Episode Summary

Mulder and Scully investigate a strange double murder in which only the victims' skeletons are found in an open field.

Episode Details


Guest Cast


Angela Schiff: Ohh! I've got mosquito bites. I've got blisters. I hate those new boots.

Wallace Schiff: Honey. Why are you so POed? I thought we had a good time.

Angela Schiff: You had a good time. You had a fine time tromping around and leaving me a half a mile behind. Look, for future reference, me running through the woods after you for an entire day is not my idea of a good time.

Wallace Schiff: I'm sorry. I've got longer legs. I was excited, you know? The great outdoors, communing with nature. [Angela Schiff rubs her temples] Your head hurt?

Angela Schiff: Yeah.

Wallace Schiff: You can hit me in the head with a rock if it'll make you feel better.

Angela Schiff: Fine. Go get one. I'm taking a shower.

Mulder: Oh. Ugh. I don't know what they did with the screen for this thing. Now, this is Angela and Wallace Schiff. It's a young married couple last seen hiking in the vicinity of Brown Mountain, North Carolina. That's Angie on the right. I should add that this is the condition in which their bodies were found after being missing for only three days... in temperatures that never got above 70 degrees.

Scully: Which rules out decomposition. I'd say predation, but the... the bones would be scattered.

Mulder: Not to mention that these skeletons are not wearing any clothes.

Scully: Right. Well, I'd say it looks like a double murder, possibly one with ritualistic overtones. The bodies may have been stripped then skeletonised, possibly by boiling or by the use of some kind of acid solution. Maybe the arrangement of the bodies has some meaning for the killer or killers. But at any rate, I'd term it ritualistic.

Mulder: That's a pretty big operation you're describing. There was no evidence found at the scene — no tyre tracks, no footprints, nothing.

Scully: Well, what do you think this is?

Mulder: It's Brown Mountain, Scully. That doesn't ring a bell? The Brown Mountain lights? It's a famous atmospheric phenomenon dating back nearly 700 years witnessed by thousands of people — back to the Cherokee Indians. Strange multicoloured lights are seen to dance above the peak of the mountain. There's been no geological explanation, no scientific credible explanation at all.

Scully: And what does that have to do with these two?

Mulder: As I said, there's been no scientific credible explanation but there are those of us who believe these strange multicoloured lights are really...

Scully: UFOs. Extraterrestrial visitors from beyond who apparently have nothing better to do than buzz one mountain over and over again for 700 years.

Mulder: Sounds like crap when you say it. I'm just wondering if there's a connection, Scully. I mean, the conditions of these bodies are reminiscent of certain south-western cattle mutilations. Those are cases where there's no physical evidence and they've long been associated with UFO activity.

Scully: Mulder, can't you just for once, just... for the novelty of it, come up with the simplest explanation, the most logical one, instead of automatically jumping to UFOs or Bigfoot or...?

Mulder: Scully, in six years, how... how often have I been wrong? No, seriously. I mean, every time I bring you a new case we go through this perfunctory dance. You tell me I'm not being scientifically rigorous and that I'm off my nut, and then in the end who turns out to be right like 98.9% of the time? I just think I've... earned the benefit of the doubt here.

Coroner: We got your gas spectrometer results. That stuff on the bones I said was bog sludge? It isn't.

Scully: Water, hydrochloric acid... electrolytes, pepsins and trypsins. It's a digestive secretion.

Coroner: It's stomach juices pretty much — Pretty damn close to it... Except for this.

Scully: Chitinase?

Coroner: It's a digestive enzyme as well but it's strictly plant, not animal.

Wallace Schiff: Please... don't take me.

Mulder: Then, come out here. Step closer. I won't hurt you.

Wallace Schiff: You're not one of them?

Mulder: One of who? Are you Wallace Schiff? Well, I hate to tell you this, Wallace, but you're supposed to be dead. They found your skeleton not 200 yards from here.

