Title: Beyond The Truth - 4.25 The Witching Hour
Series: Beyond The Truth http://www.mulderscreek.com/beyond.html
This is far into a series, but it *could* be read alone as long as you know that in the first fic Mulder and Scully got William back and discovered that Emily's death had been faked.
Summary: legend has it that you can see a witch on Halloween night. William and Emily are about to find out if it's true.
The moon was still high and orange when Emily sat up in bed and looked out the window. Her socked feet didn't make a sound as she slipped out of bed and started to get dressed. It took her a little longer than usual and only partly because sleep made her clumsy.
The quiet sounds of the house told her that her parents and baby sister were asleep. She tiptoed down the hallway to keep it that way.
In his room, however, her brother lay in bed, eyes wide open. When she opened the door he sprang up.
"Shhh!" Emily held a finger to her lip.
He scowled at her and pushed red curls out of his eyes. Then, in a far too loud whisper that made his sister cringe, said "I've been waiting forever! What took you so long?"
"I had to wait for Mom and Dad to go to sleep. It took them ages."
"What were they doing?" William asked curiously. His conviction that everything interesting happens after his bedtime still ran deep.
She wrinkled her nose because she at age eleven, had a pretty good idea what was going on behind their parents' closed door. But since her brother was only four and a half, she lied. "I think they were checking our candy."
"Mom says you can never be too careful."
"Yeah..." William hopped off his bed and picked up the clothes Scully had laid out for the next morning. "Which way is inside out?"
"Tags on the outside."
He looked down at the shirt and pants for a moment, then thrust them at her. "You do it."
Rather than argue with him, Emily pulled them inside out and handed them back. William did okay putting them on until it came to zipping his jeans. It had taken her the longest herself, so she didn't mind helping him out.
"Okay! Ready to go!" William whispered too loudly again.
"Uh uh. Where's your flashlight?"
"Oh yeah." He pulled it out from under his bed, and ran over to her.
"We've got to be really quiet, or we'll get caught," Emily reminded him.
As quietly as they could, the pair sneaked down the stairs and opened the front door. William tried to take her hand once they were on the porch, but Emily stopped short. "Wait." Her eyes were on the pumpkin that Mulder had carved earlier that night. It stared at them balefully, still glowing.
"I can't believe they didn't blow it out before they went to bed," Emily muttered, mostly to herself. "This gives me and idea, though. What did Dad say about candles?"
"If we stare in them we can see our future," William replied promptly.
"Well, let's," Emily told him. She took the top off the pumpkin, and reached inside for the candle. Her wrist brushed the cool wall of the pumpkin and made her shiver. At least this year her Dad and brother didn't get in trouble for throwing pumpkin guts at each other. Not like last year... Scully had only been mad because she'd had to clean Will's costume, though.
She carefully set the candle down on the porch railing, and they both stared deeply into the flame. A picture of something seemed about to flicker into being when William started to giggle.
"What?" she asked, hoping to hear something great.
"I think it's gonna be sunny in the future."
"'cause all I see is yellow." His giggles turned to out-right laughter, so she had to put the candle out quickly and drag him away. Over her shoulder, she gave the smoking candle a regretful look. She would have liked to know what was going to happen.
"Turn around," she prompted when they reached the end of the stairs. William nodded and made another grab for her hand, catching it this time.
"We've gotta go backwards all the way there?"
"That's what he said."
"It's gonna take forever." He sighed.
"Nah, it's not too far," Emily assured him. "Turn on your flashlight."
Fortunately for the little adventurers, the street they lived on was a quiet one, and there was no traffic to worry about as they walked backwards at little more than a snail's pace.
"Are you gonna marry Brian?" William asked out of the blue.
"What makes you ask that? I'm only a kid!" Emily replied indignantly. Brian himself was only a mature twelve.
"Daddy said whoever gets the apple first when you bobble is gonna get married first. And you did!"
"Bob for apples, not bobble. Yeah, sure. I'm going to marry Brian. Who are you going to marry, Quinn or Jacey?" Emily teased, bringing up Doggett and Reyes' little girls.
"I can't get married, I'm not even in kindergarten yet!" William shrieked.
"Well, I can't get married either, yet. So drop it."
"Are we there yet?"
A hundred yards later Emily declared them there.
William peered around. "This is a crossroads?"
"But how come it's called that?"
She shrugged. "Maybe because it's got four arms like a cross. Or cars can go across."
"Where is she?"
"I don't know. Maybe we have to wait." Emily aimed her flashlight around in an arc, just to be sure they weren't missing anything. They weren't; no one else seemed to be around.
After a couple of minutes William's patience began to flag and he stamped his foot. "I want to see the witch now!"
"We will. Are you listening to the wind?" This made him freeze. "We're going to have to be quiet if we want to hear what's going to happen to us in the next year."
