IMTP VS8 Episode 17:
Art by CindyET
E-MAIL ADDRESS: email@example.com
INFO: Written for I Made This Productions Virtual Season 8
DISTRIBUTION: Archive anywhere -- but please drop me a
note to tell me where.
DISCLAIMER: The characters Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are
the property of Chris Carter, FOX and 1013 Productions. No
copyright infringement intended. This is for fun, not
SPOILER WARNING: Vague references to War of the
Rain King and Je Souhaite.
RATING: R (Language and Violence)
SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully travel to the remote town of
Caribou Corners, Maine, to investigate the chilling death
of 10th-grader Danny Davis. The murder weapon? An icicle.
The motive? Unknown. The killer? Depends on whom you ask.
Some believe he's human. Some claim he's a legendary man of
snow. The one thing everyone agrees on: he's going to kill
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Special thanks to Marybeth for the great
You're the best! Any errors found herein are mine.
FEEDBACK: Please. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Caribou Corners High School
Caribou Corners, Maine
Friday, February 16
"Heads up," a voice warned and a pencil whizzed like a
dart toward the bulletin board, just missing the teacher's
right shoulder. Ricocheting off the wall, the miniature
harpoon tumbled to the floor with a chattering bounce. It
settled at Ms. Spencer's feet.
"Ooops. Almost nailed her." A flurry of tittering giggles
swirled through the class of grinning tenth graders.
At the front of the room Connie Spencer swallowed and
blinked. The pencil's broken tip pointed at her like an
accusing finger and she struggled to keep her knees from
buckling. Clearing her throat, she selected a nub of chalk
from the blackboard's powdery tray. Her fingers trembled as
she wrote, causing the chalk to sputter and skip. Her back
to her students and her arm jogging with the rise and fall
of her shaky letters, she strained to recall when, or even
how, things had grown so out of control. She knew it was
long before today. Or even before the start of school five
months ago. In fact, Connie Spencer couldn't remember a
time when she hadn't felt afraid.
In a shivering script, she wrote the students' assignment
on the blackboard.
-- 10-page essay on the theme "tales within tales" as
illustrated in Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of
Calaveras County" --
Disgruntled groans, rumbling through the room like an
avalanche, died when the bell rang, ending the school day
and marking the start of Winter break. Books slammed shut.
Chairs scraped backward. The students poured out the door,
hurrying to their lockers and their coats. Turning from the
blackboard, Connie Spencer gaped at the disheveled rows of
empty desks and breathed the room's chilling silence into
her lungs with a feeling of longed-for liberation.
"Hi Mommy!" Seven-year-old Katie twirled into the room,
arriving from her afternoon dance lesson. "We practiced
pirouettes in ballet class today," she said and proudly
demonstrated her newfound skill.
"That's very good, Katie." Connie watched her daughter
whorl around her. "Did your dad drive you?"
"Nope. Miss Tredwell drived." Katie spun again, her bulky
winter coat flaring like a woolen tutu. "Miss Tredwell said
my pirouette was best in class."
"Don't boast, Katie."
"Well, she did!"
Connie was certain Katie told the truth, that the ballet
teacher had indeed complimented the girl. Not because Katie
was an especially good dancer, but because Anne Tredwell
was a kindhearted woman. Connie was grateful for the
special attention the dance teacher lavished on her
Connie and Tom Spencer's divorce had been hard on Katie.
Their marriage had been even worse. The memory of her ex-
husband's uncontrolled temper knotted Connie's stomach even
after two years. Although Tom Spencer was granted
visitation rights with his daughter, a court order kept him
at a safe distance from his ex-wife.
Sliding into her coat, Connie watched her daughter spin
happily around the room.
"You ready, honey?"
"I know a song, Mommy. Wanna hear it?" The girl didn't
wait for an answer but launched into her song. "Frosty the
snooowmaaan, is a fairytale they SAY. He was made of SNOW
but the children KNOW how he came to life one DAAAY!" While
Katie sang, Connie took hold of her hand and led her into
the hall. Their rubber boots squeaked against the glassy
floor as they walked toward the exit. Halfway down the
corridor, Katie abruptly stopped at the door of the
school's biology lab, locking her sherbet-colored boots in
place and halting her mother.
"Hi, Uncle Phil!" The girl waved a mittened hand at the
"Hello, Katie. Hi, Con." Phil Peters smiled and waved
back. "Doin' anything special for winter break?" He stepped
into the hall, plunging his arms into his coat sleeves
before pinching Katie's nose and making the girl giggle
"No. No plans. How about you, Philly?" Connie answered,
her unease lessening somewhat in her older brother's
"Not a thing. Just the way I like it."
"Whaddabout Winter Carnival?" Katie asked. "Aren't you
gonna go, Uncle Phil?"
"Of course I am. How 'bout you?"
"Uh huh! I'm gonna build a snowman for the snowman
contest. I know a song. Frosty the snooowman..." she began
Peters held open the door and Katie pranced out into the
snow, singing her song and twirling in dizzying circles.
"Be glad to give you a lift home, Con," Peters offered,
ushering Connie out into the cold.
"No, thanks. We enjoy the walk and it isn't far."
"Okeydoke. Hey, if the weatherman's right about Sunday's
snowstorm, I'll be by to shovel your driveway." He winked
and headed to the parking lot, strains of "thumpity thump
thump, thumpity thump thump" making him smile as he waved
"Look, Mommy, look! It's Frosty!" Katie ran through knee-
deep drifts to a large snowman standing guard in the
schoolyard. A striped scarf in the school colors flapped
around the snowman's neck and two tiny stone eyes appeared
to squint across the yard at Connie. A wide line of pebbles
dotted the white face, creating a lop-sided grin while
skinny, bent arms branched out into woody fingers swayed in
the breeze, waving hello to the girl's waiting mother.
Katie rubbed her mittens over the snowman's big round belly.
"Mommy, look..." Katie stopped mid-sentence when she saw
three familiar boys exit the school behind her mother.
Danny Davis, Ricky Hart, and Benjamin Shute.
"Troublemakers" she'd heard Uncle Phil call them.
"Hey, Ms. Spencer," Danny sniggered as the three scruffy
tenth-graders crowded around Connie.
"She looks kinda nervous, Danno. Maybe you scare her,"
Ricky giggled, looming over his much smaller teacher.
"Do I scare you, Ms. Spencer? BOO!" He puffed in her face,
his breath blowing a lock of her dark hair across her
"G-go home, boys." She tried to steady her voice but it
whined from her throat like wind skimming across the icy
The boys laughed. "'Go home, boys, go home, boys,'" they
Danny pushed closer until he squeezed Connie firmly
between himself and Ben. The slippery fabric of his down-
filled vest squealed against her raspy wool coat. The boy's
airy winterwear exhaled the odor of pizza, cheap cologne
and car grease when he pressed into Connie and she held her
breath against the smell.
"We're havin' waaaay too much fun right here, Ms. Spencer.
Ain't you havin' fun, too?" he asked.
Connie shook her head, her eyes fixed on Danny's widening
"P-please go..." A wave of fear blurred her vision and in
her mind's eye she saw her ex-husband's raging face
floating between her and the haughty teen. She could almost
feel Tom Spencer's brutal fingers crushing her throat.
A biting swirl of snow billowed around the three teens and
their teacher. Across the schoolyard, Katie lost sight of
her mother in the sudden squall. The percussive crack of
shattering ice boomed through the air as long icicles
plunged from the school's overhanging roof, one after the
next, detonating on the sidewalk with the raucous pulse of
a Gatling gun. Katie blinked with each explosive jolt.
She was answered by a gurgled scream. The vortex of
blowing snow sucked skyward, popping Katie's ears and
inexplicably taking the blizzard with it. When the blowing
snow cleared, Danny Davis lay sprawled on the sidewalk with
a four-foot-long spear of ice stuck through his neck. His
mouth was packed solid with snow. Blood pumped from the
wound splitting his throat and the vermilion puddle haloing
the boy's head steamed with the lost heat of his dying
A scraping *schht, schht* of ice drew Katie's attention
away from the frightful scene. Glancing over her shoulder,
she was certain she saw the frozen snowman's stony smile
twitch. The words "catch me if you can" whistled past her
Two days later
Route 1, Northern Maine
*Schht, schht, schht.*
Scully sat in the driver's seat, watching Mulder scrape
ice from the windshield of their rental car. A fog of
breath huffed from his nose with each thrust of the scraper
across the glass. Despite the car's suffocating defroster,
this was Mulder's third trip into the stormy weather to
clear their view. Lashes laden with ice and dark hair
turning white, he squinted to avoid the onslaught of
stinging sleet that pinged and bounced off the de-iced
surface of the car.
"The Ice Man Cometh," he announced, sliding into the
passenger seat and slamming the door behind him. A blast of
bitter air followed him inside, causing Scully to shiver.
"You look like an abominable snowman," she said and
shifted the car into drive.
"Didn't know you were up on such things, Scully." A shake
of his head sent a spray of melting snow in her direction.
She sniffed her disapproval, flooding her sinuses with the
humid smell of his damp wool coat. "I watched 'Rudolph' as
"Well, I always thought I had more in common with Yukon
Cornelius than with the Bumble. I identified with the
prospector's elusive quest for the unattainable."
"Silver and gold?"
"Metaphorically speaking." With a sly half-smile, Mulder
plunged an icy hand down the back of Scully's collar. She
let out a yelp of displeasure when his chilly fingers
pressed into the bare skin of her neck. "Pay dirt, Scully!
I may have just struck the mother lode," he chuckled into
"Stop it, Mulder. Tell me about our case," she advised.
He withdrew his frigid fingers and rearranged himself
comfortably in the passenger seat.
"Danny Davis, tenth grade student at Caribou Corners High
School, died when an icicle pierced him through the neck.
His lungs were packed like a snow cone."
"How did an icicle pierce his neck?"
"Well, that's the question, Scully. His two best friends,
Benjamin Shute and Ricky Hart, who were witnesses, say
Danny was stabbed by their teacher, Connie Spencer."
"So if the boys saw Ms. Spencer stab Danny, how is this an
"You know I *love* it when you ask that. It send chills up
my spine every time." He shivered to emphasize his point.
"Just give me the facts, Mulder."
"Ricky and Benjamin weren't the only ones to witness
Danny's unlikely demise. Actually, quite a few people saw
"Do they corroborate the boys' story?
"Snowball's chance in hell, Scully. Phil Peters, the high
school biology teacher who happens to be Connie Spencer's
brother, was standing by his car in the school parking lot
about sixty yards away when the incident occurred. He
insists the event, although unusual, was an accident. He
claims a strong wind knocked a row of icicles from the
school's overhanging roof and Danny was simply an
unfortunate victim when one falling icicle flew at him and
stabbed him in the neck."
"Flew at him?"
"Sounded suspicious to me, too. A dance teacher, Anne
Tredwell, was in the parking lot as well, talking with
Peters. She's uncertain about what she saw...or actually,
what she didn't see. She said the blowing snow made it
impossible to know for sure what happened. But based on Ms.
Spencer's character, she's adamant that Connie Spencer
didn't kill the boy."
"X-File, Mulder, X-File. Get to the point if there is one."
"There is. Ms. Spencer's seven-year-old daughter was
present, too. She claims a snowman killed Danny."
"This girl is how old?"
"Seven. Her name is Katie."
"Explain to me why you think Katie's allegations are worth
risking our lives driving to Caribou Corners, Maine, in
"Katie's version of the event was corroborated by the
school's custodian. The janitor, Elwood Jenkins, was in the
schoolyard shoveling snow at the time the alleged attack
"And he says a snowman killed the tenth-grader? With an
"Do you know how unlikely that story sounds?"
"I do. Or I did. But after a little digging, I've changed
"And what did you find?"
"An old legend, Scully."
"You're not planning to sing 'Frosty the Snowman,' are you?"
"Not at all. This is something with a little more local
flavor." Mulder's limbs vibrated with excitement and Scully
marveled at his frenetic enthusiasm. No matter how many
myths and legends he encountered, his fervor never seemed
"According to legend..." she prompted, causing him to
smile and launch into his story.
"According to legend, back in the early days of Caribou
Corners when the small village was little more than a few
families settled bravely in the remote north woods, a
handsome trapper named Georges Desjardins married a pretty
farm girl named Catherine Dawes. Georges adored his
beautiful young wife and lavished her with devoted
attention. In turn, Catherine loved Georges with all her
heart. On the eve of the happy couple's first wedding
anniversary, a mysterious stranger visited their home
demanding to be fed and given a place to spend the night.
Although the stranger was fearsome in appearance, having
skin and hair and even eyes the color of new fallen snow,
Georges and Catherine were kindly people who opened their
home to the man. During dinner, the stranger told them his
name was Maledeneige."
Scully snorted. "Man of snow?"
"That's what the legend says, Scully. Anyway, after
dinner, Maledeneige took a white stone from his pocket and
laid it on the table. 'This is a magic stone,' he told the
young lovers. 'It has the power to protect you from your
fiercest enemies. Since you have treated me with kindness
tonight, I will offer you the stone in exchange for a kiss
from your pretty wife.' Well, Georges did have an enemy, a
brute of a man named LaRoche who was a trapper, too. Both
men hunted the same forest. One day, finding his line of
traps sprung but empty, LaRoche had accused Georges and
threatened to kill him. Although Georges was innocent, he
believed the surly trapper meant to kill him the next time
they met. Not wanting to leave Catherine a widow at the
hands of LaRoche, Georges agreed to trade his wife's kiss
to Maledeneige for the magic stone."
