Title: Compos Mentis
Summary: The agents investigate a crime spree where children are the apparent culprits.
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OSBORNE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20th, 2010
Charlie Rueben stuck his gloved hands into his winter coat pockets, and stood on the worn-out blacktop. The ice had melted, but he knew it was going to get cold again tomorrow. He looked around, waiting for his friends.
They approached one by one, from different directions. Around the teacher's parking lot, from the soccer field, and one from over the fence directly behind him. The four stood on the blacktop for a moment, not speaking, until nine-year-old Lauren Marks said, "You ready, Charlie?"
Charlie nodded. The ten-year-old was the leader of this group. Although Meg was older than he was, at age twelve, she hadn't been chosen. And no one questioned it.
"Willie will be here soon," Charlie said, looking at his watch. "Anyone have any problem with their parents?"
"Mine were asleep," Lauren volunteered.
"Mine were asleep, too," Meg said.
"Mine were awake but their door was closed," eight-year-old Sam added.
They were silent for another minute, bouncing on their heels in the cold weather. Finally, Charlie looked at his watch again. "Where is he?"
"He's supposed to be here," Sam said.
"If he's supposed to be here, he'll be here," Meg told them. They all knew she was right.
"Hey, did you watch the Fairly Oddparents last night? Wasn't that funny?" Lauren asked.
Charlie nodded, and laughed. "When Cosmo and Wanda take Timmy to the moon…that was great!"
"Houston, we have a problem," Sam quoted.
"Problem, problem, problem. All you ever talk about is problems! Don't you ever just call to say 'Hi'?" Meg recited, and then giggled.
They all giggled, actually. And before they knew it, seven-year-old Willie Howell walked onto the blacktop.
"Willie, it's about time," Charlie scolded.
"I'm sorry," Willie stated.
"Where were you? Parents?" Meg asked.
Willie shook his head. "No, not parents. I fell asleep."
"You fell asleep?" Sam exclaimed. "You're such a baby!"
"Am not! I was tired!"
"Shut up, both of you. We have work to do," Charlie said. "Everyone's here. Let's go."
They nodded, and approached the elementary school. They didn't speak from that moment on.
Charlie pulled out a lock picking kit and picked the outer lock to the building. It wasn't alarmed. Nothing in the tiny Sewickley borough was alarmed. They walked easily to the principle's office, where they picked another lock, and yet another. They were careful not to take their gloves off, or touch anything they didn't need to.
Charlie was the first in the principle's office. He handed the heavy desktop CPU to Meg, who set it down by the door. Then Charlie and Sam picked the lock on the file cabinets and extracted the files of eight random children, and put them through the shredder.
Meanwhile Lauren and Willie smashed personal effects, pictures and knick-knacks, until the office was ransacked. Then they nodded to each other, grabbed the CPU, and walked out of the office. They closed the doors behind them, tossed the CPU in the dumpster, and headed in their separate directions.
"See you next time," Charlie said cheerfully.
"Bye, Charlie! Bye everyone!" Willie said as he took off in the opposite direction.
"See ya, man!" Sam said, and crossed the street. Meg crossed with him, and waved.
Lauren gave Charlie a high five and took off down the dirt path that led to her house.
Little Charlie was by himself as he walked home, but he didn't mind. He smiled happily. That had been fun. Next time would be bigger.
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22nd, 2010
Mulder tossed another sunflower seed shell into his garbage can as he read the report in front of him. His feet were up on the desk, and he leaned back in his chair, in his usual comfortable position.
He glanced up from his report repeatedly, expecting Scully to be back from the meeting any second now. He looked at his watch. Yeah, any second.
Finally, the door opened and Mulder's feet were down instantly.
She looked at him with surprise. "Happy to see me?" She asked with a smile.
Mulder grinned. "I've got something to show you."
"Oh, I know you do," Scully said playfully, approaching him, and giving him a hug. "But that wouldn't be appropriate at work."
Laughing, Mulder pulled gently out of the hug and said, "Then later, definitely."
She grinned. "Sorry I had to run out on you this morning."
"No, it's fine—how was the meeting?"
"I would have been more excited if they had made us memorize twenty different kinds of lint in four hours."
"I was under the impression you liked early morning pathology conferences, Agent Scully," Mulder said, still smiling as she sat on the edge of the desk. He took a seat in his chair.
"Not when they're given by someone as animate as a corpse. But anyway, what's this you want to show me?"
"You remember Sewickley, Pennsylvania?"
"This isn't another leprechaun sighting, is it, Mulder? Because I'm not going back there to hike in the woods in the freezing cold," Scully said as she picked the file out of Mulder's hands, and started paging through. "On my birthday," she added.
"Not to worry, no leprechauns in sight this time around. Sewickley's population is 3,902. Yes, we've seen smaller. But we've never seen safer. Check out those crime statistics from three weeks ago."
"That's remarkable. The worst thing that's happened in this town in three years is four teenagers getting busted for possession of marijuana. Mulder, that was two years go. This is impressive."
Mulder smiled that knowing smile he always gave her when he knew something, and she was about to find out. "Turn the page."
Scully complied, and stared at what she saw. "Three break-ins, one assault…all since Wednesday."
"Odd, don't you think?"
"Yes. Considerably." Scully closed the file. "But how is this an X-file?"
"The first crime was a simple break-in, into a principle's office at the local elementary school. They caused some damage and stole a computer, later found in a dumpster, completely destroyed as if it had exploded. No one saw anything. The second was a video store break-in. No video camera in the store, unfortunately. At least not one that worked. It looked like it had caught fire in some kind of electrical short. Every DVD was knocked off the shelves, and the computer monitor was smashed. The windows were also broken. The third was a stabbing. And here comes the X-file. Darrel Wade, 42, was stabbed outside a 24-hour drug store in downtown Sewickley very early two mornings ago."
Scully opened the file again, and looked at the contents.
"Darrel plays baseball in his spare time. He's a healthy, 6'3", 200 lb man. He works at the Eckerd as a pharmacist. He was on his way to his car when assailants lured him to the side of the building, away from the security camera, knocked him to the ground, and began stabbing him. They stabbed him five times before they left. A fellow employee going outside for a cigarette break found him, and called 911. He's listed as 'in critical condition', but he woke up yesterday. And you know what he said?"
"Children," Scully read.
"Yes. Five small children were to blame," Mulder said. "And they weren't even caught on tape—that's how careful they were. They lured him by voice out of the security camera's range, and then tackled him. Tell me, Agent Scully, how five small children, all under thirteen, he said, attacked a 200 lb man by themselves?"
"Did they threaten him? Say they'd stab him unless he got down on the ground?"
"Not according to him. He says they all tackled him. Jumped him at once."
"I don't know, Mulder…but it seems like this isn't an X-file. This is just a case of some juvenile delinquents."
"There's more. Take a look at the crime scene photos."
Scully did. And there was a symbol carved into the principle's door, so that one could see through to the other side. The same symbol was carved into the door to the back room in the video shack. And Darrel Wade's thigh showed the same, very deep yet very meticulously carved symbol. It was the Nazi swastika.
"Tell me if you think a small child is capable of that."
"Maybe they had help."
"Darrel says he saw it appear on his leg before he lost consciousness. None of the children did it, but as soon as they left, it appeared. He saw no one else that night."
Scully sighed, and closed the file. "When do we leave for Sewickley?"