TITLE: Staking it Out

NAME: frogdoggie

E-MAIL: frogdoggie@hotmail.com


RATING: R for violence, language and mention of male anatomy. Mulder & Skinner friendship. M/SK UST. This story contains some Slash overtones, but nothing graphic. But, if anything about Mulder and Skinner possibly being attracted to each other bothers you, you'll probably want to skip this fic.

SUMMARY: Mulder and Skinner are stuck on a Halloween stake-out together. Missing a part of this story or just want to read more of my fic? Then surf here: https://www.squidge.org/3wstop.

FEEDBACK - YES PLEASE, AND THANK YOU SIR, CAN I HAVE ANOTHER? Comments, suggestions and healthy debate are always welcome. Flames? They only serve to warm my body and mind.

ARCHIVE: Sure. Anywhere - as long as my name and e-mail addy stay on it.

TIMESPAN/SPOILER WARNING: I'm not sure when this takes place. LOL. It's probably an AU. At any rate, it has a Season 5 feel to it, maybe. Small spoiler for "One Breath".

KEYWORDS: story slash Skinner Mulder R

DISCLAIMER: Fox Mulder, Walter Skinner, Dana Scully and all other X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions and 20th Century FOX Broadcasting. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from their use.

This is an answer to the annual IWTB Halloween challenge. The challenge elements are included in the author's notes at the end.

My thanks to Truthygirl for spur of the moment and speedy beta.

Staking It Out
by frogdoggie

If someone told me I would be sitting in an abandoned house on a Halloween stake-out with Assistant Director Walter Skinner, I would have told them to pull the other leg. But I can't deny the fact that here I am, cup of Berres Brother's hot, black coffee in hand, staring through the cracked and partly boarded up living room window into the dark of a chilly fall evening. The suspect's house is right across the street, and dozens of trick-or-treaters walk down the neighborhood sidewalk here in Concord, Wisconsin. I guess they still allow evening trick-or-treating in small town Midwest America.

Skinner and I are experiencing our enforced togetherness courtesy of one Simon Heck's cross country kidnapping and murder spree. He started out in DC, gradually worked his way out West and finally ended up back in his home town in Wisconsin. I guess Skinner wanted in on this one very badly. Yeah, well once I heard about it, so did I. So here we are, helping the local FBI field office and state police apprehend Mr. Heck.

Skinner's fingers flex on the night vision binoculars as he examines the white clapboard house across from us.

I'm not sure if he's tense because he's not overly excited to be sitting here with me...or he's simply impatient for something to happen. But we've been sitting here in silence while he slowly hand polishes the binoculars for a while now and it's starting to get on my nerves.

"So, sir...nice night for a stake-out," I say. His head swivels and his eyes meet mine. His hands slowly lower the binoculars to the window sill.


Even in the near dark, I can see every line in Skinner's face. They all say he's not in the mood for chit chat. Yeah, well...I guess he's not overly thrilled with the situation. After all...he thinks we're here staking out a human kidnapper and murderer and I just told him I think we're here after a creature, a goblin, who happens to have a predilection for killing women with long blonde hair. No...my boss isn't a happy camper right now.

"Ok, ok, I know we're supposed to be on watch, but...I'm used to being on stake-out with Scully and we usually...talk a bit more. You know...make small talk."

That gets a rise out of him. His jaw flexes.

"I'm sorry Agent Scully's mother had pneumonia and she took leave to care for her," He places the binoculars to his eyes again and turns back to the window. His jaw muscles jump. "I realize you'd probably rather be here with her."

"I didn't mean I would prefer to be here with Scully, sir. I just thought we could kill some time by..."

Skinner lowers the binoculars and returns his attention to me, his brow furrowing.

"Talking further about your...theory?" he asks.

I give him an innocuous smile. We stare at each other for a few heartbeats. Skinner studies me. I study him.

