It take place during Mulder and Alex partnership.
I didn't change a thing, it was beta-ed then by an English historian, an old friend of my Dad. Yet he didn't correct the punctuation which is really French. But reading it again, I'm not too ashamed of myself :o)
TITLE: "Castle of A Thousand Corridors"
WHO: Mulder and Krycek, and some others, passing by...
SPOILERS: absolutely none.
SUMMARY: Mulder and Krycek share a strange adventure.
ARCHIVE: yes, please.
RATING: everybody can read, nothing offending there, really.
DISCLAIMER: all X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter, Fox Productions, 10-13;
Jerry to Metro Goldwyn Meyer, I suppose.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: the title was inspired by a really lovely french fantasy radio-play, by José Pivin;
it was aired a long, long time ago. And the kitchen is right out from Jean Ray's wonderful tales.
And thank you very much to my friend Derek, who kindly corrected my sometimes unpredictable english.
Derek is an old, well-educated English gentleman; he is in no way involved
in the other stories that can be found on this site.
And for the golfing scene, you'll find a cue reading Nick Lea Online Chat.
Please feel free to feed back
Castle of A Thousand Corridors
They stood in front of a huge gate. The heavy leaves were dark as the night, carved with vaguely weird yet indistinct silhouettes. They seemed to be made of solid brass.
Krycek raised his hand, and reached for a knocker, shaped as a winged dragon. The knocker fell back, with a loud resounding noise. The metal gates opened, very slowly, with a painful squawk, and they entered what looked like a vast hall, dimly lit.
Mulder asked in loud tone: "Anybody there?"
"MULDER, NO!" Krycek shouted. "This is *the* un-safe word!" His voice was still ringing in the emptiness, when they feel an icy wind going between them, accompanied by a wooosshh... as a metallic flash brushed past their shoulders.
The broad steel blade of a giant pendulum went up to the far ceiling, and hesitated a short while before resuming its course toward them. They both jumped aside with twin shrieks.
Mulder ran blindly, feeling the pendulum brushing past his heels again and again. His feet get entangled in an unfastened shoelace, and he fell heavily to the ground, right against the wall. His face bumped just in front of a mouse hole. He desperately crept inside it, twisting his long body through the small aperture.
The blade made a last attempt at his retreating foot, neatly cuting the shoelace.
He curved in a ball, violently shaking. Then he heard a tiny bell ringing at his back. He managed to turn around, and faced a very small wood bed, covered with a red wool blanket.
Sitting against the pillow was Jerry, a white night cap letting his round ears free, the tassel hanging on his small shoulder; he was looking at a dome shaped bulge in the middle of the blanket. The bulge was animated with frenetic vibrations.
Jerry leaned to tear away the blanket, revealing the small buttocks of a yellow duckling, its beak hidden in the mattress. The little bottom was trembling like a leaf, a unique feather crowning the whole.
"What's wrong with you, entering my bedroom like a storm?!" said Jerry to Mulder, looking daggers at him. "I'd just succeeded in soothing that little one! Get off, you monster!"
Mulder hushed in a miserable tone: "But I can't. There's that pendulum, outside", he gestured toward the entrance.
"Well," answered an always frowning Jerry, "you can go that way." He showed a dark corridor. "It'll lead you to the pit."
Mulder didn't seem very happy with the idea, but the ringing of the duckling was increasing - in fact, it was a true bell now, rolling back and forth on the bed, and the vibes began to make the ceiling crumble with dust. Mulder hurried on his fours into the corridor.
After a long time and many yards of crawling, he stopped at a door. He unsuccessfully checked out the knob, before picking from the ground an iron key, which proved to fit the lock. He opened the door, and made his entrance into a dusty office.
He could at least unbend himself, and stand up; the room was draped with old tired velvet curtains, which had seen better days. A crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, much of its pendants chiped. Wood filing-cabinets surrounded the place.
He turned toward a big desk, in the opposite corner. Piles of papers and crumbling registers covered the table. The spare light of a screened lamp made a little yellow haze, in the middle of which a man was bent, writing with a quill, making scratching sounds.
Mulder coughed discreetly.
The man lifted reluctantly his head, then smiled at him: "Agent Mulder! I was waiting for you. I'm Pete."
