Disclaimer: This is a fiction story based on the characters created by Chris Carter. No infringement of copyrights held by 10/13 Productions,
Twentieth Century Productions, or Fox Broadcasting is intended. All unrecognised characters and plot-lines belong to me. Names, characters, and places exist solely within my imagination, or are used fictitiously. No connection to any person, living or dead, is intended, and any resemblance is entirely coincidental.
Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate the strange goings-on at The Overlook Hotel.
Author's Notes: This story is based on three months following the end of Stephen King's "The Shining". King's novel is absolutely brilliant, and this story doesn't really do his work justice, but I felt it was just such a fantastic novel that I wanted to do some work with it. Some of the "words of the hotel" are taken directly from Stephen King's novel.
And I know Red Arrow Lodge is supposed to be in Maine, but for the convenience of our favourite agents, I moved it to Colorado. It's also been brought to my attention that a film called "Shine" has just been released. - This story has no relation to that film, and was actually titled prior to my knowing of the film.
This story is for Gerry, who suggested it.
Special Agent Dana Scully held her head high as she entered the elevator to go down to her basement office, aware of the distrustful eyes that were fixed on her. Very few of her colleagues in the J. Edgar Hoover building didn't look at her with a mixture of disgust and suspicion since she had started working on the X-files, with the notorious "Spooky" Mulder, whom when she had first been partnered with him, she had known only by reputation.
And some reputation!
Fox Mulder was seen as a flake, a maverick. He was widely acclaimed as a genius, and had turned in some astoundingly accurate serial killer profiles, as well as having a very high case-completion rate.
This, however, was largely forgotten in the light of his exploits in the X-files department, and his "spooky" talent for drawing conclusions in cases based mostly on little more than hunches. And since she had started working with him, nearly four years ago now, Dana Scully had come to suffer the same reputation. - But this no longer bothered her. After seeing government cover-ups likely to affect the whole world, and having her life threatened on more than one occasion by covert government organizations, the petty hypocrisies of the people who used to have a great respect for her seemed too trivial to worry about.
But she was still unwilling to let them see her as other than confident and ready for anything.
The elevator doors closed, and Scully sagged against the wall of the car as it descended to the basement. She and Mulder had just returned from a particularly exhausting case in Idaho, and she was almost looking forward to a week or so of paperwork. The elevator doors opened on the basement, and Scully straightened herself up, and walked briskly to the cramped and stuffy office she shared with her partner. She pushed open the door, which had been left ajar to try and dispel the stagnant air in the basement room where the air-conditioning had been broken ever since she had first joined the X-files.
Going into the office, Scully put the briefcase she had been carrying in her left hand onto her desk, and looked over at her partner. Mulder was sitting at the war zone he called his working space, bending over an incident form. He looked up from his work, and took off the glasses he occasionally used for reading.
"Morning, Scully." He smiled faintly at her, and she returned the greeting with a smile of her own. Shrugging off her overcoat, she went to the coat-tree to hang it up next to her partner's. - It looked pitifully small beside the long coat he wore, but she barely noticed, having long been used to the disparity in their sizes.
Scully sat down in the imitation leather swivel chair at her desk, moved her briefcase to the side of her chair, and then turned to look at her partner more closely. Mulder had returned to what he was reading after greeting her. She noticed that he had not put his glasses on again, - they were lying on top of the pile of documents in the tray marked "Out" on the corner of his desk. At the side of the tray was a photograph of a young girl with pigtails standing on a climbing frame. Scully gazed at the photo for a moment before returning her scrutinizing gaze to her partner.
He looked exhausted. Dark circles under his eyes were common, as she well knew, but she suspected that he had been running on the minimum of sleep during the last case, and ever since. - At least in the end they had managed to resolve the case, unlike many of the others they had worked on.
Mulder felt Scully's gaze on him, and he looked up, turning his head to meet her eyes. She held his gaze with her own, looking deep into his eyes as she felt him almost reading her thoughts in hers.
"How're you sleeping, Mulder?" she asked finally.
A shadow passed over his face, "Not too good," he admitted, "But I'm okay."
Scully reached forward, and put her hand over his, which was resting on his desk. She smiled reassurance to him, and he was able to return the smile.
The case in Idaho had involved a nine-year-old girl, who had disappeared from her bedroom one night, three weeks earlier. Mulder and Scully had been requested to take the case, and right from the word go it had been hard.
On their arrival at the crime-scene, all the evidence had pointed to the girl either leaving of her own free will, or being abducted. Mulder had, of course, opted for the latter theory, although Scully had known even then that there were going to be problems with the case being so similar to that of his sister. Things had got worse in a hurry when they went to interview the girl's mother. Mulder had been over-anxious to find out everything he could about her disappearance, and the mother, whose husband had died of leukemia the previous year leaving her with only her daughter, was severely distraught. When Mulder had tried to offer comfort to her, identifying with what she was going through, she had screamed at him that he couldn't possibly understand how she felt. Scully had felt admiration for her partner in that moment. - Despite what he was going through, he didn't take the easy way out of admitting what had happened in his past, but had kept his silence in the face of the woman's fear-driven anger.
Indeed he had kept his silence for most of the rest of that day. - It had been nearly twelve hours before she had been able to coax him back into some semblance of his normal self.
For the next two weeks they had worked on the case almost feverishly, eventually tracking down the girl and the man who had kidnapped her. The child had been returned to her mother unharmed, and the kidnapper was in police custody, awaiting trial.
Still, however well resolved, the case had taken a heavy toll on both of them, particularly her partner, and Scully was glad to see the end of it. She lifted her hand from Mulder's, and turned back to face her desk and start on her work. She had barely picked up her pen when the phone on her desk rang. She picked it up with her left hand.
"Scully. - Oh, hi Mom." She sat back in her chair when she recognized her mother's voice.
"Hi, honey," the distorted voice greeted her, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Mom, why?"
"It's just... well, I know you don't believe in dreams, but I had a terrible nightmare about you last night, and it just won't go out of my head."
Scully smiled faintly, used to her mother's dreams and "feelings", "Well, I'm alright, Mom. - What was the dream about?"
"That's just it, honey. - I'm not really sure. - I can't remember much of it now, just a feeling that you were in danger, and a huge dark building. And a word. - Redrum."
"Red drum?" Scully asked, confused.
"No, redrum, all one word."
"But what does that mean?"
"Honey, if I knew that I might not need to call you."
"Well, I'm sure it's nothing, Mom, but I'll be careful anyway."
Scully smiled faintly at her mother's concern. Mulder had looked up from his work by now, and he waved to her as she started to close up the conversation.
"Oh, Mulder says hi." Scully smiled.
"Tell him hi back, and tell him to be careful too. - Bye honey."
"Bye Mom." Scully put the phone down, and turned to her partner,
"She says hi, and tells you to be careful."
"Of the red drum?" Mulder grinned. Scully smiled back, and they returned to their work.
