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THE ARIADNE THREAD
_________________________
"Be careful, lest in banishing your demons, you banish the best
thing within you."
-Nietzsche
_________________________




Prologue

   

    The liquid pain was beautiful. He cut again, a jagged tear down the hard muscle of his own forearm, and hungrily watched as the blood  bubbled and gurgled, then seeped to the floor. Then he splattered it against the wall of the cell, laughing slightly, drinking of it, its sweet copper taste rolling down his tongue.
(You know what happens with the blood, don't you?) he asked the pictures he had painted on the wall in his blood, panting slightly, pushing all the light in the room into a tiny ball that rolled along just above his head. Light, light, dancing and laughing somewhere far away from him. The light he held came in bursts and strangled
gasps of stagnant moss covered breath. It was not the light of angels.
    (Well, I know what happens.)
Another raw jagged cut, along his calf. The kiss of withered anticipation cut loose, to run screaming screaming screaming around and around and around, laughing, crying, dying, and a little bit of all three.
    (I know what happens.)
    (What happens?) the pictures asked him, and he grinned like a demented chesire cat with its head lopped off, slapping more blood onto the wall with a manic passion now, feeling dizziness spin around,
crashing into the invisible and imaginary bearings of the empty empty
cell.
(I'll tell you what happens,) he said: (The demons come back.)
(Oh really?) they inquired delicately, as if they had been discussing the latest lunch special at a favorite diner. They pushed gingerly against his wet fingertips.
(Why?) they said, rolling along the walls, coalescing, shimmering bloodily, and he grinned, his frost green
eyes lighting up in anticipation of the hunt, the crawl, the torturous descent.
(I'll tell you why,) he said: (Because they have to.)
(Why?)
(Because there is a threat.)
Another gaping cut, along the white shoulder, staining it crimson red, spilling warm warm down his arm, flowing into
the paintings that gobbled it up greedily.
(Thank you,) they thanked him.
(You're welcome,) he welcomed.
Once again they inquired, (But tell us, why?)
He bit his lip and twisted his fingers, then replied:
(Why are you asking me? You ARE the demons.)
The threat
      the threat
              the threat must be removed.
(Why?) It was he who asked this time, the blood pooling around him, his body weakening. (I'm weakening,) he whimpered. (Oh,) they replied, (you won't have to worry about THAT anymore!)
He rubbed his palm against the paintings.
The light
The light
The light.
    Oh, it was beautiful. Almost as beautiful as the pain.
On his cracked and broken body, the jagged cuts came together, sealed without the slightest trace of the rusty knife he had used to cut himself with.
    (Do you promise?) he asked to the wall's last declaration.
    (Yes.)
    The wall, the bars, the locks that kept him within "for his own good!" {though more so for every one else's} disintegrated.
    He tasted his blood in his mouth, hot, dead, and metallic.
    Then he asked one last question.
    (What's the name of the threat?)
The asylum alarms sounded, screaming, running, falling all around him, skeins of delicate glass rain.
(The name of the threat,) they said, as the guards closed in on him,
(The name of the threat is Dana Scully.)





______________________
"Thus, on our narrow boards, shall you bestride/ the whole Creation's
prospect, far and wide/and travel cunning, swift as thought can tell/
from Heaven through the world and down to hell"
    -Goethe, "Faust: Prelude in the Theater"
______________________
   



