Okie-dokie, your dreaming. ABENDROTH. Please, Doctor Takahashi. (to Katherine) I’m afraid you are not . dreaming, Doctor Shaw.
Anthony Michael Whitfield
Cell: 562.355.0432 [email protected]
Copyright (c) 2013 This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author."
This part of space is aglow with the remnants of what was once a thriving planetary system. Rock and mineral varying in shape and girth are scattered like so much debris awash in plasmic gas. Before long the rapid approach of a spacecraft’s elliptical shape grows ever monstrous as it escapes the eye of this fragmented piece of universe. Its sleek body, a study in geometric abstractions, overpowers as it flees the halo’s hub. Propelled by MASSIVE TURBINES the craft’s SURGE in VELOCITY flings it through the striated shower of glowing debris as a nacreous halo holds its place-
-until it brightens dangerously. Expanding. Intensifying like a supernova, releasing with all the impetus of a runaway freight, it discharges a PARTICLE STORM that BELLOWS from its blinding core.
All around the PARTICLE STORM ROARS. The enormity of each rock is riveting. However, our main focus is on five in particular. Five monolithic chunks of blasted planet exceeding one hundred and fifty meters each. But as ominous as these migrating mountains may be, another is following –
- LUMBERING pass with actual dimensions rivaling the most liberal of guesses. In fact, one hundred thousand tons, with a diameter of ninety- seven kilometers would be just about right.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Thirty Light Years From Earth…
ON BLACK SCREEN:
EMERALD (V.O.) One o’clock. I promise
TONY (V.O.) (exasperated) Hold still, would you!
EXT. MODEST RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD - DUSK
The street of neatly manicured with lawns laid out before stylish homes. The SOUNDS of SPRING permeate as a medium size car pulls up to the curb of the SHAW’s well lit home.
TONY (V.O.) Kathy! Get out of the way.
INT. SHAW LIVING ROOM
Poised in a fashionable gown, seventeen year old EMERALD SHAW stands beaming beatifically as her mother KATHERINE (Kathy) SHAW, fusses about, pulling and tugging at the girl’s formal wear as her father, TONY SHAW, whose patients dangles precariously tries repeatedly to take the girl’s picture only to find Kathy’s maternal stirrings hindering his objective.
TONY (stamps a foot) Kathy!
KATHERINE You’re going to give yourself a stroke, you know that.
Katherine steps back proudly as Emerald does a slow turn for her mother’s admiring inspection.
KATHERINE You are absolutely beautiful.
Emerald’s eyes roll with abashment.
TONY She’s beautiful. You’re beautiful. Everybody’s beautiful. Now, please get the hell out of the way?
Katherine and Emerald pantomime exaggerated shock.
KATHERINE And you expect to kiss me with that mouth?
TONY You never complained before.
KATHERINE That’s because you’re my little stud muffin. EMERALD Eeewww, who says that!
Katherine joins her husband wrapping a loving arm around his waist. Tony raises the camera and snaps off several quick shots. Abruptly he stops. Lowering the camera his eyes locked on the girl’s face.
EMERALD (apprehensively) What?…
TONY Something’s wrong. EMERALD Oh-my-god, what?
TONY I’m not sure.
By now Emerald is more than just a little uneasy with fingers fluttering over gown and hair.
TONY I know what it is.
Surreptitiously Katherine slips a jewelry case from Tony’s back pocket.
EMERALD What?! TONY Where’s your necklace?
The girl’s fingers fly to her bare throat, resting there as suspicion clouds her eyes.
EMERALD I don’t have one. You know I don’t like wearing them. TONY You do now, and I promise, you’re gonna love it.
With an exaggerated flourish Katherine brandishes the jewelry case. KATHERINE Ta-daaaaaa!… Emerald eyes the case.
KATHERINE Go ahead. It’s not poisonous.
The girl’s eyes shift from one parent to the other before finally opening it with measured uncertainty-
-inside is a silver necklace with an Emerald pendant attached; its perfect facets shimmering brilliantly.
Emerald looks at both parents. An accepting smile highlights her features.
KATHERINE All of our prayers went into you just liking it.
EMERALD Are you kidding? I love it!
TONY So, you’ll wear it?
EMERALD It depends.
KATHERINE On what?
Emerald relishes an exaggerated moment of preponderance.
EMERALD What are the chances of you guys extending tonight’s curfew.
Clearing his throat rather loudly, Tony’s attention immediately turns to the camera in his hands.
KATHERINE (to Tony) Honey, would you give us a few?
TONY Consider me gone.
Tony quickly plants a kiss on Emerald’s cheek.
TONY (to Emerald) Take it easy on her, will you.
EMERALD It’ll be okay. Bye, dad.
Ton EXITS after giving his wife a discerning smile. Katherine takes a seat on the sofa, lightly patting the opposite cushion.
EMERALD I was kidding.
KATHERINE I know. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.
Looking at her daughter Katherine‘s eyes soften, weighing the moment.
