Author’s Note: Yes, I have seized an entire TV program by force and set it back in time 110 years. If you’re not good at suspending disbelief, you may want to skip this one. If you are, enjoy! It was a fun ride for me, and I hope it will be for you, too.
Roswell, New Mexico was treating them just fine.
Hannibal Heyes was amazed that they’d found a nice quiet little town with steady, not-too-difficult work for both himself and Kid Curry, and that nothing had gone wrong. But they’d been in residence for almost a month now, and absolutely nothing had. Of course, the jobs they’d been hired on were ending soon, but it was inexpensive enough around there, and they’d set enough money aside that Heyes was in no hurry to leave. He’d barely had the chance to sample the local poker talent.
The former outlaws had found work on the construction of a new bank building in town. It wasn’t their usual kind of thing, but it was steady, short term and didn’t involve an inordinate amount of dust, unlike the cattle drive they’d come off of all too recently. And with practice, they’d gotten a bit better at it. They didn’t keep hammering their own thumbs like they had on that construction job back in Wickenburg, at the commencement of their careers as law abiding citizens.
But Heyes had done even better than that. He’d had so many helpful suggestions about security measures that the foreman had taken him to meet the architect, who had quickly claimed him as a sort of consultant, while Curry remained with the construction crew. The building was almost done and with it their jobs, although the architect had already laid claim to Heyes’ assistance for another consultation he was making in town.
“You have so many really solid ideas about making buildings more secure,” he had said. “Have you worked security yourself?”
Heyes had simply nodded. “I’ve put a lot of thought into the subject.” And then the architect had smiled, and he’d smiled, and he’d gotten a promotion and a lot more money.
As he sat on the hotel porch, smoking a cigar and waiting for the Kid to return, he observed a pair of strangers emerging from the stagecoach that had just stopped in front. A tall, hatless man with somewhat rumpled-looking medium brown hair and a well-cut dark suit was the first to emerge. He leaned back into the coach to assist his companion, a woman. She was a small, fair-skinned redhead, clad in a simple olive green dress. She was well worth looking at.
He noticed the first peculiar thing as they passed by him, up the steps of the hotel.
“I certainly hope it was worth it, coming all this way, Mulder,” said the woman, in a low, slightly irritable, tone. Her face was nearly expressionless, but there was something just the tiniest bit cynical about her crystal-blue eyes and finely arched eyebrows.
“Scully, there have been reports of this phenomenon dating back as long as this area has been settled, and even before, if you look at the Indian legends.” The man’s voice was soft, almost monotone.
Well, thought Heyes, it’s not for someone named Hannibal to judge, particularly not if that someone spends most of his time with someone named Jedediah, but those are some mighty peculiar names. They sounded more like last names than first, but the man and the woman gave all the appearances of being a married couple, and what husband would call his wife by her surname? Come to think of it, hers would be the same as his. But they were traveling together, there was no formality between them, and they certain appeared to be what you would call “respectable.” They quarreled like a married couple, at any rate.
But before he gave the mysterious couple much thought, he looked up to see Kid Curry returning from a hard day’s work, looking sweaty and dusty. “How come you always get the easy jobs, Heyes?” he said, using his partner’s real name when he was certain there was nobody within earshot.
Heyes just grinned. “Because I’ve got brains, Kid,” he said, and found himself on the receiving end of a very dirty look from his partner.
“I’m goin’ upstairs to get cleaned up. The saloon?”
“Might as well,” said Heyes. “I’ll be waitin’ right here for you.”
In a reasonable amount of time, a freshly cleaned and laundered Curry made his way back down to join his partner, and the two of them headed off to the Last Call Saloon. The poker was good that night—the players were smart enough to be challenging, but not so smart that Heyes had much concern about losing. Kid Curry distracted himself a little, making eye contact with the pretty saloon girl who brought their drinks, but he came out ahead, anyway.
They returned to the hotel late that evening, and proceeded up the stairs and down the corridor to their room. To Heyes’ surprise, the red-headed woman emerged from a door on one side of their room, and, nodding to them, made her way to another room at the end of the hallway.
“Maybe he snores,” he mused, after they’d let themselves into the room, and he’d sat down on the edge of the bed to take his boots off.
“Who?” asked Curry. “You talkin’ about that woman that passed us in the hall?”
“There was a man she’s traveling with. I thought they were married…they were sure irritable enough with each other to be. Maybe he snores, so she takes a different room.” Heyes thought of the tall man’s rather impressive nose and touched his own upturned one complacently. On the other hand, he’d always wondered if he’d have looked more distinguished with a more aristocratic nose. Well, that wasn’t the sort of thing he was going to find out anytime soon.
