting the exhibition. I had learned of the diamond’s evil path – as many diamonds have by the way – and thought it would be fun to go there. Of course I didn’t tell Scully the real reason why we went. She laughingly joked about engagement rings and exclusive jewellery that I wisely chose to ignore. How could something so mundane go so very wrong?
Of course, I had no idea we would run into old crazy Andie Morse, infatuated by the diamond’s splendid colours and facets. If my destiny was to become a victim of the Lucky Diamond, then I was in the right place at the right time. Yet somehow I felt it had to have been a coincidence.
After all, wasn’t I already insane?
Or so they say.
Even now, the diamond still rested in my hands, protected against Andie who had thrown her full weight against the glass, going through it as if it were nothing and then taking off with it, running towards the museum’s underground dungeons. Even now, nobody can explain how she managed to go through the safety glass and snatch the jewel from its throne.
I shouldn’t have gone after her. She wouldn’t have been able to trap me in that basement. Her eyes spoke of the madness. And I couldn’t forget how I pried the diamond away from her, and how I could feel its sharpness stick into my palm. I bled.
And the diamond that I held so briefly, so gently, had nearly cost me my life. It had certainly cost Andie’s, a gentle housewife from New York who happened to be visiting D.C. when she felt the strange urge to see Lucky.
We should pity her, shouldn't we?
I found myself sitting behind my desk, staring into nothingness like I had done for the past four days, not working. Just sitting. The changes in me gradually became worse. I couldn’t even explain it. I was going berserk. Flipping mad. What else could it mean?
Losing it, Scully. Always thinking about you and your fine body that I would love to take on one day. It drove me crazy.
They were worried about me. I could tell by their behaviour. They were weary and cautious. They thought I was sick. Still hurting from the attack. I caught tail ends of conversations that quieted as soon I entered a room. Their eyes said it all. I seemed to be their prime subject de jour.
I couldn’t even start to tell Scully about the sensation that rippled through me when I touched Old Lucky. I couldn’t even explain it myself. So much for that legend. It was true, that was certain. But how true? What could I do now to stop it? Could I even begin something against it? To regain my lost self.
Every step I took led me to a dangerous path. I saw Scully and I wanted to grab her tight, pull her against me and shout “Fuck Off” at all the boundaries that had always stopped me from having wild, animalistic sex with her.
We had always respected each other, but lately I found myself cursing her choice of clothes. Everything clung to her body, and everything made me hungry for her. Fuck the rules. I couldn’t help myself. I walked down the streets when I did leave the office and looked at the world surrounding me. Nothing seemed to be as it once was. I escaped the paths that I knew in order not to have my way with my partner. I feared myself.
It was even worse than hearing people’s thoughts. Back then, I had thought I was losing it, but it was nothing against what I felt now. I would crawl inside my bed at night and dream a thousand different dreams. They all ended up with me killing myself, or languishing back in that asylum.
I couldn’t kill myself. Could I?
Yet, as I stood and overlooked the office, I found myself thinking back to the fire. I wanted to turn back time and let the fire ablaze myself, and stay in it while it burned. I wanted to go back to the ice where I had saved Scully, close my eyes and remain resting there forever. There were so many times when I had nearly died and now I regretted ever having survived any ordeal.
This wasn’t me talking. I knew that. I was not the suicidal type. I was dangerous. I was an outcast. But I was alive. I fought for my existence and the truth. I always thrived on finding the facts. I could still do that.
Yet the joy was gone. Blood-soaked dreams and despair-filled days. What a future. I could see myself in the mirror before the closet with my wrinkled suits and clothes, hardly recognizing myself. I was a shadow of my old self. I didn’t eat anymore. I hardly lived. Someone put me out of my misery. Get rid of me. Make me a ghost again.
“Mulder.” Scully entered the basement office and stared at me in sorrow. Behind her stood Skinner, both glaring very seriously at me, as if they felt sorry for me. Despite my urge to seek help, I couldn’t even take that.
“Go away,” I snapped. “I don’t need your sympathy.”
“Mulder, you’re obviously sick. We are here to help you. We need to help you.” Scully of course. I looked at my partner clad in her flimsy little skirt and the blouse that accentuated those gorgeous curves and I could hear myself -- couldn’t help saying, “If you want to help me, get rid of those damned clothes and open up.”
She held her breath, shocked. Skinner moved in front of her, as if to protect her. His strong glance held mine.
“Agent Mulder, you are way out of line, but I’ll forgive you for saying these things. You haven’t eaten in four days, and you obviously didn’t bother to sleep or shave either. You smell, Agent Mulder.”
His harsh comments hardly touched me. I shrugged. “So?”
“What the hell is wrong with you? Talk to us so we can help you.”
“Get me on a freaking plane to Belgium then. Get that diamond back.”
I pushed past them and walked into the small corridor, past the shelves with boxes and files. Skinner grasped me tight before I could make it to the elevators, holding me roughly backwards. I brushed him off. Then, as he wouldn’t let go of me, I turned and yanked my arm loose.
