He's standing on a brink, high, so far up in the sky that I can
see the entire coast of both sides of the continent. And he's
howling and I reach and there's no way I can make it. Not in
And I have to make it, because if I fail then I'd fall as well,
I'd have to, or else I'd be pushed off by the eagle--there's the
eagle, of course the eagle, huge red-gold wings brush against me
as it soars toward its goal--since I cannot save him the eagle
must, the eagle has to.
And then the bat--that's me. I'm the bat. Now I can feel my own
wings, flapping, and I tumble up into the air and watch the world
spin over my head and under again.
The eagle is beneath me now, and so is he, and she catches him in
her talons. But they aren't safe, because the sky's grown dark
around them, around all of us. The eagle can't tell which way is
up, and they're still plummeting.
I can see, I call to them. My voice is too high to be heard,
though. So I fly towards them--
And then I'm awake. That's the dream I have. I don't know how
* * *
It was so late, she wanted to throw the phone across the room.
Get some sleep. She wanted to ignore the call and the person on
the other end and pull the cover over her eyes for another four
or five hours at least.
He did this too much. All the way back to the first case.
Except then she had still been awake. She didn't mind it then,
and it wasn't so late, at least that time she was pretty sure it
had still been PM, not AM. At nights she should just unplug the
He sounded so lost.
"I'm here, Mulder." Putting sleepiness into her voice would be a
lost cause. She was awake now and he knew it.
"Scully, it's dark. It's dark outside."
This was a mind that had graduated cum laude from Oxford. "It's
one AM, Mulder." She did not like his tone. "Where are you?"
"I'm home." Pause before he went on. "Scully, I mean it's dark.
There are no lights outside. The streetlights are out. Nobody's
room is lit."
Because they're all asleep. "Do your lights turn on?"
Another gap before he answered. "No."
"It's a powerout, Mulder. Go back to sleep."
"Why would there be a blackout now?" he wanted to know. At least
he sounded much more awake. "There aren't any storms. Early fall
isn't the season for tornados."
"Probably somebody spilled coffee on a connection. You will not
convince me it's aliens. Go back to sleep."
There wasn't a reply. "Mulder? Are you still there?"
"Yes." That came fast enough.
"Don't worry about it. Good night."
"Good night, Scully."
I remembered another part, just before I fell back to sleep. And
now I'm awake again to write it.
I'm walking through a forest, and I see a blur of movement in the
corner of my eye. I turn very slowly and peak through some
bushes and there's a fox, the silver phase of a red fox, playing
in a little clearing. It's hopping around, up and down, side to
Then I see it's not playing, it's hunting. It has its nose on
the ground and it's sniffing and then when it finds something it
springs. Usually it lands on what it goes for, breaks its back
and kills it.
One of the creatures escapes, dodges the pounce and races away,
past me, and I see it's a shrew, a tiny vicious mammal. The fox
looks briefly at the ones that escape and then pursues another,
there's so many to catch.
The shrews come from holes in the ground. I'm hiding in the
thicket around the clearing and at my feet a small head pokes up
from the bramble's roots. A weasel. It dodges toward the shrew
that escaped and grabs it with its paws, bites it until it's
The fox cocks its head, wondering if the weasel is a companion
predator or a fellow to the shrews and therefore prey. The
weasel snatches at another shrew and the fox leaps and they look
like they're working together.
And then the weasel throws aside the shrew and attacks the fox,
leaping at its throat, and the fox barely manages to avoid the
other creature. It snaps at the weasel with its teeth but the
animal is too quick and races back unharmed to the thorn-bush
thicket. The fox pursues but is wary of the thorns, paces
outside the bush waiting for the weasel to emerge.
And that's when I realize I'm holding a net, and I'm supposed to
catch the fox with it. The fox is right before me and I swing
the net to capture it--
I think I do. I don't know. I can't remember anymore.
* * *
The phone rung, six, seven, eight times before it was picked up.
"Scully, I have something to tell you."
"Can't it wait until tomorrow?"
"I don't know. It may be important."
Important to what? she thought but didn't say.
"I received a message in my apartment two days ago."
"A message?" Scully hoped it hadn't been mentally transferred
into his brain. Or beamed onto his television set. Or brought
by a holy angel from above...