“You snore and I’m stuck sharin’ a room with you. I don’t know why you’re so interested in them, anyway. She’s a looker, sure, but if she’s married and traveling with her husband it ain’t gonna do us any good.” Curry had slipped out of his shirt and trousers, and was climbing into his bed.
“Oh, it’s probably nothin’, Kid. There’s just something about them that don’t seem quite right, and I can’t put my finger on it. Goodnight.” Heyes hung up his jacket, and quietly went about his preparations for the night. He laughed to himself, just before he turned out the lights. Soft snores were coming from the Kid’s side of the room.
Heyes’ hours on the job began and ended earlier than Curry’s, so the next morning, the blond made his way down the hotel stairs on his own. The petite redhead and her tall companion were just ahead of him, and the desk clerk called to them as they walked by. “Miss Dana Scully?”
“Yes?” asked the woman.
“I’ve got a wire here for you from Washington, D.C.”
The pair looked at each other. “Skinner,” they said in unison.
Washington, D.C., Curry mused. Well, it might not mean anything, but then it might. He’d mention it to Heyes when he got the chance.
The woman read the telegram and silently handed it to her companion. “Oh, Mister Robbins,” asked the woman. “Where is the telegraph office, anyway? Agent Mulder and I are going to have to send a reply to Washington as quickly as possible.”
He’d mention it to Heyes immediately.
It was hard to get Heyes alone, especially since the crew Curry was on was supposed to be finishing up work today, and also since the architect seemed to depend on Heyes entirely too much, having discovered that he had an inclination towards other aspects of the work besides security.
“What is it, Thaddeus?” asked Heyes when Curry finally had the chance to get his attention.
“I need to talk to you, Joshua. Outside?”
“Excuse me just a minute, Bill, will you?” Heyes put down the notebook he’d been writing in and accompanied his partner outside.
“Bill?” asked Curry.
“So I get along with my boss. Is there a problem? He asked if I…if we, of course…wanted to go with him to his next job in Tucson. Two banks and a sheriff’s office.”
“What did you say, Heyes?” The Kid rubbed his back in discomfort. It was fine for Heyes, working with the architect like that, but if he had to work on a building crew much longer, a life of crime was going to look better and better all the time. His back was sore every night, and the honest truth was that he was still hitting his thumb with the hammer from time to time. At least it wasn’t his gun hand.
“Why, no, of course not. We used to know the sheriff there, remember? Too bad, too. It could have been the start of a whole new career for me. Hannibal Heyes, architectural security specialist.” He grinned and threw his head back slightly.
“Let’s wait until after we get the amnesty before we decide on what our new careers are going to be, all right?” The Kid gave a quick smile, but there was something about the look in his blue eyes that let Heyes know that he was still more than a little worried about whether the amnesty was ever going to come through.
“Was there something you wanted to talk to me about, Kid?”
“Oh, yeah. That couple in the hotel you were so interested in?”
“Well, I’ve got good news and not-so-good news. The pretty redhead isn’t married. They’re not a couple. What they are is a pair of federal agents.”
Heyes frowned, his heavy dark eyebrows drawing together. “How do you know that, Kid?”
“Well, first of all, they got a telegram from Washington.”
“Her name is Miss Dana Scully, and she referred to him as Agent Mulder.”
“Agent Mulder, eh? Certainly sounds like they could be federal agents. But let’s not jump to conclusions, Kid. Did they see you in the room when they said this?”
“I think so. Yeah, I’m sure of it. I passed right by them. I think Mulder even looked up at me.”
“Well, the federal government’s not after us, not that I know of. And if they spoke openly about it to the desk clerk with you in the room, it don’t sound like they’re undercover. So they’re probably investigating something else. Now that I think of it, Agent Mulder was saying something about ancient Indian legends when they passed by me on the porch that first night. I don’t think we’re the stuff of ancient Indian legends, do you?”
“Nah. You’re probably right. Although I’d feel a lot better moving on.”
Heyes got a set look on his face. “I really want to finish this job. I know you’re done today, but Bill wants me to stay until the end of the week. And even though I’m not gonna be working with him again, it just strikes me that this is something honest I could be good at. You know, for the future, when things are different for us. I don’t want to mess it up, unless we have some definite idea that those agents are onto us.”
Curry rolled his eyes. “Well, your pal Bill can just get you out of jail, then.” But then he smiled. Whenever Heyes acted all responsible like this, Curry felt better and better about their chances for the amnesty.
“Excuse me?” Heyes looked up from his beer to find the tall man called Mulder standing over him. “I’ve seen you two around our hotel. I don’t suppose you’re from around here, are you?”
“No,” Heyes replied. “Is there something we can help you with?”
“Can I speak to you privately?”
Curry gave him a steely-eyed look that would have frightened a lesser man, but Heyes just smiled. “What about?”
