Rated: PG (Really not for the younger set, but perhaps with
Category: A, MT, X
Summary: Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the
mysterious drownings of young men off of Santa Catalina.
Archive: Gossamer. After I take care of the usual places, anyone
else should ask first.
Disclaimer: CC, Ten Thirteen and Fox Studios own them
big-time. No mon; no fun. No copyright infringement intended.
SANTA CATALINA ISLAND, CA.
It was hot, humid and hazy on Santa Catalina when Mulder and
Scully arrived at the motel and registered. As they left the
desk and headed out to their rooms, a young man sat on a
bench near the parking lot reading a local newspaper.
"Simple drowning my $#%," he was heard muttering.
"You want to tell me why we're here, Mulder?"
Her partner opened the door to his room and whispered, "To
investigate simple drownings, Scully." He dropped his suitcase
and placed his laptop on a writing desk.
"That hardly qualifies as an X-File, Mulder. It's up to the
local authorities to take care of." Scully saw Mulder's eyes
"It IS an X-File, isn't it? Mulder, you could have admitted
that this case went a bit further than Skinner was telling us!"
"Well, Scully, I could have. And I'll even admit, I asked for
this one, but only because of a tip I got out of the San Fran
"Okay, let's have it. Freaks, aliens, sea serpents,... what?"
"Well, word has it that... "
Scully glared at him suspiciously. "Well?" Go on, Mulder." She
sat on his bed. "I'm all ears." She faked a smile and listened
"Your father was a sailor, right?"
"Right. As well as my brother, Bill."
"Ever hear stories of mermaids, Scully?"
She continued to wear the half-hearted smile and replied, "Yeah.
They call to men to join them in the water and lead the poor,
unsuspecting seafarers to their deaths with their irresistible
charm and beauty. It happens every day."
Mulder laughed a bit, then sat down beside her. "They asked for
me especially, as I have a reputation for being open-minded,
and experienced in the paranormal. Scully, what else do
you know about Mermaids?"
"Well, since this room has internet connection, I think I can
refresh my knowledge while you talk to the locals."
"Good. I'll let you get settled in your room and I'll get down
to one of the beaches. I'll call in a couple of hours."
Scully stood and grabbed her bags. "Okay. But I expect you to
hear something that can be based on truth, Mulder. I suggest we
find out what the autopsy reports say, as well. How many
"Three as of two days ago. You may want to look at the bodies,
too. I'll change and get out to the beach."
The first beach on Mulder's list was a vacationer's delight.
Clear, blue seawater met with warm, smooth sand as tourists
lined the beach to soak up the sun, play volleyball and swim.
Mulder had chosen an old pair of navy blue shorts and white tee
shirt. He tried to listen for any rumors of the drownings
that had occurred most recently. *Eureka,* he thought, as he
listened to a couple in their early forties discussing mermaids,
sipping beer on their folding chairs. *Have I seen them
somewhere before?* he wondered.
"You do know, of course, I'm not going to take some sexy sea
siren over you," the man declared solemnly.
"Oh, I didn't say you would, Jack. What I AM saying is that
their allure is supposed to be irresistible. At least that's
what they say. And that guy must have been lured out there
by something, at sunset."
"You don't know that, Vera. We weren't out here then!"
"Pardon me. I'm Fox Mulder, F.B.I." Mulder flashed his badge.
"I'm here to investigate some drownings, under suspicious
circumstances. I couldn't help but overhear. Did you say
something about mermaids?"
Jack looked over his dark sunglasses. "Well, that's what's
being said around here. Frankly, Agent Mulder, I think it
sounds silly." The man smiled and shook his head. "There's
always something. By the way, I'm Jack Davis, and this is my
Vera nodded. "Well, that's the latest rumor. Five days ago it
was sharks. They're saying this guy wasn't near a shark. I
think these guys were probably just drunk. They get a lot of
that on the beach at night. Three in a week is just a bit
much, if you ask me."
"Are you locals?"
"No," the man replied. "We go home in three days. We're from
Dayton, Ohio. Personally, I haven't seen any 'mermaids' except
for the ones some guys here got in the tattoo shop."
"Well, thanks anyway. I guess 'mermaid' is the word of the day."
"More like superstition," Vera chuckled. "I wouldn't count
on seeing anything close to a mermaid here. Female, yes.
Mermaid, no. Unless mermaids are your type." She winked at
Mulder, and looked at her husband. When Mulder was out of
earshot, she said, "Remember him from the Ohio Office?"
"Yup. Good old 'Spooky' Mulder. Cheers."
Mulder continued to speak with people on the beach until he
decided to check with Scully. He walked back to his rental and
made the call from the roadside.
Scully set her laptop aside to answer her cell. "Scully."
