X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE (1998) is a film based on the television series X-Files (1993-2002). The film takes place between season five and six of the series.
12/08/09 | Film

X-Files: Fight the Future

by David Gianatasio

I.

It’s not that far. C’mon, slide down. You can do it.

I’m six years old and crying.

Just try. You can keep your eyes closed. Let go and don’t look down.

It’s quiet on a brisk Sunday morning after church. Dad’s tie flaps in the breeze. A car speeds past, crushing dead leaves—heard, not seen. Birds ride the wind above the trees—seen, not heard.

It’s not so high. C’mon, make me proud.

I inch my way toward the ground. Start, stop, start, stop—fingers digging into the cold metal rail. I freeze, quickly reverse, scoot back to the top and start again. Six years old, and even I know this is ridiculous. The kids will just make fun of me again over something else. Even if I succeed, there’s no one here to see. I can’t help it. There’s nothing I can do.

Slide down. Slide DOWN!

That’s the problem. I don’t want to go DOWN. Dad keeps waving his arms and running fingers through his thinning hair. He’s looks tired and disappointed, shuffling his feet in the dirt. He looks so small…distant. Earthbound. I’d rather go up…higher…into the clouds, into the breeze, above the trees, with the birds…and the sun…and the stars and planets and billion spinning worlds that burn holes in my eyes and at night make me feel even smaller than I am.

Instead, I’m inching my way back to the cold, hard ground.

II.

The pavement’s wet in front of my old school. It’s been raining all day and the swings and slides are drenched. I watch from the window of my dad’s Sentra. It’s Sunday, so the building’s probably empty. I tap my fingers on the wheel in time to the rain. I forgot to bring cigarettes.

It’s not so high. C’mon, make me proud.

The flag flaps in the breeze.

This pilgrimage is stupid. Self-indulgent wallowing in yesterday, yadda yadda. Wanda’s gone and the job’s down the drain. Back at the old house with mom and dad. Why not drive up here and sit for an hour in the rain? I’d kill for a cigarette.

Slide down…NOW!

Sure, I wind up at the bottom, rump squishing in mud. It’s such a despairing thing for a grown man to do, how could I resist?

I look around for some kids, but the playground’s empty. No one’s here to share my triumph. I’m a quarter-century too late.

Tearing out of the lot, I could swear I see a face, just for an instant, in the rain-streaked library window. I blink and look back but the face is gone.

They tore down the school 10 years ago, I think. But I still come back when times get tough, which is pretty often lately.

I sit on the swings and slide down the slide.

I wish they’d build a reverse slide. A slide where you start at the bottom…

and build momentum like a rocket, shooting headlong toward the sun.

III.

No matter how I arrange the words, play with the spacing, they still flow down. Funny. Not that I try very hard.

Dad wants to watch our favorite show. I make him call me the name of the lead character, who I vaguely resemble (not). The show’s been off the air for years. I think they’re making another movie. I’ll check the Internet and find out for sure. Dad died last spring. But we still watch our favorite show.

Wanda wouldn’t play that game. “I’ll call you the sidekick’s name,” I’d say. She thought it was stupid. She thought I was stupid. I didn’t mind so much when she left. We hadn’t spoken in weeks.

It was her face I saw in the library window. Of course: The dark, tight curls, pouting mouth, tired eyes.

“I’ll call you the sidekick’s name,” I’d say. “Please—it’s fun. Just this one time, OK?”

She was gone a week before I noticed.

I never met my mom.

Tomorrow I’ll drive back to the school that isn’t there. Or better yet I’ll buy a carton of cigarettes and type until I master direction (the truth is out there).