"I don't suppose Catherine had anything to say about all
"If she did, it's not mentioned in the legend. So,
Maledeneige took Catherine in his arms and kissed her long
and hard. He continued his kiss until she became frightened
and began to struggle. Despite her protests, Maledeneige
persisted with his unwelcome kiss. Georges grew jealous and
angry at the sight of the stranger's snow white lips
pressed against his struggling young wife's mouth."
"What did he do?"
"He tackled Maledeneige and the two men fought. Georges
was no match for the white-eyed stranger and Maledeneige
soon had the upper hand. With a ferocious twist, he snapped
Georges' neck, killing him."
"No!" Scully found herself caught up in Mulder's tale.
"Yes! The stranger then turned to Catherine. 'Now both the
magic stone and you are mine!' he said. Mad with grief and
fright, Catherine grabbed a pot of boiling water from the
stove and hurtled it at Maledeneige. The scalding water hit
him full in the face. His snow-white skin melted like
candle wax as he screamed in agony. Covering his wounds
with his hands, he ran from the house, vowing to return and
kill Catherine later that night."
"So what happened?"
"Catherine was afraid for her life. So she took the magic
stone the stranger had left behind and packed it into the
center of a snowball. From the snowball, she built an
enormous snowman. 'My husband is dead and I am alone,' she
told the snowman. 'You must protect me from the evil of
Maledeneige.' To her astonishment, the snowman nodded. And
he slid across the yard to stand guard at her front door
while she hid inside the house."
"Did Maledeneige come back?"
"He did. And he was more frightful looking than ever with
his features distorted by his burns, and his white eyes
staring out of gaping holes in his scarred, snow-white
flesh. Unaware the snowman contained the magic stone,
Maledeneige climbed Catherine's steps and prepared to break
down her door. The snowman grabbed Maledeneige by the neck.
It shoved a frosty fist into the stranger's terrible mouth,
past his melted white lips and down into his throat. The
snowman's arm filled the surprised man's gullet, packing
his lungs with snow and suffocating him. Maledenaige was
killed and Catherine was saved."
"Well, that's a good fairytale, Mulder, but it doesn't
explain the death of Danny Davis."
"That's not the end of the story."
"Oh. So what happened next?"
"The snowman continued to guard Catherine against all
enemies. But try as he might, he couldn't save her from her
own grief. You see Catherine's heart broke when her loving
husband was killed. She couldn't live without him. She fell
ill and soon died. And without Catherine, the snowman was
left to search for others who might need his protection. To
this day, the snowman returns to Caribou Corners each
winter where he roams the countryside looking for
injustices against the weak, avenging cruelties visited
upon the helpless."
"So he's a good guy? Everyone lived happily ever after?"
"That would depend on your point of view, Scully. I doubt
Danny Davis or his family would look at it quite that way."
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Connie Spencer Residence Caribou Corners, Maine
Connie paused at her snow shoveling when she saw an
unfamiliar car pull to a stop at the end of her half-
scraped walk. She didn't recognize the official looking man
who sat in the passenger seat or the red-haired woman
behind the wheel. When they stepped from the car, Connie
blinked in surprise at their smart wool coats, impractical
calfskin gloves and ankle-high boots. Neither wore a hat
and their salon-cut hair flailed in the sleety wind.
Clearly they weren't locals. Connie glanced over at the
driveway where Phil leaned on his shovel staring at the
"Ms. Spencer?" Mulder asked and when Connie nodded, he
hooked Scully's elbow and escorted her through the snow to
the cleared portion of the walk. He reached into his breast
pocket and withdrew his ID. "I'm Agent Fox Mulder and this
is my partner Dana Scully. We're with the FBI."
At the sight of Mulder's badge, Phil abandoned his snow
shovel to join his sister. Nearing the agents, he extended
a hand and introduced himself.
"I'm Phil Peters, Connie's brother," he smiled. "You're
here about Danny Davis?" he guessed.
"Yes. May we ask you each a few questions?"
"Sure," Peters ushered them toward the house.
"Actually, Mr. Peters, we'd prefer to interview you
separately," Scully said as tactfully as possible. "The
garage?" she suggested, gesturing to the open door.
"Oh...uh, sure. Whatever you say."
"Shall we go inside, Ms. Spencer?" Mulder asked, guiding
Connie with a sweep of his arm.
Connie stabbed her shovel into the snowbank and led Mulder
into the house. "How 'bout we sit by the woodstove?" she
The heat from the stove was welcome after the stinging
cold outside. Connie motioned Mulder to the couch.
"Tell me what happened at the school last Friday, Ms.
Spencer," Mulder prompted.
"Well, Katie...that's my daughter...Katie and I were on
our way home. She stopped to get a look at a snowman in the
schoolyard. I-I waited for her on the sidewalk. That's when
some boys from my class came along and...well, they
uh...they s-surrounded me." Connie picked at a ragged nail.
"Was Danny Davis one of the boys?"
"Yes. And a couple of his friends. Ricky Hart and Ben
"What did the boys say?"
"They...they didn't say much really, but I knew they were
trying to scare me."
"Why would they do that?"
"They're not my best students. I-I told them to go home,
but they wouldn't go." Connie gulped for air at the memory.
"You felt in danger?"
"Why was that?"
Connie thought back to the panic that had surged through
her at the time. Trapped between the boys, unable to
breathe, she had sensed the grip of her ex-husbands fingers
around her throat. She felt it again now and the feeling
was so real, she raised a hand to her neck to prove to
herself that no one actually held her.
"I-I felt cornered, I guess. The boys are a lot bigger
than I am." Connie lifted her torn nail to her teeth.
"How was Danny killed, Ms. Spencer?"
"I-I'm not sure. I mean I know an icicle..." Connie
shivered, the scene still vivid in her mind. "It went
straight through his neck. I guess it fell from the roof
when the wind started blowing."
"Ms. Spencer, did you want Danny dead?"
Despite his gentle tone, Connie flinched at the question.
She wondered how he knew, how he had guessed that for a
single, brief moment she had wanted the boy dead. The shame
of that desire now flared across her cheeks and she looked
away from the agent's prying eyes.
"No! I-I was afraid, but I didn't want him dead. He was
just a boy, for goodness' sake. I didn't kill him. It was
an accident. It had to be an accident."
"The other two boys, they claim you stabbed Danny in the
"They're mistaken. I-I did no such thing."
"Your daughter said Danny was killed by a snowman. Why
would she say that?"
"Agent Mulder, she's just a little girl. She imagined it
is all." Connie's eyes flashed with anger. "Danny's
death...well, it was a horrible thing for a child to see.
And Katie's already seen more than her fair share of
horrible things." As soon as the words were out of her
mouth, Connie wished she could take them back. Ashamed of
her failed marriage, she had no desire to explain her years
of abuse. Not to this complete stranger. Not to anyone. How
do you convey the constant fear? The beatings. The black
eyes and broken bones. Connie had lost several teeth while
Katie watched, wide-eyed and frightened. Even as a baby in
a high chair, Katie bore silent witness to one terrible
bloody encounter after the next. Tom Spencer never hit his
daughter, but Connie had suffered his unpredictable
battering for five long years.
"What are you saying, Ms. Spencer? What exactly has Katie
"Agent Mulder, Katie's father and I are divorced. Our
marriage wasn't a happy one. It was hard on Katie. That's
all I meant."
"I'd like to talk with your daughter," Mulder said. When
Connie's eyes widened, he quickly added, "About last
"I'd rather you didn't."
"I can understand that, but Katie witnessed a possible
murder. I need to question her about what she saw. Please,
call her in."
"She...she's not here right now. She's with her father.
They're at the schoolyard, building a snowman...for...for
tomorrow's Winter Carnival."
* * *
In the garage, Peters leaned against Connie's old Dodge.
"Sorry I can't offer you a chair, Agent Scully. You're
welcome to share the bumper." He smiled.
"I'm fine, Mr. Peters. This won't take long. Can you tell
me what happened last Friday?"
"A terrible accident," Peters became serious and shook his
head. "Freaky. As you can see, we've had a lot of snow in
Caribou Corners this winter. It's several feet deep on most
roofs and the school's no exception. I'd have to say a
sudden gust of wind caused the snow to slide off the school
roof, taking the icicles with it. Danny...well, he was
standing beneath it when it happened and an icicle caught
him in the neck. He bled to death in a matter of a few
minutes. The report said the icicle hit his carotid artery."
"Was Danny standing alone under the overhang?"
"No, Connie and two other boys from her class were on the
sidewalk as well. Ben Shute and Ricky Hart."
"But no one else was hurt?"
"No, thank God."
"You're aware, aren't you, that the other two boys have
accused your sister of stabbing Danny with the icicle?"
"Yes, I've heard that. Those boys...well, there's no nice
way to put this, Agent Scully...those boys are
troublemakers. Connie's had a hard time with 'em all year.
I know from personal experience they can be disruptive and
they have little respect for authority. Connie warned the
boys weeks ago that if they didn't buckle down, they'd fail
her class. A failing mark would mean repeating tenth grade,
so you can see why the boys might want to make trouble for
"When the accident occurred, did you have a clear view of
"I'd been watching them, keeping my eye on them from the
minute the boys showed up, in case Connie needed my help. I
was about to intervene when the wind started blowing the
snow around. I saw what happened, Agent Scully. I was
looking right at them. Connie didn't stab that boy. Nobody
stabbed him. It was an accident, not murder."
"Mr. Peters, I have to ask you this." Scully looked a bit
embarrassed. "Why did your niece claim a snowman killed
Peters relaxed and actually laughed out loud.
"She's a 7-year-old, Agent Scully. She's heard that silly
old snowman legend all her life and took it to heart when
the accident occurred. She's just trying to make childish
sense of a terrible situation. You don't put any credence
in a crazy fairytale like that, do you?"
"Scully?" Mulder interrupted, poking his head around the
doorframe. "If you're finished here, I'd like to head over
to the school. I wanna get a look at that magic snowman."
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Ricky Hart reset the tip-up and de-iced his fishing hole
using a beat-up skimmer to clear out the slush. A fat
hornpout lay dying at his feet, its gasping gills sluggish
as it simultaneously suffocated and froze. Several yards
away, a couple more traps waited to snare an unwary fish or
"Leave it be, Jack!" Ricky ordered, frowning at his
pestering dog. The shaggy mixed-breed danced around the
boy, begging for a handout. To keep the dog away from his
fish, Ricky tossed the hornpout into an Igloo cooler and
closed the lid. He aimed a half-hearted kick at the dog.
When a northerly wind skated along the river's frozen
surface, Ricky turned his back to the blustering snow.
Keeping an eye on his traps, the boy pushed his hands
deeply into his pockets in an effort to keep them warm. He
shivered as another swirl of snow penetrated the worn
fabric of his jeans, biting the backs of his legs from his
calves to the tops of his thighs.
Glancing at the high school perched on the distant slope,
Ricky thought back to Friday. Danny's death was Ms.
Spencer's goddamn fault, he was sure, although he hadn't
truly seen her do it. At the time, he'd closed his eyes
against the blowing snow, but even so she was to blame.
He'd told the sheriff as much, too. Ms. Spencer was a
wacko. Everybody knew she was nuts. Hell, her husband went
off and left her because she was certifiably crazy, so damn
paranoid Tom Spencer couldn't stand to live with her
anymore. They should lock her away in a loony bin
somewhere. No way was he going back to her class, even if
it meant a suspension.
Jack barked and trotted to the far trap. Snout buried in
Ricky's tracks, a frosty sneeze threatened to send the dog
bumping into the tip-up.
"Com'ere, Jack," Ricky called and whistled through his
teeth. Jack stood at attention, ready to bolt back to the
boy. But then he hesitated, nose in the air. His hair
bristled along the ridge of his back. He looked beyond his
young master and barred his teeth. A low growl gurgled from
his throat, even as his tail slid between his legs.
"Jack! What's a'matter, boy?" Ricky took a step toward the
hunched dog as Jack released a spatter of warning barks.
*Schht. Schhhttt! Schhhhhtttttt!*
A scraping current of air plowed into Ricky's back,
popping his eardrums and propelling him forward. He
stumbled and a frosty arm, bitter cold and alarmingly
powerful, caught him around the waist from behind,
preventing him from sprawling to the ice. The arm squeezed
and forced the air from the boy's lungs. Ricky tried to
inhale, desperate for a breath as his ribs cracked, but a
sleety hand folded over his face, blinding him and blocking
his mouth. The intense cold scalded the boy's nose, cheeks
and chin. He sucked against the glacial hand, his breath
hitching in his empty chest. His arms flailed like the
hornpout's gills, desperate at first, but slowing, slowing.
I'm dying, the boy thought as snow filled his mouth,
glutting coldly across his tongue and pressing against the
back of his throat, stretching the malleable skin to an
impossible thinness. The fist of snow filled him, expanding
until the boy gagged on the arctic pain. Frosty shards
grated the fragile membranes of his mouth, his throat. His
insides split and ripped lengthwise, bursting like a frozen
water pipe, as the plug of snow jammed his gullet. Packed
solid with icy crystals, the boy lost consciousness and
slipped stiffly to the frozen surface of the river.
