COUNTY ROAD A7 DUDLEY, ARKANSAS
(Forest, at night. Car pulls into a deserted area, then stops. GEORGE KEARNS, 40’s and PAULA GRAY, early 20’s are in the car. GEORGE is very nervous.)
GEORGE: (stroking her shoulder) We don't have to be out here, you know. It's not like you're still in high school. We can go to the motel.
PAULA: Mm-mm. I wouldn't want anyone to see us.
GEORGE: No one’ll see us.
PAULA: It's a small town.
(PAULA gets out of the car and closes the door. As she does, GEORGE has a small seizure. He manages to take a couple of pills, then relaxes.)
PAULA: (teasing) George... Come on, George.
(He joins her running through the woods.)
GEORGE: (breathless) Why'd ya change your mind anyway?
PAULA: I don’t know. You were pretty persistent, I guess.
GEORGE: Squeaky wheel gets the oil, right?
PAULA: I guess so.
GEORGE: What's wrong with right here? I can just set the blanket down and...
PAULA: Not yet.
GEORGE: Why not?
PAULA: Because... You have to catch me first. (she runs off into the woods)
GEORGE: Aw, come on, now. You don't want me to chase after you, do you?
(He chases her, but can’t run as fast.)
GEORGE: Paula! (There is no sign of her. He trips and falls.) Paula? …
(Tribal music plays in the background.)
GEORGE: Paula. Where are you?
(He runs, then trips and falls again.)
GEORGE: (in pain) Son of a bitch!
(He looks up and sees he is surrounded by lights getting closer to him. Finally he sees a large figure wearing a primitive ceremonial costume and a painted wood mask raise an axe over his head. GEORGE screams as the axe descends toward him.)
FBI HEADQUARTERS WASHINGTON, DC
(X-Files office. MULDER is looking at file on GEORGE KEARNS.)
MULDER: I don’t know, Scully, the man’s vanished. He hasn’t been seen or heard from in ten weeks.
SCULLY: Come on, Mulder, don't you see what they're doing? They're wasting our time. They're sending us on some kind of a wild goose chase.
MULDER: Chicken chase. (SCULLY looks at him questioningly) George Kearns was a federal poultry inspector assigned to Dudley, Arkansas, home of … Chaco Chicken.
SCULLY: I'm not questioning the case's legitimacy, just their motives in assigning it to us. I mean, doesn't it bother you at all that they're undermining your work?
MULDER: They may "think" they are, but on the night George Kearns disappeared a woman on the I-10 saw a strange fire in an adjacent field.
SCULLY: Yes, I read that report. She claims that she saw some kind of a-a foxfire spirit. I'm surprised she didn't call Oprah as soon as she got off the phone with the police.
MULDER: Folktales dating back to the 19th century from the Ozarks describe people being taken away by fireballs. It's supposed to be the spirits of massacred Indians.
SCULLY: (closing her eyes, exasperated) Those are only legends, Mulder.
MULDER: Well, most legends don't leave behind 12-foot burn marks. (hands her a photo of a field with a large burned circle) That photo was taken by state police in the field where the woman claims to have seen foxfire.
SCULLY: This could have been made by anything-- a bonfire.
MULDER: I thought so too. Until I remembered this. (crosses to TV) It's a documentary I saw when I was in college about an insane asylum. Gave me nightmares.
SCULLY: I didn’t think anything gave you nightmares.
MULDER: Unh, I was young.
(MULDER starts tape. Man, CREIGHTON JONES in hospital gown pacing back and forth telling his story. There is a panicked tone to his voice.)
JONES: (on video tape) No...They, uh... See, they took... They, uh... They took me away... They took me away-- the fire demons. The fire demons... the fire demons wanted their pound of flesh but, uh... I'm too fast for them. (he starts laughing ) They cannot kill you. See, you can't let them kill you. Oh, no. Don't let them kill you. Don't let them kill you. That's no way to get to heaven. No, sir. No, sir. That's no way to get to heaven....
MULDER: (stopping tape) His name was Creighton Jones. He pulled off the road on May 17, 1961 to take a nap. They found him three days later so deranged by what he'd encountered that he had to be committed. The state police found his car on the I-10 right in the middle of Dudley, Arkansas, … home of Chaco Chicken.
