Draw Down the Moon 19
John awoke with sunshine on his face. He lay in bed a moment, blinking and confused, and then pushed the blankets aside and got up. His head swam, then the swirling subsided as he hung onto the night table. It was late in the morning, far later than he’d planned to be up, and the silence in the house was not reassuring.
He checked the nursery: no William in the crib. He felt a muscle in his temple start to twitch, and rubbed it as he jogged down the stairs.
Monica sat at the kitchen table with William in her lap, holding the bottle for him as he drank and played with his ear. Also at the table was Agent Harrison, who had brought her usual stack of folders with her. They stopped talking when they saw him.
“Good morning, Agent Doggett,” Agent Harrison chirped.
“Hey, Leyla,” he said. “Monica. It’s ten-thirty in the morning.”
“I know,” she said, contrite, “but you looked like you needed to sleep, and William’s fine—aren’t you, sweetie?” William twisted back his head to look at her—accepting her, John thought, but not happy about it. Monica went on, “No one has called from the hospital, and no news is good news, right?”
“I guess. I’ll wanna head over soon, though.”
“I could bring Will after his nap.”
“We’ll see,” John said, starting to reach for the baby.
“Before you do,” Monica added, “come sit and see what Leyla brought. I think she’s found some things to help.”
John pulled out a chair and sat. Agent Harrison said, pushing some files towards him, “There’s not a whole lot in the files that resemble what Agent Scully is going through, but I did find this.” She tapped the folder. “Mulder and Scully had a case about six years ago when a little boy was being haunted by the spirit of his dead twin.”
“Dana doesn’t have a twin.”
“I know, but the similarities are close enough that I think this file is our answer. Agent Scully is suffering from demonic possession.”
John stared at her honest face and sincere eyes, and said slowly, “Right.”
“And the only cure for possession is an exorcism.”
” . . . right.”
“Do you know her priest?”
“I don’t think this is his area.”
“Maybe he knows someone who could help her,” Monica said.
“I don’t think we can turn to her priest. What else have you got?”
“Well,” Agent Harrison said, shuffling through her files again, “that’s it.”
“Okay,” John said. He got up from the table and took William from Monica’s lap. “So the only solution you’ve got for me is possession.”
“I know it’s not something you’d normally consider—”
“No, it’s not. Look. You can’t ask me to believe this. Something’s wrong with Dana but it’s not—maybe she’s being drugged or poisoned—”
“That’s not what you said Saturday night,” Monica said quietly.
“How is it different? You can’t accept part of the spiritual world and dismiss the rest—it doesn’t work that way.”
“You can’t expect a rational person to just accept possession as the answer!”
“Oh, so now I’m irrational,” Monica said, and Agent Harrison suddenly looked like she wished she was miles away. The baby started to whimper at the sound of raised voices. “You asked for our help, so we’re trying to help her!” She looked away and wiped her eyes impatiently. “I’m scared too, John.”
He looked from one woman to the other, then went to Monica and put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Leyla.”
“It’s okay,” Agent Harrison murmur
ed. Monica reached back to put her hand on his.
“We’re trying to save her, John.”
“We need to be unorthodox. I really believe that’s the only way. Maybe we could get in touch with this group in the files, the Calusari.”
“If it helps any, Byers agrees with us,” Monica went on. “We spoke to him earlier. They’ll look into some more possibilities, of course. And Dr. Burks said he would talk to some his friends and find out everything he could.”
“It’s not hopeless, John. That’s what I’m trying to say.”
“Thanks.” He looked down at William, as the baby was still whimpering. “I’ll wait until he’s calmed down to go to the hospital. Thanks for your help, Agent Harrison.”
“Of course, Agent Doggett.”
“Where’s Skinner, by the way?” he asked Monica as he adjusted the baby on his arm.
“He had to go back to work. I told him I’d cart you around. How are you feeling? I didn’t even think.”