Caribou Corners High School
Katie's giggles reached Mulder and Scully the moment they
stepped from their car. Crossing the school parking lot,
they watched the little girl wrestle with a snowball at
least half her size. Unable to budge the monstrous sphere
another inch, her father joined her effort, helping her
lift the ball into place atop a similar globe.
"Next we make Frosty's head, Daddy!" Katie squealed and
danced a crooked circle around the headless snowman.
Tom Spencer ignored his daughter's frolicky enthusiasm,
staring instead at Mulder and Scully. Even from several
yards away, he could make out the badge on Mulder's
"I haven't gone near Connie," Spencer insisted, gloved
palms raised. "I don't know what she's told you, but I
haven't broken the restraining order."
"We're not here about that, Mr. Spencer. We're
investigating the death of Danny Davis and we'd like to
speak with your daughter."
"Katie? What for?"
At the mention of her name, Katie stopped her spiraling.
"Me?" she asked, her reedy voice quavering into nothingness.
Scully approached the little girl and knelt in the snow,
putting her eye-to-eye with the seven-year-old.
"Hi, Katie. My name is Dana," she introduced gently.
"That's a nice snowman you're making."
"Yep!" the girl brightened. "His name is Frosty. D'you
know Frosty the Snowman?"
"Yes, I do. The song says he came to life one day."
"Uh huh! Thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump,"
Katie sang, "Look at Frosty GO!" The girl's enthusiasm made
Scully smile. The child was cute. With dark hair peeking
out from under an ice cream-colored cap and a shallow
crescent dimpling her wind-chapped chin, she resembled her
mother, but without Connie's undercoat of sadness. "My
snowman's gonna come t'life, too!" Katie proudly claimed,
"'Cause I got a magic stone."
"A magic stone?" Mulder asked, stepping closer and giving
Scully a quick glance.
"Yep! Wanna see it, mister?"
Mulder nodded and crouched, too. Katie tugged off an icy
mitten and dug into her pocket. Withdrawing her hidden
treasure she unfolded her fingers with a triumphant smile
and exposed a snow-white stone.
"What makes your stone magic?"
"It's gonna bring Frosty to life. Like the hat."
"The old silk hat in the song?"
"Yep. Only, I din't have no hat so Mr. Jenkins gave me
this magic stone."
"He works at Mommy's school. He fixed the song."
Mulder looked confused. "Fixed the song?"
"Like this: 'There musta been some magic in that white
stone Katie found, 'cause when she placed it in his
hhhhhead, he began t'dance arounnndddd!' See?"
"Have you ever seen a snowman come to life, Katie?" Scully
The girl's happy smile vanished, melting into a tremble of
fear. Dread peaked her delicate brows, transforming her
into a miniature replica of Connie Spencer.
"Yes," Katie whispered.
"At the school?"
"Can you show me?" Scully held out a gloved hand. Mitten
dangling, Katie placed her tiny fingers in Scully's palm.
With Mulder and Tom following a few paces behind, Katie
towed Scully across the schoolyard to the snowman standing
guard at the front walk.
"Him." She thrust an accusing finger at the leaning snowman.
To Scully the snowman looked like any average snowmen:
three giants spheres of snow, one stacked precariously atop
the next, tilting the figure a bit and giving it the
impression of motion. Small stones defined the eyes and
mouth; its expression appeared grim but not necessarily
"Tell me what happened, Katie," Scully asked gently.
The girl sucked her lip into her mouth. Her brown eyes
glossed with tears.
"Danny wanted to hurt Mommy. He scared her. The snowman
doesn't like Mommy to be scared."
"No. He got mad and blew the wind and knocked the icicles
off'n the roof and made a whooshey noise and...and stuck an
icicle in Danny's neck."
"You saw him stick an icicle in Danny's neck?"
"Did you see it, Katie? Did you really see it?"
"Um...not zackly. But the snowman smiled real mean when
Danny got stuck."
"The snowman smiled?"
"Uh huh. And he said 'catch me if you can.'" Katie
mimicked a whispering voice, soft as blowing sleet.
"Isn't that what Frosty says in his song?"
"Yeah, but...but Frosty doesn't say it like that. Frosty
says 'Catch me if you CAN!'" Katie sang the familiar
melody. Then she pointed at the snowman. "He sounded like
schhht, schhhhht, caaaatchhhh meee ifff youuu caaannn."
Again she whispered.
Scully nodded and gave the girl's hand a gentle squeeze.
"Thank you, Katie."
"You finished?" Spencer asked, fists on his hips.
"I think we've heard enough," Scully answered. "How about
Mulder opened his mouth, but his reply was lost in the
blaring siren of the Sheriff's passing cruiser.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
"Damn!" Sheriff Ted Riley swore as he lifted Ricky Hart's
face from the slush-filled fishing hole. "How in hell...?"
He rolled the dead boy's stiff body onto its back. A
conglomeration of ice and snow plugged the teen's yawning
mouth. Blue lips stretched agonizingly around a frozen
mass. The boy's eyes were wide-open, lids glazed in place
with a veneer of crystal clear ice.
"He was dead when I got here, Ted. I didn't think I should
move him, you know, in case...well, in case I accidentally
disturbed some evidence or something." Anne Tredwell, ill
dressed for the biting cold and the setting sun, marched a
nervous triangle between the dead boy's three abandoned
fishing holes. She dodged a lopsided snowman located
halfway between the farthest hole and the body. The snowman
leaned toward the boy's corpse like a curious bystander at
a car accident.
"You did right, Anne," the sheriff assured her,
disappointed to see the dance teacher's twitchy pacing had
already flattened a wide expanse of surrounding snow,
obliterating any incriminating footprints. But truth be
told, if Anne hadn't spotted Ricky from her home atop the
river's bank in the first place, the dead teen certainly
would have laid face down in the fishing hole all night.
The falling snow would have covered any tracks and the
sheriff would have had to chisel the boy out of the ice in
the morning. "Damn," he swore again.
"Is the ambulance coming?" Anne asked, her voice watery
with overwrought nerves.
"Yeah, but the coroner might've been a better choice."
"I was hoping, you know, that maybe the medics could
revive him. You hear about that all the time. Kids drowning
in cold water and being brought back to life."
"I don't expect that's gonna happen in this case, Anne."
"I just can't get over it. Danny last Friday. Ricky today.
Do you think there's a serial killer on the loose?"
"It's a bit premature to speculate about..." The sheriff
fell silent, surprised by the approach of an unfamiliar man
accompanied by a red-haired woman.
"Sheriff, I'm Agent Fox Mulder," the man said from a
distance, holding out a badge.
"Yes. This is my partner Agent Scully."
"I'm pretty sure I didn't call the Bureau."
"No, sir. We're here to investigate the death of Danny
"Agent Mulder, Danny died in a freakish accident. His
death was nothing more than a stroke of very bad luck."
Mulder nodded at Ricky's body. "And this boy? Another
stroke of bad luck, Sheriff?"
"Might be. It's possible he slipped, knocked himself out
on the ice and drown in his fishing hole."
"And I've been told *my* theories are farfetched." Mulder
raised his brows at Scully before returning his attention
to the body. "This boy wouldn't happen to be a former
friend of Danny Davis, would he? One of the boys who
witnessed Friday's 'accident'?"
"And if he was?"
"Since you seem to believe in fluky strokes of misfortune,
Sheriff, you might want to put the remaining boy in
protective custody. I hear bad luck often comes in threes."
"You're jumping to some mighty big conclusions, Agent
Mulder offered the sheriff a small shrug before wandering
away to inspect the nearby snowman.
"He does that." Scully squatted next to the dead teen
and snapped on a pair of latex gloves. "Mind if I take a
look at the body?" Without waiting for the sheriff's permission,
she prodded the icy plug filling Ricky's mouth. Finding the
blockage rock-hard, she wriggled an index finger between
the chunk of ice and the boy's hardening cheek. "This is
"What's that, ma'am?" the sheriff asked, clearly
irritated by the agents' meddling.
"His oral cavity is completely occluded." She reached
beneath the boy's collar and squeezed his neck. The
pressure caused blood to ooze from the teen's mouth and
nose. "His trachea and esophagus are impacted. The
hemorrhaging indicates his passages have ruptured. And he
hasn't been dead for very long. Was he on his back like
this when you found him?"
"No, he was face down in the fishing hole," Anne Tredwell
answered. Still pacing, she dodged around Mulder and the
"That's impossible. I mean, it's theoretically feasible to
drown in a fishing hole" -- Scully eyed Mulder who had
plucked the carrot nose from the snowman's scowling face --
"but this boy's throat and mouth wouldn't be obstructed
like this. The water, no mater how icy, would have drained
"Well, that's how I found him," Anne insisted, marching
back to the dead boy.
"And you are...?" Mulder asked.
"Um, Anne Tredwell. I live right over there." She
indicated a house on the bank with a sweep of her ungloved
"You witnessed the death of Danny Davis, too, didn't you?"
Mulder recalled her name from his list of witnesses. With a
snap, he bit off the end of the snowman's former nose.
"Well, yes and no. It happened so fast. I really didn't
see much of anything. It was very windy. Snow was blowing
everywhere. It was impossible to make out what happened.
But I'm quite sure it was an accident."
"Didn't Danny's friends say he was killed by their teacher
"Ricky and Ben were wrong about that, Agent Mulder. Connie
Spencer wouldn't hurt a fly. Not after all she's been
through." Anne was adamant.
"And what would that be?"
"She was beaten almost to death by her ex-husband. Several
times. The man is a monster." The dance teacher nodded
"Now Anne, you don't know for a fact if that's true or
not," the sheriff cut in. "You've only got Connie's say so
"Then why was Connie granted a restraining order?" Anne
"You know as well as I do why the judge granted that order."
"Why was that?" Mulder asked, chomping on his carrot.
"If it's any of your business, Agent Mulder, the order was
granted to keep Connie from falling over the edge, so to
speak. She's not exactly the most stable person."
"That's not true!" Anne objected. "She's been through some
tough times, but she's not crazy. It's her ex-husband who
should be locked away! He's the insane one, not Connie."
Mulder looked past Anne and the sheriff and pointed the
remaining nub of carrot at a man standing on the crest of
the hill near the school. "Who's that?"
"That's just Elwood, the school's custodian," Anne
identified the man.
Barely visible in the late afternoon dusk, the bent figure
stepped into the shadows and vanished.
"Elwood Jenkins? Didn't he claim a legendary snowman
killed Danny Davis?" With a curious squint, Mulder
scrutinized the now noseless snowman.
"Jesus Christ." The sheriff rolled his eyes. "Don't tell
me you believe that foolish story."
Connie Spencer Residence
Tom Spencer stood at the end of Connie's walk and watched
Katie wave to him from the front steps. She flashed him a
happy smile before she slipped inside the house. She was
such a sweet girl. A good girl. Even-tempered. Easy-going.
Not like her mother, thought Spencer. Life with Connie had
been one nor'easter after the next. Soon after their
wedding, she had sunk beneath the surface of depression
like shattered spring ice on the Caribou River. And like
those choking, broken flows, she had tried to drag the rest
of the family down with her. Paranoid, delusional, prone to
hysterics. He was relieved to be out of the glacial
whirlpool. But he missed Katie; he no longer saw her every
day. Limited to weekends and vacations, his time with her
was never enough. Goddamn that judge for granting Connie
Connie's snowy walk shimmered, reflecting the glow of the
living room windows. Where the sheen faded to black,
Spencer waited, hunched against the cold, glaring angrily
at the house.
Connie has no right to Katie, he thought. The crazy woman
blew everything out of proportion. Always did. Things had
not happened the way she made them sound to the judge.
*Schht. Schht.* He shuffled his cold feet against the
granular snow. Feeling chilled, he thrust his gloved hands
into his pockets.
I'll get Katie back, he thought.
*Schht. Schhhht. Schhhhhtttt!*
Behind him a massive fist drove a sharp punch into
Spencer's lower back, sending a spiral of pain through his
kidneys, buckling his knees. With his hands trapped in his
pockets, the surprised man was unable to stop his fall and
he hit the ground hard. His head bounced against the frozen
walk, splitting his cheek. He watched a pool of steamy
blood form in the snow beneath his throbbing nose.
Wriggling in an attempt to free his trapped hands, Spencer
found himself caught beneath a crushing knee against the
small of his back. The weight pressed him with unbearable
force and he thought he heard a rib pop. Then a second. He
tried to scream, but couldn't suck in enough breath to
shout for help.
With fingers so cold they burned, two icy hands wrapped
around Spencer's throat and squeezed. Tom Spencer listened
to the gargle of his own strangled voice when his larynx
burst with a quiet collapsing snap. With a nauseating feel
of weightlessness, Spencer was lifted and spun wildly onto
his back. The movement was so rapid, a salvo of panic shot
from Spencer's aching neck to his exploding heart. His
fright bore a bone-chilling hole straight through his
stomach to his bowels.