(MULDER goes back to his desk. SCULLY, disturbed by the tape, looks at the TV, then at the picture of the burned field.)
(MULDER and SCULLY investigate the large burned area in the middle of a field. MULDER picks up a fork from off the ground and examines it. SCULLY finds a strange stick in the ground.)
SCULLY: What's this, Mulder?
MULDER: That's a witch's peg. Staking it into the ground is supposed to ward off evil spirits.
(SHERIFF ARENS walks toward them.)
SHERIFF ARENS: (thick southern accent) Can I help you folks? I'm Sheriff Arens. I saw you back at the turnoff.
MULDER: We're with the FBI. I’m Special Agent Mulder. This is Agent Scully. Were investigating the disappearance of George Kearns.
SHERIFF ARENS: I'm happy to help you but I’m not sure how much there is to investigate.
SCULLY: Well, Sheriff Arens, a man is missing.
SHERIFF ARENS: We didn't find any evidence of criminal activity and since no body turned up we just went ahead and filed a missing persons report.
MULDER: Why didn't you mention this witch's peg in your report?
SHERIFF ARENS: Because these fields are filled with witch's pegs. A lot of these old hill people cling tight to their superstitions.
MULDER: What about the scorched area?
SHERIFF ARENS: Illegal trash burning. (MULDER and SCULLY look at him strangely, he shrugs) I keep handing out the citations. They keep doing it anyway. It's cheaper to pay the fine than to haul it to the dump.
MULDER: So you don’t believe it’s foxfire?
SHERIFF ARENS: Sir, foxfire's nothing more than a ghost story about swamp gas.
(SCULLY gives MULDER an "I told you so" smile. He acknowledges the hit with a tight grin.)
SHERIFF ARENS: I don't know what y'all are thinking, but George Kearns was passing through town since he got here six months ago.
SCULLY: How do you mean?
SHERIFF ARENS: Never did fit in-- not at the plant, not even at his own home. It's no big secret that Kearns stepped out on his wife every chance he got.
SCULLY: Did he have many chances?
SHERIFF ARENS: Let's just say George is the type of man you'd expect to go chasing some sweet young thing out of town.
SCULLY: Is that what his wife thinks happened?
SHERIFF ARENS: Push comes to shove, I’m sure she does. But, you're welcome to ask her yourself.
(KEARNS household. MULDER and SCULLY interview DORIS KEARNS.)
DORIS: My husband had a character that leaves something out. I always knew that about him but I didn't have the sense to do anything about it. I guess he saved me the trouble.
SCULLY: So you're fairly certain that he left you for somebody else.
DORIS: George left me a long time ago. Right around the time I turned 40. Leaving town was just a formality.
SCULLY: Do you have any idea who he might be with now?
DORIS: No. And I don't want to know, either.
MULDER: (looking at folder) This inspection report-- your husband was about to file it with the Department of Agriculture the day before he disappeared.
DORIS: I don’t know anything about that.
MULDER: He never discussed his work with you?
DORIS: He never told me and I never asked.
MULDER: Well, he cited several major health violations. He was gonna recommend that the plant be shut down.
DORIS: I told you, I don’t know a thing about what went on in that plant.
SCULLY: Did your husband ever receive any threatening phone calls or anything unusual in the mail?
DORIS: Sure. There were hang-ups but I always thought it was one of his girlfriends.
MULDER: Let me give you my phone number. If your husband tries to contact you I want you to get in touch with me. Or if you can think of anything else.
(MULDER and SCULLY leave.)
(Chaco Chicken processing plant. Billboard advertises "Good People, Good Food." MULDER and SCULLY arrive and enter the plant. PAULA is at her locker getting ready. She is shaking, looks ill.)
WORKER: Come on, Paula. Let’s go.
(PAULA looks around nervously and swallows some pills dry, then follows the others to the plant floor.)
(On the floor dead chickens are being processed. SHERIFF ARENS is introducing MULDER and SCULLY to JESS HAROLD.)
SHERIFF ARENS: This is Jess Harold. He's the floor manager here. Jess, these people are with the FBI.
JESS HAROLD: Oh, you're here about George Kearns, right?
