The Medusa Stone
By Jeannine Ackerson
Rating: PG for disturbing images.
Disclaimer: The X-Files as well as the characters portrayed therein belong to C. Carter, FOX & 1013 Prod., and most importantly they don't belong to me.
Relationship: Friendship only, just like the show. A dose of UST at most.
Summary: An ancient carving from Greece believed to have the power to turn living things to stone is stolen from a museum and several bodies are found petrified.
Hi All! Here's a new "straight" X-File from me. Just something that came to me when I wasn't looking. I figure I gotta keep doing one or two of these every once in a while, just to clear the MSR palate. This one is grounded in my fondness for Grecian mythology. (could you tell?) But let's get to it . . .
Old Tyme Antiques
"I'll give you $100 dollars for it," the antique dealer muttered, removing the jeweler's loop from his eye and regarding the man before him.
The man on the other side of the counter scoffed, picking up the stone in his dark gloved hands again. He shifted the item back and forth a few times before he put it back on the counter.
Bill O'Neill looked at the roughly circular stone. In all his years of being a purchaser of antiques, he'd never seen its like. Certainly he'd seen nicer, mostly knock-offs of Grecian originals, but this one had a different look to it. The edges of the stone seemed smooth, but indented - as if time had worn them down.
Yet the main difference was the carved relief in the center of the stone. Usually the cheap rip-offs people tried to pawn off on him were common figures of the mythology: Hera, Zeus, Athena, Apollo . . . but this one, it wasn't a figure he was familiar with.
"Do you know who the portrait is?" O'Neill asked, reaching for the disk with a tentative hand.
The other man's wavering voice answered as O'Neill's fingers brushed the stone.
With a sudden shock, O'Neill looked up as a crackle of electricity ran up his fingers, and along his nerves. He could feel them stiffening, and the skin turn cold. Then he felt nothing there as the electricity coursed its way up his arm, then across his chest and down his legs and other arm. As with the first arm, the cold and stiffening came before he lost total feeling. Only when the feeling reached his head did he realize what he'd just touched.
As the fine dust that the cracked skin had produced settled, the seller frantically reached over and slid the stone from the antique dealer's still fingers. Without looking back, he pocketed the trinket and headed for the door, leaving O'Neill standing stock still behind the counter.
Turned to stone.
Agent Dana Scully had been having the best dream she'd had in a long time. Then her alarm had gone off. When she'd gotten out of bed and headed for the shower, she found that there was no hot water. If that wasn't enough, her best pant suit had seemingly found its way to the closet floor, and now looked like it had been crumpled in her laundry hamper for weeks.
Therefore, she was not in the best of moods when she walked into the basement office of the X-Files division that morning, toting her coffee in one hand and her briefcase in the other.
That only made it more fun for him when Agent Fox Mulder sprung their new case on her.
"Morning Scully," he remarked, sounding as if he'd gotten up on the good side of the couch that morning.
She scowled at him, and from the grin on his face, she knew he had a case for them. One that he was more than likely chomping at the bit to get to. With a barely audible groan she crossed to the space she called hers and put her things down.
"Alright Mulder, what is it?"
"Take a look for yourself," he commented, tossing the photos from his file across the desk at her. She turned them towards her and stared at the picture depicted in each of them from different angles.
"So it's a statue. Where's the X-File Mulder?"
"The statue you see there Scully used to be one Bill O'Neill, owner of the Old Tyme Antiques shop in Springfield, Illinois. He was found like that by one of his assistants who'd come in to relieve him for lunch."
"Mulder, this figure is made of stone!"
"Yeah, and obviously someone or something did this to him because even I'm not willing to believe he willed himself to petrify," he commented jokingly.
Scully stared at the photo again, looking closer for the details that could pinpoint a cause. Mulder was right, he did look petrified. But there was nothing in nature that was known to petrify a human being.
"When's the flight leave?" she asked resignedly, dropping the photos on the desk.
He grinned at her like a kid.
"Two hours. We've got time to go home and pack."
Dulles International Airport
They made it to the flight with minutes to spare. Anyone watching them run through the airport, their trench coats flying behind them would have thought they were chasing a notorious criminal rather than trying to make their plane. They showed their badges to the airline staff member at the gate, and handed over their tickets. Then they were down the ramp and into the plane.