His dark brown eyes are even darker, almost inky behind his lenses. The dim light from the street light down the road casts his face in shadows that make it resemble cut rock. He looks like stone sitting there...like the Sphinx. I think, not for the first time, how little I know about this man who probably has held, maybe still holds, my life in his hands. How little I know...but how sure I am that somewhere beneath that granite exterior, beneath the Sphinx-like mystery is a friend. If only I could hammer some of that rock, break it up. If I could, I might confirm what lies inside. Well...maybe I should start out small...one small hammer tap at a time.

"No...just talking."

I watch Skinner's eyes...slide away. A decision of some kind has been made. He places the binoculars on the windowsill, pushes back slightly and reaches for his own coffee.

"About what then?"

Oh yeah, that's right, Skinner. Leave it up to me to choose your poison. Thanks. But, I guess I asked for it by suggesting conversation. I turn and stare out the window.

Fall leaves are blowing down the sidewalk as several local kids scamper by, flashlights and an assortment of pillow cases, grocery bags and plastic pumpkin treat buckets in hand. I study the darkened house across the street as the kids make their way through the fence gate, up the front walk and onto it's porch. They ring the buzzer and knock on the front door...but no one answers. The kids run back down the walk and then off down the sidewalk, running past the unmarked bu-car parked down the street. Agents Wilde and Carruthers, two of our back-ups watch from that vantage point.

Without looking back at Skinner I reply.

"Well...for instance...did you go trick or treating when you were a kid?"

I feel him shift next to me.

"Is this a backdoor move into a debate about why trick-or-treating should have been called off? I already had that discussion about making things look as normal as possible with the State police. I'm aware it's a calculated risk, but given the profile you actually gave to the locals..."

"With all due respect, I already backed you up on that point, sir. I'm not going to debate it. No...I was really curious about what you did for Halloween as a kid."

We're sitting very close on straight back chairs. I can smell his spicy aftershave...and when he shifts this time, I can also feel his muscles tense slightly where his leg touches mine. I turn and look into his profile because he's watching the street through a space between the boards again.

"You make it sound like you doubt I had a childhood."

I shake my head.

"Sorry...I didn't mean it to sound that way. And I'm genuinely curious."

He glances at me again, his expression unreadable.

"If I tell you, it won't go any further?"

I chuckle.

"Nope, scout's honor," I reply, placing my coffee on the window sill.

He turns his head back to the window. His leg relaxes next to mine.

"My sister Sylvia and I used to trick-or-treat every year when we were kids," he says, his eyes focusing on the street again. He smiles a little at the memory and then takes a sip of coffee.

"That's not exactly something I'd want to gossip about. So come on, sir...give me the dirt."

He lets out a sudden snort and shakes his head in bemusement. The coffee cup is set down on the window sill.


"You know...what did you dress up as? Did you have a favorite costume?"

"If I tell you, I'll have to kill you."

"Hey...we're supposed to be talking here...sharing with each other."

He raises a skeptical eyebrow and I return it with one of my own. Finally the eyebrow lowers and he answers.

"All right, but you swear this goes no further."


"Smokey Bear."


"My favorite costume was Smokey Bear."

For a moment I resist the urge to burst out laughing.

Skinner scowls.

"It's not that humorous, Mulder. I had a thing for Smokey Bear, so what? He fought fires...wore a uniform...I was husky enough as a kid to pull it off..."

"Sir...you're not making this any easier..."

He looks at me and then chuckles.

"Yeah, I have to admit I looked damn ridiculous in that hat too...but I was really into the whole idea. I even had a Smokey Bear stuffed toy I took to bed. And if you tell anyone that...I really will shoot you."

I laugh quietly and reach for my coffee again, taking a deep swig of the warm liquid to compose myself.

"So, what did you do for Halloween?" Skinner asks. "You and your sister must have..." He stops suddenly, his face contrite and clears his throat. "I'm sorry...maybe that's not a good subject for you."

I lower my coffee cup and give him a small understanding smile.

"No...it's ok. I do have *some* good memories of my sister. Halloween when Sam and I were kids is pretty high up there on the good memory meter."