SCULLY: Well, there’s a possibility that his disappearance may have something to do with a report he was about to file with the Department of Agriculture.
JESS HAROLD: (laughs) You got to understand that ever since he got here George has been trying to shut us down.
SCULLY: Well he cited multiple violations.
JESS HAROLD: I know he did. Believe me, I had to answer to every one.
SCULLY: Was there any merit to his claims?
JESS HAROLD: Let me show you something.
(JESS HAROLD leads them to another part of the plant. As they exit, PAULA who was working nearby begins gasping as if in great pain. She looks like she’s about to faint. Her COWORKER [who looks a lot like Chris Carter] notices.)
COWORKER: Paula, you okay?
( PAULA gasps. She watches the dead chickens go by on spikes. Suddenly, she sees the severed head of GEORGE instead of a chicken. She pulls the head off the spike, throws it to the floor and runs out of the room. The COWORKER looks down at the dead chicken on the floor, confused.)
(JESS HAROLD continues giving MULDER and SCULLY the tour. SHERIFF ARENS follows along.)
JESS HAROLD: This is where George worked. Not a chicken leaves here without passing through the inspector's station. We've been operating here for 50 years without any trouble with the USDA. Until George came along.
SCULLY: So he really did threaten to shut the plant down.
JESS HAROLD: Oh, he tried, but we got three other inspectors here who consistently give us top marks. Here, see for yourself. (hands her a clipboard) No, the only problem this plant ever had was George.
SCULLY: Problem enough to do something about?
(MULDER looks around the plant.)
JESS HAROLD: If you're suggesting any kind of unsavoriness, I guess anything's possible, but you’ve got to understand about George. He had a bone to pick with everyone-- even the federal government.
SCULLY: What are you talking about?
JESS HAROLD: He filed a big worker's compensation suit-- claimed he was getting terrible headaches from his job. "Line hypnosis" his lawyers called it.
SCULLY: Yeah, I read about that. It's caused by high-speed repetitive activity.
JESS HAROLD: I will not deny that a lot of chickens go through here every day, but we've always operated well within federal guidelines.
SCULLY: What happened to his lawsuit?
JESS HAROLD: Well, it was dismissed just a few weeks before he disappeared.
(MULDER has been looking at a very large vat of disgusting organic material being slowly stirred by a machine.)
MULDER: What’s that?
JESS HAROLD: Oh, that... (leads them over to the machine) It's a feed grinder. Chops up bone and tissue. See, any part of the bird we can't package we process, use as feed.
MULDER: Chickens feed on chickens?
JESS HAROLD: (laughs) I know it doesn't sound too appetizing, but it is nutritious and it cuts down on costs. The meat is cooked and mixed with grain. No reason letting all that protein go to waste.
JESS HAROLD: You'll have to excuse me. I got a shift change.
(JESS HAROLD leaves them alone, as does SHERIFF ARENS who crosses over to someone else.)
SHERIFF ARENS: Logan…
SCULLY: So, Mulder, are you ready to admit they sent us on a fool's errand?
MULDER: If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise, Scully.
SCULLY: (impatient) Well, whether George Kearns skipped town or somebody killed him, this case could've been handled by any agent under the Kansas City office.
MULDER: I’m not so sure about that.
(MULDER and SCULLY start to exit, but turn back when they hear a woman cry out. PAULA has her arm around JESS HAROLD’s neck, a boning knife against the side of his face. MULDER pulls out his gun. SCULLY begins walking slowly toward PAULA, her hand stretched out.)
MULDER: : Let him go. We’re federal agents
SCULLY. Everyone stay calm. Don't hurt him. Just tell us what you want. Don’t get excited. Just calm down. Stay calm. We don’t want anyone to get hurt. We can talk this thing out. Why don’t you give me the knife?
(PAULA is listening to SCULLY, but then from across the room there is the sound of a gunshot as SHERIFF ARENS shoots and kills PAULA. She falls into the vat behind her. MULDER slowly lowers his gun looking at SHERIFF ARENS.)
SCULLY: (to JESS HAROLD) You okay?
(PAULA’s body sinks into the dead chicken mush.)
(Later PAULA’s body has been removed from the vat. She is zipped up in a body bag and wheeled out. DR. RANDOLPH is treating the cut on JESS HAROLD’s neck.)
