Dot Branning collapsed into the living room chair and tried to catch her breath. Carrying bags of shopping at her age was becoming an increasingly difficult chore. Yet there was no one else to ask. Over the years, her many friends and family had all withered away. Leaving her isolated, vulnerable and alone. Well, there was Abi. Such a good girl, she thought. Abi had looked after the house while she was out but had left as soon as she returned. It was understandable to Dot. The young ones had their own lives to lead and could not be at her beck and call all day. Sinking into the chair, she lit the end of a cigarette and inhaled its addictive toxins, marvelling at her ability to go a few hours without one.
The noise startled her. Not the normal kind of startle, but an old woman’s startle that made her almost jump out of her skin. Venturing into the hall, she peered around the frame of the door, seeing nothing but darkness in front of her fading eyes. Turning on the light revealed the hallway to be empty. Satisfied it was her imagination, she sat back down on the comfy chair.
There is was again. Rising, she was sure a black jacket had passed her living room door. Were her unreliable eyes playing tricks on her too? Curiously she stormed into the kitchen and inhaled the sweet unmistakable scent of a man’s aftershave wafting through the air. Standing in front of the kitchen table, was a dark-haired figure dressed entirely in leather.
For a moment, she was shocked at the sight of her son Nick, then slowly it gave way to uncontrolled anger.
“Even when you’re dead, I can’t get no peace.” Dot yelled. “I just want you to leave me alone.”
Her hysterical cries did not phase the spirit, who simply smirked in her direction. Dot grabbed the collar of his leather jacket, screaming at him as she did so
“Get off you demented old bag!” came his scowling reply. Then he twisted his ghostly body away and walked straight through the solid front door.
The normally quiet Queen Vic pub was busy with jovial customers, each in a variety of costume for the Halloween party. Mulder had seen more creatures in here than his entire time investigating the X-Files. The two barmaid’s Whitney and Stacey had both came as Wonderwoman, a development that had caused both competitive females to eyeball each other constantly. Not that the lads were complaining of course. Mulder adjusted his suit and glanced across at Scully who was watching the double doors intently. One nod meant she had gotten sight of Aunt Babe or indeed the sinister Nick Cotton.
Mulder pushed past the dancing regulars and joined her by the bar. As he did so a drunken man in his mid-twenties with ginger hair and pale skin danced around the side, subtly pushing him out of the way and forcing his elbow into someone’s beer glass. Were it not for the quick-wittedness of a middle-aged lady with short hair, the beer would have been all over the floor.
“Sorry.” he said firmly.
“No worries.” she replied, starting to dance next to him with a glint in her eye.
Meanwhile, the overzealous youth dancing with Scully was beginning to get on her nerves. Despite screwing her face up many times, he was simply not getting the message.
“I’m Jay.” he smirked. “What about you?”
“I’m busy.” she replied flatly.
“You know people like you and I gotta stick together.” he whispered in her ear.
“Really why’s that?”
He looked all around, seemingly not wanting anyone to hear what he had to say.
“The ginger hair thing.” he smiled. “We both know what it’s like to live with it.”
Disgusted, she attempted to walk away but again he drunkenly leaned into her.
“They call me the Ghostbuster around here.” he started while necking his vodka and cola. “Cos by the time I leave the spirits are all gone.”
Scully, clearly having heard enough marched past the young pretender, straight to where Mulder was dancing to the birdie song with his new female friend.
“Hey Scully, meet Michelle.” he said. Michelle reacted with a fake smile in the FBI agent’s direction.
“Can I talk to you?” Scully said, pulling his sleeve.
“Sure.” he said, walking away from his dance partner.
When they were out of earshot, her expression switched from being mildly annoyed to severely peeved. “Mulder what are you doing?”
“I’m getting my groove on.” he said, doing a quick jig on the spot to emphasise his point.
There was no time to respond before a smashing sound coincided with the pub being plunged into darkness. Mulder reacted swiftly, urging the guests down as lights began exploding all over the place. Behind the bar, Mick had once again brandished the baseball bat as panicked guests saw their glasses explode violently in their hands.
“Cotton’s here somewhere?” Mulder shouted over the commotion.
Scully nodded then made her way to the double doors, struggling to open them. As she stepped onto the street, the sight of an old woman could be seen standing at the entrance to the square gardens, a twisted smile slowly spread across her face as Scully realised it was Aunt Babe.
“Stop. FBI.” Scully balled.
The ageing witch took no notice of her cry and turned away slowly, disappearing into the shadows of the garden plants. Scully gave chase, reaching the gardens just seconds later. There was no sign of the conniving conjurer. Undeterred, she quickly began a thorough search of the square.
Inside the pub, regulars were making their way to the doors as Mulder caught sight of a man in a leather jacket, standing on top of the table next to the door that connected to the back. When he got closer he broke into a run as the man in the leather jacket raised something that glinted in his right hand. He was aiming it at a crowd who were fighting to escape their terrifying predicament.
“He’s got a knife.” Mulder shouted, pushing Martin Fowler out of the way.
Suddenly there was a flash and the ghostly figure of Nick began to convulse. His eyes were filled with fear as he disappeared. Martin shook Mulder’s hand, thanking him for his bravery. Stacey made her way from behind the bar to offer her own thanks while the startled crowd stared at the knife lying on the floor.
Next day, Mulder and Scully popped back into the Vic, surprised to find a policeman taking a statement from Mick.
“What’s going on?” Scully asked.
“They’ve found my Aunt Babe…. dead.” Mick said, tears welling up softly in his eyes. “No matter what she’s done, I loved her.”
“What’s the estimated time of death?” Mulder asked the officers. As he did so, he picked up the clock face lying on the floor.
“Around 11.20pm.” the officer replied.
Mulder looked down solemnly at the time on the clock face. It too had stopped at exactly 11.20pm.
An hour later, the FBI pair were on their way back to the airport.
“You ruined my holiday.” Scully remarked from the passenger side.
“I’m sorry.” he replied without taking his eyes off the road.
“It’s OK, I’ll get over it…… Mick was right…. forgiveness is easy when you love someone.
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