The Sound of Windchimes

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Fanfiction
Title: The Sound of Windchimes (what the author called it, but it has been archived by many others as "The Sound of Wind Chimes")
Author(s): Sarah Stegall
Date(s): written in 1993, posted by the author to alt.tv.x-files.creative on September 7, 1994
Length: 22,798 words
Genre:
Fandom: X-Files
External Links: alt.tv.x-files.creative (9.7.94)
text version; ebook version
at Gossamer; WebCite

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Sound of Windchimes is a very early het Mulder/Scully X-Files story written by Sarah Stegall. It is considered by many fans to be a classic and the story won a 1995 Spooky Award. The story is listed on Classics (or, Your Fanfic Education is Not Complete Until You've Read ...).

The fic contains the trope Aliens Made Them Do It, which led to much discussion about non-con. Many fans remember the story for this element, as well as the "sex on a UFO" and relentless hamburgers.

The fic was written in 1993 and was released to the net in what the author considered a rough draft via a "misunderstanding" at some unknown date between 1993-1994. [1] It was also passed around in some format during that same time [2]. The revised story was posted by the author to alt.tv.x-files.creative on September 7, 1994.

See List of Very Early X-Files Fanfiction for similar works.

Some Fan Summaries

"While on stake out, Mulder and Scully are abducted."

"I'm searching for a story that I read a while ago. It involved Mulder and Scully being abducted and held isolated in a room together. Mulder rapes Scully, Scully gets pregnant, the baby is taken when born and they are returned. [3]

"Ive been trying to find an MSR that was written during the 1st season or is set in the 1st season. Mulder and Scully are abducted and wind up in a room. Then they're taken out for tests, and the fic eventually becomes NC-17...and Scully gets pregnant, and right after she gives birth, she and Mulder are returned. The baby is kept. Then someone says that Scully's just given birth, and by DNA tests, the person/people discover the baby is hers and Mulder's." [4]

"With the gooey room from the Ancient and the pain/sexual stimulis, blind!Mulder, rape Scully, babybirth, and then being returned with only the vague feeling." [5]

"I've read a story called "Windchimes", in which Mulder, in an alien created haze, rapes Scully while on some kind of spaceship. [6]

Many fans cite "hamburgers" in their summaries and comments about this story. They originate due to, in part, to "One of the hamburgers remained; thriftily, he put it in his pocket to eat later."

Author's Introductions to the 1994 Posting

The following is a story I wrote some time ago, which has been sitting around while I mulled it over. I no longer have the time to mull, so I am posting it here since several folks are already reading it and passing it around. As always, comments are welcome and highly desired. [7]
I have posted a new story to alt.tv.x-files.creative. It's called "The Sound of Windchimes" and is rated NC-17. There is no PG version, sorry. It would be like taking the chili powder out of chili. [8]

The Story's Disclaimer

"The following is a work of FICTION (take note, lawyer scum). It is based on characters copyrighted by Fox Broadcasting and Ten Thirteen Productions. All other mistakes are my own entirely."

1995: A Fan Reposts This Story and the Author Responded

In March 1995, due to popular demand, a fan named David reposted the story to alt.tv.x-files.creative without asking the author first. He prefaced it with "For all the people who have requested it, here is Sarah Stegall's excellent story, _The Sound of Windchimes_. Any posting errors are my own. If the author does not wish this story to be reposted, too bad, it was too good not to be. :) Seriously though, E-mail me if this is a problem. Here goes...."

Stegall appeared to have no public problem with David's repost, at least in her comments to this post.

Some comments to this repost:

[Sarah Stegall, the author]: I gotta say, though, this is my least favorite of my stories. I guess it : just goes to show an author can't always judge her own stuff.