“Get your paws off me!” Was that me shouting like a madman?
As if I couldn’t control myself anymore, I grabbed my gun. I saw my hand reach for it, that is, and then lift it up. And then I felt Skinner’s right hook come down hard on my chin. I flew backwards, cannoning into the shelves. Boxes fell everywhere around my head: a whirlwind of paper. The gun dropped out of my hand. Then Skinner was on top of me, holding me down so tight so that I couldn’t move.
“I’ve hit you before and I’ll do it again,” he grumbled angrily, holding me against the cold floor. Behind him, Scully picked up the gun and looked at me remorsefully, shaking her head in pity and pain.
“Fuck off, both of you,” I groaned, my mouth filled with bitter-tasting saliva, from not having eaten in almost a week.
“Mulder.” Scully sighed as I fought hard against the restraints holding me tight. I was angry. No, angry didn’t cut it. I was mad as hell. Pissed at the bitch that held me against my will. I wanted to kill her. To get rid of her. To destroy her. But she wouldn’t let go of my sanity. What was left of it at least.
“Let me go,” I pleaded with her, calmer now. If anger didn’t help, then calm would appease. I’ve been here before, bought the strait jacket, and I vowed never to go through this again. “I’m not crazy, Scully. I swear!”
She spoke gently. “Mulder, I’m afraid that this time you might be.”
She said it so easily that it shocked me. I opened my mouth to speak but she stopped me.
“Listen to me before you go any further. Try to focus on what I’m saying. You are sick, Mulder. Very, very sick. It started with that diamond. The minute you touched it, you changed. You must have felt something. Whatever it is, whatever you haven’t told me, I want to help you through it. But you have to talk to me. I’ll believe you, if you tell me the truth.”
I don’t know if it were her persuasion that she actually believed in the powers of that diamond, or her voice. For the first time since Andie Morse, I felt alive again. It lasted only a few seconds. The blink of an eye and then – poof! – gone. She couldn’t have known I was already on the border of eternal insanity. My mind was being destroyed in my urge to flee the country and get my hands on that diamond again. I wanted it so badly I could taste it on my lips. I swear I would have killed someone just to get it.
Ghosts kill ghosts.
“I felt it, Scully,” I spoke hoarsely, licking my lips. “I felt it go through me, like a lightening bolt. The second I touched the thing it took something from me. And now I want it back.”
“What did it take, Mulder?”
I looked into her eyes for the first time since that day without the hungry desire of a madman. “My mind.” And the hunger returned and she could tell how eager I was to destroy her too. She backed away. My partner, Scully, backed away from me.
“Don’t leave me.” That was the good me talking again. Pleading with her.
“I’ll never leave you.” She seemed to have waited for my plea. She started grasping at the leather straps that held me tight. I was clad only in pyjamas that were too large for me, and my bare feet felt frozen. She pulled me up as I rubbed my wrists, frozen to the core. She looked at me wearily; ready to hit me if I tried anything.
I looked up at her. “Thank you.”
“We are going now,” she informed me nervously. “I’m discharging you under my custody. Nobody needs to know. I’ll take you away from here.”
“And mine,” spoke Skinner from the doorway, his arms crossed over each other. He was dressed in civilian casual attire: jeans and sweater. I swear he even forgot to shave. I saw he had expected Scully to come here and help me. What else could she have done?
“Sir. I’m sorry, I –“ Scully hesitated.
“Don’t say anything,” Skinner interrupted her harshly. “I know that the powers that be would love for Mulder to whither away in an asylum, but we don’t. Not that they’ll notice while they’re boozing up at the New Year parties. Now, where are we going?”
Almost brought tears to my eyes, that speech. Almost.
I looked at Scully in surprise, forgetting my new self for a few seconds.
“I want to talk to Dr. Peters myself. She’s the expert on the Lucky Diamond that’s now been brought back after what happened at the museum. I want to take Mulder to Antwerp and find out what his link is with the diamond.”
“You can’t bring the good doctor here?” I groaned tiredly. “Holding that thing?” I was disappointed she didn’t even talk about the diamond.
She shook her head. “The diamond’s safe where it is. It’s best for us to go.”
“Book three tickets,” Skinner said calmly.
I exchanged exhausted glances between my partner and my boss and then shrugged. If anyone could keep me sane, it would be them. I had to trust in that while I placed my life in their hands. What did I have to lose? And perhaps I would find a way to get my hands on Scully after all.
The rough flight from D.C. to Brussels International Airport didn’t do me much good. I sat in between Scully and Skinner who both kept looking at me as if I was a prisoner they had to guard. I had no gun on me. I was there as a civilian, which meant I was naked. Well, almost. They had their pieces on them, both behind lock and key. They had cuffs. One false move, and I would spend the rest of the six-hour flight strapped in my seat. The advantage was that we flew First Class, giving us more space. Wonder who paid for that.
