Author: Skitzoeinhoven PM
Part Deux to the "No Place Like Home" series. William must search for The Source which contains the answers to which he seeks. Along the way he confronts his "brothers", and must ultimately decide the fate of the world during the time of the Apocalypse.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - William - Chapters: 14 - Words: 32,758 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 10-13-12 - Published: 01-25-11 - id: 6685906
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Dear Loyal Readers,
I'm so sorry about the delay in publishing this chapter. It is indeed WAY overdue. Real Life has been dramatic for me. Going into debt. Boy dramas. Depression. Needless to say, this summer has been pretty rough on me and I had an extremely difficult time getting my priorities straight and getting around to actually editing and eventually submitting this online. In lighter news, I'm slowly getting back on my feet (financially), turning over a new leaf, and am steadily climbing out of this deep dark hole I had placed myself in. My moods are brighter, and after a much needed holiday, I am viewing life differently. This chapter, I dedicate to YOU.
"So Mulder didn't say what he was about to do?" asked Reyes. John's aggravation and irritation was showing in his speeding.
"That knuckle-head is risking everything we've worked for! He has total disregard to consequence. I tell you, Will may look like him, but damn, he sure does act more like Scully."
"Scully would know what to do," said Reyes.
"Yeah, well, she hasn't turned up in about twenty-four hours. He knows perfectly well that forty-eight hours is the minimum to even consider filing for a Missing-Persons report. I still think he's jumping to conclusions."
Reyes looked on at her husband, feeling helpless to alleviate her husband's woes, when her cell phone started to ring.
"Tell me that's Mulder," said Doggett cynically.
"It's not," said Reyes looking down at her cell phone's screen checking the I.D., "It's Director Braxton."
"Oh great! Just what we need, another a-"
Reyes cut off Doggett's remark mid-sentence by answering her phone, "Yes, sir?"
"Monica, this is an emergency and I'm calling for an all-hands-on-deck. Is Doggett with you?"
"Yes sir," answered Reyes as she quickly switched the audio on her phone to speaker so that both she and Doggett could hear simultaneously.
"You both are needed at the George Washington Hospital. A terrorist has taken hostage there and I need every man and woman to assist wherever possible to make this situation NOT a national tragedy."
Reyes and Doggett looked at each other briefly in shock over the coincidence of the destination, "Sir, we're already on our way there. What is the target's name?"
"Target is known by the name… William Scully." Both Doggett and Reyes' eyes widened. "I'll fill you both in on the rest of the intel when you arrive."
When Reyes ended the phone call, Doggett took haste driving almost twice as fast as the limit intended, but now with extra incentive.
Mulder and Scully both escaped the deserted hallways of her prison. Scully, unsure of her whereabouts, looked wildly about checking for any possible threat. Mulder, without even so much as checking around a corner, seemed focused on the path ahead of them and they made it to the elevator with unbelievable ease. The doors opened and both Scully and Mulder entered. When the doors finally closed, Scully finally felt safe enough to speak. The adrenaline coursing through her veins had prevented her from focusing on the more pertinent questions she had wanted to ask upon her surprising rescue, but the first one that came to her mind was, "Where are we?"
Mulder pressed a series of buttons in an odd formation and then finally pressed the 'G' button on the elevator keypad. Without so much as looking at her he responded, "You're in the subterranean level of the hospital."
He turned the key in the upright position which caused the elevator to immediately begin to rise. Mulder took the mysterious key and placed it in the front pocket of his stolen white lab coat.
"So you're saying that I was under the G.W. Hospital the entire time?"
"How did you find me?"
"Believe me, it's better that you don't know."
There was something about Mulder that struck her as odd, but she didn't want to question her escape. At least, not while they were still escaping. Mulder's methods of finding out information, especially when it came down to finding the truth, had never been by any means "normal." He did find her somehow on that Alien spacecraft after all. Was this so extraordinary? So she decided to dismiss her curious instincts and anxiously awaited the doors to open as they reached the surface.
Claustrophobia was just starting to set in when the elevator doors opened to what appeared to be the hospital garage. They looked about the enclosed garage and searched for an exit door. A bright red light glowed saying 'EXIT' across from where they stood and they ran toward it. Something caused Mulder to pause in his steps and shout towards Scully, "Wait!"