“A job we think maybe you can help us with. The desk clerk at the hotel said that you two had mentioned you might be looking for work. It’s just that,” the man gave a wry half-smile, “my partner is tied up with paperwork right now, and she’d like to talk to you, as well.”
The two outlaws looked at each other. “All right,” said Heyes, slowly. They followed the man out of the door. “Where are we going anyway?”
Curry threw a lethal look in Heyes’ direction this time, and his hand dropped to where he’d be able to draw quickly if it came to that. “What for?” he asked.
“He’s lending us an office. Does that make you uncomfortable?” asked Mulder in his soft, near-monotone.
Heyes broke in. “Now why would it make two honest citizens like us uncomfortable? My friend and I have just never seen the inside of a sheriff’s office, that’s all. Never had any call to.”
“The decor leaves a little something to be desired,” Agent Mulder deadpanned. “But we won’t be here for very long. Didn’t make sense to try to rent space, and didn’t quite seem professional, interviewing the locals over an iron bedstead. Will you excuse me for a moment? I just want to stop in the general store for something.”
As soon as he’d disappeared inside, Curry hissed, “Heyes, are you crazy? This must be a setup!”
“It’s a little obvious to be a setup. This Mulder is too smart for that.”
“How do you know that?”
Heyes grinned. “Easy, Kid. Those of us with brains can recognize others.”
But before Curry could retort, Mulder had emerged, empty handed, from the store. “No sunflower seeds,” he explained, and they continued on their way to the sheriff’s office. Heyes wondered what he wanted sunflower seeds for, anyway. Maybe he had a garden back home in Washington.
As they made their way to the back room where Dana Scully was waiting for them, Heyes noticed that his wanted poster, and the Kid’s, were hanging on the wall, like always. They were half-obscured under more recent posters, though. As it should be. Maybe we’ll just sink more and more into obscurity until nobody remembers us at all, he thought. Hah! Not likely. Not the two most successful outlaws in the history of the West. He noticed that Mulder didn’t betray anything by a glance in the direction of the posters.
They found Dana Scully seated at a small wooden desk. She rose to greet them. Heyes wondered about that: a lady never rose for a gentleman. But the pretty redhead did a man’s work, so probably she didn’t want to be treated any different. Formal introductions were made. Special Agent Dana Scully, Special Agent Fox Mulder.
Fox? No wonder everyone calls him Mulder. Heyes felt some sympathy—he never much liked it when people called him Hannibal, either. He smiled. “I’m Joshua Smith, and he’s Thaddeus Jones.”
Curry extended his hand to Mulder to shake, and then gallantly took Miss Scully’s hand to kiss it. Heyes saw her shrink slightly, and when it came his turn, he shook her hand, instead. She smiled at that. Her eyes were the prettiest shade of azure blue.
“Joshua Smith, huh?” Mulder asked. “You wouldn’t happen to be acquainted with a Jeremiah Smith, would you? An older gentleman.”
Heyes shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. He in trouble?”
“Quite the opposite. He could provide us with some invaluable assistance, if we could only locate him.”
Scully laughed softly. “Mulder, what are the chances of somebody knowing someone else just because they’re both named Smith? If Jeremiah Smith decides to turn up again, he knows where to find us.”
“Hope springs eternal, Scully. But we brought these two here to talk about a job.”
“We’re all ears,” said Heyes. I’m tied up on a job until the end of the week, but my friend here…”
“I might be available, depending on what the work is,” said Curry, shortly.
“Well, you see, there’s an abandoned mineshaft a little way outside of town, and we’re investigating some reports of strange occurrences that have been taking place there. And the locals have a little superstition about it.” There was an intensity in Mulder’s hazel eyes that Kid Curry wasn’t sure he liked.
His partner cut him short. “What Mulder is saying is that we haven’t been able to get a local guide. We need someone to take us out there.”
“And you two look like outdoorsmen. We’re not used to this kind of country, and if we can’t get an actual guide, we could still use someone who’s more familiar with the type of landscape than we are.”
Heyes felt a little confused. Federal agents didn’t generally spend their time investigating Indian legends. “What are you investigating? A superstition?”
“Apparitions, strange noises, lights.”
“You came all the way from Washington, D.C. to investigate spooks?” asked Curry, incredulously.
Mulder gave this a wry smile. “I’ve been accused of spookiness before. Yeah, we came from Washington to investigate tribal legends.”
“So what you’re sayin’ is you’d like me as an escort to this mineshaft? Just to kind of look out for you?”
Curry nodded. “I think I can do that. Sure. How much you payin’?”
The next morning, Kid Curry went out early to hire a couple of extra horses for his new clients. He returned to the hotel to find them waiting, Fox Mulder looking impatient and Dana Scully looking pleasant but a little resigned. Curry had the distinct sense that she was going along with one of her partner’s harebrained schemes, and that she was more than a little skeptical about how it was going to turn out. Curry could understand that. Hell, he lived that.