Scully looked out of the window of the rental car they had picked up at Stapleton Airport, Denver, at the mountains they were heading into. She yawned, and unconsciously lifted her right hand to cover her mouth as she did so. A moment later at her side, Mulder yawned similarly. Scully smiled vaguely, and returned her gaze to the scenery.
The snows had gone from the lower ground on the mountains now with the coming of the spring, but on the highest peaks, and in the gulleys where the sun seldom reached, white drifts of snow still gleamed. In the middle of winter this area could get entirely cut off from the outside world, and the place they were going to had it even worse than the rather sleepy little town of Sidewinder that they were just arriving at.
Assistant Director Skinner had called them into his office the previous afternoon to give them the case, for which they "had been requested", although he hadn't said by whom. They had caught a red-eye flight out of Washington, to Stapleton Airport at Denver, Colorado. It had been such a bumpy ride that even Mulder had been unable to catch more than a few winks of sleep. Then with the journey from Denver to Sidewinder, they were both feeling the effects of the journey combined with their remaining exhaustion from the previous case.
Mulder found the police station in Sidewinder, and parked the rental car outside it. As the two agents got out of the car, and straightened themselves up, it wasn't at all obvious that neither of them had slept properly for over twenty-four hours. Scully held a copy of the case-file under her arm and her briefcase in her left hand, and they approached the police station together. The inside of the station didn't look much different to the rest of the town, - a bit like it hadn't yet woken up from its winter hibernation. - The spring melt had only come to Sidewinder a week earlier, and it was then that the body had been discovered.
A middle-aged man in a police chief's uniform came out of an office at the side of the room the agents had entered. He stared at them for a moment as though he couldn't believe that someone had come into his station that he didn't know. Then his face visibly brightened.
"You must be the FBI agents." he stated, and grinned at them. Scully stepped forward and offered her hand.
"Yes. - Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder," she introduced them. The police chief looked at her hand uncertainly before shaking it hard, and then shaking Mulder's.
"I'm Chief Parkers. - I'm glad you could come so soon. This death has quite frankly put all of us at a loss."
"I believe the dead man was the caretaker at the hotel?" Scully asked. Parkers nodded.
"Yeah. - His name was Jack Torrance. - When a couple of my lads went up there after the melt, they found him. Looks like the wound which killed him was a stab wound caused by a kitchen knife, but that body had got so many hurts on it you'd have a job to be sure."
"And the only people who were up at the hotel over the winter were Mr. Torrance and his wife and son?" Scully asked. Parkers nodded again.
"Yeah, that's right. - Wendy and Danny. - Although Dick Hallorann, the cook, went up there just before Mrs. Torrance and her son came down."
"But nobody else was up there?"
"No. ma'am. - Not unless they was up there the whole winter, with none of the Torrance family knowing about it."
"So what's the problem?" Scully asked, "You've got an isolated hotel and three suspects. - Probably only two if the boy's only five. - Surely the case should be easy to solve from the evidence in the hotel?"
"Well that's just it, ma'am. - There shouldn't be any evidence at the hotel. - Mrs. Torrance, Danny, and Mr. Hallorann, they claimed the Overlook burned to the ground with Mr. Torrance still inside just before they came back down to Sidewinder."
Scully looked at the body lying on the morgue slab with a thoughtful expression on her face. She was dressed in overalls, and her auburn hair was pinned back out of her face while she proceeded with her examination of the remains. At the side of the room, Mulder stood watching her, one arm folded across his chest, the other raised towards his chin as he surveyed the grim scene.
Scully reached up and switched on the microphone which would record her observations as she worked, and then looked down at the body again. Reaching for the tag which had been tied to the left big toe of the corpse, she checked its identity.
"Secondary examination carried out by Dr. Dana Scully on 21st March, 1997. Time is 11.21am. The victim is a Caucasian male in his thirties, identified as Mr. Jack Torrance by his wife, Mrs. Winifred Torrance. The victim has sustained several fatal injuries, - a stab wound to the lower back, made with a long, sharp knife, and several severe head wounds. - The stab wound was made with a kitchen knife, which was found still in the body. It appears that this was the initial, and fatal, wound, due to the amount of blood loss observed at the scene. The head wounds appear to have been sustained after death, apparently having been caused by a large, heavy, blunt instrument. A croquet mallet which has the victim's blood on it was found in one of the corridors on the third floor, along with a patch of dried blood, also belonging to the victim. This would be consistent with the type of injuries sustained.
"The body also exhibits several minor injuries. There are seventeen small cuts on the right hand and wrist, which appear to have been made with a razor blade. Both hands exhibit blistering and burns on the palms, consistent with having gripped a hot object. There are also steam burns on the lower arms. - Note that the body was found by the hotel boiler."
"How can that be, Scully?" Mulder spoke up from the side of the room. Scully glanced up from her monologue and inspection, and looked at her partner with a question on her face.
"You say that the wound which killed him was a stab to his lower back, and that that wound was made first. His head was then smashed in with a croquet mallet, apparently in the third floor corridor, where the mallet and some of his blood were found. But somehow the body got from there to the basement where the boiler is, where its hands were scalded, and its arms burned by steam."
"The burns could have occurred before death," Scully said, "There's no evidence to suggest they were made post mortem."
"So what was the body doing in the basement?" Mulder asked.
Scully shrugged. "Maybe whoever killed him wanted to make sure he'd go with the fire."
"But there was no fire."
"No." Scully nodded, "Because something went wrong, and the hotel didn't burn down. - But three people came down saying they'd *seen* it burning."
"And so you think...?"
"Mulder, I don't know what to think yet. - It would seem the most likely that one of the three killed him, and the others covered up for what had happened by trying to burn the hotel down. The fact that the hotel hadn't burned wasn't discovered until the snow melted."
"So I guess we'd better go and talk to the Torrances," Mulder stated.
Chief Parkers showed the two agents into the neat little cabin, the last of a row of eight at Red Arrow Lodge. After making the introductions with a wave of his arm, and a nod of courtesy to the woman seated in the wooden chair by the fireside, he retreated again.
Scully glanced around, taking in the small cabin, and all it contained. Despite being only a rented house, it felt pretty homely already. Hand-made cushion covers and curtains made the place feel friendly. Embroideries on the wall, and photographs gave a clue to the nature of the people who lived there. The floor was wooden, but covered with several thick rugs.
A young dark-haired boy of five years was sitting on the window seat, his arms wrapped around his knees, looking out at the view of the lake that the cabin window afforded. He turned his head when the agents entered, his eyes passing over Mulder with little interest, and coming to rest on Scully in curiosity for a moment, before he turned back to the window. A young woman sat stiffly on a wooden chair at the side of the fire, working on yet another embroidery. Her hands shook slightly as she worked, with the stiffness of recovery from injury. A man sat in the rocking chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him. His black hair was beginning to show a dusting of white, and he rocked with the unconscious contentment of someone who feels safe and happy. He looked for all the world like the father and husband of the boy and young woman, particularly in the expression of tender concern which crossed his face when he glanced across at them, but the fact that he was a black man, and the child was white, silently stated that he wasn't.
