Experiment in Solitude

Chapter 3

April 19 - Georgetown Hospital - 10:56 a.m.

Scully glared solemnly at the television screen in her hospital room. The set was tuned to CNN where she had caught a glimpse of alleged murderer, Danny Avery at his hearing. It was the hearing at which Mulder was suppose to make an appearance. The star witness never showed. However, the D.A. was successful in getting the hearing postponed. He had ten days in order to produce his witness.

Skinner had already paid Scully a visit. He let her know that Mulder was indeed considered missing and that foul play was suspected. He assured her that everything humanly possible was being done to find him. She knew that her supervisor meant what he said, but that wasn't enough to ease her fears. She needed to be out there helping in the search. She knew things about Mulder that no one else did. Some of that privileged information might just lead the search team in the right direction. She pulled the I-V from her arm and got out of bed. It wasn't until she took a few steps away from the bed that she realized that she wasn't well enough to be on her feet yet. A pair of strong arms came out of nowhere and caught her before she had the chance to fall to the floor. Once she was safely back in bed, she was able to focus on her rescuer.


"You shouldn't be out of bed, Miss Scully," said the little man with the big crush on a certain redhead. He helped to reattach her I-V as he spoke. "Being a physician, I imagine you should know better."

"Yes. I should. You've heard about Mulder?"

"Rumor has it that he was kidnapped to keep from testifying against Danny Avery. Big Daddy Avery apparently is a very powerful man with very deep pockets. He doesn't like the idea of his son going to jail, even if he is guilty as sin. Mind you, it's only a rumor. You know our boy has many enemies. He also has a knack for throwing himself in the path of the unexplainable. Of course, if it makes you feel any better, there hasn't been any UFO activity in the area of late."

"A.D. Skinner was in here earlier. He's also going on the theory that Avery is behind this."

"Then again, there's that possibility that someone merely wants him and all involved to think that."

"You mean, using Avery as a smoke screen to call attention away from a more insidious plan? You think that someone in the government is the culprit?"

"I think someone in the government is always the culprit. The fellows and I will keep our eyes and ears open. I suppose that's all we can do for now. And all you can do or should do is stay in bed and get well. You know that's what he'd want."

Scully blew out a sigh of defeat. "I know. I just feel so useless."

"Try not to worry. Our boy Mulder is like a bad penny. He's sure to show up again soon, no worse for the wear."

April 19 - Location Unknown - 11:51 p.m.

Mulder had been forgiven for his past indiscretion. His meals had begun again. Breakfast, lunch and dinner had all come and gone. Another full day had come and gone. Most of his day had been spent pacing back and forth and thinking of escape plans. Nothing truly useful came to mind. After several hours of getting nowhere, he decided to do something to occupy himself so that he wouldn't go absolutely mad from sheer boredom. Exercise was a good choice. He started off with a hundred pushups, fifty situps and fifty deep lunges for thighs and hips. He considered jogging in place, but the jarring pressure placed on his bare feet on the hard tile floor didn't feel quite beneficial to him.

After working out with his body, it was time to work out with his mind. He leafed through his mental library and came up with Shakespeare. He could envision each line of each play and sonnet as he flipped through a complete volume of work in his mind. He had tried out for plays before only twice in his life. Once in grade school to try to impress his father, then once as a freshman in highschool to try to impress a girl. He had impressed no one. He had been born with certain abilities: a photographic memory, a nose for fleshing out and tracking down killers, and the ability to eat whatever he wanted and not gain unwanted pounds.

Although acting was not one of his strong points, it seemed a good way to entertain himself and drive his audience up the wall at the same time. He chose Hamlet. He would play every character, recite every line. With no drama teacher telling him he's not quite right for the part or he might be happier pursuing a different elective, he was free to overact, over-enunciate and have as much fun as a man trapped in a cell doing Shakespeare could possible have.

He was dying. It didn't matter. His father's murder had been avenged. His mother was dead. There was no reason left to live. Lying on the floor with his hand covering his wound, Mulder as Hamlet gave his final soliloquy. Mel Gibson may have done it somewhat better. Actually, Brad McWhorter in tenth grade had done it better. Mulder lay on the floor dead for a few moments, then sat up and looked at the camera.

"Hey, you can wake up and take the cotton out of your ears now. I warned you it wouldn't be a pretty sight. Just keep in mind tomorrow, Macbeth. I want to thank you all for coming. Good- night and drive safely."

Mulder remained on the floor, his gaze turned towards the overhead light. The only thing that had remained constant was that damned florescent light. They never turned it off. It was diffused lighting, and therefore totally useless in the art of shadow making. It was such a shame too because he knew how to make some great hand shadows.