He nods and looks more comfortable.

"So what was your favorite costume?" he asks.

"Mr. Spock," I answer without hesitation.

"Ah, Star Trek. I can see you as Spock."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes...Mr. Spock...analytical, outwardly unemotional...but inwardly..."

I smile ruefully.

"...inwardly a mess of conflicted emotions."

"I was going to say, inwardly possessed of great heart," he mumbles, turning his head toward the window again. He picks up the binoculars and studies the house outside.

"Oh," I say, clearing my throat.



Skinner shifts a little as he focuses the binoculars.

"I wonder if this asshole is really going to make an appearance?"

He reaches down and picks up the small two way radio at his feet. It crackles with a little static. Skinner flips the send button and speaks into it.

"Agent Carruthers, anything from your position? Over," he hisses.

"Negative, sir. Nothing's moved. We've only seen trick-or-treaters at the front door. No lights inside. No sounds coming from the house. Over."

"All right. We haven't seen anything either. Contact us if anything changes. Over."

"Yes, sir. Over and out."

"Officer Reeves? Over."

An unmarked Wisconsin state police car with two officers inside is parked around the corner and across the street so that the officers can observe that side of the house.

"Nothing here either, sir. Over."

"All right. Report immediately if anything happens. Over and out."

Skinner lowers the two way radio to the floor again.

"He'll come back," I whisper, picking up my night vision scope.

"Chances are he will, since he doesn't know his victim flew the coop."

"Yeah, that."

"And? Oh wait...your *theory*."

"I thought you didn't want to talk about my theory?"

"Mulder...Simon Heck is not a...a...supernatural creature."

"Ah go on, sir...say it. Goblin. Simon Heck is not a goblin."

"All right, he's not a goblin. He's a kidnapper and murderer. A human monster not something out of a Wes Craven film."

"Sir, Anita Burrows's description seemed pretty close to a particularly malevolent type of goblin from legend if you ask me. The red cap, red from being dipped in the blood of..."

Skinner shakes his head.

"I think Anita Burrows was suffering from shock after a narrow escape from a man who certainly abused her both emotionally and physically before she was resourceful enough to escape that house on the corner over there. I hardly take that particular description of Heck at face value. Besides, Ms. Burrows ID'd him from the suspect photos."

"But you still warned the other agents and state police officers to watch out for...dangerous animals, like a pit bull or a similar dog."

Skinner sighs.

"Mulder...I may not believe in characters out of horror movies or creatures out of legend, but I do accept the possibility the victim saw something with large teeth and claws. So, I prepared my team for that eventuality, that's all."

Uh huh, sure. I guess he's not ready to admit he might be inclined to think something's a little odd about this case. I shrug. I know when to let sleeping goblins lie. There's no sense in debating the point when Skinner clearly doesn't want to admit he might be wrong.

Skinner gives me one last pointed look and we both go back to looking out the window. After a few moments of silence I lower my scope and make another conversational foray.

"So you know about Wes Craven?"

"My nephews rented 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' when they were staying with me once. He wrote and directed that, right?"

"Right. Lucky they didn't rent Halloween."

He lowers his binoculars and turns to me.


"Because Jamie Lee Curtis is baby-sitting in it when..."

"Oh. I didn't catch the inference. I didn't think of baby-sitting in connection with my nephews. They were 14 and 16 at the time."

"Ah," I reply, nodding a bit.

Skinner's silent for a few moments then he lowers the binoculars again and places them on the window sill. I place my scope next to them.

"You know quite a lot about horror films, don't you?" he says.

"Yeah...it's kind of a hobby of mine."

He stretches a little, cracking his neck. He looks out the window again. It's as if Skinner's trying to decide if he wants to continue the conversation. I wait patiently resigned to the fact that making small talk is probably something that my superior and I are never destined to participate in for very long. But then he surprises me.

"So, do you have a favorite?" he asks.