He helped them with their equipment, tying a couple of miner’s lanterns and some rope onto their saddles, and loading up the saddlebags with other things suitable for exploring old mine shafts. Dana Scully swung onto her horse and handled it with rather more skill than Curry had expected from an Eastern city lady, but despite her small size, she quickly let the horse know who was in charge. Mulder, on the other hand, was obviously not an experienced rider, and, despite his height and his athletic build, he looked more than a little uneasy on horseback.
“So where we headed? I’m almost as much of a stranger in these parts as you are, remember,” said Curry.
“The mine shaft’s about three miles outside of town,” said Mulder. “We’d better get going.” He spurred his horse and, despite his slightly unsteady seat, Curry had to make quick work of it to catch up with him.
They reached the mine after a bit of hot and dusty riding. Mulder was so eager to get there that he practically sprung from his horse, as he pulled up beside the entrance to the mine. After lighting their lanterns, the trio stepped into the mine, the eager Mulder first, and Curry cautiously bringing up the rear. The entrance to the mine shaft was dark and wide, but the passage that opened out from it turned narrow very quickly. It sloped down quite steeply, so they held onto the metal rings that had been fastened to the walls at regular intervals.
The agents wandered around for what seemed like hours in the dark narrow confines of the mine, Mulder consulting an old map regularly. Curry accompanied them, but the longer they wandered, the less idea he had of what they might be looking for.
Fox Mulder still had that peculiarly intense expression on his face, so Curry gave up trying to talk with him as a bad job. Instead, he addressed himself entirely to Scully. “Excuse me for sayin’ so, ma’am, but I don’t think you’re gonna find what you’re lookin’ for. This mine seems to be one hundred percent abandoned.”
Agent Scully turned and looked at her partner. “He’s right, Mulder. We’ve been here for hours, and we haven’t seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. And, frankly, I don’t like enclosed spaces all that much.”
“Scully, it’s got to be down here. All of the legends indicate…” Mulder broke off. “Why don’t we come back tonight?”
But before she could reply, Curry had jumped in. “That’s just downright crazy. You can’t go down a mine at night. If you get lost, or something happens, how you gonna find your way out without that light at the entrance? You can’t.”
“What if these phenomena only occur at night? What if we’ve come all this way and there’s something down there and we never find out because the two of you are so focused on some ridiculous safety precaution?” Mulder practically growled with frustration.
“We’ll try again tomorrow. And we can reevaluate the situation after that. Did the Indian legends say anything about nighttime?”
“They weren’t that specific,” replied Mulder sulkily.
On the way home, Curry drew his horse up to Scully’s. “He always get this way?” he asked, indicating Mulder with a nod.
Dana Scully smiled. “Sometimes he’s worse. And sometimes he is frighteningly right. Mulder’s a brilliant agent. It’s just that the way he goes about things can be a little peculiar, especially if you’re not used to him. But he’s the best I’ve ever worked with.”
“Well, Heyes, that was a complete waste of time.”
“A waste of time you’re gettin’ paid for, don’t forget, Kid.” Heyes was stretched out on his bed, reading, while his partner was washing up after the long day’s ride.
“And paid pretty good,” Curry smiled. But his smile disappeared, as he looked at the dirty water in the basin. “How come I got another dusty job, and you’re still sittin’ in that office, looking at drawings of buildings with your good buddy Bill?”
Heyes just grinned. “I’ve told you why, Kid, and you know you don’t want to hear it again, don’t you?”
“Don’t start with me, Heyes,” Curry rolled his eyes. “I’m tired, I’m hungry and I’m thirsty, and I don’t want to hear about how you got brains. I’ve had a long, hard day, and I spent a lot more of it underground than I would have liked to.”
“Did you see anything? Any of their Indian spirits or anything?”
“Nah, nothing. I’d almost think that Mulder was half-cracked, only she don’t seem crazy one bit, and she treats him like he’s on the level.” He shrugged, and then ran his fingers through his wavy blond hair. “What ya readin’, anyway, Heyes?”
“Somethin’ called The Last of the Mohicans, by this guy called Cooper. It’s pretty good. It’s about back when the East was still like the West is now.”
“You figure the West’ll get to be like the East, in time?”
“Parts of it, Kid. But I think parts of it’ll always be wild and free. What do you think?”
Kid Curry shrugged. “Reckon you’re right. So let’s get down to the saloon and be wild and free ourselves.”
Heyes groaned, as he put down the book and swung his legs around over the side of the bed. “Saloon sounds good. But not too wild and free. I gotta get to work early tomorrow.”
“Me too,” sighed the Kid. “Heyes, what’s happened to us? I mean, I still like the idea of going straight and everything, but don’t you think we’re getting just a little bit boring?”