CHAPTER ONE





    Most normal women, on most normal Saturdays, to the best of  Dana Scully's recollection, did not go chasing aliens and government conspiracies. They usually weren't abducted by forces unknown and dumped in the middle-of-nowhere Antarctica, to worry about the aftereffects of frostbite on their skin. And they certainly did not rush down to Atlanta, Georgia to investigate an ordinary, run of the mill (no pun intended, she thought wryly) escape from the
local insane asylum at 6:30 in the morning.
    Most normal women, on most normal Saturdays, tended to sleep in until noon, and didn't have to worry about murderous, genetic mutants, flukes of nature, and running after bad guys in expensive three inch heels. They probably worried about job reviews, reports, and whether their panty hose was just the right shade to match their cool, professional yet stylish outfits that impressed everyone from their most little known acquaintances to their typical adoring lovers.
    Then again, Dana Scully wasn't the world's first class of example of a normal woman, and along those lines, her partner Fox Mulder wasn't exactly the typical adoring lover. Adoring- sure, lover- certainly, but typical- no. Her idea of a good Friday night included surfing the net for information on the newest diseases and pouring her drunk
heart out to an equally drunk shapeshifter, and his idea of showing his affections included rescuing her from the middle-of-nowhere Antarctica and helping her deal with the stress related to worrying about the after effects of frostbite on her skin.
    As she stepped out of the car, a cold wind whistled to her presence, chilling the tip of her nose and the fragile wings of her cheekbones.
    It broke her free of her lack-of-coffee induced musings, and she blinked twice.
    She tightened the thick black trenchcoat around her small frame as Mulder stepped out of his side of the car.
    They had been awakened at about 4:30 in the morning, and told to come down to investigate the escape by AD Skinner. No details, no "sorry-for-calling-at-this-godforsaken-hour", just "go."
    Scully squinted up at the building. It was large, white, and could have passed for just another hard-won commercial office building if not for the sign bearing the words "Parson's Penitentiary for the Criminally Insane" in flowery letters.
    Hell, if not for the words themselves, it probably could have passed for a goddamn ballet school.
    Pushing her thoughts away with a hand swept through her hair, Scully instead focused on the tall, trenchcoated woman coming towards them, the thin tan coat and her oddly detached features clashing garishly against the fluorescent yellow police tape.
    "Agents Mulder and Scully. We're with the Bureau." Mulder's words were concise, smooth, and very FBI-like. The woman wasn't impressed.
    Instead, she shoved her wire-rim glasses farther up the bridge of her slim nose, blinked a pair of steel gray eyes, and extended a slender hand to Scully, the closer of the pair.
    "Detective Medici," she said, "I'm in charge of this case."
    Scully noticed with a suppressed smile the way the words had come from her mouth: I'm in charge of this case, and I will not be pushed around by any badge waving Fed on an egomaniacal power-trip. Funny how she'd been able to say so much with only 8 words.
    "So.." Mulder began, looked for the right words, then gave up.
    "What happened?"
    Medici sighed, and her thin, angular shoulders slumped slightly. It was a strange motion for this woman, who in a single instant had somehow reminded Scully of steel and glass bound by thin, pliant reams of strength.
    "Before I tell you anything, there's something you've got to understand. This is a small town. If the press really gets a hold of this, it's going to be like the same scandal we had when the criminal that escaped last night was caught, three years ago. And I don't mean your ordinary scandal- think along the lines of complete havoc. We're telling the press that there has been an unprecedented escape, and 4 guards were killed in the process."
    Mulder's eyebrows shot up at the way she said it. In the back of her mind, Scully made a note of how this woman talked: Not many words, but many, many underlying currents, currents that Mulder's expertprofiler's eye was probably picking up on. "What I'm about to tell you is confidential information," Medici
continued, a hand absently smoothing over her impeccable dark brown
hair, and launched into a narrative.
    "At about 11:21 last night, an alarm went off, signifying that one of the cell doors had been opened. Actually, the entire WALL had somehow.. disintegrated.. The cell belonged to a man named Clifford Ramsey. I closed his case about 3 years ago- normal young man, normal family- father, mother, 2 little sisters. One night, after an argument,
he killed all four and covered the walls of their house with their blood."
    Her eyes closed momentarily at the archaic globbed horror of the memory, then opened again.
    "When we apprehended him nearly 3 months and 15 victims later, following a trail of bodies and bloodied walls, we found exceedingly high levels of caladine in his system-"
    "Caladine?" Scully interrupted, "Isn't that a rare drug that can cause high psychosis? It was once used as a 'pleasure
drug' until the FBI pulled the plug on it. Thankfully, we were able to eliminate all traces and factories.. at least, so we thought.."
    The woman nodded, "Yes. When he was apprehended, we kept the case very low key, and had him transferred here, where he was kept in a constant, drugged state to counteract the other drug. We don't know how he got it, or why his system was not purifying the bloodstream to wash it out, so to say. Caladine might be linked to some sort of disease. The other drugs had worked too, until... well, until last night. After the alarm sounded, 4 guards rushed to the scene.."
    Her voice wavered, just slightly, unnoticeable to the untrained eye, and Mulder picked up on it immediately.
    "What happened?"
    "They were killed." she said, firmly.
    "How?" he asked.
    She flinched, visibly, then continued in her clear, layered voice.
    "Maybe it's best if you see the 'bodies' yourself."