I run my hand through my hair and stretch a bit myself, arching my back to get a crick out. Skinner observes me stretch, his eyes unreadable again as he waits for my answer.

"I can't really say I have only one favorite...there are a lot of films I like. 'Halloween' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street' for example."

He tilts his chin and then turns to look out the window again.

"I'm partial to the old classics, I guess. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman...all those old black and whites from the 30s and 40s."

"From Universal."

"Yeah. Sylvia and I used to watch those when we were kids."

"Those are classics. It sounds like you got along well with your sister."

Skinner's jaw tenses. For a moment I think he's just going to tip his head in a curt nod. But instead he actually answers me. The answer is quiet and clipped. For once I think I'm actually seeing a crack in that rock hard surface.

"I did."

"Did? As in...used to get along?" Skinner sighs. "I'm sorry...maybe this isn't a good subject for *you*," I add.

He looks at me. Shadow completely obscures his eyes.

"Maybe it isn't."

I look down at my hands.

"All right. But if you ever want to talk about it..."

"Duly noted, Agent Mulder," he replies, turning his attention back to the window.

So much for building a rapport between us.

I let out a slow breath and straighten up. Skinner notices my actions and turns his head toward me again.

"Look, I'm sorry. I realize you're trying to be...sociable. I just...I'm not much for small talk I suppose. It's no reflection on you. It's just my nature when I'm working to be..."

"Focused on the job?"


Skinner studies my face again, forcing a reply from me.

"Were you always this by the book, sir?" I ask quietly. "Come on...tell me the truth. I bet you did your share of late night stake-out shooting the bull with your partner back in the day."

For a moment he just stares at me. Then he shakes his head again, chuckling.

"You don't give up, do you?"

I smile.

"Seems to me I've heard that comment from you before."

Skinner slowly nods.

"Yeah, I guess you have."

He pulls his trench coat up a little.

"Could use another cup of coffee...it's getting cold in here," he says.

"There's still some in the first thermos," I offer. "You want it?"

"We can split it," he offers.


As I'm reaching for one of the thermoses that sit at the side of my chair, Skinner speaks again.

"I didn't always go by the book, Mulder. I still don't sometimes...as I'm sure you realize," he says. There's a low rumble in his voice. The hint of strong emotion just below the surface. His tone is just short of sad irony.

I straighten up carefully, the thermos in one hand. I reach over for his coffee cup with my other hand. There's so much that could be said between us. So much that I know will have to remain unsaid...for now...and maybe forever.

"So which partner were you least by the book with?" I ask. Hot coffee pours into his cup as I tilt the thermos. It occurs to me as I observe the steam that comes off the coffee, that my question borders on questionable taste. Skinner is looking out the window again. "I mean...was there one in particular that you spent a lot of time talking to on a stake-out."

"Yeah, actually, my second partner and I were pretty close. I guess you could say we spent some time shooting the shit on stake-outs."

Skinner takes his cup with a nod of thanks. I pour the rest of the coffee into my cup.

"What was his name?"

"Jeffrey Schroeder."

The name sounds familiar...and then I remember where I heard it. Man, I'm doing a good job of bringing up sore subjects here, aren't I?

"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't realize you knew Jeff Schroeder."

"No apologies necessary, Mulder. But thank you. Jeff died in the line of duty. I console myself with the idea that he didn't die in vain."

I cap the thermos again and lower it down next to it's mate by my chair leg. Skinner takes a swig of his coffee and then puts the cup aside. He's on surveillance again, binoculars up, eyes on the house across the street. I sit and sip my coffee, my night vision scope up, my eyes on the house as well.

We're quiet for a while then, the seconds ticking away, the plume of our breath caused from the dropping temperature wafting out in front of us.

Finally Skinner speaks again.

"Mulder, I don't reject your theories out of hand. Despite my previous comments about being afraid to look deeper into my own...unusual experience in Vietnam...I do try to listen and understand." I glance at him and he looks at me out of the corner of his eye. "I'd be derelict in my duty if I didn't consider all the possibilities...even some extreme ones if in the end they bring results as your extreme possibilities frequently do."