The photos too, had a story to tell.
The older photos showed a young couple, smiling, wherever they were. Some showed the boy, also younger. Then the young woman's eyes grew dark with sadness, and the young man's face haggard with problems. Then suddenly the young man was gone from the pictures, and the black man replaced him. These were the most recent photos, taken in the last few months. Both the boy and the young woman looked troubled in the photos, and Scully found herself studying the frozen faces, trying to determine the exact nature of the emotions she saw there.
There had been a long silence in the cabin, but finally the man, who was Dick Hallorann, the man had been the cook at the Overlook hotel and now worked at the Red Arrow lodge, turned his head towards the two agents still standing by the door.
"Are you two going to stand there all day, or are you going to come in and ask what's on your minds?" he asked. His voice was calm and tranquil, and Scully automatically stepped forward into the room. She moved towards the chair on the opposite side of the fireplace. She sat down, while Mulder moved over to the window to stand near the boy and look out at the lake.
"We're here investigating the death of your husband," Scully told Mrs. Torrance, silently noting that the reason for the woman's stiff posture was the back-brace that she wore, - when she had come down from the Overlook hotel several months earlier, she had had three broken ribs and several shattered vertebrae. She had attributed these to a fall in the snow whilst trying to get away from the hotel, although her doctors had been mildly disbelieving.
Mrs. Torrance nodded silently, and for a long moment Scully thought the woman wasn't going to speak.
"You think one of us did it," she said quietly.
"Well, we're not really sure what happened yet, - but you must see that the statement you gave when you came down from the Overlook Hotel doesn't make sense. - You told the police that the hotel had burned to the ground, but it hadn't." "It did burn down." Hallorann said suddenly, "The boiler exploded. - Mr. Torrance tried to dump off the excess steam, but he was too late. It used to creep up, you see. He went down to the basement to try and dump it before it was too late, but I guess he didn't make it in time. - That is where you found him, isn't it? - In the basement?"
"Yes, but I'm afraid that wasn't where he died, and there was no trace of any fire. - The fatal blow appeared to have been delivered by a stab in the lower back with a kitchen knife. - the knife was still in his body when we found him."
Scully turned towards Wendy Torrance, who at these words had given a small gasp, raised her hand to her mouth, and gone as white a sheet.
"Mrs. Torrance?" she asked carefully. She saw Wendy turn towards the Hallorann, who was sitting slightly behind her, an expression of askance and helplessness on her face. Hallorann gave a barely perceptible shake of his head. Scully frowned slightly, and continued, although something inside her head was asking her why she was telling them so much of what the police knew about the case.
"He also had a number of head wounds, made with a heavy, blunt instrument. - We found a croquet mallet on the third floor, coated with your husband's blood."
"Not croquet. - Roque," came a small voice from over by the window. Scully turned in her seat to look at Danny Torrance, who had turned from his contemplation of the lake to listen to the conversation. Mulder was still standing near him, and was looking at the child speculatively. Danny looked completely impassive as he repeated the name again. "Roque."
A shudder went through Wendy Torrance, which Scully just caught out of the corner of her eye. Her concentration was mostly fixed on Danny, however, who was looking at her with his head cocked on one side.
"Doc," came Hallorann's voice, "that's not polite."
The boy's intense gaze suddenly faltered, and he glanced at Hallorann with something like awe and love, before returning his gaze to Scully.
"You think Mom killed Daddy," he stated firmly, "Why?"
Scully's eyebrows rose. "I don't know what happened to your Dad yet, Danny. - That's what I want to find out. - Agent Mulder and I are going to go up to the hotel for a few days to find out what happened to your Dad." She glanced at Mulder for his agreement with this proposal. He nodded. Meanwhile Danny's face had gone white.
"You can't go up there," he protested, "It's a bad place."
"The boy's right, Ms. Scully," Hallorann said in his calm, low voice, "Bad things happen at the Overlook."
Scully's eyebrows rose another notch, and she glanced again at her partner. - They seemed to only be getting into more confusion. - She could only hope that if they spent a couple of days up at the hotel, without the police on their backs, and without anything but the case to occupy them, they could both recover from the traumas of their previous case, and get back to normal. She got to her feet, and made her farewells. Mulder moved to join her, but was stopped by Danny's hand on his arm. He looked down at the young boy.
"I'm sorry about what happened to her," the boy said. Mulder stared for a moment, then nodded, and moved to his partner's side. Scully looked at him with a question on her face, not understanding the young boy's words. Mulder simply nodded. - He understood them well enough. - They left the cabin together.
Scully looked around her at the large lobby of the hotel. Mulder had moved ahead of her to greet some of the law enforcement officers still around, but she couldn't deal with formal issues just yet. After a hair-raising journey up the mountain, during which she had spent most of her time giving thanks that her partner was a good driver, that the snow was all gone, and clutching her handbag on her lap hoping the rental car would be able to make it all the way up.
A lot of the time it had seemed like it wouldn't, but as they had got closer to the hotel it had seemed a little better. - Almost as though it was eager to arrive at the crime-scene.
The view from the front of the hotel was spectacular, and Mulder had commented on it when they had arrived at the hotel, before heading for the door. She had glanced at the huge open space, the steep cliffs on which the Overlook perched, and the mountain which hung above it, and had hurried inside. For some reason, ever since her abduction by Duane Barry she had had a mild but irrational fear of open spaces. It wasn't something she cared to tell her partner about, certainly not right now, so she had just gone into the hotel after him.
Scully looked to her right and saw a set of double doors, roped off after the hotel's last season. A huge fireplace sat cold and empty, surrounded by old-fashioned high-backed chairs, and a small sofa. The reception desk stood isolated ahead of her, a large brass cash register standing proudly on it, with a small silver bell beside it, looking cowed beside the larger object. A small group of police officers were standing to Scully's left near the tall window which overlooked the front of the hotel. Moving towards them, and feeling a little better now that she was inside, Scully looked through the window, and took in the scene at the front of the hotel. A large lawn which looked like it had once been the one of the best in the state but now was a little overgrown with the coming of the spring, sloped down to a swimming pool, where Scully could make out a small rectangular sign which had apparently been knocked down during the winter. Beyond the pool were a couple of gravel paths, and a topiary. Beyond that was the children's playground.
Scully's eyes fixed on the hedge dog in the topiary, and for some reason she felt uncomfortable. The set of the dog looked menacing somehow, although it too was overgrown now that the weather had turned milder. She turned her attention towards the men talking to her partner.
"Well of course you and Agent Scully can stay up here for a few days if you want to. - There's plenty of supplies, so it's no bother. And it's not as if it's the middle of winter and you might get snowed in like the Torrance's did."
