Category: K, X, Case file.
Archive: Gossamer, The Nursery Files. I'll take care of the rest.
Author's Note: Written for the First Day of School Challenge at
The Nursery Files.
234 BURKE STREET
Eric Delmar, 32, was looking forward to getting back into the
classroom. He had gone through a very painful divorce, and the
process had been completed just at the end of August. Alicia,
his wife of ten years, was allowing him to remain in the house
until he found a suitable apartment, which he was unable to do
this summer. The district school board insisted every primary
school teacher attend New Curriculum Seminars most of the
As he placed his toothbrush on the bathroom counter, he saw a
tube of lipstick in the corner, showcased by the little tiles on
the back splash. He smiled for a moment, then felt terribly lost.
He softly uttered, "Alicia," then turned to shut the lights off.
At about 3:05 AM, he awoke to a bright light and an irresistible
force that drew him out of his home.
JAMES JACKSON PRIMARY SCHOOL
Parents and children alike were already milling around the tarmac;
many children were stepping out of school buses and cars. Mothers
and Dads were a bit teary, especially near the Kindergarten
Young boys were throwing balls of all sizes and colors, shooting
baskets with a couple of balls some older boys had brought, girls
and boys were gossiping, bragging, showing off their backpacks.
For one boy in particular, Devin Marshall, this was going to be
a difficult year to face. Mr. Delmar had warned him he would fail,
and he had. This year, he would make Mr. Delmar proud by passing
in Mrs. Hill's class.
In the classrooms and hallways, teachers were talking about the
summer, the promise of the new school year, where they took their
vacations, and preparing for the beginning of school. Some were
stapling construction paper onto bulletin boards, hanging
calendars, arranging books. Others were checking on their
colleagues who had returned for another school year.
"Hey, Eric! What's the hurry?" Cooper Elliott wanted to talk with
his friend, and wondered why he was being ignored.
A man looking like Eric Delmar walked quickly into Room 28,
carrying a briefcase. He turned to face Elliott. "I'm... late."
"I'm sorry you and Alicia had to end things this way. Well, the
bell's about to go off. You can drop by later, talk things
over with Ole Coop. Gotta run!"
"I have a lot of preparation to do."
Children scurried to line up at their respective entrances. One
boy in particular was looking forward to this year: Devin Marshall.
How proud of him Mr. Delmar was going to be when he passed
Finally, the time came to break out those healthy snacks and
exchange them for someone's Mom's brownies and cookies!
Devin was no different than any of the other kids, but he wanted to
look in on Mr. Delmar first, since he wasn't doing Supervision
He entered Delmar's classroom and stood at the door. He felt hurt
when Mr. Delmar looked up from his reading, then back down,
ignoring the boy. "Hey, Mr. Delmar, it's me! Remember? Devin.
I just wanted to say hi."
"Hello." The man stood and approached young Devin. "You look
pale. Maybe we should go down to the Nurse's Office."
The words 'Nurse's Office' had been quite scary to many of the
James Jackson students because of a Meningitis scare in the
past year. To Devin, this suggestion seemed strange. He felt
very well, and frowned at the idea someone thought he could
need the Nurse.
Devin looked up in stunned silence as he realized he had no
choice but to go straight down the hall to see the nurse. The most
disturbing part of the process was the expression on Mr. Delmar's
face. Devin had never seen such a cold gaze in his entire life.
He was terrified when this Mr. Delmar grabbed his left wrist
firmly and would not let it go until they reached their
Against Devin's hope, the Nurse was in! Nurse Orwell was in her
mid-forties, with fading red hair. "What seems to be our problem,
"I chose this one," the man replied stiffly. That's when Eric
kicked who he thought was Delmar and tried to run, but 'Delmar'
took hold of him with extremely strong arms, holding the boy
still so the Nurse could take a throat swab.
At the end of the day, Devin Marshall was serving a detention in
the principal's office, and his mother had been called. While Devin
was peering around the office door that led into the hallway, he
saw Mr. Delmar. But Mr. Delmar was changing somehow. He was
becoming taller. The man he was looking at after a couple of
seconds was not Mr. Delmar! Who was that man?
OFFICE OF THE X-FILES
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
Naturally, Special Agent Fox Mulder had been at work a full hour
earlier than he needed to be. As he was gathering files and
setting up his slide projector, Special Agent Dana Scully brought
two Starbuck's coffees into the office, and set them down on the
"Mulder, if I'd known I would have brought popcorn."
"It's not that long a feature," Mulder replied. "I got this one
from a source in Ohio last night."