I refocus on the house across the street.

"But you need the facts more often. You're content to allow me and Scully to pursue the more extreme possibilities as long as our solve rate remains high."

"Something like that."

"You trust us."

His head swivels and I turn to look in his eyes.

"Yes, that's more to the point." I sense he's waiting for me to say I trust him. I hesitate just long enough for him to give me an understanding half-smile.

"You both inspire trust, Mulder. Never forget that...it's a valuable trait."

I nod.

"Yes, sir."

His eyes are back on the street and anything I was going to say about wanting to trust him is cut off by the sight of his jaw muscle in profile. It's jumping with tension. I raise my night scope and look outside.

"See something?"

"I'm not sure...I thought I saw something over on the right side of the house. A dark shape, crouching by the foundation."

I stare hard at the area he indicates with his chin.

"I think it's just a shadow..." I whisper.

Skinner reaches for the radio at his feet.

"Let's see if the troopers see anything."

I feel my muscles tense. I peer into the darkness at the side of the house. This might be it, I think as Skinner lifts the radio.

Suddenly there's a loud barking and a large shaggy brown dog dashes from the side of the house, jumps the picket fence that surrounds the yard, and runs up the street.

Skinner presses close to the space between the boards and looks out.

"Shit, it's a dog?"

The radio crackles.

"We have a dog at 3 o'clock, sir. Over. He's heading your way."

"Roger, Officer Blake. I see that. Over."

Carruther's voice comes over the connection.

"He just passed us going like a bat out of hell. False alarm. Over."

"That's a positive. False Alarm. But stay sharp, gentleman," Skinner says. "Over and out."

Skinner and I both exhale, our shoulders relaxing.

"I thought that was it," I whisper as Skinner puts the radio down.

"Yeah, me too. I got that adrenaline rush."

"So did I."

Not only did I get an adrenaline rush, but I'm also discovering the excitement went straight to my bladder as we sit staring at each other in the chilly room.

"Uh...sorry...the combination of the cold and the excitement..."

"Need to off load some coffee?"

"Oh, yeah."

Skinner chuckles.

"Go ahead. I'll keep watch."

"Ok. Be right back."

We've set up a small chemical toilet in what used to be the bathroom of this dilapidated 'chateau'. I rise from the straight back chair, flex my stiff legs and pull my flashlight out of my trench pocket. I'm careful not to shine it out through the boarded window as I leave Skinner, his eyes on the binoculars and the house again.

The bathroom is upstairs and luckily the stairs are in good shape. Still, I climb them carefully and then light my way down the hall to the bathroom at the end.

Once inside I place the flashlight on the back of the cracked porcelain sink, pointing it at the chemical toilet so I can see what I'm doing. I bend and lift the lid then stand up and unzip my fly.

The sound of a loud thump stops my hand as I'm shaking off. For some reason, the phrase 'things that go bump in the night' jumps into my mind. I grimace at the thought, stuff my penis quickly back in my pants and zip up.

I listen.

The thumping sound comes again. I frown, reach behind and pull my Smith and Wesson from the holster on my belt. Where is that coming from...

The next thud is directly over my head.

Ok, what the hell is that? I start to reach for my flashlight. There's a scraping above me. I look up. Shit...there's an attic up there and...and...a hole in the bathroom ceiling. I can just see a hole there...in the shadowed corner of the bathroom.

And I can see something in that opening. Something glowing in those shadows,...glowing a smoldering red. Two hot, red eyes.

Everything happens very fast then. I bring my gun up but the creature drops through the hole, hurtling down hard and fast into my chest. My weapon goes flying as does the flashlight. My assailant drives me to the floor in a tangled heap of flailing arms, kicking feet...and it's sharp, snapping teeth.

