Quark advises Constable Odo to lighten up, perhaps in a holosuite. Odo dismisses imagination as inattention to real life. Quark offers to create for him a shapeshifter "playmate", to which Odo retorts, "You're disgusting!" Seeing the station commander's young son, Jake Sisko, approaching a holosuite, Odo warns Quark he had better not have created any playmates for him. Quark explains that Jake's program includes famous baseball players from Earth.
Dr. Julian Bashir and Lt. Jadzia Dax eat lunch. Julian wants a romantic relationship, but Jadzia politely refuses, pointing out he has also eyed other women. Dax returns to Ops, from where she observes elevated emissions in the nearby Denorius Belt. She and Commander Sisko hypothesize this to be due to the high amount of traffic at Deep Space Nine.
Chief O'Brien reads to his daughter Molly the story Rumpelstiltskin and tucks her into bed. Shortly, she comes out of her room and claims Rumpelstiltskin is inside. O'Brien and his wife Keiko patiently return with her and find that Rumpelstiltskin is indeed in her room. Elsewhere, a submissive version of Dax attempts to seduce Bashir in his quarters, and Buck Bokai, a 21st Century baseball player who in 2026 broke Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak, has followed Jake from the holodeck.
The characters disappear when rejected or ignored. Unprecedented events, such as snow on the Promenade, occur across the station, apparently instigated by people's imaginations. Quark finds himself escorted by beautiful, adoring women, and hopes the situation will last forever, until he notices his customers are winning at Dabo. He desperately wishes them to lose, but to no effect: as Odo points out, Quark is outnumbered. Odo returns to his office, and discovers he has wished Quark into a holding cell.
The wishing outbreak continues until the emissions detected earlier form into a void near the station. It grows exponentially until Sisko realizes it is part of the wish effect, and will continue growing so long as people believe it exists. He instructs his crew that it does not exist, and to stand down from alert status. The crisis is averted. Later, "Buck Bokai" appears in Sisko's office, where he explains that he is part of an extended mission of exploration that followed a ship through the Wormhole. His people wanted to see what imagination is really about, in order to learn more about humanoids. The aliens did nothing themselves: they only observed the effects of humanoid imagination. Before leaving, he suggests they may one day return.