KATHERINE Prom night…
EMERALD Mom, I promise you I will not be engaging in any activities specifically prohibited by state, federal, or county laws.
Katherine smoothes an errant strand on her child’s head.
KATHERINE In all of your seventeen years you have never given me or your any reason to worry about you.
EMERALD Except when I was twelve. God, I was sick for like a whole year.
KATHERINE And what valuable lesson did we learn?
EMERALD Alcohol is definitely not for everyone.
KATHERINE Especially, twelve year olds with chronic bronchitis. But other than that, you’ve been a pretty decent kid and we’re both quite proud of you.
EMERALD And I’m quite proud of you guys, too.
Katherine takes the jewelry case from Emerald’s hand. Removing the necklace she studies its design before asking-
KATHERINE Are you still a virgin?
EMERALD (unruffled) Is that what you want to talk about?
After a studied silence Katherine stands with necklace poised. Emerald rises to her feet allowing Katherine to fasten the jewel around her neck. DOORBELL.
Emerald faces her mother for inspection…
KATHERINE I like it.
In a sudden show of affection Emerald gathers her mother in her arms.
KATHERINE You be careful tonight.
EMERALD I will.
Tony ENTERS. TONY Your date’s here.
With some haste he EXITS.
EMERALD Before I go, I would like to state for the record that I think parents put too much emphasis on the negativities of peer pressure.
KATHERINE (taken aback) Huh?…
EMERALD I’m answering your question.
KATHERINE (pause) You didn’t have to, you know.
EMERALD I know. But since my moral integrity hasn’t been compromised I figure what the heck. Besides, dad does have a right to know.
KATHERINE (smiles) You think you’re so smart, don’t you? EMERALD Smart, no. Astute, definitely.
KATHERINE Go on. Get out of here.
Katherine gives Emerald a playful shove.
- as the two woman ENTER. Emerald’s date, TOMMY, looking dapper in a black tux, is looking a bit cornered and embarrassed as Tony snaps off a few shots of him with the camera. KATHERINE Tony, leave the boy alone.
TONY Hell, he’s the only one I can get to stand still around here.
EMERALD Hi, Tommy.
TOMMY Hey, Emmy. You ready?
EMERALD As ready as I’m gonna be.
TONY Okay, you two, one more for the road. EMERALD (clearly annoyed) Daaaaad…
KATHERINE You’ll never get out of here if you don’t.
Emerald rolls her eyes and stands by her date, both facing Tony’s intrusive lens as he snaps off one more shot.
EMERALD Can we go now?
Emerald opens the door allowing Tommy to bolt for freedom.
KATHERINE (to Tony) And you wonder why we never have company over.
TONY Prom pictures are a tradition. (to Emerald) I want you have the best night of your life.
Reaching into shirt pocket Tony pulls out folded dollars offering them to his daughter.
EMERALD What’s this?
TONY Mad money.
EMERALD Could you be any more primitive?
KATHERINE Put it away.
TONY But, what if she –
KATHERINE Tony, I said, put it away.
Reluctantly he shoves the bills back into his pocket as Emerald quickly plants a kiss on his cheek.
EMERALD It was sweet though.
TONY Could you mind telling your mother that before you leave.
Emerald kisses her mother.
EMERALD No fighting you two. Promise.
TONY Can we get that in writing?
KATHERINE Shut up, Tony. (to Emerald) If you need us for anything.
EMERALD I’ll be fine.
TONY Tell that kid I know what he looks like -
- ominously indicating the camera. EMERALD (smiling) I will.
Before stepping outside Emerald turns to her parents.
EMERALD About that curfew?
KATHERINE I think we’ll let you decide this one.
KATHERINE Just don’t let us down.
Emerald races from the house where her date stands gallantly holding the passenger door open. Her parents look on arm in arm.
TONY … So, what’d she say?
TONY You know.
KATHERINE (after some reflection) Are you aware that parents generally view peer pressure as some sort of insidious thing?
TONY Come again?
KATHERINE You can’t deny we do tend to blame it for everything that’s wrong with our kids, instead of acknowledging it for everything that’s right with them… I think it’s the word ‘pressure’ that throws us off. What do you think?
The CAR HORN BLARES as it pulls away.
TONY She really laid into you, didn’t she?
KATHERINE Yes… Yes she did.
TONY (proudly) That’s my baby.
They enter the house.
INT. SHAW LIVING ROOM (SAME)
Katherine lands a playful punch on Tony’s arm.
TONY Hey! No fighting, remember?
KATHERINE I don’t recall you getting that in writing.
TONY Would it help if I apologized?
KATHERINE Not at all.
Rushing him with a mischievous tackle, both land on sofa in a tangle of limbs and LAUGHTER.
At a distance of ten thousand miles, planet Earth is a clouded jewel, opal and lapis, a natural peaceful beauty, the target of our spacecraft’s TRAJECTORY.