As Scully made her way to the middle seat, leaving Mulder the aisle to stretch his legs in if he needed to, she dropped her laptop and the case folder on the cushioned seat. Scrambling, Mulder scooped them up and held onto them until she was in place, then handed them over before he sat down and belted in himself.
"Thanks Mulder. This has not been my day," she remarked with despair, then stowed the laptop beneath her seat.
"What, you mean the thrill of spending time with me in a dingy motel for days on end has lost it's appeal already Scully?" he joked, giving her his lopsided grin.
"It never had any appeal Mulder," she tossed back, then opened up the folder, and started studying the reports there.
Once he saw that she was in investigator mode, he decided to ease off, and settled back as the plane began to taxi down the runway. There was plenty of time to go over the case before they arrived in Chicago.
Bureau Field Office
Agents Mulder and Scully entered the ten story building in Chicago's downtown area. After being directed by the receptionist at the front door to the Violent Crimes Section on the third floor, they took the elevator up. With a ping, the doors opened and they walked into the corridor, moving past other agents and clerical workers, who all slowed down and glanced at them as they went on their way.
Mulder could almost feel Scully tense at the stares they were getting, and moved his hand from beside her to rest at the small of her back. It was a little gesture that he hoped would reassure her that at least *they* were ok, but he found it more comforting to himself than anything else. No matter what anyone believed, he wasn't used to his reputation as "Spooky" Mulder anymore. Not since Scully had come along and helped validate the X-Files. He'd become almost respectable in the last couple of years, but obviously the rumors about him still abounded in the field offices.
"Scully, am I wearing my airline meal on my clothes or something?" he said low into her ear, the humor mixed with self-doubt.
"No Mulder, you're not. You're just experiencing extremely rude behavior from ignorant people," she replied, with just enough of an edge to her tone for him to catch how annoyed she was. It seemed like she'd said it louder than he'd thought, because several of the agents who'd been staring stopped and hurried off.
Finally they found themselves before the Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Clayton's office and knocked on it. They stood silently outside, waiting for permission to enter.
"Come," hollered a voice on the other side of the thick door.
Turning the doorknob, Scully walked in first, Mulder right beside her. They looked first at Clayton behind the large wood desk and then glanced at the room itself.
It looked like a standard ASAC's office. Except for the decor. The man obviously had a fondness for fishing, and the evidence was all over the place. Mounted stuffed fish, photos of boats, and rods and reels propped up in one corner.
"Bet he has a fish tale to tell us Scully?" Mulder whispered in her ear before the thin man behind the desk turned his full attention towards them.
"You must be the agents from the D.C. office. Mulder and Scully?" Clayton asked, as if not sure who was coming to his office on any given day. But then maybe he really *didn't* know.
"I'm Fox Mulder and this is my partner Dana Scully. I understand you have an ongoing investigation that we might have some insight on?" Mulder said, still standing as the ASAC hadn't offered them a seat yet.
"That's right," he said, waving at them to sit.
With the precision of years working together, they sat as a unit, making Clayton seem nervous. Obviously not just the "Spooky" rumors had made their way to Chicago, but the teamwork ones too.
"Seems that this stiff, O'Neill ran an antique store, and had a reputation for buying and selling stolen materials. Nothing that the locals or the Bureau could make stick, but he was still suspect. Anyway, we think that one of O'Neill contacts might know something about how this happened to him."
"Is it possible that one of them could know who or what was responsible for O'Neill's transformation?" Mulder asked, and Scully did her best to keep her expression straight.
She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Was Mulder really saying that he though that someone had been responsible for turning this man into stone?
Obviously from the ASAC's expression, he thought Mulder was as crazy as a loon, but he didn't have much else to go on with the case, so he was trying to keep an open mind. For all the good it would do him.
"Well . . ." Clayton said slowly, not really wanting to encourage Mulder, but he didn't have much choice . . . Sliding a piece of paper across the desk to them, he continued. "Here's a list of some recent burglaries and some of the contacts we know O'Neill has. Maybe one of them will pan out with something."