It was soaking wet in Brussels. Early January and no snow to see. Lovely. Almost as wet as Ireland, I thought, as we stood shivering waiting for a rental car that Skinner would drive. Now what? Drive the busy roads to Antwerp and hope that doctor what’s-her-name would be able to see us?
I became weary and tired. A jet lagging flight and six-hour time zone difference does that to you. The rental car at least was a decent piece of equipment that didn’t fail us. It was very busy on the Belgian roads as we drove over Brussels to Antwerp. I had no idea where we were heading, but a map and Scully’s driving directions taught us we were on the right track. Too many cars here. Too much traffic. Almost like home.
God, every road seemed to be under construction in this goddamn town. It took us ages to go through the city centre. I ached for a decent hotel room and a place to crash. Surely we could wait another couple of hours, right? But no, Scully insisted on going now. And then she told me she had an appointment at eleven, so there was no time to waste. Lovely.
I couldn’t care less about the ancient buildings that were restored to their former beauty and brightened the city. I didn’t bother to look at the people that rushed through the streets on their way to work or shopping. I didn’t care that the sun was slowly brightening the world.
When we arrived at the Diamond Trade Centre, we were scanned and told to leave our weapons behind. Their guns, not mine. I followed bleakly, not willing to fight anyone. We were given visitor badges, had to go through another round of security, and then were lead through large gates towards a smaller building that held even more security. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Suddenly we stood still in a large, quiet, marble room. At the far end sat – yep – another guard. The doors were shut. We heard nothing. But then the doors opened and a young woman entered, looking curiously at us. I was weary of my appearance, even though I had showered, shaved and actually even eaten something.
Her eyes raked over us and then stopped at me, and she said in a perfect US-accent, “You seem to be taking it hard.”
“What’s that?” I asked stunned.
“The parting with the diamond.”
“What the hell are you on about?” I snapped.
“You held the diamond in your hand, didn’t you? In D.C. You were the FBI-agent that saved it, and now you are suffering because it holds you in its grip.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You’d better sit down then. I’m afraid it’s not so good news.”
I exchanged glances with Skinner and my partner. We sat down reluctantly and I could feel shivers of anxiety rush through me. I didn’t want to be here, and yet I did. I could feel the diamond close to me. It held me in its grip, urging me to come and get it. Calling out to me. I had become its new rightful owner because I had touched it. Because Andie Morse had died when I took it from her. If she hadn’t, nothing would have happened.
Sharma Peters could read my thoughts. Her blue eyes lingered over me. “The diamond goes from owner to owner. When it’s in a museum, behind secure locks, it belongs to no one. It becomes a thing of no value. But when it’s touched by human flesh, it holds onto this human until he dies or gives it away. When Ms. Morse died, you held it. And by her passing, you have taken on the responsibility of the diamond. It sees you as its owner now.”
“But the museum has it now,” Scully spoke in disbelief. “You took it back.”
“Your friend should have given it back,” the doctor continued gently. “He will mentally stay attached to the diamond and will not hand it over into other hands.”
Scully turned anxiously towards me. “If it’s that simple, give it away, Mulder. Part from it.”
“You don’t understand, Ms. Scully,” the professor went on sadly, her eyes hooked on mine. “Mr. Mulder cannot give it away. He’s hooked to it, like Frodo was to the ring. They are one now. He won’t give it away even if his life depends on it.”
“What are you saying?” Scully asked fearfully.
“I’m saying that Mr. Mulder is already too far gone.”
“Liar.” Scully rose up. I looked at her in wonder, my body aching again to jump her bones and get done with it. Then I looked at Sharma Peters, the doctor who had invited us to talk about it. Her clear blue eyes had tiny sparkles in them. Her chest moved up and down with each calm breath. She was absolutely gorgeous. Like the diamond. She flushed deeply, surprised by the eagerness suddenly revealed in my eyes.
“We’ll sort it out,” she intoned calmly.
“Sort what out?” Scully nearly cried out. “That Mulder is going to die before you do something?”
The professor didn’t reply. And I knew at that exact moment that I was going to die. No matter how you put it, I was fucked. The diamond that was admired by thousands of people would kill me. It had its claws like a vice around me, like the fingers of Andie Morse.
I shrugged and looked at the others.
“I’m hungry,” Scully sighed. “Can we get some lunch now?”
I looked at her greedily myself. “Sure thing,” I mused. She noticed, flushed and turned her back towards me. There goes my lunch.
Part Two: Perfidiosus (faithless)
“Leave me alone.”
The voice escaping my throat sounded more raw than anything I had ever uttered. Here I was: standing near the docks in a town I didn’t know, with people around me speaking a language I could not comprehend. Nobody seemed to notice me. They didn’t have a clue on why and how I was there.
