A Farce in Three Acts
Headaches for the Dead
Mulder's head hurt. Badly. He wondered vaguely what he could have drunk to give him such an appalling headache.
Fighting against the battering ram playing castle with his skull, he pulled his eyes open, the discombobulation in his skull causing the world to remain grey for a moment, before he saw the medical unit looking down at him. The younger man was almost smiling.
"Another bizarre case of defenestration," the young man said, gazing up from his patient briefly to catch sight of the third floor window above. The decorative railing which barred its lower half had been but a minor impediment to Mulder's fall.
"What happened?" Mulder asked, trying desperately to clear his mind. The street he lay on didn't look at all familiar, though the pain-making party in his head made it difficult for him to remember his own name, much less why he might have gone flying out of a third floor window in the middle of the night.
The EMTs ignored him, talking quietly to themselves. The older one hitched up his belt, disturbing the bulk of his large stomach.
"You know, sometimes I think just working for the government makes them psychotic. This is the fifth FBI agent to toss himself out today."
Something, some vague thought, floated through Mulder's calcifying brain functions. He must be dead. Funny, he hadn't thought that dead people could have headaches.
"Excuse me," he asked blearily. "Am I dead?"
"Yes, my dear," came the most ridiculous imitation of Glenda, the good witch of the North, he had ever heard. "Yes, you're dead."
Mulder looked around painfully, trying to find the source of the voice. "Where are you?"
"You must first accept your death, Fox Mulder," the good witch continued. "When you are at peace with your death, then you may see me."
Mulder looked around again anyway.
"Let go of this life, Fox Mulder," she continued, like one of those awful tapes you hear when you call to find out why VISA cut off your credit. "Let go, and be free to enter the joys of Heaven."
"Look, lady," Mulder said, maddened by the over-arching pain still filling his skull. "If I'm dead, why do I still have a headache?"
Glenda was getting a little irate. "That's not my problem, Fox Mulder. Just accept the fact that you're dead, and we can get on with it." Her voice regained its the-customer-is-always-right equanimity. "Your love has already accepted."
Mulder smirked. "The Barbi twins?"
She lost it again. "No, you idiot! Dana Scully!"
His sarcasm slipped. "Scully's dead?"
"Yes, Mulder," came his partner's sweet, whiskey voice. "And if you don't hurry up, maybe we'll just leave you for the Devil to deal with." He could feel her shudder. "I've seen the people he lets his little demons munch on. Ugh!"
Mulder blinked. "Alright," he said quietly, scarcely believing his own words, "so I'm dead. Now what?"
"Now," said the Glenda clone, stepping out of the nearby bushes. "Now, you make your way to Heaven."
Mulder stood up, his head still pounding, and looked around him. "Where's Scully?"
"Unlike you," she said, just a touch of that yes-sir-whatever-you-say-sir in her voice. "Dana Scully knew when it was time to move on. She's in Heaven already." She lead him to a gently sloping ramp, surrounded by clouds and light. "Come with me, Fox Mulder."
Mulder followed, bemused. "Look, isn't this all a little... Miltonesque?"
"You mean Dante," she refuted sweetly.
Guess when you die, your mind goes, Mulder thought. "Okay, Dante, then. I mean, come on. Does God really need a winding staircase?"
Glenda the bitch reappeared. "No, you fool, God doesn't need a staircase, or a ladder, or you. This is not for his benefit, you know." Her voice muted. "You're just lucky you've got friends in high places."
She rounded on him. "Look, if it were up to me, you'd be in Hell so fast, it'd make your head spin--not just ache. But she seems to think you're worth something, and God agrees. Why, I don't know. Just shut up and walk!"
"Listen, you fairy-mongering little reject from Oz!" Mulder snapped. "You're a public servant, aren't you? It's your job to do what they say. So don't give me any grief. I have enough of a headache already!"
Glenda took a step back, anger smoldering in her colorless eyes. "Don't think you're such hot shit, Mulder. Just because Dana Scully got shot by that snotty little archer so she's in love with you, don't think you can just piss off anyone you want." She sized him up crudely. "I give you three days, before God sends you spelunking into Satan's domain."
