The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part I -- When The Veil Is Lifted
The Revised Version
by Henry Wyckoff
Scully entered Mulder's office. It resembled the dorm room of a
grad student in some kind of esoteric physics or mathematics. It
was filled with files of all kinds from floor to ceiling. Mulder
was preoccupied with a pile of papers and photographs.
"I'm here, Mulder," said Scully, standing at the front of the desk. "What's so urgent?"
He looked up as if he was startled. "Have a seat. I have something to show you." He handed some photographs to her. They were police photos of a man with his heart blown out. A few more were taken of the man's face, and a few were taken while he was still in place at the scene of the crime, made from various angles.
"I don't get it," she said. "A man gets shot twice in the heart and dies. What's the point?"
He laughed. "The point is, he's not dead. He was killed outside of a bar by some unknown assailants in Toronto last night. The EMT who assessed him found most of his blood -- several liters at least -- on the asphalt and two shots through the heart. He had been killed only moments before the EMT crew arrived. They scanned him for life signs and found none: no brain, heart, or other activity. He was dead as a doornail.
"Here's where it gets interesting. When the coroner and a detective observed the body, the body sprang back to life, and in the process of escaping broke the coroner's wrist, threw the detective around like a rag doll, and severely injured the detective's partner who had just happened onto the scene. When the detective tried to follow the man, he lost the scent."
"How did the detective get injured?"
"Ah... I gather he was kneed so hard in the groin that he had to be taken to the emergency room."
Scully shook her head in despair, "Where do you get these cases? There must be some rational explanation for this. Maybe he was injured, but controlled his heart rate and breathing so he only appeared to be dead."
"There is a rational explanation, but you refuse to believe it. The EMT would be willing to swear in court that the man was dead. He has the instrument printouts to show it, and the paperwork is there proving that everyone was looking at a dead man and the investigation that started that night was to discover the details that a corpse would reveal. Somehow, this man died and came back to life on his own. Think about it -- if he was controlling his own breathing, then why is it his brain waves were flatlining too? I think we should investigate this case."
"We have too many irons in the fire as it is! Besides, we can't just barge into Toronto and take over a case which we have no right to be involved in! Skinner will roast both of us over the fire -- and he'll be glad to do it."
"I've got his permission."
"What?! Why didn't he tell me when I talked with him down the hall?"
"Well... I didn't exactly get permission for that. All he knows is that we're going on a vacation together to Canada so we can recharge after several years of an exhausting work schedule." He actually said this with a straight face.
Things were definitely getting worse and worse for Scully, but she played along. "And how are we going to get permission to join the investigation?"
"I happen to have a few friends in Toronto. We won't have any authority to make arrests, but they'll take us on as volunteer advisors."
She just stared at him. "Who are these friends of yours?"
"Let's say she's the ... ah... 'wife' of the Police Commissioner. She owes me a favor. The others are some well-placed bureaucrats."
Scully's eyebrows raised a fraction.
"Please don't ask." He actually managed to look embarrassed. "Anyway, I arranged things, so we need to catch the flight I booked. It leaves in half an hour."
Scully's face sank into her hands. "Scratch my dinner plans tonight."
"That's O.K., I've made dinner plans as well."
* * *
Nick exhaled heavily. He'd had no luck in finding Axer after a night and a day. It was now 18 hours since Axer had escaped, and the APB produced nothing, but then that shouldn't be surprising. Schanke had recovered after spending the day in the emergency room. He still walked funny and had a pale face, but he was functional.
"Any luck, partner?" asked Schanke, sipping on some coffee.
"No!" snapped Nick. "Nothing! It's like he's vanished from the face of the earth!"
"Did you try the Raven?" The Raven was a place that Nick often went to for information, but usually concerning vampiric activities. Schanke didn't know how apropos his statement was -- Nick's eyebrows rose as he saw something that he hadn't thought of before.
"You know, that's a great idea! I didn't think of it this time..." There wasn't any time now, but later tonight, he would stop by and ask Janette if she knew anything about Axer Carrick.