Mulder made an uncompromising salute.
"I'm here to help you to find your friend, Mister, eh...", he searched a Rolldex, stopped at a card, read over his spectacles, "eh, Alex Krycek, that's it?".
Mulder frowned: "Mister Krycek is *not* my friend. And beside, I trust no one."
The little man lifted his eyebrows. "But you must trust me, Agent Mulder." Sentenciously, he added: "On me, thou will build thy church."
Mulder went thoughtful, then he slammed the desk with a decided fist.
"I want to believe!" he asserted. "Show me the way!"
There were corridors, more and more, staircases, floors, more staircases, up and down; Mulder tried to memorize the way, but he was quickly lost. The little man walked swiftly, never hesitating. They reached what Mulder thought to be ground level, or close to it; the last corridor ended in a brightly-lit room.
The little employee waved Mulder in, then turned on his heels, probably returning to his obscur tasks.
Mulder entered the clear room.
It was a kitchen; an old one, but wealthy, abundantly furnished. Waxed oak closets shined softly all along the walls. A set of copper saucerpans hung above white and blue tiles; Mulder bent to have a look at them, they were true Moustiers, ornated with grotesques.
A Carcel lamp hung from the neat white ceiling, pouring a generous light upon a long convent table, covered with dishes, fresh vegetables, game, sparkling fishes, cups filled with mature fruits...
As a tickling came from the other side, Mulder swung round to face a big kitchen range.
Krycek was busy with a frying-pan. Several fuming pots waited on the far side of the black stove. Without turning, Krycek asked on a casual tone:
"Please, give me the oil."
Mulder searched around him, and found a greasy bottle on a shelf. He handled it with disgust, but Krycek glanced at him with an outraged face.
"Not the black one, stupid! The olive oil, there," he gestured to another shelf.
With a guilty feeling, Mulder brought to him the good bottle. He looked at Alex, pouring some in his frying-pan half filled with sliced vegetables and seasonings, shaking it on an open fire, turning the mixture with a wooden spoon.
It smells pretty good, and he wondered if he would be allowed to taste. It looked like Krycek had the same idea, as he held out the spoon to him.
Mulder parted obediently his lips, when a thundering noise rumbled suddenly in a near corridor. He began to shout:
"Anybod...". Krycek quickly stuffed the open mouth with the spoon, hissing between clenched teeth:
"Shut up! Some never learn, do they?!"
His green eyes threw infuriated flames, and a black cloud whirled in them. Mulder fought with the spoon, that melt and turned to burnt marshmallow; it stuck to his teeth, and it was a struggle to get rid of it.
He was trying to spit out what was left of the marshmallow, when he heard again the thundering noise; it was really closer now!
He took his gun out of his hip holster, and holding it with both hands, at face height, he proceeded cautiously toward the kitchen door. He kicked it open, and fell face to face with a kind of white and blue gargoyle.
He recognized one of the Moustiers' grotesques he had seen on the wall. The *man* was short and round, dressed in 16th century flemish peasant garments; his giant distorted head showed a very unpleasant grin; spoiled teeth and a twisting tongue did nothing to improve the whole sight.
He searched in the purse hanging at his distended belt, and drew a pack of Morleys. He put it directly in one of his huge nostrils, and let go an enormous sneezing, that made Mulder roll over through the corridor.
Mulder's course came to an end as he bumped into somebody, and he found himself entwined with Krycek, who was fighting with his frying-pan, and looked like he'd really enjoy to hit him on the head with the improvised weapon!
But he rather put it up against the wall, and stood up; he held out to Mulder a helpful hand, while brushing his jeans with the other. He shook his head at his partner, and reproached him:
"There's really no way to do proper cooking with you around, is there? I don't know how Scully can stand you."
Mulder wanted to apologize; he searched his trench pockets, and produced happily a pack of sunflower seeds; he offered them to Krycek, who let escape a disbelieving sigh.
Alex turned on his heels, and went away.
Mulder pocketed back the seeds, and trotted on his tracks.
