(Stormy, rainy night. Bedroom of a large old house. Close-up of the rattle (not still attached) from a rattlesnake's tail lying on the dresser. A young man, JARED CHIRP, is packing a suitcase. He is very nervous. He looks at a piece of paper with medical lab test results. In disgust and anger he tears it in half and throws it toward the wastebasket and misses. He continues to pack.)
JARED CHIRP: (under his breath) Holy Ghost, come to me. Praise God. Praise God. Move up on me, Holy Ghost. Praise God.
(He removes a Bible from a drawer and holds it reverently.)
JARED CHIRP: This here sinner repents. Holy Ghost, move up on me.
(He takes a picture of a young blonde woman from the Bible and looks at it.)
JARED CHIRP: Protect me and mine with your quickening power.
(Flash of lightening outside allows us to see the outline of a man standing among the trees. In the next flash, he is gone. JARED CHIRP packs the Bible and the picture. He gets a gun from another drawer and checks the clip. It's loaded with six bullets. As he does, he hears the sound of a snake rattling. He looks over at the rattle on the dresser as it moves on its own. He gets even more nervous.)
JARED CHIRP: Holy Ghost, come to me.
(He tucks the gun into his pants, picks up the suitcase and goes outside into the rainy night and gets into his car. We see someone close by watching him. Their hands is resting on a tree. JARED CHIRP locks the car doors and places the gun on top of the suitcase next to him on the passenger side of the car. When he pulls out his keys, his hands are shaking so badly that he drops them onto the floor board. As he reaches down for them he hears the rattling again and a hiss. A large rattlesnake slides from under the car seat toward the keys. Trembling in fear, JARED CHIRP reaches for the gun. Another rattler slides up and onto the suitcase, slithering over the gun. He frantically tries to open the door, but it does not unlock.)
JARED CHIRP: Oh, help me, Jesus! Oh, help me, Jesus! Help me, Jesus!
(The car is now full of snakes. He pulls the gun from under the snakes on the suitcase. Exterior shot of the car shows it shaking as he fires the gun several times. He begins screaming.)
(X-Files office. MULDER's computer display shows a video of some evil looking hissing rattlesnake from some animal fact-type website. He is on the phone as SCULLY enters.)
MULDER: (on phone) Not as far as you know? ... Not this time of year? ... All right. Thank you, Doctor. Good-bye.
(SCULLY looks at the computer screen he turns to her as MULDER hangs up.)
MULDER: Lots and lots of snakes. Very pissed off ones, from the look of it.
(MULDER hands her a folder. SCULLY opens it and reacts to the image of JARED CHIRP's bloated and discolored corpse.)
MULDER: That's the former Mr. Jared Chirp of McMinn County, Tennessee.
SCULLY: Oh, my God.
MULDER: 116 separate bite marks. Judging from the wound measurements there were 50 different snakes involved-- mostly copperheads and rattlers.
SCULLY: But it says here that he was found dead in his car.
MULDER: Yeah, with a pistol in his hand. He fired six shots, into the floorboards, into the passenger seat, even into his own right kneecap, and the windows were shut and the doors were locked.
SCULLY: But, uh, what happened to all the snakes?
MULDER: No one seems to know that. There was not a scale found. I just got off the phone with a herpetologist at the Smithsonian, and he's stumped - especially because these rattlesnakes tend to hibernate in winter.
SCULLY: So you think that, uh... Mr. Chirp was murdered?
MULDER: Well, it certainly would appear that way but the question is "how?" There's no physical evidence at all-- no tire tracks, no footprints. I can't see how anyone could have accomplished this. And then you got to ask yourself "why?" Why would anybody use poisonous snakes as a murder weapon?
SCULLY: Maybe it's symbolic. I mean, serpents and religion have gone hand in hand. They've represented the temptation of Eve-- Original Sin. They've been feared and hated throughout history as they've been thought to embody Satan-- to serve Evil itself.
MULDER: Maybe these ones actually do.
SCULLY: These particular serpents actually were serving Evil? ("looks" at him) Are you going to type that on our travel request?
MULDER: (with a smile) Mmm ... No. But at the very least this case does seem to center around religion ... and you're not the only one to think that by the way.
(SCULLY looks at him questioningly.)