[Rebecca McGill]: I enjoyed "Sound of Windchimes," but if the author doesn't think it's her best work, I'd love to read anything else she's written.
[Jean Fong]: I agree with Sarah. I like both Grey Fox and Phoenix better than Windchimes. What I've noticed in this group is that the shockers get all the attention. The well crafted stuble items are often ignored by the general philes. (You can have a shocker that's well crafted but the crafting seems to be secondary - more the pity.) [9]

1996 Author's Comments on This Story's History and Some Unwanted Attention

In September 1996, a fan named Katherine wrote:
Hmm, well, "Windchimes" had its good points and its not-so-good points...there were some things that didn't work for me, but as I was reading it I kept coming up with ways around them, which means I liked it enough to do some mental gymnastics. As I recall, the author (who was one of the big names here, though I can't recall at the moment which one of the two or three I'm thinking of it is, sorry!) pulled it from circulation a while back. I'm not sure what her reasoning was, but I think it was good enough to go back and edit whatever she didn't like. Those first few stories certainly set some high standards! [10]

The story's author responded:

I'm not quite sure whether I'm replying to Katie or SUe, but I would like to address something you raise in the above paragraph, because I keep getting mail over it.

Awhile back on a.t.x, a moron named Puffy Breast Boy was making a nuisance of himself with loathsome and obscene posts about Gillian Anderson. At the same time, Velvet Delorey was attacking my writing skills on that newsgroup, saying I was a wannabe hack writer. PBB picked up on this and started saying I was writing porno about the actors. I was appalled that someone might take something like that from the rape scene in "Windchimes", so I issued a request that this story be pulled from the Net. Most people refused, and urged me not to let PGG and Delorey "run me off the newsgroup" or distort my work. Since there's not much I can do about it anyway, I let it ride.

As for reworking the story, yeah, it *was* a first draft. It was never intended for posting, but got out on the net through a misunderstanding. I have no intention now of going back and revising it, since it's nearly three years old and I have moved on. I'm glad people still like to read it, and I appreciate all the mail. But I am unlikely to rewrite it. I'd rather write something new!

But it's interesting to see what stands the test of time. For my money, Kipler's "Genius" is *still* far and away the finest X-Files story to be published on this newsgroup, EVER. She should be recruited by Ten Thirteen to work it into an episode. It would fit right in. [11]

1997 Comments on Intention and Perception

There was a lengthy 1997 discussion on alt.tv.x-files.creative about the portrayal of rape and rape recovery in X-Files fanfiction that starts with a fan named Danielle's question: "There is definitely a line between interesting, angst-filled stories that explore the effects of rape on a character like Scully and formulaic, gratuitous stories that use rape as a plot device to get Scully and Mulder into bed. Unfortunately, the balance has tipped towards the latter recently."

One comment from that discussion was from Teddi Litman:
No one is asking anyone to stop writing. No is even asking anyone to stop writing about rape (or cancer). All people have been suggesting really is that it is a good idea for writers to *think* about what they are writing and try to write more responsibly. As I see it, that's a good suggestion in general. This thread was originally sparked by a group of recent specific stories where Mulder *and/or* Scully (not specifically mentioned but IMO should be included in this group are stories where Scully beats the sh*t out of Mulder) use extreme violence against the other including rape (despite the fact that the writer and characters fail to consider the action to be rape) *and* this violence is viewed as sexually arousing and even romantic. Some (myself included) consider such a story to be disturbing and irresponsible. I use the word irresponsible because it is my feeling that some of these authors wrote their stories just to be controversial. If anything, this was evident in the tone of the summaries/warnings in these stories. No, I'm not saying people shouldn't try to tackle controversial topics. They should, however, be aware they do bear a greater responsibility and frankly, they should respect their topic. Writing controversy simply for the sake of controversy *will* get you attention; but if it is not done well, it generally will not be a positive kind of attention and you had better be ready for some strong criticism. (Heck, you had better be ready for some strong criticism even if you do take your task seriously and do your job well.) As I posted earlier, I felt some of these stories mimiced some earlier stories. I specifically mentioned "Sound of Windchimes", "Words to the Wise" and "Caught in the Act III: Sub Rosa." These are three very different stories which explore issues of violence, domination, surrender and/or loss of control and/or darkness along with a sexual aspect. For very different reasons they all walk the line to some degree between what can be considered a healthy, loving sexual relationship and well...something else. In all these cases, I believe it is a fine line and with each of these stories some readers might think the line was crossed while an equal number might argue that it was not. All three (and this is why I used them as examples) are well written, complex stories, however. All three were written by skilled writers with experience. Some stories frankly are not (and no I can't name them; I don't think that's fair). These stories are sledge hammers which I believe cross *way* over the line. In fact, in almost all the stories which I feel a controversial subject has been treated rather irresponsibly, there's some sort of statement like, "This is my first story..." This is extremely telling and the very last thing I would want to do is discourage any new writer. Everyone has to start somewhere. (Heck, if I ever decide to post something myself; it will be guarenteed it will be sorely lacking.) All I'm suggesting I suppose is start somewhere simpler; don't attempt to wrestle with the more complex issues on your first few times out. [12]

