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(A mountain cabin. A young couple, WALLACE and ANGELA SCHIFF, enter and take off their boots. ANGELA is short, has medium length slightly curly red hair. She looks exhausted as she kicks off her hiking boots. WALLACE is tall, dark-haired.)
ANGELA: Ohh! I've got mosquito bites. I've got blisters. I hate those new boots.
WALLACE: Honey. Why are you so P.O.'d? I thought we had a good time.
ANGELA: 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: I'm sorry. I've got longer legs. I was excited, you know? The great outdoors, communing with nature.
(ANGELA rubs her temples.)
WALLACE: Your head hurt?
WALLACE: (little boy) You can hit me in the head with a rock if it'll make you feel better.
ANGELA: (smiling) Fine. Go get one. I'm taking a shower.
(They kiss, then ANGELA goes and gets into the shower. She pours some yellow shampoo from a travel size container and washes her hair [no lather?], then rinses it, obviously enjoying the feel of the water. She rubs her temples again as another headache comes over her, then she has a quick image of yellow slime running down the shower wall but then the slime is gone - only water from the shower. Then, she has sudden flash of herself underground, screaming, covered in yellow goo. Later, dressed in a white bathrobe, she is sitting on the edge of the bed. The headache seems to be worse. WALLACE, in T-shirt and boxers gets onto the bed beside her.)
WALLACE: You still mad at me?
ANGELA: No. I'm not mad.
WALLACE: Come here. (They lie facing each other on the bed, hands resting on each other's sides - very intimate.) So I guess we're never going hiking again. It's indoors forever from now on. Angie, honey, what's up?
ANGELA: Just hold me.
(The image of them lying there on the bed is slowly replaced by the image of two skeletons lying in the same position, only on a grassy field.)
(X-Files office. Slide projector is flicked on, but the image of the two embracing skeletons in the field is projected onto a map of South Carolina. Hmmm. MULDER get his Carolinas mixed up? MULDER adjusts it so the image is against the blank wall.)
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: (suggestively) Not to mention that these skeletons are not wearing any clothes.
SCULLY: (not to be baited) Right. Well, I'd say it looks like a double murder, possibly one with ritualistic overtones. The bodies may have been stripped then skeletonized, 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 tire tracks, no footprints, nothing.
SCULLY: Well, what do you think this is?
MULDER: It's Brown Mountain, Scully. That doesn't ring a bell? (SCULLY shakes her head.) 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 multicolored 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: (modestly) As I said, there's been no scientific credible explanation but there are those of us who believe these strange multicolored 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: (hurt) 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 southwestern 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? (SCULLY scoffs.) No, seriously. I mean, every time I bring you a 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.
(They look at each other, then MULDER crosses past her. SCULLY is speechless.)
BOONE COUNTY MORGUE
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
(The CORONER, 50ish man, opens two drawers in the morgue, each containing one of the skeletons.)
CORONER: We gave them adjoining suites. I was ready to send them on to Chapel Hill. Figured the state medical examiner should have a look at them.
MULDER: We appreciate you holding off.
SCULLY: The connective tissue is more or less intact.
CORONER: Unlike everything else. I'm not sure what to make of it considering the short time frame.
SCULLY: If you'll, um, pardon an obvious question are you sure that these are the right two bodies and not two others that have lain out for six months?
(The CORONER gets the dental records and shows them to SCULLY.)
CORONER: We triple-checked the dental records. Angela and Wallace Schiff-- no doubt about it.
(MULDER and SCULLY look at the photos of ANGELA and WALLACE SHIFF.)
MULDER: Hmm. And they were both found near Brown Mountain, right? Where exactly?
CORONER: Well, I could write you some directions.
(While the CORONER writes down the directions for MULDER, SCULLY finds a blob of yellow goo on one of the skeletons.)
SCULLY: Would you, uh, happen to know what this is?
CORONER: Well, the remains were found in a swampy area. It's some sort of organic material relating to that. It's bog sludge.
MULDER: I'm going to check out where the bodies were found. (Heads for the door, then realizes SCULLY is not following.) You coming?
SCULLY: (looking at the skeleton) No. You go ahead.
(MULDER sighs and leaves.)