They were not alone…
Reyes and Doggett donned their FBI jackets as they approached a couple dozen other law enforcement vehicles, along with four S.W.A.T. trucks. They both fought through the vulture-like crowd of news media personnel, and quickly flashed their badges as they came upon the police perimeter. Doggett searched for their estranged Director while Reyes looked around the hospital soaking in the overwhelming intensity of their environment. Noise and chaos was the first thing that came to her mind. People shouting, radios being squawked, choppers beating overhead, and multi-colored lights flashing everywhere. Closer to the hospital, she saw the drop-off/pick-up lanes filled with school buses and a dozen EMT vehicles evacuating the patients from the hospital. Darkness was settling in, and the special teams being assembled were lighted from the helicopters zooming above the hospital along with the news media trucks just eager to get the first scoop on the story.
Doggett and Reyes must have been the first to arrive at the scene, because behind them she saw Director Ryan Braxton follow.
Communication was always few and far between when it came down to Director Braxton dealing with the X-Files. As long as the cases presented were getting solved, there was very little discussion. The fifty-one year old agent felt the X-Files unit was like the appendix; was rendered useful at some point in time within the bureau, but has grown superfluous. Somehow with budget cuts constantly being threatened, the X-Files has always managed to remain active. But with its' history, a higher up official usually denied his request to terminate the unit. The stalemate that had settled between him and the X-Files unit left an unresolved bitterness which led to any subject matter relating to it moot.
"Well you both got here pretty fast," said Director Braxton.
"We were already on our way here. An important consultant to our case alerted us to follow him here," stated Doggett cordially.
"Ah yes, Fox Mulder that's right," said the fifty-one year old agent sarcastically. He rolled his eyes on just the sound of 'Fox Mulder' and started rubbing his salt and pepper head as if that would relieve the tension that was mounting within his scalp.
"Sir, what can you tell us about the whole situation?" asked Reyes passing Doggett as she approached the director. The three agents moved in haste towards an armored truck assembling communications between all the officers and agents on the site.
"William Scully was just a regular citizen until out of nowhere he popped up 'High Priority' on our terrorist list. We've received much inside information from our own about this gentleman. I'm surprised as to how much he's done that's slipped below our radar until now. He's been popping up all over the United States, as well as other places in the world just destroying one small town after another. He's linked to many civilian and federal disappearances as well as mass deaths. We've been given the go-ahead order… kill on sight."
"Sir, what is William Scully's motive? Why is he here of all places? If his M.O. has been to attack 'small towns' then isn't D.C. a bit of a stretch, if this is our guy? Is there any possibility for a negotiation?" questioned Reyes.
Braxton hopped into the open truck to grab an available laptop. He flipped it open and placed it on the standing table before them. He took out a flash drive from within his side pocket and inserted it into the available USB port. Almost instantaneously, random surveillance images of William flashed on the screen. Then multiple screens popped up showing live action footage of William performing heinous acts of random violence.
"Negotiation is NOT on the table. We've been tipped that he was spotted here, and we are to act accordingly and with all precautions," replied Director Braxton confidently and seriously as he hopped back into the open truck looking at blue prints for the hospital.
Doggett looked hesitantly at Reyes, unsure as to whether or not to confess what it is that they both knew. He decided against his better judgment and spoke, "Sir, Fox Mulder was in that hospital looking for Dana Scully because that's where she's been working now for the past few weeks. She's been missing for less than 48 hours, and sir Dana Scully," he paused taking a breath, "is William Scully's mother."
Braxton looked over at Doggett and Reyes finally putting two and two together. It was then that he realized William Scully's motive: he's after his mother. Agent Braxton blinked as a rush of questions entered his head. The weight and gravitas of the entire situation was even more profound than he thought. In disbelief Agent Braxton responded, "How is that… this even possible? Or even the same person, for that matter? The pictures and footage we have here are that of an adult male in his thirties or forties. Mulder and Scully are, what? In their, forties or fifties? It doesn't add up."
"Welcome to our world," said Doggett.
Agent Braxton was starting to get confused, almost frustrated when he asked, "So, let me get this straight, mind you I was only able to read briefly on your reports on this… You hired Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in the assistance of finding our agent, Leyla Harrison. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully brought their son along, who is how old?"
