Michael Marek / Jamie Ruby / Rohan Seth
In Marin County, California, a family
arrives home at a mansion. Dr. Robert Wieder, MD, has just
won the Bay Area Doctor of the year. He and his wife, Nan,
are there, as well as their daughter Lucy and Mrs. Welder's
father, Irv, who agrees to spend the night. In his bedroom,
Irv opens the covers of his bed and finds dirt in the shape
of a person. He brushes the dirt away. We see a man later
identified as Oral Peattie in the room behind him. In the
Wieder's bedroom, Robert hears a signal from the downstairs
motion sensor. He goes downstairs to investigate and finds
Irv hanging from a rope, dead, his throat cut, with the word
"theef" written in blood on the wall.
Mulder and Scully are at the mansion,
trying to understand the word "theef." It appears to be a
wrong spelling of "thief," as if written by an
uneducated person. If Irv killed himself, how did the word
get scrawled in the wall? Scully agrees that the case wasn't
an open and shut case, but still didn't understand how it
was an X-File. Mulder observes that the dirt in the bed is a
powerful element in hex-craft, i.e. putting a curse on
someone and murdering them magically. Scully admits that she
can accept hex-craft as the intent, although she doesn't
believe he has actual power. Robert says neither he nor his
father-in-law had any enemies.
In a low rent rooming house, a landlady
is cleaning when she hears a noise in an apartment. She
talks with a man inside and complains about the smell but he
says it's medicine and offers her a poultice for her bad
back. Inside his room we see that he is making little
rough-cloth dolls that look almost like voodoo dolls. One
that is already made is hanging by its
At the Marin County morgue, Mulder says
the dirt contained methane and sulphur compounds, the signs
of decay. Its also known as Conjure Dust, which could be a
powerful hex component, whether for good or evil. Irv's
brain was filled with a disease called Kuru, once known to
New Guinea tribesmen who were cannibals. The disease causes
progressive dementia but is very rare. Mulder wonders if Irv
was given the dirt to drive him crazy and kill himself.
Nan Wieder finds a frame with a picture
of the family missing and wonders why someone would take
their photograph. Peattie is in their house with one of his
dolls - of Nan Wieder. He stabs a pin into it. Robert turns
down the bed and finds dirt in the shape of a human. Nan
begins convulsing and Robert orders Lucy to call 911.
Outside, Peattie watches the house, holding the doll in his
At the hospital, Nan is in treatment and
is diagnosed with a very rare condition, which was unheard
in San Francisco but could happen in South Africa. Mulder
says someone directed the disease to her. Robert brushes off
Mulder's claim of folk. Scully says at least there was an
intruder in their home and the family needs protection.
Robert can't believe that all of modern medicine arrayed
against a pile of magic dirt will lose.
Later, as Robert looks at his wife's
x-rays, "Theef" is carved into her skull. Peattie enters and
says the truth always hurts. He mentions that it was because
of Lynette Peattie but Robert doesn't recognize the name.
Peattie says, "ponder it awhile and its gonna come to you."
After Peattie leaves, Robert determines that Lynette is not
in his patient file. He does find a Jane Doe in his file
that he identifies as Lynette.
The landlady knocks on Peattie's door --
the poultice worked a miracle on her back and she wants
more. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully visit an occult shop.
Mulder shows a sample of the hex dust. The shop owner says
it is goofer dust and it can be spread on or near the victim
to bring misfortune. Giving them an exact disease, however,
would require much more skill, as well as a doll with
several specific items inside, including a picture of the
victim. The owner says the person the agents are looking for
must be drawing on the energy of a charm - a source of magic
power that has great meaning for him. Unless you can
separate him from the charm you are out of luck, she says.
The drug therapy being used on Nan is
working well and she feels much better, although she has
contracted a very rare disease. She is about to have an MRI
and her husband says it is no more radiation than a dental
x-ray. Peattie is in the hospital and buys microwave popcorn
from a vending machine in the hospital. He then puts a doll
into the microwave and Nan is burned to death by radiation.
Man removes the doll - removes a picture of Nan from it and
says "all done."
Robert talks with the agents and wonders
how somebody orchestrate this. There was no malfunction and
he now believes his wife was murdered. "THEEF" was found
written on his wife's chest. He tells Mulder and Scully
about Lynette Peattie. He treated her last October after she
was brought to the hospital with many other people injured
in a bus rollover. She was the worst hurt and in triage
everyone knew she was dying. When he saw that he could not
help her and that she was in agony, he gave her morphine -
lots of it. In effect, he shortened her life by 20 minutes,
because of the condition she was in. Mulder thinks the
murderer must be Lynette's father. He thinks Robert robbed
him of her daughter and now he's robbing him of her family.
Scully determines that Lynette had no Social Security number
and only showed up once in the public records, in 1981 when
her father refused to allow her to inoculated for Polio in
the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia.
Lynette's grave is exhumed. Mulder
thinks Peattie's magic charm is her body - as long as it is
there in the bay area he remains powerful, but if they ship
it off the Quantico, he will lose his power. When the coffin
is opened, however, there is no body in it. The landlady
returns to Peattie's apartment for another poultice - he
doesn't come to the door so she enters. There is a lump on
the bed under the sheet - suspicious, she looks and it is a
long-dead body. Peattie sneaks up behind her.
Scully takes Robert and Lucy to a cabin
to get them out of their mansion and protect them. While
Mulder waits at the mansion for Peattie to arrive he sees a
news account of a 56 year old woman who contracted a rare
flesh-eating disease. Mulder's suspicion is triggered by the
rare disease and rushes to Peattie's apartment. Peattie is
gone but the body is still in the bed, missing the head.
Mulder alerts Scully that Peattie took as much of the magic
charm with him as he could carry. Mulder promises that he is
on his way to join Scully and the Wieders. Peattie, however,
is already outside the cabin and tells his daughter's head,
"Soon. Very Soon." He breaks a window of Scully's car.
Inside the cabin, Scully hears the noise and draws her gun
to guard the door. Peattie finds Scully's FBI security pass
in the glove compartment and sews her picture into a doll.
He pokes nails into the doll's eyes and leaves it on the
driveway . Immediately Scully can't see. Peattie breaks down
t he door and Scully fires but misses him. He takes her gun
away and she is helpless. Peattie comes in to kill Robert
and Lucy. Robert tells him that he is sorry for his loss,
but that Pettie's daughter was dying and was in a lot of
pain and he tried to take the pain away.
Peattie just says that he killed her and
he'll show him what he can do. He stabs a knife into a doll
and Robert experiences intense pain. Scully has her gun and
fires at Peattie, disabling him. Mulder has driven up, found
the broken window of Scully's car and found the doll of her
inside. He removed the nails, allowing her to see again,
find the gun and aim it.
At the medical center, Mulder and Scully
talk. Lynette's body is on it's way back to West Virginia.
Her father is in Intensive Care. Scully admits that would
have done the same as Robert if she was sure she couldn't
save Lynette's life. Mulder agrees with her and says that it
seems pretty clear out. However, Scully tells him maybe it's
not. Mulder guesses correctly that she's wondering if maybe
Peattie could have saved his daughter's life. She doesn't
answer him, but he looks in his eyes and then leaves.
Mulder: "You do keep me guessing".