Mulder suddenly flashed her a rogue's smile. "What do I get if I win?"
"I'll bet you," he said, as they rounded the corner toward Heaven. "What do I get if God lets me stay?"
She gave him a smothering glare. "Marriage isn't necessary in Heaven, you know."
He stared at her.
"Dana Scully," she stated simply. "If you can convince God that you actually belong here, you can have Dana Scully for the rest of your eternity." She smiled wickedly. "And if you lose..."
"If you lose, you work for my friend Apollo--as a ferrier. Shoeing those horses that carry his sun chariot." She looked supremely confident, and Mulder began to wish he had never made this bargain.
"Are we agreed, Fox Mulder?" she asked, holding out an exquisite hand.
He took it reluctantly. "Okay, okay."
Saint Peter had obviously been interrupted during a golf game to let them in. He wore a funny little plaid hat--the ones with the fuzzy ball on top--and outrageously loud plaid pants. "Fox Mulder," he intoned lazily.
"Good," Peter said with a faint smile. "Stick with the 'sir.' I like that. You have been invited on a trial basis to join us in Heaven." He leaned in close. "Let me tell you, if I had a hot little number like Dana Scully waiting for me, I'd be on my best behavior." He looked down at the checklist before him. "You must remain in Heaven, away from her, for three months. If you attempt to see her, or speak with her, your invitation will be revoked."
Mulder nodded a bit strangely. This wasn't Heaven, was it. "May I..." he licked his lips. "May I speak to her just once before I enter?"
Peter considered, nodded his head. "DANA!"
Mulder clapped his hands over his ears. "Don't you guys have intercoms?"
Dana Scully stood quietly on the other side of the gate. "Hello, Mulder," she said, her voice that same dark caramel it had always been. "How are you?"
"I still have a headache," he whined.
"Hangover from life," she said simply. "You know, I pulled a lot of strings to get you here." She smiled. "You've been a bad boy."
"Yes," she agreed, "He does." She looked at him seriously. "Can you do this?"
He shrugged. "Guess it's my purgatory."
Scully's smile could have burned the smog from LA. "Some of us didn't need a purgatory." She was already floating away. "See ya in three months, Mulder."
Mulder turned to Saint Peter, a whupped look on his face. "Are there X-rated videotapes here?"
"You really want to take up horse-shoeing, don't you, Mulder?" Glenda whispered happily.
* * *
Shoeing Dead Horses
Once Glenda had disappeared in a smug little puff of smoke, Saint Peter invited Mulder on a tour of Heaven. Their first stop was a beautiful little pub, complete with drunken Irish singers.
"So what am I supposed to do for three months?" Mulder wanted to know between sips of his pint of bitter.
"Oh, you'll find something to occupy yourself," Saint Peter shrugged. "We've got a lot to offer. The time will probably pass pretty quickly."
"I hope so."
"So what do you want to do first? You've got a house over on Blessing Way [author's note: couldn't resist that one!] and there's a health club just down the street."
"A health club? In Heaven?"
"Sure. Beer and pizza can make even the dead fat. And people still like it--that whole fitness thing."
"What else is there to see?"
Peter pondered that, motioning the bartender to bring another round of beers. "Let's see... Alien is playing at the Magdalene... There's a great production of Macbeth going on right now." He shrugged. "I guess I'll just give you the general tour."
Slightly tipsy now--Heaven wouldn't be Heaven if you couldn't still get drunk--they walked slowly down street after active little street, each block offering something interesting.
"You know," Saint Peter said after a time. "You're lucky to be here."
"So everyone keeps telling me," Mulder said, wondering what he had done in his life that Scully had to sneak him in up here."
"We don't get many Jews, you know."
Mulder turned on him, gently. "What has God got against the Jews?"
"Nothing at all. Favorite people, actually," Peter replied, wondering why that had set him off. "It's just that Jews don't believe in Heaven, so you rarely show up here."
Mulder sighed. Saint Peter had been raised Jewish--surely he knew more about the faith than that. "It's not that we don't believe in Heaven, just that we don't think much about it." He looked around bemusedly. "God knows I never would have thought about it like this."