(Small town church. Stained-glass windows, nice pews. After a funeral. A young blonde woman, the same as in the picture that JARED CHIRP was looking at in the teaser, is crying. She is GRACIE, very pregnant, and sitting with an older woman, IRIS FINSTER. IRIS has ... interesting hair. At least three cans of hairspray were needed to achieve the look. GRACIE clutches a tissue and has been crying for a while. REVEREND SAMUEL MACKEY, a gentle looking minister, comes up to them.)
REVEREND MACKEY: (comforting) Jared is in a better place now, Gracie. He's at peace.
(GRACIE, with IRIS' arm around her shoulder, walks to the coffin and tenderly fingers the flowers on top.)
IRIS FINSTER: You know, Reverend Mackey's right, honey. He is in a better place.
(GRACIE touches the coffin sadly and they go out of the church. A Ford Taurus is parked in front, MULDER and SCULLY walk over to them. MULDER is very casual, dark shirt, no tie. Okay, he's a good-looking man. SCULLY, of course, is stunning as always. They hold out their badges.)
MULDER: Reverend Samuel Mackey? My name is Fox Mulder. This is Dana Scully. We're with the FBI. May be speak with you, sir?
(SCULLY looks up to see IRIS FINSTER and GRACIE on the church steps.)
IRIS FINSTER: Come on, Gracie. Let's get you home.
(IRIS FINSTER leads GRACIE away to a car.)
MULDER: We apologize for our timing. We'd like to ask you a few questions about Jared Chirp.
REVEREND MACKEY: I've already spoken to the Sheriff about it... though I'm not sure that was a good idea.
MULDER: Specifically, you had suspicions about the manner in which he died?
REVEREND MACKEY: (sighs) I should be the last one to point a finger or say a harsh word. Our church is founded on acceptance and tolerance of all people, all beliefs...
REVEREND MACKEY: Before Jared joined us he belonged to a fundamentalist congregation outside of town-- the Church of God with Signs and Wonders. It practices snake handling.
MULDER: As a sign of faith, worshipers handle deadly snakes or drink poison.
REVEREND MACKEY: They believe that the Holy Spirit protects the righteous. Jared grew up in that church but it is very difficult to walk away from a belief system that one is raised in. It takes great courage.
(SCULLY reacts to that one.)
MULDER: Why did he walk away?
REVEREND MACKEY: He and Gracie, his girlfriend, left it together. They found that a rigid interpretation of the Bible was not for them, especially when it involves risking life and limb in the act of worship, but again it is not for me to judge. I will say, however, that both Jared and Gracie were persecuted by the members of their former church. All this animus... stems from their church leader-- Enoch O'Connor.
SCULLY: Animus enough to motivate a murder?
(REVEREND MACKEY looks at them.)
(Later, MULDER and SCULLY pull up in front of the Church of God With Signs and Wonders. It is a small run down building. Hand painted sign outside the church:
"LOOK UNTO ME AND BE SAVED:
ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH;
FOR I AM GOD, AND THERE IS NONE OTHER:
All the windows are shaded. MULDER and SCULLY walk up the steps onto the porch.)
SCULLY: Snake handling. I didn't learn that in catechism class.
MULDER: That's funny. I knew a couple of Catholic schoolgirls who were expert at it.
(SCULLY gives him a look. They enter the dark church.)
MULDER: Enoch O'Connor? Federal Agents. (to SCULLY) Where's the light switch?
SCULLY: The nearest one? Probably ten miles from here.
(MULDER chuckles. The door won't stay open and swings shut. They pull out their small flashlights. SCULLY looks at a hand painted picture on the wall.)
SCULLY: Rattlesnakes and medieval visions of damnation. Well, I for one, feel a whole lot closer to God.
MULDER: I don't know, Scully. When you... when you get right down to it is snake handling any harder to buy into than communion wafers or transubstantiation...?
SCULLY: Or believing in flying saucers, for that matter.
MULDER: I'm just saying that-that your faith and O'Connor's seem to be based on the same book.
(As they look around, SCULLY walks past a snake that seems very interested in her feet. She doesn't notice it. MULDER finds a hinged box with a wire mesh screen.)
MULDER: Uh-oh, Scully. What do you think O'Connor keeps in here?
SCULLY: Something slithery?
MULDER: (shaking the box) It's all right. It's empty.
SCULLY: Why is it empty?
(Sound of loud rattling. MULDER and SCULLY both whip around and pull out their guns. Snakes begin slithering out of corners and from under pews. A man, REVEREND ENOCH REVEREND O'CONNOR enters the church. He has a thick [yet accurate, thank you] East Tennessee accent.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: By what right are you here?