EXT. SHAW HOME – NIGHT
INT. KATHERINE’S STUDY
The room is in shadows with the only source of light being her computer’s monitor. Wrapped in bathrobe she ENTERS heading for her workstation. Switching on a nearby lamp she reveals areas of the room where posters of constellations; solar systems; nebulas, and planetary maps adorn the walls, as an impressive Zeiss telescope stands sentry at bay windows. It’s all too clear that the owner of this tastefully designed room has a profound knowledge of astronomy.
In front of her computer she slips easily into a chair, and after a deliberate sip from her cup, begins typing.
INSERT – MONITOR
Printed in the header we read: THE ORIGINS OF INTERSTELLAR PHENOMENON, by KATHERINE L. SHAW, M.Sc., Ph.M., B.Sc.
RHYTHMIC TYPING ensues as the screen’s text begin to steadily flow as additional letters compile new words to the accompaniment of Katherine’s steady V.O. –
KATHERINE (V.O.) … wandering through space many of these stars travel in groups, but the majority travel along as solitary interstellar vagabonds. With millions of stars wandering blindly for millions of years it seems quite plausible that occasionally two stars might come into proximity with one another or even meet in head-on collisions, which brings us back to our own hypothesized beginnings.
BACK TO SCENE
Tony ENTERS switching on the overhead lights revealing the full scope of the room’s dedication to science and its counterparts. Although actual items of true science coincide with those of models and posters depicting images of “Star Trek”, “Aliens”, “Blade Runner”, etc; and a slew of fanciful science fiction memorabilia, the room is nevertheless in a state of stellar balance.
Non-stop Katherine’s fingers fly across the keyboard as Tony, crouching eye level, plants a kiss on her cheek.
TONY How’s it going?
KATHERINE On the creative spectrum, I’d say somewhere between the X- files and Jurassic Park.
TONY Is that good or bad?
KATHERINE Considering this piece is not about dinosaurs, I’m having a hard time not imagining them.
TONY I imagine them everyday, if that’ll help.
KATHERINE It doesn’t. Now, go away.
Continuing her TYPING, Tony make his way around the room stopping at a display cabinet where numerous facsimiles of actual space voyages rest on top and within. Picking up a replica of Apollo 13 he studies it.
TONY Sometimes I feel so out of place.
Tony looks up to find Katherine approaching. Gently she takes the replica from his hands and returns it to its resting place. Pausing long enough to compose her thoughts, she finally meets his questioning eyes.
KATHERINE Tony, there isn’t a woman on this planet who wouldn’t die to have a man like you. You’re a fine husband; and an excellent father, to boot. And in my book, that is a pretty decent place to be. TONY But haven’t you ever wondered what your life might’ve been like if you had married someone a little more your type?
KATHERINE And what type would that be?
TONY You know… Brainy.
KATHERINE Is that how you think of me?
TONY Well – Yeah. God knows I’m not the one with the smarts in this family.
KATHERINE FYI buster, the way you are is exactly why I fell in love with you in the first place.
TONY Still, sometimes I think you deserve better than this.
KATHERINE Better than this?… Baby, there’s nothing better than this. Not for me anyway?
TONY I meant more.
KATHERINE Like what? Maybe a beautiful child I adore? Or were you thinking more on the lines of security?... A car, perhaps? How about a charming home? Are these the things I deserve more of? If so, look around, Tony. I already have more and I don’t need anything else.
TONY You know what I’m saying. She traps his face between gentle palms, forcing him to feel her sincerity.
KATHERINE I hear you, but you’re wrong. We have a good home and a decent life. You have a daughter who adores you and a wife who is thankful each and everyday for you being in her life. You feel me?
This coaxes a smile from him. They embrace. She squeezes him a little tighter with an escaping SIGH of contentment.
TONY What about your work?
KATHERINE What about it?
TONY What if you had to make a choice?
KATHERINE pause) Are you being serious?
TONY Maybe I am.
Disengaging herself she takes him by the hand. Leading him back to the computer she doggedly types away.
INSERT – MONITOR
- as message prompt inquires: Delete Files? Are You Sure?
BACK TO SCENE
With an easy smile on her lips Katherine looks to Tony, winks, then jabs a determined finger at the keyboard –
- as Tony’s hand quickly encircles hers, preventing her from making the final execution.
BACK TO SCENE
Guiding her hand away from the keyboard he presses her fingers to his lips.
TONY I apologize. (pause) Besides, if you didn’t have your work you’d only use the time to make my life miserable.
On the keyboard Tony taps the ESC key allowing the ‘delete’ prompt to instantly vanish. SPACE – EARTH’S UPPER ATMOSPHERE – DAY
The alien ship arrives hovering above the planet with sleek body in a state of flux; a flickering conversion not unlike a mirage viewed through heat waves rising from asphalt. A warping, dissolving effect that accelerates until quite abruptly the craft winks from existence.
EXT. OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Pacific Ocean, 64,186,300 Sq. Miles.
With no land in sight the Pacific’s expanse is tranquil. Overhead the sky abruptly erupts in a roiling FIREBALL that stretches for miles as our invisible spacecraft RIPS through the stratosphere accompanied by an IONIZING SONIC BOOM that introduces its arrival.