"Eleven," answered Reyes.
"Right," he continued in sarcastic disbelief, "Their eleven year old son, who somehow magically grew up and disappeared, is causing all this death and carnage. Are you seriously expecting me to believe that this is that same boy?"
Both Reyes and Doggett tried to speak at the same time explaining what they could, until they were quickly interrupted, "Ah, uh, uh—It doesn't even matter. We have our orders. I just want to safely evacuate this building, expeditiously, and get this bastard whoever he is. Now do you two have any information that can assist me in accomplishing any one or two of those objectives?"
Doggett and Reyes looked at each other, and both felt like they were being debased. Then they finally responded by shaking their heads, without saying a word.
"No? Good. I need you both to relay the information I just told you to all the incoming Federal Agents when they arrive. Oh, and agents… do not breathe a word of what you just suggested to me."
Both Doggett and Reyes grabbed a set of radios and departed immediately away from their director. The agents took one last incredulous look at each other before separating. Reyes went to the left of the police perimeter and Doggett took to the right, both still hovering close to the epicenter of information. Doggett walked away, mumbling under his breath a few choice words to his superior officer.
"Leyla, can you hear me? Leyla?" Gibson kept calling out to her over her shoulders. Jeremiah Smith held Leyla's hand while using the other to hold the side of her face.
"It's amazing, she's healing unusually fast for a human," said Jeremiah.
"Yeah, IF she's human."
"To quote a movie Mr. Praise, '…We're not so different, you and I...'"
"Did you just make a joke?"
"Not all, I am just an enthusiastic spectator."
"Hey Will! Jeremiah watches movies like the rest of us. He's not so alien after all… Will?"
William couldn't think. The only thing on his mind was his mother. The very idea of his mother in any sort of danger… he couldn't fathom the possibilities and it put his mind in a binding, blinding trance. "We're here. We're at the hospital," Will replied somberly. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, Leyla bolted upright and shouted, "Will! Don't hurt me!"
All the individuals turned at the sound of Leyla Harrison's voice. Harrison had awakened. She looked around frantically, as if waking up from a nightmare. "Where am I? Gibson! Is that you? What are we doing here?"
Gibson came to her side and held her hand. Harrison was looking upon Jeremiah and Will as if they were complete strangers. It was obvious to everyone in the room that she was experiencing some form of amnesia. "Harrison, we are on board William's ship. No need to worry, we're here to help you. Do you recognize any one else here?"
Harrison curled up like a frightened child against Gibson's chest and Gibson gladly held her within his arms. She glazed upon Jeremiah and Will with tears of fear in her eyes. She took her time, looking at Jeremiah first, and then shook her head. She then turned to look at William. William was standing before her, waiting for her response. She first glanced at his feet and worked her way up the body. Nothing was registering until she saw his face.
"Your eyes! William! Is that really you? It can't be. You're too old." Confused, she turned to look at Gibson, "Gibson, why would Will want to harm me?"
"I don't know," he answered.
"It must have been one of my clones. That did this to her."
"Her recollection is scattered. Could it be a side effect from the serum we gave her?" asked Jeremiah.
"Most likely," concurred William. "Ms. Harrison, there's very little time to explain everything. Can you tell me anything about the danger you said my mother is in?"
Leyla looked everywhere, her eyes blinking furiously. She then closed her eyes to desperately try and recall her thoughts and recollect her memories. She stuttered, "…sh.. she… Scully. Scully is your mother."
"Yes," said Will as he knelt down before her to get closer, excited at the possible connection, "and do you remember anything?"
Harrison avoided Will's steely blue eyes, because it frightened her. She kept her eyes closed as she disappointingly shook her head.
"Leyla, what is the last thing you remember?" asked Gibson gently.
"I can't… I don't know?... I'm trying…" She stared at the floors as if the weird architecture would reveal the answers to her. Frustrated again, she closed her eyes, trying desperately to understand the images that were flashing through her mind.
"…a parking garage… Will… Will's eyes." She shuddered at the haunting and gave an exasperated sigh.
"Ms. Harrison, we're going to take you home. But we've got to help my mother first. My fa— Mulder, needs to see you."
Jeremiah looked earnestly at the frightened Agent, "Are you ready to go home Ms. Leyla Harrision?"