SCULLY: Do you have any idea what might have prompted her attack?
JESS HAROLD: None at all.
SCULLY: No recent complaints or strange behavior?
JESS HAROLD: Paula has always been one of our best employees -- stable, well-liked... I can't even begin to imagine what brought this on.
MULDER: What about you, Dr. Randolph? Do you have any ideas?
JESS HAROLD: If you're done with me, I got work to do.
DR. RANDOLPH: Come by tomorrow. Let me make sure it's not infected.
JESS HAROLD: (tense, walks away) Sure.
DR. RANDOLPH: Uh, Paula came by last week complaining of persistent headaches. She'd suddenly started getting... irritable, unable to sleep.
SCULLY: Were you able to determine the cause?
DR. RANDOLPH: No. I'm just the staff physician. I don't usually treat anything more difficult than a hand injury. I'm out of my depth in psychiatric matters.
SCULLY: You didn't find anything physically wrong with her?
DR. RANDOLPH: I sent her to County for a brain scan and EEG. Both came back normal so I just assumed her condition was stress-related.
SCULLY: Could it have been line hypnosis?
DR. RANDOLPH: Like I said, I'm not qualified to make that diagnosis.
MULDER: But you can tell us whether George Kearns came to you with any similar complaints.
DR. RANDOLPH: They presented similar symptoms, yeah.
SCULLY: How did you treat them?
DR. RANDOLPH: I treated them both with pain medication-- codeine.
SCULLY: Well, I think an autopsy on Paula Gray would clarify things.
DR. RANDOLPH: I'm afraid I can't authorize that. You'd have to speak with Mr. Chaco.
SCULLY: Why? You're a physician.
DR. RANDOLPH: Yeah, but Mr. Chaco was Paula Gray's grandfather and her legal guardian.
(MULDER and SCULLY drive up to elegant old southern home. They go to the door and ring the bell. The HOUSEKEEPER leads them out back to where CHACO, 60’s, is hand feeding some pet chickens who are in a small outdoor pen.)
MULDER: Mr. Chaco?
CHACO: (not looking at them) Feeding these chickens helps me clear my mind. They're perfect creatures, you know. We eat their meat, their eggs. We sleep on pillows stuffed with their feathers. Not many people I know are as useful as these chickens.
(MULDER and SCULLY are uncomfortable.)
SCULLY: We’re sorry to disturb you, sir. We realize this is a difficult time for you.
CHACO: You want to conduct an autopsy on my granddaughter. Why? You think Paula had some kind of disease that made her act that way?
SCULLY: That's what we're hoping a postmortem will determine.
CHACO: Thought your business here was George Kearns' disappearance.
MULDER: It is, but we suspect that might have something to do with what happened to your granddaughter.
MULDER: We’re not sure yet, but it's possible they may have both suffered from the same neurological disorder.
CHACO: You know, when I came here after the war, Dudley was just a patch of dirt. I built that plant and put my whole family to work there. We made this town one of the biggest chicken processors in the nation. We couldn't have done that with troublemakers and layabouts.
SCULLY: I assume you’re talking about George Kearns.
CHACO: Men like George Kearns don't build things. They tend to tear them down.
SCULLY: Then you're aware of his recommendation to close down your plant?
CHACO: You know, living a long life is a mixed blessing. You spend your youth trying to build something for yourself and your family and your community only to watch it all taken away from you at your old age. Still... I'm not ready to die just yet. (smiles) You go do your autopsy on Paula. I want to know what happened to my granddaughter.
(As CHACO enters his house alone, MULDER and SCULLY share a look.)
SETH COUNT MORGUE
(SCULLY is looking at tissue in a microscope in autopsy lab. MULDER enters.)
SCULLY: I think we’ve got something here, Mulder. Take a look at this.
MULDER: (looking in microscope) What am I looking at?
SCULLY: It's a specimen from Paula Gray's brain. She suffered from a rare degenerative disorder called Creutzfeldt- Jacob disease. It's characterized by the formation of spongelike holes in the brain tissue.
MULDER: Why didn't this show up on any of her charts?
SCULLY: Short of an autopsy it's very difficult to diagnose. Outside of a textbook I’ve only seen infected tissue once and that was back in medical school.
