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Fallen Leaves

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Fallen Leaves
Rated PG
By Suzanne L. Feld

The years fly by like fallen autumn leaves before a windstorm, one blending into another until they’re just one large, amorphous mass and you can’t tell one from the other.

I, Dana Scully, am one hundred and forty years old this year, nine less than Alfred Fellig when he finally died. I only remember because I’m careful to keep track since Mulder passed away, as before that he did it for me effortlessly. He had his eidetic memory right up until the end at the bright-eyed age of 94, and despite Clyde Bruckman’s prediction he did not die from autoerotic asphyxiation—likely, I believe, because I saved him from it many years before. No, he died as he’d once seen in a vision, although without the world ending around him and with me, rather than our old long-dead nemesis, at his side.

The alien invasion never came; somehow we really did stop it. On New Year’s Eve 2012 Mulder and I were in a huge soft bed in a remote cabin in Nevada, determined to spend our last moments together and enjoying ourselves to the utmost. But no matter which calendar we followed, the end didn’t arrive as feared and the world went on as it had before, the only differences being technology.

There are still no air-cars or tourist flights into space, though we now power our houses with fuel cells no larger than a man’s fist and have computers that run on thought via wireless carrier waves. I remember the case of that wild young woman’s consciousness going into the computer, and wonder if she’s out there right now wandering in and out of people’s heads. Mulder and I discussed that when the Neurals came out, but we saw neither hide nor hair of any sentient programs ever again.

As the years flowed past I have never tried to kill myself like Fellig did, having seen what he went through to no avail as well as believing that suicide is a mortal sin. Shortly after Mulder passed I did get a camera and take some photography classes to try and chase Death, but that was about as successful as his suicide attempts had been.

So here I am, alone for the last forty years and missing my other half every waking moment, my joy in life gone and trudging along because I have no other choice. I’m not so old body-wise but my mind is tired, so tired, and I miss my partner every day. While we didn’t legally marry, in our minds we were joined in ways no man or even God could ever surmount.

I did, of course, take thousands of terabytes of photos, holos, and videos of Mulder over the years. We both knew this was going to happen to me; I didn’t want to believe it but by 2020 I had to break down and admit that I wasn’t aging normally—and that we both knew why. I can’t bear to look at or listen to them very often, however, unless I’m absolutely unable to sleep. Then I put on an audio file and just lay in the dark and listen to his voice talk soothingly to me until I drift off, pretending he’s sitting on the other side of the bed. I always hope that I won’t awake the next morning but know I will.

Tonight will not be one of those nights.

Today, after almost forty years of searching, I found our son. Willem Van de Kamp is still alive, living nearly as long as Mulder did. Although I have not gone to see him or any of his descendents, I found out enough to verify that Spender was right all those years ago. Whatever he injected William—now Willem—with when he was an infant, it made him normal, as are all his children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. The only mild anomaly is that the entire family is highly intelligent, every one of them over twenty-five having graduating no less than summa cum laude from various colleges and working in the top of their fields. Our descendants are rocket scientists; I know Mulder would have gotten a kick out of that.

The latest generation is three siblings all below the age of ten, one of them an eight-month-old boy. Today when I scanned the NetNeighborhood pages where they live, I saw an advertisement from their parents for a live-in nanny. Tomorrow I’m going to apply; I’ve already made sure that I have plenty of references and have dyed my hair blonde since its natural color was frequently passed along in the family, along with Mulder’s nose and height (thank God for the latter if not the former). Although I would still welcome death, for once I don’t dread the next day nor do I see it joining the pile of fallen leaves.

I have been given a second chance.

And if there is a Heaven, as I still believe, I know Mulder’s smiling down on me.