"I think it would be helpful," Mulder agreed, nodding, "Agent Scully and I need some time to look through the hotel properly, and the peace to think about what we are seeing. - This place is so huge, it'll take quite a while to check it over properly." "The only thing that bothers me," another officer, apparently the highest ranking of the four, said, "is that the hotel's radio was found smashed, and it hasn't been replaced yet. - If you should need help at all, how will you call out?"
"I've got my mobile phone," Mulder assured the officer, tapping the pocket of his overcoat where the small instrument was secreted, "and Agent Scully has hers. - We'll be okay."
"Very well." The officer nodded, and the four men moved towards the entrance of the lobby. The two agents followed them to the door, and watched them getting into their car. They stood on the porch step as the car pulled away, and then turned to go back into the hotel.
"Okay." Mulder shrugged, "We're up here. - What were you hoping to get from this?"
Scully met her partner's gaze, "Just what you said, - the chance to think in peace about whatever we find here. - We both had a difficult time on the last case, and we could do with taking this one slow. I don't see that there's really any rush here. It's not like we're hunting for a serial killer."
"No." Mulder nodded in agreement, and turned towards a door which led to the residential section of the hotel, "Why don't we find ourselves a couple of rooms somewhere so we can freshen up after that awful ride up the mountain, and then we can take a tour of the hotel."
"Fine." Scully nodded, and they left the lobby side by side. Scully stepped out of room 241, went to the door of the next room along, and knocked on it. Her partner opened the door a few moments later, and joined her. She nodded towards the room number displayed on the door.
"Feel at home in this one, do you Mulder?" she asked. He raised an eyebrow in question. "Number two forty-two." Scully explained, "The same number as your apartment." Mulder grinned. "You ought to know why that's important, Scully." he replied, "Forty-two is the answer to life, the universe, and everything." "And you've got the answers?"
"Nope. - But I'm working on it."
Scully smiled, and fell into step beside her partner as they made their way up to the third floor where the roque mallet had been found.
The third floor corridor was quite wide, which made a change from the rather narrow stairs which led up from the second to the third floor. Scully supposed that the hotel guests usually used the old-fashioned elevator with the ornate brass gate and cut-glass domed ceiling that ran up through the center of the hotel, not the almost dingy small corridors that ran between the floors.
The third floor corridor's carpet was stained with blood. - A lot of blood. - The roque mallet had, of course, been taken away for forensic examination, but they could see the mallet-shaped mark on the floor where it had lain, surrounded by police-line tape. Mulder squatted down just in front of the maroon patch, his right hand resting on the carpet between his bent knees as he surveyed the carpet more closely. Small globular flecks were mixed in with the blood, and after seeing the body in the morgue earlier that day, Mulder had the uncomfortable feeling that they were from Jack Torrance's brain. He got to his feet, and his eyes came to rest on the door just to the right of the patch. It was room number 300, and the brass plate on it said "Presidential Suite".
Unconsciously, Mulder put one hand forward to turn the handle of one of the mahogany double doors, and he went in. Scully followed him, wondering what had caught his attention. A window ran almost the length of the room's sitting room, giving such a view of the mountains that they might have been flying through them. The floor of the room was covered with a deep pile carpet, and a few rugs were lain here and there. The wallpaper was silk, with red and white diagonal stripes, and...
Scully stopped, her eyes fixed on one part of the wallpaper near where a door led through to the bedroom. She didn't make a sound, but somehow Mulder knew that something was wrong even though he had been in front of her, and he turned around. "Scully? What is it?"
Scully stared at the wall without answering. The silk paper was covered with blood, which was running down the perfectly flat surface to pool on the carpet at the bottom. Small white flecks were throughout the blood, and Scully didn't have to think for too long to work out what they were. - She had seen the same thing on the carpet outside, if a little older.
Shakily, she turned her head towards her partner.
"What's going on here, Mulder?" she asked, waving one hand towards the wall. He looked where she indicated, saw nothing, and looked back at her.
"I don't know what you mean, Scully," he replied. She looked back at the wall, and saw nothing. She gaped, then took a deep breath, and turned away to go out of the room again.
"Nothing Mulder." she said shortly, "It's alright."
Mulder watched her go out, then glanced back at the panoramic view before following her.
The two agents went downstairs to the basement of the hotel where the body had been found. There was very little blood at the side of the boiler, where the police officers had marked out the body's position with white tape. Scully glanced briefly at the site before moving on to look around at all the junk which was in the basement while Mulder investigated the boiler more closely. Old boxes were stacked up in damp corners, full of papers which had grown yellow with age, and added to the musty smell of the dim room. The floor plans of the hotel were laid out on a couple of shelves not far from the boiler, where its heat kept them relatively dry. Newspapers were bundled together and tied into cubes with twine. On top of one of these cubes was a large white leather scrap-book.
Scully moved over to the book, and picked it up. She opened it, and smiled slightly to see that someone had obviously taken an interest in the hotel's history. Newspaper clippings were set out through the clean white pages, which somehow seemed to have escaped the ageing of the years. Her eyes fell on a picture, accompanied by the headline, "Gangland-style shooting at Colorado hotel".
The picture was the very image she had seen only twenty minutes earlier in the Presidential Suite. A police officer doing a fairly good job of keeping an impassive expression stood just in front of a body, which had been covered with a blanket. Above the corpse, on the wall behind the police officer, was a large bloodstain, flecked through with specks of brain matter. At least now she knew where she had got that horrible vision from in the Presidential Suite. - The newspaper clipping was dated June 1966, and she suspected that during the crime research she had done in her academy days, she had come across this particular picture, which was what had triggered her memory.
Turning the pages, Scully found a small card, apparently an invitation to the hotel's opening party. It announced a masked ball which would be held on August 29th, 1945. She ran her fingers over the card's engraved surface, before replacing it in the scrap-book, and returning the book to the newspaper cube it had been sitting on. She turned back to return to her partner, moving past the bottom of the elevator shaft. She glanced at it as she passed, and a sudden thought ran through her head.
Scully frowned, and moved on to join her partner, who had finished his inspection of the boiler.
"Nothing," he reported, "Torrance may well have got the burns on his hands and arms from turning it down when it had got close to its limit, but I don't think this is where he was killed."
Scully shook her head. "No, I agree. - Although I have my doubts about the third floor corridor as well."
Mulder nodded thoughtfully, and moved to go back to the stairs, and return to the main hotel. Scully followed him, but glanced back at the last minute to look at the elevator again.
Then she followed her partner up the stairs.
Scully walked down the gravel path past the pool and the topiary towards the children's play area. It looked neglected and forgotten, much like the rest of the hotel, and the atmosphere around it was so forlorn that Scully found herself wondering how the children could ever enjoy playing in it. She tried to picture her nephew and his friends playing on the slide and swings, chasing each other around the cement rings, and swinging though the jungle gym, but the picture was hollow in her head, and she couldn't keep it.