There was a long pause as Scully and Mulder waited anxiously for their marching orders. Finally Clayton just OK'd the course of action, and dismissed them. Getting up, they walked out the door before Mulder turned to fill Scully in on his "agenda" for solving the case.
"Ok Scully, after looking over the crime scene, I think we should check on these break-ins and see if we can find a tie-in to the case," he suggested, walking along side her.
She sighed. This was going to be a long day of chasing shadows. She was sure of it. Just another day with the X-Files she mused.
They made their way to the elevator and then out to the city.
Scully shifted from one foot to the other as Mulder registered them at the front desk. She'd been on her feet all day except when they'd been in the car. And then she'd been trying to navigate them through the Chicago city streets and into the outlying areas.
Of course, even though the body was waiting for her in the Chicago Bureau's morgue, they'd gone to the antique shop and looked around. The place didn't have a video surveillance unit, so there were no pictures of the last person to see O'Neill, let alone his transformation. All in all, she thought it had been a waste of time.
Finally Mulder came over with their room keys and handed one to her.
"Nice comfy rooms Scully," Mulder remarked humorously. He knew she was dead on her feet from all the running around they had done, and he reached down and picked up her suitcase for her.
She let her lips upturn just slightly, and then followed him to the rooms. He set her case down and fumbled for his key while she slipped hers in the lock and opened the door, shoving her suitcase inside before she went in. With a thud, she closed the door and then collapsed on the bed for a long moment. On the other side of the connecting door she could hear Mulder finally getting in. Now allowing herself a smile, she got up and started to unpack.
There was a knock on the connecting door just before she had started to change for bed. She went over and opened it, looking into Mulder's tired face.
"Hey there," he said calmly, then wandered in, taking a seat at the desk chair. "I was thinking that we should split up tomorrow. I can do the interviews on the remaining locations that were robbed and you can get to work on the body."
"Sure Mulder. I'm know I'm going to get a lot of great autopsy information from a statue," she replied sarcastically. The whole idea of a petrified person still did not compute.
Mulder searched her face to determine her attitude, and found her still disbelieving. He sighed lightly. After all this time he still couldn't understand how she couldn't believe in the possibility of a paranormal explanation for all this.
"You never know. There might be some piece of evidence the Medical Examiner missed that you'll find," Mulder said, trying to be encouraging. She rewarded his efforts by cocking an eyebrow at him.
"The body is composed of *stone* Mulder! There's no body parts to dissect, let alone find clues," she complained. Just the thought of trying to cut through the stone limbs of the body frustrated her. If they solved this case, and that was a very big if, it would be by their interviewing and investigation alone.
Seeing that she was talked out about the case for the night, Mulder got up and headed back towards the connecting door. She looked up and gave him an apologetic grin, and he threw a lopsided one back. Even if they didn't agree, she knew that they were ok. Partners through it all. Even on insane cases like this one.
Once the door between their rooms closed, she changed into her pajamas and headed for bed, lulled to sleep by the sounds of his TV on the other side of the wall.
Chicago Museum of History
Mulder had hit several of the places on his list, and was only now just getting to the museum. He stopped on his way to the administrative office, his eye caught by something. Staring, he looked at the dinosaur skeleton bolted together with cable and steel pylons and wondered how they put things like that together. He'd had enough problems with erector sets when he was a kid.
Suddenly a voice from behind him startled him, and he spun around to see an older gentleman heading towards him. He couldn't be more than fifty, but the bifocal glasses and gray and white hair made him look much older. Even the taupe cardigan sweater gave the illusion merit.
"Agent Mulder? I'm Professor Brudzinski, the curator here. I understand you had some questions for me," he said, taking Mulder's outstretched hand, and shaking it soundly.
"Yes sir, I'm investigating a death in the nearby area, and I had heard that you had a theft a few days before," Mulder questioned.
"Yes. Terrible occurrence. One of our former guards came in and looted the gemstone room. He didn't get a lot, but enough to make finding him difficult. At least that's what the police believe," Brudzinski said. "Other than that, he only took one other thing."
"What was that?"