SCULLY: (nervously, holding out her badge, not taking her eyes off the snakes) Reverend Enoch O'Connor, we're Federal Agents. We're, uh... with the FBI.
MULDER: Reverend, do something about these snakes, please.
REVEREND O'CONNOR: You got nothing to fear if you're righteous people.
MULDER: (very nervous) Just in case we're not, we could use a little righteous help here.
REVEREND O'CONNOR: What do you want?
(REVEREND O'CONNOR begins confidently picking up the snakes and putting them into a burlap bag.)
SCULLY: (still nervous) We're here to ask you questions about a former member of your church-- Jared Chirp.
REVEREND O'CONNOR: That boy strayed from the path and was lost to the dark one. I'm sorry for his soul. There ain't much else to say.
MULDER: He died from multiple snakebites. We thought maybe you'd have a special insight into that.
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (picking up another snake) I do. It was a test.
SCULLY: A test? What do you mean?
REVEREND O'CONNOR: A test of faith. A test of righteousness. When the Devil aims to test you, you'd best be ready and you sure better know which side you're on.
(Rattling stops. The snakes are now all in the bag.)
SCULLY: Are you speaking about the Devil's test or your test?
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (to SCULLY) I don't think you people realize which side you're on. I do. You can leave now.
(SCULLY glances at MULDER. Then they holster their guns and walk out of the church and head for their car.)
SCULLY: Tennessee. Snakes. Thank you, Mulder. Thank you so much. I say we arrest him and catch the first flight out of here.
MULDER: He does seem like a likely suspect only the local sheriff's office ruled him out. Apparently, he was in Kentucky the night Jared Chirp died.
SCULLY: Well, Mulder, there are other people in his congregation.
MULDER: Jared Chirp died with a packed suitcase by his side. There's got to be somebody that knows where he was headed.
(They get into the car.)
(REVEREND MACKEY's church. Several people, including GRACIE and IRIS FINSTER are getting ready for an evening Bible study class. IRIS FINSTER hands a cup of tea or coffee to GRACIE.)
IRIS FINSTER: Here you go, honey.
(REVEREND MACKEY enters. IRIS FINSTER is nervous. She goes up to REVEREND MACKEY and speaks to him privately.)
IRIS FINSTER: Reverend Mackey? This might not be the best time but can I speak to you?
REVEREND MACKEY: Of course.
IRIS FINSTER: Jared called the boardinghouse late the night he died. He wanted to talk to Gracie. I didn't let him. It was after 2:00. She was sound asleep and it sounded to me like the boy had been drinking. He just wasn't making any sense. He was ranting about seeing the Devil and paying for his sins.
REVEREND MACKEY: Iris, why didn't you tell the police?
IRIS FINSTER: Well, I don't know how to tell Gracie. I kept her from speaking to Jared his last night on Earth. I couldn't have known, though. I couldn't have...
REVEREND MACKEY: No, no. You couldn't have known. I can help you talk to Gracie.
GRACIE: Reverend Mackey? Everybody's here.
REVEREND MACKEY: Thank you, Gracie. (to IRIS FINSTER) You and I will see this through, Iris, right after study group.
IRIS FINSTER: (grateful) Thank you.
CHURCH OF GOD WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS 7:09 PM
(REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. Service is beginning. Pick-up trucks are parked outside. The room is full of men, women and children. No one looks overly wealthy. REVEREND O'CONNOR preaches in a passionate sing-song evangelical style. Several people have musical instruments. Others are clapping to the music.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (voice) Our God is a fearsome God.
MAN: (voice) Amen!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (voice) He demands our very lives!
(Inside the church, REVEREND O'CONNOR is reading from the Bible.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Revelations Three, the 16th verse. "'Tis better to be hot or cold than lukewarm."
(Congregation shouts affirmation.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (laughing with joy) God says, if you're lukewarm He will vomit you out of His mouth.
CONGREGATION: Praise God!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Yes! Did you hear what I said?!
CONGREGATION: Praise God! Yes!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: God hates the lukewarm!
(REVEREND MACKEY's Bible study class. They are sitting in a nice calm circle.)
REVEREND MACKEY: (reading from another, more "modern" version of the Bible) "So, because you are lukewarm I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Now, that could sound pretty harsh, couldn't it? I mean, depending on how one reads it. But if we put this verse in a historical context I think we'll see that John was specifically addressing the problems of the Church at Laodicea.