"That's why you don't generally come here." Mulder looked at him blankly. "See, Heaven is just an idea, really--I mean, it's a physical place and all, not like you're now a figment of your own imagination... See, in Heaven, you get to do what you want--it's your reward for a good life, so it's your dream."
"But this doesn't look like anything I've ever dreamed up."
"Of course not, you're not really supposed to be here. This is a sort of collective view of Heaven. We use it for the newbies, or the people, like you, that slip in under the door."
Mulder thought about that for a minute. "I meant to ask you about that. How did I get in here when I should have been... elsewhere."
Peter laughed at the last word's temerity. "Oh, don't worry, you wouldn't have landed in Hell. No Jews there either. Actually," he mused philosophically. "If I had my choice, I think I'd've been Buddhist."
"Well, think about it. Once you're dead, you just wait around to be born again. No Hell, no Heaven, just a calm little rest until you've got to start the whole life thing over again." He winked. "Of course, Nirvana is nothing like they think."
"Why not? I mean, you said that the afterlife was just whatever you dreamed it was."
"Not Nirvana," Peter stated, a gleam in his eye. "Nirvana has got to be the biggest party life I've ever been to."
The philosophical conversation didn't last much past that--too much to see. Finally, after what seemed hours and hours to Mulder, they reached his house, a pleasant little five-room bungalow, complete with one of the finest lumpy couches he'd ever sat on.
"Dana thought that up just for you," Peter said, a spark in his eye.
"You know her?"
"Everybody up here knows Dana, Mulder." His tone held something Mulder couldn't quite place. "She makes friends fast."
Peter stood from his seat near the TV, a pleasant smile on his face. "They run Vincent Price films 24 hours a day on channel 3,354. That should clip off a little of your time."
Mulder almost smiled, still puzzled by what he had thought he heard in Peter's voice. Saints can't be lecherous, can they? "Thanks, sir. Guess I'll just sit back and vegetate for a few months... Nothing much else to do."
It was two days before he got bored of seeing Vincent Price's face. He liked it here. And he slept well. Ten hours a night--nary a nightmare.
"No guilt in Heaven," the pizza boy explained.
No money either. No bills, no boss, no worries...
And no Scully.
"Well, that'll change," he told himself, munching on another piece of pizza. Peter was right. He would have to start working out pretty soon. Either that, or get some new clothes. He wondered if you actually put on weight faster in Heaven.
He sighed, flipping channels on his television. It had only his favorite channels on it. He mused for a sacrilegious moment at how God kept everything straight up here.
He stopped the remote, gazing in puzzlement at the commercial that had just begun. It was for a club. A beatnik club. He sat up in amazement as the camera passed a group of beat chicks on its way around the room.
No... Couldn't be...
He sat stock still, and waited for the camera to make its way back to her.
This is crazy. She would never...
And there she was again, red hair softly capped by a black beret, soft body lovingly wrapped in black.
Scully. He started to laugh. Scully... a beatnik! He was still howling as the commercial ended. He almost missed the knock at his door.
"Hello?" he said, stifling his laughter, and wondering vaguely if they would throw him out when they discovered he was crazy.
"Fox Mulder," a quiet, efficient-looking woman said, "Could you come with me, please?"
She affected a hurt look. "Mr. Mulder, please. I'm just doing as I'm told. Just come with me, okay?"
He shrugged and shut the door behind him.
"You up here from Purgatory," he asked conversationally as they walked along.
She pursed her lips. "Of course not! What do I look like?"
He slowed a bit, put off by her manner. "Sorry. I just thought, you know... Public servant and all..."
Her look would have frozen Hell. "Not all of us give up our duties so easily, Mr. Mulder."
They walked along in silence, while he contemplated what kind of a life would lead one to consider being a PS Heaven.
The building they entered resembled the World Trade Center--sans smokers puffing their cancer sticks by the doorway. "Just where are we going?"
"Saint Michael wishes to see you," she said curtly. He recognized that tone.
"Am I in trouble? How could I be in trouble? I only just got here."
"It's not my place to say," she replied coldly.