Although her mother had rubbed off on her enough to make her at least somewhat skeptical of all the stories their father had told them, some part of her really wanted it all to be true. This being the case, she listened as hard as William.
Later, when she was older and far enough from the event to be rational about it, Emily would laugh off her conviction as having been caught up in the excitement. Then, however, she was sure that the wind did in fact tell her something about the coming year. And what it told her sparked a flame of fear inside her belly.
An insistent tug on her left hand pulled her back to earth. Surprisingly, William said nothing but instead pointed with his free hand. Far down the street a black clad figure strode purposefully by a hedge. A gust of wind from behind forced its head covering upwards.
"She's wearing a pointy hat!" William's yell came out half strangled. "It's a witch!"
When Emily had proposed this adventure to her brother, they had imagined calmly interrogating the witch, perhaps asking her if there really were wizardry schools like in Harry Potter. All this was forgotten as both siblings shrieked in terror and ran. They were running so quickly that the only thing that kept William on his feet was Emily's iron grip on his wrist and hand.
Eventually, however, they began to tire and slowed to a quick walk. It was then that they realized that they could hear slow, deliberate footsteps some distance behind them.
"Emily, the witch!" William whispered urgently.
"Don't look back, Will."
His sister gave his arm a hard yank as he seemed about to turn his head. "Don't look back, Will!" she repeated. "It could be something worse than a witch."
"What could be worse than a witch?!"
"Death." Her voice was tight. "Dad said you should never ever look back if you hear someone behind you on Halloween night, became it could be death following you."
"But I don't wanna die!"
"Me neither so Don't Look Back!"
After this exchange they found a renewed burst of energy and ran the rest of the way home. They saw the sanctuary of their house loom up ahead and practically flew up the porch steps. But when Emily reached into her pocket for her key, she came up empty.
Before she could begin to wail that they were doomed, William nudged her. "You put it in your other pocket 'cause you didn't think it'd stay in the other one inside out."
After quickly wondering how often he read her thoughts that way, Emily found the key and pulled it out. Three seconds later they stumbled in through the door.
And almost tripped over Mulder.
He glowered down at them. "Where have you been? I've been worried sick since I got up to pee and discovered you weren't in bed!"
"We're sorry, Dad!" Emily said. "But we wanted to see the witch like that story you told us."
"It's just a story-" Mulder began but William cut him off.
"No sir! We saw a witch! And we heard death following us!"
"We didn't look back," Emily added quickly. "We just ran home."
"Enough of these stories. Go up to bed. And quietly! Your mother's asleep and we need to work in the morning."
William didn't need any more encouragement before he was scampering up the stairs, but Emily hung back. "Dad, there's something else. The wind said something bad is going to happen. That they're coming back. Soon."
"Go to bed, Emily."
Mulder watched the forlorn child march up the stairs and found himself remembering the night he'd found her more than three years earlier. She and one of the other children had been huddled in a closet, waiting for the third child to join them, or waiting to be killed by the super solider that had already murdered the doctor and staff raising them.
She wasn't as shaken as she'd been that night, but there had been real fear in her eyes when she reported what she'd heard in the wind. He shook his head and hoped that it had just been a child's imagination, not an omen.
A moment later the front door opened quietly and Scully stepped into the house. "All clear?"
"Yeah, they're in bed." Mulder grinned at her. "How did you manage not to be seen?"
"I got a head start and took a shortcut that I knew Emily wouldn't at night."
"Ah. So, were you the witch or Death?"
"Death. Mrs. Featherstien walking her dog was the witch, not that she was in on it. She must have to walk poor old Maxie four times a night."
"They're completely convinced that they saw a witch then were followed home by Death. You did a good job."
"Thanks. And how about you?"
"I'm fairly certain that we won't have to worry about them sneaking out of the house again for a long long time."
"Good. It scared me half to death when I couldn't find them a couple of weeks ago after they went out looking for those stray kittens."
"I think they're cured now. Did you think I'd do a better job pretending to be angry?" Mulder asked.
"I don't know, why?"
"Curiosity. Scarer is not the sort of role you volunteer for."
"Actually, I wanted to see if there really was a witch. I figured if it was Diana I could thank her for giving me that pass key."
"Funny." Mulder smirked. "I think it's time for lord and lady death to get some sleep."
"After you, Love," Scully invited.
Soon they were sleeping peacefully, as was baby Calla. As for Emily and William...they slept as comfortably as one can with the covers over their heads.
Happy Halloween everybody!
Author's note: I was probably between 11 and 13 when my best friend of the time and I stumbled across the superstition about turning your clothes inside out and walking backwards on Halloween to see a witch. We really wanted to try it, but alas there was no crossroads near our house.
Here are a couple of links to Halloween superstitions you might like to read about:http://www.dogster.com/diary_page.php?pet_id=176289&entry_id=219364 http://www.sotoman.info/freethinking/index.php?page=115