Scully glanced at the monitor on Mulder's desk, checking
that her autopsy report had been properly
corroborated by the coronor in Malibu. "I think that about
does it, Mulder. Dr. Alman sent the
rest of the findings
on Benny Coghill, I've added my two cents' worth, so now we've
concluded that the cause of death
was strangulation. I think
Mrs. Coghill is in for a long, long, stay in hospital.
up before I make my plans for Thanksgiving?"
"Well, I hear there's a Star Wars Marathon all weekend. Care
to join me in the salute to the laser
sabers?" That boyish grin
and enthusiasm could prove annoying, yet charming at the same
"No. I think I'll just see if Skinner has something better for
us to do. You know. Like earning
our paychecks. That sort of
"Spoiled sport. You know, you really could use a change of
"Change of scenery? Yes, you must mean my apartment. I haven't
seen it in so long. By
the light of day, anyway. We have been
on the road so much our gas mileage must be close to the national
"See America by the scenic route, I always say. You through with
the computer?" Mulder was anxious to
print out the report and
hand it to the Assistant Director.
"Yup. All ready for the boss." Scully let Mulder into his
chair and dialed Skinner's extension.
"I'll let him know we're
on our way upstairs. Into the daylight."
Skinner went over the case report and closed the folder.
"Well, I must say you've both been prompt this
time, to say the least. Congratulations on your best non-X-File case to date."
"Thank you, Sir." Mulder seemed rather bored by it all. He had
hoped that last one would turn up
something out of the ordinary.
Perhaps a little psychic pheomenon, a lead on the aliens... but
"I think I can say Agent Mulder held up quite well under the
boredom," Scully remarked. "I knew
he wanted something more
Skinner suppressed a grin. He folded his hands atop the desk.
"Well, I do have a case in Adams,
Minnesota that warrants your
attention. And, Agent Mulder, you may find it rather mundane,
but we do need your help
what with the caseload lately." Skinner
reached over the desk and fished a file out of his pile of
"Mysteriously, several hundred people in Adams,
Minnesota have complained of complete hair loss. The doctors
at a loss to explain the cause of this phenomenon, and I
suggest you two investigate promptly if you wish to spend
at home. Dismissed."
"More mundane, Scully. Lately, we just can't find any more
unexplainable things like alien abductions,
the secret lair
of C.G.B. Spender or why socks get lost in the dryer," Mulder
moaned, as they headed for the elevator.
He shook his head.
"Well, at any rate, we should be home by Thanksgiving," Scully
"You're boring, Scully. You know that? And you enjoy it."
As the elevator doors opened, she replied, "Boring is your
word for stable, Mulder. Believe me,
I want more stability
than you know."
"If you say so, partner. If you say so."
The red-eye into Minneapolis was uneventful for the agents. It
was the drive into the town of Adams
that found Mulder more verbal
than he had been on the plane. "Scully, those billboards are
telling us to get our 'flu
"Well, yeah, it's the same in every state at this time of year,
Mulder. So what?"
"We've seen at least five for every mile we've driven so far."
"No, you have, because I've been trying to catnap. And maybe
this state just happens to have more
money to advertise this
sort of thing than, say, D.C. or Virginia."
"Still, it's rather unusual."
"Shame, Scully. America was built on the unknown, the undiscovered,
the unusual. Look! There's another
one!" He pointed to Scully's
side of the road.
"Wow! Did you count cars and cows, too, on family trips?"
"No. Barns. With stable things... " He thought she might at
least smirk at the pun, but no
"Barns." She just shook her head. *Boring*, was her thought.
*And what a campy remark.*
They stopped at the usual type of motel, ordered the usual two
rooms and decided to investigate the hair-loss
Adams the next day.
It was inhospitable weather, to say the least. The year's
first snowstorm decided to arrive on the
northwest winds the
following day. At least it wasn't difficult to get to the main
street and find the Police
Station. Chief Bo Gleason met the
agents at the door to his office with a hearty smile and two
"Can't say I can apologize for the weather, 'cause I didn't
order it," he grinned.
Scully smiled warmly as they were offered seats. "We're pretty
used to any weather conditions, Sir. I
have a feeling things
have been rather unsettled around here in other areas of life."
"We've been told there have been a rash of, for want of a
better word, "sudden hair-loss". More hair loss
than in a
twenty year span given the population and genetic make-up of
"Yes." Gleason poured them coffee and made one for himself.