He hated that light. Perhaps they knew how much he craved darkness, so they kept him bathed in light as a kind of torture to go along with the complete isolation. They wanted to drive him crazy, he was sure of that. They would keep him physically healthy with food and water but drive him slowly insane with silence, solitude and that damned light. He thought briefly of smashing the light fixture, but he knew he'd be punished for it. There had to be some way of escaping the light without getting into trouble.

Mulder turned his head towards the bed. Underneath the bed was a pleasant darkness. He slid beneath the narrow bed into its welcoming shadow. There may come a price to pay for this stolen bit of privacy, but he didn't care. This was what he needed now. This was where he wanted to be. He'd pay the consequences later. He curled himself into a fetal position, resting his head on one arm, and closed his eyes. He didn't mean to go to sleep, but then, what else was there to do.

April 20 - FBI Headquarters - 10:20 a.m.

As the door to AD Skinner's office opened, a billow of smoke poured through first, announcing his visitor. Cancerman sauntered into the room and took a seat near the window. Skinner watched the man with seething contempt, wondering what game he would be asked to play now.

"I understand one of your agents is missing," Cancerman spoke with fake concern.

"Let's just cut the crap," Skinner growled. "What have you done with him?"

"I had nothing to do with Agent Mulder's disappearance. Of course, you don't believe that." He took a long drag on his Morley, then added, "You do realize that Agent Mulder has no lack of enemies."

"I realize that he's been a thorn in your ass for quite some time and his permanent absence would make your life undeniably easier."

"You wound me, Walter," the smoking man stated with a noticeable lack of sincerity. "I've actually grown quite fond of the boy. He has a way of keeping me on my toes. Perhaps he was abducted by little gray men," he added with a wicked chuckle. "It would be the most fitting way for him to go, wouldn't it?"

Skinner leapt to his feet, having a hard time keeping his temper under control. "If he shows up dead and I find out you're responsible..."

"You'll what?" Cancerman barked, with unshaken coolness.

'Wring your neck with my bare hands, you son of a bitch,' is what Skinner was thinking. But he was wise enough to hold his tongue. A verbal threat could easily be used against him in a very legal manner. He forced himself to rein in his anger and sit back down.

His unwanted visitor stood casually to leave, carrying a trail of smoke with him to the door. He hesitated a moment before opening the door, looking back at Skinner with a hint of regret to his otherwise heartless expression. "I'll have my sources look into the matter." He crushed the butt of his cigarette into the ashtray on a nearby table, blew a ring of smoke from thin lips, then left.

April 20 Location Unknown 12:18 p.m.

"Mulder, where are you?" It was Scully's voice coming through the receiver that Mulder held pressed to his ear.


"Yes, it's me Mulder. Where the hell are you? We've been searching for you everywhere."

Mulder looked cautiously over his shoulder at the surveillance camera. He didn't quite remember how he'd gotten hold of his cellular, but he was grateful for the opportunity to call for help. He kept his back to the camera and his voice low as he responded to his partner.

"I... I don't know where I am, Scully. They're holding me prisoner in a cell somewhere. There's no window. I can't see where I am. You have to find me, Scully." Mulder's voice broke with rising panic.

"It'll be okay, Mulder," Scully cooed. "We've traced the call. I know where you are now. I'm on my way."

"Scully, don't hang up!"

"Mulder, it's all right. Don't be afraid."

"I just need to hear your voice. Nobody talks to me here. I haven't seen another living being since I've been here."

"I understand, Mulder, but listen, the phone signal's getting weak. You'll just have to hold on till I can get there. Can you do that for me, partner?"

"Yeah, I can hold on." She said something else but her voice was garbled by static in the line. "Scully?" Mulder called out nervously. "Scully!"

He banged his forehead on the bedsprings above as he bolted from his sleep. Dammit, it was just a dream! He sank back to the floor, massaging his temple with one hand. It had seemed so realistic, her voice in his ear. He wanted to believe that part of it at least was real. He wanted to believe that she was on her way to rescue him. But he soon came to the conclusion that these could be the same people who had abducted Scully, who held her captive for three months and did God knows what to her mind and body. If they were indeed the same individuals behind her disappearance, then the odds of Scully locating him were less than nil.

The smell of cooked beef caught his attention and he turned his head to see that the food tray was already in position. He had apparently slept through breakfast, yet he wasn't the least bit hungry. He had never been much for three squares a day anyway. He had only been eating out of sheer boredom. He crawled from under the bed and went to the toilet to make a deposit, then lingered at the sink after washing his face and hands.