Saint Michael wore a business suit; very conservative, tasteful. He shook Mulder's hand with a touch of pity. "Just didn't work out, huh, Mulder?"
"Well," Michael continued, "Not everybody's cut out for Heaven, you know. It's okay... Well, it would have been, except that--"
"Wait a minute!" Mulder cried, thoroughly confused. Was there a law against watching bad commercials, or something?
That was it. The commercial. "Hey! That wasn't my fault! If you didn't want me seeing her, she shouldn't have been in that commercial."
"That you saw her the first time round wasn't really an infraction," Michael explained. "It was the second time, when you looked for her."
"I was curious!"
"I'm sorry, Mulder, honestly I am. Dana'll be moping around for weeks. But a deal is a deal..." He shook his head. "Oh, and speaking of deals..."
Mulder's jaw dropped as Glenda walked in.
"No!" he cried angrily. "You've got to be kidding me!"
"A deal's a deal, Mulder," Glenda said, as sweetly as a flight attendant with a drunken passenger. "Come on," she continued, "Shoeing can't be that bad."
* * *
Conspiracies in the Afterlife
Scully was something she hadn't been since she died--furious. She stormed into the building, waiting fiercely for the elevator to get to the top floor, and let her anger propel her into Michael's office.
"Michael, just what the Hell is going on here?"
Saint Michael rose from his desk, admiring Scully's tight black turtleneck and close-fitting black jeans. "Dana, there was a deal made... I had to--"
"You made a deal with me, too, Michael, remember? I was never to show up on his TV, never to be anywhere where he could see me! It was going to be hard enough already!"
"Look, Miss Scully--"
She came right up to him, looking him full in the face. "Since when have I been Miss Scully to you, Michael," she asked, caramel coating her every word.
Michael was flustered suddenly. He hid it with anger. "Since you barged into my office and demanded that I renege on the deal Glenda and Mulder had." He turned from her, pacing to the window and turning back. "Why do you want him here anyway?"
She smiled suddenly, a soft, innocently seductive grin that few who knew her in life would have recognized. "Michael," she purred. "You're jealous."
He ran a hand through his hair. "Damn right, I'm jealous! He's a--"
She walked toward him. "He's a man with whom I went through Hell for five full years of my earthly life, Michael..." She was right in front of him now, and he could feel his resolve shaking. "He doesn't deserve to be screwed over again."
The angel's voice had lost it's force. "But, Dana, if I let him back in, HE will--"
"Let me talk to Him, Michael. I'm sure, if what I think is true, that He'll see my side of things."
Michael had no doubt of that.
Mulder sat back, rubbing sweat from his eyes. His life had been ridiculous, his afterlife proving to be even more so. Vulcan stood behind him, his crippled frame bent toward the horse before him.
"Not bad," the god rumbled, his voice little quieter than his forge. "Not bad. You'll make a living at this yet."
Mulder smiled coldly at the joke. "Thanks. Not exactly what I had in mind for my eternity, though..."
"Pity you won't be able to see that little tart of yours again," Vulcan said lecherously. "She's a real looker, that Dana."
Mulder stood, a vaguely irritated look on his face. "How come everyone up here knows her? She's only been dead a week."
Vulcan's face twisted into a smile. "We've been waiting a long time for that one," he said softly. "Great body, and a mind to match..."
The last few days caught up with Mulder in a violent rush. Vulcan hit the ground before he felt the blow. Mulder hit the ground faster.
Scully had sprung back into action as soon as she left Michael's office. Canvassing the usual suspects, she uncovered the plot. Damnit, she thought, as she waited in the foyer of God's office, you'd think I'd be able to stop hunting conspiracies after my death, wouldn't you?
"Miss Scully," the efficient-looking woman behind the receptionist's desk called softly. "He'll see you now."
The office was one of the few places Scully hadn't been yet in Heaven. It was tastefully decorated, dark wood and soft pastels. The man behind the desk was dressed conservatively, his dignified face crinkling slightly as she approached. "Dana!"
She nodded in deference. "Sir," she said softly. "There's something strange about the... situation... with Mr. Mulder."