She looked around at everybody in the room; first at Jeremiah, then Will and then Gibson. She nodded grimly. Gibson looked over at Will and couldn't help but feel that something was off about him.
"Do you think you can get up and walk?" William's comment interrupted Gibson's thought. Agent Harrison nodded again and Gibson helped her stand up. "Alright, we're going to beam down to the top of the parking garage to the hospital. Hopefully that destination will be a little less conspicuous, yet close enough to get inside the building."
Everyone nodded in accord and from where they stood a neon-blue light surrounded the individuals. In a blink of an eye, the party reappeared unnoticed on the very top level of the parking garage. The garage was not enclosed and was vulnerable to the night sky. The clouds in the sky were reflecting the sparkling red, white and blue flashes from the police vehicles from down below. The party saw an oncoming helicopter heading their way. A search-light coming from the helicopter beamed ominously back and forth combing the hospital's surface. The light threatened the exposure of the individuals and they all ran towards the parking lot's stairway exit.
The party descended, floor after floor until finally Gibson spoke, "Stop!" Everyone turned to look at Gibson. "We need to go back out into the parking garage."
William was surprised at Gibson's reaction. He must have heard something that he hadn't. Since he had the same ability as Gibson, it was strange to not have heard the same thing as well. Will asked, "What is it?"
Gibson didn't respond to Will and just entered through the closest door to him that led to the parking lot level.
~Gibson! Gibson, what is it? Why can't I hear you?~
The group then retracted their decent and followed Gibson into the parking lot he entered. Gibson ran to the exposed edge of the lot and looked over the balcony. Everyone else followed suit and saw the many police cars and armored trucks on the ground before them.
"Wow," gasped Agent Harrison, "something bad must be happening."
"You would know, since this is your line of work," added Jeremiah toward Agent Harrison.
"I think… I handled the finances for the F.B.I."
Jeremiah looked over at Leyla studying her. Although very pleased with her quick recovery, he still remained skeptical of her special condition.
"Will, Mulder and Scully are here. Agents Doggett and Reyes are over there," pointed Gibson towards the line of cop cars. "Can't you hear it?"
Will felt the familiar hum he's always felt when one of his cloned brethren were close. However, the vibrations of the hum were so ferocious that he felt deaf and numb to everything else. "My cloned brethren are here."
"Clones?" said Agent Harrison incredulously. Frightened and shocked over the new insight she continued, "Are you saying that there are more than one of you? Do they have your abilities too?"
"I believe that one of William's clones may have kidnapped you and placed you in your current state," informed Jeremiah. Jeremiah looked over at Will's cold-stone face, washed with apathy staring down at the vehicles below. "Is everything alright Will?"
"My… my abilities… They're not—" Gibson interrupted Will as he grabbed his arm to alert him.
"Will, one of your clones is near… Scully!" Gibson shouted as he took off down the vehicular ramp that led toward the next parking lot level down. The troupe ran after Gibson down the next level and saw standing before them Mulder and Scully. Upon meeting each other, there was a strange mixture of facial reactions; shock, anguish, joy and surprise were among the few. Gibson stopped dead in his tracks after seeing Mulder.
"Will he's not—" began Gibson and was literally choking on his own words. Will and Jeremiah tried to catch Gibson as he was falling to his knees. Scully ran over to the group to assist in whatever way she could, medically. Gibson was grabbing at his chest and throat, gagging as he struggled to breathe. Will tried with all his might to hear his friend's thoughts, but no reverberation was heard. Gibson's face was turning white and his lips blue. Will held on as Gibson fell backwards onto his lap. Gibson looked up into William's eyes. The look was pleading and out of desperation. Then the pair of eyes rolled backwards into his skull and he passed out before them. The whole incident happened so quickly that there was barely enough time for Scully to check his throat for any obstructions, instead she felt for a pulse.
"He's still alive and breathing," stated Scully, "but barely."
Jeremiah sensed that William was having difficulties with his abilities, so he tried to rejuvenate Gibson on his own. Jeremiah felt Gibson's throat and chest and for a few moments it seemed that Gibson was reacting to his touch. Gibson's eyes would flutter and he began to take larger breaths, but as soon as Jeremiah released his touch from Gibson's body Gibson remained in a catatonic state. In response, Jeremiah gave a look of baffled consternation. Somberly, he replied, "It's the strangest thing. I'm healing him, but it's not healing him all the way."