His mind returned to a section of his childhood that knew how to make up games and keep himself company when he no longer had a little sister to play with. He went to get his lunch from the tray and took the meal on styrofoam back to the sink. He decided to take his food on a boating trip. He knelt down in front of the sink and tore off a small strip of his toga to use to plug up the drain hole, then filled the sink with water. The styrofoam plate became a ship, the crinkle fries its crew. The two pieces of sesame bun were the life boats, and the meat of the burger was fashioned into a monstrous sea serpent.

Mulder got into full character doing the voices for the tiny French fry crew. Their captain wouldn't listen to the first mate who warned him of the sea serpent's existence and of its dangerous size. The captain only laughed. There was no such thing as sea serpents, and even if there were, he was convinced that nothing could harm his magnificent vessel. Absolutely nothing. Of course, his words would come back to haunt him as the ship was indeed attacked by the most hideous of creatures ever known to mankind. A package of ketchup provided the blood of the lost crew members that succumbed to the beefy, gaping jaws of the sea serpent. The serpent had torn the mighty ship to shreds and devoured its crew. In the end, only one lone potato lay on a sesame seed raft, drifting back towards the shore. The monster had spared this one life to tell the tale.

It was all a big, soggy disgusting mess, but it had undoubtedly killed some time and brought Mulder out of his growing depression for a while. He cleaned out the sink and flushed the wet and disintegrating food down the toilet. He sat down on the floor in the corner with his head resting against the bowl of the sink and wondered if they would continue to supply him with edible toys after such undignified behavior. In every prison movie he'd ever seen, the prisoner in solitary confinement at least had a pet rodent or insect to call his own. It wasn't fair.

"It's not fair," he heard himself blathering. "Everybody else gets a mouse or a cockroach to play with. It's not that I have a particular fondness for vermin," he addressed himself to the camera. "I'm only saying that other prisoners usually find some kind of life-form in their cells. Bugs are always crawling around. You can't keep 'em out. For instance, an ant colony from a mound outside my building, somehow marched their way into my apartment and into my clothes hamper to find two Lifesavers in the buttoned up pocket of my jogging shorts. I've seen spiders build their webs in the corner of my closet and actually catch something in them. But you people have no insects here. What kind of prison doesn't have bugs or at least a little fuzzy mouse?"

His voice held a seriousness to it that even he didn't understand. The last thing he wanted was to befriend a disease carrying rodent or cockroach. Why was he even making mention of it? It would be just his luck if the powers that be decided to fulfill his desire for companionship with large, six-legged creatures and other assorted vermin. He thought it best to specify.

"Well, maybe just a hamster, okay? Or either a goldfish. I really don't care for the other stuff... Actually, on second thought, I really don't need anything like that. What I wouldn't mind having though is a deck of cards or a pad and pencil. Even a coloring book and crayons would be nice." He looked into the camera lens, his body absently rocking back and forth as he held his knees pressed to his chest with encircling arms.

"Hey, come on guys. Give a little, will you? What have I ever done to you? Tell me, face to face. Maybe we can work something out here. What, you wanna see me beg? Hey, I'm like the original Temptations. I ain't too proud to beg. Please? Pretty please with cherries on top? Just tell me you want from me! Tell me what the hell..." he screamed in anger as an arm flung itself back hard against the wall. The pain of tender flesh against concrete was enough to suppress his rage. He couldn't allow himself to become injured. He had to remain healthy and in control if he ever wanted to escape whenever the opportunity presented itself.

He took in a couple of deep breaths to help regain composure. "Forgive my outburst. I'm sorry," Mulder apologized to his unseen host. He got to his feet, his back against the wall with arms folded across his chest. "Here you've given me deluxe accommodations, great cuisine and the ultimate in 'Do not disturb,' all free of charge. Actually, it's the perfect mini-vacation. I suppose I have been overworking myself a bit. I guess I could do with a little peace and quiet after all.

He was silent for several moments until a thought sprang to life in his mind. "Oh, I remember now... I promised I'd do more Shakespeare for you. Macbeth I believe was to be today's offering. Just give me a minute to recall it."

Mulder began a slow pace about the room as the pages of a book he'd scanned through one day in high school displayed themselves in his mind. He began lifelessly reciting the words from those pages as they rolled by his mind's eye. His heart wasn't into it, but it was a way to help lessen the effects of his imprisonment. A way of holding on to those fine threads of sanity that were threatening to break with each slowly passing minute.


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