MULDER: Could this be the reason she attacked Jess Harold?
SCULLY: Absolutely. Victims of Creutzfeldt-Jacob suffer from progressive dementia, severe seizures...
MULDER: Is it fatal?
SCULLY: This girl would have been dead in months.
MULDER: Except that Paula Gray was no girl. This is her personnel file, Scully. Check it out. It says here that Paula Gray was born in 1948, which means that this woman-- Chaco’s granddaughter-- was 47 years old.
SCULLY: There’s got to be some kind of a mistake.
MULDER: Let's find out. Her birth certificate should be on file at the Seth County courthouse. Who knows, Scully? This could be *even* more interesting than foxfire.
(MULDER leaves. SCULLY stares at PAULA’s body for a moment.)
(Later. MULDER and SCULLY driving along two lane road.)
SCULLY: The odds that Paula Gray and George Kearns had the same disease are practically nonexistent. Creutzfeldt-Jacob can be hereditary but it's not communicable. That two unrelated people in the same small town would contract the same rare disease is...
MULDER: …A lot more likely than Paula Gray being three years shy of her 50th birthday.
(The chicken truck in the oncoming lane suddenly swerves in front of them.)
SCULLY: Mulder, look out!
(MULDER steers the car off the road and out of the way of the truck which crashes into the creek next to the road. MULDER and SCULLY get out and run to the truck. Chickens are squawking as the truck begins to sink into the reddish brown water.)
MULDER: Call an ambulance. I’ll try to get the driver out.
SCULLY: (on phone) This is Federal Agent Scully. I’d like to report an accident on Count A7 …
(Later, crash scene. Tow truck is pulling the truck out of the creek.)
SCULLY: I just got off the phone with Dr. Randolph. He said this driver had the same symptoms as Paula Gray and George Kearns.
MULDER: You're saying this is a third victim of Creutzfeldt-Jacob? You just got through telling me that two cases would be statistically impossible.
SCULLY: Well, they would be. (pause) I just came up with a sick theory, Mulder.
(MULDER pauses, then puts his hand on her shoulder and leads her to the side to speak privately.)
MULDER: Ooh, I’m listening.
SCULLY: You saw the feed grinders at the plant. What if somebody put George Kearns’s body in there? Creutzfeldt-Jacob is a prion disease which means it could have been passed on to the chickens and in turn anyone who consumed them.
MULDER: So anyone eating chickens out of Dudley would be at risk?
SCULLY: It's possible. You know, sometimes in England they'll incinerate cattle to keep them from passing mad cow disease on to people.
MULDER: Yeah, but chickens from Dudley are shipped all over the country. If what you’re saying were true, we'd be seeing an epidemic not just a few local cases.
(SCULLY shrugs. MULDER looks again at the red water in the creek.)
MULDER: Sheriff Arens? What's wrong with this water?
SHERIFF ARENS: Runoff from the plant. Chicken litter, mostly. Some blood and parts from the birds.
MULDER: Was this river searched after George Kearns disappeared?
SHERIFF ARENS: Talk about a needle in a haystack.
MULDER: Well, I’d like it dragged as soon as possible.
SHERIFF ARENS: (surprised) Why would you want to do that?
MULDER: To see what's in there.
SHERIFF ARENS: Well, listen, that's a filthy job and I don't particularly want to do it unless I know what it is you're looking for.
MULDER: Hopefully nothing.
(SHERIFF ARENS says nothing.)
MULDER: Look, Sheriff Arens, if you don't want to do it I can get some of my men down here to do it.
SHERIFF ARENS: (big grin, all accommodating good old boy) I'll do it. (leaves)
SCULLY: Mulder ….
MULDER: Oh, it's just a hunch. If George Kearns didn’t run off, if he was murdered for that inspection report then his body's got to be somewhere.
(Later that evening, still by the bloody creek which is being dragged. SHERIFF ARENS quickly comes over to MULDER and SCULLY.)
SHERIFF ARENS: We closed the spillway, and the water level dropped. They came up with it almost immediately.
MULDER: Did you find Kearns?
SHERIFF ARENS: Maybe you better see for yourself.
(MULDER and SCULLY look at net filled with bones, then at each other.)