The author of "The Sound of Windchimes," Sarah Stegall, also responded:

I'm feeling a little uncomfortable myself. My "Sound of Windchimes" was one of the first relationshipper/romance stories posted,and it wasn't *intended* to be a rape story, despite the nonconsensual sex. I've taken some heat for it over the years, and I'm not really sure what to say. No offense was meant, but it was taken. Perhaps I need to go back to Sensitivity Training (third time this week!).

I do know what I *intended* to write: a story in which Mulder and Scully wind up in a situation where the barriers between them are broken down, and they become psychologically vulnerable to one another. At the time of writing (Summer 1994), there had been a lot of UST but no real touching between the two on the show--we'd have *killed* for something like "Small Potatoes" back then. I went to great lengths to make the "rape" scene (since the intent to rape was not there, only the action, I hesitate to equate this action with an assault intended to depersonalize the victim) as non-sensual, stark, and unromantic as possible, so that later on when Scully and Mulder make *love*, the sensuality can come back in full flood to mark and celebrate the event. It was the contrast I was after, and really didn't realize until too late that this whole scenario I'd written might seem to be condoning the old stereotypes about rape. I was AGHAST when I realized it.

I won't apologize for writing what I wrote, because to insult the Muse is to drive her away. However, I admit to not being sensitive to what I wrote, and to have read *way* too many bad romance novels.

While not excusing myself, may I ask a question? Does this whole issue of rape pertain to commercial romance novels? Many, many of them involve non-consensual sex. The authors put it in there because for many women, the idea of being "overcome", by the man *and* the passion, is erotic. Masculine strength and power *are* a turnon for many women, and the idea that *he* is so overborne by passion that he cannot control himself is a romantic notion in and of itself. Perhaps this is a cliche, but so is the stalwart hero who fights for his lady. We *like* cliches, that's why we keep reading/watching the same stories over and over. So does the real-life angst and trauma of rape condemn the writers of "passionate" erotica as insensitive? Because if so, then we must hang all action/thriller writers as potential thugs, because they write of violence, mayhem and murder. [13]

Reactions/Reviews

Unknown Date

I remember "The Sound of Windchimes" with much shuddering and trauma. [14]
This is a great great story. One of the most original I've ever read. Scully and Mulder are abducted and held (naked, of course) in the alien space ship for a year. Oh, and Mulder rapes Scully, and Scully gives birth. Really, I can't do this one justice by describing it. Just read it. [15]
This story is one of the first X-Files stories I ever read. It is NC-17 and deals with some pretty harsh topics. It's also a fairly long story, bottoming out at 129K. However, this is a haunting, WELL WRITTEN tale that makes me sudder, even now, every time I hear wind chimes. [16]
This is a great great story. One of the most original I've ever read. Scully and Mulder are abducted and held (naked, of course) in the alien space ship for a year. Oh,and Mulder rapes Scully, and Scully gives birth. Really, I can't do this one justice by describing it. Just read it. It's really not as yucky as I'm making it sound." [17]
This story is one of the first X-Files stories I ever read. It is NC-17 and deals with some pretty harsh topics. It's also a fairly long story, bottoming out at 129K. However, this is a haunting, WELL WRITTEN tale that makes me sudder, even now, every time I hear wind chimes." [18]