Wallace Schiff: It's fake. They put it there.

Mulder: Who put it there?

Wallace Schiff: You know who.

Mulder: The Brown Mountain lights.

Wallace Schiff: They abducted us... me and my wife Angela. They took us on board their... oh, God.

Mulder: Wallace... Wallace? They found your wife Angela, too... lying right alongside your skeleton.

Wallace Schiff: No. Don't you get it? They faked our deaths! They have that kind of technology. Who the hell would look for us if they thought they'd already found our bodies? You see? They returned me, but Angela, she's still up there... being experimented on and I can't... I don't know what to... what do I do?!

Mulder: First things first — we got to find a way out of here.

Wallace Schiff: Right behind you.

Mulder: What the hell's going on? That was solid rock a minute ago. Now there's nothing there.

Wallace Schiff: Oh, God. It's them. They're affecting your head... maybe mine, too. What if I can't even tell what's real?

Mulder: Scully...

Scully: Mulder. Why the hell did you leave North Carolina without telling me?

Mulder: Long story.

Scully: You disappear and then I get a furtive call that you're back here in DC?

Mulder: I'm sorry. Does anybody know you're here?

Scully: No.

Mulder: Scully, this is...

Scully: Angela... and Wallace Schiff. But, Mulder, it can't be.

Mulder: This is my partner, Agent Scully.

Scully: Mulder, I IDed their remains myself.

Mulder: Yeah, I think you were meant to.

Angela Schiff: Agent Scully, the aliens planted decoys so you would think we were dead.

Scully: The aliens?

Mulder: Scully, I want you to... put aside your scientific bias for a moment. 'Cause what I'm about to tell you is going to change your life forever. Your life, my life, the life of everybody on this planet.

Scully: Mulder...

Mulder: I was out there... and I found it.

Scully: What?

Mulder: The truth. This couple... they were abducted by a UFO — the Brown Mountain lights.

Angela Schiff: They took me to a white place. There were men there. They put an implant in my neck.

Mulder: Just like what happened to you.

Scully: Mulder, from what very little I understand about this case, this is not what happened to me.

Mulder: There's more. [He leads Scully into the bedroom] It doesn't like the light.

Scully: Who? [A small grey alien reaches around a bedpost]

Mulder: I abducted him. It's a grey. It speaks to me. We communicate telepathically. He told me everything.

Scully: I... I can hear him!

Mulder: Yeah.

Scully: Oh, my God.

Scully: I, uh... I don't know what to say, Mulder. Where to begin. I mean, you... you were right. All these years, you were right.

Mulder: You think so?

Scully: You were right about the greys, about... about the abductions, about the UFOs... the lights, the Brown Mountain lights...

Mulder: What about the skeletons?

Scully: They were... they were fake. They were decoys.

Mulder: You're buying that decoy theory? What about that organic substance we found on the skeletons? That goo you were so interested in?

Scully: It was nothing. It was bog sludge.

Mulder: That, uh... doesn't sound like you, Scully. It, uh... God, I can't believe you're buying this.

Scully: Mulder, I'm admitting that I was wrong. [Mulder is rubbing his temples] Are... are you all right? How are you feeling?

Mulder: Uh, this doesn't make any sense.

Scully: What?

Mulder: These two. Their story. Their skeletons. None of it.

Scully: Mulder, if I, of all people, can believe this then why can't you?

Coroner: Agent Scully? I got tracks going in and out.

Scully: They were only going in before.

Coroner: Oh, I guess you missed him.

Scully: How? I mean, this, this cave's not much more than a hole in the rock.

Coroner: Agent Scully? [Scully joins the coroner and sees a skeleton sprawled out on the grass near the opening to the cave]

Scully: That, um... that digestive secretion that we keep finding — could it, could it have done this to him?

Coroner: I'm not sure I follow.