(CUT TO: Later, MULDER drives the rented SUV up to a wilderness area that is definitely NOT the mountains of North Carolina! A gray squirrel runs away from a group of mushrooms. As he parks, the tires crush the mushrooms and they release a cloud of spores which MULDER walks through. MULDER looks around. He sees fresh overturned dirt. He kneels down and finds more of the same yellow goo that SCULLY found on the skeletons. He looks up and sees an outcropping of rocks nearby, then sees WALLACE SCHIFF ducking behind them.)
MULDER: Wallace Schiff?
(MULDER chases WALLACE. He sees him crawl into a small cave opening and follows. He shines his light into the cave opening.)
MULDER: Wallace Schiff?
(CUT TO: Back in the morgue, the CORONER brings SCULLY a file.)
CORONER: We got your gas spectrometer results. That stuff on the bones I said was bog sludge? It isn't.
SCULLY: (reading)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.
CORONER: It's a digestive enzyme as well but it's strictly plant, not animal.
(CUT TO: In the cave, MULDER has entered and is looking around. Strange green light. Lots of organic tendrils. Cave seems larger than it should be.)
(CUT TO: Back in the morgue, the CORONER and SCULLY are looking at old files with pictures of skeletons.)
CORONER: I told you, I'd seen this before. These are the two I remember anyway.
SCULLY: Both of these were discovered as skeletal remains.
CORONER: Right, but we saw nothing odd in that. Both were lost hikers found months or years later or whatever it says there.
(REPORT SAYS: "Victim found 2 miles southeast … Brown Mountain exit - Highway 5 …")
SCULLY: It says here that the bodies were found not far from where Angela and Wallace Schiff turned up.
(SCULLY pulls out her phone and dials.)
SCULLY: Oh, Mulder, answer your phone.
RECORDING: The cellular customer you are trying...
(She hangs up.)
SCULLY: Do me a favor. I want you to forward a sample of that secretion over to the FBI lab at Quantico. I want them to run a complete analysis.
CORONER: You got it.
SCULLY: And, uh, in the meantime, could I borrow your truck?
(CUT TO: In the cave, MULDER shines his flashlight around. He sees lots of slime, then finds a terrified WALLACE, hiding.)
WALLACE: Please... don't take me.
MULDER: Then, come out here. Step closer. I won't hurt you.
WALLACE: 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: It's fake. They put it there.
MULDER: Who put it there?
WALLACE: You know who.
MULDER: The Brown Mountain lights.
WALLACE: 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: (on the edge of hysteria) No. Don't you get it? They-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-I-I-I can't... I don't know what to... what do I do?!
(MULDER has no answer.)
(CUT TO: Outside the cave, SCULLY pulls up next to MULDER's vehicle and parks the CORONER's Dodge truck, Boone County, license # PX 2469. She gets out and begins walking to the cave.)
(SCULLY sees one set of men's boot prints leading to the cave. She steps on another patch of the mushrooms releasing the spores. She glances down, but continues on.)
(CUT TO: In the cave, MULDER is still talking to WALLACE.)
MULDER: First things first-- we got to find a way out of here.
WALLACE: Right behind you.
(MULDER turns and sees that one of the previously solid walls now has a long tunnel back into the hillside.)
MULDER: What the hell's going on? That was solid rock a minute ago. Now there's nothing there.
WALLACE: Oh, God. It's them. They're affecting your head... maybe mine, too. What if I can't even tell what's real?
MULDER: Wallace, let's get out of here. Come on, Wallace.
WALLACE: They're out there, man.
(Outside the cave a loud rumbling is heard.)
WALLACE: It's them!
(The rumbling continues and a bright white light shines through the mouth of the cave. WALLACE runs deeper into the cave.)
MULDER: (whisper) Wallace!
(MULDER runs after WALLACE. The white light fades into SCULLY's small flashlight as she shines it into the cave.)
SCULLY: Mulder?! Mulder!
(She sees and hears nothing. She stands, looks at the footprints again, and walks back to the truck.)
(In the cave, the deep engine rumbling and bright light continues. MULDER and WALLACE are hiding.)
WALLACE: Don't let them see you!
(The sound of the rumbling stops and the light is gone.)
MULDER: They're gone.
WALLACE: (holding a strange camping light) Yeah, for now. Thank God, they didn't find us.
MULDER: They should have. Maybe they came for something else.
WALLACE: Oh, my God! Oh, my God... Angie!
