Title: AftertheFact: The Host: Offspring Author: Pattie
Spoilers: The Host
Summary: Reports of an old memesis take Mulder to the Canadian side of Lake Erie.
Archive: AftertheFact, Gossamer. Other please ask. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Disclaimers: Chris Carter, 1013 Poductions and Fox Studios own the copyrights to Mulder, Scully, and the title The X-Files. I air them out so they won't mildew, and I receive no money for it.
LONG POINT BEACH,
"Last one in is a rotten egg!" a little girl, ten years old shouted, as two boys followed her into the summery warm water.
"Aw, you had a head start anyway!" a blond nine-year-old shouted.
The girl with laughed, her red hair shining like copper in the sunlight. "Who cares, Kyle! Hey! Kevin! Where's Kevin!?"
The boy looked around, as did Kyle. "Kevin! Yo! Hey, don't goof around, Kevin!"
Then both Kyle and the girl looked at each other and started to panic. "Mommy!!!" the girl screamed as loudly as she was able. Mommmm--eeee!!!"
"Mommy! Kevin's gone! Kevin's gone!"
The mother ran into the water. All three of them were shouting the boy's name. Within a minute, they saw Kevin, a seven year old red head, gasping for air, trying desperately to fight his way above water. "Something's got me!" Somehow, the boy kicked hard to break loose of whatever had hold of him, and his mother grabbed on to him.
Kevin, his mother, Sherry and Kyle made it to shore. Kevin fell to the sand, and there was a rather unusual bite mark on the back of his thigh.
"X marks the spot!" the girl laughed. "What is that?"
"I don't know, honey. Okay, I want you two to get your clothes onm, and bring an extra towel for your brother, and my cell phone. Run!"
While Kevin's brother and sister did as they were told, the mother examined the mark closely. "Well, it isn't any whitefish bite. Who knows?"
"Mom, I don't feel too good."
"I know." The mother briushed her son's hair from his eyes. Does it hurt?"
"Not as much as my tummy, Mom. My stomach feels awful sore."
Sherry ran back with the cell phone. "I know you need this now. I'm gonna get dressed. Sorry, Kevin."
"Yeah. Dumb lake!"
Qickly, the mother dialed 9-1-1. "My son was bitten or scratcheed by something, and he's in pain!" she cried. "We're at Long Point, near the first change cabin!"
TWO DAYS LATER
Scully walked into the office and turned off her computer. "C'mon, Mulder. Skinner wants to see us in his office."
Mulder, sitting behind a pile of papers folded his arms. "Whoa, Scully! Now? I was just finishing up some notes on the profile for the... "
"Mulder. He says this might have something to do with that case in Hew Jersey two years ago. Remember the flatworm?"
"Yeah, the 'FLUKEMAN'. Why so fast?"
"He said he wanted us there pronto. Let's go."
As the pair hurried hown the corridor to the elevator, Scully tried to explain. "There might be another instance of that fluke creature in Lake Erie. The Canadian authorities... Maybe I'd better let Skinner tell you."
As they entered the elevator, Mulder pushed the button. "Sure. Keep me in suspense. So, old fluky, or one of his relatives, shows up again."
"That's right, Mulder. Right up your alley."
"Don't say that." Mulder grimaced. The very thought of the thing made him squeamish. That, and the thought of the sewage plant's stench.
Scully smirked. Mulder just glared at her. He remembered all too well what wrestling with the wormy creature was like. He remembered seeing a man killed by the creature.
"Well, apparently someone up in Welland, Ontario, Canada called this in to someone at the Mounted Police, and they called Skinner. You're quite... well known, when it comes to--"
"Weird and strange phenomena," Mulder concluded, as the elevator doors opened. "Let's just get out travel orders so we can get this over with."
Mulder flashed his badge at the desk nurse. "I'm Agent Mulder, ny partner, Agent Scully. We're looking for a Mrs. Ilene Johnson?"
"Room 321. Just two doors down that hall. Dr. Wells has been expecting you."
"Thank you. Well, Scully, I can't imagine how that thing travelled up here."
"Probably a ship. There's a lot of trade in the Great Lakes area. Maybe someone dumped their bilge..."
"Yeah. I don't doubt it."
Kevin's mother, Sherry and Kyle were trying to entertain him while the doctor looked over the boy's chart.
"Excuse me. Dr. Well?"
"I'm Adent Dana Scully, and this is my partner, Agent Mulder. I'm also a medical doctor. Can we speak with you?"
"Yes, certainly. Mrs. Johnson, I'll have the lab technician take another blood sample. His liver enzymes need to be analyzed again."
"More." Kevin cried. "This is the pits!"