(Next morning. SCULLY is sorting bones in a large room. MULDER enters.)
MULDER: Sheriff Arens is outside. They're still pulling bones from the river.
SCULLY: Well, so far I’ve been able to isolate nine distinct skeletons. This one belonged to the late George Kearns.
MULDER: How do you know?
SCULLY: The pin in his femur. According to his medical file, Kearns broke his right leg four years ago.
MULDER: What about the others?
SCULLY: Well. I'll need more sophisticated equipment to be certain, but I estimate that some of these bones are as much as 20 or 30 years old. All of them share one strange detail, though.
MULDER: Well, they seem to have lost their heads.
SCULLY: Well, besides that. The older bones show signs of decay and surface abrasion just like you'd expect but for some reason all of them, even Kearns’s, are smooth and buffed at the ends.
MULDER: (looking) It’s almost like they’ve been polished.
SCULLY: It could be from erosion from the water, but...
MULDER: No. That water had hardly any current and this level of erosion wouldn't be confined to just the ends of the bones.
SCULLY: Any theories?
(MULDER pulls out his phone and begins dialing.)
(DORIS comes down the hall where the SHERIFF ARENS is getting some coffee.)
DORIS: Sheriff Arens?
SHERIFF ARENS: Doris.
DORIS: Is it true? Just tell me.
SHERIFF ARENS: Doris, I want you to listen to me.
DORIS: They found him, didn't they? (begins crying)
SHERIFF ARENS: Well, we brought up quite a few remains at the river this afternoon and George’s were among them. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry.
DORIS: No... No!
(DORIS runs crying hysterically down the hall.)
SHERIFF ARENS: (calling after her) It’s gonna be all right. Don’t worry, Doris. We’ll take care of you. Doris? Doris!
(Chicken plant. JESS HAROLD takes clipboard from a WORKER.)
JESS HAROLD: That the new schedule?
(He sees DR. RANDOLPH across the room and goes to speak privately with him in a room with live chickens. DR. RANDOLPH is very nervous.)
JESS HAROLD: Why do I get the feeling you're not here to check up on my neck?
DR. RANDOLPH: They found bones in the river.
JESS HAROLD: I know. I heard.
DR. RANDOLPH: Did you also hear that Clayton Walsh came down with the symptoms? That's four. It's getting worse with every day that goes by.
JESS HAROLD: Someone has to tell Mr. Chaco.
DR. RANDOLPH: He knows what’s happening. He’s just not doing anything about it.
JESS HAROLD: Maybe I should talk to him.
DR. RANDOLPH: You can try.
JESS HAROLD: I will talk to him. He'll listen to me.
DR. RANDOLPH: And if he doesn't?
(MULDER in the room with the bones looking at some files. SCULLY enters holding a bucket of chicken.)
MULDER: I had Danny run a check on all missing persons last seen within a 200- mile radius of Dudley. In the last 50 years, 87 people have disappeared near here and, judging from the forensic evidence, I’d say the same person or persons was responsible.
SCULLY: Then it may have been the work of some kind of a cult.
MULDER: Scully, I think the good people of Dudley have been eating more than just chicken.
SCULLY: You think these people were eaten?
MULDER: Look at these bones. They've been polished at both ends suggesting they were boiled in a pot. Anthropologists have used similar evidence to prove cannibalism among the Anasazi tribe of New Mexico.
SCULLY: Well, then Paula Gray may have contracted Creutzfeldt-Jacob by eating George Kearns.
MULDER: That could begin to explain her youthful appearance.
SCULLY: What are you talking about?
MULDER: Some cannibalistic rituals are enacted with a belief that they can prolong life.
SCULLY: Cannibalism is one thing but increasing longevity by eating human flesh...
MULDER: Think about it, Scully. From vampirism to Catholicism, whether literally or symbolically, the reward for eating flesh is eternal life. I don’t claim to know how it works, but we both saw Paula Gray.
SCULLY: We never confirmed the date of birth on her personnel file.
MULDER: The records at the courthouse should tell us how old she really is and if anybody else in Dudley is lying about their age. (at door) You coming?
(MULDER exits. SCULLY looks at the bones on the floor, then sets the bucket of chicken down and follows him.)