(In the office in the next room, IRIS FINSTER is collating and stapling together the church bulletin.)
(REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. The congregation is getting ecstatic.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: God wants you hot! God wants you on fire!
(The REVEREND places his hand on a woman's head then continues walking around the room.)
MAN: Praise Jesus.
(People with musical instruments continue playing.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (slapping his hand on the Bible) God wants you to put your money where your mouth is!
CONGREGATION: Amen! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! Praise the Lord!
(Sound of rattling as REVEREND O'CONNOR places his Bible on one of the snake cages and carries it to a table.)
CONGREGATION: Amen! Yes, amen!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: People ask me why I handle snakes.
CONGREGATION: Praise the lord! Hallelujah!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: I tell 'em it's 'cause the scripture tells me to.
CONGREGATION: Praise God!
(REVEREND O'CONNOR begins shaking in ecstasy.)
(REVEREND MACKEY's church. IRIS FINSTER is still stapling. She is now using a staple remover to take out previous staples so she can add another page, then re-staple. Her hands are shaking. We hear REVEREND MACKEY in the other room.)
REVEREND MACKEY: (voice) ...he offers to Jesus to come into our lives and dine with us if only we'd open the door.
(REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. He and others are now holding the snakes who are hissing and rattling.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR AND CONGREGATION: Praise God! Hallelujah! Praise God! Hallelujah!
(Camera close-up of a snake's fangs as it hisses with its mouth open ...
... a close-up of the "fangs" on IRIS FINSTER's staple remover back in REVEREND MACKEY's church. In VOICE-OVER we hear REVEREND MACKEY's Bible study class.)
REVEREND MACKEY: ...the manner in which John ends this chapter. His emphasis is on teaching the Church at Laodicea perseverance. He uses the word "overcome" not once, but twice. I think he's also trying to...
(IRIS FINSTER continues to remove staples. Suddenly, the staple remover morphs into a rattlesnake and it bites her between the thumb and the forefinger. She gasps. It morphs back to a staple remover. Blood pours from the wound.)
(REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. Lots of snakes, lots of convulsing, lots of music and sweating.)
CONGREGATION (singing) Dear Lord, come take me
I'm coming through the fire
Dear Lord, come take me
I'm coming through the fire
Dear Lord, come take me
I'm coming through the fire
Won't you please come and take us away
Dear Lord, I love you, I love, love you, God
Dear Lord, I love you...
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Witness the power! Witness the awesome power of God as He blesses His people and destroys His enemies! Thank you, God!
(Camera goes into slow-motion on REVEREND O'CONNOR, no audio as he praises God. The scene changes to a bright light which ... )
(... washroom light in bathroom. IRIS FINSTER is rinsing her bloody hand in the sink. She blots it dry then gets a box of band-aids out of the medicine cabinet. She hears a hissing, then gasps and drops the box as a snake rears up out of the sink drain. More snakes come out from under the bathroom stalls. IRIS FINSTER is frozen in terror as one of them strikes.)
(REVEREND MACKEY's church, later. Crime scene. With REVEREND MACKEY, MULDER watches as IRIS FINSTER's dead snake-bitten body is wheeled out of the bathroom by the EMTs.)
REVEREND MACKEY: I don't understand it. None of us saw or heard anything. Just her scream. When we ran in, she was lying on the floor. I cleared everybody out of the building once I saw the bite marks, but...
MULDER: Reverend, how close was Iris to Jared Chirp?
REVEREND MACKEY: Not ... particularly close but I'd spoken with her not 15 minutes earlier about him.
MULDER: What'd you talk about?
REVEREND MACKEY: She was upset. Something about Jared calling her the night he died looking for Gracie. Something about him... paying for his sins. Well, I don't know. We didn't get to finish our conversation.
MULDER: Maybe that was the point.
(MULDER and REVEREND MACKEY look at each other, then enter another room where SCULLY is with GRACIE who is crying.)
GRACIE: Why Iris? Why is this happening?
(REVEREND MACKEY sits down next to her. MULDER stands behind SCULLY.)
SCULLY: (gently) Gracie we're investigating the leader of your former church, Enoch O'Connor. We believe that he may have had something to do with what happened here tonight.
(GRACIE looks hurt and surprised. She shares a glance with the REVEREND.)
MULDER: We would appreciate anything you could tell us about him.
