Vignette, Rated G. No spoilers.
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Summary: Scully stream-of-thought on yet another road trip. It's the journey that counts.
Disclaimer: The X-Files and the characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are the property of Ten Thirteen and Fox, who are making outrageous fortunes from them. Me, I'm just havin' a joyride. No copyright infringement is intended.
Late July, almost the beginning of August. Another desert highway in another rented Taurus. Another crop circle, or another abduction scene, or another close encounter -- I don't yet know which. The case file lies unopened on my lap. He started to tell me about it when we began to drive, but I quieted him with a gesture and told him I'd read it from the file on the way there. We've hardly spoken in the hour we've been on the road. We aren't angry; it's just that we know each other so well that sometimes silence is our preferred means of communication. The only sound is the soft rush of cold air through the vents and the muffled hum of our tires against the road.
The road shimmers ahead of us in the sweltering heat, the illusion of water, the mirage that drove desert travelers mad. We are cocooned in our air-conditioned steel shell, moving over the road at a speed that would have terrified the ones who came here first, bumping and creaking along in the overloaded wagons behind the tired oxen. They must have seen the same water that I do, the water that always hangs in the distance, always a little farther, just a few more miles ahead. When it was only a trick of the heat and the light, it might have meant their lives. I just reach over to the cup holder and pick up my diet Coke and draw up another sip through the straw.
Behind his sunglasses Mulder's eyes focus steadily on the road. His hands rest lightly on the wheel. It seems that I have spent the last six years of my life watching this man drive. The time spent out of the car was incidental; the driving feels like the important part. This drive has become a metaphor.
I asked him once if he didn't want to stop the car, and get out, and have a life. A normal life. A life with a rhythm and a routine, a life with seasons and rituals, a life like human beings have been striving to have ever since we crawled up out of the ocean and found caves to live in. He didn't understand. He's one of the tribe that wandered the deserts and followed the mirages, followed until they learned not to trust their own sight, learned that the earth and the sky and the sun conspired to lie to them. He's never learned to keep coming back to the same cave each night. He rolls up his tent and puts it on his back and strikes off anew every morning. He reads the stars to find his way to the water, knowing it will be there, even though he's not close enough yet to see it. His eyes lie, but he knows he can find the truth. The ocean it will lead him to is far deeper than the puddle I keep seeing on the horizon, its mocking shimmer receding as we draw nearer.
I told him I wanted to get out of the car and have a normal life, but the truth is that I've forgotten how. I've seen too much. I hate the road and I know that the water up ahead is a lie; I know I'll never reach it. But the rhythms and the routines ring false to me. I don't trust the seasons; the rituals are hollow, are shadows, are only mirages. I haven't seen the truth yet, but I've been close enough to know what it isn't. So I mutter about the road, but I make no move to turn off. I keep going along for the ride.
Maybe I'll open the case file now. Maybe I'll read it. I'll be prepared for the next waystation on the journey. I know that once we've seen what there is to see here, we'll get back into this car, and I know that after this car there'll be another, and another. One day I suppose I'll have to make a choice, but not today...
I pull the sheaf of papers out of the file and begin to read.