"We do meet a lot of people in our work," Scully mused. "So
what is it this time? Cattle mutilations? Crop circles?
Babies showing telekinetic abilities to get their strained
"You always assume it's the wild and weird, Scully." He took
the lid off of his coffee, and winced. "Too hot."
"That's because it's always the wild and weird when you present
a slide show."
"The lights, if you will? Thank you. Cincinnatti, Ohio, yesterday.
This is one Eric Delmar. 32 years of age, Grade 4 teacher, recently
divorced. His former wife went to his home last night to pick up
a few of her belongings, and he wasn't home as previously agreed
upon by the parties, thereby causing her to report him missing, as
he had not been seen since late that afternoon at James Jackson
"Mulder, since he was recently divorced, maybe he forgot about
the meeting and had a date. I'm sure his ex-wife would have
figured that out."
"And, this young boy led my source to have further concerns about
Mr. Delmar. Devin Marshall, 10, this November, was a student of
Delmar's last year, and went to visit his classroom at recess.
He was escorted to the Nurse's Office for some reason only known
to the teacher and the Nurse, and the boy put up quite the fight.
He said the nurse performed a throat culture, and after he put up
a fight, spent time at the end of the day in the principal's
office. While he is to attend school today, it appears this boy is
convinced that he had not actually been dealing with Mr. Delmar.
Furthermore, Mr. Delmar's best friend, Cooper Elliott, reported
to the principal that somehow Delmar didn't seem himself."
Scully resigned herself to the fact they were going to Cincinnatti.
"You said there was a throat culture performed. For what reason?"
"I'm glad you asked." Mulder shut off the slide projector and
flicked the light switch. "I called the Department of Health and
there's nothing much going around, except the usual colds. I
suspect someone is pinching DNA, and it's not for the Genome
Scully sighed, and wondered what the heck Mulder was getting
them into this time. It showed, too. "When do we leave?"
"Two hours, and I know what you're thinking: It's not going to
fly with Skinner. But he recommended I take a look at this one,
since it involved a disappearance."
JAMES JACKSON PRIMARY SCHOOL
Mulder decided the first person to question was Devin Marshall.
He and Scully went straight to the Principal's Office and asked
to speak with Principal Albright.
"FBI? What's this about?" A slightly overweight man in his
mid-fifties asked evenly.
"We believe one of your students may have witnessed someone
acting on behalf of a group of people with questionable intentions,"
"We also have reason to believe that one of your teachers, an Eric
Delmar, and the school nurse are privy to some information
pertaining to our investigation," Scully added.
The principal sat dumbfounded. "Well, Delmar has been through a
divorce, and I'm sure he's not feeling himself right now. But the
Nurse? Look, Agents Mulder and Scully, I seriously doubt anyone
here is violating any federal laws, so if you'll excuse me... "
Mulder stood just a quickly as Principal Albright did, and handed
him a document. "As you can see we have the authority to question
Devin Marshall, you, Mr. Cooper Elliott and anyone else who can
offer us information on Mr. Delmar."
"I see. I'll have Devin called to the office."
Mulder stopped the man from activating the PA system. "I think
you'd better have someone bring him to your office. Quietly."
Albright clearly resented Mulder overriding his authority. "All
right." He went out to the secretary's desk and whispered his
directions to her. She nodded, and left the office. "He'll be
here right away, Agents. You do realize it's almost the end of
the school day."
Scully looked at Mulder, then the principal. "Your point?"
"Well, I do have three students scheduled for detention today... "
"We can use another room." Mulder offered. "I'm sure we can do
this with a minimum of disruption."
The secretary returned with Devin.
"Am I in trouble?"
"No, Devin, no. Meet Agents Scully and Mulder. They came all the
way from Washington just to speak to you."
Mulder wanted to begin as quickly as possible. "Devin. That's a
cool name. Would you like to talk for a few minutes?"
"Would I? Yes!" The boy felt so proud to be seeing real live FBI
"You can use Room 7. It's not being used this year," the principal
Scully nodded. "Thank you. We shouldn't take long." She and
Mulder then escorted the boy to the empty classroom and closed
"So, do you like basketball, Devin?" It was never a good idea to
begin an interview with a child with hard-nosed questioning.
"Yeah. But I'm more into baseball. Sometimes, we get Reds
Scully suggested they sit down, and Mulder had a somewhat tough
time with a little desk, so he crouched down. "Devin, we were told
you are worried about Mr. Delmar," Scully began. "Would you like
tell Agent Mulder and me about that?"