   




    The inside of the penitentiary was as unassuming as the outside: smooth, textureless, colorless, and lifeless. Scully shuddered, and not from the cold- a swift jolt of hidden, unseen malignance laced up her spine.
    Detective Medici stopped in front of an area cornered off by miles of ridiculous police tape, and a weary familiarity of smothered crime-scenes pulled at the back of Dana's head as she took in the sight: dried blood coating the inside walls of the cell, the disintegrated rubble of the wall pooled by amounts of shrapnel, blood, small white splinters, cloth, and unidentifiable material from one glance.
    "Where are the bodies?" Scully asked.
    Medici closed her eyes then opened them again.
    "You're looking at them."



   


    About 2 hours later, all shrapnel and human remains had been collected by the officials and put away for later analysis, and the blood coating the walls determined to be Ramsey's. A rusty kitchen knife had been discovered in the cell, and identified as one missing from the cafeteria. Mulder's attempts to interview the witnesses had ended in failure- the only witnesses being the patients around Ramsey's cell, probably even more deranged than he.
    Scully slumped down on the small office sofa, cradling her notes in one hand, and Mulder sat down beside her.
    "Ok, here's what we've got," he said, flipping through his usual plethora of illegible notes,
    "Ramsey destroyed the wall with his bare hands then karate chopped the guards into little guard pieces, then backflipped out a nearby window. Ramsey is an alien, disintegrated the wall with one of his space rays, killed the guards with it, then was beamed back up to his waiting mother ship-"
    "Sounds like your kind of case, Mulder," she said with a ghost of a smile, pushing a lock of brown hair out of his eyes. He threw her a lopsided grin.
    "Our kind of case, Scully. Ok, Ramsey asked the wall to disappear and the guards to explode, then disappeared himself. Wait- get this-one of them said that I'M Ramsey and-"
    She moaned, waving a hand to cut him off.
    "Please, Mulder, no more... don't they have a surveillance tape or something for us to look at?"
    "It's pretty badly damaged, but they're patching it together."
    She sighed in relief.
    "So what did you find?" Mulder asked hopefully, peeking at the cache of papers that had fallen into her lap. She straightened them back into a pile.
    "The blood coating the walls of the cell is Ramsey's. With all the blood that he'd lost, it would have been impossible for him to do whatever it was that happened to the guards, much less escape... We found a knife in there which he presumably used to cut himself with."
    "Retribution for the murders he'd committed?"
    "Possibly. The only other thing we found in the cell was this:"
       She held up a plastic evidence bag. Within it lay a small scrap of yellowed paper, a tiny crinkled droplet of blood staining its corner.
    In an almost frantic scrawl upon it were the words 'The Ariadne Thread'
    "Ariadne as in the Theseus myth?" Mulder asked, taking the bag in his hands, studying the paper as if it were something that he could interview and glean information from.
    "Theseus was confronted with the task of eliminating the minotaur, a savage beast trapped inside a labyrinth, plaguing the kingdom of Crete. The princess of that kingdom, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus, and in return for his promise of taking her with him and marrying her, she gave him a ball of thread, so that he could find his way out of the labyrinth upon defeating the minotaur. He took Ariadne with him when he left the kingdom, and in 'thanks' for the help she had given him out of her love, he abandoned her on a deserted island to die."
    Scully raised an eyebrow as she finished, looking at him without lifting her head.
    "The version I heard said that she was put onto the island because she was seasick, and a storm carried him out to sea so that by the time he returned, she had died." Mulder said hastily.
    "Just like a man to find a plausible excuse for abandoning a woman who loves him, Mulder," she murmured, more to herself than to him.
    He flinched at her laden, unconscious comment.
    "Maybe he did it to protect her," he said. He tried to make the words strong, sure of themselves, marching cockily in beat, but they faltered, and came out as an uncertain whimper.
    "Either way, she still died, alone and abandoned," she said, her voice carrying all the almost angry conviction that his had lacked.
    He tried to take her hand, but she pulled away from him, just in time for Medici to open the door to the small office they were in, taking a chair across from their light blue sofa.
    Somewhere along the events to the day, Medici's facade had somewhat withered, her hair drooping in tendrils around the pale, almost weary face, and Scully could tell that she was angrily trying to rebuild that face as she impatiently shoved the brown tendrils away from her eyes. Medici gave them a tight lipped smile, her professional face
sliding slowly but surely back into place, hesitated, then decided to ask the million dollar question.
    "What do you think happened?"
    Mulder took a quick glance at Scully before he spoke, and she physically braced herself for his answer, one hand clenching the armrest of the sofa.
    "Detective Medici... are you familiar with the phenomenon known as telekinesis?"
    The dignified confusion in the younger woman's face soon quirked into a mixture of almost amused reproach and a slightness of   "why-do-I-get-stuck-with-working-with-idiots-like-this?" before replying,
    "Yes, but I'm not sure how it applies to Ramsey's escape."
    "I have a theory- that mutation, that drug that Ramsey had... in the past, it could have been linked to telekinetic powers."
    "Then why would it show up now?"
        "I think that a blatant sort of telekinetic power was triggered by someone or something within him, and he was able to destroy the wall and cause the guards to... well, cause the guards to explode, for lack of a better descriptive phrase."
    Medici didn't do anything but stare at him. Finally, she turned to Scully, and whispered, as if he wasn't sitting 2 feet away from her,
    "Do you actually listen to anything he says?"
    Scully lifted an eyebrow, first at him, then at the detective.
    "Yes," she said.
    "With that kind of reasoning he's going to end up in an insane asylum, and you're going to end up in prison."
    Behind her, Mulder mumbled,
    "Been there, done that."
    Then Scully hid her smile again at the none-too discrete look Medici flashed upwards that moaned to a god or a religion or maybe just towards the coffee stain on the ceiling that didn't look terribly out of place, considering where they were. It was a look that cried, "why do you torture me so?"