INT. MILITARY COMMAND / RADAR ROOM
PRINTED ON SCREEN: National Military Command Center / The Pentagon.
TWO military WATCH DOGS seated at individual sonar terminals simultaneously snap to full attention.
ON RADAR SCREEN
- as a persistent BLIMP abruptly vanishes.
WATCH DOG 1 (O.S.) What the hell was that?.
EXT. PACIFIC OCEAN
A MASSIVE SURGE of ocean water is propelled skyward as our invisible spacecraft DIVES below the surface -
UNDER PACIFIC OCEAN
HURLING through ocean depths, its cloaking shield undulating and dissolving, the spacecraft once again becomes a solid, sleek study of geometric symmetry.
INT. MILITARY COMMAND / RADAR ROOM
Watch Dog 1 hastens towards COMMANDER. WATCH DOG 1 Sir, we have a situation.
UNDER PACIFIC OCEAN
With high-intensity beams slicing through the ocean’s vast darkness the spacecraft dives easily to the ocean floor deftly evading jagged, kilometer- high mountains that loom before it like the Rocky Mountains; while far, far below, the maw of a great trench widens.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: The Mariana Trench, 35,838 ft in depth…
EXT. FARM PASTURE – LATE MORNING
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Oregon, One Week Later.
The pasture is bustling with county law enforcement, news vans, and local bystanders as a dark, unmarked sedan winds it way through a throng of spectators kept at bay by strategically placed crime tape.
Crawling to a stop parallel to a sheriff’s cruiser, SPECIAL AGENT NIGEL leaves the sedan to solemnly take in the gawking locals before making his way to a group of lawmen, miffed and perplexed, by what lay at their feet.
As Nigel approaches, SHERIFF EMERY, being the first to spot him, breaks from the group.
NIGEL Sheriff Emery?
Nigel displays his FBI credentials as Emery offers a greeting hand.
EMERY Yes, sir. An’ you must be the one who done went an’ drew himself the shortest straw.
NIGEL Something like that.
Emery eyeballs him suspiciously.
EMERY Now, don’t tell me you went an’ volunteered for this.
NIGEL I didn’t.
EMERY That’s right nice to hear ‘cause there’s some folk around here who trust you people about as much as ice skatin’ on a thawin’ pond, know what I’m sayin’?
NIGEL Can’t say I do.
EMERY I’m only sayin’ there’s some folk - and I might be one of ‘em - who’d swear on the good baby Jesus the gov’ment knows ’xactly what’s goin’ on here. Which also means, we don’t want some pantywaist bureaucrat showin’ up down here covering up whatever the hell it is you boys are covering up this week. Catching my drift now, son?
NIGEL I believe I do.
EMERY Fine. Now I hope we ain’t gonna be getting off on the wrong foot by some fancy words (MORE) EMERY(CONT’D) and slick talkin’, so why don’t you just cut to the point and tell me just what in the hell did happen down here.
NIGEL Sheriff, with all due respect, I can think of a whole lot of things I’d rather be doing than standing here listening to some half-baked bigot chew me a new one in the middle of some fucking field. But since I am here, and since I do have a job to do, do you, or do you not, have any viable information supporting this alleged government conspiracy of yours?
Stunned by his miscalculation Emery can only shake his head in response.
NIGEL Then I suggest you turn your authority in that direction (indicating group of officers) and move those people away from the evidence.
With some resignation, Emery hitches his trousers summoning all the authority he can at this point. After giving Nigel the once-over he storms off.
EMERY Alright people, everybody stand clear. Time to let the Federal boy here have a look see… You too, Slim. Go on, now!
Following Emery’s wake Nigel nods his greetings as the officers make way.
At his feet lay the emaciated carcass of a young cow with a surgical incision, seared with accurate precision, running the full length of its gapping underbelly; and although its belly has been slit, the ground around it is bone dry.
EMERY (O.S.) What’d you reckon happened to all the blood?
BACK TO SCENE
Removing a pair of surgical gloves from a pocket, Nigel slips one on each hand.
NIGEL You believe in vampires, sheriff?
EMERY You funnin’ me, boy?
Emery’s question hangs as Nigel pulls a penlight from the same pocket and kneels –
- running its light along the charred edges of the incision. With measured deliberation, and the use of one finger, he pries apart the wound as far as it will go letting the light penetrate into the cavity.
NIGEL Empty… Have you checked the other side?
EMERY I was told not to touch nuttin’ ‘til you got here.
NIGEL I’m going to need some help.
EMERY Slim’ll be more than happy to oblige seeings its his land you’re fiddlin’ with and all. (calling out) Hey, Slim, you care to lend us a hand?
SLIM, a gangly fellow in filthy overalls and dingy thermal steps from the group of onlookers. Limping over to the men, his eyes drilling into Nigel’s, it’s clear his disdain for the agent is close to hostile. NIGEL I’m going to need you to lift the head so I can get a look at the other side.