Reaching the playground, Scully unlatched the gate, which squeaked as she opened it.
(Can't you tell the caretaker's dead. - Everything here is crying out to be taken care of.)
She crossed the small area to the swings, and sat down on one of the larger ones. The chains protested their rustiness as she rocked a little back and forth, and again she tried to impress the image of playing children on the desolate area. Children laughing and playing hide and seek. Children singing.
Scully stood up, startled, until she realized the whiney singing voice was in her head. She felt suddenly uncomfortable, like she wasn't alone. She looked behind her to see if Mulder had come out of the hotel, but she didn't see him. - No doubt he would spend most of the day in the basement of the hotel, looking through the old documents down there.
Still, she felt sure there was someone nearby. She stood very still, and listened, but heard nothing except her own breathing. Scully crossed the playground to the playhouse, which was a miniature copy of the Overlook itself. Bending down, she peered in through the upstairs windows, but saw nothing except dead leaves inside. Straightening again, she moved on to the slide. She ran her fingers idly down it, and then suddenly froze, hearing a noise.
It was coming from the cement rings on her left. A harsh, grating, breathing noise, and the shallow rustle of someone walking or shuffling through dry leaves.
Scully took a few steps towards the rings, her hand unconsciously reaching towards her gun in its holster. As she came to the end of the rings, she was directly opposite the hotel, and her attention was drawn by something else. - Between her and the hotel was the topiary. The hedge animals it contained, while being overgrown, were still recognizable for what they were intended to be. - But they didn't look the same as they had when she had come down to the playground.
Scully stared, trying to determine what had changed, and was unable to. Another rustle from inside the cement rings took her attention, and she stepped back, looking down at the rings. Glancing up again, Scully saw immediately what was wrong in the topiary. - The animals had all been facing in different directions when she had come down to the playground. - Now they were all facing her.
(Don't be silly, it's just a trick of the light.) Scully told herself. - But she wasn't so sure. The two lions were closer to the playground than they had been as well. They appeared more defined than they had been, and no longer looked like they needed a trim.
Another rustle from the cement rings set Scully hurrying for the gate of the playground. - She didn't like to admit that anything strange was going on here, but equally she didn't want to wait around to see what was going to crawl out of the ring. Leaving the playground gate open, Scully hurried up the gravel path towards the topiary. She slowed as she approached the animals, her nerves calming a little as she saw that they hadn't moved since she had first worried about them.
(They never moved at all, you've just been listening to Mulder for too long.)
Scully walked up the path, feeling slightly foolish for her fears, and at the same time apprehensive as the Overlook loomed larger and larger in front of her. Then her attention was again drawn by the animals she had just passed.
It started with a rustle. A sort of dry scratching, like dry twigs on cement. Scully glanced over her shoulder and saw in surprise that the lions were now facing her again, looking back towards the hotel. One had a paw upraised. Glancing to the other side, she saw that the dog was crouched down, as though ready to pounce. She hurried her steps.
She quickly passed the pool, refusing to run from her fears, but quickening her pace none-the-less. Her gaze fell on the small sign pointing towards the roque green as she passed, and for some reason she laughed. Her voice echoed hollowly in her ears.
Scully gasped, and glanced back again. The first of the lions was on the path now, in mid-stride.
(They only move when you're not looking.) she thought hysterically, and hurried on. More dry cracking noises behind her spurred her on, and at one point she felt sure that something scratched the back of her leg. Then with relief she reached the porch step at the front of the hotel.
Turning now to look back, she frowned when she saw that all the animals were just where they had been when she had first seen them on her arrival, looking decidedly like they needed a trim, and far further back than she would have guessed having just passed them.
Her legs trembling slightly, Scully turned and went into the hotel. - She would find something else to do while her partner was searching the basement.
It was 11.21am the next morning when Scully found herself standing outside the Presidential Suite, one hand on the doorknob, about to go in.
The previous day she had spent roaming the kitchen and living quarters of the caretaker and his family after what had happened in the children's playground and topiary. She hadn't told her partner what had happened, and refused to even think about it herself, other than to remind herself that she was overworked, and therefore it wasn't surprising if her imagination was a little lively.
But she still wanted to know just exactly what it was she had seen in the Presidential Suite when she had first entered it with Mulder on their tour. She needed to confirm to herself that it had only been her memory of the picture she had seen in the scrap-book in the basement which had given her such a horrible image.
Holding her breath without realizing it, Scully turned the doorknob, and entered the room. She looked around slowly, her eyes finally coming to rest on the patch of wallpaper which had so captured her attention on her last visit to this room. - There was nothing there.
(There. - What were you worrying about? - Nothing at all...)
Scully stared. Suddenly the wall was covered in blood again. She could see it running down the silk paper, pooling on the carpet. - But only a moment ago there had been nothing there... She closed her eyes and shook her head, as though to dislodge the unpleasant vision. Opening her eyes again, she saw that the vision had changed. The blood was still there, but now it had dried onto the wall, and was a dark shade of maroon. - It must have been a horrific murder which had taken place here.
Scully glanced around herself, uncertainly, and turned towards the door. She couldn't help looking back as she put one hand on the door, and saw the blood was running fresh again.
She stepped quickly outside, and slammed the door closed. Hurrying down the corridor, being careful not to damage the evidence, she headed for the stairs which led back to the second floor and her room. The sound of her shoes on the stairs was reassuring, if hollow in the huge hotel.
Reaching the second floor corridor, she walked towards the rooms she and Mulder were using. For the first time, she noticed a fire-hose on the wall a couple of doors up the corridor from Mulder's room. It was one of the old-fashioned type, in keeping with the atmosphere of the hotel itself. Its broad, flat loops lay piled up on top of each other on the wall, next to a large red tank. Above it, an axe hung in a glass case.
"In case of emergency, break glass." The notice said at the side of the glass case.
It was a perfectly normal notice to have next to a fire hose and axe. - But somehow it felt wrong.
The nozzle of the hose itself had fallen from its position on top of the pile, and lay on the floor. It looked like a sleeping snake.
Scully suddenly had a momentary vision of the snake she had shot as a girl, when her brothers had shown her how to shoot. - She remembered holding the dying animal in her hands, but being unable to help it as it died from her unconscious cruelty.
The hose looked like that snake had before she had shot at it, - pretending to be innocent until she got close enough for it to strike.
Scully realized she had stopped walking as she contemplated the hose, and now she continued again. However as she neared the brass nozzle, she began to feel uneasy.
It was pointing towards her, and she could see into the dark hole inside it. A sudden apprehension rippled through her, and a certain knowledge filled her head. - It was filled with cockroaches.
The thought, once implanted in her mind, ran riot. - She could almost see the small creatures rushing from the nozzle, engulfing her like some sort of crawling liquid, hundreds and hundreds of them. And somewhere in the background, Dr. Bambi Berenbaum, enjoying the show.