“Us, boring?” Heyes paused for a minute and frowned, thinking about it. “Nah.” He thought again another minute and looked at the Kid. “Do you think?”
The next morning, Curry was pleased to find Agents Mulder and Scully waiting for him, when he arrived with the horses.
“Good morning,” said Mulder, almost cheerfully. “Ready for another day of pointless explorations?” He smiled, a rarity. “Scully and I had a very interesting conversation with a native gentleman we met last night, and I have a feeling that today may be a little more interesting than yesterday.”
Curry looked at Dana Scully inquiringly. “That so?”
She took up the thread of the narration. “Apparently the phenomena are keyed to the phases of the moon. Yesterday was the day of the new moon—there was no moonlight at all. Now we’ve entered a new phase. Of course, it’ll be several weeks until there is a full moon, but according to our informant that doesn’t matter. It’s during the waxing and waning phases that the phenomena tend to occur.”
“So you believe that one night’s gonna make a difference?”
“I believe that we’ve got another piece of information. I also believe that our informant gave us a basis for making a scientific judgment about the phenomena.”
It was Mulder who responded. “That it’s completely random.”
Scully shot him a dirty look, but she swung onto her horse with rather more enthusiasm than she had the day before.
The mine was as dark and empty as it had been on the previous day, and the explorations went on with as much apparent fruitlessness as they had the day before. Curry found himself getting pretty bored, just holding lanterns, and taking custody of samples. Still, this time Scully seemed almost as interested as Mulder, and Curry was sure that meant something. Of course, he was afraid it might mean that she was just as crazy as her partner was, after all, and he wondered if it was catching.
But then he saw the lights coming from the bottom of one of the abandoned pits, where there shouldn’t have been any lights, and he was certain it was catching, because now he knew he was crazy, too.
It was early afternoon of the next day, and Hannibal Heyes had just taken leave of his employer. “Won’t be needing you for the rest of the afternoon, or tomorrow, Smith, but I’ll pay you until the end of the week, like I promised,” Bill had said. Heyes patted his vest pocket, which contained his pay and a rather generous bonus. It also contained a reference letter, testifying to the talents and abilities of one Joshua Smith, which Heyes planned to forward to Lom Trevors in Wyoming, for safekeeping, just as soon as he got the chance. Maybe the governor would like to know just how effectively Hannibal Heyes had become a model employee and model citizen.
But before he did that, there was something he wanted to look into. The Kid had come home the previous evening with stories of odd flashing lights, and lots of strange soil and ore samples which Agent Scully had loaded him down with.
It didn’t sound right, and Heyes wanted to look into these so-called federal agents and their credentials. Certainly a man who couldn’t be stopped by anything short of a Pierce & Hamilton ‘78 could let himself into a hotel room or two. If he had a thought about the invasion of their privacy, or the fact that what he was doing wasn’t strictly legal, he countered it with the thought of just how frightened Kid Curry had looked when he’d returned to the hotel last night. He hadn’t said anything about what he’d seen; in fact, he’d been unusually quiet all evening. And he’d drunk a fair amount of whiskey—certainly more than he usually did unless he was celebrating something—to virtually no effect. Oh, at the fourth shot, or the fifth, his hands had finally stopped trembling—but that was about it.
All that night his mumbling kept waking Heyes up, all the way across the room. “What’s that light?” he’d suddenly ask, just as Heyes was managing to drift off to sleep. “That sound—I’ve never heard anything like it.” Or worse, “Make it stop. Can’t you make it stop, Agent Scully?”
Whatever they were up to, it was having an effect on his partner that he didn’t like, and he wanted to do something about it. Usually it was Kid Curry, with his fast draw, who protected him. This time, though, Heyes wanted to protect his partner.
Somehow, he felt less comfortable about breaking in on a lady, so it was Agent Mulder’s room he first let himself into, with a simple picklock. He supposed he oughtn’t to carry them anymore, since it did have the unfortunate side effect of leaving him in temptation’s way. But you just never knew when they were going to come in handy.
Special Agent Fox Mulder wasn’t exactly tidy, that was for sure. As Heyes looked around the room, with its piles of papers, books, and boxes, he wondered how this man had managed to travel on the stagecoach, without his own separate baggage wagon. Mulder must just be the type who could make a big mess with very few raw materials, he mused. Since there was no logical order that he could discern, he’d start with the pile nearest him.
It was a particularly uninteresting pile, consisting primarily of documents relating to the ownership of the mine, and geographic surveys of the area. He’d just replaced it and begun on the next one when the door suddenly opened.
“Mister Smith! What are you doing here?” Agent Dana Scully stood in the doorway, hands on her hips. “These are Agent Mulder’s private papers you’re looking at. Not to mention his private room you’re currently standing in.”