"Yeah, on a piece of paper." Well, at least that wasn't too
crazy. "On my couch. It was a computer-printout. All it said
was 'watch the night.'"
"So you're watching it."
"Now I am."
"Who--do you know who sent it?"
Long pause before he replied. "No. Someone trying to help me."
"Why would someone try to help you completely anonymously? Why
didn't they come to you, instead of leaving a cryptic message for
you? And leave it in your apartment no less?"
"Maybe it was the safest place to leave it. If they didn't want
it to be found by anyone but me."
"Maybe it's a trap."
"Maybe it is. But how?"
"Just...watch the night, I guess, Mulder. Be careful."
"I wanted you to know...if something happened. What clues to
What clues? Watch a dark night. Not a big help. "Nothing's going
Surprisingly he said, "I know."
I slept for very little but I dreamed for the whole time. And
then I woke up.
I see fire, far away. I see flames but they're too distant to be
dangerous, so distant they're only candles in the darkness. If I
look closely at the candles I can see the trees burning within
them, swallowed by the fire, but here I can't feel their heat and
I'm perfectly safe.
The wind blows past me, trying to push me off the cliff, but I'm
laying flat on my stomach. I'm too low. It can't budge me.
A moth flutters past. The wind dances it around and then swoops
it down, and it doesn't fight. It wants to go where the wind
takes it, down to the light, down into the fire, where its
whiteness will turn black and its substance will become ash and
And I can see this happen though it's so far beneath me that a
tree looks like a match-stick. That's what vision is like in
dreams. What I look at I see clearly.
I wish reality were as clear. My dreams I see clearly while
having them, but once awake they're hazy. And they're showing me
something, if only I could remember it...
* * *
She was not awakened this time. She was already awake.
"Scully, I'm watching the night! I'm seeing them!"
"What?" Now he truly was starting to frighten her. That tone of
voice, from him, was far from comforting.
"Do you remember--so long ago, Scully. Ellens Airbase, when you
were only just barely my partner."
"The lights in the sky." Couldn't be anything else.
"They aren't military aircraft. These can't be. You should see
the colors, Scully. They're only such tiny dots in the sky but
they're so beautiful, I've never seen something like this."
"Maybe I should come see them."
"You should, Scully. You should see them..." He gasped.
"Mulder, what?" When the answer was not forthcoming she repeated
her query. "Mulder, what do you see?"
"They're blinking." His voice was hushed. "It's sequenced. Two.
Three. Five. Seven. Eleven. Repeating it now--wait. One,
one, two, three, five, eight..." He trailed off and then his
voice strengthened. "Signals, Scully. Signs of intelligent life,
the radio signals we've sent out..."
"Humans could replicate those same codes just as easily," she
argued, almost automatically by now.
He wasn't listening. "This is contact. This may be first
contact. If they were to come down, but why would they..."
"Mulder, I'm coming over. Mulder?"
"Why tonight, why are the lights gone, someone else must see
this..." he muttered, oblivious to her.
"I'll be there in a few minutes, Mulder."
The phone started to siren in his hands before he remembered to
Just sitting here and more emerged from the ether of memory.
The sky is filled with clouds, those bright puffy white clouds.
Cumulus? Something like that. The ones that a bright child can
see any animal in, the ones that make any day seem happy and
paradisal. They never mean rain, only a mixture of dark and
light as they shadow the land from the sun occasionally.
I want to climb into those clouds. I want to walk their
mountains and their valleys. Play in the waterfalls I see up
there and curl up in the softness that composes them.
So I climb a tree. At first it seems as though the clouds are
being blown away from me; the higher I get the farther they
recede. But I climb faster still, until my limbs ache and are
scratched and bruised besides.
And I reach the cloud. It curves right over my head, huge and
white and soft. I reach up to touch it.
My hand goes straight through it. Inside it's cold, damp, and I
shake my hand, pull it out. I do so so violently that I rip the
cloud, as if it were a sweater it starts unravelling.
Dissipating into a misty greyness, like thin storm clouds.
The entire cloud is still moving away from me, and as it moves it
also trails away into the faint stormy clouds. As if I wounded
it, it leaves a trail of its self behind.
And then I see that something has accomplished what I had wanted
to do. In the whiteness of the cloud that remains plays the
silver fox I saw before. It dances near the other edge of the
cloud and doesn't see that its world will soon disintegrate
beneath its paws.