“Eh.” He shrugged. “I’ll live.” He carried William back upstairs and sat down in the rocking chair. He rocked slowly, stroking William’s back, until the baby’s whimpers and little cries subsided.
Even then he did not rise. He only went on rocking.
Mrs. Scully was in the waiting room. John paused as he stepped off the elevators, then took a deep breath, tightened his grip on the handle of William’s carrier, and walked calmly towards her. “Mrs. Scully,” he said in a firm, cordial voice.
Her face was neutral as she said, “Mr. Doggett. Agent Reyes,” she added when she saw Monica.
“Would you like to watch William?”
She looked up at him, clearly startled, and said, “Yes. Thank you.”
He put William’s carrier on the seat beside her and the diaper bag on the floor. He put his fingers against the baby’s cheek, and smiled when William laughed. “Be good for Grandma,” he said, and went to the nurses’ station.
The nurse on duty smiled when he approached. “Welcome back, Mr. Doggett.”
“Hi. How is Dana doing?”
“I think you’d better talk to Dr. Crowton. I’ll let him know you’re here.” She picked up the phone and paged him, and John went back to the seats.
Mrs. Scully had been joined by another woman, a few years older than she, with silvery-red hair and a kind face. The other woman was holding William in her lap, and talking to him in a soft, lilting voice as he babbled and cooed back. She looked up at John and smiled. “This must be himself.”
“Uh, hello.” He looked at Monica, who smiled and shrugged.
“Mr. Doggett, this is my sister-in-law,” Mrs. Scully said. “Olive Scully. Dana’s father’s sister.”
“Hi.” He stood awkwardly with his hands in his pockets, watching Dana’s aunt play with the baby.
“He has the Scully eyes,” Olive said decisively. “And the Scully complexion, poor mite. But this,” she tapped William’s nose and he tried to grab her finger, “must be from his father’s side.”
“Dana likes to say he’ll grow into it,” John said. William never took to strangers like this, smiling and happy and trying to make conversation. He looked as at home as he did in Dana’s lap.
“We’ve been waiting for Dana’s doctor to have a few minutes,” Mrs. Scully said. “They haven’t let me see her yet.”
“She was pretty bad last night,” John said quietly.
“I heard.” No thanks to you, her expression said. “I just want to know what’s wrong. If it’s pneumonia they should just say so.”
“We think it’s something more serious than pneumonia,” Monica began, and Mrs. Scully’s face paled.
“Oh, my God,” she whispered. “It’s not cancer, is it? She was in remission—she was doing fine—”
“It’s not cancer,” Dr. Crowton said as he approached them. His voice was calm and soothing. “Unfortunately, we’re not sure what it is.”
“Depression wouldn’t cause her to be this sick, would it?” Mrs. Scully said.
Dr. Crowton pulled over a chair and sat down. “Mrs. Scully. Mr. Doggett. We’ve had to utilize some more mild methods to bring her fever down. We’ve been giving her alcohol rubs and administering penicillin, and carefully watching her injuries for signs of infection. It’s fortunate, really, that Dana was taking such good care of herself because she was breast-feeding: she’s really in excellent health overall, and the baby is probably developing normally.”
“Baby?” Mrs. Scully said, and gave John the dirtiest look yet.
“I’m sorry, I assumed you would have told her,” said Dr. Crowton.
“Dana is pregnant,” John said. “A wedding-night baby, it looks like.”
“Yes,” Dr. Crowton said. “A very young fetus at a very vulnerable stage, but we are doing all that we can to protect it while we take care of Dana. What troubles me most, though, is that none of these symptoms fit together. She has no history of seizures or depression, no reason to be so violent with herself, and frankly her statements to us are . . . very troubling.”
“What is she saying?” John said, and covered the back of William’s head with his hand.
“That she cut herself because she was afraid she would hurt her son. I asked her why, and she said she felt a compulsion.”
Mrs. Scully exclaimed, “She loves William. She’d never hurt him.”