His face fell slightly. "Yes, pity. I thought he'd calm down after a bit and we could see about getting him back, but with that incident with Vulcan..."
Scully looked perplexed. "Vulcan, sir?"
He looked up at her, a little surprised. "You didn't hear? Oh, Dana... He punched Vulcan out. Apollo couldn't stand for it, of course. He's deciding right now what to do with him."
Scully stood there and seethed for a moment. Well, at least give him the other evidence. "Sir," she said, handing over the files she'd collected. "Mr. Mulder was tricked into that infraction."
"Really?" he asked, flipping quickly through the file. He jerked his head up. "She did this? Why?"
Scully shrugged. "I just think she doesn't like him, sir," she replied simply.
He stood up. "Well," he said angrily. "I'm not sure it will help Mulder in his current plight, but interfering with the cable company is a Heavenly offense. Something will have to be done." He pressed a button on his phone. "Sandy, get Glenda up here, right now!"
He settled back into his seat, fixing candid eyes on Scully. "Okay, Dana. Tell me everything."
She stepped back. "Well, sir. Glenda got a friend of hers in the cable company to switch the channels on Mulder's TV, so that..."
How did he get himself into these things? He was strung up in a dark little dungeon, contemplating the Hell his afterlife had become, while he waited for Apollo to decide how best to punish him. He didn't like the sound of it at all. The old gods were known for their sheer brutality, and he had a feeling he was going to see it all up close and personal.
He jumped slightly as the door clanged open, and a ratty little maid walked in, food tray in hand. She unshackled him and set the tray before him.
"So what are they deciding?" he asked, prodding indecisively at his food.
She shrugged. "Apollo wants to give you a pardon--"
She smiled at him winningly. "Apparently Miss Scully came and pled your case for you." Her smile grew. "She's very persuasive."
He chewed on that for a minute. "Just what does Scully do up here?"
"She works for one of... Mary's companies."
The maid blushed slightly. "She, um..."
Several things smacked into each other in Mulder's mind, and the picture they left him with made him a little sick. "Which Mary?" he asked tentatively, not really wanting to know the answer.
The maid grinned, taking his half-eaten lunch from him and shackling him back up. "Mary Magdalene, of course." With that, she was gone, leaving him to contemplate his Hell.
It was a number of hours later, when Apollo entered, looking just a bit smitten. Scully was on his arm.
"Okay, Mulder," he said warmly, pulling the shackles off of his hands. "You're free to go." He looked down at Scully rapturously. "She's a good advocate to have, you know?"
"So they keep telling me," Mulder replied coldly. If what he was thinking was really true... He wished Scully weren't dead--cause he was going to kill her.
"Come on, Mulder," she said sweetly, forsaking the god for her old partner. "Let's go."
They walked a time in silence, approaching the gates. He turned to her suddenly. "You're a hooker, aren't you?"
Scully stood back, amazed. "Mulder," she asked quietly, "can we talk about this inside?"
"No!" he cried. "I want to talk about it now! How could you do this! How could they let you do this?"
She was pulling on his arm now. "Please, Mulder," she pleaded. "Just come inside, and we'll talk."
He was furious, sickened, saddened, and embarrassed for her. What kind of Heaven was this? He let her lead him in, heard the gates close behind him with a fatalistic clang.
The woman beside him turned, a vixen's smile on her face, red hair turning black, short legs growing. He suddenly understood.
No Scully. No Heaven... This was...
"Welcome to Hell, Mulder!"
"What do you mean he's gone?" Scully almost screamed. "Damnit, Apollo! How could you mistake one of them for me?"
Apollo looked heartbroken. The sweetest woman in Heaven was pissed at him. He sighed. "Dana," he pleaded. "She looked just like you, she..."
Scully was furious at his blush. "Damnit, Apollo--" she repeated, too disgusted to finish. She lived in Heaven, for God's sake! She had proven in life that she wasn't the type to... She stormed out without another word.
"There's nothing I can do now, Dana," Michael consoled her softly. "Once he entered the gates, there was no going back..."
Dana Scully cried, and somewhere in Hell, the old man lit up a cigarette, and smiled.