Powerless to stop the assault, Spencer shut his eyes to
the terror. He felt his jaw pried open by arctic fingers. A
fist of snow plunged into his mouth, freezing his tongue
and plugging his throat. Two tears leaked from his closed
lids, searing a scalding path down his frostbitten cheeks.
I'm fucked, Spencer thought as he lost consciousness.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Elwood Jenkins' Residence
"Knock again, Mulder."
Mulder rapped harder on the peeling wood door as Scully
peered through a black window.
"He's not home, Scully."
"Want to wait for him? We could sit in the car for a while."
Mulder shrugged. He was getting hungry. Breakfast had been
a muffin on the plane and lunch had been no more than the
snowman's carrot nose. His mind kept wandering back to the
Caribou Corners House of Pizza, the little restaurant
they'd passed on their way to Jenkins' house.
"Let's give him another fifteen minutes," Mulder agreed
and walked to the car. He fished in his pocket for his
keys. "If he's not back by then, we're gonna--" Mulder
never finished his sentence. A wet, cold snowball hit him
in the back of the head, bursting on impact and spraying
him with slush and ice. "Jesus!" He spun to face Scully, a
look of startled surprise on his face.
Scully looked equally surprised. And guilty. She raised
her palms, already backing away and apologizing.
"I really didn't expect to hit you, Mulder, I--"
"Oh, right, Ms. Never-Misses-At-The-Firing-Range."
"That's different! That's with a gun."
Having cleared most of the melting snow from his neck,
Mulder marched toward her. Revenge sparkled in his eyes and
a slanting grin tugged at his lips.
"No, Mulder. Wait. It was an accident. I didn't--"
"An accident! You're telling me you weren't aiming at my
"Where were you hoping to hit me, Scully?"
"Well..." She continued to back away. Glancing over her
shoulder, she tried to gauge the terrain, searching for a
possible route of escape. The moment her eyes left him,
Mulder launched himself at her.
"You can't outrun me, Scully," he shouted, plowing through
the snow, quickly closing the gap between them. She
laughed, feinted left and dodged right, but he anticipated
her move and cut her off. She shrieked as his arms closed
around her waist and he lifted her off her feet. "You're
doomed, Scully," he whispered in her ear.
"No, Mulder, wait..."
She struggled against his bear hug and managed to slip a
hidden fistful of snow down his already chilled neck. He
howled at the shocking cold and nearly dropped her. Off
balance, he tumbled to the ground, taking her with him.
Sprawling in the snow, he rolled until she was trapped
firmly beneath him.
"Now what, Scully?" The rumble of his voice vibrated
against her chest and he grinned as he scooped up a palm-
full of snow and showed it to her.
"You wouldn't," she challenged.
"No? Why wouldn't I? Give me one good reason not to wash
She answered his smile with a chuckling laugh, her steamy
breath puffing humidly against his cold-chapped cheeks.
"Because you're a better person than I am?"
"Because your mother taught you not to pick on girls?"
"You're an FBI agent, Scully."
"Hmmm?" He held the snow closer.
"Because I'm really, really sorry?" she wheedled.
He aimed the snow.
"Wait!" she demanded with another hitching chuckle. He
paused, hand in the air, snow inches from her smiling
mouth. "Don't you have something a little less cold you
could press to my lips?" She smiled sweetly and arched an
"Are you flirting with me, Agent Scully?" He lowered the
snow away from her face.
"Are you laying on top of me, Agent Mulder?"
"So I am." He let the snow sift slowly through his fingers
and kissed her reddened nose. Combing her wet hair away
from her face with a snowy glove, he considered kissing her
*Schht. Schht. Schhhht.*
Startled, Mulder scrambled to his feet at the scrape of
approaching steps. He hauled Scully up after him and a
blizzard of snow fell from their coats.
"Who the hell are you?" a bent figure asked from the dark.
"And what th'hell are y'doin' in front of my house?"
The crooked man, no more than a silhouette, shuffled to
his front door while Mulder and Scully self-consciously
dusted the snow from their clothes.
"I'm...uh, I'm Agent Fox Mulder. This is my partner Agent
Dana Scully. We're...uh, we're with the FBI." Mulder
managed to dig his ID from his coat. He shook snow from his
"Really? You investigatin' the snow in my front yard?" The
bent man unlocked the door and stepped inside.
"Uh, no, sir. We're...uh, are you Elwood Jenkins?"
"And if I am?"
"We'd like to ask you a few questions. May we come in, Mr.
Hissing disapproval, Jenkins waved them in. He flicked on
the hall light.
Mulder couldn't help but gawk in astonishment at the bent
man's appearance. Despite Jenkins' stooping posture, the
willowy man stood at least an inch or two taller than
Mulder. Curved like a branch weighted with ice, his head
swayed in front of his chest as if battered by the wind.
More startling still was Jenkins' snow-white complexion;
the skin of his face had no pigment whatsoever. His hair,
his brows, his lashes were ashen. Pale lips split his paler
face. In fact, the man was so colorless his teeth resembled
a row of yellow pencils when compared to the pallid tint of
his skin. Mulder gaped at the man's shocking white-blue
eyes and Jenkins' frosty irises stared defiantly back at
the dumbfounded agent.
"Ask your damn questions," Jenkins insisted. He invited
them no farther than the front hall and left the door ajar.
Mulder was struck by the hall's frigid air; the temperature
was at least ten or twenty degrees colder inside than out.
The chill raised the hairs on the back of his neck.
"Did you witness the death of Danny Davis?" Mulder's
breath fogged the air with each word.
"Can you explain to us what happened?"
"I can describe it but I cain't explain it." Frosty
currents swirled from Jenkins' nostrils, rising like
chimney smoke through the chill. "The Snowman done it."
"A snowman killed Danny Davis?"
"Yup. Putta icicle right smack through the boy's neck."
"I told ya, I cain't explain it. But he done it. He done
it through the powers of Mal-dee-nej. It's magic, s'what it
is. Cain't say it no plainer." Jenkins bobbled impatiently,
eager to be rid of the pestering agents.
"You believe in the legend?"
"'Course. Don't you?"
"Why would a snowman kill Danny?" Scully asked, clearly
dismissing the incredible fairytale.
Jenkins' head stilled for a moment as he studied Scully.
His white-blue eyes combed her face and hair. She gasped
when he suddenly plucked a slip of ice from the tangled
strands of her hair, his warped fingers brushing her soft
earlobe, searing her with cold. An involuntary shiver
shuddered across her shoulders and she instinctively
stepped out of his reach.
"The boy musta done somethin' t'get the Snowman angry."
Jenkins sighed, air chuffing from his lungs like winter
wind through bare tree branches. *Scht, scht, scht.*
"How th'hell do I know? Snowman protects those that need
protectin'. And the boy, he weren't zackly no angel,
y'know. Not too many angels in this town, truth be told.
Mebbe that's why the Snowman's stays on in Caribou Corners.
I'd hafta guess the boy deserved what he got."
"Mr. Jenkins, where were you late this afternoon, just
before you watched us pull Ricky Hart's body from his
fishing hole?" Mulder asked.
"At the school. Cleanin' up."
"Y'know," Jenkins lips twisted upward, exposing his
yellowed teeth. "Takin' out the trash."
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Caribou Corners Motor Inn
Mmmmm, Scully sighed, lowering herself into the bathtub's
steamy water. Thick, humid air caressed her, curling her
hair and forming silvery beads on her flesh. Her legs
reddened as she slipped beneath the soap bubbles. The water
warmed her numbed limbs, drawing her down until only her
head and knees peaked above the water's surface. She closed
her eyes and let her hands float at her sides.
"Scully?" Mulder's voice was muffled by the intervening
"What do y'want, Mulder?" she murmured without lifting her
"Pizza's here," he announced, opening the door and
thrusting the box into the room. The smell of oregano
wafted on the steam, causing her to open one interested eye.
"In a manner of speaking."
"What does that mean?"
"It means there were two choices: pepperoni or double
cheese. Since there isn't any pepperoni on this one, I'd
hafta say it's vegetarian."
"Fine." She closed her eye once more. "I'll take it."
"Uh...Scully...you want me to come in?"
"I..." She hesitated and he wondered what she was
thinking. Or doing. Would she get out of the tub, put on
one of those damn terry robes that hung down to her ankles,
hiding every curve? Or would she just spread a thin layer
of bubbles modestly over herself and allow him to come in?
The changes in their personal relationship made second-
guessing her more difficult than ever. But despite their
new closeness, he doubted she was at a point where she'd
feel comfortable inviting him to watch her bathe.
"It's okay, Mulder. Just bring it in."
Yes! He pumped his arm. And almost dropped the pizza.
"Okay. I'm coming. I'm coming *in*."
She stared up at him from the tub, a thick layer of
bubbles hiding everything but her head and knees.
"You use the whole bottle of soap?" He stared in disbelief
at the mountain of opaque bubbles.
"Why? Were you planning on a bubble bath later?"
"No...I...Where do you want the pizza?"
She opened her mouth, begging silently for a bite. With a
smile, he hooked a slice from the box and aimed the point
at her waiting lips.
"You gonna join me?" she asked when she'd finished
swallowing her bite.
"In the tub?"
"The pizza, Mulder. The pizza."
"Oh, right. Of course. Uh, I'll just take a slice
and...uh..." Sweeping his arm in the general direction of
the door, he let his eyes drop below her neckline. Damn,
couldn't see a thing. "I'll sit outside." He grabbed his
pizza and stepped from the room.
Leaving the door ajar so they could talk, he settled on
the floor just outside the bathroom. "Still think Danny's
death was an accident, Scully?"
"I don't know about Danny, but I'm damn sure Ricky Hart
didn't fall into his fishing hole and drown." Her voice
slipped softly through the crack between the door and the
"What do you think happened?" He could hear a light splash
of water. He let his head fall backward against the wall.
"I'd prefer not to speculate until after tomorrow's
autopsy. How about you? You have any theories?"
"Oh, you know me, Scully. I prefer to speculate *before* I
have any evidence. Facts just tend to get in my way."
"It was the Snowman, Scully."
"With a magic rock in his head?" Definite splash sounds now.
"Then who put the rock in the snowman's head, Mulder? And
why? Jenkins?" she asked. "You have to admit he's strange."
"True. But I dunno. I checked Jenkins' background before
we left DC. As a matter of fact, I checked all the
witnesses' backgrounds. None of them had criminal records.
None of them had so much as a parking ticket."
"That could just mean the killer is clever."
Mulder swore he could hear Scully soaping...some part of
her body or other. Was that even possible?
"Connie Spencer had motive and opportunity. That would
make her the prime suspect," Scully went on.
"Anne Tredwell swears Connie couldn't kill a fly."
"The sheriff disagrees with Tredwell about Connie's
"I don't think she did it, Scully. For now I'm sticking
with my snowman theory."
"Are you saying you believe the snowman acted alone?" she
"Scully, can I confess something to you?"
All sounds of splashing water or frothing soap stopped.
Not a single bubble popped.
"Yeah. Of course, Mulder. What is it?"
"I hate snowmen. I'm not afraid of them. I just hate them."
"There's something vaguely familiar about this
conversation. You aren't going to describe a peculiar
childhood snowman epiphany, are you?" Her splashing resumed.
"Well...I wouldn't call it 'peculiar' necessarily." Was
"No? Does your story end with a girlie scream?"
"No, it doesn't. Okay, maybe a little scream. But a very
manly one." He was sure she was smiling; he could hear
it...at least, he could hear something.
"What's your snowman story, Mulder?" Scully suddenly
appeared in the hall, wrapped from armpits to thighs in a
towel. She wasn't smiling, bless her. She was kneeling to
sit next to him. All muggy and pink, she stretched her legs
out beside his and took his hand.
"One day, when I was a kid, Sam and I built an army of
snowmen," he began, thankful for her steamy grip.
"Okay, a corps. Uh...actually, there were only six. But
they were big."
"So what happened?" She diverted his attention from her
smile with a wriggle of her toes.
"We built the snowmen to guard our castle." God, her toes
"You had a castle?"
"Mm hm. Well, a fort. Uh...a trench/cave sort of thing.
Anyway, we built the cave after we built the snowmen. What
we failed to anticipate was that the cave didn't have the
necessary architectural reinforcement to support the weight
of the snowmen on its roof."
"I think I see where this is going. It collapsed?"
"Yes, with Sam inside. I was scared to death. That might
have been when I screamed. Snowmen were tumbling all over
the place, heads rolling, eyes falling out."
"Smiles turned upside down into frowns?"
Her toes were downright sexy, but her comment drew his
eyes back to her face.
"Laugh if you want, Scully, but I thought for sure Sam had
been killed. I dug down through the snow, calling her name
over and over again."
"Was she hurt?"
"No. Just terrified. Although, less so than me. I finally
managed to get her out. She was crying. I was crying. But
the snowmen...the snowmen just laughed at us."
"They laughed? They actually laughed?"
"They're creepy, Scully. They're creepier than clowns. Or
mimes. They're creepier than clowning mimes."
"Mulder, you can't seriously have a snowman phobia."
"I told you, I'm not afraid of them. I just hate them." He
moved their linked hands into his lap and traced his thumb
over the hills of her knuckles.
"I see. Your distaste for snowmen isn't going to cloud
your perspective on this case, is it? You sound like you
might be going into this with a distinct bias."