(ANGELA is lying on the floor of the cave, moaning. WALLACE embraces her.)
WALLACE: They brought her back.
(While MULDER talks to ANGELA, WALLACE fills a cup with water seeping out of the wall, but we see it dripping out as yellow goo.)
MULDER: Angie, can you talk to me? Do you remember what happened? Can you tell me?
ANGELA: It's all fuzzy and...
MULDER: You were with your husband. With Wallace.
ANGELA: There was a light. A bright light.
MULDER: Where was that light coming from? From the mountain?
ANGELA: (crying) Over Brown Mountain. There were strange lights dancing over the peak and... and they took me. And Wallace, too.
MULDER: And then what happened?
ANGELA: Oh, just... it all went black. And when I woke up, I didn't know where I was and I couldn't see Wallace anymore.
WALLACE: They returned me first.
(He gives her the cup of "water" and she drinks.)
MULDER: This... this place that they took you to can you describe it to me tell me what it looked like?
ANGELA: It was white. A white place. It was featureless. I was lying on a table and I couldn't get up. I mean, nothing was holding me down but I couldn't move.
MULDER: Were there men there?
ANGELA: Yes, there were men standing over me but I couldn't see their faces.
MULDER: Did they perform tests on you?
ANGELA: (crying) Yes. They did tests. Terrible... tests. What?
(MULDER pushes the hair back from the nape of her neck and sees a fresh scar.)
MULDER: You have a, uh... you have a scar back here on the back of your neck.
WALLACE: What? What scar?
MULDER: It's fresh.
WALLACE: What is that?
MULDER: It's an implant. I've seen this before.
ANGELA: (remembering, very upset) Yes. The drill-- I remember the drill. I couldn't see it at first. That was the worst part. But I could hear it spinning and it was coming out of the light... oh, what did they put in me?
WALLACE: Is there one in me?
MULDER: No, male abductees don't usually report this. And everything she says so far is textbook down to the last detail, except for one.
MULDER: Two skeletons we found were identified as yours and Angie's? I don't understand that. It doesn't make sense to me.
WALLACE: Maybe they're like the cattle mutilations you hear about. Maybe they're somehow related. Maybe they're part of their tests.
MULDER: I had that thought but there's no precedent for it. It's in none of the literature.
WALLACE: Well, they didn't want anybody to find us. I guess they didn't want you to know the truth.
(MULDER looks up at WALLACE.)
MULDER: We got to get out of here right now.
WALLACE: Oh, no way.
ANGELA: They're out there. They're always watching.
WALLACE: If they find us, if we leave, they'll take us again.
MULDER: We're leaving now. Gather your things. Angie, I'll help you up.
ANGELA: They're coming. I can feel it.
(MULDER helps ANGELA up, then they hear the deep rumbling again. The light once again shines in the mouth of the tunnel. ANGELA panics and runs back into the tunnel.)
ANGELA: They're here!
WALLACE: Hide! They'll take you, too! We've got to hide!
(WALLACE follows ANGELA. MULDER walks toward the glowing mouth of the cave. The light gets brighter and brighter, then forms into the number "42" which we then see is on MULDER's apartment door. We are now in …)
(… MULDER's apartment building. SCULLY gets off the elevator and knocks at MULDER's door. He opens it cautiously.)
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 D.C.?
MULDER: I'm sorry. Does anybody know you're here?
(MULDER opens the door wider and SCULLY steps in under his arm. He closes the door. WALLACE and ANGELA SCHIFF are sitting on the couch.)
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 I.D.'d their remains myself.
MULDER: Yeah, I think you were meant to.
ANGELA: Agent Scully, the aliens planted decoys so you would think we were dead.
SCULLY: The aliens?
(MULDER leads SCULLY to a chair, then kneels down in front of her.)
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.
MULDER: (proudly and in awe) I was out there... and I found it.
MULDER: The truth. This couple... they were abducted by a UFO-- the Brown Mountain lights.
ANGELA: They took me to a white place. There were men there. They put an implant in my neck.
MULDER: (to SCULLY very softly) 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.
(MULDER leads SCULLY into the dim bedroom. He leaves the light off and puts his arm around SCULLY's shoulder and gently guides her forward.)
MULDER: It doesn't like the light.