So I killed the fox. But I don't see it die, or if I do I don't
remember. I hope I didn't, but what am I saying? It's only a
* * *
When she arrived he was outside and in a state of high
excitement. "They're gone, they've left!"
He wrenched open the door and scrambled into the passenger seat.
"I saw, I'll show you. They weren't moving too fast, we can
catch up. Pull out and go north--to the right."
Reluctantly she obeyed. He gave directions rapidly, constantly
scanning the skies.
And it was dark. There were no streetlamps lit along the streets
Odder still there were no cars, they encountered not one as they
made their way outside the city.
Because of this she gained a certain amount of courage and as
they continued along her speed grew steadily higher. They
avoided the highways, took alleys and backstreets and soon were
on the outskirts, and then in the wilderness, or fairly close.
Emptiness, with no houses in sight.
Of course if their lights were out there could have been people
living just beyond the trees and they wouldn't see.
"Stop!" he cried suddenly. "I saw something."
He would have bolted but she grabbed his arm. Touched his
forehead briefly to assure herself he wasn't feverish and then
said, "Mulder, calm down."
His eyes were very bright in the night. "Scully, if you had seen
them you'd understand."
"I'm sorry I didn't."
"You will--you will! I saw a flash, they're right out there." And
he indicated the wilderness.
"I didn't see anything."
Quite reasonably, "You were watching the road."
She shook her head. "Mulder, that's not really the point. The
point is, we're out here, we don't even know exactly where, in
the wilderness. Chasing lights in the sky. At two o'clock in
the morning. What I want to know is why?"
"How can you even ask?" He waved his arms at the sky. "How can
you ask after five years? After what you've seen and I've seen?
How can you not want to know the answers? What's really out
"What will it prove?"
"Nothing, maybe. Nothing to the others. Since we don't have a
camera and we don't know our location and we might be insane.
But to ourselves, Scully. Haven't you ever wanted one clear
look? A long one, to see, to touch, to know that it's real. To
know in our hearts that we're chasing more than fairies."
When had she started chasing them? Because she couldn't correct
him. "We." His search and hers as well.
But was she searching for herself, or simply with him? To find
her own answers or to help him find his?
It generally frightened her not to be able to answer that. It
had for some time. Except right now.
Right now she was frightened for him. But the fact that she felt
that way no longer frightened her. That she was here for herself
and at the same time all for him, that she drove him here
willingly and now she grabbed him and wouldn't let him charge
ahead without a thought...that she did these things no longer
frightened her. It had become part of her, part of who she was,
searching and watching the night with him and by him and for him.
"Come on, Scully," he said. And he was off into the wilderness.
She took a flashlight from the glove compartment and followed.
Maybe I fell asleep in my seat or maybe I only daydreamed. But
it was true, what I remember, true to my dreams.
I am in a den, and the warm mass beside me is my mother. Soft
red fur and bright brown eyes and a sharp muzzle. A fox, that is
what my mother is.
Like Mowgli, raised by wolves, only I am raised by foxes. And we
run in the leaves and practice pouncing on each other. I'm human
but I'm a fox, I don't know what my true form is and my mother
and father and the other cub don't notice or don't care.
I must be small, I can fit inside that den and the others can fit
with me. And I'm curled up and warm and safe inside, and then a
human hand reaches in and lifts me out.
The human sets me on the ground and makes me stand, makes me walk
alongside, onto a road. The road is hot on my feet, it burns;
and the black pavement is uncomfortable, it presses hard when I
only stand on two legs. But the human won't let me run on four
the way I've been taught, and doesn't notice that since my feet
are bare, since I have no shoes, I am uncomfortable.
Foxes should not walk on two legs. But maybe I'm not a fox.
Foxes can't sing, and I can. I'm singing as I walk even though I
am in pain. And the human whistles. The whistle is a different
tune than my song, but the two sounds meld into each other and
make music, and the music is so wonderful that I don't care I'm
on a hot and rough street and we're walking into a city.
I wish I could remember our music. It was dream-music, and it
was better than anything I've ever heard in real life. I suppose
it was because my own self deep down can produce the exact music
that my soul desires.
* * *
She caught up with him soon enough. He had halted once he
reached the edge of the trees, confused by the branches blocking
the sky. "They're beyond the trees, they must be," he told her.