1995

Just read it and really enjoyed it. It had very interesting characterzation which is the whole reason I love the show and why I dislike episodes like "Fearful Symmetry", "Fresh Bones", DHDV, and such. This group is always great to read because of the interesting takes of M & S relationship and feelings. Another warning though. It's long over 50 pages. Good stuff though. [19]
Sound of Windchimes...WOW!!!! I just got done reading this earlier today, and I wish I could say more so I could justify using bandwidth, but my header pretty much says it all! GREAT job, Sarah!!!! My only question is: when are you going to post more stories???? *sigh* OK, I'm calm now.  :) [20]
"Sound of WindChimes". God, that's an amazing piece of work. It was the first big fanfic I read....and I was blown away. Some adult material and disturbing concepts, but it's the best dramatic fanfic I've ever read in my whole entire life. You can find it at Gossamer. [21]

1996

Hmm, well, "Windchimes" had its good points and its not-so-good points...there were some things that didn't work for me, but as I was reading it I kept coming up with ways around them, which means I liked it enough to do some mental gymnastics. As I recall, the author (who was one of the big names here, though I can't recall at the moment which one of the two or three I'm thinking of it is, sorry!) pulled it from circulation a while back. I'm not sure what her reasoning was, but I think it was good enough to go back and edit whatever she didn't like. Those first few stories certainly set some high standards! [22]

1997

Another explanation is [a spate of recent Mulder/Scully rape stories] are merely mimicing some previous excellent, thought-provoking stories which were rather controversial because they walked a fine line. Sarah Stegall's "Sound of Windchimes" which you mentioned, is one of those excellent "fine-line" stories. Many love the story (myself included) while many others have problems with it; and I've heard Sarah regets writing it to some extent. [23]
The only Mulder/Scully rape story I've ever read is "The Sound of Windchimes" which actually worked. Are there really alot of others out there? [24]
the sound of windchimes is seriously canon fanfic, and if someone was making a reference i am sure it was to this. if anyone out there hasn't read this piece, I am shocked. hop to it. good stuff...if a bit sick. Real classic fanfic none the less. [25]
I just finished reading "The sound of Windchimes" and I must say it's one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I saw a refernce to a fanfic where "Mulder and Scully do it on board a UFO" in a top 10 list a while ago, and it really peaked my curiosity. I was expecting to find some goofy parody type fanfic, if anything, but it looks like I got a pleasnt surprise.[26]
... a phenomenal story dating back to the early days of Gossamer.... I just re-read it last week, and it's still amazing. [27]

1999

I had seen two eps and stumbled across "Sound of Windchimes" That seriously messed with my head and affected the next few eps I saw. I knew nothing about fanfic then. [28]
The Sound Of Windchimes" by Sarah Stegall. Read it in Spring 1995, the day we hooked up to the net. I'd never heard of fanfic before that, but life was never the same again. [29]
I, too, was first inducted via "The Sound of Windchimes," which is justly both famous and infamous around these parts. Memorable, shocking, at times thrilling -- it definitely got me hooked. [30]
Chalk up another for 'The Sound of Windchimes". I was amazed at the quality of writing because, somehow, I expected fanfic to be amateurish. BIG MISTAKE. [31]
Sound of the Windchimes really messed with my head. The thought of it still does (I know I'll get flamed for my next words, but I don't give a damn). How it got on top of a *romance* list I'll never understand. I find nothing romantic about Scully being raped by Mulder, while he's under "alien control", or her orgiving him for it. And the whole story made me want to go take a shower and never eat hamburgers again. I'm glad there are warnings on stories like that that are found on gossamer so as to protect other people from that. If I had known what the story was about, I wouldn't have read it, and I would have been happier without those images in my mind. [32]
Sound Of Windchimes, which has been mentioned a lot in this thread, was the first saved to my hard drive though...and it was the one that made me determined to write! [33]
The Sound of Windchimes, the first NC17 story I sent to the university printer... twice. Oops ;-) [34]
The Sound of Windchimes" messed me up. It's an awesome story, but being one of the first ones I read, I totally was not prepared for the angst that ensued. [35]
Yep...my first time was with Sarah Stegall's "The Sound of Windchimes." My reaction? "Mulder with a purple, glistening erection?!?!? I didn't even have time to get used to the idea that he had a penis!!!!!!!!!!" Obviously, I've gotten over *that* little hang-up. [36]