SLIM (pause) You talkin’ to me?
NIGEL Only if you’re here to help.
SLIM I am. But I ain’t helpin’ you.
EMERY Just do want the man seys so we can all get the hell outta here.
After a bit of hesitation Slim places a foot on either side of the slain bovine’s head in order to straddle it.
SLIM I’m only doin’ it ‘cause you told me to, sheriff.
EMERY And I certainly appreciate it. Now lift the damn thing, will you.
Bending at the waist Slim takes hold of the bovine’s head and lifts with surprising ease.
NIGEL Wait. (beat) Do that again.
NIGEL The head. Lift it again.
SLIM (suspiciously) You queer, boy?
EMERY (frustrated) Christ sake, slim, just do it.
NIGEL But this time, try it with one hand.
Letting the head drop to the ground, Slim takes hold of an ear and braces himself for the expected weight; but again, the head comes up with ridiculous ease. Nigel crouches low to view its underside -
- like a festering wound, the eye socket, crusted with suppuration, lays barren.
BACK TO SCENE
- as Nigel stands pulling off the surgical gloves.
NIGEL Okay, Slim.
The head FLOPS to the ground.
SLIM That’s Mister Peterson to you, boy.
NIGEL Fair enough. I only have one question I hope you wouldn’t mind answering.
SLIM Is answerin’ it gonna git you to pay for this here heifer?
NIGEL I’ll see what I can do.
SLIM Then I’ll see what I can do ‘bout answerin’ -
EMERY (interrupting) Calm down there, Slim.
SLIM (fuming pause) Ask your damn question.
NIGEL Something the sheriff said about this being your property.
SLIM What’s it to you?
NIGEL He didn’t mention anything about this being your cow.
SLIM That’s ‘cause it ain’t none of my cow. B’longs to the feller down the road.
EMERY Bout five and half miles down the road.
NIGEL How do you suppose it got here?
SLIM If we knew that, what the hell would we need you for?
EMERY Watch your manners now, Slim, and that’s the last time I wanna have to tell you, you hear?
Fed up with the whole mess slim scowls at Nigel before storming off.
EMERY He’s one of those folks I was talkin’ ‘bout.
NIGEL I gathered.
EMERY So, what’s your next step?
NIGEL You can have your people remove it but don’t destroy it. If you can, put it on ice and post a guard. I’ll see to it someone takes it off your hands by morning.
Nigel heads for the sedan.
EMERY Hey, hold on there minute.
Nigel stops as Emery approaches.
EMERY Look, I really didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers none back there.
NIGEL Sure you did.
EMERY Yeah, okay, you got me there. But hell, since we’re practically on the same side, what’d you say we call it a truce?
Emery extends a contrite hand. A brief pause before Nigel finally accepts it.
EMERY Now, that’s right nice of you.
NIGEL I can use all the friends I can get.
EMERY You have yourself a safe trip back now, you hear?
NIGEL Loud and clear.
Again, Adam heads for the sedan.
EMERY You might want to do yourself a favor and loosen up a little. A fella ought not be so dang serious, it just ain’t natural.
Emery watches Nigel’s departure. Slim joins him.
SLIM Sumabitch. Who in hell does he think he is?
EMERY Slim, I’m gonna need another favor from you.
SLIM Sure, sheriff, you know me.
EMERY That’s a fact. That’s why I’m gonna have to ask you to please shut the fuck up.
Slims jaw hangs slack as Emery walks off.
INT. FBI DIRECTOR’S OFFICE – AFTERNOON
PRINTED ON SCREEN: FBI Field Office, Salem, Oregon. Nigel hands over a folder bearing the FBI seal to the DIRECTOR.
NIGEL If you ask me, I think the locals are screwing with us. One in particular but I’m not sure he’s bright enough to pull off something like this by himself. Maybe the whole damn town’s in on it.
FBI DIRECTOR You could be right.
Opening a desk drawer the Director extracts an identical folder. NIGEL What’s this?
FBI DIRECTOR Your next assignment. If you’re going to prove the locals are screwing with us, first you’ll need to prove at least one of them was in Spanish Harlem about the time our cow showed up here.
NIGEL What the hell is a cow doing in Spanish Harlem?
FBI DIRECTOR You’re assuming.
The Director hands over the file. Adam flips it open, stares briefly, then –
FBI DIRECTOR And it’s all yours.
Filling with disbelief Adam’ eyes stray back to the folder’s contents.
INT. MORGUE CORRIDOR
PRINTED ON SCREEN: New York, County Morgue.
FOOTSTEPS ECHO as Nigel and the county PATHOLOGIST, his surgical smock stained with remnants of his occupation, stride the length of an oppressive green tiled hall.
PATHOLOGIST There’s not much to tell you at the moment. We’re mostly waiting on lab results to give us some indication on what we’re dealing with here… Here we are.
Both men push through the double doors of an autopsy lab.
INT. AUTOPSY LAB
Hunched over one of the steel examination tables the CORONER works attentively on the body of an adult female.