"How do you know?" It was a rhetorical question, one that his
mindset at the moment was not able to answer. Or even hear,
"There must be a way around," he insisted.
"Most likely, if we walk a little ways in we'll come to the end
of these trees," she answered. "It's probably not even a wood,
let alone a forest. We drove less than thirty miles."
So she lead the way through it.
Before they had walked twenty paces he became impatient. "Let me
lead, I have a better idea where we're going."
She surrendered the flashlight reluctantly and then hurried to
keep up as he raced through the woods. As she had said they soon
reached the end and crashed out of the underbrush into a
Here too it was totally dark, except for the brilliance of the
stars above, the Milky Way arching overhead like a night rainbow-
-no colors, but all light, all beauty.
It had been too long since she had seen them like this, without a
manmade light in sight. For a few seconds she froze, marvelling
In those seconds he plunged to the center of the field. She had
no difficulty following his trail through the trampled
cornstalks, even in the darkness.
When she found him he was standing frozen, head rocked back,
staring up. She almost reached to shake him, see if he still
would respond, when he spoke.
"Do you see them now, Scully?"
Scully gave the sky a quick perusal. "No, Mulder, I don't."
"You have to look--they're hard to see," he said. "They look like
little stars, but they move so quickly--there!" He pointed. "Did
you see it?"
She peered in that direction but the stars were all almost
stationary, barely moving as the earth whirled about its axis.
"I don't see anything."
"Keep watching. It's like trying to see shooting stars, until
you get a fix on one--there's a second one, over there, look
I dreamed this some time ago...but maybe I dreamt it again
recently. I can't remember. This is how it goes:
I see an eagle hunting at night.
It can't see in the dark, it has the powerful vision of all
raptors, but that is day-sight. Now it is effectively blind, and
yet it hunts.
An owl hunts with it. A guide owl, like a guide dog, who shows
it where the prey is.
Once the eagle knows where to look it can see the rat or the
mouse, and it dives upon the prey and then both it and the owl
But then the eagle dives where the owl saw a bright shine, like
the eyes of the rodents they eat, and the shine is actually a
trap, a steel beartrap.
The eagle's wings are caught, and it screams, not in fury but in
And because the eagle was so great a hunter and I admired it, I
break the trap and free it. But it doesn't move, it only stares
at its wings, with all the feathers stripped off and the thin
flesh oozing blood.
It will never fly, I can see that just by looking. And so does
the eagle, for it doesn't move, only watches the red blood and
the feathers on the ground, stirring in the wind.
But the owl doesn't understand, and it flies around the eagle,
nudges it, tries to make it rise.
Then it sees the feathers on the ground and it screams too, like
the trapped eagle had.
The owl lands and I think it's grooming itself at first, but then
I see it is ripping out its own feathers. I try to stop it but
it ignores me. When all the feathers from one wing are in its
beak and its wing is like a tiny bare arm, it goes to the eagle
and presses the feathers against one of its wings.
And the feathers hold, and grow into the bloody skin, and the
wing is whole again, only with black-barred owl feathers instead
of its own magnificent red-gold ones.
Then the owl does the same thing with its other wing, and the
eagle is restored.
And I pick up handfuls of the eagle feathers and try to attach
them to the owl's wing, but I can't see if I succeed because it's
too dark now, and soon I wake up with my hands clenched as if
they're holding fistfuls of eagle down.
* * *
"I don't see them, Mulder."
For ten minutes she tried, and still saw nothing but stars. All
the while he grew more excited, more anxious to show her. And he
saw another one wherever he looked.
"You must have seen that, Scully. Blazing scarlet. You had to
"I didn't." And I was looking in that direction. There is
nothing there. But how can I tell him?
"But Scully..." he shook his head momentarily before the lights
above his head re-engaged his attention.
"Mulder." No response.
"Mulder, look at me."
"Yes, Scully?" But his eyes remained on the sky.
"Mulder, look away. Look at me, look me in the eyes."
"If you saw them you wouldn't look away either." His words faded
as he spoke, becoming by the end a mere whisper.
It was a dirty trick perhaps but she was growing desperate.
"Where?" he echoed in the same tone. Then he jerked, and for a
brief instant he glared at her. "Don't call me that."
She had his attention. "That's why we're out here, isn't it?"