GRACIE: No, he didn't do this. No. He didn't do this. This... this is Satan's work, not man's.
SCULLY: Gracie, that sounds like something that Reverend O'Connor might say. Now, you're not a member of that congregation anymore. And I understand that's because you're someone who thinks for herself.
MULDER: Keeping an open mind, Gracie, is it conceivable that O'Connor could have done any of this?
GRACIE: No! Don't you think I would know, me, of all people? He couldn't have done this. He just cou....
(She cries some more.)
REVEREND MACKEY: (softly) Gracie might be biased.
MULDER: (realizing) O'Connor is your father.
REVEREND MACKEY: When Gracie got pregnant...
MULDER: O'Connor barred her from his church. She and Jared Chirp.
REVEREND MACKEY: His church and his home.
(MULDER and SCULLY are once again at REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. MULDER opens the door and steps in. SCULLY hangs back, clearly nervous. MULDER looks back at her.)
MULDER: You coming?
SCULLY: I think I'll check around back.
(SCULLY goes back off the porch. MULDER looks around inside the church. He sees a wall of pictures. Lettering above them says: "We pray for the souls of our brothers and sisters ... some passed, others lost to us.")
MULDER: "Pray for the souls ... lost to us."
(Among the pictures he sees GRACIE, JARED CHIRP, and a woman named ALICE O'CONNOR.)
(SCULLY finds a trailer behind the church. She pulls out her gun, enters the trailer and finds a cage of white mice and lots and lots of boxes of snakes. Some of them are rattling their tails. SCULLY turns to leave and is grabbed by REVEREND O'CONNOR.)
(Sound of rattling and hissing gets louder. SCULLY's gun is knocked from her hand.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: You must be judged.
(He holds her head against the wire screen of one of the big rattlers. She is terrified. He grabs her hand and shoves it inside the cage with the rattling snake and holds it there.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Repent! Pray for the Lord's quickening power. Into the hands of God.
(MULDER enters the trailer and points his gun at REVEREND O'CONNOR.)
MULDER: Let her go!
(REVEREND O'CONNOR doesn't let go of SCULLY. MULDER cocks gun and gives his "I'm not kidding around here" look. REVEREND O'CONNOR lets SCULLY go. She jerks her hand out of the box.)
(Interrogation room. MULDER is interviewing REVEREND O'CONNOR.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Your FBI partner could've learned something about herself if you hadn't stopped me. Some powerful good news, maybe.
MULDER: I'd say it's good news for you that she's not here right now ... considering what you tried to do to her. Is that what you did to your wife?
(MULDER sets down the picture of ALICE O'CONNOR that was on the wall of the church.)
MULDER: Alice O'Connor... succumbed to multiple snakebites in June, 1994. It happened during a church service or at least that's what you told local police. You got away with it... almost. What was, uh... the problem with your wife? Was she not... righteous enough for you? Just like your daughter's boyfriend ... or Iris Finster?
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (looking at MULDER) Educated man... too smart to know any better.
MULDER: Smart enough to know you're a murderer.
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Satan is near, and you don't even have eyes. You're just proud and fancy free.
MULDER: No one quite passes muster with you, huh? You feel the need to exact some kind of Old Testament revenge? What about your daughter? What were your plans for her?
REVEREND O'CONNOR: I pray for her soul. I pray and I pray because she's lost.
MULDER: Because she no longer believes as you do?
REVEREND O'CONNOR: You think because you're educated you're better than most? You ain't. (He points to his heart.) Unless you're smart down here the Devil's going to make a fool of you and you ain't even going to know it.
(Outside the interrogation room. GRACIE is waiting with SCULLY.)
GRACIE: I changed my mind. I don't... I don't want to see him. Besides, I won't do any better than you people in getting him to talk.
(GRACIE starts to walk away, stops when SCULLY addresses her.)
SCULLY: Gracie. You still don't believe your father did it?
GRACIE: It don't matter what I believe. He'll be judged as he deserves. Can't nobody avoid it.
(SCULLY watches her go.)
(Later, REVEREND O'CONNOR is resting in a jail cell. He is awakened by the sound of rattling. Nervously he stands. The rattling gets louder. He sinks to his knees and begins praying under his breath as snakes begin sliding through the bars of the cell. One final overhead shot shows him completely surrounded by snakes.)
(Hospital room. I.C.U.1 REVEREND O'CONNOR is unconscious. SCULLY enters and joins MULDER who is looking at REVEREND O'CONNOR's bruised, bitten, and bloated body.)