"Now, no one seems to know exactly why this
is happening. Our
doctors are stumped, they don't know WHAT to say to the men and
women who are experiencing this...
trouble, and even the Center
For Disease Control has no answers."
"Baldness isn't exactly a disease," Scully mused. "Although my
father did say it was a curse in the windy
seas. Mostly the
causes are a type of excess of testosterone or aggravated
psoriasis. Sometimes ringworm... "
"I take it you've checked into those possibilities, too," Mulder
surmised. There was only a faint
smile from the Chief. "I
thought so. That's why Agent Scully and I are here. Do you have
a full list of the doctors
in the area?"
"Sure. They're stymied, and giving out a lot of immunizations
these days, but they want this thing looked
into just the same
as the patients do. Heck, half of them went bald these past
few weeks, and some of them just
graduated out of medical
"I'll want to do some tests on some of the patients, too,"
Scully said flatly.
"She's seen a lot since working with me," Mulder chuckled.
Scully scowled and finished her coffee. "Thank you for your
time, Sir. If we can have a list of the doctors
now, we can
get started before the snow covers our motel windows."
"And a laugh a minute," Mulder added dryly. He didn't much
like being outdone.
The Chief retrieved a directory from his computer and handed
it to Scully. "And while you're here," he
advised them, "Best
get your shots. They're predicting one nasty strain of influenza
"Thanks," Mulder replied. "Guess there's no real excuse now."
As they left the Police Station, the wheels were already turning
in Scully's head. "DNA and blood samples,
Mulder. I think I want
to do an Influenza A titre as well."
"Billboards finally got to you, right, Scully?" Mulder unlocked
the car and they sat for a moment before
"Maybe all the years of conspiracy theories and The Lone Gunmen.
There's just something that smells
like experiment here. Can't
put my finger on it."
"That's my new aftershave," Mulder quipped. "'Caveman'. Like
it? It's de rigeur in Paris right now."
"Why are you in such a good mood out here? There's a blizzard...
there's.. there's sudden
baldness, there's those vaccinations...
"Excitement! You know I hate desk duty."
"Yes, Mulder. It's too 'mundane' for you. Let's get going to
those doctors' offices. My service
piece hasn't been fired in
weeks and my trigger finger... "
"I get the idea."
There were seven doctors in the town, so the task was not going
to be that monumental. The weather,
however, was not co-operating
with their driving. They did manage to reach the first office on
the list unscathed
by the elements.
The sign on the front door of the old house read, "Dr. Anne
Haughton, M.D. Family Practice Since 1990."
The office door was
open so, the agents forced the door closed against the wind and
approached the receptionist.
"Ah, yes," a young brunette offered. "You must be the Mertons
waiting for the prenatal screening."
"No," Mulder said seriously. "We're F.B.I. Special Agents Mulder
and Scully looking for the good doctor.
It's about the baldness
The Nurse frowned. "I see. Have a seat. I think she'll see you
right the one she's seeing
now. We decided to cancel all
non-serious appointments after this last one. We've cancelled
the other appointments
today. A bit blustery out there."
"Oh, yeah," Scully agreed. "We've seen worse in the Antarctic."
She flipped the pages of a magazine.
"Been there, did that, got the tee shirt," Mulder droned.
"How 'bout that 'flu epidemic they're predicting?"
"Too early to tell," the Nurse smiled. "Maybe it'll just blow
off like last year's, or blow in with a
bang. I'm sure you both
"We will. Really. While we're in town. But work preceeds any
possible complications." Mulder was
trying to guage her
reaction to the statement, but there was none.
"Doesn't hurt a bit," she said. "Really."
"I am not scared. Are you, Agent Scully?"
"Who, me? No. A grown up lady doctor like me? Kid stuff."
As she said that, a young woman exited the examination room
with her five-year-old son. "Now, I told you
no crayons up your
nose. Now do you believe what the doctor told you?"
"Yeah, Mummy. Crayons in the box, crayons in the paper. No
crayons on the walls or up my nose."
"I think the doctor's free," Mulder whispered. "Do you still
want chldren, Scully?"
"Uh huh. Let's get this over with."
"Go on in," the Nurse said. "I am out of here. Hope you find
Dr. Haughton was a petite blonde, about thirty-two-years and perky.