Everyone looked at Jeremiah in confusion and dismay. He continued, "It's like some outside force is keeping him this way every time I let go."
Jeremiah looked up at Will, as if for answers. Will was just as stunned to the bizarre incidences that were occurring to him, and then felt Scully's eyes on him. She had knelt down beside Will to get a better look at him. The last time he saw his mother he looked like a teenager, but now he looked as old if not older than Scully. Scully looked deeply into his eyes, and although this was not the reunion that nobody anticipated or hoped for, Scully still took the time and recognized him by hugging him. With Gibson's head still in Will's lap, he turned his upper torso to wrap both arms around Scully.
William felt invigorated once again at Scully's embrace. A wave of euphoric bliss washed upon him like calm waves kissing the shoreline. He couldn't explain the strange connection that he felt with his mother or why she has this kind of effect on him. And although he loved and thought of his adoptive mother often, it was no match to the pull and intensity that Scully had on him. All he knew was that the rest of the world didn't matter as long as she was there in his life. She was the anchor that tethered his sanity and grounded his humanity.
Scully pulled back from the hug and started to cry. Scully grimaced at the sight of Will's aged appearance. She never wanted him to leave all those weeks ago. All those nights arguing with Mulder, was all done in pain for her only son. In tears of sadness and helplessness, she held Will's face in her two hands and weeped, "My boy… My dear boy, what have they done to you?"
Will's eyes began to water, sympathetic to Scully's concern, "Mom, what am I to do?"
"…I don't know…," was all Scully could mutter unconfidently before Mulder interrupted, "We need to get Gibson evacuated from here."
Mulder and Agent Harrison were standing silently by Scully, while Jeremiah still held on to Gibson's arm and shoulder trying to resuscitate him.
"But we're at a hospital, aren't we?" piped in Agent Harrison, "Shouldn't we just go inside?"
"If you haven't noticed, this hospital is being evacuated," said Mulder while pointing at the flashing lights emitting from the dozens of law enforcement vehicles outside, "For what reasons? That I'm not sure of. But I think it best that we get moving."
Mulder went over to Gibson and with Jeremiah's assistance lifted Gibson's unconscious body to his feet. Mulder took Gibson's left arm and swung it over his shoulder and Jeremiah the same on the opposite side, both sharing Gibson's weight. Will helped his mother to her feet and wrapped a protective arm around her. His head was swarming with so many thoughts, that it was difficult to decipher which were others versus his own. William looked at his mother and ignored the shouting voices that raged for his attention inside his head. In his mind, all was justified. He went out and accomplished what his father bid him to do. He brought back Agent Leyla Harrison. Will's conscience was clear, knowing that although his body looked older now, Mulder would have to know he was his son. Now that Scully had given William's strength back, his abilities were renewed and there was nothing that could stop him. The group had walked toward the exit door of the Parking Garage's first floor level. Will led the charge, walking through it first with Scully by his side. Agent Harrison followed after Scully along with Mulder and Jeremiah dragging Gibson's feet. They had all walked through the door, becoming exposed to the night's exposing air…
"…We've got an ID on the target…Target is located in the parking garage...Target has hostages, I repeat, Target has hostages…"
Agents Reyes and Doggett both heard the messages coming through on their radios and they ran toward the Parking Garage of the hospital. The reporters overheard the radioed message and followed the agents as close they could on the outskirts of the perimeter. Agents Doggett and Reyes caught up with their Director and Reyes shouted, "Sir! That's Mulder who's in there. Mulder's one of the hostages. Don't shoot! I implore you! There's isn't enough intel to proceed with such hostility."
"We're in over our heads on this one. You have no idea what William is capable of, I've seen his abilities with my own eyes," said Doggett throwing all his credit on the line.
"Sir, I insist, any threat and William will act out to protect himself as well as his father."
"Agents! None of the information you are providing me is backed up by any sort of proof! Besides, these are direct orders coming in from higher up as well as myself. There is no escape for this terrorist. And with the manpower we have here, he will be wise to give himself up."
"Sir, must you be so damn ignorant! You're putting the lives around you in serious risk!" exclaimed Agent Doggett.
