Obscene Matters (2/...)

The two exchanged skeptical glances. "Is this typical?" Skinner asked her, his tone calm and almost blasé. She frowned at him, not understanding at first. "Typical for you and Mulder?"

Scully mouthed an "Oh," then shrugged and nodded. "Pretty much," she answered in a sigh, sounding jaded.

Skinner brushed his hands together, dusting off the funk of untold decades, and glanced down the passageway. The sound was louder now, and more off key as the person tried to equal Mitzi Gaynor's delivery of 'Honey Bun.'

"Just wondering," he murmured, and blew out a breath.

Obscene Matter (2/5?)
--by PR Chung
--Oct. 2005
--Cat: Sk/Sc, UST
--Contact: prchung18@gmail.com

--Note: This started out as my "summer" story, and now that I am finishing it up as Halloween approaches, I realize it has taken on a decidedly eerie tone, as well as a bit of humor. There's some intentional references throughout the story that may be somewhat esoteric, but I hope will prove to be amusing in the end.

Obscene Matter (2/5?)
--by PR

Which concerned Dana Scully more she wasn't certain: being locked into a mysterious abandoned passageway or discovering that her boss was versed in Broadway show tunes. She didn't ask and he didn't offer an explanation. Everybody did his or her stint in a school musical, maybe.

Scully and Skinner realized they were on a long curving downward incline, most likely taking them under street level. Nothing moved down here- a very good thing both would agree under the current circumstances- no insects, no rodents, not even a spider web in sight. There was only a thin layer of dust paving the dry concrete floor and a smell like aged newspaper or dry leaves fallen too early and left to rot.

With the penlight as their guide Scully and Skinner moved forward through the passageway; darkness pressing in behind them as if ravenous for the scant light after a long absence, the hollow sound of their foot steps mingling with the distant sound.

The sound was louder now: unmistakably the sound of music, but it wasn't live. Yet, there was a voice on occasion, signing along with the music playing. There were good notes, and then there bad notes, which seemed to travel the best in the passageway.

After a while light began to seep up through the passage to meet them, eventually brightening to the point they no longer needed the penlight.

Skinner and Scully came to a halt when they saw the file cabinets: A neat and even succession of file cabinets lining the passageway walls, disappearing into the winding distance and increasing light.

They moved forward, each checking the cabinets on opposite sides of the passageway, reading off labels as they went.

"Monkey Business?" Skinner read aloud, "Promised Land?"

"Obscene Matters?" Scully read a label on her side.

"What are these?" Skinner asked and went to open one of the drawers only to find it locked.

Scully tried the drawer marked 'Obscene Matters,' but it was also locked.

They continued down the passageway, losing count of the file cabinets, losing track of the strange labeling. Soon file cabinets gave way to chests of drawers and racks of clothes, until the passage opened up into a cramped but well lighted room.

The source of the music playing was a free standing Victrola; the current selection on the turntable was another jaunty tune. Scully looked at Skinner. He shrugged, and informed her, "Honey Bun."

Scully just nodded.

The walls of this room were papered and crowded with framed pictures, posters and a sundry of ornaments and knick-knacks that dated back forty years easily. A sofa and ornate lounge, upholstered in rich purple crushed velvet, were crammed into the room and draped with satiny robes and floral print scarves. Hatboxes were stacked five tall, some half open to expose elaborate feathers and nettings on the hats within. Every surface was of every table in the room was jammed with an obscure collection of jeweled boxes and ornamented mirrors and framed photographs.

It looked like part of a stage setting for a parlor scene transplanted into a bomb shelter.

Skinner and Scully stood perfectly still, perplexed by the spectacle filling their view.

A moment passed, and the song had nearly ended when Scully opened her mouth to speak only to stop in surprise as a sudden spate of boisterous signing erupted into the room.

"Buddy, put your money on my honnnnnnney buuuuun!" The notes were belted out with an enthusiastic flare matched in motion as an woman bounded out of doorway just off of this parlor area.

Both Scully and Skinner took a step back, startled. Just as startled to see them the woman jerked around with a gasp, clutching her robe tightly over her chest.