    The room was blindingly white, naked in the absence of paint, faint stains, or evidence of human life. The light itself was gentle, bathing the few contents in the room: a table, a chair, and a girl.
    The table and the chair were as silent in color as the room itself, translucent, binding. Upon the chair the girl sat, upright, erect, her small hands folded in her lap. Her long braid of midnight hair screamed in the emptiness of the room, its only true color. Her features were shadeless, unmoving. A girl set in wax, flaxen glass, delicate strength, so easy to shatter. The small table in front of her was empty save a small piece of square paper, fluttering lightlyin the absence of breeze, the only motion in the room.
    Until the girl's eyes fluttered open, a soft burst of cool luminosity.
    The room answered to this new color, this rich violet of her eyes, this nightingale song, and the paper slowly rose in the air, buffeted by unseen hands.
    Slowly, the word 'Serena' appeared, and she broke the silence of the room, tasting the word- her name- aloud, her voice breaking slightly in the absence of use.
    "Se-re-na."
    The paper folded inward, then unfolded again, a blank invocation. Another word emerged, its darkness staining and killing the sullen innocence of the paper.
    Then her glass figure erupted as her hands came up, hard, and met the table with enough force to knock it backwards,
and she said the word aloud, her violet eyes flashing to the apparition of his green eyes that appeared along the blank tethered wall where the table had crashed into shriveled, broken pieces.
"CLIFF."
    The square nodded its approval, folded inward again, as she clutched the edges of the chair, violet eyes reborn as the green eyes faded slowly, too slowly from the wall, numbing and squeezing her heart dry.
    The paper unfolded, this time bearing 2 words, then ripped itself savagely to pieces.
    A tattered mosaic ran past her on glass crackling feet, as images pushed and pummelled through her fragile mind.
Too much too soon.
A wisp of red hair and a flash of ice blue windows looking farther and deeper than burning heaven.
The slope of cruel mountain, gleaming in the darkness.
A half-buried scream, met with an uncertain, trembling kiss.
A tall, haunted man, looking upwards, hazel-green eyes whispering tainted torment in the darkness.
Somebody, perhaps more than one person, whispering, coarse and raw,
(I'm sorry, I'm sorry that I loved you too much.)
A shimmering thread cut.
Then came a shriek of metal, the blade of a knife, and the flash of red hair falling, and blurring stickily with the spreading wings of blood....

    Frantic, Serena pushed the images away, as she raced from the chair, from the room, forgetting her light, forgetting her wings.
It didn't matter: where she was going, she couldn't use them anyway.
    The room slowly shattered, around the ripped pieces of the translucent rice-paper, which had last bore two words- the name of Clifford's threat, and an image of what was to be- a red-haired woman, drowning in her own blood.

 

go to Chapter Two