Voodoo Dolls, File Cabinets, and Other Oddities in Life
Co-authored with Moonbeam
Written July 1998
Synopsis: Mulder and Scully meet up with Scully’s old flame in Florida to solve a crime involving voodoo. Based on a true story.
Spoilers: “The X-Files: Fight the Future,” “Christmas Carol,” “The Blessing Way,” “Paper Clip,” “Small Potatoes”
Disclaimer: The characters you recognize belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox Television. No infringement is intended.
Orange Grove, Florida
It was the perfect day for seashells.
Alfred Peters (everyone called him Big Al) and his six-year-old son Johnny strolled along Dolphin Beach with a goal in mind. Johnny collected seashells, and the recent rainstorm provided the perfect opportunity to find a large conch. Speedy, their cocker spaniel, raced ahead of them, excited by the hunt. He ran forward, twenty yards ahead, and stopped, his nose deep in the sand.
Little Johnny looked up at his father. “Daddy, Speedy found something.”
Smiling at his enthusiasm, Al replied, “Maybe it’s a conch! Come on.”
Johnny skipped merrily to where Speedy was preoccupied. As he got closer, he noticed the dog gnawing on something. “Speedy, you silly poochie, what are you doing? Did you find a bone?”
Speedy barked happily, entertained by his new-found toy. The object had dropped from his mouth, and Johnny peered at it curiously. “Daddy?”
Al arrived at the scene. “What is it, Johnny? What does Speedy have now? Is it a conch?”
“No.” He giggled. “It’s a hand!”
Al didn’t respond, thinking it was a joke. He looked down and froze in terror.
It wasn’t a joke.
J. Edgar Hoover building
Two days later
Dana Scully held up a large keychain, complete with fifteen small keys on it. “Just where the hell am I supposed to put this?”
Her often-irritating but incredibly sexy partner replied, “Why don’t you get a big, big purse?”
“I don’t need a purse. I have a briefcase, but these keys—” She dangled them in front of her. “—are liable to exceed the highway weight limit. And getting through airport security? Impossible.”
Fox Mulder smiled slightly. “Do you want our office to burn down a second time? I think I got a good deal on these file cabinets. They’re brand new. They’re not in any catalogues. No one knows they exist. They’re not even on the Internet, and everything’s on the Internet! It’s a great deal!”
She picked up the user’s manual, a fifty-five page novel. “Let’s see. Chapter one. Keeping your valuables safe. ‘Each of the five drawers on your brand new SteelWorks XL7316 Sports Model File Cabinet of the Millennium has a separate lock and key for extra security. And it’s fireproof, protecting you from your smoking friends.'”
Mulder glanced at her. “Hmm, who do I know that smokes? Let me think about this.”
“Mulder, your purchase of the SteelWorks XL7somethingorother File Cabinet of the Future—”
“You mean the Millennium,” he corrected.
“Whatever. It’s a joke! It’s not going to protect the X-Files any more than the usual four-drawered cabinet with one lock, if that, that we used before.”
“Yes, but look what happened to that one. Burn, baby, burn.”
She tossed the keychain on her chair, gashing a giant hole into the padded seat.
Mulder scoffed. “Scully, that chair was made specifically for the new desk you have on order. You’re finally getting the desk you always wanted, and you have to go and destroy the chair. I’m ashamed.”
“Shut up, Mulder.” She sat on her broken chair. “Skinner gave me this file before I came down. I only had a small peek inside, but from the looks of it, it’s something we can put inside our Millennium-prepared cabinets.”
She opened the file folder. “Two days ago, a man, his son, and their cocker spaniel Speedy found a severed hand on Dolphin Beach in Orange Grove, Florida.”
“Police have yet to identify the hand, but the local coroner said it was of a Caucasian male, approximately forty years of age. The tissue is no longer living, meaning the man was most likely dead before it was removed.”
“Forensic medicine never ceases to amaze me. We’d better get down there to investigate our first X-File with our brand new SteelWorks XL7316 Sports—”
“Shut up, Mulder. Let’s hurry up and leave. It’s going to take me a while to get through airport security with these keys, you know.”
Orange Grove Police Department
Orange Grove, Florida
When Mulder and Scully arrived, an officer directed them to the chief of police’s office. The brass plate on the door read Ward Russell. Scully pointed at it. “Hey, Mulder, now that I have my own desk, can I get my name on the door, too?”
“One thing at a time, Scully.”