"Shh, it's all right. They need to know these things, to help you get better."
The doctor ushered Mulder and Scully into a small office where he had a desk. "I know. You must think this is just something in the lake water, or regular hepatitis. But this kid puked up what looks to be a flatworm."
"A fluke." Mulder nodded to Scully.
"Yes, a fluke. Last month, we removed one from a woman's liver, and it wasn't a typical fluke. We embalmed it until we could find someone to identify it. Then, when Kevin Johnson was brought here yesterday, we had our second fluke. It's in an aquarium in the same lab. as the one we embalmed."
"Can you decribe the wounds on Kevin?"
"Yes. They were made with four teeth and there was a deep wound in the centre."
Mulder cut in right away. "You can't let the other fluke live. If you do, it'll grow to be five and a half feet long, and it won't look like your average flatworm."
"Are you joking?" Wells was beside himself with laughter, but Mulder and Scully stared straight-faced at him. "You're not serious... Well, what is this?"
"About two years ago, Agent Scully and I investigated a case in New Jersey. A Russian ship had apparently flushed out what was a human-like large fluke, which made its way into the New Jersey sewage system. Two men were killed by that flatworm, one as a result of attack, the other as a result of hosting a small version of it. We think it originated inradioactive water as a mutation."
"Then it's true," the doctor said quietly. "Frankly, this is disturbing. I need to alert Public Health about this. The beaches along Lake Erie will be off-limits."
"Well, the two cases you saw may be isolated," Scully tried to assure the doctor. "Doctor Wells, may I take a look at the patient?"
"Sure. I need to call the Health Department, and the Conservation Areas. I'll make sure the lab knows you'll want to see the test results. Kevin Johnson has been prescribed an antihelminthic, so the results should reflect its action."
"Thank you, Doctor. Mulder, let's see what he has to say."
"Yeah. I guess it'll make a really good 'What I Did This Summer' story."
Scully put her hand on the little boy's arm. "Hey, I heard you had quite a fight with something in the lake, Kevin."
"Yes, I did. I kicked it away really hard. It was ugly!'
Mulder thought the boy would have been more or less horrified at the sight of the mutant. "What did it look like, Kevin?"
"Well, it looked like a huge worm, but it had these, you know, eyes. It had a mouth, and it really hurt when it bit me."
"Well I guess so!" Scully exclaimed. "You're a brave little boy. Are you feeling any better?"
"Yeah, but my tummy still hurts a little, and where he bit me still hurts, too. They gave me stitches and all that. Was that thing a sea serpent?" The boy's eyes were wide with anticipation.
"Umm, no. It wasn't a sea serpent. It was... something else. But Kevin, we're hoping we can make sure mo one else gets bitten by that thing."
Dr. Wells entered the room. "How's my patient?"
"I'm doing okay, I guess. It's boring here." He poked his brother Kyle in the arm.
"Now you stop that!" His mother warned Kevin. "You may be sick, but you are not to hit your brother. Understood?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Well, we need to give you another dose of that medicine and let it work before we let you out of here, Kevin." Dr. Wells noted it on the boy's chart.
"Does that mean he still has the fluke?" Mrs. Johnson asked. Clearly she was worn out.
"I'm afraid so. But another dose should do it. The test results show he still has it. I'll tell you later where it is, and what's happening." As he said that, he handed Scully a piece of paper. The print read: "Attached to ileum."
Mulder and Scully made their way towards the door. "Doctor? May we see you for a moment?"
"Yes, Agents. Take care, Kevin. I'll be back."
"This fluke is attached to the small intestine, and after one dose it's still alive. How many doses would it take to kill it, given it's size?"
The doctpr frowned. "To tell you the truth, up to three. It isn't harmful to the boy, but just the same, we're monitoring his blood chemistry. This will be a real headache for the tourist industry. It took us years to clean up that lake."
"Back then, it was the algae growing from the phosphates in household detergents," Mulder added.
"Well, be that as it may, the water is still clean. But with this type of 'thing' happening, who knows what public reaction will be?"
Mulder topened his cell phone. "Maybe we should call the Coast Guard. Maybe they can start searching the lake with sonar equipment. Scully, check the neighboring hospitals. See if they've had any reported cases of flukes."
"I will. Mulder? There can't be that many out there!"
"You told me yourself, two years ago, it can breed. It's hermaphroditic."
"I'm on it."
As the sun rose at Lake Erie, tow men were out fishing in a small boat, each admiring their catches, and waiting for the next fish to bite.
A middle-aged man turned to his friend and whispered, "You won't get me up and out here this early again, no matter how many I caught."