PATHOLOGIST Doc, this here is Agent Nigel Agent Nigel, meet the good doc.
CORONER You boys are quick, I’ll give you that.
Nigel’s eyes instantly lock on the woman’s corpse -
- whose torso is slit from neck to pelvis with flaps of skin pulled to either side exposing the glistening organs inside. But even more appalling are the legions of infectious furuncles: raw, swollen, and suppurating thickly over desecrated cyan tinged flesh.
CORONER (O.S) If you can prove it the next round’s on me.
BACK TO SCENE
NIGEL Are you telling me I’m not looking at a someone who’s been exposed to radiation?
CORONER Agent Nigel, most of my peers will tell you I am a fool, but none will ever tell you I am incompetent. If there was the remotest possibility this woman was exposed to radiation, I assure you, someone else would be standing here in my stead.
NIGEL I didn’t mean –
CORONER (interjecting) I’m sure you didn’t. But the point being, whatever else may may have caused this woman’s demise, it most certainly was not caused by radiation exposure. Nigel studies the woman’s swollen face with its many lesions.
NIGEL I’ve seen this before.
CORONER No doubt you have. And I’ll bet a year’s salary radiation was the culprit.
NIGEL It was.
CORONER Which is why can’t get your head around what your eyes are telling you.
With scalpel in hand the Coroner resumes his postmortem exam.
NIGEL (to Pathologist) Then what the hell happened to her?
PATHOLOGIST The few marks we found on her body were all postmortem. Nothing suggestive of defense injuries; no broken nails, no vaginal or anal trauma. We took samples just to be on the safe side, including oral and ocular. We have, however, determined all her abrasions were the direct result of discarding the body. And like the thing you got going on in Oregon, no one knows who she is, where she came from, or how she ended up in a dumpster in the middle of Spanish Harlem.
CORONER In essence, what we have here is a woman who appears to have died willingly.
CORONER Negative for Roofies, PCP, crack, heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, Ritalin; or anything else their smoking, snorting, shooting or drinking these days. This woman’s system is one of the cleanest I’ve seen in the living, or the dead, in quite someti -
- the Coroner stops short.
CORONER Matt. You might want to come have a look at this.
The Pathologist joins the Coroner who steps aside permitting the man an unobstructed view.
CORONER (pause) What’d you see?
After peering into the torso’s lower half the Pathologist looks at Nigel a bit disturbed.
PATHOLOGIST She’s undergone extensive reproductive surgery.
NIGEL You want to be more specific?
PATHOLOGIST Specifically, everything that classifies this body as a female has been meticulously removed.
Nigel’s gaze wanders back to the woman’s rigor-ed face.
ADAM (to self) What happened to you?…
INT. SHAWS’ LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON
Sunlight baths the room as Katherine tends to a pitiful reproduction of potted plants the world over; being merely a twig with several desperate leaves hanging on tenaciously. Adding water to her victim she inexplicably loses herself in a BURST of LAUGHTER.
EMERALD (O.S.) What’s so funny?
KATHERINE Have you ever heard that people who can’t raise house plants shouldn’t be allowed to raise children?
EMERALD Well, you’ve never been good with plants. But you’ve done pretty good by me.
KATHERINE Thanks… I think.
EMERALD You should take a class or something. You know, brush up on skills.
KATHERINE My skills are fine. It’s the plants with the problem. Now, did you come here to criticize my horticultural talents, or is it something your father can help you with?
EMERALD That was subtle. But I’d rather talk to you about it.
KATHERINE Okay, shoot.
EMERALD It’s about sex.
EMERALD I’m not sure where to begin.
KATHERINE Try the beginning.
EMERALD How old were you when you first… You know?
Setting the watering can she looks directly at Emerald.
KATHERINE Had sex?
KATHERINE God Emmy, when I said, at the beginning, I meant your beginning, not mine.
EMERALD All I mean is, were you younger than I am now?
KATHERINE …There’s a possibility.
EMERALD This isn’t easy for you either, huh?
KATHERINE You have no ideal.
Katherine makes her way to the sofa. Emerald follows.
KATHERINE I may be ill-prepared, but I am glad you came to me instead of looking for answers somewhere else.
Having reached the sofa they sit.
EMERALD You’re being evasive.
KATHERINE Alright then, I was sixteen.
EMERALD Kind of young, weren’t you?
KATHERINE I suppose, but things were different back then. In fact, they were a lot different.
EMERALD So, it was okay with grandmom?
KATHERINE Not really.
EMERALD What does, ‘not really’, mean?
KATHERINE It’s my way of saying they didn’t know. Anyway, I thought this was going about you.
EMERALD It is.
KATHERINE Then why the sudden interest in what can only be described as one of those things I’d rather not remember?
Emerald Because you’re the most liberal person I know.
KATHERINE Liberal? (suspiciously) What are you up to?
EMERALD About fifty six words.
KATHERINE Why, you little sneak.