“Ah, are you the FBI agents?” Russell, a red-haired man with the likeness of a beach comber, had a Southern accent that matched the half-empty bowl of gumbo on the desk. His chest nearly bulged out of his button-down uniform. He looked as if his fifties were about to catch up to him, despite his tanned body.
“Yes, we are. I’m Special Agent Dana Scully and this is my partner, Fox Mulder.”
“How do ya do? What took ya so long?”
“Airport security was…very tight,” Scully said lowly, turning her head to glare at her partner. He, however, was looking elsewhere.
“Hey, isn’t that a brand new SteelWorks XL7316 Sports Model File Cabinet of the Millennium?”
“Yeah. And it’s fireproof, too!”
Scully nodded very slowly. “Hmm. Well, we’re here to look at the hand.”
“Oh, yeah. We ran the prints through this-here computer, and it belonged to one Christopher Nowak of Tampa, Florida. There’s only one problem, though. He died three years ago.”
Mulder raised an eyebrow. “Why hasn’t it decayed?”
“We found evidence of a Ziploc bag in Speedy’s stomach.”
Scully’s eyes widened. “Poor Speedy.”
“Naw, he’s all right. Just digested it like anything else he ate…such as the pinky.”
Mulder found it difficult to keep a straight face. He watched Russell hand Scully a file. “What’s in there?”
“Everything about Nowak, including his medical records.”
“How did the victim die?” Scully asked, eyeing the file.
“Well, he was friends enough with Jack Daniels to call him John. He died of cirrhosis of the liver.”
“Where is his hand now, Chief?”
“Well, Agent Scully, I believe it’s at the FBI office. Some of your fellow agents took it after we got our hands on it. Uh, no pun intended.”
“Thank you for your help, sir.” Scully shook his hand. “We’ll keep in touch.”
“Good luck. You’ll need it.”
FBI field office
Orange Grove, Florida
Special Agent Samuel Pierson rummaged through his desk drawer to find the keys to his brand new SteelWorks XL7316 Sports Model File Cabinet of the Millennium. His suave brown hair brushed the top of his ear lobes. His radiant blue eyes flashed from behind his reading glasses as he looked up and saw a familiar face across the room. “Dana?”
His partner Arthur Stahl was greeting the agents at the door. He led them to the office where Pierson sat, staring in amazement. “Hey, Sam, these are the agents from Washington who are going to work with us on the hand case.”
“I know.” He smiled broadly. “Dana!”
“Sam?” She walked into his embrace, accepting a ginger kiss. “I can’t believe it’s really you!”
“It’s been forever—almost six years.”
They continued chatting while Mulder watched in silent disgust. That was Scully, his Scully. And who was this guy? Mister Rico Suave. Mister Almost-Six-Years. Mister Get-Your-Hands-Off-My-Partner-Or-I’ll-Shoot-You.
Stahl nudged him. “Agent Mulder, are you all right?”
“Huh? Oh, fine. What do you want?”
“Um…we’ll take you to the hand if you’re ready.” He noticed Mulder’s attention weakening. “If you’re ready.”
“What? All right, we’ll go. Let’s go.”
Mulder followed behind Scully and Mister Rico Suave, who were still catching up. But did they have to have their arms around each other while they did it?
The hand. Mulder stared at it blankly. It was the left hand, lightly tanned, with a faint white strip around the ring finger where a wedding ring may have been.
“Can we rule out robbery? The wedding ring is gone.”
Stahl replied, “We’re assuming it’s at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.”
“What do you think, Scully?”
She was laughing when she heard her name. She turned to her partner. “I’m sorry, what?”
“The matter at hand.”
Stahl snickered. “Nice joke.”
He rolled his eyes. “Scully? Enlighten me.”
“The hand. Do you think that whoever took the hand took the ring?” he said as if he was speaking to a three-year-old.
She gave him The Look. “I don’t think so. We’re not sure how long the hand has been in the water. We’re not even sure how it got there at this point.”
Pierson put his hand softly on the back of her neck. “That’s my Dana. Always thinking logically.”
Mulder frowned. That was hardly a logical answer. In fact, it wasn’t even an answer.
Stahl interrupted. “We have the name of the funeral parlor that handled his burial three years ago. We can take you there.”
“Good idea,” Mulder replied. “Come on, Scully.”
“Give me the keys, Mulder. You ride with Agent Stahl. Sammy and I have a lot of catching up to do.”
Green’s Funeral Home
Orange Grove, Florida
“Are you looking for a casket?” came an ominous voice from a dark corner.