"I forgot to tell you, Nick. I just got word that two FBI agents are going to join our investigation as advisors, and they should be showing up tonight."
"Should be any time tonight. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. I hear that Mulder has one of the best track record for solving unsolved mysteries and going after the unusual cases."
That rang alarm bells rather loudly in Nick's head. Two very good FBI agents taking an immediate interest in this case, taking the next plane to Toronto, and acting only as advisors didn't sound good -- it raised too many questions.
Since he would have to be at the station to brief the agents anyway, Nick decided that he would do some constructive snooping in the meantime.
"Why don't you get something ready for them to eat? They'll probably be exhausted."
"That's a good idea -- I'll run by Greasy Tony's. I'll be right back."
When Schanke was out the door, Nick cut the screen saver on his computer and accessed the World Wide Web. "O.K. Agent Mulder," he said to himself, "let's see what kind of track record you have..."
* * *
As Mulder and Scully sat in the back of the car taking them from the airport to the police station, Mulder was deep in thought. During the flight, he had passed along all the information that he had on the case.
Naturally, Scully had a rational response for everything: Axer Carrick was a master of deception, probably used the bulimia trick to make the appearance of drinking more than he actually was, and so on. She didn't buy a bit of Mulder's theory.
Mulder was glad that he hadn't told her everything. First was the packet handed to him by Deep Throat. They had met in a beatnik cafe under cover of the thick cigar smoke and the loud music. Mulder was given a rather thick packet that was full of pictures, memos, and reports.
The packet focused completely on the Toronto area, and was full of police reports which were in the public domain -- put together, they painted a rather interesting pattern.
There were several key figures who showed up throughout most of them all: Police Detective Nick Knight, who by coincidence would be working with him and Scully on this case; Dr. Natalie Lambert, the coroner who worked on the blood draining cases; Alan Powys, an Interpol agent who had recently wrapped up a case in Toronto involving beheadings, but was well known for being involved with unusual cases throughout the world -- most involving beheadings.
Others were mentioned, but Mulder didn't think they were important at the moment -- he memorized their names, regardless, in case he needed to check them out later.
They arrived at the police station and so Mulder had to leave his deep thoughts and reenter the real world. They immediately entered the building and were escorted to the homicide department, where the two detectives on the case were seated.
One was a heavy-set, dark-haired man eating a rather large hamburger and reading some papers. The other was a well-developed blond man working at a computer, which almost instantly showed a screen saver when Mulder gazed at the screen.
Mulder introduced himself, "Detectives? I am Federal Agent Mulder, and this is my partner, Agent Scully. I hope you got word about us."
Nick and Schanke stood and shook their hands. Nick looked at Mulder and saw a disturbing blend of zeal, focus, and exhaustion.
"I take it you are fully familiar about the case?" asked Nick.
"Yes," said Mulder. "I also filled in Scully on the way up." That's pretty significant, thought Nick. She must have been dragged along, judging by her enthusiasm, or lack of it. "At this point, I need to ask both of you one question: are you convinced that Axer Carrick was clinically dead when he was brought into the morgue?"
Nick and Schanke looked at one another, then Nick answered. "I don't know. He certainly appeared dead -- but that can be faked. Yoga masters can slow their breathing and heartbeat so that they can appear to be dead. He could have done the same thing with his breathing and pulse. The shot to the heart is pretty hard to fake -- it looked real to me, but then again, he's out running around, so I guess he must be good at that too. The guy IS a scientist after all..."
Scully shot Mulder a look of triumph. "That certainly seems to be the most reasonable explanation. The questions remain: why would he fake his own death and then cause such a stir, and then is he truly such a danger that he warrants arrest?"
Nick shook his head. "Those are some good questions. Maybe we can ask him when we find him."
"Let's get to work then," said Schanke. Everyone agreed, but the look on Mulder's face said that he had some more questions for Detective Knight.