I couldn’t even remember myself. Suddenly I seemed to be standing here, alone and at night. It was dark, around 5 p.m. and I had taken the opportunity to sneak out of the posh hotel Scully and Skinner had chosen while they were refreshing themselves, each of them thinking the other one was minding me. I had just started walking towards the Grand Market and the cheery atmosphere we had found there when we strolled through town taking in the fresh air. I loved this place. It had an ancient history far older than D.C. had. The buildings went back to the medieval age, constantly restored into its ancient realm.
Our first – still jet lagging – day had made things much worse than they had been back in D.C. Here I felt so close to the Diamond I could almost grasp it, yet at the same time it remained behind lock and key, and surrounded by several guards that protected this town’s most valuable property. I knew I couldn’t get to it.
Why was I so abandoned? I had no faith in my future, no hope that anything would come out of the blue and save me. I couldn’t part from it. In my thoughts it was mine. My prized possession. I could not relinquish it. It belonged to me. I was its rightful owner now and I would destroy to get my hands on it.
Perhaps I should hire a gang to steal it for me. But how would I pay for it?
Perhaps I should sneak into the Trade Centre’s deepest cores and funky poach it. I sniggered at that. Perhaps I should take Sharma Peters hostage and force her to get it for me.
But how could I?
I didn’t know anybody in this country. I felt alone in the cheerfulness of the town’s heart, surrounded by Christmas decorations that still hadn’t been removed, and the openness of people that ached for a bit of past New Year Eve’s momentum. I loved it and hated it at the same time. I felt warm, yet freezing cold.
To my right, there was a huge medieval castle that now functioned as a shipping museum. To my left, hangars that held parked cars and a few small barracks. Before me, nothing but the Schelde’s rough water and more land across the wide river. Lights flashed over the water, beckoning me like the diamond’s gently cut edges.
I saw people look at me strangely. They talked in a language I didn’t know. They shrugged and walked past me. It was nighttime after all, and the city could be filled with drunks boozing up to reminisce about the Christmas that had just passed. I could hear laughter and ambient sounds behind me, music played from various restaurants nestling near the docks. It all sounded such fun.
I knew right then that I could no longer be a part of this world. I had never voluntarily done anything to hurt myself, but this wasn’t me talking. This was someone else, a man with problems that could not be resolved and matters that had lingered about for too fucking long. Right now, I felt the absolute self-pity of someone who had pushed himself over the edge too many times and still didn’t know the truth. Would I ever know?
All the fears and thoughts I’d kept buried deep inside of me, came back to haunt me now. They tugged at me, clawed at the very fibre of my being as if they had nothing to do but to drive me to the brink of madness. I let them have full reign. Why would I stop them now?
All I had to do was drown and be done with it. There would be no god to stop me, pity me or save me. I was away from everyone, far beyond the border of normal existence. I staggered towards the water and stared down into it. It was dark beneath me. If only there was more time. If only I could communicate better, tell someone how I truly felt. If only they had cuffed me up to something inside the hotel room so that it wouldn’t have been so easy to get out. If only I could stop this raving madness that rushed through my head and drove me insane. If only I could stop myself from doing this.
“Wat doe je?”
I turned around and saw a cop standing there, dressed in dark blue uniform. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but it seemed pretty obvious. He stretched out his hand as if to stop me, the jumper, from jumping. He seemed to know that I couldn’t understand him and continued in English, “What are you doing?”
“Leave me alone,” I spat coolly, when he switched instantly into my native tongue. I was wrong when I thought I couldn’t communicate with them. They spoke our language so easily.
“There’s no need for this, sir,” his voice was friendly and out of the waiting car with flashing lights, came a woman that actually looked like Scully, only with blonde hair.
“I know,” I shrugged, “but I can’t stop it.”
“Everyone can stop anything. You have free will, don’t you?”
“No,” I heard myself say. “I don’t. Not anymore.”
“Why don’t we talk about it somewhere else? You must have someone to look out for you. Friends or family.”
“I can hardly believe that. You should talk to them and tell them how you feel. We can help you with that. Jumping is the easy way out, and you know that it won’t work. We’ll have you out of the water in two seconds flat, and you’ll spend days pondering about it somewhere secure. It doesn’t really work that way.”
I gazed into the dark water again, and then I looked at the man and woman, and stepped back from the deep steep of the abyss. Perhaps there was some sense that I could make it. An omen. Sometimes tiny, sometimes large. I wasn’t meant to jump here, as much as I wasn’t meant to give in so easily.
I walked over to them and they were cautious. Then the cop patted me supportively on the shoulder. “Where can we take you?”
“Take me to my friends.” I slid dejectedly into the back of the car and gave the name of the hotel. They drove me there, while I rested quietly and realized that sometimes those little nuances in life did help to see things in perspective.
They weren’t even angry or upset, just very worried. I allowed Scully to embrace me, feeling her humane touch for the first time in nearly a week. It felt so good to have someone touch me again. The warmth of another body against me. I regained a small sensation of what I’d missed.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered, sitting on the bed in my single room. “Lock me up, or do whatever you want. Just don’t let me go out by myself anymore.” It shocked me to realize how fast my heart was beating. I wasn’t even sure why.
