It had been a month since Kara had last had a full day off. It hadn’t been as stressful as the month before, thanks to the copious amounts of sun she’d soaked up at the beach she’d taken Lena to. Honestly, even if Kara felt physically capable, she was still mentally exhausted.
I used to live in a small town secluded from the cities. It was unimportant to most maps but it was there, idle and unknown to most. The population didn’t go over a hundred and everyone knew each other like old friends.
I remembered getting up early in the morning and biking up the hill a few minutes from the main town. Daeyang was located by the seaside and it was a place where serenity lay and where time seemed to move slowly; unlike in big cities where people always seemed to be rushing after something.
I remembered both loving and hating the place. Hate because it was so small, so suffocating sometimes. I dreamt of leaving that town once I graduate and find a job in the city; maybe become a screenplay writer or even better, an actress who starred in movies (which I would be writing, of course).
Daeyang was a place detached from that world; a world that excited me, fascinated me. Once a month, my uncle visits us and brings in things like movies and the latest technology that came out like those amazing video games and cellular phone units.
Jimin liked those games a lot.
The train zipped passed and I felt the wheels rumbling beneath my feet as it rolled through the tracks.
The skies were dark outside as I’ve taken a ride in the middle of the night; a shotgun decision I had made right next to snagging the very last chance passenger slot at the airport.
My heart beat in a slow rhythm, a contrast to the whirl of emotions stirring within me.
I watched the darkened fields whipping past; a never ending sea of grass, hills, and earth. I leaned my head against the cold glass of the window as the train took me away from the city… far away from what I once thought was everything to me.
Xiumin: Xiumin is a dark grey color wolf who also goes by the name Minseok. XIumin was a homeless wolf before Kris took him into his pack where Xiumin became one of the strongest wolf in the pack. He is quiet, but when someone attacks his family he goes into killing mode. Xiumin loves playing soccer with Luhan. Feed him Baozi and he will love you forever.
When Will was around 7 or 8, all of his friends got bikes for Christmas and he was really disappointed that he didn’t get one, but he didn’t say anything to Joyce about it, because he knew that they were struggling to afford bills and clothes etc, so he never mentioned anything to her about the bike.
He would walk to school with the boys and they’d all be on their new bikes, Lucas and Dustin speeding off in the distance, racing each other, laughing loudly as they rode along. Mike would ride slowly beside Will, so that he didn’t get left behind, before stopping and letting him get on the back of his bike and ride with him. Will would always love riding with Mike, clutching on to his jacket and feeling the wind brush against his face as they rode along. He would smile vehemently and play silly games with Mike as they went along, like drawing things on Mike’s back with his finger and having Mike guess what he was drawing. Mike would always laugh, as it was always a dinosaur, Mike’s favourite toy he had.
One day Mike asks Will to come over to his house after school as he has something for him. Will goes with him after school, eagerly wondering what it is Mike is talking about. They walk into the garage to see Mike’s bike propped up in the middle of the room, with a red bow tied to it. Will looks confused and Mike says, “It’s yours! I got a new bike for my birthday, so I don’t need this one now! It’s all yours!” Will can’t believe it and starts jumping up and down like mad. He runs over to Mike and hugs him tightly, still while bouncing up and down from excitement. Mike laughs and says, “ I take it you like it then!?” Will’s tightening grip on Mike, answers the question for him.
Mike then spends Sunday afternoons teaching Will how to ride it. Mike starts off by holding the back of the bike as Will wobbles along, and he falls off every once in a while, and Mike freezes for a second wondering if his friend is okay, but then Will laughs and they both end up in a fit of laughter together. Eventually Will gets the hang of it and ends up being just as good as Mike.
They both take early morning bike rides around the rural areas of Hawkins and one day when Mike’s bike is in for a repair at the shop, Will takes great joy in saying, “Need a ride?” They both ride off on Will’s bike, him feeling warm and fuzzy at his best friend wrapping his arms around him so tightly. Every once in a while, Will pretends his bike has gone for a repair, just to ride on the back of Mike’s bike with him. Mike knows that Will just says it so he can ride with him, but he doesn’t mind, if anything, he quite enjoys having his best friend riding with him and drawing silly doodles on his back of objects, and him having to guess what they are, before they both burst into fits of laughter over how what Will draws on his back, feels nothing like what he says it is, but Will argues that he’s just playing the game all wrong.
The snow melts suddenly, overnight. It’s January and the thermometer climbs to sixty-five degrees, unheard of even in Virginia’s mild winters.