Devin looked down at the desk. "I don't know about that," he said,
shrugging, then shifting his feet. "Have you ever watched those
shows where people morph into something else, or somebody else?"
Scully looked to Mulder. "I haven't, but I bet Agent Mulder has."
"Well, I do know there's someone on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 who
does that. But you don't see people do that in real life, right?"
Devin's gaze shifted from the desk to Mulder. "This is about
yesterday, when I saw Mr. Delmar change into someone else,
Scully, ever sceptical, needed to to be sure the boy realized what
he was saying. "Well, yes, it is. Did he?"
Devin stared at the desk once more and hung his head. "Yes. But
please don't tell anyone else I said that, because I don't want him
to hurt me. He grabbed my arm pretty hard yesterday, when he took
me down to get the nurse to put that stick down my throat."
"Well," Scully gently assured him, "Sometimes doctors and nurses
do that to see if you're sick or not. They do a test."
"I hate that test! Anyway, I wasn't the only one who got that."
Mulder's eyes widened. "Who else got the test, Devin?"
"Jack, Sharon, Joey, Trevor, Chris, and a couple other kids."
Mulder reached for his pen and opened a black notebook, writing
the children's names out. "Can you tell us whose class they're in?"
"Jack and Trevor are in Mrs. Steele's class. Chris, Sharon and
Joey are in Mr. Delmar's class. Some of the other kids are in
Mr. Stack's class."
"I see. Could you please show Agent Scully where these classes
are? And thanks for talking to us. By the way, I'm rooting
for the Yankees this year, but I can take a chance on the Reds."
Scully took the boy's hand. "Are you sure I'm not in trouble?"
"Yes," Scully assured the boy. "And we'll make sure you're not in
"Okay. Mr. Stack's class is the closest one, so I can take you
"I'll see you in the principal's office, Mulder."
By the time Scully returned to confer with Mulder, it was close to
dismissal time. "Well, I've seen the rooms, taken a look at the
teachers, and Devin Marshall is back in his class. I know you have
a theory, so what next?"
"I've had the secretary pull the files on the kids Devin mentioned,
and the teachers' files as well. I think we have a few after
school interviews to do."
"Not here, and not now. I think it would be a better idea to talk
to the kids in their own homes. Once we get their stories, we can
start investigating just what roles the staff other than Delmar
and the nurse play in this case. And, I tried to find the school
nurse. No one has seen her since June. At least no one listed as
next-of-kin. Judy Nash, 33. Her ex-husband reported her missing
last night. Is there a pattern here, Scully?"
"Not one I particularly like, Mulder. If people are missing, who
is posing as them? And why? If we're talking about shapeshifters,
What are they doing?"
Mulder closed his file folder. "I don't know, but we're going to
find out starting tonight."
Five stone faced teachers watched warily as Mulder and Scully
made their way through the lobby, leaving James Jackson Primary
224 AVON AVENUE
Mulder and Scully arrived at the address of Jack Allenby, who was
a student in Mrs. Steele's class. A blond woman in her late
twenties answered the door. "We already gave."
Scully flashed her badge. "Agents Scully and Mulder, FBI. May we
"I guess so." She led them into her livingroom. "What's this
Mulder spoke up. "We're investigating a case that involves one
of the teachers at Jack's school, and we were hoping to ask him
a few questions."
"Ah, sure. Jack! Someone wants to see you!"
A blond eight-year-old with stunningly bright blue eyes ran down
the stairs. "Yeah, Mom?"
"Honey, this is Agent Scully, and Agent Mulder. They'd like to
speak with you."
"I didn't let off the stink bomb."
Mulder and Scully grinned, remembering their school days, and
understanding how a child might believe someone had actually
called the authorities.
"Sweetheart, I'll make some tea, while you keep them company,
"Okay." As Jack's mother left the room, he looked at Agent Mulder.
"You're real tall, and she's real short."
"Well," Mulder answered, "If we all sit down, maybe we can forget
how tall I am and have a little talk."
"You want to know what I saw Mrs. Steele do, don't you?"
Scully smiled. "Uh huh. And we were also wondering why the nurse
had to take a throat swab from you, because I'm a doctor."
"Well, they never told me why. When I peeked into the window to
wave 'bye to Mrs. Steele yesterday, she was turning into a man!
That was really scary, and I ran fast to get on the bus. Some of
the other kids were saying something about seeing a teacher
"And do you believe they saw that happen, Jack?"
"Yes, Agent Scully. You know, they said Mrs, Steele is the
funniest teacher ever, but she sure wasn't funny at all. Last
year she was funny, but this year, she's strange."