"A rare piece from the Grecian collection that had been loaned to us from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Nothing of real value, but of immeasurable historical significance. It was a stone medallion, carved probably back at the height of the culture."
"Is there any reason why that one piece would have been singled out? Especially since it had little monetary value?" Mulder asked.
"I can't think of anything. Well, except for the legend of course."
Mulder's head spun and he looked at the man again, seriousness in his eyes as he regarded him.
"Well the relief on the stone was of one of the lesser known characters in the mythology. Medusa. Her story is that she was a beautiful woman, and then dared compare herself to the goddess Aphrodite, so she was turned into a serpent creature. The mythology says she was able to turn men to stone by looking at them. Moreover, the legend about this stone, named the Medusa Stone, said that it had the same effect. I'm not sure how it was supposed to work, but it was said that if touched bare handed, it could turn someone to stone."
"It could petrify them?"
"Yes, in a manner of speaking. Why?"
"I think you may just have solved my case for me professor."
Before Mulder could say anything more, the cel phone in his trench coat pocket began to burr. Shoving his hand inside, he pulled it out and hit the button, connecting the line, and put it up to his ear.
"It's me Mulder. We've got another body. It's the same MO. I need you to get over here as soon as you can," Scully's voice said over the line, and then she rattled off an address to him in the Chicago area.
"I'll be there as soon as I can," he replied. He then disconnected the line and turned back to the professor. Suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place in his head.
"Professor, do you have any records on the security guard?" Mulder asked.
Antiquities Trading Company
Scully circled the cramped trading office and watched as the forensics team went over the limited evidence. This case was tough.
The medical examiner on the case had tried to do an autopsy on the first body, but had found that there wasn't any real way to determine the cause of death, besides knowing that people weren't made of stone. She'd actually gleaned a little information in her study of the first body earlier in the day. There was a pattern of sorts to the striation of the stone. The pattern seemed to start with the fingers and run their way up.
So far it was the only concrete information they had on how the process had occurred. She stifled a chuckle as she realized what she'd thought . . . concrete. Well, it *was* a hard, stone like substance she thought. And she also noticed that it sounded like something Mulder would have said.
As she returned her attention to the team dusting and searching the office, Mulder literally burst into the room. He surveyed everything in a split second before letting his gaze settle on the body, which was being moved onto a gurney for transport.
"What do you have Scully?" he asked, his eyes swiveling to come to rest on her as he waited for her answer.
"Fine arts dealer, specializing in private sales to collectors. Same situation as before Mulder. No one saw the reason or person responsible for this. The video camera in this office is under repair, so we have no leads."
"It doesn't matter. I think I've got our stone cold killer," he replied with his usual wit, and pulled a wallet size photo from his pocket. He handed it to her and watched as she looked down at the youthful face, no more than twenty-five, and then back up to him.
"Walter Johnson, former security guard with Allied Security. Seems he decided to quit guarding things at the Chicago Museum of History and burglarized it instead."
At that her eyebrow arched in its infamous way of alerting him that she was curious to hear more. To hear what had lead him to connect this man and a burglary to these deaths. The smug look on his face confirmed for her that he knew what she wanted to hear next.
"Seems that he took a bunch of things, but most important to this investigation was a stone medallion that reportedly has the power to turn someone to stone, just by touching it."
"That's crazy Mulder! If this item really did have these powers, how could anyone have ever touched it to get it into the museum? On top of that, how could this thief, Johnson have handled it to get it out of there? This sounds like another one of your far fetched myths."
"Scully, this one's not even mine! The curator at the museum told me about this legend, and it sounds like it could possibly be plausible."
"How? How could this story be even remotely plausible?"
"Well, we have dead, petrified people Scully, so this really isn't that
much of a leap. Unless, of course you have a viable, logical reason of how this happened," he challenged.
He knew she didn't. She was stumped as to a cause, and even with him presenting her a supernatural one, she was still looking for scientific, reasonable answers. As always.
"So we're looking for him," she said quietly passing Mulder back the photo.
"Yeah. I figure he's trying to sell it and doesn't know what he's got. But he's moving up in the world with each attempt to sell this thing. We've got to find him before he does any more damage," Mulder said, taking her by the elbow and heading them for the door. There wasn't anything more they could do here. Now they had to stop this guy before something like this happened again.
