Agent Scully drew her weapon and flew across the street. In seconds she was soaked. Detective Tyler cut right and angled through the neighbor's yard. They dodged and weaved through back yards and connected alleys. At each turn the dark figure was just a few steps in front of Scully. She rounded into a side yard overgrown with Wisteria. It was dark. She immediately halted and listened. The rain pummeled the metal gutters. A wooden gate slammed shut and she leapt toward the sound. Ten paces forward she tripped into the mud. Under her Detective Tyler wheezed; his face contorted in a mask of pain. Another gate slammed. Detective Tyler was dead.
The soft hotel bed was inviting but Scully would not sleep. The death of an associate was always hard. She had just cradled the heavy white phone when the it buzzed again.
"Agent Scully, this is Detective Ronson. We found something. I think you should come down here. It concerns you."
As she drove through the rain Scully tried to erase the twisted face of Detective Tyler from her mind. She replayed their pursuit over and over. In each scenario she chose an alternate route. She reminded herself that she had followed procedure. Even Skinner had reassured her, but the image lingered. Potassium chloride is an unpleasant death. She thought of Danielle; once a glamorous and sophisticated woman now an awkward skinny teen coloring on the floor. Her mind was gone. What an awful fate. Did the other women abducted share the same future? What event had caused Danielle to snap and retreat? She pictured her impeccably dressed in a pinstripe suit standing in her office. Her beauty only accentuated by her tasteful delicate makeup. She watched as invisible hands scrubbed her face clean and pulled her blonde hair into braids. The hands moved quickly over her body and stripped her of the hard pressed uniform of business. She was nude. Her thin pale body shook with anticipation as she accepted the straightjacket of childhood.
Upstairs in a back office Agent Scully found Detective Ronson at his desk. He poured another cup of thick coffee.
"Special Agent Dana Scully. I'm sorry we had to meet under these circumstances."
"Me too. Fred transferred here about three years ago. He didn't come up with us but we all liked him. He didn't piss anybody off except for our captain. He just did his job." Detective Ronson noted somberly.
Detective Ronson was a average man that could disappear in a crowd. He was five foot ten and sported a brown mustache. It fit him.
"The preliminary lab came back. It was Potassium Chloride. How'd you know?" he asked.
"I'm a medical doctor. I've had some experience with it. It's mainly used in the penal system for lethal injections in conjunction with sodium thiopental and pancuronium bromide which is a muscle relaxant. But to administer it unaccompanied is very painful. It induces cardiac arrest."
Detective Ronson frowned.
"I'm sorry. It's also difficult to trace because it can be synthesized from average fertilizer." Scully said.
The moment hung and Ronson gulped another mouthful of coffee.
"Well this is why I called you."
He presented her a black envelope. The scrolled red letters "Agent Scully" caught the overhead light.
"We've already run it for prints. Nothing. I didn't open it, figured I'd wait for you."
Scully reached into her pocket and withdrew her own set of thin surgical gloves.
"May I? She inquired as she maneuvered around the desk. Scully placed a piece of white typing paper on the desk. She carefully applied pressure to the glue and peeled open the black envelope. A small orange ticket dropped onto the clean paper.
"Turlington Manor, October 31st. Halloween".
Despite it's grand name Turlington Manor was no more than a converted warehouse. It resided in a partially abandoned industrial district populated by faceless brick buildings. It was an ideal location for a haunted house attraction. The manager, Jeff Burke, was very cooperative and extended Agent Scully and Detective Ronson every courtesy.
"Yeah, that's one of our tickets alright, but there's no way that any of my people could be involved. I know it's easy point fingers at guys like us, runnin' around making monsters and fake blood. But you gotta understand this is a business. We make a lot money here. We love this stuff and there's nobody here that'd jeopardize that. We've put way too much into this." Jeff assured the detectives.
Jeff Burke consented to personally escort Agent Scully and Detective Ronson through the entire attraction. Two additional officers followed and took notes. Structural questions dominated the inquiries as they tested the walls and checked the exits. Through a weather beaten wooden door guests entered into a series of dark hallways. Hooded figures, disembodied voices and camouflaged actors all conspired to send the patrons running through the exit. It was typical haunted house fare. Jeff nervously rambled as he lead the team.
"We moved into this space about six years ago. It's a little off the beaten track but hey, plenty of parking. You gotta have parking. The teens love us so we try to beef it up each year. We just added a couple of new monsters, big ones. It's the special effects that gets 'em talking. You know, you gotta wow them. We get pretty good steady crowds but on Halloween we're mobbed. I hope you guys got it covered."
"We do sir. Let's keep moving." Ronson replied flatly.
The first large room was an Egyptian excavation gone awry. The star was a huge animatronic mummy that rose from an unearthed sarcophagus and swung his bandaged arm over the guests. A few rooms later they entered a zig zag concoction of colors and mirrors. The centerpiece was a massive menacing clown. He served as misdirection as he sat and clapped his hands while actors disguised as knife wielding clowns popped out from behind oversized building blocks. Jeff Burke beamed as he demonstrated the mechanical giants. At the end of the house guests faced six crimson doors. Only one door allowed them to exit. The first door opened to an actor dressed as a monster; the second to a dead end hallway. The third door revealed a bloody murder scene; the fourth a brick wall. The fifth door allowed the guest to exit but after a sharp turn deposited them back into the room. The sixth door, positioned second from the left, was the true exit.
The orders were passed and the task force prepared. Heavy black metal cases of equipment were brought into the attraction and unpacked. The men worked steadily. In a back area they established a command center. They installed security cameras but the low light conditions made visibility poor. Officers walked the layout and tested their memories. Navigation during operation through the labyrinth of foggy passages would be difficult.