"All talk and no witnesses, Scully. I'm going to another beach
to see if anyone there witnessed one of the drownings. What did
"Oh, a lot on mermaid legends in various cultures, Mulder.
Did you know that not all mermaids have dolphin or fish-like
tails? And, I'm getting ready to catch the ferry to the mainland
to see what the coroner has to say. I should only be a couple of
hours. Three at the most." She looked at the clock on the
bedside table. It's four now."
"Okay. Look, I still have some calls to make while I look for
witnesses. The San Francisco office wasn't very clear as to
who saw what." Mulder glanced at his watch. "I'll be back
around eight to compare notes. We can order something in."
"Okay. I'll try to arrange to study the bodies further
tomorrow. And Mulder?"
"Try and stay out of trouble."
"Hmph." He ended the call and began his drive.
Perhaps he'd have better luck on this beach. At any rate, if
rumors were flying here as much as they had been earlier that
afternoon, he was bound to find something to lead him to
possible witnesses, other than policemen and Medical
A small boy, about 9, approached Mulder as he left his car.
"You want to buy a map, Mister?"
"No, but thank you." He didn't want to let anyone get away if
there was the posibility to a clue in his search for information.
"Wait. I have a question."
"Ten?" Mulder dug into his pocket. "All right. You haven't
heard anything about mermaids around these parts, have
"Mermaids? Yeah. And some of the kids at school said
a couple of guys saw a mermaid, but that's silly. We all know
they aren't real. Even The Little Mermaid is only a story,
"Well, yeah. But sometimes legends come from real events,
"I don't know. I'm only 9." The boy laughed and blushed.
"I know Robin Hood is a legend."
"So, you wouldn't know these guys who said they saw a
"No. My Dad and Mom say it's just a lot of talk, and a lot
of rum. I gotta go, Mister. I haveta sell a couple of maps
so I can get some money for a skateboard."
"Thanks." Mulder walked along the beach, asking people if
they'd seen or heard anything about the men who had drowned,
and any talk of mermaids. He came up with quite a few
rumors about mermaids, but no eye witness accounts of either
mermaids or the drowning victims. There was one common
thread in the stories he'd been hearing: the disappearances
and drownings had all occurred after dark.
*After dark," he mused. *Just maybe that merits some
Scully gave Mulder a short lesson about mermaids over
Chinese Food and soft drinks. "Did you know fairytales
and folkore concerning mermaids go back as far as eighth
century BC? Merfolk were originally thought of as gods,
Mulder. There were mermaids and mermen."
"As in Ethel Mermen?" Mulder was tired, but couldn't let
that one go unsaid.
"As in a supposed race of creatures worshipped and feared.
When Christianity entered the picture, many pagan beliefs
went by the wayside, but the legend of mermaids lived on.
If you've seen any movies about them, you'll remember they
were often depicted as vain female creatures with a comb in
one hand and a mirror in the other, thought to be representative
of the vain nature of Church vanity and female vanity that
could destroy man." She pointed to the monitor at an image of a
"Not a bad way to go, I suppose."
"Mulder. To continue, in the Middle Ages, even the most
educated of men believed mermaids to be physiological entities.
There were supposed sightings of them in the 1800's."
"Any accounts of Feegee Mermaids, Scully?" Clearly, Mulder was
enjoying the view on the laptop too much.
"Mulder, those were a hoax. A Japanese hoax which in actuality
resulted from sewing the torso of a monkey and the tail of a
fish. Mermaids were considered quite erotic, and some cultures
actually believed that these 'sirens' could lure a man to the
depths of the sea simply with their beauty and songs. Apparently
any man exposed to the siren's song could not resist following
the source of the song, and drowned."
"What about the ME's report?"
"Two of the men did, indeed drown, Mulder. Until other tests
come back, I'm not going to speculate on other causes. There
was one man who the Medical Examiner says died of injuries
sustained from a blunt force object, and was then drowned,
possibly by person or persons unknown."
"We could have a murder on our hands, Scully. Any ID on him?"
"Philip Atkins, 32. He reportedly 'worked' the beach for
single females looking for some fun. Apparently, they already
have a few possible suspects, one of them being a jealous
boyfriend, and another a beach bum. We can talk to them
tomorrow at the local police station, then I have to get back
to the mainland for the autopsy results on the other victims."
"Well, it's getting late. How about you tell me a nice
mermaid story, complete with some of those pictures
Scully swatted him with a file folder and smirked. "Get out
of here, Mulder. I think I've had enough legendary tales
for one day. Besides, we'd better get started early
Mulder drank the rest of his soda and stood. "All right.
I think I have enough things to go over for now. Good
"Sleep tight, Mulder." Scully locked the door behind him
and put the casenotes away for the night.