“I understand, Mrs. Scully.” He leaned forward and said earnestly, “I know Dana does not drink or take drugs. She does not appear to be suffering from postpartum depression, or any kind of depression, for that matter. So what could have caused this compulsion?”
John’s eyes met Monica’s. She nibbled her lips and looked away to William, and reached over to touch his dimpled knuckles. John said, “Can I see her?”
Dr. Crowton sighed and said, “She’s still very weak. Try not to tire her.”
John nodded and went to Dana’s room. He opened the door slowly, and quietly stepped in. Dana was awake, her head turned toward the window and her hands at her sides. No blankets covered her, and pink fever spots still burned in her cheeks. She closed her eyes when he laid his hand against her cheek.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he said softly.
“How are you feelin’?”
“Like I’m in hell.”
“Baby . . .” He lowered the rail on the side of the bed and leaned over her, close enough to whisper in her ear. “Dana. What do we need to do to help you?”
“I don’t know anymore. I’m so . . . tired. Is my mother here?”
“Yes. She brought one of your aunts, too. Olive.”
“Aunt Olive . . . she always has the best stories. She knows everything.”
He let his head drop so his nose was buried in her hair. He could smell the sickness in her, the weakness, the despair.
Her hand slid up into his hair. “John,” she whispered. She gave a little sob and turned her head to him at last, and he raised his head enough to look into her eyes. “I can’t fight it anymore.”
“Yes, you can, baby. You can. You’re so strong, Dana. You’ve done things I could never do. You’ve faced down monsters—”
“I have no face,” she whispered and closed her eyes.
“Dana. Dana, look at me.” He framed her face with both hands and rubbed her temples with his fingertips until she opened her eyes. He was relieved to see they were still blue. “You have a beautiful face. A sweet face. The sweetest face.”
“I’ve lost sight of it all, John.”
“You’ll get it back.” He kissed her. “I’ll help you find it, honey.”
She pressed her finger to his cheek. “Stay with me a while? Will they let you?”
“I’ll stay even if they don’t let me,” he said, and lay down carefully beside her. She curled against him, her head tucked under his chin and her arm gingerly laid over his ribs.
“I feel stronger when you’re here,” she whispered, and John pressed her closer to his heart.
Dana could bear only one visitor at a time, so eventually John had to relinquish his place to Mrs. Scully. He sat in the waiting room again and watched Monica attempt to amuse William. Olive Scully was reading when he came out of Dana’s room, but after a few minutes she shut the book and took off her reading glasses. “Mr. Doggett,” she said, “wa
lk with me.”
“I should stay with William.”
“He’s fine,” she said, putting her book in her bag and rising. “Aren’t you, little darlin’?” William looked up at her and smiled widely, clapping his hands.
“Will you be okay, Monica?”
“Of course. Go stretch your legs.”
John got up and followed Olive to the elevators. They were quiet on the ride to the ground floor, until she said, “Maggie’s none too fond of you.”
“I don’t see why. You seem like a fine young man. A good husband for our Dana, a good father for sweet William.”
“I try, Miss Scully.”
“The boys’ wives call me Auntie. You may, too.”
“Thanks. Auntie.” He smiled despite himself.
There was a small garden on the hospital grounds, and a few patients were out with family or caregivers, enjoying the sunshine.
Olive took John’s arm with a small grimace. “Not as young as I look,” she said, and they started to walk up the path.
“Dana,” Olive said. “She’s always been a special girl.”
“She’s very special to me.”
“When the children were growing up Melissa was always the one who read my books and got into my things, but sometimes Dana would peer around the corners, watching with those big eyes . . . I think she learned more than she realizes.”
“Oh,” Olive said with a laugh. “Women’s things. I was a midwife until a few years ago. I’d tell the girls things they should know, about their bodies and the herbs and little secrets. I pride myself that those lessons are why Dana became a doctor. Of course,” she said with another laugh, “she deals with the other end of life than I do.”
“Raspberry leaves, ginger, comfrey, peppermint, slippery elm. Things my mother taught me, God rest her soul.”