I know I'm yelling, making some kind of loud, incoherent howl of fearful protest. The thing rakes me across the chest, tearing my dress shirt to ribbons. It's on top of me, howling too. It's loud yowls split the air, it's fetid breath reeking of blood and human flesh as it struggles to reach my throat. Then in some mewling parody of human speech what must be the true form of Simon Heck finally tells me exactly what it wants.

"Hungry, hungry, hungry," it gurgles. Fuck, I think crazily, I was right...I told Skinner it'd come back because it hadn't gotten it's meal. I jam my knees up under the goblin and smash at it's skull with my fists as hard as I can. But it's strong, and I can feel it's jaws snapping closer and closer to my throat. I can see the tiny black pin pricks of it's pupils inside it's heated, glowing red eyes.

The roar of gunfire in the confines of the bathroom is loud in my ears. The creature shrieks as the shot hits it, but presses in for the kill. I shut my eyes, it's hot breath on my throat. Bang, bang, bang, bang...it takes four more staccato shots to finally send the goblin crashing backward. With a grunt, it slams into the wall and slowly sags down it. It leaves a trail of black blood in it's wake as it slips down.

Skinner stands in the bathroom doorway, a dark commanding figure behind a swirl of cordite smoke and flashlight illumination.

"Fuck me," he breathes out.

"No fucking shit," I wheeze.

Then he's all business as I scrabble away from Simon Heck's body. Gun up and pointed at the body, Skinner inches toward it. I stand and quickly retrieve my piece. By the time I reach the AD, he's got his flashlight trained on the heap lying against the wall.

"Fuck," Skinner sighs, holstering his weapon.

I resist the urge to say 'Jesus, Atticus, instead of that rabid dog you shot Boo Radley'. We're starring at the very human and very dead body of a wiry man with pale skin, long blonde, almost white hair, a red cap...and iron trimmed boots.

"I guess the boots would account for the thumping I heard."

"How the hell did he get in here?" Skinner asks, glancing around. "Did he come through the bathroom door.

I point skyward.

"Through the attic and then through there, I suppose. He dropped on me from above."

"Christ, Mulder..." Skinner shakes his head. Then he turns and sees my torn shirt in his flashlight beam. He moves forward, extending his hand toward the rips. His index finger probes gently through a slit in the fabric and brushes lightly over my skin. His finger is warm and a little callused. I shiver as he draws it back. There's blood on his fingertip. His brow furrows.

"You're hurt. I'm calling..."

Before he can say anything else, there's a clattering of many footsteps on the stairs and in the hallway. The room is suddenly crowded with FBI agents and State troopers.

"Call 911," Skinner barks, and Carruthers pulls out his cell phone and immediately obeys.

Skinner walks me carefully over to the edge of the claw foot tub.

"Sit down Mulder...your job's done here," he says.

I nod, take a seat and wait for the paramedics to arrive.


"Ok, Agent Mulder that should do it," the intern says. "You don't need a tetanus booster because you're within limits on your last one. But you'll want to take these as I said."

The young doctor turns and retrieves a piece of paper from the clipboard she left next to my leg.

I take the small, folded sheet from her and read it.

"And I take these twice a day?"

"Right. The antibiotics are just a precaution against infection. I think you'll be fine."

"Thanks," I smile. I glance down at my naked chest and the bandages that criss-cross it.

The sound of someone familiar clearing their throat draws my attention and I look up.

Skinner is standing in the examination room doorway.

"Look, Dad...no stitches," I say. He gives me a sour look. "Sorry...uh...the doctor's given me a clean bill of health, sir."

Is that just a ghost of a smile I detect? Maybe. Maybe not.

"That's good, Agent Mulder," he replies. "Thank you, doctor."

The intern smiles and moves away.

"All in a Halloween night's work. Take care gentlemen. I have other patients to see."

The doctor walks past Skinner. Her head barely reaches his muscular shoulder as she brushes past him. I stand up and look around. My shirt's over a chair back. I squint at it.

"Shit...my shirt's a total write-off."