MULDER: Deputy found him about an hour ago. There's no telling when he was attacked.
SCULLY: I guess it's looking less and less like he's a suspect.
MULDER: Unless he somehow managed to do this to himself ... (SCULLY looks at him) ... as a test of his own righteousness.
SCULLY: Well, if so, Mulder, the jury's still out. I just spoke to his doctors. It's a toss-up as to whether he's going to pull through this.
MULDER: What about antivenin treatment?
SCULLY: He's not receiving it.
MULDER: Why not?
SCULLY: Gracie stepped in. She's trying to forbid treatment on religious grounds. It's not clear whether she has a legal claim to do it, but she says that it's up to God as to whether he lives or dies.
MULDER: And you're thinking that her actions may not be entirely motivated by concern for her father's eternal soul?
SCULLY: (she nods slightly) Well, more to the point, Mulder, what if she did this? She told me that her father would be judged as he deserves.
MULDER: Do you think this is what she meant?
SCULLY: Well, she grew up around snakes, Mulder. Who's to say she isn't every bit as adept at handling them as he is?
MULDER: I can see her being angry enough at her father to attack him, but... what about the others?
(SCULLY has no answer.)
(MULDER and SCULLY are looking around JARED CHIRP's bedroom.)
MULDER: He left in a hurry. Packed one suitcase and a gun. Earlier that night he calls Gracie. Gets Iris instead. Starts rambling about paying for his sins. He's frightened... wants to leave town, presumably with Gracie.
SCULLY: So, what's he scared of?
(MULDER looks in another drawer.)
SCULLY: Though I don't understand it, O'Connor's church exerts a strong pull on these people.
MULDER: (shaking the snake's rattle that he finds on the dresser) It's not so hard to understand. It's a culture with a very well-defined set of rules.
SCULLY: It's an intolerant culture, Mulder.
MULDER: I don't know, Scully. Sometimes a little intolerance can be a welcome thing. Clear-cut right and wrong, black and white, no shades of gray. You know, in a society where hard and fast rules are harder and harder to come by, I think some people would appreciate that.
SCULLY: You're saying that you, Fox Mulder, would welcome someone telling you what to believe?
MULDER: I'm just saying that somebody offering you all the answers... could be a very powerful thing.
(MULDER finds a crumpled paper on the floor. It is the lab result sheet that JARED CHIRP looked at in the teaser.)
MULDER: Oh, it's lab results. Am I reading this right? That Jared Chirp had himself tested for sterility?
(Camera shows some of the writing on the paper:
"Patient is infertile due to insufficient ...
No medical recommendation to ...
Condition considered permanent.")
SCULLY: Which turns out to be more or less the case. Based on this, that means that Jared can't be the father of Gracie's baby.
MULDER: It's dated the day he died.
SCULLY: So maybe he was killed because he discovered the truth.
(Hospital. GRACIE is standing in her father's room watching him sadly. REVEREND MACKEY enters.)
REVEREND MACKEY: Gracie, I'd like to ask you to reconsider.
GRACIE: No. This is what he'd want.
REVEREND MACKEY: He may die without medical treatment.
GRACIE: I've seen him bit a dozen times. He always said that it was up to God whether he lives or dies. Said it was a worse sin not to trust God.
REVEREND MACKEY: There are many ways to trust God, Gracie. One of them is to trust in the miracles of doctors and medicine. Or... in your heart do you really not want him to get better?
GRACIE: It ain't for me. I can't risk his soul.
REVEREND MACKEY: And when you first came to me you said that you wanted to think for yourself. To live your life as you saw fit. If you stand here and let your father die, whose beliefs are you living? Yours? Or his?
(GRACIE looks at her father sadly and nods. It is very difficult.)
REVEREND MACKEY: You're doing the right thing. I'll go tell the doctor, okay?
(She nods again mutely as he leaves. The beeping on REVEREND O'CONNOR's monitor speeds up. Concerned, she goes to him. Pus begins seeping out of REVEREND O'CONNOR's discolored and swollen skin. Really nasty. His eyes open and he grabs GRACIE's arm. She gasps in fear.)
(Short time later, MULDER and SCULLY enter the hospital. REVEREND MACKEY is upset. He turns from the nurses.)
REVEREND MACKEY: Agents, Enoch O'Connor is gone. I was away for five minutes. His bed's empty. Gracie is gone, too.