* * *
It was dark in the basement. There was no sound; no movement. The moonlight which slipped through the crack illuminated the sleeping body of Patrick Morgan. His face was especially visible, and it showed a nearly-healed face. The left eye was swollen, but whole. His eyes snapped open, and he slowly rose with murder in his eyes.
"Good morning," said a voice from the shadows.
Morgan jumped up, his vision looking quite blurry. "Who are you?"
"I must say that you showed quite a display of health this last day. You must show me how you do it." The voice was American and the tone that of someone asking for the recipe of 'that scrumptious stew.'
"You didn't answer my question." He drew a sword.
The man lit a cigarette, and momentarily his face was illuminated. It was a middle-aged, wrinkled man. "There's no need for names. You notice that I'm not asking for yours as well? You must be wondering why I'm here.
"I have a little business proposition for you. I don't really care who you kill in your free time, but I thought I'd let you on to the presence of a personal threat -- actually two personal threats."
* * *
The detectives and agents sat at the conference table. It was almost funny, but it seemed that Mulder and Nick were an ideal pair, as were Schanke and Scully.
Mulder and Nick seemed to think that there was something mysterious about Axer, while Schanke and Scully were of the opinion that the guy was just plain weird -- end of story. Now that discussion was set aside, and they were concentrating on a search plan.
"My studies of Axer's past behavior show that he's a highly nonlinear thinker," said Mulder. "I think that if we try to analyze his moves in a logical, deductive fashion, we'll get nowhere."
"What do you suggest we do then?" asked an irritated Schanke.
"He's going to go where he feels comfortable, regardless. He hasn't been sighted at Tam O'Shanty's, but I think that he'll go to a similar bar in the same kind of neighborhood. It's been demonstrated that he's a heavy drinker, so he's going to be where the drink is.
"He also has a love of books, so he might also be in a rare bookstore, or perhaps the university library. He might not see it so, but it might be one of the best places for him to go -- he likes books, and nobody would ever think of finding him there."
The others mulled over it. "We don't have any other leads," said Nick. "So we might as well try your plan. Who knows... we might get lucky."
"Why don't we split up into teams?" suggested Scully. "Since we're both unfamiliar with Toronto, why don't I go with Schanke? Mulder can go with Nick."
Everyone agreed and got to work.
* * *
Nick entered the Raven. It was the same as always. The mortals flirted with the vampires, and the vampires danced with the mortals in more than one way. Janette saw Nick and approached him with a wine glass full of blood.
"Ah... Nicola," she purred. "What brings you here?"
"I have a story for you."
"Really?" she smiled, not quite sincerely.
He shook his head, "We really need to talk. This is serious."
Mulder then approached, and Janette seemed to be startled and annoyed. Nick looked a bit embarrassed, "Janette? This is my pro tem partner, Agent Mulder from the FBI."
Her eyes narrowed, "I see." His expression was puzzling to her -- it was full of focus and life, but no discernible emotion. She shivered with a feeling of eeriness.
"If you don't mind, I'll be looking around."
"Be my guest," she smiled, waving her arms grandly. Mulder nodded and entered the crowd.
"That," said Nick, his head nodding in Mulder's direction, "is
part of the problem."
She nodded, her expression serious as well. He was always moody, but he was really concerned about something. "Come with me."
* * *
Nick explained about everything that had happened the night before. Janette was at first skeptical as Dana, but became ever more doubtful.
"I think we've found some new kind immortal," said Nick. He was even drinking a bottle of human blood without even knowing it, he was that rattled. "If it was a vampire, I would have known. I saw a dead body come back to life in the blink of an eye, and I sensed nothing from him."
That worried Janette. She wasn't sure if she believed it, but if it were true... "I think we should tell LaCroix. It you're right, then there is a potential threat out there. Does Axer know about us?"
"No. I don't think so. But then he could have learned about us in the past. I don't think we should tell LaCroix just yet, but I need you to keep your ears open." He gave her a copy of the files on Axer Carrick. "This is all the information we have about him. ...By the way, you might want to step carefully around Mulder. There's something about him that feels wrong."
* * *
Axer sat in the Raven, downing scotch like water. He wanted to get drunk, but he had a long way to go.