(A small GRAY ALIEN reaches around a bedpost and looks at MULDER and SCULLY. SCULLY is amazed.)
MULDER: (smiling) I abducted him. It's a gray. It speaks to me. We communicate telepathically. He told me everything.
SCULLY: I... I can hear him.
SCULLY: (in rapture) Oh, my god.
(Later, SCULLY closes the bedroom door as they go back into the living room.)
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: (pleased) You think so?
SCULLY: You were right about the grays, 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: (thoughtful) 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 puts his hand to his temple as his head begins to ache.)
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.)
SCULLY: Are... are you all right?
(MULDER goes into the kitchen and rinses his face. He sees the water coming out of the faucet turn into a viscous yellow slime, then back to water. He shuts off the water, dries his face with a paper towel and goes back to the living room.)
SCULLY: How are you feeling?
MULDER: Uh, this doesn't make any sense.
MULDER: These two. Their story. Their skeletons. None of it.
(MULDER groans as he rubs his aching head again.)
SCULLY: Mulder, if I, of all people, can believe this then why can't you?
(As SCULLY speaks, MULDER sees a wash of yellow pass over her, then fade. He looks over at WALLACE and ANGELA and sees them dissolve into yellow goo. He looks around at his apartment. All the furniture is distorted. He looks back to SCULLY who is looking at him with concern. He sees her dissolve into yellow goo.
CUT TO: MULDER standing underground just as ANGELA was in the teaser. Yellow goo and plant tendrils are all over him. He is almost immobile, trance-like, a look of confusion on his face.)
(Outside the cave, SCULLY and the CORONER are looking around.)
CORONER: Did you go inside the cave?
SCULLY: Yeah. I looked. It's empty. It's as if he just vanished.
CORONER: He's got to be around. We'll catch up to him. I know this area pretty well.
SCULLY: Doctor... It's more of that digestive material. (uses a latex glove to pick up more yellow goo from some overturned dirt) Looks like it's coming up from out of the ground.
(The CORONER sees that the men's boot tracks in the mud now go in both directions.)
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 comes over to him. There is a skeleton sprawled out on the grass near the opening to the cave. SCULLY stares at it, shocked.)
(Later in the morgue. SCULLY is staring at the skeleton on the gurney. The CORONER enters with a packet.)
CORONER: The courier just arrived. They brought your partner's charts.
(SCULLY quickly opens the folder and removes MULDER's dental X-ray. She puts it on the wall and compares it with the X-ray of the skeleton. They match. Both have a crown on one of the back upper molars.)
CORONER: I'm sorry. I know it's difficult.
(SCULLY turns back to the skeleton trying to control her emotion. Beautifully.)
SCULLY: (voice breaking slightly) 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: (struggling, not quite crying) 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 looks back at MULDER's skeleton, then uses a cloth and wipes the one of the arm bones. Nothing comes off.)
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 skeletonized. Possibly by boiling or use of an acid solution. Don't worry, Agent. We'll take care of the arrangements.
SCULLY: (confused) What arrangement?
CORONER: We'll have the remains sent on to Washington.
(SCULLY stares at him.)
(SKINNER's office. SKINNER is reading SCULLY's report.)
SKINNER: I appreciate the thoroughness of your report. (sighs) Especially given the circumstances. It might be best if you took some time off-- a short leave. (SCULLY does not respond.) 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: (confused) 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.
(SCULLY wipes away some tears.)
SKINNER: You need to see this for what it is and given that, I promise you we'll get the bastard who did this.
(SCULLY stares at him.)
(MULDER's apartment building. SCULLY gets off the elevator and slowly walks to MULDER's apartment. She knocks at the door. FROHIKE opens it. He is wearing a dress shirt with his leather jacket. SCULLY enters. The apartment is full of people, including the LONE GUNMEN and SKINNER. They all quietly watch SCULLY with sympathy as she passes them. SKINNER approaches her.)
SKINNER: (softly) I'm sorry.
(She stares for a moment at a black coffin in the bedroom with a white floral cross atop it. Three unknown people stand next to it. The LONE GUNMEN come up to her.)
BYERS: Agent Scully... How are you holding up?
SCULLY: I, uh... I still can't believe it.
LANGLY: (wearing a tuxedo T-shirt) Neither can we. I half expect Mulder to come knocking at that door. "Surprise."
