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Agent Scully, while investigating on her own a murder in the New Mexico desert, discovers a small, remote town housing a paranormal cult that keeps a terrible secret. Scully's discovery of the cult's secret puts her life in danger, and she must rely on Agent Doggett to track down her hidden whereabouts and save her life.

|Roadrunners|

Episode Summary
By Michael Marek & Jamie Ruby

In rural Utah, a man (later identified as Hank) waits at a lonely country bus stop. A bus approaches in the distance and he flags it down, but it drives past him, finally stopping down the road a bit. He gets on board the crowded bus, which has a woman driver. Almost immediately after it begins moving, however, the bus stops again and all of the passengers disembark, including one man on crutches. Hank is bewildered as they walk away from the road into the brush. Suddenly the driver begins striking the man on crutches on the head with a rock, eventually killing him. Several of the passengers close in on Hank as he screams.

Scully is at the scene, examining footprints and other evidence. On a rock she finds some slimy stuff that she takes a sample off. She uses a nearby pay phone at the RoadRunner Bus Lines rural bus stop to phone Agent Doggett, because there is no cell phone coverage in the area. Doggett is surprised to learn that she is in Utah but she says the call came in over the weekend from the local coroner who asked for her help because the body shows the spinal characteristics of an elderly person - osteoporosis, arthritis and chaephosis of the vertebrae, although the victim was a 22 year old.

Scully remembers a file that is similar - glycoproteins, mucus had been found on the crime scene, but she can't remember details. Doggett agrees to search the files. As they talk, a bus drives by.

Doggett: You didn't need me to tag along?
Scully: It's just a quick consultation. I got the call over the weekend, figured I wouldn't bother you.
Doggett: Yeah. Well, if there's anything I can do from here...
Scully: There may be actually, if you don't mind.
Scully: There was an unsolved murder we had on file. I'm sorry -- I don't remember any particulars, when or where it took place. But it mentioned glycoproteins found at the crime scene.
Doggett: Glycoproteins.
Scully: Mucus. It couldn't be identified. Knowing you've read through all our files recently, I was hoping it'd ring a bell.
Doggett: I don't have a great memory for mucus, but I'm happy to look. Do you remember anything else?
[The bus passes them]
Scully: I'm sorry…? (as the ROAR fades) No. Just mucus.
Doggett: So, I assume from you wanting me to cross-reference an X-file case that you're out there investigating an X-file. (beat) I mean, just so we're clear.
Scully: No. Like I said, it's a simple consultation. If it turns into something more, I'll certainly give you a call.
Doggett: : Promise?

Scully sees it turn onto a side road, and drives after it. She stops at a small, rundown gas station and talks with the proprietor, who has a hand wound. She tells him that she is a doctor. She tells him that she needs gas, but he doesn't have any as the tanker that was supposed to come, never did. She tells him that she had a quarter tank left so she'd be fine, but he tells her to wait. He gets a can of gas and puts it in her car. She asks him where exactly they are as she cant find the town on the map. It isn't really a town, he tells her, just a few like minded people trying to keep the modern world at bay. As Scully leaves, he enters a house and the bus driver is there, with Hank, apparently ill, on a bed. He tells them that help is coming.

Scully's car dies and she has to walk back to the store. She demands to see the gas can -- it contains water. The proprietor says it must have gotten rain in it. Scully doesn't buy that as they were in a desert. She angrily asks for the phone. The store doesn't have a phone, but there is one up the street at Mr. Milsap's house. She goes there, but there is no dial tone and it's anybody's guess when it might be back. Scully is immediately suspicious that somebody doesn't want her to leave. Milsap denies that a bus came through that place. Viewers recognize him as one of the people who were on the bus. The state road is 18 miles away, and another 20 to the next town -- too far to walk. Scully follows another woman she sees walking in town, but there appears to be a Bible group meeting in the woman's house, and nobody comes to the door. Scully knocks on other doors, without being answered. She ends up taking a room with Milsap -- his place used to be a boarding house, but she readies her gun. Outdoors, people are walking down the road carrying lanterns.

There is a knock on Scully's door -- Milsap says it is an emergency. There is a man downstairs who needs help. She finds Hank on the bed, having a convulsion. The woman is there with Milsap. They tell her that they don’t know his name. He is only a stranger that needed help. Scully holds him down and asks how long he has been seizing. The woman says about three or four minutes and asks what’s wrong with him. Scully says that she thinks that he’s in statis, a continuous seizure state. She says that she doesn’t smell like acetone, which would indicate that he is hypoglycemic. He doesn’t appear to have any head injuries; he could be epileptic and could have forgotten to take his medicine.

As she cares for him she finds a poorly bandaged back wound. She says he needs to get to a hospital immediately but is told that nobody there has a car. They tell her that they could send someone on foot to get help. Scully agrees, but knows that they're lying.