Scully: Well, it's... it's chemically similar to gastric juices, right? I mean, maybe he fell in it or... may... maybe it's a product of a... of a particular vegetation that grows in the area.

Coroner: That... all sounds plausible, I guess, except for one thing. There's no sign of it on these remains.

Scully: It was... it was on the Schiffs.

Coroner: I just think we need to look for the simplest explanation. The most logical.

Scully: What is the most logical explanation?

Coroner: I'd say we're looking at a murder — one with ritualistic overtones. I think his body was stripped and then skeletonised. Possibly by boiling or use of an acid solution. Don't worry, Agent. We'll take care of the arrangements.

Scully: What arrangement?

Coroner: We'll have the remains sent on to Washington.

Skinner: I appreciate the thoroughness of your report. Especially given the circumstances. It might be best if you took some time off — a short leave. Agent?

Scully: Sir? You're satisfied with my conclusions in this case?

Skinner: Absolutely. I take it you're not.

Scully: Well... I was unable to determine a clear cause of death nor was I able to fully account for the condition of Agent Mulder's body.

Skinner: You concluded he was a victim of a ritual killing.

Scully: No. I mean that was one possible scenario that I mentioned, but... in my mind it, it, it was the least plausible.

Skinner: Not only is it plausible, it's, it's, uh... it's likely. Why are you questioning your own findings?

Scully: My role in the X-Files has always been to provide a... a rational scientific perspective to cases that would seem to defy explanation — a counterpoint to Agent Mulder.

Skinner: And you have done that. You have performed admirably.

Scully: Have I? How many X-Files has my scientific approach fully and satisfactorily explained?

Skinner: Your reports have consistently made sense of his conclusions.

Scully: Sir, this one makes no sense at all!

Skinner: Are you suggesting this is anything other than a murder?

Scully: That's what Agent Mulder would have thought.

Skinner: You think he would have been right? Given Mulder's life work it's tempting to attribute his death to the paranormal, the unexplained, the unknown but that's simply not the case here. You need to see this for what it is and given that, I promise you we'll get the bastard who did this.

Byers: Just so you know... we've launched our own investigation.

Scully: I was beginning to think that I was the only one who was a little suspicious.

Frohike: We'll find him. We'll find him, and we'll make him pay.

Scully: Find who?

Frohike: The son of a bitch who killed Mulder.

Byers: I hope you're not offended but we, uh, managed to get a hold of your report. I must say, we were impressed by the thoroughness of it.

Langly: Especially given the circumstances.

Scully: I don't understand.

Byers: We concur with your findings. Clearly, this was a ritualistic murder.

Scully: Those were not my findings. You guys believe that, too — that Mulder was murdered?

Langly: It's the obvious answer.

Scully: No, it is not the obvious answer!

Byers: We believe his body was stripped then skeletonised, possibly by boiling or the use of an acid solution.

Frohike: We'll make that monkey pay.

Scully: What the hell is wrong with everybody?! You guys, there are unanswered questions here! Am I the only one that's asking them?!

Frohike: I could use a drink.

Scully: You three, of all people! You should be all over this, not buying the party line! Look, something else is going on here! Am I the only one who thinks that?!

Scully: Where is Mulder? Where is he? What have you done with him?!

Skinner: Listen to me. He's gone. You need to accept that.

Scully: Look, something else is going on here! Where is he?! Where's Mulder?!

Mulder: We were in the cave when the light came. It was a blinding blue-white light. Then they took me. I was abducted. I found myself in some kind of medical bay. It was white, featureless. It was just as the Schiffs had described it.

Scully: Mulder, the Schiffs are dead.

Mulder: No, actually, they're not.

Scully: Mulder, their remains were discovered in a field. That's... that's what brought us to this case in the first place. I found your remains in that same field.

Mulder: Look at me. I'm here.

Scully: How did you get here?

Mulder: Aliens brought me back here.

Scully: From North Carolina direct to your apartment door? Mulder, you don't remember getting here, do you? Neither do I.