Skinner and Scully shared a worried glance that I didn’t miss. Their approach was kind, yet firm. It was Skinner who spoke finally, “I’ll take the other bed in your room tonight. We’ll cuff you to the side so you won’t get out. And we’ll continue to do so until we find a damned solution to our problem.”
“I should throw the diamonds in the fire of Mordor,” I groaned. “How’s that for a solution?”
“This isn’t a fantasy trip you’re on, Mulder,” Scully responded gently. “Unfortunately for us, your soul needs to be restored and that can only be done if you are willing to give in.”
“Do you want me to say I want to give the diamond away?” I spoke hard. “Fine, I’ll do it. There, I’m giving it away. How’s that?”
They both stared at me as if I had grown floppy ears and hairy feet. Nothing happened. I was still my little depressed self, still eager to grasp a knife from the hotel’s exclusive kitchen and slash my wrists. My eyes betrayed me.
“Call Dr. Peters over,” Skinner suggested. “Ask her how to handle it properly.”
“And then what?” she asked desperately.
“Then we won’t give up.”
I laughed bitterly at that last remark, my reluctance and submission gone again. “You might as well kill me, cause I’ll be killing one of you shortly. I believe that padded cell back in D.C. has my name on it, right?”
I threw myself back on the bed and stared at the creamy, spotless ceiling. In the corridor a man whistled loudly. I rolled onto my side. “I need to see that diamond,” I mumbled. “I need to hold it, and then give it away. That’s the only way to do it.”
“We can’t get to it, Mulder.”
“Yes, we can. Dr. Peters can.”
She opened her mouth to speak, and then became silent again. I rolled up my left sleeve. “Come on, big guy. Cuff me. I’m sure it’s something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time.” I gave him a feral grin.
Skinner grinned wryly and slapped the cuff around my wrist, and the side of the bed.
“Now then, after you’ve called Dr. Peters, care to order some decent food? I hear they’ve got great chocolate mousse.”
With that, I turned to my cuffed left side and fell promptly asleep.
I could hear them talking about me, even though they were fairly certain I couldn’t listen into the heated argument going on in Scully’s adjoining room. They had left the door partially open, long enough for my stronger senses to pick up most of the conversation. The lovely Sharma had returned. Cool.
I kept my eyes closed and remained very quiet, aware that the slightest sound would alert them. I concentrated on listening.
“There is no way I can put the diamond into his hands. Do you know the value of that thing? They would have my head on a platter if something happened to it. You know what Andie Morse did.”
“That was an isolated incident, Dr. Peters. We will all be there. You have to help us. This man’s life is at stake. You said it yourself: he has to give the diamond away again. His soul is attached to it.” Skinner insisted.
“Enough reason not to do it.”
“Will you leave him without faith?” That was Scully. “You’ll be responsible for his demise.”
“It’s too late already.”
“How can you be so sure of that? You haven’t seen a single person that held such a strong attachment to the diamond. You’ve studied its history for ages. You’ve written your report on the history of mankind involved in it. This is your opportunity to make a difference.”
“You don’t understand. I don’t have any say in it. The diamond lies in the vault. It will be shipped out to Hong Kong for the greatest trade fair as soon as possible. It’s their ‘top of the bill’, so to speak.”
“Then we have to move tonight.”
“We can’t!” Peters sounded desperate by now.
“Are you going to let Mulder die? He doesn’t have much time left. Do you know the cops stopped him from committing suicide today?”
Don’t overreact here, Scully, I thought wryly. I was merely exploring the depths of the Belgian rivers.
Peters stopped and began to hesitate. Goodie. We were making progress.
“I have to talk to a couple of people. There will be dozens of security guards. I can’t take any chances.”
“Anything to help us. We are FBI after all, not exactly the seedy underbelly of society.”
“You are certain this is going to work?” Peters asked anxiously.
“You said it yourself in your documentation. The diamond kills those that own it. If Mulder relinquishes it, he will be saved.”
“And what if he doesn’t?”
“He will. He has to. At least we have to try.”
Sounds of a door opening and closing. And then another one opening. I kept my eyes shut. Scully moved closer and touched my shoulder, shaking me. I looked at her instantly. My eyes captured hers at once. She backed away quietly, afraid. My partner was afraid of me. Now that was a sight I haven’t seen in nearly a decade.
“Room Service,” she said with a smile but her eyes weren’t laughing.
I rose up, stopped halfway by my secured wrist cuffed to the bed leg. Skinner was behind her now. I looked at them. “Don’t worry,” I told her. “I won’t run. If I do, you can clobber me.”
They didn’t laugh. Skinner un-cuffed me, and Scully handed me a slice of an American-size pizza that tasted like home, followed by a portion of heavenly chocolate mousse. I looked at them suspiciously as we ate in silence. I felt like I was eating my final meal, as a man would before an execution. If they hid something from me, I would make damned sure I’d get to the bottom of it. But nothing happened.