SCULLY: How could Gracie have possibly gotten him out of here?
MULDER: Maybe he took her.
SCULLY: Mulder, he was on his deathbed; that's impossible. And besides, what's his motivation?
REVEREND MACKEY: I may be able to answer that. Jared Chirp wasn't the father of Gracie's child.
MULDER: We know that. What about it?
SCULLY: (shocked, but understanding) Enoch O'Connor is.
REVEREND MACKEY: That's why she wanted to get away from him and his church as fast as she could. And I tried to teach her to forgive him.
(REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. REVEREND O'CONNOR drags GRACIE in. The congregation is standing silently, many holding candles. GRACIE struggles.)
GRACIE: Daddy, please...!
(She whimpers as he drags her to a tub of water.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: I'm bringing you home.
GRACIE: (sobbing) Somebody help me!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: In the name of our Holy and most fearsome God...
(GRACIE shrieks. REVEREND O'CONNOR plunges her into a baptizing tub)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Resist the devil and he will flee. Resist him!
GRACIE: Something's wrong... Something's wrong with my baby. Oh!
(REVEREND O'CONNOR pulls her to a table and pushes her onto it.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Jesus, put your hands on this one. You can heal her. Oh, yes, God is... Yes... Jesus...
(GRACIE is crying in pain and fear as the CONGREGATION watches.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Oh, Lord... Jesus. Dear Lord... Jesus, deliver this woman. Jesus, Jesus...
(Congregation is mumbling. One woman comes forward and stands at the foot of the table while others hold GRACIE down.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Yes, Lord. Yes, Jesus. Oh, yes. Jesus. Jesus.
GRACIE: Oh, no! Don't, don't!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Dear God, dear heavenly Father, deliver this woman. Jesus.
GRACIE: No, please...
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Lay your hands on this woman. God! Yes!
GRACIE: No... Don't! Don't!
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Hallelujah, praise the lord!
(REVEREND O'CONNOR exposes GRACIE's belly. Under the skin, we see shapes writhing. She is crying out.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
(GRACIE is gasping and crying in pain.)
(Everyone gasps as snakes begin falling to the floor in a bloody puddle from between GRACIE's legs.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: Dear Jesus. Dear Jesus! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Dear Jesus! Hallelujah! Hallelujah
(Next morning. MULDER and SCULLY arrive at REVEREND O'CONNOR's church. EMTs are attending to an unconscious GRACIE. A COP is talking to the WOMAN and another man. Other members of the church are standing around silently.)
SCULLY: How is she?
EMT: Deep shock. Some loss of blood.
SCULLY: (to the COP) What happened here? Where's the baby?
COP: These folks aren't talking.
MULDER: Scully. Take a look at this.
(SCULLY kneels down and looks at the bloody puddle on the floor at the foot of the table. Several wiggly trails lead away.)
SCULLY: Snakes. (to WOMAN) She gave birth to snakes.
WOMAN: The devil has been cast out.
MULDER: (getting up and leaving) Stay with her.
SCULLY: Where are you going?
MULDER: To find her father. He's going to want to tie up some loose ends.
(REVEREND MACKEY's church. He is alone, getting the church ready for a service. REVEREND O'CONNOR enters.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: You stole what was most precious to me.
REVEREND MACKEY: Gracie? She came to me on her own. She wanted to escape a life of fear and judgment. Of intolerance.
(REVEREND O'CONNOR begins advancing, his lips moving silently.)
REVEREND MACKEY: She fled a harsh and vengeful God. And you.
(REVEREND O'CONNOR pulls out a large knife and grabs REVEREND MACKEY by the throat. MULDER enters the church and pulls out his gun.)
MULDER: Drop the knife!
(REVEREND O'CONNOR moves to cut REVEREND MACKEY's throat and MULDER shoots him in the shoulder. REVEREND O'CONNOR falls and MULDER crosses to REVEREND MACKEY.)
MULDER: You all right?
(REVEREND MACKEY nods and sighs in relief.)
(Moving ambulance. SCULLY is with GRACIE. GRACIE wakes up, disoriented.)
GRACIE: Daddy. Daddy?
SCULLY: Gracie, it's Agent Scully. We're taking you to the doctor right now, okay?
GRACIE: No. I... got to...
SCULLY: Can you tell me what happened, Gracie?
GRACIE: (hand on her face) Where's my Daddy?