Heyes turned his broadest, most winning smile on her. His brown eyes looked as open and ingenuous as they possibly could, and his tongue was at its silver best as he said, “Why, Miss Scully, I found a note at the hotel desk instructing me to go through these papers looking for a particular map which my friend had—” But he pulled up short, as Dana Scully stopped him cold with the icy look in her eyes.
“Surely you can do better than that, Mr. Smith. Unless you’re willing to produce the note, and accompany me down to the desk clerk, so that he can confirm that he let you into the room. What’s the real story? Why did you break in here?”
He regrouped himself, in order to try again. “I’ve just told you. I got a message—”
“Why don’t you try telling the truth?” she asked.
He heard a click, and looked up at the very solid gun in the hand of the unsmiling woman.
“All right. I broke in because I was worried about my friend. Yesterday evening he wouldn’t tell me about what he saw at the mine, and that’s not like Thaddeus. He tells me everything. And then he talked in his sleep all night, and he said the strangest things. I finished my job early, and I thought I’d see if I could find any answers.”
“Your concern for your friend is admirable, Mr. Smith, but why didn’t you just ride out to the mine?”
“I guess I thought I might be more likely to find some answers right here.”
“Well,” she said, “it’s highly irregular. You’ve just committed a serious federal offense, you know, breaking into a federal agent’s room and looking at his private documents. But, as it so happens, I’ve just come back to get my medical bag. Your friend and mine were both injured when part of a tunnel collapsed. I could use your help digging them out.”
“Digging them out?” The Kid couldn’t be…?
“Don’t worry. They’re both perfectly safe. But they have been injured, and they are both partly pinned under some debris. I came back to get help, since I couldn’t move the rubble on my own.”
Heyes smiled again, this time more tentatively. “Would you mind taking the gun off of me, in that case?”
She slowly lowered it. “I can trust you, Mr. Smith?”
“Miss Scully, if Thaddeus is hurt, there’s nothing I want to do more than help him. Should I run and get the doctor?”
“I am a doctor,” she said. “Now come with me.”
Heyes followed her quickly, his concern for the Kid his primary thought. But he couldn’t help but think about Dana Scully, as well. She was a federal agent, and a doctor, and the prettiest woman he’d seen in a long time. If she next told him that she was going to sprout wings and fly to the mine, he’d only be half surprised.
She caught him smiling to himself. “What’s so funny, Mr. Smith?” she asked, tonelessly.
“Nothing, Miss Scully. Or should I call you Doc Scully? Nothing at all.”
She fetched her bag, and hurried downstairs, to where her horse was waiting. He had to go to the stable and fetch his, which he did expeditiously, and then they rode the three miles to the mine faster, as Dana Scully remarked to him, than she could ever remember covering that ground.
When they arrived at the mine, she handed him a lantern. “They’re on the second level, down this way to the right.”
It took his eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darkness, and for a long time, it seemed that all he had to the follow was the light of Scully’s lantern ahead of him. Gradually, however, he began to make things out around him, by the light of his own lantern. The mine had been abandoned for perhaps a dozen years, which wasn’t very long, but was a long time in the history of this particular settlement.
“They’re down this way,” Scully explained.
They continued down the corridor for a ways. After a little while, they heard a voice. “Scully, is that you?” Fox Mulder’s voice called out.
“Mulder? I’ve brought Mr. Smith. Are you and Mr. Jones okay?”
“Fine. There were the lights again, just after you left. And nothing since.”
“The lights?” Heyes asked. Curry had talked about the lights in his sleep, and Heyes didn’t have the slightest idea what he was talking about.
Scully spoke more softly. “It’s one of the phenomena we’re investigating. Strange lights from the bottom of the mineshaft. Mulder believes there’s something down there—something of extraterrestrial origin.”
“Extra…terrestrial? Like something not from, uh, the earth? But that ain’t possible.”
“Mulder believes otherwise. We’ve been investigating extraterrestrial phenomena for some time now. I’m not entirely convinced of their existence, but I can’t just dismiss them, either. Not after what I’ve seen.” She turned around and smiled at him briefly, her face glowing in the light of her lantern. “It must sound very strange to you. It sounded strange to me, too, at the beginning.”
Heyes shook his head. “I never even heard of such a thing before. Is that what the Indians think?”
“The Indians think it has something to do with their tribal gods, I believe. Look, there they are,” she pointed out as they continued down the hallway.
Kid Curry and Fox Mulder were both on the floor of the tunnel, each of them pinned down by some of the rocks that had collapsed from the roof of the excavation. Heyes began to move forward, but Scully put her hand up to restrain him. “Move cautiously, Mr. Smith. We don’t want to risk bringing down any more.”