"What?" He returned to star-gazing.
"You know!" She couldn't stay calm. "You're searching for her
among the stars! You've been searching everywhere else all your
life. And now at last you've found an answer out here. In the
middle of nowhere. Mulder, where are we, why are we here?"
"I told you, Scully." He, on the other hand, had no difficulties
holding onto his patience. "We're here to find the truth. We're
here to find them," and he gestured to the sky, the stars, to the
lights moving around them that she could not see.
"And what will we do when we find them?" she demanded. "What will
we do if your sister's not with them?"
Usually he would have responded, usually he would have made a
defense or a joke, snapped at her for bringing it up or stared at
her for having the audacity to accuse him so.
He said nothing. He only gazed at the sky.
"Mulder?" When there was nothing, "Fox? Agent Fox Mulder?" And
finally, something dredged from the core of her memory, from some
place inside that she tried to ignore but that nevertheless
existed, "Mulder, I need your help!"
But he made no move, said nothing, and his eyes remained fixed on
the lights in the darkness above him.
I was drowning, I was drowning, I'm having to consciously slow my
heartrate, it beats so hard, so fast.
I haven't had nightmares since I was a little girl but I had one
I am swimming and the sea is beautiful around me, warm and softly
blue-green. A porpoise swims around me and I begin to chase it,
paddling after it, and it stays slow so that I can almost catch
It dives and I dive after it. I go deep but I don't need to
breath. The water is blue around me and we swim through the
holes and dodge the crannies of a rainbow coral reef.
The porpoise leads me down further, to a forest of waving kelp,
green stalks anchored to rock. And further still, following the
sea bed, deeper and deeper, until the water is deep blue and the
sea bed falls away.
The continental shelf, dropping into nothing, a cliff with a base
at the far end of forever. And the dolphin dives off this cliff,
and I chase it still.
We descend through purple waters, to where I can no longer see
any hint of the sky's light and the darkness is filled with tiny
glows, the eyes of skeletal fish with huge mouths and sharp
teeth. And still I chase the porpoise.
And then there is blackness and there is no light and no life.
And I am frightened, but the porpoise pushes me, pushes me down
still, into the crevice in the rock at the seas's bottom.
We come to light, to red light in a cave, neither sun nor stars,
fire buried deep below the surface, and strange life is here,
wands of tentacles grasping for tiny multi-finned arthropods.
I see a skeleton here, where life has no bones. Where no humans
exist are skeletons of man. And I turn to the porpoise to ask
why, and it responds by brushing against me.
Its skin is rough, rips my flesh, a fog of scarlet filling the
darkness. And then I see its teeth and I realize that the
porpoise is truly a shark, a cold creature, and it is watching me
with its eyes glowing yellow and its pupils slit. And under its
stare I gasp, and try to swim away, but my lungs fill with the
frozen water of the black and red depths...
* * *
"Mulder." She was reduced to whispering it, a murmur in the dark
field. The wind rustling the cornstalks was louder.
And still he stared at the sky, a statue, a captured man.
In a moment she would go back to the car, grab the celphone she
had left in it and call a hospital. Call a psychiatrist she knew
and trusted. Call her mother, because Mom always knew what to
do, that's what a mother was.
Except she was afraid if she left she would never see him again.
She was afraid that if she lost sight of him for a moment then he
would become one of those lights that she couldn't see.
You're crazy, she told herself. It's too late, you can't trust
your own judgement. He's in a mental fugue, some kind of trance.
He's not being contacted by the little grey men.
Medical learning, scientific reasoning, don't let your
imagination take control. What could have induced such a state?
Shock. Drugs. High fever. Concussion. Stroke.
Chemical neuron imbalance. Self-projected hypnosis. Schizoid
catatonia. Paralyzed hallucinatory state.
Or perhaps, maybe, there was the slightest probability that there
was something up there. Something that she couldn't see.
Something perhaps only he could see, but it could be real, it
And he wanted to see exactly what it was. He wanted to know what
it was, he had to know, if it destroyed him he had to find out.
Up in the stars were his answers, his search was there, and he
would give anything to go, pursue it to the end of space and time
Where did the determination stop and the obsession begin? When
had love of a sister become passion for the truth, a search for
one answer become search for them all?
She didn't know when she started to speak to him but she did.