Mulder waited to see the lights go out in Scully's room.
When he was sure she was in bed for the night, he took
the rental car to the second beach he'd visited. His
partner's words of the previous afternoon echoed in his mind:
*Try and stay out of trouble*.
He figured he'd see a few couples strolling along the beach
or taking an evening swim to cool off, but there was only
a long, empty stretch of beach everywhere he looked. The
water gently lapped against the rocks and sand, this hot,
humid night. Bright stars surrounded the half-moon
reflected in the water. He started down the beach, wondering
what had led the men to their deaths if not mermaids, jealous
husbands, or gigolos. After about a half-hour, he walked back
toward where he had started from.
Off in the distance, he saw what appeared to be a young,
blikini-clad woman, with waist-length hair. She hadn't
appeared to notice him. As he stepped up his pace to reach
her, he noticed her hair was startlingly blonde. Blonder
than that of Marilyn Monroe. He couldn't guess the color
of the bikini. 'Damn the colorblindness'. "Hi there."
"Hello. I didn't know anyone was out here," the woman said
with a smile. "I'm Lena."
Mulder felt strangely entranced. "Fox. Fox Mulder. So, what
are you doing out here alone? You know, it's not really
"Well, I've lived here longer than I can remember, and I
feel safe," she said in protest. Then she smiled. "Besides,
I'm feeling so-o hot."
"Yes, you are... I mean, I'm not used to the nights here.
I'm here from Washington, DC."
"So, Fox, are you on vacation?" Her smile was more than
just engaging. It was hypnotic, magical, almost the stuff
"Work!" he reminded himself. "I'm here to work," he remembered
aloud, desperately trying to shake himself to sensibility. "I
need to get up early, so I'm heading back to my motel. Good
night, Miss... Good night, Lena."
"You don't want to go for a swim, Fox?"
Just hearing the woman say his name was almost more than he
could resist. "No. I mean, some other time. I really need
to get back." He ran toward the area where his car was parked,
hearing the soft, sultry voice calling his name all the way.
"Fox... Fox... Fox..." He slammed the car door and turned up
the radio full blast, but the thought of her, the memory of
her smile, and the echo of her voice tortured him until he
drove the car into a tree along the roadside.
"Fox! Fox! Dammit, Mulder! Fox Mulder! Wake up, dammit!
Fox!" Scully was praying he hadn't sustained permanent
brain damage. His head was covered in guaze, applied
after a five-hour operation to repair damage from a concussion
sustained in his desperate flight from whatever or whoever had
been after him the previous night. "Mulder! Fox! Omigod, what
have you done this time?"
Slowly, Mulder's eyes opened. They were bloodshot, but Scully
was able to see a glimmer amidst the red lines and bruised
skin. "Lena? Scully! Where am I?"
"Just rest, Mulder. We had to airlift you to UCLA Medical
Centre. You were in a very bad car crash."
"The case... " Mulder tried to sit up, but his body was too
heavy with medication. "The autopsies... "
"Well, the two men who drowned died two days apart, but they
had both been drinking rather heavily for three days straight,
and died of alcohol toxicity. Their bodies were carried out
by the tide, and brought in by the tide. As for the gigolo,
it seems one jealous husband decided to beat the living crap out
of him. One Bill Garcia followed his wife down here, and you
can guess the rest of the story. And who's Lena?"
"Lena? Some woman out for a midnight swim, I think. I don't
remember much. Probably another tourist. Why?"
"Nothing. Except, just before surgery, you kept repeating
her name, telling her to go back to the sea. You get some
rest, and I'll go back to get our bags."
Mulder wanted to reach her before she was out the door, but
he settled for the power of his voice. "Scully?"
She smiled and shook her head reassuringly. "No mermaids."
FOUR DAYS LATER
Locals were all abuzz as another body had washed in with the tide.
Some said it was another binge drinker, still others said it was
a suicide. Officially, the Medical Examiner told the media that
the man, in his early forties, had drowned. In his words, "Jack
Davis died as a result of aspiration of salt water. No trauma to
Rumors abounded that three high school students had heard a man
shouting, "No, Lena! Not me! Not me!" Nothing more.
Vera David wrote a letter which Mulder was never to receive.
"Dear Agent Mulder,
Regarding Mermaids, I believe Jack's death to be directly related
to something we may have joked about. Whatever you were searching
for, I pray it takes no more lives. My work at the Bureau here in
Ohio will keep me occupied. Perhaps some day, you will no longer
be considered 'Spooky Mulder'.
Special Agent Vera Davis."
Vera had placed the letter on the motel service counter, but wind
through the open lobby door had cast it to the floor, to be swept
with dust and sand by a janitor that night.