Scully shivered, glanced again at the hose, and then hurried past it and went to her room. She couldn't help looking back as she entered her room.
The hose hadn't moved.
An insistent voice urged Scully from the depths of sleep, encouraging her to return to the land of the living, and get on with the things which had to be done. She turned over, pulling the bedcovers close around her, and tried to shut out the voice. The pleasant warmth of that haven between sleep and wakefulness in which the mind is not conscious enough to feel guilty for indulging the tired body, and the conscience is not alive enough to regret the loss of time, engulfed her. All around her was soft and warm, and she was quite happy to stay that way.
The voice in the back of her mind continued to poke and prod, and eventually it pushed her past the threshold below which she could ignore the passing minutes, and into wakefulness.
Scully didn't open her eyes, content to stay where she was. - But she was too awake now. Within minutes her logical, rational mind was badgering her to get up, - she didn't have the time to indulge in the luxury of staying in bed all day.
(But it's so nice here.) she thought.
As though in answer, another voice spoke in her head.
Scully shivered, and all of a sudden the bed didn't feel so welcome anymore. She swung her feet out of bed, and drew her breath in sharply when they came into contact with the icy cold floor. - She doubted the heating was working properly by now, but over the last couple of days it had seemed to be fine. - Why was it so cold all of a sudden?
Pushing the bedclothes off herself, Scully picked up her robe, and wrapped it around her body. Slipping her cold feet into slippers, she shuffled across the cold room to the window, and pulled open the thick curtains.
Scully gasped, and stared in horror. - Snow was piled high outside the hotel, glistening in the morning sun. - There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but somehow the snow had returned. (Chief Parkers said the snow was over until next winter!) Apparently it wasn't.
Scully stared out of the window. Snow was piled up across the grounds of the Overlook for as far as she could see. The rental car she and Mulder had arrived in was completely buried. The children's playground was almost hidden, with only the roof of the play Overlook poking above the snow. The hedge animals in the topiary were buried up to their necks. Huge drifts of snow were swept up against the hotel building. Looking up she saw impressively long icicles hanging from every prominent point on the building.
Scully hurried to the wardrobe where she had hung her clothes, and quickly got dressed in trousers, shirt, and jacket. - She and Mulder would have to make arrangements to leave the hotel as soon as possible. They weren't equipped to deal with conditions like this. - And was she ever going to bend someone's ear when she got down for not warning them that this might happen.
Scully left her room, and went to Mulder's, but found it to be empty. Over the last two days, she had seen little of her partner. - He had spent most of his time in the basement, looking through the documents, while she had explored the hotel itself. She hadn't worried about the fervor with which he was approaching the case, - he often felt the need to fill his mind with his work when he was disturbed emotionally. - And it would be difficult not to be disturbed emotionally after their last case. For that, she was his equal for avoiding whatever she felt weakened her, in her own eyes or anybody else's. - It was easy to completely miss someone in a hotel as big as this one.
Scully turned, and went down the corridor, and took the stairs to the ground floor. She checked the kitchens, wondering if perhaps her partner had gone to get himself something to eat, but the kitchens were empty.
Wandering through the rooms on the ground floor, Scully noticed that the door to the Colorado Lounge was slightly ajar. She went to it, and pushed it open.
Scully's gaze fell on Mulder, who was sitting at one of the tables which were dotted around the edge of the room. He appeared to be deep in thought, but as she watched, she saw him gesture with his hands, as though he were talking to someone. "Mulder!" she called out to him, "Have you seen the snow? - We have to leave."
Mulder turned his head slowly, and fixed his eyes on her. The expression in their hazel orbs was one of anger, almost of hate. - Scully had never seen him look at her like that, and it stunned her. She opened her mouth to speak, but was unable to get the words out. As though the strength of his gaze forced her back, she took a step backwards, and the door closed again between them.
Mulder watched his partner leave, and then turned back to the man sitting with him. The man smiled.
"It's for the best," he said in a gentle tone. Mulder nodded, and folded his hands beneath his chin. The man sitting opposite him had come to talk to him when he had entered the Colorado Lounge to look around after he got up that morning. The man had dark hair, which was thinning so much on top that the shiny skin of his crown showed through under the wisps of hair he tried to cover it with. Wrinkles at the corners of his eyes betrayed his age, which was approaching that of sixty.
"I don't understand," Mulder said finally, his voice weak, "What are you doing here?"
"There's something I need to tell you. - Something I didn't have the chance to tell you before. - And something which you need to do, son."
Mulder looked up from his inspection of the marks on the table, at the kindly face of William Mulder, and a question was written on his handsome features.
"Something which will help me," William Mulder added. Mulder nodded, and waited for more.
Scully ran into her room, and closed the door behind her. She leaned against it for a moment, listening to the sound of her rapid breathing, and suddenly wondered what she was running from. The image of the anger in Mulder's eyes pursued her. - He had never looked at her like that before, and she didn't like to wonder what he had been thinking. - She knew he was stressed from their previous case, but she had thought that taking this one slowly would do him some good, allow his to wind down slowly as he worked through it. - Perhaps she had been wrong.
Scully straightened, and moved over to her bed. She picked her mobile phone up from the bedside cabinet, and turned it on. - She would call for someone to come and pick them up, as Mulder needed to drop the case, even if he didn't want to.
But when she lifted the phone to her ear, she heard nothing, - no dialing tone, no quiet beep of low batteries, nothing.
Except she did. Somewhere in the hotel, a bell was chiming, over and over again.
Scully glanced around herself, startled. - She was just inside the door of one of the hotel rooms, although how she had got there, she really couldn't say. Her right hand was still resting on the doorknob, and she glanced to her side to see what room it was she had entered. - The number on the door said 217.
The room was a large bed-sitting room. Shutters covered the windows, making it dark. Scully reached up with her right hand, and switched the light on. The room looked unlived-in, despite the cozy feeling created by the rose-colored rug on the floor, and the soft white continental quilt on the double bed.
A movement to Scully's left caught her attention, and she snapped her gaze that way, only to see her own reflection in the mirror on the bathroom door. Something about the door caught her attention, and she moved towards it, allowing the room door to swing closed behind her.
Reaching the bathroom, Scully raised one hand and pushed the door open, before stepping inside.
The smell of dampness and fish touched her nostrils, and she took another step into the room. White tiles covered walls and floor. The toilet stood at the far end, seemingly distant. To her right, an old-fashioned white bathtub on carved feet, with the shower curtain pulled around it.
There was something dark behind the shower curtain. Something lying in the bottom of the bath. - Probably the same something that was making the off-putting stale smell which hung in the air.
Scully raised her right hand, and jerked the curtain back. She cried out, the cry dying almost before it reached her lips. A woman lay in the bathtub, which was half-filled with icy cold water which still looked fresh. The woman's skin was blue-tinged, and her lips were purple, and pulled back in a grimace. Her whole body was bloated. Her glassy eyes stared upwards. Her gnarled hands clutched the sides of the bath. Scully stared, all her years working as a forensic pathologist seemingly deserting her now, and some other force taking hold of her.