"I'm trying to keep an open mind, Scully. I--"
Across the room, the phone rang. Mulder released her hand
and heaved himself from the floor. Scully waited, listening
to his one-sided conversation, not much more than a series
of "uh huhs."
"Well?" she asked after he'd hung up.
"There's been another death. Sheriff's decided to call
this one a murder." He returned to offer her a hand up.
"Who's been killed?"
"Tom Spencer. Connie's been brought in for questioning."
Aroostook County Sheriff's Department
Presque Isle, Maine
Connie slumped in her chair, her head bowed over the
interrogation table and her arms hugging her sides. She
hunched beneath the weight of Sheriff Riley's grilling.
When an uncontrolled lock of hair fell across her face,
curtaining her eyes and blinding her to the room, she
didn't tuck it away. Instead, she squeezed her lids shut
behind the swaying drape, fortifying her flimsy wall of
Still wearing their coats, Mulder and Scully leaned
against the wall while Sheriff Riley paced angry circles
around Connie. The sheriff had become increasingly
irritated by Connie's silence. Pulling no punches, he
battered the unnerved woman with his blunt questions.
"Connie, did you kill your husband?" the sheriff asked
"Ex-husband," she whispered, eyes still shut.
"Did you kill your *ex*-husband?"
Connie wagged her head, waffling her swathe of hair.
"But you wanted him dead, didn't you?"
"Nooo." She shriveled in her seat and a tear shivered down
"No? Weren't you afraid of him? Weren't you afraid he was
going to hurt you? Maybe hurt Katie? He beat you, didn't
he? That's what you claimed in court. That's why you
insisted on a restraining order, wasn't it? Weren't you
afraid...afraid for your life?"
"I didn't kill him. I didn't kill anyone! I didn't! I
swear I didn't!"
The sheriff stepped closer, stopped his pacing. "What
happened three years ago, Connie?"
Connie shook her head.
"You know what I'm talking about," the sheriff hissed.
"You pointed a gun at a student."
Mulder exchanged glances with Scully.
"T-that's not t-true!" Connie stuttered. "He lied about
"It happened, Connie. You pointed a gun at Paul Davis --
Danny's older brother. Three years ago you threatened to
"N-nooo! I didn't. He threatened *me*! He came to my
house. He said he'd hurt me if I didn't g-give him a
"So you pulled a gun on him."
"I didn't! H-he made that up."
"Three years ago you threatened to kill Paul. Two days ago
you murdered his brother Danny. Danny's death wasn't an
accident at all, was it?"
"You killed Danny. You killed Ricky. And you killed Tom.
Now you're going to prison -- for the rest of your life."
The inward swing of the door interrupted Connie's plea.
Phil Peters stood at the threshold accompanied by a woman
in a business suit. The woman crisply crossed the room and
set her briefcase on the table.
"No more questions, Sheriff," she said. "I'm advising my
client to remain silent." She raised a quizzical eyebrow at
Mulder and Scully. Scully displayed her badge and the
lawyer's eyebrows climbed higher. "FBI?" she asked.
"I didn't call them, Vick," the sheriff insisted.
"Con, are you okay?" Peters' worried eyes took in his
sister's tear-stained face.
"Where's Katie? I thought she was with you, Philly.
You...you didn't bring her here, did you?"
"No. No, of course not," he soothed. "Katie's with Anne.
Connie sagged with relief to know her daughter was safe
with the dance teacher.
The sheriff waggled two fingers, beckoning Mulder and
Scully out of the room into the hall.
Once in the corridor, Mulder asked, "Exactly how do you
think Connie Spencer killed her ex-husband and those two
"I won't know that until the bodies are autopsied."
"I'd be glad to perform the autopsies right now," Scully
"By all means. The sooner we know the cause of death, the
sooner Connie Spencer will begin her life sentence."
"I don't think Connie murdered anyone," Mulder argued.
"Agent Mulder, Connie Spencer had motive and opportunity
to kill all three victims. I'm confident the autopsies will
prove she's guilty."
"Earlier today you said Danny's death was an accident."
"I've changed my mind." The sheriff bristled. "Tom's
murder convinced me Connie's to blame."
"I don't agree. I think you need to place the third boy in
"What the Christ for? We've got our killer locked up right
"You're wrong, Sheriff. The killer is still out there and
Benjamin Shute's life is in danger," Mulder insisted,
keeping his voice low. His restraint ignited a flare of
anger in the sheriff's eyes.
"Oh really? And just who do you think the murderer is,
"I think there are paranormal aspects to this case. We
need to be looking for a supernatural killer."
"Jesus Christ. Don't tell me you believe that crap about a
storybook snowman, Agent Mulder."
"As a matter of fact, I do."
"You're spouting fairytales, for chrissake. The idea is
ridiculous. Our killer is right here," Riley's shout
zigzagged down the corridor. He stepped closer to Mulder
until the two men stood toe-to-toe.
"Ben Shute needs protection," Mulder maintained.
Before his insistence provoked the sheriff into a brawl,
Scully placed a finger on her partner's sleeve. "You check
on Ben, Mulder. I'll perform the autopsies. Maybe we can
solve this case before morning," she said. "I'll meet up
with you later."
Giving her a quick nod, Mulder brushed past the irate
sheriff and headed for the exit.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Caribou Corners, Maine
Mulder mounted the Shute's sloping front steps, taking
care not to slip on the ice. He rapped loudly on the storm
door and waited.
*Schht. Schht.* Tree branches scraped overhead. Mulder
raised his collar against the wind. He knocked again.
*Schhht. Schhht.* Peering over his shoulder into the dark,
Mulder watched a fine powder of snow billow horizontally
across the driveway. Ice-covered branches waved at the
Inside someone shuffled toward him. The door swung open to
reveal a beer-bellied man with an unlit cigarette dangling
from his lips. He frowned at Mulder's badge and with a
grunt of displeasure, he let Mulder in.
"What the hell do you want?" The man scratched at his
"I'm looking for Benjamin Shute. Is he your son, sir?"
"Christ almighty, what's the boy gone 'n' done now?"
"He hasn't done anything, sir. I'm only concerned for his
safety. Is he at home?"
"Sure. Up in his room."
"Course I'm sure. You can hear his friggin' rock 'n' roll
blastin' all the way down here."
It was true. Mulder could hear the regular thrum of drums
and bass guitar.
"Mind if we check, sir, just to make sure?"
"Christ." The man turned and lumbered toward the back of
the house. Mulder followed him through the dark hall and up
a steep staircase.
"What makes you think my son ain't safe?" The man pounded
a beefy fist against the door when they reached the boy's
"Ricky Hart was killed today, sir. I think your son may be
the killer's next target."
The man was genuinely shocked. "Benjy!" he called out,
trying to be heard above the blaring music. "Benjy, open
this fuckin' door!"
The door slapped open, liberating the screams of the
Pajama Slave Dancers. The boy's father bumped past his
skinny son and snapped off the blasting boom box.
"Christ, Benjy, you're gonna go deaf listenin' to that
The chastised boy thrust his chin at Mulder. "Who's he?"
"FBI agent. Claims your life's in danger. Says Ricky's
"Rick's dead?" Ben's eyes rounded. "Holy shit. I just saw
Rick on the river 'fore I went t'Miss Tredwell's today."
"What time was that?" Mulder asked.
"'Round one o'clock."
"Did you help Ricky build that snowman down on the river?"
"What the Christ are you talkin' about?"
"Benjy, watch your fuckin' mouth." His father held up a
"The snowman. By the fishing holes. Carrot nose?" Mulder
said, tapping his own nose.
"We dint build no friggin' snowman. We look like babies to
Mulder ignored Ben's smart-mouthed question. "Why were you
at Miss Tredwell's?"
"She pays me to shovel her driveway."
"You see anything strange while you were there?"
The boy shook his head, then blushed with embarrassment.
"Uh...yeah, there was somethin' I guess. When I was
shovelin', I...uh...thought I heard...well, a voice."
"A voice? What did it say?"
"It was a whisper, kinda. I-I thought it was just the
wind. It said, 'Catch me if you can.' Does it mean
somethin'?" The boy's face drained of color. "Did...did Ms.
Spencer kill Ricky, too?"
"That woman's a lunatic," the boy's father said.
"Shouldn't be teachin' kids nothin'."
"Ben, has anyone other than Ms. Spencer ever threatened
you or your friends?" Mulder asked.
"Sure, that asshole janitor, Jenkins. He's always cussin'
at us kids. A coupl'a times, he chased us outta the
schoolyard like he owns the place. He raised a shovel at us
"Why did he do that?"
"I dunno. He's a freak." Ben shrugged and stared at the
"Boys'll be boys, Agent Mulder." A nervous laugh shook
"Ben, I want you to stay inside during the next day or
two," Mulder told the boy, "And I want someone to stay with
you. Can you do that?"
"But tomorrow's Winter Carnival! I was plannin' on goin',"
the boy whined.
"You'll do as you're fuckin' told." His father thrust a
finger at the boy's nose.
"Don't go out of the house, Ben," Mulder warned. "Not for
any reason. And lock your doors."
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Aroostook County Morgue Presque Isle, Maine
Using heavy-duty cutters, Scully snipped through the
costal cartilage of Ricky Hart's ribs, shearing his sternum
free from his ribcage. The detached piece of bone and
cartilage resembled a giant twenty-legged spider as she
lifted it from the boy's chest and laid it gently in the
tray beside the corpse. Flaring the flesh like bloody
wings, Scully exposed the lungs and liver, burst trachea
and the bulging esophagus beneath. An incision in the neck
revealed decimated vocal chords. And although the plug of
ice had melted from the boy's mouth, his bruised lips and
tongue remained blistered from their exposure to severe
Scully inspected the damaged trachea. The cartilaginous
rings were separated and the intervening membranes were
shredded all the way down to the bifurcation and beyond.
The bronchial tubes remained swollen. She prodded the right
bronchus. It was hard. Frozen. As was the external serous
coat of the lungs. Using a scalpel, Scully carefully cut
through the subserous tissue. The alveoli underneath
contained a plug of solid ice, despite the above freezing
temperature in the morgue.
"This isn't possible." She dug at an icy cylinder running
through the right bronchus, chiseling loose a barrel of
frozen snow. At the center she uncovered a small, white
stone and she plucked it from the snow with her gloved
"Ouch!" She dropped the stone. Even through the latex of
her glove, the rock was so cold it hurt her thumb and
forefinger. Using steel pincers this time, Scully lifted
the stone to inspect it more closely.
Her eyes widened as a coat of frosty crystals formed
thickly around the white rock, expanding it until the stone
resembled a miniature snowball.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Caribou Corners High School
"What the hell?" Mulder muttered, rubbernecking and
hitting the car's brakes. The vehicle skidded to a stop. He
threw the car into reverse and floored the gas, spinning
the tires and flinging snow into the air. The school's
lights had caught his eye; they were all on, spilling from
the windows in long blue-white rectangles. Their glow
illuminated an astonishing fairytale kingdom of frozen
castles, twisting dragons and sturdy snowmen in the
schoolyard. Mulder shut off the engine and practically
leapt from the car.
He guessed the numinous realm had been created for
tomorrow's Winter Carnival sometime after he and Scully had
left the school earlier in the day. But the size and number
of the sculptures seemed physically impossible considering
the short amount of time that had passed since he had
visited the school in the afternoon. The sudden appearance
of the structures made their presence seem all the more
Drawn like an eager child to Santa's Village, Mulder
entered the crystal empire. He ran a gloved hand along an
icy wall as he explored one of several castles, walking
beneath a toothed parapet and around a barrel-shaped
turret. Arched doors punctured the twelve-foot-high walls
at regular intervals and he peered through one opening
after the next. He couldn't see more than a foot or two
into the gloom.
Beyond the first castle, an enormous frozen, snow-scaled
serpent twisted up out of the ground. Mulder stopped by the
dragon's yawning head and touched a finger to one of the
mythical beast's sharp icicle teeth. A glossy tongue curved
between the creature's gaping jaws. Sticking his head into
the monster's maw, Mulder quickly examined the beast's
Withdrawing from the dragon, he paused in front of a
phalanx of snowmen lining the imaginary parade ground and
blocking his path. Reluctant to cross in front of them,
Mulder studied the row of white faces. Grim-mouthed and
stony-eyed, the snowmen seemed to ignore the agent's
squinty inspection. He pursed his lips and softly whistled
the first stanza of Frosty the Snowman. When silence
followed his deliberate rendition, he tried a second
stanza, picking up the tempo a bit. Nothing stirred except
the snowmen's willowy arms, flailed by the chilly wind.
"At ease, men," he ordered and marched quickly forward,
jingling his keys and whistling the rest of the familiar
Mulder froze mid-step, his last note trilling eerily off
the icy castle walls.
He drew his gun.
Something moved on the far side of the schoolyard.
Something white. And tall.
"Federal agent!" Mulder called out. "Freeze!" he yelled
then rolled his eyes at the irony of his demand.
"Jus' me, Mr. Mulder," Elwood Jenkins hollered back.