"Well, that's your loss," a younger man, about thirty, replied. "Dad, you used to do this all the time when aI was a kid. What ever happened to 'Rise and shine, boy! They're waitin' for ya?'"
"Shh. You'll scare the fish off. It turned into "How am I going to pay for your education if I keep taking unpaid holidays.' Besides, when you get to my age, you'll want to slap that alarm for another ten minutes, then another."
"Not a change. Hey! I've got another one! He's sure giving a good fight!" The younger man tried to reel in what he thought was a fish. A large, whitish creature emerged from the waters, and the man's father grabbed his son's fishing reel, while he picked up his camera. The flash seemed to scare the creature away, and the fishing reel was free of it. "What the hell was that?"
"I don't know," the older man answered. "But here it is."
"Didn't I see a picture of this on some tabloid cover last year?"
"I don't know. I don't read them things. Looks like we got something to show besides fish. I'm takin' it to the Conservation Authority. Maybe they know what it is."
MULDER's MOTEL ROOM
Mulder was going over his notes regarding the Flukeman in New Jersey as Scully walked into his room. "Hey. Any news?"
"No, Mulder. I called the hospital and Kevin's fluke died last night. They've removed it for futher study. Surgery. What a thing to remember about a summer vacation."
"Well, I heard from the Coast Guard. They haven't found anything matching the description..." His cell phone rang. "Sorry Scully. Mulder. All right. Yes, we can be there. Thanks." Tht was the Regional Conservaation Authority. Two men went fishing and hooked a real live one. They've got a picture to prove it."
"The Flukeman? Mulder, I don't think... "
"No, they didn't catch it. It got away. But they do have a picture of it. The Coat Guard are out looking for it now. Let's get going."
HALDIMAND-NORFOLK CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
"This is like nothing I've ever seen." Dr. Paul Peterson was a marine biologist employed by the Conservation Authority. "What is it again?"
Scully spoke up, as she was more qualified than Mulder. "Well, it seems that this is a form of Trematode, most commonly known as fluke worms, or flsat worms. But this is a type that has apparently developed primate-type characteristics, one of which Agent Mulder and I dealt with two years ago. That had apparently been flushed from a sewage tank of a Russian freighter just outside of New Jersey."
"Aren't fluke worms rare in North America? Usually, they're more prevalent in Indonesia, Hong Kong... "
"Exactly. But that doesn't necessarily mean they can't be brought over accidentally. Have there been any ships from overseas coming through the lakes this past month or so, Doctor?"
"Of course. We have steel companies on Lakes Erie and Ontario, there are numerous ships going all the way to Lakes Superior, Huron and Michegan. I think only a couple cme from overseas in the past month. Let me just check with the Welland Canal. It'll only take a minute." The doctor sat in fromt of a computer and contacted the people at the canal. "We've had two ships from Europe. One was from Russia, the other was from the U.S. Bethlehem Steel."
"It's more likely the one from Russia brought the fluke over," Mulder told Peterson. Thanks for your help."
"No problem. The guy who brought this picture is going to--"
"Sir, we'd rather you didn't tell him or anyone else about this. We don't want anyone to panic. Chances are, this is a freak occurrance," Scully cautioned him.
"Yeah. Two in a couple of years? What are the chances of that?"
"Slim, " Mulder said. "Just... don't tell anyone. Tell the fisherman it was a decomposed body or someting."
"Why would I do that?"
"Because nobody would believe it's some wierd mutation, and you don't want people avoiding the lake. The Coast Guard is out there right now checking for any further signs of this. They'll let you know what they find. Just chalk it up to random chance."
The Johnson boy had just been released from Recovery and settled into his room when Mulder and Scully arrived. They thought it only fair to buy him a stuffed dog and a basket of fruit.
Scully tucked the bear under Kevin's covers. "Hey, how are you doing?"
"Fine, I guess. They got that thing outta me."
"So I heard. The doctor says your family's downstairs having lunch, so we brought you a few things to take with you when you go home."
"Thnmks, Ms. Scully. Is it true?"
"Is what true?"
"What they say, about this Flukeman?"
Mulder laughed. "Where'd you hear that?"
"From the little girl in the next room. She had appesitis."
"Appendicitis? Well, what do you think?" Mulder wanted to guage just how far the story had been passed around.
"I think it's crazy. I mean, you only see those things in horror movies, right?"
"Well, I think whatever I saw might be real, but I don't want to see it again. I'm still going to swim out here, though."
"Good for you," Scully told Kevin. "I think this was just one of those things that we can't explain, and that we should just get on with our lives."
"Yeah. If it's real, will it come back?"
"Well, not if the Coast Guard caught it," Mulder said. "If it was out there."
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