"You must be the F.B.I. agents Barb
told me about. Have a seat."
"Thank you." Mulder opened the questionning. "Have you noticed
any of your patients suddenly experiencing...
"Major fall out? Yes, I have. Women and men. Only adults, of
course. We've all been having meetings
over it. There are only
seven of us here, so it hasn't been hard to get together over
coffee after work. No
one can pin it on any family history,
medication use or disease factor. I feel sorry for the younger
women with long
hair. They are absolutely freaked out over
"Would you mind if I saw any of your patients to do some tests?
I am a medical doctor. I specialize in
forensic pathology, but I
can access the F.B.I. lab. All I'll need are some blood samples
and scalp samples."
Haughton hesitated for a moment. "Well, if they sign the consent
forms. But the airport could be shut down
by the looks of it."
"We have time, I think," Mulder told her. "We can also do some
testing here. Dr. Scully is very
good at what she does. She
can be in contact with our lab in Washington and keep everything
These people are not suspects, Dr.
"No, they're not. They're victims--of something. Some disease
process, toxin. We really have no idea.
Actually, I have a
beta HCG blood sample on a pregnant woman in the office. As long
as you leave enough for me to
work on, I see no problem."
"Thank you." Scully had one question that had been nagging at
her. "Has this woman had her 'flu shot?"
"Yes, she has. Last week. Why?"
"Just wondering. The 'flu can really be nasty during pregnancy."
"I think we'd better get to our next destination before we're
stuck here," Mulder decided aloud. "Call
me or Dr. Scully at
these numbers if you think of anything else." He passed their
business cards to the doctor.
"I will. Drive carefully."
"Yes, Ma'am." Mulder put his arm in the small of Scully's back
as they left the inner office. "I think
she's on the up-and-up.
Now, let's see about Dr. Guillermo Falletta."
Falletta's office was only about a quarter mile away, but the
drive was slow and the car spun out twice.
It took them an hour
to reach the office building on the main thoroughfare.
Falletta's office was small and home-style comfortable. But
he was much less co-operative than his
colleague across town.
"I see no reason to allow you to take blood from anyone under
my care as I have done so many tests and
come up with absolutely
nothing. As for tissue samples, forget it. Let the EPA
investigate the water or the
soil. Maybe THEY'LL be less invasive." The man was in his fifties and more than a bit
"Do you use that tone in your bedside manner? Because if you
do, you had better shape up!" Scully was
pissed and Mulder
could tell. "This is serious, and people have suffered. We've
been sent to investigate, so don't
use that tone with Federal
"Right. Well, as you can see, I really must get home to shovel
the driveway out so I can get the car into
the driveway. Now,
if you'll excuse me... "
"If we have to," Mulder shot back. "Here's my card. Thanks for
your time." He ushered Scully out
of the office. "We are moving
the car about one block down, and coming straight back to this
dungeon," he muttered,
as he unlocked the car doors.
"We don't have a search warrant."
"We have probable cause, Scully. It's probable he may know the
cause of this town's hair loss. And you
saw the vials upon vials
of vaccine when you went into his refrigerator in the back room,
like you were really in
need of the washroom."
"Never hurts to check, partner."
"Now we're on the same wavelength, Scully."
"Okay. Do your magic on the lock. Then let's get back to the
motel. I think the rest of the day
is a loss. It's 2:30 and the
snow is just too risky." Scully held up three vaccine vials.
"Sorry. The blood samples were in the centrifuge and in the
outgoing samples cart. They go out tonight."
"Probable cause... " Mulder felt about three feet tall. "Scully,
I think you're beginning to learn from me."
"I have my Thanksgiving at home to think of," she said. "And how
could I let you keep picking all the
locks, anyway? There he goes.
Let's get in there and out of here."
It took three hours of stop, start, push and skid driving for
them to manage to get near the motel.
Finally, they just parked
a mile away and walked. As for the evening meal, at least there
was a convenience store
across from the motel.
Scully ripped open a bag of Doritos for Mulder and decided to
take her chances with a nearly expired tub
of yogourt. When
the sodas were opened, it was time to strategize.
"Scully, just how do you think you'll get anything out to
Washington in this weather?" Mulder was towel
drying his hair
and pacing his room.