A fog of air billowed from Mulder's lips as he chuffed his
relief. He lowered his weapon and crossed the yard to
"Still trackin' your killer?" The janitor leaned on his
snow shovel, the school's fluorescent lights tinting his
pale skin an icy blue. "You might have a hard time catchin'
"Snow can be an unpredictable thing," he answered, seeming
to dodge Mulder's question. The custodian's bobbling head
nodded at the crystal kingdom. "Some days somethin' can be
made of it. Castles. Or dragons. Other days, it just as
likely slips through your fingers. People are like that,
too, I've noticed."
"Sometimes people and things are hard to grab onto. They
ain't always what they seem."
"Katie Spencer said you gave her a magic stone to bring
her snowman to life. Did you give her a stone, Mr. Jenkins?"
"Yup. Girl needs a friend."
"Is the stone magic?"
"Like most things, that depends on who you're talkin' to."
"I'm talking to you."
The white-skinned man smiled, showing his yellow teeth.
"You're a smart man, Mr. Mulder, an' you know s'well as I
do there ain't no such thing as absolute truth. The
storyteller has one truth. The list'ner has 'nother. We
pick 'n' choose our own truth based on our point of view."
"The truth is the truth."
"Yup, it is. But it don't look the same t'everybody. Take
you, fr'instance. You believe in magic stones and killer
snowmen. Me, too. So does the little girl. But Sheriff
Riley, he wouldn't be caught dead believin' such nonsense.
Could be he just needs to step a bit closer to change his
perspective. Or mebbe you need t'step back t'change yours."
"Do you know something about the murders that you're not
"I know somebody's killin' people. An' it'll take lookin'
at it from the right angle t'find just who's guilty and who
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Aroostook County Morgue
Presque Isle, Maine
The body of Tom Spencer gaped below Scully's probing
fingers. She searched the frozen lungs for a white stone
similar to the one she'd removed from Ricky Hart. She
couldn't explain how the rock had become lodged so deeply
in the boy's lung, but she was certain she would find one
in Tom Spencer as well. For the past couple of hours she'd
watched the first stone grow thick with frost where it sat
on a stainless steel tray. The snowy coating had increased
in circumference by several inches. The rock now resembled
a four-inch snowball. And apparently it was still growing,
despite the fact that the tray was balanced on top of the
room's chugging radiator.
"Ah, there you are." Scully pried loose a stone identical
to the previous one, careful to use pincers to lift the
cold rock from Spencer's lungs. Although Scully had
thoroughly searched Ricky Hart's chest for other bits of
foreign debris, she had found nothing but the one stone.
The same seemed to hold true for Spencer.
*Schhht.* Sheriff Riley pushed his way through the autopsy
"How's it going, Agent Scully? Find anything to
incriminate Connie Spencer?"
"No, I haven't."
"What's that?" he indicated the stone she held in her
"Good question. It looks like an ordinary rock."
"But, I can't figure out how it got past the rima glottides
to become so deeply embedded in the lung. If inhaled,
it should have traveled no further than the bronchi
where it would become fixed, occluding the lumen
of the tube and causing respiratory failure on that side.
However, this stone pushed beyond the physical limitation
of the tubes. As did the one I removed from Ricky Hart."
Scully pointed at the tray resting on the radiator.
"What the hell--?" The sheriff walked to the tray and
reached for the snowball.
"Don't touch it!" Scully warned. "It'll burn you like a
chunk of dry ice." She dropped the second stone next to the
first. "I can't explain it," she said. "Aside from the
stones, both victim's lungs were packed with ice and snow.
Tom Spencer had several broken ribs. Ricky Hart's larynx
was crushed. We'll have to wait for the toxicological to
tell us if either or both of the victims were drugged
before they died."
"Well, I'm gonna hold Connie in custody until you've
submitted your final report. I was hoping you'd find
something a little less mysterious and a little more
incriminating, Agent Scully. I want to keep that crazy
woman behind bars."
"Sorry to disappoint you, Sheriff."
"You heading out?"
"After I stitch and wrap the body. I'll be another half
hour at least."
"You want me to wait? Give you a ride back to your hotel?"
"Thanks but I'll call Mulder when I'm through here. I'll
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Leaving the morgue behind, Sheriff Riley stepped out into
the swirling snow. He fitted his hat more tightly to his
head and zipped his jacket against the bluster. It wasn't a
fit night for man or beast. And that's exactly why he never
expected to see a white figure bending over the hood of his
Striding the length of the walkway, Riley's hand settled
on his gun. The white figure shifted and blurred. It slid
and spun at an alarming speed. *Schht. Schhht.* A blast of
razor-sharp sleet peppered the sheriff's face, causing him
to momentarily lose sight of the strange figure. The wind
whistled past him, whispering in his ears as it went: catch
me if yoooou caaaan. Riley checked behind him. Nothing. He
turned back to the car; the intruder was gone.
"Nerves must be playing tricks on me."
Rounding the car's bumper, he gasped when the heel of his
boot suddenly skidded out from under him. At first he
thought he'd hit a patch of ice, but the ground beneath him
wasn't hard or smooth. Or stationary. It dragged strangely
beneath the soles of his boots, bucking and pulling, like a
rug being yanked out from under him. "Shit!" He lost his
balance and toppled backward. He fell with a bone-jarring
thump. "Dammit!" Pain sparkled up his spine.
*Catch me! Catch me if yoooou caaaan!*
Sitting on the icy ground, Sheriff Riley wrenched his gun
from his holster. He peered into the blowing snow and aimed
into the churning air. His hat flew from his head and
twirled wildly away.
*Schhht. Schhhht. Schhhhhht.*
A snowy fist materialized out of nowhere and smashed into
Riley's jaw, whirling him like his hat. His gun spun
unfired from his hand and landed somewhere behind the
cruiser. Blood spouted from his ear. A second wallop
blinded him, smashing coldly into his face, cracking the
bridge of his nose. A third strike knocked him flat on his
Frosty fingers gripped Riley's ankles. He felt himself
dragged dizzily across the ground. Thrashing his arms, he
uselessly tried to grab onto something solid in an attempt
to slow his skidding movement away from his car.
"Who are you?" he yelled, unable to see his assailant.
"What the hell do you want?"
With a pull that nearly tore his legs from his hips, Riley
was hurtled several yards through the air. A terrified
squeal exploded from his throat when he collided against a
slanting bank of snow. The impact emptied his lungs and
numbed his legs and arms. Paralyzed and helpless, he
blinked in disbelief as a crushing weight of snow dropped
and buried him within a tomb of white. Pinned beneath
several feet of snow, the sheriff struggled to move, to
breathe. Gasping for non-existent air, his mouth gaped. A
blizzard sucked past his lips. Frost expanded across his
tongue, inflating like an ice-cold balloon. It rushed down
his throat. Gagging him. Suffocating him. Overstuffed...his
neck gorged, bursting...he silently cursed that he'd been
wrong about Connie Spencer.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Aroostook County Morgue
Mulder parked his car behind the sheriff's cruiser. He was
surprised to see the sheriff's vehicle still here. Scully'd
told him on the phone that Riley had left at least forty-
five minutes ago. Unbuckling his seatbelt, he swung his leg
from the car and put his foot down on top of Sheriff
Riley's half-buried pistol. He plucked the gun from the
"This can't be good." He pocketed the gun and drew his own
Nearby trees pitched and clawed and crackled, flogged by
the wind. A hulking snowman stood guard beside the
sidewalk, its flinty eyes seemingly directed at Mulder.
Wedged tightly atop the snowman's head was the sheriff's
"Nope, not good...at all."
Glancing at the morgue's dimly lit entry, Mulder's concern
for Scully rolled uneasily in his stomach. Halfway to the
steps, he noticed something strange and spiky protruding
from the snowbank. Sliding his flashlight from his pocket,
he aimed it at the unexpected object.
The beam of light exposed five fingers curling stiffly
from the snow.
Mulder clambered up the bank, sinking to his knees in the
drift. He exchanged his gun for his cell phone and quickly
dialed 911. Cradling the phone under his chin, he pawed at
the snow, uncovering a buried wrist, arm, shoulder. He
talked and tunneled, spouting directions and shoveling snow
with his hands. Recognizing the sheriff's jacket, he let
the phone drop and dug faster.
He searched for the sheriff's face, hoping against hope
that the buried man was still alive. Scooping and tossing
snow, he clawed downward. Sweat striped his face and
drenched his neck, chest and back despite the cold. Skating
between his parted lips, frantic breathy plumes chugged
from his lungs only to be grabbed by the wind and yanked
into the blackness somewhere above his head. The pulse of
his heart throbbed outward from his ears where it collided
with a scream of passing air.
The bridge of a nose and the wells of two eyes came into
view. For a brief instant, Mulder thought the face was
Sam's, her mouth opened in a terrified cry. He struggled to
keep the evening's pizza in his stomach.
Beneath his palm, a bulging wad of snow plugged the
sheriff's mouth. Riley was dead. Mulder abandoned the body
and ran to find Scully.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Aroostook County Morgue
Two Hours Later
In an effort to control his adrenaline pumped limbs,
Mulder hugged his arms to his chest and jammed his jittery
fingers into his armpits while he watched Scully dig into
Sheriff Riley's frozen chest. The sheriff's body lay split
up the middle on a steel table in the morgue where the
Deputy and the ambulance crew had placed him earlier. The
crew had preferred not to stick around for the autopsy and
the Deputy excused himself to see to the release of Connie
Spencer. With the perfect alibi this time, it seemed Connie
was innocent after all and the Deputy saw no reason to hold
her any longer.
Hanging over Scully's shoulder, Mulder peered into the
"Find it yet, Scully?"
"Give me a minute. I'm checking the bronchus now. Yep,
here it is." She held up a small white stone, trapped
between the prongs of her pincers. The stone immediately
developed a bristly coat of frost.
"Abracadabra." Mulder waggled his fingers over the
"I refuse to believe this rock is magic, Mulder."
"Then why is it growing fur like some freaky arctic Chia
"I couldn't say."
"And how did it get inside the victim's lungs, past
those...those tiny little tubey thingies." He waved at the
sheriff's exposed bronchi.
"I can't explain that either. But just because I can't
explain it doesn't mean anything mystical or supernatural
is going on."
"Oh, come on, Scully. You think an ordinary person did
this? Killed these people?"
"Well, what's your theory, Mulder?" Scully dropped the
frosty stone onto a tray. "Do you think the magic stone of
Maledeneige is responsible for bringing to life a murdering
snowman, whose mission is to right the world's injustices
and avenge the cruelties of man, and in order to do so, he
shoves a frosty fist into the lungs of his victims thereby
simultaneously suffocating and freezing them to death?"
"Sounds kinda unlikely when you say it, but it does give
new meaning to the term 'cold-blooded,' huh?"
"A person is responsible for these deaths, Mulder, not a
"I'm inclined to agree," he said, surprising her. "The
snowman is simply the murder weapon."
"Wonderful. That'll look great in our report."
"In the legend, the magic stone is imbued with protective
powers that turn an enemy into a victim. All the victims
here could be considered a threat to Connie Spencer. The
boys, her ex-husband, even Sheriff Riley might be viewed as
"So who would be most interested in protecting her? Her
"Possibly. Or Anne Tredwell. She's been supportive of
Connie. Actually, Elwood Jenkins has been sympathetic as
well. He was the one who gave Katie her magic stone and
he's been outspoken in his opinion that the victims got
what they deserved."
"But the victims never posed any real danger to Connie.
Would Jenkins or Tredwell or even Peters kill four people
based on an imagined threat?"
"It's a matter of perspective, Scully. Jenkins said
something about that earlier today. He said, 'we pick 'n'
choose our own truth based on our point of view. There
ain't no such thing as absolute truth.'" Mulder mimicked
Jenkins, bobbling his head and hunching his back.
"You're quoting a janitor, Mulder."
"A man who takes out the garbage may know a thing or two
about the truth of life. Besides, he's right. You're
choosing your own truth right now, Scully. You're looking
at this case through your highly polished scientist's
lenses. And although I'm willing to admit that your logical
point of view often serves us well, it also blinds you to
less rigorous conclusions."
"Mulder, after seven years with you, sometimes I am
willing to accept a less-than-scientific explanation for
the things we encounter."
"When?" He smiled. "Once in a blue moon?"
"Hopefully not that often. But need I remind you of Ansen
Stokes, the Invisible Man from Olivette, Missouri?"
"Rendered imperceptible by a magic genie."
"Mm. I was open to extreme possibilities in that case. Too
bad my proof went poof."
Mulder chuckled. "The invisible man disappeared -- there's
a nice irony to that."
"Not nice at all, Mulder. The whole thing was very
"Awww, but you were so cute believing the unbelievable."
He touched his finger to the tip of her nose.
"My point is, Mulder, I put my biases -- my scientist's
lenses, as you call them -- aside," she batted his hand
away. "And if we're going to be honest and admit our biases
here, let's not overlook your own preconceived fear of
"I'm not afraid of them, Scully. I told you, I just hate
"Besides, I'm willing to agree that *in this case*, the
snowmen are probably not acting on their own. Someone is
using them to protect Connie. And I'm not sure we can rule
out Connie herself."
"You said earlier that Connie wasn't a murderer."
"I don't think she is...consciously."
"Uh oh. Is that another theory I hear knocking at the door?"
"Yes, but it's a familiar one. Remember Holman Hardt?"