SCULLY: You're safe, Gracie. My partner's gone after him. Gracie, you're going to be okay. He can't hurt you anymore.
GRACIE: You don't understand. He saved me.
(Church. REVEREND MACKEY brings a clean towel which MULDER holds against REVEREND O'CONNOR's gunshot wound.)
REVEREND MACKEY: I'll call for an ambulance.
(REVEREND MACKEY leaves the room.)
MULDER: Relax. Help's on the way.
REVEREND O'CONNOR: No, it's not. I told you, boy. You still don't know which side you're on. Be smart down here.
(REVEREND O'CONNOR touches MULDER's chest. MULDER stares at him.)
(In his office, REVEREND MACKEY is on the phone when MULDER enters.)
REVEREND MACKEY: (on phone) Yes, please hurry. (hangs up) They're on their way.
(MULDER points his gun at REVEREND MACKEY.)
REVEREND MACKEY: (confused) Agent.
MULDER: It wasn't O'Connor. It was you. You killed Jared Chirp.
REVEREND MACKEY: You're joking.
MULDER: No, I'm just beginning to see it now. Jared must have come to understand that he wasn't the father of Gracie's baby... that you were. Did he confront you earlier that night only to see you for who you really are?
REVEREND MACKEY: Just who is it you think I am?
MULDER: Is that what happened with Iris Finster? Was she beginning to catch on? Is that why you killed her? Or was it just to further frame Enoch O'Connor? Is that what this is really about? Ruining O'Connor? Seducing his daughter? Destroying him by any conceivable means?
(REVEREND MACKEY draws himself up and looks intently at MULDER.)
REVEREND MACKEY: Are you a righteous man, Agent Mulder?
MULDER: Stay where you are.
REVEREND MACKEY: It's just a simple question. Most people believe they're on the side of angels. But are they?
(MULDER is startled as the doors to the office slam shut. MULDER is nervous.)
REVEREND MACKEY: If you were put to the test... how would you do?
(A snake has appeared wrapped around MULDER's gun. MULDER gasps, drops the gun and begins tearing off his leather jacket. More snakes are coming out of his pants and are all over his chest. He is, to put it mildly, freaking.)
(SCULLY enters the church and finds REVEREND O'CONNOR holding the towel to his wound.)
SCULLY: Where's Mulder?
(She hears him scream from the other room.)
(SCULLY rises, but REVEREND O'CONNOR grabs her arm.)
REVEREND O'CONNOR: (grabbing her) You can't help him. This is his alone.
(SCULLY gives him a look that says, "I don't think so, buddy" and runs to the office.)
(SCULLY begins kicking at the locked door. Inside the office, MULDER has been bitten several times. He is lying on the floor staring at a large rattlesnake inches from his face. The snake strikes his cheek. He screams. SCULLY kicks the door open and rushes to MULDER just as the last snake slides out another door. She begins frantically unbuttoning his shirt and looks at REVEREND O'CONNOR who is leaning against the door frame.)
(Days later. MULDER's hospital room. His bites are healing. SCULLY enters and sits on the edge of his bed.)
SCULLY: Still no trace... even though every law enforcement agency in Tennessee's out looking for him.
MULDER: They won't find him. People think the devil has horns and a tail. They're not used to looking for some kindly man who tells you what you want to hear.
SCULLY: He's just a man, Mulder. Just like O'Connor.
MULDER: Not like O'Connor. If this was some kind of test looks like I failed.
SCULLY: I'd say if it was, you passed with flying colors. You're alive, aren't you?
MULDER: (smiling at her) Proud and fancy-free.
(She smiles warmly back at him.)
(Small church office. A WOMAN is talking to the minister.)
WOMAN: Reverend Wells, it's a real joy to have a man in the pulpit who has such an open and modern way of looking at God.
(The minister is REVEREND MACKEY.)
REVEREND MACKEY: Bless you for saying so.
WOMAN: Well, I won't keep you. I just wanted to welcome you to Hamden.
REVEREND MACKEY: Thank you. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
WOMAN: Thank you.
(The WOMAN leaves. REVEREND MACKEY sits for a moment, then removes a cardboard box from one of the desk drawers. He takes a squirming white mouse out of the box and holds it up high by it's tail. He opens his mouth wide and a snake pushes out of his throat, grabs the mouse, then sinks back down inside the man. REVEREND MACKEY adjusts his throat and tie, then returns the box to the drawer.)