“Is there something you want to give her now? Is that why you wanted to talk?”
Olive shook her head. “No. The alcohol baths they’re giving her are what I’d do. There’s something else.” She made as if to continue speaking, then stopped walking and turned to look him full in the face. “Mr. Doggett.”
“John,” he said. “Only fair.”
“John,” she murmured. “Never Johnny or Jack?”
“Johnny, sometimes. With my family.”
“Johnny, then,” she said. “Johnny. Maggie will never admit this to you, but she knows things sometimes, before they happen. Melissa accepted this gift and used it as she could, dear girl, but Dana has never been comfortable with it. Too much of her father in her. Maggie called me Friday night and asked me to come. She said Dana would need me. I thought maybe she meant for William or that Dana wanted to have another child, but she’s accomplished that without my advice. It’s something else, and I can’t make sense of it.”
“What is it? Do you know something?”
Her face was serious as she said, “The little girl. The one who died. For the past three nights she’s come to me in my dreams—and there’s a boy with her, a boy I don’t know. He doesn’t belong to my nephews. He doesn’t belong to Dana. I don’t know who he is.” She studied him, then put her hands on his face. “But with your eyes and your bones and that same stubborn line between your eyebrows. He belongs to you, doesn’t he?”
“Stop it,” John whispered. “Please.”
“No, it does make sense,” she murmured. “Brother and sister by love, not blood. Yes.”
“Please,” John said again. “Can you help her? She’s not sick. It’s something else. Something worse. I don’t know what to do.” His voice cracked and his vision blurred, and Olive’s warm, worn hands caressed his face.
“Oh, darlin’,” she whispered. “Good darlin’. Emily’s message is very simple. You have to remind Dana of who she is.”
“Who she is?” He wiped his eyes with his forearm and wished for a tissue. “She knows who she is.”
“The time will come when she doesn’t. I just need to be sure that you know. Do you know, Johnny? Can you tell her who she is?”
“She’s Dana,” John said, completely confused.
Olive removed her hands. “I suppose that’ll do. I must warn you. What Dana is facin’, it’s not someone I know how to fight. I’m just a healer, not a witch. I can only arm you with what you already possess.”
He wanted to ask her what she meant, what she was talking about, but in his heart he knew. In the same distant way one remembers dreams, he knew.
“I know it pains you,” Olive went on. “But for Dana’s sake,” she said, her hands on his shoulders, “you must see.”
He said, “I’m ready.”
Olive smiled and took her hands away. “Let’s go in. It’s getting chilly.” She took his arm again and they went back into the hospital.
Dr. Crowton allowed him a few minutes to say good night, again warning John not to wear Dana out. He sat by her bedside, holding her hand, and said, “I’m taking William home.”
“Mmkay.” Her fingers twitched his hand and her lips curved a tiny bit. “I miss my baby.”
“Well, as soon as you get better, you can come home and play with him all day.”
She chuckled and admonished him gently. “Don’t talk to me like I’m a baby.”
“It’s just you’re so helpless.” He smiled at her and reached over to stroke her cheek. “Feels like you’re cooling down, too.”
“Mm . . . a little.”
“Hey. If your fever goes down they’ll let you come home. I think.”
“After the psychological testing.”
John couldn’t answer for a moment. “Yeah.”
“Not if they decide I’m not a fit mother for my baby.”
“You’ll take care of him, won’t you, John?”
“You’ll be there, too, Dana. Promise.” He kissed her hand.
“I’m not sure of anything anymore,” she murmured, then her eyes met his. “I love you.”
He smiled and stood, to lean over her bed and kiss her mouth. “I love you too. Rest, babe. Get better. It’s not home without you.”
Dana squeezed his fingers lightly and let go. He glanced back at her on his way out, and she was still watching him.
He said goodbye and good night to Mrs. Scully and Olive, gathered William and Monica and went down to the car. Monica drove, and John sat in the back seat with William. He thought about his conversations with Olive and with Dana, about his dreams and Agent Harrison’s theory.