"The airport's not closed yet, Mulder. Forgot, you weren't
listening to the radio, you were picking the
lock. While I was
in the car, I got the rundown on the storm. It's veering off and
they're keeping the airport
up and running for now. All I need
to do is get a courier to take it to the airport, and I can keep
the samples here for analysis. I can use the lab at the
hospital over the hill out there."
"You can't go out in that."
"Yes, Mulder, I can. And I just know you will back me up all
the way as we enter the hospital."
she stirred the yogourt
vigorously. "Besides, maybe the cafeteria is open."
"Yum," Mulder muttered, as he grabbed a handfull of Doritos.
"Think I'll just stick with these and get
a refill on the
"I've HAD my share of hospital food. Torture, and overcooked
mush. Sunflower seeds keep my system
safe." As Scully just
glared at him, he grabbed his tortilla chips and overcoat.
"Let's get going," he said, with a resigned pout.
The walk through a snowy woodland was no picnic. But since they
had no car, there was no choice.
While Mulder flashed his badge at the hospital Administrator,
Scully made a call to the lab in Washington
and then ordered
a courier for some of the samples.
Dr. Harry Munez, a very bald, strict fellow protested at
once when Scully was granted access to
the hospital laboratory.
"We just can't have every doctor around running tests here
and wasting our resources!" He angrily
"I assure you, I am a Medical Doctor, and as a Federal Agent,
I can also have you ordered to let me do
this testing, so let's
just cut the crap and get this over with." Scully was stern, yet
calm. Her training at the
Academy had given her that air of
authority that was needed to get things done in a timely fashion.
And it had
saved her life in the field.
As Scully worked with slides and D.N.A. analyses, Mulder looked
"You may as well take a walk around, Mulder. Get a coffee or
something. You can run this package
down to the lobby for
the courier for me. This is going to take a while."
"Yeah. I could use the exercise. Play it safe, okay?"
"I will. Don't eat anything that's moving." She didn't look
up from her microscope, so she failed to see
Mulder rolling his
The courier was about an hour later than estimated, due to the
early snowstorm, so Mulder had time to
grab a sandwich from a
vending machine. and a cup of cruelly cold coffee from the Maxwell
House tastebud torture apparatus
beside it in the lobby.
What he hadn't counted on was the sting he felt in his derriere as
he rode the elevator back to the fifth
floor. As there were six
other people aboard, he had difficulty deciding who was the idiot
who injected him
without first rubbing his rump with alcohol. That
being the case, he pushed the 'STOP' button and pulled out the
and service revolver. "F.B.I.! No one leaves until I get
an answer! Who gave me the shot!?"
He surveilled the elevator. There was an orderly accompanying a
labouring woman, three uniformed
nurses, and a doctor. "Well, I
think this lady wants to get to L&D, so let's have an answer
before we all witness
a birth, okay?"
"Dr. Guillermo Falletta. You were in my office earlier." The
physician had some morality after all.
"Thought I was doing you
a favour, seeing as you had no time for your immunization. As
for your partner, I really
believe it is in her best interests
"She is busy, doctor. And she wouldn't let you near her, under
the circumstances in this town.
Seems she rather likes her
hair." He got the elevator moving again, with a close watch
on Falletta. "I think
we need to talk. And you can buy me a
toupee for Thanksgiving."
When they reached the lab, Scully already felt she had some
much needed answers. "You ought to see
this. Mulder. I
think... I think you've already got about 65 per cent of
what or who we need."
"Yeah, plus a 'flu shot. Free. What's your take on this,
"Well, it seems the vaccine was altered genetically to somehow
inititate the manufacture of a type
of hormone needed to cause the
victims to produce the same type of testosterone that encourages
hair loss in men.
Only, it also alters women's systems to
produce it as well. Which explains the sudden hair loss in the
of Adams. I take it this is one of our main suspects.
Faletta, and I wouldn't dare call you 'doctor', who
working for!?" She shouted. "F.D.A.? C.I.A.? Or some nameless
bunch we've been dealing with
all these years?" Her eyes were
fire when she was enraged.
"I don't need to say anything without my lawyer present," the
doctor stated emotionlessly. There
were no further words from
the man on that. "And, buy your own wig, mister."
"Well," Mulder quipped, "At least I'll be all the rage with
Skinner. Let's get things going, Scully.
I think we're done
here. The only thing left is... "
"Not to look at the shower drain," Scully said without
a smile. "Relax," she advised him. "I still think
worth a beer and a movie."