(Chaco residence, night. JESS HAROLD is with CHACO.)
JESS HAROLD: You’ve got to do something about what’s happening, Mr. Chaco. People are getting scared. They don't know what to make of things.
CHACO: They're losing their faith is what it sounds like.
JESS HAROLD: It's getting hard to hold on to the way things are going. Three more have gotten sick since yesterday.
CHACO: I lost my granddaughter in this, Jess, so don't tell me what we're up against. Now, I said I’ll handle it.
JESS HAROLD: I know you did ....
(Door bell rings. HOUSEKEEPER answers it. DORIS enters in tears.)
DORIS: I need to see Mr. Chaco.
DORIS: I... I can't do this anymore, Mr. Chaco. I can't keep lying.
CHACO: (comforting) It's all right. Jess told me what happened. You have nothing to worry about.
DORIS: They're gonna think I did it.
CHACO: No. They won't think any such thing.
DORIS: But I did. I helped!
CHACO: No. He was no good, Doris. He had no values. He didn't fit in here.
DORIS: But he was my husband.
CHACO: That was a price you had to pay. Now, you knew that from the beginning.
DORIS: But those FBI agents...
CHACO: Ah-ah. This town wasn't built in a day. It's not about to fall apart in a day. You're a part of us now and we're going to take good care of you. Now I want you to go home, get some rest. You've got a funeral to go to. This whole thing will blow over soon enough and you'll wonder what all the fuss is about.
DORIS: I’m sorry.
CHACO: That's all right. We all understand, Doris. Good night.
(DORIS leaves not crying anymore, but still upset. Smiles weakly over her shoulder as she goes out the door.)
CHACO: She'll be fine.
JESS HAROLD: She's not stable.
CHACO: She's one of us now, part of our town.
JESS HAROLD: Unless we do something about her there won't be any town left to speak of.
CHACO: No! No. Once we start turning on ourselves we're no better than the animals. It's the FBI we should be worried about. They're the real problem.
SETH COUNTY COURTHOUSE
(Night. MULDER and SCULLY pick the lock on the Birth Registry office and enter with flashlights. All the file cabinets are burned.)
MULDER: Someone’s been playing with matches.
SCULLY: Smells like a recent fire.
MULDER: I bet it’s no coincidence it only hit the birth records.
(Shadow of someone passes outside door window.)
SCULLY: You think someone was expecting us?
(MULDER’s phone rings.)
MULDER: (on phone) Mulder.
DORIS: (on phone, in her dark house) It’s Doris Kearns. I’m in my house. I need to speak with you right away.
MULDER: (on phone) Are you all right?
DORIS: (on phone) I'm afraid for my life. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
MULDER: (on phone) Who?
DORIS: (on phone) Mr. Chaco.
MULDER: (on phone) All right, Mrs. Kearns, I want you to stay in the house and lock the door and don’t answer the door until Agent Scully gets there. (hangs up)
SCULLY: Where are you going?
MULDER: To take Chaco into custody.
(Crying hysterically, DORIS walks through the dark house locking the doors. Lights go out. She comes face to face with the masked figure with the axe from the beginning. He raises the axe above her head and she screams.)
(SCULLY drives up to the KEARNS house and goes to the door and rings bell.)
SCULLY: Mrs. Kearns?! Mrs. Kearns?!
(No lights. She goes in the back door and begins walking through the house with her flashlight. No one responds.)
SCULLY: Mrs. Kearns?
(She gasps as door slams shut behind her, then keeps walking through house.)
(CHACO residence. MULDER rings the bell and shows his badge as the HOUSEKEEPER answers.)
MULDER: Is Mr. Chaco in?
HOUSEKEEPER: (with attitude) I'll see if he's still awake.
(She goes upstairs. MULDER looks around at the primitive art, figurines, and masks decorating the Chaco house. Sees old picture of CHACO standing with some island natives. Caption "JALE TRIBE, NEW GUINEA 1944." Looks over to large locked cabinet. HOUSEKEEPER comes back downstairs.)
HOUSEKEEPER: (smugly happy that she can’t help) I’m sorry, but Mr. Chaco is unable to see you now.
MULDER: Do you know what's in here?