Krycek seemed to know his way; they went through a succession of anterooms, all of them on the frontage; french windows offered a view to a beautiful moonlit park. Many of them were open, but they didn't look the right ones, as Krycek passed them without stopping. The opposite walls were paneled with tarnished and spotted venetian mirrors, softly gleaming in the half-darkness.
They followed a carpeted path, a red velvet cord keeping them away from the exposed furnitures. A remote clock clanged with a crystalline sound. Mulder failed to count the strokes.
Krycek then stopped abruptly, his partner bumped in him with an apology. Above the black leather covered shoulder, he took a look at the door opening before them.
A line of alley cats was crossing their way, with dignity, a whole pack of them, small, big, black, striped, red... A white kitten lifted its golden eyes, and without changing its pace, sniffed in disdain:
"Smells rats, here."
They waited for the last cat to make way, and entered a vestibule.
It was obviously the main hall; black and white marble covered the ground, drawing an intricated pattern. A white marble double staircase led up to a balustrade, all reflecting the moon light that came flowing through the wide open gate.
They gained the entrance, and stopped on the stone threshold.
The park was alive with a floating breeze, the leaves quivering in the dark. A sweet smell of white night flowers came to their nostrils; Krycek closed his eyes, enjoying the sublte sensations, his lips parted.
Steps crunched through the gravel. A.D. Skinner appeared, glancing at them with an obvious relief.
"I thought you'd never make it in time!" he remarked. "Too bad they should have had to charge you with a penalty for showing late at the start, Alex."
He signaled him toward two old men, waiting with golf bags filled with drivers, putters, sandwedges...
"The greens are this way", he added, showing a labyrinth of green in the middle of the park.
Mulder made an attempt: "But, Sir, I don't play golf?" Skinner stared at him with a resigned look.
"But we are not expecting you to, Agent Mulder. Nevertheless", he continued, "you can attend the tournament. Agent Scully is already waiting for us."
Mulder nodded, and the little party made its way toward the labyrinth.
Krycek wore a white sweater, and a white cap. He courteously shook hands with Scully, and they entered the well tended bowling-greens corridor, friendly chating, to Mulder's great annoyance. It was always full moonlight, but the place was clear as in broad daylight.
Mulder took a look at his watch, and bent to mark the ground with a red paint spray.
The two caddies waiting, Krycek asked for his driver, stuck its tee quietly into the ground, and tried his swing.
Then he positionned himself carefully, checking the surroundings walls of green. He lifted his arms, and an elegant swing made the ball fly in a neat curve. A short while later, Scully's voice shouted far away, excited like a young girl's:
"Hole in one! Hole in one!"
Krycek took off his cap, and bowed with exaggerated politeness to Skinner, who fought to keep cool. He made room for the A.D.
Skinner took his turn, made his own swing. Three seconds later, a *sploosh* sound was heard.
Mulder started in a rush, crying: "I'm going for it, Sir! I'll bring it to you."
"You can't do that, Agent Mulder! It's against all the rules of the Bureau!"
Ignoring Skinner's warnings, Mulder ran to a large pond at the center of the park; he made a very proper dive, his red Speedos gleaming almost black in the moon light.
The pond was far deeper than he'd thought, he had to help himself with arms and legs to reach the bottom, where he eventually found the slightly shining white ball. He came back to the surface to catch his breath.
He was rejoined by Krycek, who tried to take the ball from him, chanting a teasing "That's mine, that's mine!"
They fooled in the water like kids, while a distant chime rang four times. Then Alex suddenly pushed on Mulder's head, half drowning him.
Mulder awoke in a jerk, soaken, water rippling down his face, his mouth, inside his shirt collar. His hair stuck to his forehead. He fought in the grip of a dark shadow holding his shoulder.
Then Alex's face materialized above the dash-board; he was shaking him, a hand squeezing an empty and dripping cup above his head.
"For God's sake, Mulder! I'm sorry I'd had to come to such extremities, but I shook you for a good while, you wouldn't awake! Time for you to come on watch. It's already 4 o'clock!"
He sighed, leaning back in the passenger's seat.
"For your information, in case you'd be interested in, none of the Syndicate showed. The lights are always on up there," he showed the building on the other side of the street. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate a little nap."
He closed his eyes, and a few minutes later, he was softly snoring, with an innocent smile.