EMERALD You do want me to get into the best college possible.
KATHERINE Of course I do. But I don’t like the ideal of my sexual transgressions being the basis for which a review board decides your future, either.
EMERALD So, what I’m hearing is, you’re embarrassed by what could be considered a shameful past?
KATHERINE No. I’m embarrassed by your shameless straightforwardness.
TONY (O.S.) What are you two up to?
Tony ENTERS. KATHERINE Just the person I needed to see.
Katherine stands and guides Tony to her vacated seat.
KATHERINE Here, have a seat. I believe your child has something to ask you.
TONY Sure, baby, what is it?
EMERALD How old were you when you first had sex?
Tony’s smile flounders. His eyes cut to Katherine.
KATHERINE (mischievously) Have fun. And just remember, it’s for a good cause.
Lightheartedly Katherine practically skips from the room. TONY(O.S.) Is this some kind of joke?...
EMERALD (O.S) Well, how old were you?...
INT. KATHERINE’S STUDY – LATE NIGHT
In bathrobe she ENTERS. Taking her seat at the computer she quickly calls up her manuscript and begins TYPING -
KATHERINE (O.S) Given the number of systems with planets, the probability of life arising is infinite. So, why no word of their existence? (pause) One reasonable explanation is that other intelligent life is just that - intelligent. Keeping silent and willfully determined not to draw any attention. If this is the case, what does that say about us as a race and what –
- abruptly the overhead lights and computer monitor BLAZE so bright they bathe the room in blinding white just before pitching the room in total darkness.
KATHERINE (O.S.) (mild panic) Toonnnyyy!
We HEAR her rise from the chair and making her way through the darkness she BUMPS into something solid which is followed by the THUMP of something else STRIKING THE FLOOR which is promptly CRUSHED UNDERFOOT.
As suddenly as they went out, lights and monitor STATICALLY return to life. Near the display cabinet Katherine is understandably startled -
- until the sudden CHATTER OF PRINTER snatches her back to the here and now. Her eyes zero in on the computer where a page of data pours from the PRINTER with script that fills it from margin to margin.
- as she moves towards the computer her vision filling with a kaleidoscopic array of colorized letters and numbers that interchange sporadically from border to border.
BACK TO SCENE
With unavailing keystrokes she enters commands but the quick sequence of numbers and letters are in total defiance as the printer CHATTERS endlessly, filling page after page with enigmatic data. On the monitor, the interchanging succession of script quickens, building momentum until finally reaching blurred speeds that are impossible to follow.
Step by step she inches away. Easing toward the door when unexpectedly all commotion stops plunging the room once again into darkness…
…the SPUTTER of overhead lights; an abrupt FLICKER of the monitor, and all is restored to normalcy. All except Katherine, who stands more awestruck than stunned. Summoning a measure of equanimity she forces herself to move, guardedly, to the silent printer and its surfeit of printed data.
Unsteadily she lifts a sheet from the printer’s tray and scrutinizes its convoluted text.
From border to border and top to bottom with no spaces indicative of individual words or symbols we see -
0.15.9994XE131.30F18.99840.159994CH4CH3NH200.15.9994KR83.80C6CH3CH3CH3CLAR39 .948C12.011CL35.453015.9994C6C6RN222.00C12.011CO20015.99940150.9994C6015.999 4N2ON02NH3C12.011N:C.:NC6C12.011HE4.0026015.9994CH3BRC12,011H1.00797C6COC12. 011H25COC12015.9994C6NE20.179N14.0067015.9994015.9994C6C60.15.9994XE131.30F1 8.99840.159994CH4CH3NH20…
- repeated continuously…
DEPTHS OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN
A giant squid glides through the water on a predestined course. Descending deeper, we encounter a spectacle of life that captivates by the array of species and legions of organism patrolling, evading and consuming in their relentless cycles of life and death. But all too soon, the ocean’s tranquility is shattered as mutual preservation induces instantaneous DISBURSEMENT of sea life all around -
- as a towering shadow slithers toward us; obliterating everything in its path like an atramentaceous wall wiping the ocean clean.
INT. UNITED STATES MILITARY SUBMARINE
At the radar screen a subdued ENSIGN is barely concealing his boredom when his SONAR BEEPS unexpectedly.
ENSIGN Sweet Jeezus!
In a flurry of panic the Ensign SLAMS his fist down on the console’s emergency button setting the sub’s interior lights to red and KLAXONS BLARING. An immediate bustle of SHOUTS and restrained activity ensues as all hands man their stations.
SUB COMMANDER What’s your status?
ENSIGN (slight trepidation) Mountain range. Straight ahead, sir! SUB COMMANDER Impossible! We’re nowhere near the bottom.
ENSIGN That maybe true, sir, but the bottom is definitely near us.
Sub Commander casts eyes on sonar screen.
ON SONAR SCREEN
- as its sweeping dial BEEPS each time it highlights the enormity of the approaching obstruction.