Skinner grimaced and Scully's jaw went slack. In spite of the heavy makeup, and flowing floral print robe, it was all too clear - unfortunately - that this person was no woman.

"Who are you?" he demanded to know.

"Uh," Scully tried and failed to find her voice. She looked to Skinner, who only cleared his throat.

Scully smiled her most subdued yet affable smile she could muster. "We- I'm-- My name is Dana Scully," she managed, watching the man saunter hurriedly to the record player and turn it off. "This is Walter Skinner."

The man eyed the two of them, still clutching the robe together over his chest. He was maybe in his early sixties, possibly younger, but the makeup only seemed to add more age to his features. He wore no wig, yet his white hair, highlighted with a trace of blonde, was cut in a pageboy style and curled into a flip at the ends with a sweeping bang that made him look like Carol Channing.

"We're with the Federal Bureau of Investigation." Skinner said so tightly Scully wondered if he was holding his breath.

The man in drag suddenly looked immensely relieved upon hearing this. His eyes widened, his posture relaxed and he declared with a dramatic sigh, "Oh, I thought you were never coming." He floated closer to them, gesturing for them to come into the parlor area.

"What is this place?" Scully asked as she and Skinner slowly followed the man's invitation.

"I know. I know," he said as if embarrassed, "I did change things a bit. And I probably shouldn't have put up as many as of the pictures as I have, but they were just sitting in the boxes getting dusty and yellow. I didn't think it would hurt. Besides," he paused and looked around at the photos on the wall with a grateful smile, "they kept me company."

He looked around at Scully, a look of worry across his face suddenly. "It's okay isn't it? I only had so much to work with."

"How long have you been here?"

A pained expression shifted over the man's painted face, the crow's feet around his blue eyes creasing deeper than they already were. "I think I've lost track," he quietly answered. "It's been a long time since any one has come and I was starting to wonder. I know Helen was in poor health when she made arrangements for the files to be stored here, but I haven't heard anything in so long."

Skinner looked up from the table of framed black and white photos he'd stopped to look at. "The files?" he repeated. "The ones in the passage?"

"I know it's really very cluttered through there. It just makes it look even smaller than it actually is."

"Do you know what's in those files?" Scully asked him.

He laughed. "You're testing me. Shame on you for trying to trick me."

Skinner checked the room the man had come from earlier, finding a smaller room made up of a cot and more of the same clutter and fluff that filled the main area. "How do you come and go?" Skinner asked, searching for an exit.

"Well, I don't." He answered, twisting around to see Skinner. "Why don't you sit down, you're making me break my neck to see you."

Scully drew the man's attention back to her. "You don't leave this place?" she asked. He shook his head appearing confused by the question. "How do you get food or water? Does Mr. Gandy bring it to you?"

"Mr. Gandy? You mean Arthur? No, he and I don't speak any more."

"But you-"

"Scully, come here," Skinner interrupted her, sounding more tense than he normally did. He was staring intently a framed photo he'd taken up from the bedroom area.

"I can explain that," the man declared when he noticed what Skinner was holding. He reached out and tried to take it away, but Skinner pulled it back and handed it to Scully to look at.

"Oh no." She exclaimed, repulsed and shocked all at once.

"I should have destroyed that bitch's picture," the man bitterly declared. "She's caused me nothing but trouble." He lowered his chin and closed his eyes. "But I just couldn't."

Scully and Skinner looked at each other.

"Do you think this is...?" Scully trailed off as she looked down at the image again. "I heard these stories, but I always dismissed them as just... stories-"

Skinner nodded--actually more so bucked his head and swallowed so hard his Adam's apple jiggled the knot in my necktie. "Me too," he told her, his voice sounding a little hoarse. He shook his head and looked at the man sitting on the velvet sofa. "What is your name?" Skinner questioned him sounding pained.

He looked up at Skinner, eyes pinched, face drawn and forlorn. "Svensen," he answered as though he expected Skinner to have known that. "Special Agent Bert Svensen."

End - Part 2 of possibly 5

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