"Why do you have to know, Mulder? Why is it so important to you
that you'd charge out into the night hunting for a moving star
that appears only to your eyes?
"When I first met you I thought it was eccentricity, your
oddness, everything I had been told about you in your little
basement office seemed true. And then you told me about Samantha
and I felt sorry for you, I pitied you, and I thought I
"When you dug up the grave, frightened away the white wolves and
moved the evidence around, then I started to truly understand.
That was when I really began to."
She shook her head. Began to, but would she ever understand?
How many times had she thought, and then had it proven wrong? How
many times had her epiphany been clouded, her predictions
altered, her every paradigm of human nature shifted.
On a bridge, metal against her neck, pushed away and then a
gunshot, and two bodies falling into the water. And neither were
her own, and one might have been.
In an empty dark house, and a gun aimed at her head, and soft
words verse angry ones, and more shots. And still she stood
In a hospital room with fellow agents guarding the door, and the
soft tones of a monitor measuring a life barely grasped, and the
cold skin of a man in shock. And she had given all the comfort
she could and could not grasp all of the pain no matter how she
tried to empathize.
Mixed in this were a myriad of other memories, more guns, aimed
where they never should be, at what is most precious, and some of
those fired. More hospital rooms, and sometimes she sat beside
the bed and sometimes she lay in it, and some quiet voice rocked
her dreams and scattered them.
And more houses, more places. Back to back and wary. Relaxed
and smiling at one desk without room for another. Flowers
brought to a gravestone and the faded pulse of a man lying on a
street at midnight, so that another's heart nearby might still
beat. And a quick ring of a silver bell to call her attention to
a theory he didn't have.
She was speaking again. "You've told me too much, you know. I
have too much, I know too much. I could draw you back, I know I
"Do you really want to go? It's where she is. I know it might
be, I know that's what you think you know. But are all the
answers there? I think there's many more here.
"She's important to you, she matters. I would never take that
from you, I would never try. But is it right to join her, when
in finding her you've found so much that still is dusty, still
"I don't know what you see, I don't know if it's really there, I
have no way to find the truth. You're my truth-compass, a
magnet, you show me the right direction to look. I can't uncover
it without you. You should know that much.
"I can't stop you. This is a decision you make. It's your
right. I won't make any plea." I have so many, she added in her
thoughts, but she was careful not to say a word of them. There
are more than truths here, there are things that mean more than
truth. There's laughter and there's trust. Phone calls in the
middle of the night and secrets told in the darkness and the
truth extracted, revealed, admitted, more painful and more
soothing than anything imaginable.
"Mulder, you can go. Or stay. Decide, it's wrong to stay frozen
like this. You can't have both worlds, you just get caught in
the middle. There's truths on either side, and you're the only
one who knows which you want more."
And she turned, walked away, not looking back.
Walking to the car, getting the celphone, dialing those numbers.
Having someone else pick him up, search for some way to bring him
out of this self-induced state.
Knowing if she looked behind herself that she would see an empty
field. Knowing with the instincts still buried deep inside even
the most civilized members of humanity that there is more to the
universe that can be seen. Knowing that he would choose one over
the other, the cold world of science and logic or the flaming
sphere of nature and existence and lost magic, and knowing as
well which he would chose.
She lived in one, but someone else lived in another, and it was
that one who had occupied his years, who he had searched for for
nearly all his life. That was what she had seen, looking up at
the stars in that field--and that was what he had seen as well.
She reached the end of the field, beginning of the trees, and
began to walk back, through the darkness. No flashlight and she
had to feel her way, no starlight here to help.
And then a glow lit around her, and there was no ground under her
feet, and behind her as she fell in the darkness a voice cried
I am frightened to sleep, almost, frightened that if I open my
mouth to breath water will fill it.
I am frightened that if I take a step the cloud will fade away
under my foot. If I were to close my eyes I would be blown off
that precipe and fall forever, and even if I make no sound the
human still will find me and rip me from my bed.
And I dream that if I stretch out my hands far enough I can catch
whatever may drop and save it. If I reach down deep enough I can
pull the fox cub from the den, from the water drowning it there.
I see the eagle, and I teach it to fly with its new owl wings.
To teach I soar into the sky myself, on my own wings, my tenuous
The eagle flaps but cannot leave the ground. The owl, with its
eagle wings, has only to open them and the wind lifts him high,
swings him around the sky, through the clouds, up until he can
perch atop the brink of that sky-cliff.