FROHIKE: (holding a glass of wine) This will dull the pain.
SCULLY: No, thank you.
(FROHIKE drinks the wine in one gulp. BYERS pulls her aside.)
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: (confused) Find who?
FROHIKE: The son of a bitch who killed Mulder.
BYERS: I hope you're not offended but we, uh, managed to get ahold 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: (getting angry) 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 skeletonized, possibly by boiling or the use of an acid solution.
FROHIKE: We'll make that monkey pay.
SCULLY: (furious) What the hell is wrong with everybody?! You guys, there are unanswered questions here! Am I the only one that's asking them?!
(GUNMEN look at each other.)
FROHIKE: I could use a drink. (he goes to get one)
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 rubs her temple as a sudden headache hits.)
BYERS: Are you all right?
(Momentarily, she sees the room through a yellow haze. SKINNER walks over to her.)
SKINNER: I think you need to go home and get some rest. I'll call you a cab.
SCULLY: (accusing) What have you done with him?
SKINNER: Scully, you're emotionally distraught. You need to calm down and get some rest.
SCULLY: Where is Mulder? Where is he? What have you done with him?!
SKINNER: (grabbing her shoulders) Listen to me. He's gone. You need to accept that.
SCULLY: (hysterical, pushing SKINNER's hands away) Look, something else is going on here! Where is he?! Where's Mulder?!
(Everyone just stares at her. There is a knocking at the door. No one moves to answer it. FROHIKE drinks directly from the wine bottle. The knocking continues. In a continuous camera shot, SCULLY finally walks to the door and opens it. MULDER enters and passes her into the room which is now deserted. Everyone else is gone. MULDER turns and faces her. Room is now messy as normal.)
(She stares at him.)
(MULDER is sitting on the couch. He is very calm and monotone. SCULLY glances into the bedroom where the coffin was.)
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 thinks about it.) 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. (MULDER thinks about it.) 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. (realizing) 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: (rubbing his face) 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?
(MULDER experiences a sudden, painful headache.)
SCULLY: To make it complacent. To keep it still while it devours it.
(CUT QUICKLY TO: MULDER, underground, covered in yellow goo.)
(CUT TO: MULDER's apartment.)
SCULLY: 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.
(Close up on MULDER's horrified face, then SCULLY dissolving into yellow goo again.)
CUT TO: Outside shot of ground above the cave, we see MULDER's hand, then MULDER pushing his way out of the ground. He is coughing and covered in mud. He reaches back into the hole and pulls an equally muddy SCULLY out. He rolls her onto her back, then they lie exhausted on the grass beside each other.
(Later, MULDER and SCULLY are in SKINNER's office. He is reading their report.)
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.
(MULDER looks thoughtful.)
SKINNER: 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 recognized 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 realizes 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.
(SCULLY looks at her hands.)
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.
(MULDER stands and pulls out his gun.)
(MULDER shoots SKINNER three times in the chest. Yellow goo comes out of the wounds. SKINNER stares straight ahead. SCULLY watches as MULDER dissolves in yellow goo.)
CUT TO: MULDER and SCULLY still in the cave, covered in yellow goo and plant tendrils. Their lips are moving slightly as if in a trance. Sound of voices overhead. MULDER, still in a trance, reaches up, his hand breaks the surface of the ground. Outside the cave. SKINNER and several other suited agents are searching. They are all wearing gas masks. SKINNER sees MULDER's hand.)
SKINNER: Over here! Over here!
(They get to MULDER's hand and frantically dig him out. He is barely conscious. PULSE FINDING AGENT feels for a pulse.)
PULSE FINDING AGENT: He's alive.
SKINNER: Hurry up! Get him out! Get him out! Keep digging! She's down here! Pull her up. Get her out.
(They get SCULLY out too, and load her and MULDER onto ambulance gurneys. They are both covered in mud and yellow goo and show signs of some slight chemical burns on their face and hands.)
SCULLY: (weakly) Mushroom.
MUSHROOM FINDING AGENT: We found it. Just take it easy, Agent.
(The agents load both MULDER and SCULLY into the back of one ambulance, lock the beds down and close the doors, leaving them alone. MULDER weakly turns his head toward SCULLY and stretches his hand out to her. Without looking, she reaches for him and they grasp hands. She opens her eyes groggily and they watch each other as the ambulance drives away.)