At Quantico, Scully is approached by Agent Leyla Harrison (from 8X19) who wants to discuss a case that she thinks might be an X-file. A boy named Tommy Conlon told his grandmother that he believes a monster had killed his mother and that his father is well aware of this. Harrison questions why the coroner had found that the mother stabbed herself sixteen times. Strangely, Tommy’s cat was also killed. Despite Harrison’s plea, Scully dismisses her. Later, Scully receives a call from Reyes who is headed to Pennsylvania with Doggett and Harrison. When Scully tells her that there is no case, Doggett turns the car around and heads back home. Harrison persists, however, and asks them to at least check out whether the little boy is in danger. Doggett turns the car around once again toward the Conlon home. When the agents pull up, Conlon, who has been digging, hides the shovel in his pickup truck. Reyes asks to speak with Tommy, but Conlon is resistant. Hearing voices, Tommy comes out of the house. Harrison mentions that his grandmother told her about the monsters. “No such thing as monsters,” Tommy says meekly, and Conlon sends the agents away. As Harrison apologizes, Doggett and Reyes conclude that something is indeed suspicious. Doggett had noticed blood on the man’s hand and an evidence of digging. The agents get in the car to seek a search warrant, but the car does not start. Suddenly, blood spits out from the air vents and splatters them. They check under the hood. All of the wiring is mangled and covered in blood. Inside the house, Tommy tells his father that the monsters won’t let the agents leave.
Later that night, Harrison’s friend Gabe Rotter brings Tommy’s dead cat to Scully’s apartment. On Harrison’s behest, Rotter had dug it up from Conlon’s previous house. Scully begins to wonder if Harrison really does have an X-file. She autopsies the animal and learns that it took its own life. Yet it appears as if the cat were trying to get at something in its stomach to chew it out. Scully manages to contact a sheriff in Fairhope and asks him to check on the safety of her colleagues who are missing. The sheriff knows the Conlon house because he was asked by the grandmother to check up on Tommy the previous week. Conlon had threatened the sheriff off his property.
Inside the Conlon house, Reyes can not make a call from her cell phone even though it has full reception. With their car inoperative, the agents are stuck there for the night, but they believe that being there will help protect the boy. When they hear Tommy’s cries, they find Conlon holding a door closed with Tommy trapped inside. They open the door to find three creatures crawling on the floor. Although Doggett fires at one, it regenerates into two new creatures. The creatures disappear into the tiny seam beneath the wall’s molding, and Doggett can’t find any trace of them in the house. Later, as Tommy calmly draws a picture of him standing next to Reyes, he tells the agents that those creatures are what hurt his mother. Doggett interrogates Conlon, who explains that the creatures attacked him as well and that they won’t stop until they have killed everyone.
Doggett orders Conlon to pack up his son so that they can all escape the house, but Conlon is insistent that the monsters will not let them leave. The sheriff arrives, but tells the agents that they can’t go because of the cold. Suddenly, the sheriff pulls out a gun, and Doggett fights him off. Yet when Doggett throws a punch to the man’s ribs, his fist punctures right through the sheriff’s chest and leaves a gaping hole. The dead sheriff, however, has no internal organs and the blood in his body is not real. Doggett questions Conlon, but the man says that he locked Tommy in the room with the creatures because he knew they wouldn’t hurt him. Upstairs, Tommy shows Reyes a picture that he made of the monsters attacking her. She asks why he would draw such a thing. “Because I’m afraid,” he says.
Scully becomes alarmed when she can’t get through to the sheriff and she drives to Pennsylvania with Gabe. She finds the sheriff very much alive. He tells her that he tried to get to the Conlon house but that the roads were too dangerous.
As Doggett and Harrison realize that the body of the sheriff has disappeared, Reyes comes down the stairs clutching her belly. The creatures writhe around under the skin of her abdomen. She tells them that it is Tommy doing it. Conlon explains that he can’t make his son stop imagining things when he is afraid. Doggett heads upstairs to confront Tommy, but when he follows the boy to his closed room, Doggett falls into a black void. He lands at the bottom and is attacked by dozens of the creatures. They cover his body.
While Reyes squirms in pain, Harrison begs Conlon for help. She suddenly bleeds from her eyes. Conlon goes upstairs to his son and is stopped by Doggett. Doggett tells him that none of these things are really happening. Conlon’s wife believed it was real and stabbed herself to death. Since Doggett did not believe it entirely, he could not be harmed. Tommy calls for his father, but Conlon does not respond. Tommy looks out the window to see Conlon and Doggett aiding Reyes and Harrison to the car. Doggett returns to the house and spreads gasoline on the floor. Tommy comes downstairs and accuses Doggett of trying to scare him. Yet Doggett tosses a match on the ground to taunt the boy, and the living room lights up in flames. For the first time, Tommy begins to feel fear. At the same time, Reyes and Harrison are miraculously healed. As they rush to the house, Scully arrives with Gabe in a snowplow. The house is unharmed and Tommy has passed out. Doggett had only drenched the room with water, but Tommy imagined otherwise.
Back at the FBI, Harrison innocently praises Doggett for saving their lives with his lack of imagination. Reyes tells Scully and Harrison that psychiatrists have figured out a way to stifle Tommy’s imagination. In the hospital, Tommy sits in a cell before a bank of television sets playing a cacophony of shows at the same time. He has a blank stare, watching as if he has been lobotomized.
Original Air Date: 04/14/02
Written by Thomas Schnauz Directed by Dwight Little
GILLIAN ANDERSON as Special Agent Dana Scully
ROBERT PATRICK as Special Agent John Doggett
ANNABETH GISH as Special Agent Monica Reyes
Jolie Jenkins as Agent Leyla Harrison
Brian Poth as Gabe Rotter
Scott Paulin as Jeffrey Conlon
Gavin Fink as Tommy Conlon
Steve Ryan as Sheriff Jack Coogan
Robert Beckwith as FBI Cadet