"The weatherman from Kansas. Mulder, Holman may have
tossed a cow at you, but he never killed anyone with a
"But he could have. His repressed feelings of love for
Sheila erupted in tornadoes, snowstorms and even a flying
cow. The point is, he was doing it unconsciously. Why
couldn't Connie's fears, real or imagined, be responsible
for a similar phenomenon?"
"You're giving up on your magic stone theory?"
"I didn't say that."
"Well, if what you're saying about Connie is true -- and
I'm not saying that it is -- then there's someone else we
need to consider as the murderer."
"Who's that, Scully?"
Caribou Corners High School
Unable to penetrate the deep overcast, the mid-morning sun
glowed like a nickel coin in a pewter sky, slurred low on
the horizon despite the early hour. The schoolyard joggled
with sherbet-colored knit hats, fluttering scarves and
ballooning down-filled coats. Screechy kids' voices
vibrated across the glittering ice sculptures.
"Crowded," Scully commented, arm linked with Mulder's,
more for the windbreak of his body than from any romantic
"Hearty souls, must be used to the cold." He glanced at
her reddened nose and flailing hair. "You need a hat,
"I'm not the hat type."
"Who exactly is the 'hat type'?"
"Cowboys, astronauts, magic-hat-wearing snowmen named
Frosty," she paused, looking around. "Jesus."
"Jesus? He wore a crown of thorns, but not a hat per se."
"No, Mulder, I was just commenting on...all this." She
waved a gloved hand at the ice castles, the snowmen, the
"Miss Dana, Miss Dana!" Katie skipped breathless and
smiling toward Scully. "Com'ere! See my snowman!" The
little girl tugged excitedly on Scully's hand. Scully
grabbed Mulder's arm and allowed herself to be pulled along
by the girl, feeling like a link in a very short chain of
Crack the Whip.
Anne Tredwell waited for Katie beside a crooked line of
Snowmen; more than three-dozen entries stood ready for the
judges' consideration later in the day.
"Good morning, Agents. When Katie saw you arrive, she
insisted on showing you her snowman." Anne's eyes never
left Katie. Fatigue grayed the dance teacher's face but she
forced a smile. "She barely slept at all last night," Anne
confided. "Not until Phil called and said he'd brought
Connie home from..." She glanced at Katie to gauge whether
or not the girl was listening, "J-A-I-L."
"Is Mommy 'n' Uncle Phil comin' t'see Frosty?" Katie asked
her dance teacher.
"Yes, sweetie. They'll be here soon."
"Yippee!" Katie pranced a circle around the snowman. "Do
you like my snowman, Miss Dana?"
Scully inspected Katie's entry. The snowman looked as if
it smirked with a broad stone-studded grin wrapped from one
nonexistent ear to the other. Instead of a traditional
carrot nose, Katie had stuck a pencil above the wide mouth,
giving the snowman a beaky, bird-like appearance. Two
pennies served as eyes and slanting twig brows lent an
expression of worry to the bloodless face. One of Katie's
ice cream-colored hats topped the stack of snowy spheres;
the pompom jittered in the nervous breeze.
"Very nice, Katie. What do you think, Mulder?"
"I think there are a heck of a lot more snowmen here this
morning than there were last night. And there were a lot of
snowmen here last night. How...?" Mulder gazed down the
long line. The number of snowmen had practically doubled in
the last few hours.
"Mulder, what do you think of *Katie's* snowman?"
He turned his attention to the girl's entry. Taking his
time, he scrutinized the snowman from all sides. Finally,
nose to pencil, he stared into the snowman's penny eyes.
"Looks like a prize winner to me," he announced.
"Really?" Katie squealed with delight and clapped her
"Definitely." Giving the neighboring snowmen a suspicious
glance, Mulder adjusted the knit hat on Frosty's broad
"Agent Mulder knows what he's talking about, Katie. He's a
"Let's not brag," Mulder suggested, not amused by Scully's
subtle jibe. "Did you put your magic stone inside your
"Nope." She pawed through her pocket and produced the
white stone. She held it up high for Mulder to see before
showing it to Scully and then to Anne. "I'm saving it for
later. I dint want Frosty to run away before the contest!"
"Mulder." Scully's face had become serious. "By the school
door." She pointed.
Across the schoolyard, Elwood Jenkins posed with one long
white hand on the school's open door, staring directly at
Mulder. Jenkins' pale head bobbed as if nodding agreement
to Mulder's unspoken intent to follow the janitor into the
school. With a yellow smile, Jenkins disappeared behind the
"I'll be back," Mulder murmured and trailed after the
* * *
Stepping inside the school, Mulder found the hall dark and
empty. Jenkins was nowhere in sight. Jesus, it was cold. He
guessed the building's heat had been lowered for winter
break, but it seemed unlikely the school would be left cold
enough to allow the water pipes to freeze.
"There're igloos pumping out more BTUs than this place,"
he muttered, starting down the hall in search of Jenkins.
Joggling the handle of each door he passed, Mulder found
one classroom after the next locked tight. Further down the
hall, however, he could see a shaft of fluorescent light
spilling out across the floor and he hurried to the small
suite of lit offices.
The outer room was clearly home to the school's secretary.
Squeezed between a bookcase and a photocopier, her desk was
cluttered with family photos, porcelain knick-knacks and a
snowglobe that cheerily begged "Let it snow! Let it snow!
Let it snow!" Behind her desk, two open doors led to twin
offices. A lamp illuminated only one.
Mulder edged toward the lit room. Careful. Tense. He drew
his gun and paused at the inner door. Leaning cautiously
over the threshold he saw that the office was vacant and
Jenkins was nowhere to be found. But against the far wall,
a single drawer in a bank of dusty file cabinets gaped
open. Mulder felt certain the drawer had been purposely
left ajar just for him.
Glancing over his shoulder to double-check for Jenkins, he
crossed to the file cabinet. He peered into the open drawer
where he found hundreds of file folders bearing the names
of students who had attended Caribou Corners High School
more than a decade ago. Troubled students. These were the
guidance counselor's files.
One folder peaked above the rest as if recently removed.
He read the folder's handwritten tab: PETERS, CONNIE T --
Connie Spencer's maiden name. Mulder pulled the folder from
the drawer and spread it open on the desk.
* * *
"Mommeeeee!" Katie shrieked when she noticed Connie and
Phil Peters approaching. The girl plowed into her mother's
outstretched arms. Peters playfully tugged his niece's
swinging hair. "Hi Uncle Phil! Mommy's here!" Katie bounced
with delight, announcing the obvious.
"Yep. No way she'd miss seeing your snowman take first
prize. Where's Miss Tredwell?"
"With Miss Dana and Frosty. Over there." Katie pointed a
Peters excused himself and crossed the yard to the line of
snowmen where Anne and Scully stood watching Katie's
reunion with her mother.
"Hi Anne. Thanks for taking Katie last night."
"My pleasure, Phil. You know the girl's always an angel.
Uh...have you met Agent Scully?"
"Yes, we've met." Phil nodded at Scully. "Where's your
partner this morning?"
"Inside." Scully tilted her head at the school. "With
* * *
Mulder's index finger traced a handwritten message
scrawled in red ink across the bottom of Connie's first
grade report card: 2/19/71: Connie Peters admitted to
Caribou Corners Memorial Hospital -- nervous collapse.
Connie hadn't missed a single day in the first two
reporting periods of her year in Grade 1. Her marks
indicated she was a good student. But the report card
remained blank for the third and fourth quarters. Mulder
studied the tiny class photo taped to the back of the
report card. Connie looked just like her daughter Katie,
right down to the shallow crescent dimpling her chin when
she smiled at the photographer. A second report card was
clipped to the first. The attached photo showed an almost
unrecognizable girl hollowed by grief. And fear? She looked
frightened. Scared to death. Evidently Connie had been
readmitted to school in the fall of '71 to repeat the first
grade. Mulder scanned the marks on the second report card,
looking for clues that might reveal something about her
emotional state. U's representing unsatisfactory behavior
filled the report. Connie no longer took part in group
activities or paid attention during class. Her work was
often late. She wasted time daydreaming. The teacher noted
the seven-year-old appeared to be overtired and often wore
the same clothes to school for several days in a row. The
report card was signed by a Mr. H. Tredwell, not Connie's
Returning to the file cabinet, Mulder retrieved Phil
Peters' records in hopes of finding more information about
Connie's first grade decline. What would cause the seven-
year-old to suffer a nervous breakdown? And why didn't
Connie's parents sign her card? He flipped quickly through
In 1971, Phil Peters also attended Caribou Corners
Elementary School, but as a third grader. His marks
indicated he was a good student, like his sister before her
hospitalization. Satisfactory grades filled his card. His
entire card. Evidently whatever had bothered Connie hadn't
altered her brother's study habits. Peters had missed only
one day of school the entire year. February 19. The day
Connie was admitted to Caribou Corners Memorial. That
didn't tell Mulder much. Whatever had pitched Connie off an
emotional cliff evidently hadn't affected her brother Phil.
Ruffling through the folder of papers, notes and report
cards, Mulder stopped when he came to a letter from a
Presque Isle physician.
Gentlemen, Our psychiatric review indicates that the
patient (Philip K. Peters, 9 years old) is mentally and
emotionally sound, despite the recent loss of both parents
(Robert and Janet Peters, d. February 16, 1971). The
patient is communicative, even ebullient, and presents no
symptoms of depression. He worries about his sister (Connie
T. Peters, age 7, currently at CCMH) but demonstrates no
emotional impediment. We are confident Philip can
successfully finish out the year at Caribou Corners
Elementary School. Sincerely, James Miller, MD
"Ebullient? With two dead parents and a sister in the
loony bin? Dr. Miller needs to take his head out of his
Mulder flipped the doctor's letter over. He arched an
eyebrow at a big red question mark drawn on the back of the
sheet. Taped to the lower half of the page was a yellowed
newspaper clipping -- Robert and Janet Peters' obituary.
"Shit," Mulder hissed, reading the obit.
The clipping reported that Connie and Phil Peters' parents
had died when a roof-full of snow slid from their home,
crushing them both to death on their front steps. The two
children had the misfortune to witness the bizarre
accident. And coincidentally, or perhaps not, Janet Peters'
maiden name was Desjardins -- the same name as Georges and
Catherine in the tale about the legendary killer snowman.
Mulder felt the hair on his neck prickle.
Mulder spun to see Phil Peters glaring at him from the
outer office, feet scuffling the floor. Despite the
distance, Peters recognized the newspaper clipping.
"How exactly did your parents die, Phil?" Mulder asked,
closing the folder and setting it on the desk, freeing his
"It was an accident." Peters nervously swayed, rocking
side to side in the doorframe.
"Was it? Or is that just the story you've been telling
yourself...and everyone else...all these years?"
"No!" An overcast of rage darkened Peters' folding
"No? Are you sure? Are you sure you didn't cause the
deaths of your mother and father? Using a magic stone,
* * *
"Nooooo!" Connie moaned, lurching as the schoolyard's snow
suddenly shifted and pulled beneath her feet. The white
ground rippled. Billowed.
Scully snatched at the air in an effort to keep her
balance. She felt as though she stood on the bloated back
of a waking giant. Surging. Swelling. Quaking the line of
snowmen beside her with a shivery squeal of sliding ice.
*Schhht. Schhhht. Schhhht!*
Katie's eyes widened and filled with tears.
A swirl of stinging sleet blew across the schoolyard.
Connie dropped to her knees. She groaned again and covered
The howling gale sliced over the yard and zigzagged
through the castle doors with a series of piercing shrieks.
When a snapping fissure split the castle's wall, fracturing
the frozen turret and causing the parapets to teeter and
fall, Anne screamed. Her cry was lost among the startled
shouts of the panicked crowd.
Scully snagged Katie's hand and lifted the frightened girl
into her arms.
* * *
"What happened thirty years ago, Peters? What really
happened?" Mulder inched closer to Peters and the door.
**God damn it! I just shoveled that walkway!**
Peters flinched at the anger in his father's imagined
"What is it, Peters? What?" Mulder asked.
**What...what the hell would possess you to build a
snowman right in the middle of the walk, Philly?**
Peters blinked, trying to bring Mulder's face back into
**Don't talk back to me, young man. Just get rid of it!
Connie, stop your bawling!**
"No. No, no, no," Peters hummed, staring at an invisible
shovel thrust into his hands by a memory. He could see his
sister's crying face, looking so much like Katie. His
father's fist gripping the tiny girl's arm. Lifting her.
Setting her down roughly, impatiently, in the front hall.
Returning to stand next to their mother. Fists on his hips.
Just outside the door. Below the overhanging roof. The
**Catch me if you can!**
Mulder took another step forward. Peters' head snapped up.
"Stay where you are!" he screamed, halting Mulder.
Stumbling backward toward the hall, Peters broke into a run.
Mulder sprinted after him.
* * *
"Nononononono," Connie keened, her face buried in her coat
sleeves. Anne Tredwell, despite her own fear, tried to calm
*Catch meeeee! Catch meeeee if you caaaaaaan!* The wind
spiraled around the line of wobbling snowmen.