He looked handsome in a rugged sort of way, but whenever any of the women approached him, he would give them a polite but firm stare that made them uncomfortable -- mortal and vampire alike. Axer was generally left alone that night, but the women still glanced in his direction.
Only the bartender dared to approach him -- it was his job -- and even then only when necessary. Axer must have had a near fifth of scotch so far, and he showed no signs of stopping.
"I think you've had enough, friend," said the bartender, putting a hand on the man's shoulder.
Axer's face was stone cold sober as he said in a level voice, "I haven't even begun to drink."
The bartender tilted his head like a confused dog. "How many fingers am I holding?"
"Five. You're also 35 years old, have a certificate of bar-tending, have predominately Danish ancestry, and you clipped one of your right toenails too closely ... five days ago. That's why you're wiggling your toes now and then, and why you're walking with a limp."
The bartender nearly jumped in shock. "I take it you're preparing for some psychic's convention."
"No. I just make observations. Look, if I can prove I'm sober enough, will you pour me some more rounds?"
A moment of hesitation. "O.K., but if you're drunk, you're out of here."
* * *
Nick and Janette exited the back room. Nick would have to coast all the bars tonight, and that didn't make him happy at all. He was about to say goodbye to Janette when he noticed something rather unusual: a long-haired, bearded man played guitar at the bar, but was using an electric guitar that belonged to the band. The band members were sitting around this guy, drinking red wine with their jaws dropped open in awe.
Nick's jaw dropped open too. It was Axer.
He was about to bust the party, but Janette stopped him. "Watch!" she hissed.
"Why? He's the man I'm after!"
"I know!" She put a firm grip on Nick's shoulder that effectively prevented him from going after Axer without making a scene. So, he stayed put.
It was a tune unlike any he had ever heard before -- perhaps a blending of the sad Scottish sounds with the lively, scalar sprinting of the Andalusian music -- both sad and happy, if such a paradox could ever be created. Although the sounds came out of the amplifiers, altered by the sound effect boxes that most rock musicians use, the effect was incredible. There was a modern influence here as well as an old world influence -- soft allegros changed into harsh prestos, rippling arpeggios to machine gun scales and tremolos.
His technical skill was incredible as his refined emotive power, and it took Nick back to a time in England where he had the chance to hear the music of a traveling bard in the Court... //No! It couldn't be, could it?// That man could certainly walk in the light, that was for certain.
Janette was just as affected as the rest of patrons were. Most of the crowd here were "into" alternative music, but everyone had stopped what they were doing so that they could listen.
It must have been about ten minutes later when the last sounds died out. Applause roared throughout the Raven, but when it died, there was a deafening murmur. It was a collective question: "What happened to the guy?" Axer had somehow vanished from the center of a crowd.
"He's gone now," ranted Nick, "and all because you're a music lover!"
The bartender approached Janette, shaking his head. "You missed it. That guy with the guitar? He just downed a fifth of scotch on his own in twenty minutes, then ran off with two fifths, and left me a hundred!"
"That man," asked Janette. "Did he eat anything?"
"Yeah! He must have inhaled about four suicide burgers!"
"Suicide burgers?" asked Nick.
"That's our 2 pound hamburger -- it's so thick you have to break your jaw just to get your teeth around it."
Janette and Nick stared at each other. Eight pounds of meat and a fifth of scotch -- this was certainly no vampire.
"Nicola," said Janette in French. "I know that man. His name might truly be Axer Carrick, but I knew him by a different name. I didn't believe you when you told me your story, and now I think you won't believe mine."
Nobody noticed that Mulder had also recognized Axer, and had enough of an eye to see him leave by simply behaving like one of the crowd. The man even exited through the front door! Mulder followed him discreetly.
"I've got to learn some of those tricks..." he muttered.
|Previous Chapter||Cycle Main Page||Veil Main Page||Next Chapter|
|Main Page||My Fanfiction||Henry's Fanfiction||My Favorite Links||Webrings I'm On|