Then the woman slowly turned her glassy eyes towards the agent. Scully turned and ran from the bathroom, one hand flying to the gun at her hip as she fled. As she reached the door of the room, she heard the sound of a wet foot hitting the tiles in the bathroom.
(Don't be crazy, there's nothing there, it's just your imagination, you've been working too hard...)
The excuses ran hollowly in her head. She pulled on the doorknob, and for a moment, as though she was in some terrible nightmare, the door wouldn't open. Then it came free, and she ran from the room, down the corridor, and down the stairs to the ground floor, looking for her partner.
Mulder sat down heavily in a chair at one of the tables in the Colorado Lounge, and closed his eyes. Scully had come to him half an hour earlier, asking him to go upstairs with her because there was a dead woman in the bathtub of one of the guest rooms on their corridor. He had agreed in order to stop her nagging, but having got his agreement she had seemed less than willing to go herself, so he had ended up going on his own.
Needless to say, the room had been empty.
Mulder wondered vaguely if his partner was taking things too seriously lately, - she was wearing herself down with too much work.
"Can I get you anything, sir?"
Mulder looked around to see a man in a white mess jacket standing behind him. The man spoke with a clipped English accent, and his manner was polite and formal.
"Umm... no, I don't think so, - thank you." Mulder continued to stare at the man, who smiled faintly, and introduced himself. "I don't think we've met before, sir. - Not directly, I mean. - Delbert Grady is my name."
"Fox Mulder," the agent returned, and put forward a hand. Grady smiled knowingly, and nodded his head.
Mulder frowned, realizing he knew the man's name from some previous occurrence. "Do you work here?" he asked finally, his usually perfect memory failing to furnish him with where he remembered the name from.
"Yes, sir. - I'm the caretaker."
"But I thought Mr. Torrance..."
"Oh no, sir. - That didn't work out at all. - The manager tried him for a little while, but Mr. Torrance wasn't able to control his wife and son, and he had to be let go."
"Let go? - He's dead."
Something about the man's tone was vaguely unsettling, and yet mesmerizing at the same time.
"If you'll permit me, sir," Grady continued, "You don't seem to be very enthusiastic to carry out the manager's wishes."
"I wasn't aware that the manager even knew I was here," Mulder replied. - He hadn't had the chance to contact Mr. Ullman before he came up to the Overlook.
"Surely you realize what the manager hired you for?" Grady asked. Mulder raised an eyebrow.
"You were told? - Your father, I believe, made the manager's wishes known to you."
"I don't remember..." Mulder said dully. Grady looked at him disapprovingly.
"You do understand the problem, don't you Mr. Mulder? - Your partner is the problem."
"You must see that. - Look at the damage she's done to you. - You had to give up the woman you thought was your sister because she couldn't look after herself properly. And she shot you. -
Because of that you never caught the man who killed your father. The man who stopped your father from telling you what happened to your sister. - It's all her fault, you know. You would have found your sister by now if she hadn't kept holding you back."
Mulder nodded vaguely.
"Do you see the manager's problem now, Mr. Mulder?" Grady asked. Mulder nodded.
Danny Torrance stepped out of the wooden cabin, onto the raised porch at the back which overlooked the lake. The small boy turned his head slowly as he took in the view, his grave, dark eyes finally coming to rest on the black man sitting in the rocking chair.
Dick Hallorann rocked himself slowly back and forth on the porch, comforted by the constant repetitive creak of the rockers as the chair moved. He gazed out at the lake and the mountains on the far side of it without really registering them. He was vaguely aware of the presence of the young boy at his side, but he didn't acknowledge it until the boy broke the trusting silence that lay between them.
"Dick, they're in trouble."
Hallorann turned his head to look at Danny, a question in his eyes which lasted for only a moment before he understood from the look on the boy's face just what he was talking about.
"The Feds?" he asked. Danny nodded.
"That woman... she shouldn't have gone up there. - And the man has so many troubles..."
"You shouldn't have been looking, doc," Hallorann reproached, but there was a smile in his voice. Danny raised his head to look into the man's face.
"They're in bad trouble, Dick," he said, "What are we going to do?"
The plea in his voice was obvious, as was the fear, but there was something else there as well. They both knew they had beaten the Overlook once, if only just. - And if they could do it once, perhaps history could repeat itself.
Scully looked up from the journal she was reading, her eyes wide. She dropped the journal onto the bedclothes, and slid off the bed, hurrying to the door of her room on silent feet. She listened at the door, and in the distance formed by the winding maze of corridors, could hear her partner's voice. "... for what you've done to me..." *Crash*. "I can't sleep at night for dreaming about her... and you killed her..." *Crash*. "... right from the start you were checking up on me, - taking your little notes!..." *Crash*.
Scully swallowed dryly as she realized from this last cry that Mulder's grief-stricken words were aimed at her. He had spoken the same words to her shortly after his father had died.
But then he had been sick, made delusional by the drugs which had been filtered into his water supply. His father had just been murdered, and he was being accused of it. - Now his only reason for his actions was his tiredness.
From the crashing sounds Scully could hear overhead, it sounded as though Mulder was wielding a heavy object, and breaking whatever he could find. She knew without a doubt that it was a roque mallet.
But what had driven him to this violent insanity? It was as though something more had happened to drive him over the edge. - And if he was experiencing the same strange phenomena as she was, perhaps the very hotel itself was the cause...
Another crash from upstairs, seeming directly overhead. - Was he trying to break through the ceiling to get to her? Scully tried to push away the irrational thought, but was unable to stop herself looking up at the clean white ceiling to see if there was any signs of the assault above.
"... why did you do this to me... I could have saved her if it wasn't for you..."
Scully's eyes widened. - Was he talking about his sister? Did he really blame her for his never being able to find the girl who had disappeared twenty five years earlier?
It sounded like he was coming to kill her.
Scully turned the key in the lock of the door, only to find she had already unconsciously locked it. She stood by the door, listening to the terrifying sounds of her partner rampaging overhead.
(... Ms. Scully?...)
A voice in her head, calmer, kinder.
(... Ms. Scully?... Dana?...)
"Danny?" she gasped, recognizing the voice of the young boy, although she could not hear him.
(Now I really am going crazy, thinking I recognize the voices in my head.)
(Dana!... It's okay. - Dick and I are coming.) Pleasant thoughts, on an ocean of blue sky, backed by the distinct smell of oranges. (We're coming, hold on.)
And then nothing. Emptiness. Scully held onto the thoughts as real, only because without them everything felt unreal. - And hoped.
Scully sat at the window in her room, looking out across the snow. She had heard nothing more from Danny since the first call, and now she had completely scientifically debunked the idea that he could have called to her in her head and told her he was coming to rescue her. Even accepting the possibility of telepathy, - which she didn't, - what could a five year old do against a rampaging, armed FBI agent?