Mulder: It doesn't change what happened.

Scully: Mulder, why did you knock? This is your apartment. And you don't seem the least bit surprised to find me here. And what about the Schiffs? I mean, if they're alive, as you say, then... then where are they? Where'd they go? Mulder, five minutes ago... this room was filled with people attending your wake.

Mulder: Well, what can I say, Scully? I'm here. I'm real.

Scully: Mulder, this is not reality. This is a hallucination. It has to be. And either I am having it, or you are having it or we are having it together.

Mulder: Brought on by what?

Scully: Something that we found in that field, Mulder, because that's where it began. Wild mushroom. Wild mushrooms, Mulder. They were growing there. I stepped on one, and it gave off spores. Several varieties of... of mushrooms are known for their hallucinogenic properties. If... if we inhaled it...

Mulder: Whatever happened to the most logical explanation?

Scully: This is it, Mulder. What if we're still there? If we're still in that cave in North Carolina — that we're not here in this apartment right now?

Mulder: Whoa, Scully.

Scully: No, Mulder, bear with me. I think this is making sense. I think that Angela and Wallace Schiff were digested by that substance that I found all over that field. That they were dissolved and then expelled up out of the ground. What if that substance and this hallucinogen are — are from one and the same organism?

Mulder: A giant mushroom?

Scully: A giant fungal organism, Mulder. We already know that they exist. Biologists have found specimens that range dozens of acres that weigh hundreds of tons. And what if this one needs to feed on living tissue, Mulder? There is carnivorous plant life. There's... there's the Venus Flytrap and the pitcher plant. Mulder, what if this one puts off an hallucinogen...

Mulder: To lure its prey into the cave?

Scully: To make it complacent. To keep it still while it devours it. What if we're still underground, Mulder? What if we're moving deeper into the cave? Or being moved? Mulder, what if we're being digested? Right now.

Skinner: The exact size of this organism has yet to be determined?

Scully: That's correct, sir. We know that the organism extends for at least ten acres. Though it's mostly subterranean so it may be far larger.

Mulder: We've contacted Fish and Wildlife. We've contacted the North Carolina State Health Department as well as the local FBI field office in Raleigh. And we've contacted a mycologist at the Smithsonian for good measure. We think we have our bases covered.

Scully: The lab results determined that the spores we were exposed to have a chemical structure similar to LSD. They also contain an alkaloid which induces a state of narcosis.

Skinner: It's a rare day when the two of you sign off on the same report. Agent Mulder?

Mulder: I'm just thinking... I'm not exactly clear on how we escaped.

Skinner: What's not clear?

Mulder: [to Scully] Once you recognised that we were under a chemical influence then it simply kind of... broke its spell?

Scully: That's right.

Mulder: Scully, how could we simply will ourselves out of a chemical hallucination?

Scully: Well, the fact remains we did.

Mulder: Did we? Can you name me one drug that loses its effect once the user realises it's in his system?

Skinner: I assume the effects wore off to the point that you were both able to make your escape.

Mulder: Scully, how long were we underground? Hours? Half a day? How come our bodies don't show any effects of being burned by the digestive fluids? We were covered in hydrochloric acid. Yet look at our skin. Nothing.

Skinner: Agent Mulder, where are you going with this?

Mulder: Scully... we never escaped. We're still trapped underground.

Scully: Mulder, we did escape. I think you're suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Mulder: No, I'm not. This is not real. [to Skinner] You, you're not real.

Scully: Mulder, I...

Mulder: I'll prove it, Scully. [He stands and pulls out his gun]

Scully: Mulder! [Mulder shoots Skinner in the chest]

Skinner: Over here! Over here!

Coroner: He's alive.

Skinner: Hurry up! Get him out! Get him out! Keep digging! She's down here! Pull her up. Get her out.

Scully: Mushroom.

Coroner: We found it. Just take it easy, Agent.