There is fire coming, and the eagle is frightened. I can fly
above the smoke and flame but it cannot. The fire surrounds it,
burning the briar in a great pyre before attacking the trees.
Then it roars into brilliant orange life, and still the eagle
flaps and cannot leave the ground.
High above the owl shrieks, and then I reach down, and with my
tiny bat's foot I grab the eagle and toss it into the sky.
It opens its wings, but it's too low and they burst into flame.
And I fan those flames, I flap my wings at them, and they grow
longer feeding on the owl feathers, turning them to dust.
Then I open my mouth and out the water comes, streaming onto the
eagle's wings. And then they are not flames at all but feathers,
again whole red-gold wings, and the eagle soars upwards, to find
the owl atop the precipice.
* * *
He saw her when he turned on the flashlight, from the edge of the
field he saw her. She was briefly illuminated in the beam and
then she vanished.
He ran forward. They had been lucky before, very lucky; the
small trees ended on a bluff like a miniature cliff-face, a
vertical drop of twenty feet that they must have barely missed.
But in the total darkness she had not been so blessed. Walking
quickly, perhaps almost running, startled by the light, she had
not seen that her foot rested on nothing before she lifted the
He slid down the bluff, training the light on her all the while,
watching for movement, waiting to hear her groan, say "I'm
But she wasn't moving.
He had been watching the dance, the light in the sky, and it was
more beautiful than anything, and he thought that he was changed
after seeing that, after hearing the music of the spheres and
feeling a touch on his hand, a girl's hand tugging at his to walk
with her, a small voice pleading for him to follow. After that,
nothing should be able to hurt him again.
But she wasn't moving. And when he felt her throat there was
nothing there, either, no stirring of blood, no tiny rhythm
echoing a heart pumping.
He knew CPR. He knew how to bring back life and breath into
those who had momentarily lost it; it wasn't his specialty but he
certainly knew the basics.
But her head lay against a wide-trunked oak tree, and her neck
was bent back, perpendicular to her twisted torso. And he knew
with the instincts he had so recently felt flame inside that all
his knowledge from either realm was not enough to push life back
into the body in his arms.
It struck him as so pointless, that was his only thought. So
many times she had been brought to the edge of this before, so
many sacrifices and so many reaches for answers, in so many ways
stunning and magnificent and tragic. That the final crossing
would be something so mundane, so preventable, so stupid...
His logical side made a sudden protest and he realized he was
screaming, shouting in the darkness to the stars, to the moving
lights from the field and to the night he was supposed to watch.
It occurred to him that someone might hear but he couldn't stop.
And no one came. They could not be far from a house, from
people; but no one heard, or if they did they did not answer.
He kept on screaming. He hurled insults to the stars, begged,
commanded. Threatened them with every torture and offered them
Anything, he would give them. He told them so and knew that they
could understand his sincerity. Anything if you would unmake
this. Anything if this can be changed, altered, fixed.
He had denied them before, but that was for himself. Now he had
no denial, no denial but of this one thing.
It occurred to him that she would probably disapprove. That she
had argued the other side and would not be pleased to see him
change his mind.
She had told him to make a decision, and to live with it. To
make one then and not take an eternity. And he had decided,
without much difficulty and with few regrets. Especially since
one of his answers, one of his most treasured ones, had been free
He supposed that meant he had cheated, so in equal punishment he
was cheated now. He could understand the principle. He could
survive his decision.
But this he could not live with.
If he had known, he would have chosen the other way. He told
them this. If I had known, if I had known that soon there would
be no real argument, than I would have made my decision all the
faster. Let me choose again now and I will show you there is
hardly a choice to make.
Then somehow he knew that it was unfair, that his choice, his own
decision had been stolen. At that moment he knew that the
decision had been his, it belonged to him, and there was no wrong
one to make, and hence there shall be no punishment for the
direction he chose.
He thought he saw lights, many lights, coming from the sky. They
shot toward him, moved around him, filled his eyes and his mind
and he knew that this is what it would have been, to choose the
And for a moment he knew that he had made that decision. He
regretted it, but couldn't find the words to protest.