Then we watched American TV shows with subtitles that I tried to read. Odd language. Ah well. The more time passed, the more nervous Scully became. She was desperate not to talk to me anymore, eager not to hear the uncharacteristic words that came out of my mouth, not of my free will’s volition.
Around ten or so, there was a knock on the door. Skinner opened, while Scully babysat yours truly. Dr. Peters was back. “It’s all arranged,” she said curtly. “We have to get moving now.”
I removed myself from the bed, watched cautiously by the others. Perhaps I had grown floppy ears after all. I wasn’t handcuffed but followed very closely by Skinner, watched carefully by my partner and Sharma Peters. I couldn’t care less and flashed my biggest, brightest smile. My teeth hadn’t had this much fresh air in a while.
“Lucky, it’s you and me now,” I muttered aloud for levity, but no one reacted. An uncomfortable silence continued. This was serious business after all.
I said the human psyche interests me a lot, right? Well, one might say that on the brink of destruction, you should be quite motivated to find out what your friends are thinking. What goes through their minds when they follow you inside a large compound protected by laser systems, security measures galore, and a dozen or so guards that look at you with the wrath of Kahn when you pass them by?
You can’t tell a thing from the way they react because you don’t understand a single word. They are motionless, almost fading out into a realm that has you at the centre core. I almost laugh out loud at the importance of tonight’s events, only to realize then that this exact event could mean my life or death. I don’t know what to do, or how to act. I cannot predict it. I’ll see it when it happens. If it happens.
Feels like my execution swansong.
I remained quiet while we were led back into the deepest bunkers of the Trade Centre, past the large hall we were in earlier, through several basements, until we ended up at a huge vault that seemed to have come directly out of Mission Impossible. There, several people were waiting for us, and we came to stand in the centre of them. They were all watching Scully, and Dr. Peters. And me, of course. The biggest white elephant in the room. Skinner had moved to my side, where he kept an eye out for me. I wondered what the big guy was thinking. I was fairly certain he regretted ever having met me. I shrugged and waited for the events to unfold.
The vault opened. “Cuff Mr. Mulder,” Dr. Peters ordered.
“No, he has to touch the diamond,” Scully replied.
“He can touch it cuffed.”
I groaned and put my hands before me, offering my wrists. “Cuff me already.”
I swear Skinner enjoyed slapping the metal around my wrists. I could just tell! I stared darkly at him, grinning tightly. He knew he couldn’t trust me. I couldn’t trust myself either. I wanted to rub my unshaven chin thoughtfully, watch the people that watched me and set off like a cat in deep shit, fighting his way back to life.
“Bring it on,” I groaned.
The vault secreted yet another vault, which was opened by two people at the same time. Mission Impossible all right, I thought as the retina scan whirred through its job and the fingerprints recorded a clear evidence of identity. I waited unmoving as they brought out a heavy casket, inside was the diamond.
“Precccccccioussssssssss,” I hissed under my breath, receiving an icy scowl from Scully who really didn’t get any jokes today. Geez, what’s wrong with women and lack of humor these days? Don’t they get anything anymore? Perhaps that time of the month. Women and their hormones turn me on though, even more than prime tickets to a Knicks game.
I had to pull my eyes away from Scully who flushed a deep scarlet as if she could read my mind. My eyes betrayed the desire that burned in me. I rattled the cuffs, breaking the icy, silent, almost reverent atmosphere. They looked at me alarmed. I grinned broadly.
The large glass casket was placed on an iron table. Dr. Peters nodded at a severe looking man who seemed willing to poke my eyes out if I made one false move. I again flashed my best smile, moved past them all and walked forward to the box. There, the serious man removed the lid and very gently – with gloved hands – took out the diamond. He said something in Dutch to Dr. Peters. I couldn’t understand it. He didn’t seem too happy with the situation. As if I cared.
Let the games begin!
“Give it to me,” I demanded, hungry to hold the diamond that had changed my life. My eagerness seemed too difficult for others to understand, but Scully did. I could tell from the way she looked at me. Oh boy, there was that worrisome glance again, the look that said: Don’t you dare do anything wrong, or I’ll have to shoot you. I was almost salivating at the anticipation of the diamond cradled in my palms
Shoot me already then.
I licked my lips openly, focusing my glare on the greying man and the diamond in his gloved hands. It shone so brightly. So gorgeously. So beautifully. This is how thieves must feel when they are able to find the most beautiful possession ever. This is the fever that one must go through to. My heart rate quickened.
The diamond was carefully placed in my hands. A lightening bolt went through me on contact. It felt like that anyway. The cold object touched my bare hands, almost burning them. The cuffs around my wrists rattled, and somehow, I could feel that I could get rid of them just like that and take off. Yeah, I could do that. Now that seemed like a pretty good idea.