Katie gripped Scully. "It's happening again, Miss Dana!"
the girl warned, tears spilling from widened eyes. She
buried her face in Scully's neck when one of the castles
collapsed with an earsplitting explosion. Chunks of ice
hurtled toward the crowd, scattering the screaming
visitors. Scully hunched protectively over Katie as a
blizzard of icy needles detonated from each crashing block.
The pummel of hail raised a sudden, blinding veil of snow.
The wind tossed the haze across the schoolyard like a snow-
white blanket thrown over a bed.
Scully caught a glimpse of Phil Peters. Like a ghost, he
materialized out of the maelstrom and raced to the phalanx
of snowmen, calling Connie's name. He spotted his collapsed
sister at the end of the row, crumpled on the ground and
crying. Lurching his way toward Connie, Phil raised his
arms to protect his face from the churning snow and pitched
himself into the blasting wind.
Appearing behind Peters, Mulder also raised his arms to
protect his face from the gale. Hair flailing and eyes
squinting, he hurried past the procession of snowmen in
pursuit of Peters.
When Peters reached Connie, he shoved Anne Tredwell
roughly out of his way. Hauling Connie to her feet, he
shouted something at her and although Scully was only a few
feet away, she couldn't hear him over the wind's deafening
howl. The blast was so loud, it was almost as if there were
no sound at all. A vacuum of noise sucked painfully on
Scully's overloaded eardrums.
Peters gripped Connie's shoulder, keeping her upright.
Together, they turned to face Mulder.
Several snowmen slid out of line.
"Oh, nooo," Katie whimpered against Scully's cheek.
One of the snowmen blocked Mulder's path, separating him
from Connie and Peters. Another loomed into place behind
the agent. Mulder swiveled, realizing too late he was
Scully set Katie down. "Stay here, sweetie," she shouted
into the girl's ear.
"No!" the girl screamed, gripping the fabric of Scully's
"Yes!" Scully insisted. Already she'd lost sight of
Mulder. He was completely surrounded by a shiver of
rolling, tumbling snow.
"No!" Katie cried again.
Several snowmen toppled, appearing to come unglued. The
rolling spheres separated. Spun. Slid.
"I have to help Agent Mulder."
Katie shook her head. "He's gonna die," she whimpered.
"No. No he's not," Scully told the girl firmly. Looking
over Katie's head for Mulder, Scully knew he must be buried
somewhere beneath the trembling jumble of broken snowmen.
"Use my magic stone, Miss Dana." Katie dug into her pocket
and produced the tiny, white stone.
"Katie, I don't think--"
"Please, Miss Dana. Hurry," Katie urged, pressing the
stone into Scully's palm.
The memory of Sheriff Riley's packed lungs flashed into
Scully's mind. Was Mulder already dead, his chest plugged
and his gullet split wide open by a frozen fist of ice and
snow? Desperate, Scully took Katie's stone and ducked into
the bluster, brushing past Connie and Peters. Two more
steps and she stood beside the massive sculpted dragon.
With a frantic look in Mulder's direction, she embedded the
stone deeply into the serpent's frozen forehead.
Pop. Pop, pop. Ice sputtered and snapped like a volley of
firecrackers, causing Scully to flinch at each blast. The
ground rumbled, shook. Vibrated her teeth. The serpent's
icy scales bulged and bucked along the dragon's rippling
crystal skin. Grinding and scraping, the serpent's head
shifted and unfolded, rising ten, fifteen, twenty feet into
the blowing air. Its jaws snapped shut, clapping like a
rifle shot. It slid onto its clawed feet, heaving its
hulking belly from the ground, lashing its great tail and
leveling an expanse of ground around it more than forty
feet wide. A storm ruptured from the dragon's gaping maw
when it bellowed.
The monster's head swung downward, plummeting until its
frosty nostrils stopped within an inch or two of Phil
Peters' shocked face. Its glassy eyes rolled, focusing on
the frightened man. The crystal lids slowly blinked. Peters
trembled and the snowy serpent huffed, spewing a blizzard
of snowflakes at the shaken man. Peters released his hold
on Connie and, unsupported, the stunned woman slipped to
The serpent's head lifted, peered over Peters to where
Mulder lay buried, pinned beneath a shifting bank of ice.
Flicking out its tongue between icicle teeth, the dragon
tested the flavor of the air. Then with a sudden snap, the
serpent struck, clamping its jaws tightly over Phil Peters'
The wind stalled. The ground stopped trembling. The
snowmen stood motionless.
The icy dragon shattered like a broken mirror.
Scully hurried around Phil Peters' bleeding body to dig
Mulder from the snow.
Caribou Corners High School
The Next Day
"We don't have to do this," Mulder trailed Scully across
the parking lot to the schoolyard where sections of
shattered snowmen lay scattered like wounded soldiers on a
battlefield. The skin on his face appeared frostbitten and
a nasty scrape blazed his left cheek. Even so, he looked
pretty healthy for a man who'd been attacked by an army of
snowmen not twenty-four hours earlier. "Do we?"
"Yes, Mulder. It's time you faced your snowman phobia."
"I told you, I'm not afraid of them--"
"I know, you just don't like them." She offered him a
sympathetic smile. "It'll be fun, I promise." She gave his
squeeze of encouragement, but even so his creased brow
remained creased. "I'll start," she suggested, scooping up
a handful of snow. She patted it into a perfectly round
snowball and rolled the tiny sphere along the ground. The
ball quickly grew in size, picking up snow until it was as
large as a human head.
"What did the hospital report say?" he asked, content to
let Scully push the head-sized snowball into something the
size of a beach ball.
"Connie told the staff psychiatrist everything." She
grunted as she shoved the snowball, now at least three feet
in diameter. "She gave her doctor permission to share the
story with us."
"So what happened in 1971? How did Robert and Janet Peters
die?" Mulder reached out to steady Scully as she rocked
back and forth trying to jostle the overgrown orb another
foot or two. The giant snowball already outweighed her.
"You gonna help me or not, Mulder?" She swiped a damp lock
of hair from her face.
"Doncha think it's big enough? Start the next one. When
it's ready, I'll lift it on top of this one."
Frowning at him, she began a second snowball.
"You were saying? Robert and Janet Peters...?" Mulder
"Connie said she and Phil found a bag of white stones in
the garage during the winter of '71. After finding the
stones, Phil told Connie the legend of Maledeneige. He
claimed the stones were a secret stash given to the
descendants of Catherine Desjardins."
"But the legend said Catherine died soon after her husband
Georges was killed. She didn't have any descendants. Did
"Like most stories, years of telling the tale have spawned
several interpretations. In the version Phil relayed to
Connie, Catherine Desjardins didn't die of grief over the
death of her husband but died in childbirth and the Snowman
supposedly returned to Caribou Corners each winter to
protect Catherine's descendants."
"Janet Peters' maiden name was Desjardins," Mulder said.
"Exactly. Phil knew that. So, seven-year-old Connie and
nine-year-old Phil believed they were descendants of
Catherine Desjardins and they also believed they had
discovered the legendary stones of Maledeneige. So they
built a snowman in their walkway to test the magic."
Scully pointed to the second fat snowball. "This one's
He eyed the original boulder several yards away. Hefting
the massive snowball from the ground, he groaned with
aching effort. "Are we havin' fun yet?"
"You're not having a good time?" Scully sounded honestly
surprised. While he struggled with the enormous ball,
wrestling the weighty sphere into position, she continued
her story. "Connie remembers her father being furious when
he saw the children had built a snowman in the middle of
his recently shoveled walkway. He insisted Phil remove the
snowman and clear the walk. Connie was sure the snowman was
magical and she didn't want to destroy it. So she started
crying. Impatient with her tears, Robert Peters carried his
daughter into the house." Scully tilted her head and eyed
the headless snowman. "It's crooked, Mulder."
Mulder adjusted the snowman's belly.
"Connie remembers being set on the floor just inside the
door," Scully went on. "Her father and mother stood outside
on the front step. The ground started shaking. There was a
terrible roar and then snow and ice slid from the roof,
burying and killing Janet and Robert Peters."
"I'll bet the snowman was laughing."
"I don't think so, Mulder." Scully formed a new snowball
for her snowman's head.
"Well, obviously the snowman viewed Robert Peters' anger
as an attack on the children, so it protected them by
killing the parents. The magic stone worked."
"Mulder, the stones weren't magic. Connie found out later
that the stones had been purchased by her father to improve
drainage beneath the front steps. He'd bought three 75-
pound bags of crushed white rock and stored them in the
garage for the winter."
"But the snow on the roof..."
"It was an accident, Mulder. Caribou Corners had over
eighty inches of snowfall by February of '71. I checked.
It's no wonder Robert Peters was angry about shoveling his
walk. He'd probably done it a million times by then."
Mulder didn't look satisfied. He leaned an elbow on the
shoulders of the headless snowman and surveyed the results
of yesterday's mayhem. "But, Scully..."
"Mulder, Connie and Phil believed the stones were magic
the day their parents were killed. They blamed themselves
for their parents' deaths. That's why Connie had a nervous
breakdown. Phil went into a state of denial. Even after
they found out the truth, they couldn't shake the emotional
effect. They always felt somehow to blame for building that
snowman and placing their parents in harm's way that day.
With their parents gone, Phil became overprotective of his
sister...to the extreme. Keeping his guilt bottled up for
thirty years, Phil finally snapped. He saw Connie's
students, Tom Spencer, even Sheriff Riley as a threat to
Connie. Phil killed them, Mulder. There was no magic
"I don't know, Scully. How do you explain the stones you
removed from the victim's lungs? How do you explain all
this?" Mulder waved his hand at the cracked castles, the
broken dragon, the smashed snowmen. "Don't tell me this was
caused by a freakish earthquake or something. You saw that
dragon come to life, Scully. You put Katie's stone into its
head -- to save me. You must've believed it was magic."
Scully tossed Mulder the finished snowman's head and he
twisted it into place.
"Mulder, I...I was desperate. 'Desperate times call for
desperate measures.' 'Necessity is the mother of
invention.' 'A magic stone in the dragon's head is worth
two in the bush.'"
"Hmm. Hackneyed and hacked at cliches aside, Scully, you
obviously acted on the belief the stone was magic."
"I didn't really think about it, Mulder. I just did it."
"Very unscientific of you."
"Well, maybe there was a blue moon last night."
"Scully, you saw what happened. I saw it. We both saw it."
He eyed the faceless snowman. "Maybe Janet and Robert
Peters' deaths were no more than the result of a tragic
accident. But what happened here yesterday was no accident.
Phil Peters used the snowmen to protect Connie. He wanted
the snowmen to kill the boys, Tom Spencer and Sheriff
Riley. He wanted me dead, too. And he used magic stones
like Katie's to bring the snowmen to life." Mulder left the
snowman and wrapped his arms around Scully's waist. "Like
Jenkins said, you're choosing your own truth, Scully. Take
off your scientist's lenses," he murmured into her ear.
"Only if you promise to try wearing them for awhile."
"Only if you promise to give up on this horrible snowman
"You're really not having fun?"
"I can think of plenty of things to do that would be more
fun than this." He waggled his brows.
"Mulder, for seven years I've listened to your suggestive
intimations. You plan to make good on those at some point
or are you all talk and no action?" She flashed him a
"Really? Then how about you stop flappin' that handsome
jaw and start...um, performing. Action Boy."
"Well, I didn't mean right here, Scully. We're...on a
case." He whispered the last part.
"Our case is over," she whispered back.
He lightly kissed her lips.
"I haven't made *that* many suggestive suggestions, have I?"
"No? For a guy with a photographic memory, your lens has
become pretty cloudy. Let's see if I can clear your
aperture. If I remember correctly, you once asked me what I
was wearing while we talked on the phone. You told me my
knowledge of World War II aircraft turned you on. You asked
me if your tree-climbing prowess turned *me* on. And you
suggested making a honeymoon video while we were working on
a case. I even think I recall an invitation to join you in
bed while on that same case."
"Oh, *that*. Scully, my intentions were strictly
"You meant one thing but I heard another?"
"Must be. Remember what Jenkins said? He said there is no
absolute truth. We each derive our own truth from our own
"The truth is out there but it may not be the same truth
"Exactly, Scully. You've got it."
"Ah huh. Okay, Mulder, just so there won't be any
confusion, explain to me *exactly* what you meant when you
said you could think of plenty of things to do that would
be more fun than building this snowman. I wouldn't want to
misunderstand...you know, like I've so obviously
misinterpreted the honeymoon video thing. Let's not leave
anything open to individual interpretation, shall we? Let's
be sure your truth is my truth."
"I guess I just meant...you know...that we might enjoy..."
"Another pizza and a bubble bath?"
"There you go!" He kissed her nose. "We're seeing this
exactly the same way."
Linking his fingers through hers, he drew her away from
the Snowman and led her toward the car. Twisting to look
over his shoulder, he glanced back at the faceless snowman
one last time.
"Um...Scully, is that snowman smiling?"
"Who cares, Mulder. I'm smiling and at this moment, that's
all that should concern you."
Authors notes: Thank you, VS8, for allowing me to
participate in this project.
Feedback, good or bad, is welcome on "Snowman" or any of
my stories. I don't even pretend to be a professional
writer, so any pearls of wisdom are very welcome. Send
comments to email@example.com.
My other fanfic (including the MSR version of "Snowman," can be
found at http://cindyet.xfilesfanfiction.com.