Then the darkness fell. Like a black cloak, like black wings,
shielding him from the light, throwing the lights back like wind
blowing milkweed. He couldn't see a thing through the darkness.
It surrounded him and cherished him and whispered silence in his
When it lifted, the only light was the flashlight and the
delicate growing glow of the sky as it began to near dawn.
And in front of where he knelt she groaned, rubbing her skull as
she sat up and asked, "What happened?"
Now that we're leaving my dreams will stop. Should I be happy or
sad? I don't know. Same as they don't know whether to be angry
at my failure or pleased at my skill and my learning. We might
decide, either them or I. Or we might not. Our choice, as
I had another one.
I'm walking through the forest at night again. There must have
been fire, for there is no underbrush. Though if the leaves are
burned from the trees, I can't see in the darkness.
I come across a brook and follow it, forging up-stream, balancing
on stones though the water is only a few inches deep. In the
stream the stars' reflections shine silver and beautiful, as if
I'm walking the Milky Way itself.
Where the stream flows from the mountain, at the spring I find
the eagle and the owl, bathing in the water, splashing each other
with their red-gold wings.
The sun begins to dawn and the two raptors shake the water off,
fluff their feathers and climb into a tree--in the coming light I
can now see that it is leafless, a mass of bare branches. But
white, long after the burn, when the charcoal has fallen away.
When the sun finally reaches the horizon and the sky is rose,
then I can at last see the eagle and the owl clearly.
And I'm not surprised to see that I was wrong, that what I
thought was an owl is truly a fox, a silver fox, curled up in the
tree next to the sleeping eagle.
I'm often wrong in dreams.
* * *
"We can probably take the morning off," she said.
"Probably," he agreed.
"I'll drop you off and then go home. I need to catch up on my
"And get some ice for that," he told her, indicating the bruise
on her forehead.
Wincing, she nodded. "It's lucky I wasn't killed."
She stopped the car; they'd reached his house. But he didn't get
out. "Scully..." he said slowly, carefully. "Do you believe in
She eyed him suspiciously. "I suppose...I think that I do. But
you don't. I know you don't."
"I don't," he assured her. "But I wanted to know...if you can
believe in more than what you see and touch and prove."
"Maybe I do, Mulder. In some things. In some ways."
"Do you believe what you understood last night?"
"Mulder, I'm not sure what I understood last night. I'm not sure
one of us didn't just dream last night."
"There are so many other explanations. Most of them I don't want
to think about, but we have to consider them. It was most likely
a hallucination, and what might have caused it..."
"Someone drugged both our water? What with this time, do you
She smiled. One sentence like that could reassure her more than
a thousand tests and experiments and proofs.
And then he was serious. "Last night, when you fell, Scully, I
couldn't find a pulse."
"It was that bad?" She stared. "Did you perform CPR? Maybe I
should check myself into the hospital."
He shook his head. "You don't understand. You were dead. Your
"--sometimes it can be hard to find a pulse, especially if you're
not in the best state of mind--"
"--and your neck was broken." His voice overrode hers.
Her eyes widened and then she frowned. "It was dark, Mulder. You
must have made a mistake or two."
"If you didn't, then I certainly wouldn't be driving you around."
He looked away. "Do you believe in angels?"
She didn't answer this time.
"Do you believe I still have a sister?"
She turned to him. "Mulder--"
But he had opened the door and stepped out of the car. "I'll see
you in a few hours. Get some sleep."
"If you do."
"I don't need to watch the night anymore." And he climbed the
stairs to his apartment, pausing to wave good-bye before he
closed the door.
I shouldn't have dreamt but I did. I doubt I will again, not for
a long time.
I dream I go to her, her who I guided from the darkness and
poured my water on and saved. I salute her, and she smiles at
me, and then we hug, as if we were sisters or close friends.
And then I go to him, and he goes down on one knee, or maybe I
do--one of us kneels, to meet the other in the eye. And I say
I'm sorry and he tells me that he is as well, and we laugh at our
different reasons. And I thank him and he thanks me, and then we
hug, I hold him close.
But finally he grows impatient with the embrace, he struggles and
frees himself, and goes bounding off into the forest, beautiful,
graceful, grown into the fox I might have become, if I hadn't
been taken from my den.
She follows him on red-gold wings. And I wave to both of them
and for a little time dream that more than me will remember our
good-byes, when we wake up to the new day.