The Sound of WindChimes (VERY angsty, and it seems as far from MSR as you can get at some points but VERY well worth the 4 hours it took me to read it, but I

had to stop for the essential breaks during it as well). [37]

2004

I never understood the love for the Sound of Windchimes. I read it because it seemed to be on everyones archive list, I found it to be one of the most unintentionally funny fics I'ver ever read. I could go on and on about the cheeseburgers, Mulder's raging hard on and rape of Scully,(courtesy of the aliens test nonetheless)and of course Scully being robbed of her baby. One of the most overated fics out there. [38]
Alien mind control rape has never been so overrated. Also, the predictable "The Gift" which has been undeservedly praised to the skies forever. (Her other stuff is good.) [39]
OMG, that was the one with the cheeseburgers, wasn't it?! WHO KEEPS CHEESEBURGERS IN THEIR POCKET I ASK YOU!? [40]

2005

It's fairly appalling, really, although considered by many to be a classic early MSR. [41]
I'll second the "fairly appalling". I couldn't get past the first three screens. [42]
Good Lord! I believe that was the very first online fanfic I ever read, back in the mid 90s when I first got a computer. [43]

Why this must be read:

Ten years later, this is still one of the most amazing MSR stories out there in my opinion. The story starts with Mulder and Scully on a stakeout, but they are kidnapped and taken aboard a spaceship. The aliens do tests, which are horrendous, and it is during this time the pair come to rely on each other for comfort and moral support. Nearly a year passes --or so it seems -- and Mulder and Scully fall deeply in love.

Many things happen (I don't want to give away this cool plot point, I will let you read it and find out) and eventually the aliens return Fox and Dana to Earth, where they note only a day has passed, not a year. However, Mulder and Scully don't remember what happened.

It is only the sound a wind chimes (what they aliens used to signal when one of them was being taken or returned after the experiments) that brings it all back: their love and loss and why they are destined to be involved in each other's lives forever.

For those fans who have issues with non-con scenarios, this has one in it. Basically, aliens ''make'' them do it. If you don't like those type of stories (and this is not too graphic and is resolved in a satisfactory way), then don't read this story.

[snipped]

"The Sound of Wind Chimes" has always been one of my top five favorites of MSR fiction. I think its withstood the test of time (and XF canon) and is a classic. So, it was no effort to rec it! [44]

2011

Well, there is 'The Sound of Windchimes' (cracktastic as hell, incidentally), which is less fuck-or-die and more aliens-made-them-do-it . Though amusingly it's the only aliens-made-them-do-it fic I've ever read in this fandom. You'd think there'd be more, considering.

Really? You'd think there would be loads! It's such an obvious trope!

I just tried to read that story. I had to give up after "she could smell Mulder--a mixture of warm skin, soap, and a faint undertone of hamburger from lunch."[45]

2014

There’s also one called The Sound of Windchimes by Sarah Stegall…I’m somewhat hesitant to mention this one at all because it could be perceived as anti-feminist. Essentially, Mulder rapes Scully under “alien control.” And, ultimately, she forgives him. The problem I have with it is that it perpetuates the idea that some men “can’t control themselves” or “need sex” or they will suffer in some way, etc. It’s a really fucked up story. But it was also such a unique and compelling one. So I dunno. I haven’t read it in probably 15 years, and since then I’ve been formally educated in feminism as well as psychology and human biology, so I’m not sure what I’d think of it now. But despite it’s fuckedupedness, I enjoyed it. #justsayin [46]

2016

Tantric wasn’t the first controversial fic, where writers took a step back going, “uhmm… maybe we shouldn’t have”. Sarah Stegall’s The Sound of Windchimes was another one of them. #the x-files #fanfiction history [47]

