Experiment in Solitude

Chapter 9

Saturday Mulder's Apartment, 1:12p.m.

Scully had expected Mulder to call her first thing in the morning. When he didn't, she thought that maybe he had resumed his normal lifestyle and gone jogging. As the hours passed and she still had not heard from him, she decided to give him a call. His home phone only yielded his voice mail while his cell phone proved to be out of service. Just in case he had gone into the office, Scully gave that a try also but had no luck there either. Considering that her partner had virtually been stuck like glue to her since his release from the hospital, it was worrisome that he would all of a sudden become unreachable.

Scully decided to check out Mulder's apartment, somewhat fearful of what she might find. As she pulled up in front of his apartment building, it didn't make her feel any better to see his car parked in its usual spot. When she got out of her car, she stopped to feel the hood of his Taurus. It was cool to the touch, signifying to her only that he hadn't driven anywhere lately. A number of scenarios played out in her mind, mostly bad. She shook them off, deciding to wait until she found out what was behind door number forty-two.

She knocked on Mulder's door several times. When there was no response, she used her key to gain entry. She called out his name as she entered the living room but got no reply. She went through each room, seeking her partner but came up empty. She was getting seriously worried, afraid that her friend had been kidnapped again. There was no sign of a struggle and the only thing that appeared new to the scene was an opened package on the coffee table. Scully glanced about the room, looking for a sign of what could have been in the thick, padded, brown envelope. The television set gave her a clue. The screen was blue and set to VCR mode, indicating that a video had been playing. Scully recalled the conversation she'd had with Mulder late last night where he said someone had just sent him a video. He had indicated that it was a porno starring Frohike, but Scully considered that both gross and highly improbable.

Feeling that there might be a lead on the video as to her partner's current whereabouts, Scully picked up the remote from the coffee table and pressed the "Play" button. As she watched the video, it took a moment to realize who the man on the television screen was. The video had been shot with a fisheye lens to cover the contents of the entire room, which included a toilet, sink, bed... and Mulder.

A date and time of April 21,1996,10:17 a.m., appeared in the lower left corner of the taped picture. Mulder lay on the bed, wearing what looked to be a white sarong. His right leg, bare nearly to the waist, hung off the thin mattress. His right hand rested on his stomach and his left arm lay draped over his eyes. He appeared to be asleep at first, but then quickly snapped alert at the sound of something. He sat up, swinging his feet to the floor and stared anxiously at the area directly below the camera.

A smallish, white-haired man wearing a lab coat entered the room. Purposely keeping his back to the camera, he moved to the right of the door to allow room for a second man to enter. The other man was of a larger statue, and dressed in military fatigues. The wide brim of his hat helped to obscure his identity. Scully could just make out the barrel of a gun protruding from his hand.

"Good morning, Mr. Mulder," said the white-haired man. "How are you enjoying your stay with us?"

"The food's okay but the maid service stinks," Mulder answered with a sarcastic sneer.

"I'm afraid we had to cut back on the staff. Save the taxpayers a bit of money."

"So I have my Uncle Sam to thank for being here?"

"Actually, you have yourself to thank."

"I bet if I ask real nice like, you'll explain that."

"I take it you don't remember me, Mr. Mulder."

"Should I?"

"I would think so. After all, you have a photographic memory, don't you? You remember everything your mind takes a picture of. Earlier, you were quoting complete works of Shakespeare. How old were you when you first read Hamlet, Mr. Mulder?"

"Sorry, I don't remember."

"Really? Well, doesn't matter. I'm not interested in what you don't recall, I'm interested in what you do recall."

"And I should recall you?"

"Yes. We met once a few years ago. We had quite an intimate evening as a matter of fact."

Pretending not to have his curiosity piqued, Mulder nodded as though he recollected the event. "Oh yeah, I remember now. But hey, I was really drunk, and you have to admit you were looking mighty sexy in that black leather thong."

The white-haired man laughed heartily. "I like you, Mr. Mulder. You're quite amusing. I'm afraid I didn't get to see that side of you the first time we met. You were... shall we say... out of it."

Mulder's eyes traveled to the soldier with the gun. His mind seemed to be working to solve the puzzle. He looked back to White Hair and stated with no true recognition, "Ellens Air Base."

"Are you remembering or are you merely guessing?"

"Something was done to me there. Something was taken away from me."

"And what would that be?"