HOUSEKEEPER: I wouldn't know.
MULDER: Can you open it?
HOUSEKEEPER: I don't have the key.
(MULDER looks around, then picks up small heavy statue and breaks the padlock off the cabinet.)
HOUSEKEEPER: What do you think you're doing?
(MULDER opens the cabinet and sees four human heads, including GEORGE’s. MULDER looks up the stairs where HOUSEKEEPER has left again.)
(KEARNS house. SCULLY’s phone rings.)
SCULLY: (on phone) Scully.
MULDER: (on phone) Scully, Chaco’s not here.
SCULLY: (on phone) Yeah, Mrs. Kearns is missing too, Mulder. I think someone’s been here. (we see shape of someone, CHACO in the house with her) The power was cut and the back door was wide open when I got here. But her car is still out back.
MULDER: (on phone) Chaco must have taken her.
(Hears sound of SCULLY’s phone hitting the floor.)
MULDER: (on phone, voice) Scully? Scully! Scully! What happened? Scully! Are you there?
(SCULLY lies on the floor, knocked out.)
MULDER: (on phone) Are you all right? Answer me! SCULLY!!
(MULDER looks up at the heads in the cabinet.)
(Night. Middle of a field. Townspeople are milling around a large bonfire and getting soup from a large pot. CHACO, angry, walks into the group with SCULLY who has her hands tied in front and gaffer’s tape over her mouth. She looks frightened, is unresisting.)
CHACO: What have you done here? I warned you. I said not to touch her. Doris Kearns was one of us.! Who's behind this?
(JESS HAROLD walks up to CHACO wiping his lips.)
CHACO: Why didn't you listen to me? It's the outsiders we have to deal with, not one of our own.
JESS HAROLD: (calmly) We'll deal with them all.
CHACO: Look at yourselves. Look at what you've become. This isn't faith anymore it's just fear. They've turned us into an abomination.
JESS HAROLD: You brought in the outsider who made us sick.
CHACO: Once you turn on yourselves it's over. How long before it's any one of us? Any one of you?
JESS HAROLD: That's not your problem anymore, Mr. Chaco.
CHACO: (aims gun at JESS HAROLD) No.
(Someone grabs CHACO from behind. JESS HAROLD takes the gun away.)
CHACO: (quietly) Kill me... And you kill us all.
(CHACO is forced to kneel down and place his head in a metal harness which two other townspeople lock, then step back. SCULLY watches in horror as the MASKED MAN raises the axe over CHACO’s head and swings.)
(MULDER driving very fast.)
JESS HAROLD: Bring her over.
(They make SCULLY kneel down and lock her head into the harness.)
(MULDER driving into the field.)
(MASKED MAN raising his axe over SCULLY. SCULLY’s eyes are wide and terrified.)
(MULDER running out of the car toward the bonfire, his gun out.)
(Bonfire. As MASKED MAN brings the axe down over SCULLY there are gunshots and he falls dead. Townspeople begin running and screaming. JESS HAROLD aims the gun, but then gets trampled by the other townspeople. MULDER runs to SCULLY and releases her from the harness.)
MULDER: (softly) Are you hurt?
(He pulls the tape off her mouth and gently brushes her hair out of her face.)
MULDER: You all right?
(She nods. Hands still bound, she follows MULDER as he goes to the dead MASKED MAN and removes his mask. It is SHERIFF ARENS.)
(Next day. Chicken plant. Business as usual, then state police come in and begin putting crime scene tape up and telling everyone to step away from their stations.)
SCULLY: (voiceover) Pending further review, the Chaco processing plant has been closed by the USDA. So far, no evidence of contaminated chicken has been discovered. Though it remains unknown how many citizens participated in the ritual activity, 27 have become fatally ill with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. What is known is that a transport plane carrying Walter Chaco was shot down in 1944 over New Guinea. Chaco was the only survivor of that crash. According to naval records, he spent six months with the Jole -- a tribe whose cannibalistic practices have long been suspected but never proven. Naval records also show that Walter Chaco was born in 1902 making him 93 years old at the time of his death. As of this date, his remains still have not been found.
(Worker finds some grey hair in a bucket of the chicken feed and proceeds to feed the mix to some chickens who eagerly gobble it up.)