Skinner leaves that morning on a bike he takes from the McNallys’ shed. Lockport is gone, but with the roads clear he can make it to the next town, some twenty miles west of the little house. Will doesn’t ask to go, still shaken by what he saw last time.
Scully knows that what happened to Will happens every day – has happened to thousands of children every day, for all of human history. She knows. In times of war, of disease and disaster, children see their homes destroyed. And Will – Will is hardly a child anymore. But it is impossible to walk away from it unchanged.
In the early afternoon Skinner returns with blood soaking the right leg of his jeans and in his hands, a – she doesn’t want to call it a newspaper, because it has no real analogue in the old world – but news, at least, from the outside. A single page of carbon-copy paper, neatly handwritten, and Scully wonders how many people spent hours copying the same information, pressing hard with their ballpoint pens, checking the transfer.
They take turns reading it, Skinner’s lips in a thin line and his hands shaking. Scully has always thought of the older man as an imposing physical presence, broad and strong, filling up every room he walks into. But Skinner, like the rest of them, is reduced. He looks older, thinner. Gray. The color started leaching from their lives when the snow came. She doesn’t expect it to come back.
When it’s her turn she uses her finger to underline the words and tries to imagine who wrote them. The handwriting is round and neat, feminine, she thinks, though she’s no handwriting analyst. Something about it looks young, too, like she’s only a year or two separated from dotting all her “I"s with hearts. She might be Will’s age, Scully thinks. Maybe she used to go to his high school.
All of the news is bad, but none of it is a surprise. Much of it echoes what Skinner told them all those months ago, when he first arrived: that the major cities are gone, that people who survived the attacks and the first wave of illness are being rounded up and sent to what are, officially, refugee camps. Entire towns disappear at once, and no one understands how.
When Scully glances up, Will is staring at her. The lights. She doesn’t have any proof that they took Lockport the night she and Will went onto the ice. She doesn’t have any proof, but she still knows, and she remembers when she used to be a skeptic.
The paper also contains a report from a man who was taken from Carroll Station and then escaped from the camp. He says that tests are being conducted on the survivors.
And the paper says that things in the natural world are changing. The wood with that unbearable burning smell: it’s not just them, it’s not just here. Animals behaving strangely, then dying off in waves. Fresh meat that makes people violently ill. Layers of white ash settling over fields, with no fire in sight.
"They had a list,” Skinner says, once they’ve all seen the paper. “I checked the names, but.” His voice trails off. No one says anything; no news is no news. Mulder puts his good arm around Will’s shoulders and hugs him close, and for once Will doesn’t object.
After she pulls Skinner into the kitchen and tells him to take off his pants. He raises an eyebrow and deadpans, “I thought you’d never ask,” and somehow she finds that comforting.
There’s a round red cut on his shin, easily six inches in diameter, halfway between his ankle and his knee. Scully kneels down to get a better look. “This is a bite mark,” she says.
“Yeah,” Skinner says, grimacing as she touches the edges of the cut. “One of those dogs. Thing acted rabid.”
She grabs a cloth and some disinfectant and starts cleaning it out. Blood oozes slowly from the wound.
It’s easier to ask when she doesn’t have to look him in the eye. “How long do we have?”
Skinner winces, whether at the question or the disinfectant she’s not sure. “I don’t know what you mean,” he lies.
She presses the cloth fully against his wound, letting him feel the sting everywhere at once. Skinner gasps. “Jesus, Scully. ‘Do no harm’, remember?”
“I’m out of alternatives. Tell me.”
“It’s happening faster than I expected,” he admits. He glances toward the living room, but no one is eavesdropping at the door. “We thought it would take a few years, at least.”
“Remaking an entire planet? I’d think so.”
Skinner leans his back against the refrigerator and stares down at her. “It won’t help,” he says, nodding toward the door. “Telling them.”
“Then what?” she asks, trying not to sound desperate.
“I’m leaving tomorrow. I’ll try to get back to base. If it’s still there, then maybe. I’ll send word back once I know, either way, and if everything’s all right I’ll send someone to get you. You’ll just have to lay low until then.” He swallows. “It’s not too late.”
“Mulder’s hand,” she says, and then stops.
“Yeah. I know. And maybe this leg.” He points at the bite mark, a more livid red than it was five minutes ago, then shrugs like it doesn’t matter to him at all. “I didn’t mean it’s not too late for us, Dana.” His voice is softer than she ever remembers it being. “I meant it’s not too late to make it matter.”