Mulder looked away, his mind grasping for that lost segment of information. After a moment, he gave up on the pursuit and turned the questioning around. "Why am I here?" he demanded to know.

"I suppose it won't hurt to confide in you. It'll be a complete waste of time because you'll only forget again."

"Indulge me."

"All right." The man with white hair stuck his hands in the pockets of his lab coat as he began his story. "You see, back at Ellens Air Base, we used a specially developed procedure on you for creating a selective memory loss. I'm proud to say it's my own invention. You see, the mind works similar to your average computer. It files away information in chunks. Images and sounds become nicely coded and stored on the hard drive. With computers, you can go in and delete useless files, getting rid of certain bits of information when it's no longer needed. But if you've ever deleted something on your computer, Mr. Mulder, you know there's always an opportunity to go back and retrieve it. Computers like to hang on to those electronic bits of information until something comes along to wipe it completely clean.

"In answer to your question, Mr. Mulder, your brain with its special gift of recollection, is a computer. There's some information it's been holding on to, much like the Shakespeare you've been quoting. We'd just like to make sure that information doesn't surface at a later time and cause you undo agitation. Also, I've been improving on my technique. I thought you'd make the perfect test subject."

"So... I'm nothing more than a lab rat, is that it?"

"Don't think of me as heartless, Mr. Mulder. I do sympathize with you. Your stay here really isn't all that unpleasant, is it? Forgive the sparse surroundings, but we find it's best to keep distractions down to a minimum."

"You consider clothes a distraction?" said Mulder referring to his lack of any.

"They do tend to get in the way during examinations. But if you're that modest, we'll let you keep what you have on now."

"It's not that I'm modest. I just don't want to entice the help." He said that with a wink at the soldier on guard.

"I am truly sorry for any inconvenience we may be causing you, Mr. Mulder," the white-haired man spoke in a less than sincere voice. "But just bare with us a while longer and I promise you will be released unharmed."

"Can I get that in writing?"

The man ignored the question and gestured towards the entrance. "If you'd care to come along now, I'd like to begin the procedure."

A look of dread covered Mulder's face as he tried to plant himself even deeper into the mattress.

"Mr. Mulder, I'd like to do this the easy way." He pointed to the soldier. "This gentleman here is highly trained in persuasive tactics. Shall I allow him to demonstrate some of his favorites on you? I guarantee, you won't enjoy it. Now please, come along. You won't be harmed... And even if you are, you won't remember."

After deliberating his options, Mulder slowly got to his feet and went along with his captors silently. As she watched him go, Scully shook her head in anger and disbelief. How dare they! How dare they play god with people's lives. She was about to allow her anger to grow, when the picture on the video jumped. It scrambled briefly, and once it straightened out again, she saw by the timer that six hours had elapsed. Mulder was being brought into the room by two men in white, hospital uniforms. He was walking stiffly under his own power, but had to be guided to his bed. The men turned him around and sat him down.

After the men left, Mulder remained where they had put him. Scully moved closer to the TV to get a better look at her partner. She had seen him with that expression on his face once before. It had been three years ago at the entrance to Ellens Air Base. He had been caught trespassing on the base while searching out the origins of some UFO sightings in the area. Scully actually had to threaten the life of a government official to get them to release her partner. When they brought Mulder out to her, he had worn the same expression as he did on the video. He looked like a lost child, frightened and totally bewildered. He didn't appear to recognize his surrounds or how he came to be there.

On the video, he sat there stupefied and shivering from the coolness of air on his naked torso. After a few moments, his glassy eyes lifted up towards the camera and he spoke pleadingly. "Can I go home now? I promise not to remember... I promise." He lowered his head in despair and added with a sigh, "I'm sorry, Scully. I don't mean to make you worry... but it's... not my fault this time. It's really not my fault."

The first time she had seen him this way back at the air base, she was too angry at him to offer sympathy. It had been his own careless actions which had placed him in such a dangerous situation. But this time was different. He didn't deserve this. No one did. The tape jumped again to a different day, and the same scenario was played out. The white-haired man presented himself to Mulder, who did not recognize him from two days before. Again he was taken out of his prison cell and brought back in a daze.

Scully wiped away the trail of tears that flowed down her cheeks as the tape reached an abrupt end and began to automatically rewind. The video tape had supplied the answer as to why Mulder had been taken, but it still left several mysteries unanswered. The biggest one at the moment was where on earth was her partner now?


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