Meanwhile, Doggett calls the sheriff's department and is surprised to learn that Scully has not checked in. He requests that a car be sent out to look for her. Doggett asks for a trace on Scully's call from the previous day. Scully's cell phone is still not working and there isn't much more she can do for Hank without medication. Hank awakes, and to Scully's amazement, the woman there starts thanking god and saying how scared they were. Hank asks to talk to Scully alone. He doesn't recall his name or how he got there. The people there seem to take very good care of him, even to the point of stranding her there to help him. Scully feels that a dozen people committed the murder, by stoning, and suspects it is the work of a cult. She needs to get her patient out of there, but as she checks his back wound she finds something moving under his skin. With a pocket tool she grabs part of it through the wound, but the rest crawls deeper under the skin.

Doggett learns that the phone Scully called from was near the crime scene. The previous call from that payphone was on the night of the murder -- a man named Hank called his sister to say he was on his way to her home, but never arrived. Doggett informs the sheriff's office that he is on his way to Utah to help look for Scully.

Scully feels that the wound on her patient's back is a point of entry for a parasite that has taken up residence along his spine. She thinks that these people put the parasite in him and thinks that they killed the last person who was in his condition. She will try to get them both out of there. She crawls out the window to scout around, leaving her gun so that Hank can defend himself. As soon as she leaves the room, the bus driver and Mr. Milsap enters, and Hank tells them "we need another swap."

Doggett arrives in Utah with a photo with information on several previous similar murders -- all victims had their brains beaten out and all remain unsolved. The murders range throughout the desert southwest, the more remote the location the better.

Scully enters a barn and finds the bus, but Hank is there, too, limping after her. The other townspeople enter. They stalk her and she runs, but they catch her. Her life is about to take a wonderful turn, Hank tells her. She is about to become part of something larger, about to become very loved. The people chant "Amen". They kill Hank with a hammer, smashing his skull. From his back the bus driver takes a bloody, writhing parasite and advances on Scully. She pleads that she is pregnant, but they bare her back and close in on her.

Scully is tied down to the bed, on her stomach. There is a large gaping hole in her lower back. She is screaming, trying to get away. Scully yells to Milsap that she’s going to get everyone of them. He tells her that she won’t. She will love them, protect them, and teach them, making them better than they are. He tells her that he envies that she will soon be one with "Him.” She yells, questioning that the thing in her spine is a 'Him'. The thing moves and she cries out in pain. Milsap tells her that it is such a wonderful thing for her and her unborn child. He says that the last man just wasn’t a suitable tabernacle. There is always the chance that her body won’t fail him and he will be in her forever.

Scully sees the lights of a car drive up but they gag her so she cannot call for help. It is Doggett. He shows Scully's picture but the people deny having seen her. Scully uses her tied foot to knock over a kerosene lamp, which burns on the floor, but Doggett doesn't notice the fire. Doggett drives off but soon stops and radios the sheriff's department. He got a definite "vibe" from the situation.

Doggett: Just talked to a guy who had a gun in his pocket and I don’t mean he was happy to see me.

The sheriff's department will send everybody they've got, but Doggett can't wait. He locates where Scully is being held, possibly by hearing her moans, and knocks out the man attending her. Her cuts her bonds. She can't walk as far as his car, so at her direction, he carries her to the bus. He hotwires it, but she feels the parasite moving. She demands that he cut it out of her because it his heading for her brain. He does, slicing into the skin at the back of her neck, as the townspeople enter the barn and try to get into the bus. They break windows. Doggett extracts the parasite and shoots it until its dead. Immediately the people stop moving and become silent. Doggett carries Scully off the bus and the people do not interfere. As he walks out of the barn, several sheriff's vehicles drive up.

A week later, at the hospital, Scully packs her bags, ready to leave. Doggett reports that the grand jury convenes today. The people will claim that they are being persecuted for the religious beliefs. They apparently thought the parasite was the second coming. Scully apologizes for leaving Doggett out of the case and vows she won't do it again. He responds, telling her that he appreciates it. Scully turns away from him and picks up her bag, but he takes it from her and they start to walk out.

Read scenes from Original Script

From the Script: We STEADICAM ahead of Scully as she walks fast, leaves the man behind on his porch. She touches a hand to her stomach -- an unconscious gesture, one protective of her unborn child. If only one viewer in a hundred gets it, fine.


Episode Cast & Information

Gillian Anderson Special Agent Dana Scully
Robert Patrick Special Agent John Doggett
David Barry Gray Hank Gulatarski
Rusty Schwimmer Female Bus Driver
William O'Leary Gas Station Man
Lawrence Pressman Mr. Milsap
Conor O'Farrell Sheriff Ciolino
Todd Jeffries Lead Agent Mayfield
Bryan Dilbeck Disabled Man

Written by Vince Gilligan
Directed by Rod Hardy

Aired on: 26th November 2000

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