Old Lucky beckoned me to own it. I couldn’t just give it back to anyone, now could I? Andie Morse had died for this. She had nearly killed me for it. And I had died so many times already that this seemed like just another Herculean effort to take.
“Mulder, give the diamond back now,” Scully urged behind me, placing her hand on my shoulder. It seemed to burn on my skin. I wanted to shrug it off.
I heard a small, gentle voice whisper to me. “Get rid of them all and own me. You can do it. You are stronger than them all. Just do what I say.”
I stared inside the heart of the diamond, feeling the urge to destroy. If I had ever been able to kill, this would be the time. This was the moment. The element called to me from within the prism like a prayer.
I turned to Scully and looked into her eyes. She was upset. How could I have upset her? She was my friend. The one that helped me. The one that has rescued me over and over again. But I knew that I could. I could kill her if I had to. I could snatch that gun away from her and take off. I could find a way out of this building. I could hide in the basement until they had lost their trail on me and gave up. I could destroy anything or anyone at random will.
All it took was Lucky.
“Mulder, give it away. Say it.” Her eyes begged me.
I looked at her. “I can’t,” I shrugged.
Instantly, the guards were at highest priority. Shoot me already, I thought. Pry the diamond from my dead hands and put it back where it belongs. But don’t touch it or the same will happen to you.
I leaned forward, so close to her that only she could hear it. “Love me.”
Tears sprung in her eyes when she realized what I was about to do. She was faster than I was, despite Lucky’s chokehold on my senses. Her hand reached for her gun, and then she pulled it on me. We had been in this situation before, and it felt horribly familiar.
“Drop the diamond, Mulder.”
I shook my head and pried my fingers over it. “It’s mine.”
The severe faced guard glared in confusion at Sharma Peters. “You said it wouldn’t do any harm! Guards!”
I felt at least a dozen guns aimed at me. I stood in the centre of the circle, and found everyone ready to kill me. A life for a diamond, hey Scully? But that’s okay. I’d love to die for it. I can taste it. Just a heartbeat away.
I’m so tired, Scully. So very tired of it all. If things had to happen now, well let them happen. Just kill me and be done with it. Help me.
But it was so strong. I could feel myself change. I could actually feel the changes in me as the diamond burned in my skin, my blood. I wanted to give it back, but couldn’t. Not anymore. I would die with it, because that’s what it did. It took revenge because it had been disturbed and taken from its millennia-long haven. That’s why it killed people, and took the good things away first.
That’s why I snatched Scully in one fast haul, thrusting her against me as my protection against the others. That’s why time became slow motion, allowing the world to come to a standstill while I took my most prized possession and my friend. That’s how we made it out of that room, before the others even came back to their senses long enough to notice that we were gone.
We heard them shout and raise the alarm, and I held onto Scully with both cuffed hands, but it wasn’t even necessary. She was running with me and I didn’t even have to restrain her. We rushed through the larger vault back into the basement, followed at a long distance behind by the others. The diamond told me where to go. We rushed left, right; left, right, forward, left, right, and then we were in a smaller basement that held nothing but equipment and machines. Through the noise we rushed forward, and then left and right again until we reached the farthest wall and a small closet where I pushed her inside. I followed her in.
There, in the darkness, we waited. No noises, no voices. They had lost track of us. It would take them hours to scan through the entire basement. Time for us to figure out what to do next.
She found a small light switch leading to a bulb that lit the damp room. She looked at me, holding her gun. I shrugged. “I wish you would kill me,” I implored her.
She lowered her weapon, crumbling into that of a desperate woman who didn’t know how to help me.
“Fuck, Mulder. What are we going to do now? You’ve just become a jewel thief.”
“So have you.”
“No, I came to help you. And –“ She stopped.
“You felt it too,” I accused her with sharp laughter. “Didn’t you?”
“You know what. Don’t play coy with me.” I moved forward, almost touching her but not quite. She backed away and the gun stood in between us. It wasn’t cocked. I knew that she would shoot me in the arm or something to defend herself. Well, that would bring back old memories, wouldn’t it?
“You have to give the diamond up,” she whispered. “It’s not yours to keep.”
“You don’t own it.”
“It found me. It was given to me.”
“And now you have to give it back.” My gut tightened and burned violently at the thought of parting with it. I could not part with it. It was mine.
“I don’t know,” I retorted sharply, turning my back to her to spy outside. The others were nowhere to be seen. I slid back against the door, letting my legs fold so that I could sit tiredly on the ground. “Don’t you see, Scully? It chose me. I have to keep it now.”
“Until it kills you.”
“That’s what happens to us all.”
“This is not a game, Mulder. They will shoot you, if I don’t do it first.”
“It would mean an end to my misery.”
“You can’t mean that.”
“Why wouldn’t I? The world hates losers.”
“You’re not a loser.”
“You never were. Stop saying such things.” She opened her hand. “Give me the diamond. Now. I’ll take it from you.”
“You’re not wearing gloves.”