She walked forward softly, and Heyes followed behind her, trying to step as gently as she did. When they reached their companions, Heyes moved to Curry’s side, and Scully to Mulder’s. “Hey, Thaddeus. You okay?”
“Been better. The problem’s that my right arm’s pinned down by the rubble, and my left one’s squeezed up against the tunnel wall. Can’t really move it to free myself.”
The left one didn’t sound so bad, but…his shooting arm, thought Heyes, unhappily. Please may that not be too badly injured. “We’ll have you out of there in a moment,” he promised, and began shifting pieces of rock. He could barely lift them. No wonder the petite Agent Scully hadn’t been able to free the trapped men. “You think anything is broken?”
“Nah,” said Curry, sitting upright. He leaned forward and began trying to help Heyes move a rock that was jammed against his thigh. “Just pretty bruised, I think. Go help Agent Scully with Mulder—he’s in worse shape than me.”
“I’m fine,” came Mulder’s voice from where he was pinned in place, on the other side of the tunnel. “I wish somebody would tell Scully that.”
“Hold still, Mulder,” his partner insisted. “I want to check for signs of internal injuries. And you, over there, Mr. Jones, don’t move until I have a chance to look at you. You could end up injuring yourself a lot more. Wait until I can help Mr. Smith with those larger pieces.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Curry, obediently. “You a doctor?”
“Yes, I am,” said Scully, and returned her attention to her partner.
He was anything but obedient. “I’m fine,” he said, insistently. “Nothing broken.”
“How can you tell?” asked Scully, skeptically. “You haven’t even moved your legs yet.”
She rose and joined Heyes at Curry’s side, giving her assistance with one final piece of rock which was too heavy for Heyes alone. After she’d examined him briefly, and found nothing particularly amiss, she and Heyes moved over to Mulder. The two of them tried to lift the large rock that had him pinned to the wall. After a moment, Curry came and joined them. He wasn’t in any condition to do any heavy lifting, but he added that final bit of leverage that made all the difference, and they managed to free the federal agent.
“So just exactly what happened, after I went to get help, anyway?” asked Scully.
Mulder stretched, experimentally. “Light show got more intense, and then faded away for awhile. Then there were some strange noises, and then more lights. No movement that I could detect.”
Curry addressed his partner. “Strangest thing I ever seen, Joshua. Just like he said.”
Now Mulder attempted to stand, but he sunk against the tunnel wall, wincing with pain.
“What is it, Mulder? Sprain? Broken?”
“Neither,” he said, gritting his teeth, “but I’ve got a bad gash in my leg. I think you’re going to have to bind it up.”
Heyes and Curry watched, as Scully examined a torn place in her partner’s trousers. “Your right thigh is bleeding pretty badly. We’d better get you back to the hotel.”
“Can’t you just bandage it? The phenomena are clearer than they’ve ever been, tonight. I want to go in closer.”
“Mulder, that’s crazy. You’ve been severely injured.”
“Please, Scully.” There was a pleading look in his hazel eyes, and his usually composed features showed an uncharacteristic emotion.
“All right,” she sighed. Heyes wondered if she always gave in that easily. She didn’t seem like the type. It must be Mulder who had that effect on her.
Scully reached into her medical bag and pulled out some gauze and a bottle of something unpleasant-looking, which she swabbed on Mulder’s thigh. Then she pulled out some more gauze and bound his wound, reaching around inside his torn-open pants leg to do so. There was an unconscious intimacy about the gesture that struck Heyes. Even though he’d heard of lady doctors before, it was still odd to see the professionalism she brought to an action that seemed so personal.
When she was finished, Mulder stood up again, this time gritting his teeth. “I’m okay. Ruined these pants, though.”
“How about you, Mr. Jones? Do you have anything that needs seeing to?”
“No, ma’am. I think I’m just a bit bruised. No cuts, though.”
Just then, there was a sudden flash of light from the end of the tunnel. “Come on,” said Mulder, bending down to pick up his lantern, and straightening again with only the slightest grimace. He was off like a shot, and the others hastened to follow him.
What they did see, when they had hurried down the passage and to the end of a corridor, was almost unbelievable. The light was emanating from a metal structure that sat in a cavern which opened out from the tunnel. It was like…it was like nothing Heyes had ever seen. He turned to his partner, who seemed similarly stunned. “What is it?” he murmured.
“It represents a technology not presently known on earth,” said Mulder.
“And it’s going to stay that way,” said a voice from behind them. “Agent Mulder, I should have known you’d be coming to call. I suggest you and your companions turn around.”