Agent Braxton interjected and growled, "Agent Doggett you are out of line and about to be dismissed from your duties for insubordination if you don't remove yourself now!"
"John!" shouted Reyes, pulling Doggett backwards and away from their superior officer.
Within seconds, flood lights shone on the individuals walking out from the parking garage. The blinding lights caught Will and his companions off-guard. Reyes heard coming out of her radio, "…I've got a shot…"
Then she heard her Director reply, "…Take it…"
William was stunned by the blinding lights and tried to hold Scully close. What he didn't expect was the sound that came from the blinding lights. A gun shot was fired and everything became silent. He did his best to look around, ducking and covering his head out of instinct. He looked down at his body and felt no injury. "…Will…" said Scully softly.
Will looked over at Scully clutching her upper torso. She reached for Will with her blood-soaked hand before completely collapsing. "Mom!" cried out William.
Will, being so close to Scully, immediately held on to her and tried to gently lower her to the ground. He grabbed her hand and held her face with the other. He could feel her pulse and the warm light within her fade away quickly. Scully gurgled blood out from her mouth while attempting to speak to William. "No matter what has happened, I have always loved you."
"No, no, no, no! Don't say that! I'm going to fix you. I will heal you!" But William's mind was racing. Scully was dying. He tried desperately to focus, but he was so distraught his mind along with his abilities refused to work. William's body was becoming just as numb as Scully's. Scully's clear blue eyes stared at William's. She took one last shallow breath and replied, "You are my miracle. I love you so…"
"Mom… MOM… MOM!"cried William in between sobs. Scully's pupils relaxed as a deceased Scully stared blankly back as William. He continued sobbing into his chest as he took two fingers to lower Scully's eyelids.
Mulder looked solemnly over at Scully and William, staying close to Gibson's side. Jeremiah and Agent Harrison didn't know what to make of the situation and were attempting to walk over to Will to console him. Just as Agent Harrison and Jeremiah were getting closer, so were the S.W.A.T. officers.
The few seconds felt like an eternity. Will thought of his adoptive parents. Will thought of meeting his parents for the first time. He thought of the injustice to everything that had involved him. It was then that Will's sadness quickly turned to pain, which violently turned into frustration and wildly into anger.
Tears of rage fell from the corners of his eyes as he screamed, his face turning into multiple shades of red.
A giant energy pulse surged through the air and caused everybody within the vicinity to tremble. Will sneered as he felt power gaining strength within him. He turned to face the army of law enforcement and saw the eyes of all the officers before him.
"Fire at will! Fire at Will!" shouted Agent Braxton.
Multiple shots came from everywhere. The energy emitting from William's body became a protective shield around Mulder, Gibson, Jeremiah, Harrison and Scully's body. The radiation bubble that William was casting caused the attacking bullets to instantly melt into metallic rain which hit the ground like soft pennies. The weird vibrations he felt whenever one of his clones was nearby were consuming his body. William called upon the once inaudible hum and made it audible, to everyone. He heightened the intensity of these hums and turned it onto the people surrounding him producing ultra-high frequencies. Nobody knew what was happening, until suddenly raging headaches blossomed. Cops and reporters fell to their knees as blood trickled from every facial orifice. People were screaming in pain due to the overwhelming intensity as tiny blood vessels busted.
"William!" shouted a woman from within the crowd. William saw Reyes emerge from within the wall of suffering people. She staggered and stumbled as she struggled to come forward, falling to her knees before him. "What are you doing? Stop this! This isn't you."
William saw the evidence of his anger as he looked down upon her. Reyes clutched her own head in pain. Blood was trickling from her nose and ears. He thought of her baby, Mia. He looked around at his fallen comrades and noticed the same reaction to his anger. Will stopped his violent rampage and realized the assault he was bestowing on the people around, both kin and foe. Ashamed of what he did and afraid of what he's become, he looked around at the damage and at his aged hands. He looked up at Reyes. Shock, fear, disgust and guilt consumed William's face. Reyes wiped the blood away from her nose as she hesitantly inched closer to William and extended her warm welcoming hands out of good faith.
In his confliction, he felt more alien than his usual self. He didn't know who he was anymore. William was filled with grief and managed to whimper out to Reyes, "I'm so sorry."
With the utmost regret for his actions, he fled the area disappearing in a flash of light.