Mulder turned around. Pierson and Scully had yet to arrive. He pulled out his badge. “Agent Mulder, FBI, and this is Agent Stahl. We’d like to ask you a few questions about a funeral you handled three years ago.”
The man stepped into the light. Mulder could have sworn he played one of the Munsters. “Yes. Please step into my office, and we shall inquire.”
Pierson and Scully walked inside, the small bell ringing above the door. The mortician turned stoically. “Are you looking for a casket?”
“No. I’m Special Agent Sam Pierson, and this is Special Agent Dana Scully. We’re with the FBI.”
“Oh, yes. How good of you to come.” His voice was deep and almost frightening. “Follow me. We are meeting in my office.” He glided across the room to the scarlet velvet curtain. He turned slightly, a bizarre smile on his pale face and mischief in his dark eyes. “Wait here.”
Mulder glanced around. “Weird.”
Pierson gazed down at Scully, smiling warmly. “Very weird, Agent Mulder. But you know what they say? Weird is part of the job.”
Stahl was about to say something when the dark mortician reappeared. “Would you like a cookie? Freshly baked, chocolate chip.”
“No, thanks. We’re on duty,” Mulder answered. “We didn’t catch your name.”
“Herman Minster. Doctor Herman Minster.”
Pierson raised his head. “Are you ready for us, Doctor Munster?”
“Minster, not Munster.”
Mulder snickered. Scully shot him The Look.
“Follow me.” The agents followed Minster beyond the blood-colored curtain. “What is the name of the man about which you wish to inquire?”
“Christopher Nowak,” Stahl answered.
“Very good.” He reached for a large set of keys and began unlocking drawers on a very familiar file cabinet in the corner.
Mulder raised his finger. “Hey, isn’t that a SteelWorks—”
Scully silenced him. “Doctor Minster, how long have you worked for Green’s Funeral Home?”
“Since its opening in 1957. I have files on all of my clients.” He chuckled almost giddily. “Please wait a moment. Have a cookie.”
Mulder stared at the cookies, nonchalantly taking one and putting it in his pocket.
“Ah, here we are. Mister Nowak. He joined our family, as we like to say, in 1995. March. Cirrhosis of the liver. Dreadful death. Quite painful.” He made three soft chuckles. He pulled out a file folder. “What is it you’d like to know about him?”
Scully stepped forward. “Is there a photograph of Mister Nowak before his burial?”
“No. For that, you’d have to speak to the family. Unfortunately, they moved some years ago. No one knows quite where. Or why, for that matter.”
Scully looked over the file. It was a standard reporting. There was no mention of the hand being missing. “Was the body fully intact when it was buried?”
“Why, Agent Scully, whatever do you mean?” He laughed again, three short blasts.
“His hand was found on the beach. The body is still buried, isn’t it?”
“As far as I know, it is.”
Mulder interjected, “We’re going to have to exhume the body. It could have other mutilations that didn’t wash up on shore.”
Pierson held out his hand. “Thank you for your time, Doctor.”
As Pierson said his good-byes, Scully glanced down at the floor. Near the toe of her high heels was a ragged doll of some sort. She noticed a silver object protruding from its forehead, but before she could examine it more closely, Pierson had a hold of her hand and was escorting her out of the office.
Green’s Funeral Home
Six hours later
Pierson and Scully stood under a palm tree as the coffin of Christopher Nowak rose from its eternal slumber. Scully recalled the first time a coffin was exhumed; it was during her debut with Mulder.
“What have you been doing all these years, Dana?”
“Oh, you know: aliens, conspiracies, sewer monsters. The usual.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Usual?”
She smiled. “Mulder and his theories. I’ve gone to the ends of the earth for him, and he’s done the same for me.” And then some, she thought as her mind drifted back to what would have been their first kiss. If it weren’t for that damned bee.
“Sounds like quite a catch. I’ve been with Stahl since we got out of the academy. I went to his wedding, was there at the Christening of both his kids, and look at me. Still single.” He debated his next sentence. “What do you say we have dinner tonight? There are some things you need to know.”
In the meantime, Mulder examined the casket as it was being opened. He covered his mouth. “Oh, my God. Scully! I think you need to get over here!”
She and Pierson hurried to his side and stared. It was the body of Mr. Christopher Nowak, but visibly buried in his chest were ten of the faded dolls similar to that in Minster’s office. Names were scribbled on the dolls.
Stahl couldn’t turn away. “This looks like…voodoo.”
“Bingo,” Mulder said softly, turning around and walking out of the cemetery.
End of Part 1