A trio of men were holding guns on them. Two of them were large and nondescript, dressed in dark and inappropriately citified clothing, but it was the speaker who claimed their attention. Not that he was particularly notable looking. He was an older man, heavily wrinkled, with graying hair. A cigarette smoldered between his lips. But he gave off an aura of quiet menace, the likes of which Heyes had never experienced before, not with all the outlaws and desperadoes he’d ever known. “Agent Scully, of course, at your partner’s side, as usual.” He looked curiously at their companions, and after a moment, recognition seemed to dawn. “Nice company you’re keeping, Mr. Mulder. Do you have any idea who these two are?”
“Smith and Jones? They’re acting as our guides.”
“Oh, come now, Mr. Mulder. I know you want to believe, and all that, but even you can’t be so naive as to fall for such obvious aliases as Smith and Jones. These men who are helping you are wanted outlaws, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”
Mulder glanced quickly at his companions, but he contained his surprise. His voice hardened. “I don’t much care who they are. All I know is that the truth is down there, and you’re keeping me from finding it.”
“Agent Mulder, don’t you know by now that if we felt the public ought to know about what’s down there, the public would know. My men have rigged this mine to blow, and if you and your partner and your outlaw friends want to see another day, I’d suggest you get going. Now.”
“Come on, Mulder!” Scully was tugging at his arm. “You know he’s not bluffing.”
“Very good, Agent Scully. I’m glad to see at least one of you takes me seriously.”
Mulder glared at the Cigarette Smoking Man for another moment, and muttered, “Black-lunged bastard,” and then turned to his companions. “Run!”
They ran as quickly as they could, Heyes helping the injured Mulder as Curry did the best he could with his own injuries. After what seemed like an eternity in the dark corridors, they found themselves at the mouth of the mine. They made their way to where their horses were waiting, and swung themselves quickly onto their horses, Heyes and Scully boosting the weakened Mulder onto his, while Kid Curry swung himself up easily. He’d had to ride in worse shape than this. But despite Mulder’s condition, they pulled out of there as fast as they’d ever ridden. As fast as when we had an angry posse after us, thought Heyes. Maybe faster. They rode into the desert for a few minutes, and they heard a tremendous explosion.
“That must have taken more dynamite than I ever knew existed,” wondered Heyes. “Do you think that man escaped?”
“The smoking man?” asked Mulder. “Of course he did. Those were his men that set the charge, remember. Besides, you can’t kill his kind.” The outlaws looked at Scully, expecting her to protest. She didn’t.
“So, are you going to arrest us?” asked Curry, more directly.
Mulder and Scully simply looked at them.
“My partner means on suspicion of being those notorious outlaws Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. Which, of course, we’re not.”
“Relax, Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry. We’re very special investigators, and you don’t fall under our jurisdiction.”
“Why do you take that smoking man’s word against mine?” Heyes asked.
“Two reasons,” said Scully. “One, because there’s very little that man doesn’t know. And two, because it would have taken a talented and experienced thief to get into Mulder’s room as easily as you did.”
“But you ain’t gonna actually do anything about it?” Curry wanted to get to the point.
“In a word, no,” said Mulder.
“Well, I’m mighty pleased to hear that,” said Heyes, waxing eloquent. “Because, you see, we’re tryin’ to go straight. Have been for well over a year now. The Governor of Wyoming has promised us an amnesty if we can keep out of trouble, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Agent Scully spoke. “You’re not under our jurisdiction. Besides, Mr. Jones? Curry? is going to want to take a long soak in a tub, for that bruising, when he gets back to the hotel, and he’s going to need to rest. But let’s play this fair. Mulder and I are going to take our time on the way back to the hotel, maybe stop at the local doctor’s to have him patched up properly, and then have some dinner. We won’t be seeing you again. There’s a stage out of here this evening. We’re hoping you’ll be on it. That’s a request.”
The outlaws nodded.
“You trust the governor? To keep his promise?” Mulder asked.
“We’ve got to, don’t we?”
“Trust no one, Mr. Heyes, that’s my advice.”
The two outlaws looked at each other. “Now, that’s advice we’ve always lived by. But we’re learning there are some folks you can trust.”
“Trust us,” said Dana Scully, with a pleasant smile. “Hurry up and get on out of here.”
“We’re on our way,” said Curry. “We’re on our way.”
“But before we go, what was that thing?” asked Heyes.
Mulder had a faraway look. “I never got close enough to get a better look than you did. Some kind of technology far in advance of anything we can do. Probably abandoned a long time ago and just continuing to operate on its own. Who knows? There are Indian legends about gods other than their Great Spirit. Perhaps some of them are really stories about visitors from someplace very far away.”
Maybe he was crazy, thought Heyes. But after what they’d seen…just maybe he wasn’t. The Kid would have plenty of stories to tell about what he’d seen during those hours in the mine.
And with just a glance back at the pretty federal agent and her partner, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry put their horses to one last test of speed. Roswell had been good to them, but getting out of Roswell would be good, too.
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