"Or he sells it to someone who does know what it can do."
His face went a bit pale under his tan. If someone who knew of the legend found out that the stone was for sale, there was no telling what they could or would do to get it, or what they would do with it. It made it even more urgent that they find it, and find it soon.
"Any leads on where we might find him?" Scully asked as they walked to the rental car. She slid into the passenger side as Mulder got behind the wheel.
"Maybe, but you're not going to like it Scully," he commented as he pulled away from the sidewalk and into the traffic. He had called the Chicago Police on his way to the crime scene and had gotten a suggestion on where to look for "missing persons" of Johnson's caliber. Glancing over at Scully, he could tell she was staring at him with her quizzical look, and finally he confessed where they were going.
"How do you feel about a visit to the piers?"
Chicago Harbor District
They'd searched half the abandoned loading docks and warehouses on the piers before they got lucky. A sound and the glow of light coming from a back room alerted them to someone being in the building. At the sight, Mulder motioned that he was going to go around the back and cut of any escape route as Scully went in the front.
The moment she pushed the door open, she saw the young man sitting on a mattress spread on top of a wire frame. She noted the gloved hands and the dark clothing, as well as a stack of cash and what she assumed was the stone artifact on the bed.
"FBI! Walter Johnson, you're under arrest, put your hands up," she announced as she stepped into the room.
There was a second when he turned and looked at her as if she was the bogeyman. Then he sprang up, his hands grasping some money and the medallion and bolted for the back door of the room.
Scully chased after him, following him out the side door, but not seeing Mulder anywhere. Johnson was coming to the corner of the building, and she knew once he turned the corner she'd lose sight of him.
"Stop! FBI!" Scully yelled, her Sig in hand as he began to turn the corner. Suddenly she knew somehow that Mulder was just ahead of him, probably coming from the other direction.
There was a blur of black trench coat as Mulder tackled the man. With the force of the hit, Scully saw the money and the stone medallion go flying, and raced towards them, planning on catching the historical artifact before it hit the pavement.
"Scully! Don't!" Mulder yelled as he saw Scully heading to intercept the stone.
Involuntarily her pace slowed just slightly at the concern in his voice, and that was all it took. With a smash and a spray of stone pieces the medallion was destroyed.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Mulder sat at his desk in the basement and typed in his last remarks on their case report. Scully had done most of it, but he felt that he needed to add a few things before they handed the report to A.D. Skinner that afternoon.
Back in Chicago, the Bureau field office had closed the case on the deaths, listing the cause of death as unknown. Johnson was being held for trial in the theft at the museum, but not for the murders. The young man said that he didn't even know how it had happened when they'd questioned him. Plus there was no way they could make any case stick, especially not without the Medusa Stone for evidence.
"So, what did the museum have to say about the loss of the stone?" Scully asked as she walked in the office towards her chair, a cup of coffee in hand.
"Well the insurance paid the museum in Athens what the piece was insured for, but the fact that the medallion was destroyed was sort of a mixed blessing," Mulder commented, thoughtfully tapping his pencil on the desk.
"Well, with the pieces broken, I guess they can finally touch the thing without gloves. So now that they can study it, the stone's no longer of any important historical value."
Scully sympathetically thought about that. It was a shame, but it was better than letting a thief and killer get away, even if she still questioned whether or not the "stone" had actually done anything to those people or not.
"So Mulder," Scully asked, changing the subject, "where are we off to next?"
"Funny you should ask Scully," Mulder remarked, pulling a folder from his desk. "What do you know about genetic mutation?"
At that she let loose a low sigh and shook her head, reaching over and taking the file. It looked like they were going to be off on another wild case . . .
Well, maybe one of these days I'll actually write an X-File that I'm happy with. I'll tell you that this has come the closest without going anywhere near the MSR realm. Hope even my regular readers who expect the relationship stuff liked this. J.
Author's Note: I did research the Medusa legend, but got a different story than I'd been told/taught. So if you're a real mythology buff, don't tell me I got it wrong . . . I chose to use this "version".
click the X to go to STORIES