“It doesn’t matter. I can handle it.”
I laughed sneeringly. “Nobody can, Scully. Don’t think of yourself so high and mighty.”
“I want to save you.”
“Fuck off, Scully.”
She stopped me before I opened the door to start running again. Her hand nearly touched the diamond. I clasped my fingers over it, sending another surge of energy through me. I closed my eyes, feeling it suck away my strength. Oh god, it was so strong. Much stronger than I was. It held me in a vice. I struggled with it, as my cuffed wrists hurt against their boundaries. I cried out, feeling unable to open up the digits of my right hand.
An enormous pain shot through me. Is this what Andie Morse felt when I took her possession? I fell forward, out in the larger basement, struggling hard to stay on my feet. The diamond wouldn’t let go of me. It possessed me. The pulse from the diamond matched the pulse all through my heart. Filling my chest to bursting.
Scully was there, trying to pry my fingers open. I pushed her away.
“Give it away, Mulder!” she shouted over and over again. “Give it away!”
“Give it away!”
I could feel my body deteriorate quickly. This is what happened to the brothers who found the rock. To all the others in their family who’d had the unfortunate luck of being in contact with it.
“I give you away. I give you away.” I could hear myself mutter it over and over again like a physical agony ripping through me.
Scully turned towards the others behind us. Skinner moving first, saving the damsel in distress. “Release him,” Scully ordered. “Now.”
They wouldn’t budge at first. No one would, not even Skinner. But Scully jumped forward and started rattling the cuffs. “Un-cuff him. Now!”
Skinner threw the keys at her. There was a struggle between the two of us and then my hands were freed and I still couldn’t force my right hand to open. Skinner watched us with open mouth.
“Break my fingers,” I begged her desperately, and Scully looked at me as if I had gone crazy.
I stared at Skinner in despair. “Break my fingers,” I pleaded with him. “Please.”
I was rolled onto my back. I could feel three pair of strong hands holding me down. Another two sets of hands on my left hand. I was pushed down, held tight. I closed my eyes, pleading for the diamond to let me go.
“Ready?” Skinner said nervously. Two sickening snaps sent me in a near state of oblivion as my index and middle finger were snapped cleanly broken by two sets of strong hands. I cried out loud in pure pain, not caring who heard me. I opened my eyes and saw a flurry of faces and images.
And then the pain was gone. The diamond rolled out of my hand onto the floor where a guard waited to pick it up.
“Don’t do that!” Scully screamed so loud it startled everyone. The severe grey-haired man pushed the guard aside and picked the diamond up with his gloved hand. Skin did not touch the exquisite rock. He turned and rushed out of there with it, with the guards protecting him, spiriting the diamond away back to its cage.
“I give you away,” I whispered as tears of pain escaped my eyes and I stayed down, even though released by the men who had fought me. Scully leaned down by my side, carefully putting my left hand on my chest. The two broken digits began to swell. I was sweating, hardly able to catch my breath.
“Call an ambulance,” she whispered to Skinner.
Then she held my abused, throbbing right hand, and looked at me wearily. “You’re back,” she said soothingly, wiping the sweat from my tormented face. “You have to be.”
For the first time in a week, I could feel something that cannot be described as anything other than tranquillity rush through my mind. It was like the fresh breeze wafting through a warm winter’s house, clearing out the cobwebs and lingering smells that cling there.
I could hardly think straight through the pain, yet I was very much aware of my slowly returning senses, and Scully by my side. This was me again, regaining the force and self-respect over my body. Diamonds cannot kill ghosts. At least not always.
I nodded slowly, grabbing her fingers with my right hand and allowing her to touch me for the first time in a long while.
We stood near ‘Het Steen’, the castle that was converted into a shipping museum, at the exact same spot where I had wanted to jump into the water. I had difficulty struggling with the cast that encased my hand and especially the pain from two broken digits. They had saved my life, I’m sure.
The obsessive cobwebs were as good as gone, but it was strange being myself again. I almost seemed a meek person now, someone who held respect for this society and world. The other me, the soulless one, was a nasty little critter with a hard-on wherever he went. The old me was ashamed of the things I had said to Scully.
Oh yeah, I remembered them all. I should see a counsellor really to talk about the dirt that lives inside my mind. But you know, it doesn’t really matter. Because I can look at Scully with an open mind and spirit, and know that she has long since forgiven me.
She even helps me shave, for goodness sake. At least until my fingers recover.
“So,” she smiled, taking my arm to return to the museum where Skinner is looking around. “I’d die for a good steak. How about it?”
“You sadist,” I groaned, knowing all too well I couldn’t cut a single piece of meat if my life depended on it.
“Oh come on. I’ll cut it for you. Into neat little Mulder sized cubes.” She giggled.
“Will you chew it for me too?”
“Only if you ask nicely.”
I smiled and put my right arm over her shoulder, pressing her against me. Sometimes, you know, a little bit of hope is all it takes.