He thought about love.
“You’re home,” Monica said, stopping in front of his house. “Do you need me to stay?”
“No. Thanks, though. Hey, did you ever get a hold of Chuck Burks?”
“He left a message on my voice mail to say he hadn’t found anything, and to say he’s praying for Dana. I thought that was sweet.”
“Yeah,” John said, and started unbuckling the car seat. He paused and said, “Do you pray, Monica?”
“Yes,” she said simply.
“Will you pray for her tonight?”
“Of course I will.” William squeaked and she said to him, “I will pray, I will pray very hard for your mommy because I love her too, okay?”
“Thanks, Monica,” John said, and carefully brought the carrier out of the car. “Drive carefully.”
“I will. Goodnight.”
In the front hall, John set down the diaper bag and undid the straps on the carrier. He picked up William and gave him a kiss.
“Too much sitting, don’t you think?” he said, and William burbled in agreement. “You get one more bottle and a bath, and then it’s bed time. Tomorrow we’ll visit Mommy much earlier, and maybe you’ll get to see her too. She’ll be so happy to hold you again.”
On his way to the pantry he noticed the message waiting light flashing on the answering machine, and paused a moment before he pressed the button. He was ready for bad news.
“Agent Doggett, this is Leyla Harrison. I’ve just spoken with Simion Butacu, a member of the Calisari. He remembered Agents Scully and Mulder, and said he’d been wanting to talk to her.” She took a deep breath. “John. He said evil knows Dana’s name. Do you know what that means? I don’t know what that means. He said Dana’s in danger and shouldn’t be left alone. He wants to talk to you, and he said they need to act fast. Agent Doggett, I’m so scared. Call me soon, please. I’ll be praying for you.” She rattled off her phone number an
d hung up.
John shut off the answering machine and absently let William gnaw on his finger while he thought. “Is this what Auntie Olive was talking about?” he murmured to the baby. “Wisdom to know how to act? I could use a little wisdom.” He sighed, removed his finger from William’s mouth, and picked up the phone. He dialed Agent Harrison’s number and held the phone against his ear with his shoulder because William was starting to squirm.
There was no answer, however, just the machine, so he said, “Leyla, it’s John Doggett returning your call. I’ll be home all night. Call me soon.” He hung up.
He listened for the phone while he fed and bathed William, but it wasn’t until the baby was finally asleep that the phone rang. John ran to answer it. “Leyla?”
“No,” said the caller. “It’s Dr. Crowton from Mercy General. This is the Doggetts’, isn’t it?”
“Yes, of course, John Doggett speaking. Is Dana all right? Did something happen?”
The doctor sighed heavily. “Mr. Doggett, I don’t know how to tell you this—”
“Oh, my God.” He felt for the wall and leaned against, his heart heavy in his chest. “No. No. She hasn’t—”
“She’s not here. She’s left the hospital. We think she left just after you did. We’ve contact the police. You see, Mr. Doggett, one of our staff was attacked. Dana took his clothes and shoes.”
“I can’t explain it either. Our orderly identified her—he’s not a small man, I have no idea how a sick woman of her stature could—maybe it was adrenaline—” He stopped himself and said in a calmer tone, “We just discovered him about ten minutes ago. We’re still searching the hospital but I’m certain she’s left the grounds. She may try to return home. You’ve got to get her back here, if she shows up. I’ve told the police to return her here as well, if they find her. Mr. Doggett, this is very unusual.”
“Yes, it is,” John whispered.
“We’ll let you know—” Dr. Crowton was saying, when the line clicked and went silent.
“Dr. Crowton?” John looked at the earpiece, then turned off the phone, turned it on again and pressed star-six-nine. He waited for it to start ringing.
His entire body stiffened when he heard the back door slam shut. He closed his eyes when he heard her say, “Hello, John.”
He put the phone back in its cradle and slowly turned. “Hello, Dana.”