References

  1. "As for reworking the story, yeah, it *was* a first draft. It was never intended for posting, but got out on the net through a misunderstanding. I have no intention now of going back and revising it, since it's nearly three years old and I have moved on." -- Sarah Stegall, September 9, 1996 at alt.tv.x-files.creative
  2. "The following is a story I wrote some time ago, which has been sitting around while I mulled it over. I no longer have the time to mull, so I am posting it here since several folks are already reading it and passing it around." -- Sarah Stegall alt.tv.x-files.creative September 7, 1994
  3. alt.tv.x-files.creative › story search (Ausugust 16, 1998)
  4. alt.tv.x-files.creative › Looking for story (September 5, 1998)
  5. "I decided to look into my "Worthy Yet Deleted.doc" file, of all the fics I read and liked, but which I didn't have the room on my hard drive for. My summaries, often done in groups of 10 or 15, are, to say the least. Fic spoilers lay ahead, but if you read this, you may find yourself reading something new. Taken directly from the doc, edited for time." --alt.tv.x-files.creative › Random babblings of a food-starved mind. (November 29, 1998)
  6. alt.tv.x-files.creative › Looking 4 stories with topic rape! (January 13, 1999)
  7. Sarah Stegall alt.tv.x-files.creative September 7, 1994
  8. Sarah Stegall alt.tv.x-files September 7, 1994
  9. all comments from alt.tv.x-files.creative: REPOST:The Sound of Windchims
  10. Katherine, September 7, 1996 at alt.tv.x-files.creative
  11. Sarah Stegall, September 9, 1996 at alt.tv.x-files.creative
  12. comments at Rape/Domestic Violence Stories , October 2, 1997
  13. comments at Rape/Domestic Violence Stories , October 2, 1997
  14. greenapple2004 at Fannish hilarity-- well, hilarious if you ever read fanfic
  15. Fic Picks
  16. The Peach Tree
  17. Fic Picks
  18. The Peach Tree: Recommended
  19. alt.tv.x-files.creative › Looking For Mulder/Scully Stories (of course!) by Kristen (March 1, 1995)
  20. Michael P alt.tv.x-files.creative March 1995
  21. Heather S. alt.tv.x-files.creative June 1995
  22. Suealt.tv.x-files.creative, September 1996
  23. Teddi Litman at New Keyword?, September 25, 1997
  24. JPC at New Keyword?, September 25, 1997
  25. alt.tv.x-files.creative › What fanfic is this? And does it even exist? by BabylonC (December 13, 1997)
  26. alt.tv.x-files.creative › What fanfic is this? And does it even exist? by SpookiGal (December 13, 1997)
  27. alt.tv.x-files.creative › What fanfic is this? And does it even exist? by Kristen (December 13, 1997)
  28. comment by Sharon at First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, March 1999
  29. Comment posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, dated March 20, 1999.
  30. Comment posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, dated March 20, 1999.
  31. Comment posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, dated March 20, 1999.
  32. Comment posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, dated March 20, 1999.
  33. Comment posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, dated March 20, 1999.
  34. comment by Caroline at First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, March 1999
  35. comment by Leah at First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, March 1999
  36. comment by Holly at First fan fiction you ever read and thoughts, March 1999
  37. alt.tv.x-files.creative › Top Notch MSR's (June 12, 1999)
  38. Fic_Hate, November 20, 2004
  39. July 12, 2004 at Fanfic Haters Anonymous
  40. July 12, 2004 at Fanfic Haters Anonymous
  41. comment by cofax7 at Alien Recs], at Resonant's online journal, 2005
  42. comment by giglet at Alien Recs], at Resonant's online journal, 2005
  43. comment by bruinsfan at Alien Recs], at Resonant's online journal, 2005
  44. recced at Crack Van, August 2005
  45. heartequals replying to threnody on the xfiles LJ com on 17 April 2011. (Accessed 25 July 2018.)
  46. adieangel.tumblr; WebCite (December 5, 2014)
  47. badforthefish.tumblr; WebCite (April 9, 2016)


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