"Stange as in no smiling or frowning?" Mulder asked.
"Thank you Jack. Please tell your Mom we couldn't stay, all right?"
Mulder stood, as did Scully.
"Yes, Sir. Is Mr. Delmar okay?"
Scully bent down and touched the boy's cheek. "I sure hope so. Now,
I bet you have homework to do. We'll see what we can find out."
Mulder looked at the boy. "Oh, and Jack? Let's keep this between
you and us, okay? I'm sure Mrs. Steele isn't herself right now."
HOWARD JOHNSON MOTEL
It had been a long day by the time Mulder and Scully checked into
a motel for the night. They headed straight to Mulder's room to
compare notes over Chinese Take-Out Food.
Mulder opened the brown bags. "You know, Scully, some time we
should try Eat-In instead of Take-Out."
"With all these children reporting the throat cultures and their
teachers changing form Mulder, I don't know what to make of it.
You have a theory, don't you?"
"Well, besides testing for viruses and bacteria, what else can a
throat swab be used for?"
"Well, usually a mouth swab is done for genetic testing, as in
paternity tests. Are you suggesting they're testing the children's
"Uh, no. I was thinking more along the lines of a different USE
for DNA. As for the teachers changing appearance, do you really
want to hear it? Usually, you'd want to find the teachers, and
suggest I forget about what you consider most unbelievable. Pass
the rice, please and thank you. Oh no, they forgot the green
"Well, where are those teachers, Mulder? They have friends,
families, poeple who care about them. Shouldn't we be looking
for them as well as investigating the apparent impersonation
of school board employees?"
Mulder grabbed an egg roll. "Yes, we should. But we had to check
in, and since we hadn't eaten, I just thought we'd see the
teachers after dinner."
Scully breathed a sigh of relief, then glared at Mulder.
"What? Is there something wrong with the Soo Guy?"
"Mulder, sometimes you -- never mind. I know you have the
addresses. Let's hope I don't have to do any autopsies."
234 BURKE STREET
The house of Eric Delmar was dark, which was no surprise to
the agents. Mulder knocked on the door anyway, and a light came
A man matching Delmar's description answered the door. He was
wrapped in a bathrobe and appeared to have been sleeping. "Yes?"
"We're sorry to have wakened you," Mulder apologized. "Eric
"Y- Yes. I'm sorry. I've been having the hardest time... "
"Agents Mulder and Scully. May we come in?" Mulder glanced at
Scully for a moment as the man just stared at them. "Please... "
"Of course. Forgive me. Come in. What time is it?"
Scully looked at her watch. "8:43."
Delmar appeared to be confused. "I'm sorry, but I went to bed
at 10:35. How can it be... oh no. I thought I'd been dreaming."
Mulder knew it was a delicate situation. A reportedly missing
man who was now quite confused. He had his suspicions as to
what had happened. "Mr. Delmar, do you know what day this is?"
"Monday... Labor Day. Tomorrow is... "
"Tomorrow is Thursday, Mr. Delmar. You've been missing time."
Scully was furious. "Mulder!"
"No, no. Your partner is right. I remember some strange dream,
or what I thought was a dream. Then, I missed the first day of
Mulder walked into the man's livingroom. "Please, sit down. I
think we should talk about you, some of your colleagues, and
whatever else we can."
"How do you feel?" Scully asked. She looked at his eyes and felt
"Very out of it. I guess like I've missed out on something, Maybe
a lot of things."
JAMES JACKSON PRIMARY SCHOOL
Mulder and Scully sat in their car as children anxiously waited
for the school doors to open.
"Mulder, five teachers are going to have a lot to catch up on.
Do you believe they'll meet their imposters?"
"I don't think so. Once they've returned their abductees, they
leave. The job's finished. Don't ask me where they go, because
we both know the answer to that: We don't know. Maybe some day
"From what the teachers all indicated last night, there's a lot
here we may never know. And theoretically, the DNA samples can
be used for what?"
"Think about it, Scully. Jeremiah Smith, the "Gregor" cloning
program during the cold war, the Colony up in Alberta."
"Oh my God... You think they're cloning these children?"
"I'm 99 and 44/100ths sure, Scully. Let's go home."
A character's first day at school. (I used a ten-year-old boy as
an original character.)
- Something strange is going on in or around the school. (Teachers
- The child, or an X-Files character, or both investigate the
goings-on. (Children are interviewed, and Mulder and Scully have
- Somewhere along the way the child gets in trouble with parent or
teacher. (Devin Marshall had a problem with "Mr. Delmar.")