"Here," Skinner says, taking his hand out from behind his back. He tosses me a red plaid shirt. "I asked Officer Blake if he had a shirt you could borrow. He looked to be about the same size."

I smile a little. The shirt feels soft and warm on my shoulders.


Skinner watches me as I maneuver the garment over my back, and then he speaks again.

"He looked like a homeless person, Mulder...like a dead homeless person," he whispers.

I pull the soft plaid shirt on and button it carefully over my bandages and then look up into Skinner's face. His eyes tell me he saw something other than a homeless man in his flashlight beam tonight. They also tell me that now is not the time to press it...he just shot what to the rest of the world looks like a man. I know he's unhappy enough about that idea alone.

"One sick homeless bastard if you account for the fact he had traces of human flesh trapped in his teeth. I guess he didn't believe in flossing," I reply.

Skinner smothers a grin.

"Agreed. So, he was a neglectful cannibal, but a human cannibal nonetheless...not a goblin."

"I guess all I can say is whatever he was...he was one strong son of a bitch."

"Most definitely," he replies with a nod.

We stare at each other for a moment. I can practically feel the weight of unsaid words that lies between us. A phone rings down the hall, breaking our silent examination of each other. I speak before Skinner can.

"I want to thank you, sir. Thank you for...everything," I reply.

He mumbles something about watching my back, doing his duty, looks away and makes a show of glancing around the room for a few seconds. His jaw muscles flex. Then he shifts a little and refocuses on me again.

"Listen, I don't know about you...but I'm starving. Must have been the adrenaline rush or something. I feel like I could eat a horse. You wanna grab a bite to eat? If you're up to it that is."

I grin a little.

"Breakfast on the Bureau?"

His lips curl up slightly.

"I'll expense it, yes."

"Yeah, then I'm up for that."

I smile at him again and this time he smiles back at me.

"Officer Blake recommended a truck stop on Hwy 26. The Pine Cone. They serve food 24/7."

"Sounds good," I reply, reaching for my trench coat. I carefully pull the coat on and Skinner moves back to allow me to walk past him. Outside the exam room door, he gestures toward two large doors at the end of the hallway.

"Parking lot's that way."

"Ah," I reply.

We fall into step next to each other under the florescent lights, the early morning shift in the hospital ER bustling around us. I glance at Skinner's profile. We're the same height but I'm less muscular...the same as when I was younger. I was tall and thin then. I think that's why Mr. Spock was a costume well suited to me.

As I look at Skinner I can almost imagine a tall, husky kid dressed as Smokey Bear...I can almost see the ranger's hat, blue jeans and shovel. I chuckle.

He glances at me.


"Did you have the shovel?"


"When you dressed as Smokey Bear? Did you have the shovel?"

"Damn straight," he deadpans.

I laugh as slightly ahead of me now, the AD pushes the doors at the end of the hall open.

I recall comparing Skinner to the Sphinx earlier. I thought he resembled that structure...he was like an edifice made of rock and containing many mysteries. I amend that analogy now as I watch his back. He stops briefly to push open the door at the end of the hallway, and an image of a different rock structure comes to mind. A rock wall suddenly presents itself in my minds eye. Yeah, the Berlin wall...falling...one chip at a time. I smile and follow Walter Skinner as he walks purposely out into the crisp Wisconsin dawn.

Author's notes: The challenge elements were:

Things that go "bump" in the night

Something that glows in the dark

A costume

A skeery monster

Reference to a horror movie

I think I got them all. ;-)

In addition, for those of you who might have a little 'Mulderesque' curiosity:

The goblin in the story is a redcap, a particularly malevolent goblin that is easily distinguishable by it's namesake red hat and fiery red eyes. Their caps are red because they dip them in the blood of their human victims. Redcaps wear

iron boots, but are swift on their feet. Normally they reside in castles and

watchtowers along the English-Scottish border, however, they move their residence often to avoid detection. So, I figured one ended up in Wisconsin. LOL.

-The End-