However, despite her rational certainty that the only voices she was hearing in her head were her own, she still waited for the boy and his adopted father to arrive.
Although she couldn't do much else with Mulder still screaming his anger at her as he raged through the hotel.
An hour ago, she had started hearing music coming from downstairs. She had assumed Mulder had knocked something on when he was down there, but as time passed she felt sure she could hear voices as well.
Then a few minutes ago the elevator in the center of the hotel had started going up and down, stopping at every floor from the sound of it.
Scully absently listened to the sounds of the waking hotel as she stared in the darkness above the glistening snow. She could almost distinguish words from the clamor of voices now coming from the ballroom downstairs, where the grand masked ball was apparently taking place.
It sounded as though some of the party-goers were playing games, and she could hear someone barking like a dog two floors below
Scully shivered, and glanced at her watch. It was nearly 11pm. she looked out across the snow again, and willed Danny and Dick to come faster if they were coming at all. - She didn't want to be here when it got to midnight.
(Not yet!) The elevator started up again in the distance, and Scully could hear the voices of the people inside getting louder and then fading away again as it came and went. (What people?) (What masks?!)
(FALSE FACES! NOT REAL!)
A child's voice, and yet somehow stronger than all the rest. Scully returned her unfocused gaze to the darkened window, and her eyes brightened as she saw a snowmobile making its way slowly towards the hotel. It carried two people.
Danny and Hallorann had come.
Scully ran down the stairs to the service entrance through which Danny and Hallorann had entered. The two were clad in thick coats to protect them from the bad weather outside, although Scully vaguely noticed that underneath they wore the thinner clothes people wore during the warmer days of spring. "I didn't think it was true, - I thought..." Scully trailed, uncertain exactly what she had thought.
"We don't have the time to hang around, ma'am," Dick Hallorann said in a quiet, calm tone, "If you could just fetch your partner, we'll get out of here quick-smart."
"I wish it was that easy," Scully replied, and glanced behind her. As though to emphasize her gesture, Mulder chose that moment to scream out another string of curses. There was another crash as he swung the roque mallet at something breakable. A peal of laughter echoed down the corridor from the ballroom. "It's got him," Hallorann said, his eyes downcast, "There's nothing we can do."
"We're not letting it have him," Danny said, his voice small, but firm. Scully looked down at the determined expression on the boy's face. "It took my Dad, and I'm not letting it have anyone else."
"Then we'll have to go and look for him, doc," Hallorann said. Danny nodded, and looked to Scully for agreement.
Scully nodded weakly, and followed them down the corridor towards the ballroom.
The party was in full swing. Scully peered through the door into the room, and was astonished to see it full of people dancing and making merry, despite the fact that she had been able to hear them for the last hour. - And they *were* all wearing masks.
"Come on, Ms. Scully." Danny's voice broke into her thoughts. She turned away from the door, and followed him towards the kitchens. - They were empty.
The three turned to go out again, but as they walked through the lobby area of the hotel towards the stairs which led to the first floor, Scully suddenly remembered the warning her mother had given her just before Skinner had called her and Mulder to his office to give them the case. She put her hand out to take hold of Danny's arm, halting him.
"Danny?" she asked uncertainly, "I need to know something. - Do you know what 'Redrum' means?"
Danny gave her a curious look, before moving over to reception desk at the back of the lobby. He picked up the headed notepad there, and a pen, and then walked slowly to an occasional table at the side of the lobby, with a mirror hanging above it. Slowly and painstakingly, Danny formed the letters in large capitals on the notepad. Scully stood at his side, looking down at the notepad as he wrote the word on it. Then he lifted the pad, and faced it towards the mirror. He looked at her reflection in the mirror, meeting her eyes there.
Scully looked into the mirror, and saw the reflection of the word Danny had written.
"Do you understand it now, Ms. Scully?" Danny asked quietly. Scully could only nod.
"Come on you two, we need to find him, quickly," Hallorann urged them on.
Danny put the pad down on the table, and he and Scully followed the man to the stairs. Before they could ascend, however, a crash from behind them sent them running back into the lobby again.
Scully moved away from Danny and Hallorann, her gun in her hands, pointed towards the floor. She circled around the lobby towards the ball room as they returned to check the kitchens again. A clock struck midnight somewhere in the ballroom, and the partyers cried out in unison.
A yell from the kitchens sent her running after Danny and Hallorann.
When Scully entered the kitchen, she saw Mulder standing between her and Danny. Hallorann was slightly to one side, about six feet from Danny. Mulder was advancing towards the boy, hefting the roque mallet in his hands. He swung it back over his head, and then suddenly stopped, staring at the boy.
Scully heard the plea in her partner's voice, and wondered just what he was seeing when he looked at Danny.
Then Hallorann rushed forward, placing himself between Mulder and the boy, the cry of "No!" on his lips.
"Get away!..." Mulder yelled, and suddenly charged towards Hallorann with the mallet upraised.
A shot rang out in the kitchen, and reverberated around the room. Mulder dropped the mallet with a thud, and fell to the floor after it, blood seeping from a wound in his left shoulder. Danny and Hallorann watched Scully with understanding eyes as she shakily lowered her gun.
Hallorann helped Scully to settle Mulder's unconscious body in the back of the snowmobile. She had fetched her bag from her room, and had dressed the wound in his shoulder, but he had still lost quite a bit of blood. She wasn't overly concerned for him, though. - Once they had got him off the mountain, he would be fine.
Scully got into the snowmobile herself, and Hallorann sat behind the wheel. Danny was squashed between them, but didn't seem to mind. They set off slowly away from the hotel, with Hallorann concentrating on keeping the snowmobile on the road. Scully glanced back at the lighted windows of the hotel.
"What on earth is happening up there?" she asked, half to herself.
"Nothing," Danny replied. Scully looked at him, a query in her gaze. He continued, "We told you that the Overlook burned down.
- There's nothing up there at all anymore."
"But we just..."
"The Overlook was more than just a building, you know."
Hallorann said, without taking his eyes off the snow-covered road.
"We defeated it, and it burned down because it forgot about the boiler creeping up. - It's not strong like it used to be now, unless you believe in its existence."
"You went up there with you partner, expecting to find a hotel, and that's what you did find," Hallorann explained, "But the real Overlook burned down during the winter."
"So that back there..."
"Was just an illusion," Hallorann agreed. Scully saw the logic in his words, and turned around in her seat to look back at the hotel. - She saw nothing behind them, and there was no longer any snow on the ground.
"It's gone," Danny said, pleased. Scully raised a slightly disbelieving eyebrow, but said nothing. The boy turned to Hallorann, "Dick, she shines, doesn't she?"
"Enough for that place, doc, yes," Hallorann replied.
Behind Scully, Mulder groaned slightly. She turned her head to look at him as he opened his eyes.
"You shot me, - again," he said groggily.
Scully smiled. The End.