SUB COMMANDER (O.S) What the hell!!! BACK TO SCENE
- as Sub Commander snatches up handset -
SUB COMMANDER This is the Captain speaking, engine room set immediate course for topside? I repeat – immediate course for topside!
DEPTHS OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN
The specter of the massive shadow passes over the sub engulfing it entirely.
INT. UNITED STATES MILITARY SUBMARINE
Chaos as the crew abandons protocol and sheer panic takes over. The sub’s interior is plunged in darkness riddled with the STACCATO of HISSING SPARKS as miniature FIRES erupt indicative of the sub’s electrical system malfunctioning.
Through SPARKS, FLAMES and billowing smoke, pandemonium winks in and out of view as all hands desperately seek purchase within the sub’s roiling hull.
A SERIES OF SHOTS
a) Three crew men cling on to one another as the fourth inexplicably vanishes.
b) Navigational officer manning his post disappears instantaneously.
c) In the galley a COOK, SCREAMING in sheer agony, waves a spatula frantically at the air before dissolving into nothing.
d) Spatula CLATTERS to the deck.
e) Infirmary, bedridden seamen look on hysterically as one of their numbers blinks out of existence –
f) – followed by another –
g) – and another. And another…
BACK TO SCENE
DEPTHS OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN
The insidious ‘wall’ continues onward leaving the sub’s battered hull plummeting far beyond safe depths until its pressure hull finally gives up emitting cascades of AIR BUBBLES through fissures of TEARING METAL.
With the last scintilla of AIR POPPING from it shattered bulk, the sub SHUDDERS and TORQUES until STRIKING a mountainside. Bouncing and rolling in an undersea ballet that carries it down into a stygian canyon where it finally comes to rest as a heap of twisted, mangled steel.
EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE – NIGHT
ADMIRAL (O.S.) With all due respect, Mr. President, it’s not a mistake.
INT. OVAL OFFICE
The ADMIRAL, the SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (SOD), and the PRESIDENT are seated throughout the room.
PRESIDENT (livid) You lost an entire submarine (MORE) PRESIDENT (CONT’D) and you don’t call that a mistake?!
SOD We didn’t lose it, Sir, it vanished, reappeared, then –
PRESIDENT (interrupting) You lost it again. I’ve heard this tune before, gentlemen, and no matter how many times you sing it, I’m still not going to like it. We’re The United States of America, for christ’s sake, we don’t get to screw up!
ADMIRAL I’m aware of that, Sir, but (MORE) ADMIRAL (CONT’D) the fact remains, it’s gone, and it could be related to whatever’s in the trench.
PRESIDENT And that’s another thing. You want to explain to me just how the hell it got past billions of dollars of defense hardware?
ADMIRAL That’s something we’re looking into.
PRESIDENT By the end of this day, I want to know what the fuck is wrong with our tracking system and what the hell you’re doing to fix it! Do I make myself clear?
ADMIRAL Yes, Sir.
EXT. STRETCH OF BEACH – EARLY MORNING
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Santa Monica, California, One Month Later.
The ravaged carcass of a killer whale is sourrounded by somber onlookers as a team of Oceanographers take pictures and notes amid a SWARM of FLIES.
Repelled by the stench a teenager breaks from the crowd accidentally bumping into Nigel who is approaching one of the OCEANOGRAPHERS.
OCEANOGRAPHER This isn’t the sort of thing I’d think the FBI’d be interested in. Name’s Gary. I’d shake your hand but I’ve been all over this thing.
NIGEL Nigel. Thanks for the heads up.
Nigel bats at the irritating SWARM. OCEANOGRAPHER An eviscerated Orcinus Orca. Female. Although you wouldn’t know it simply by relying on knowledge of its reproductive organs.
NIGEL I’m not following.
OCEANOGRAPHER Look for yourself.
Without prejudice the Oceanographer lifts back a flap of the animal’s severed underbelly revealing the insides of its empty fat-lined cavity.
OCEANOGRAPHER Stripped clean. All that’s left is some fatty tissue, and they even took some of that.
NIGEL What do you think happened?
OCEANOGRAPHER Since we have yet to identify a species of fish with the exacting skills of a certified surgeon, you wouldn’t be remiss in reporting this as an act of unlawful poaching.
NIGEL How long has it been here?
OCEANOGRAPHER Washed up early this morning. But I’d say it’s been dead approximately two, maybe three weeks. Which is why I can’t figure out why it wasn’t spotted long before this.
NIGEL Underwater shelves could have held it down for awhile.
OCEANOGRAPHER That’s what I guessed. NIGEL So, what’s bothering you.
OCEANOGRAPHER When it finally pop up, the gulls feeding on this thing should have attracted ` somebody. And as far as I know no alerts were received by the Coast Guard or the Oceanic Institute.
NIGEL Is that unusual?
OCEANOGRAPHER When something this big shows up out of nowhere, I’d say that’s pretty unusual. It’s like it walked out of the ocean and decided this was far enough.
NIGEL Which didn’t happen.
OCEANOGRAPHER Then maybe you’d like my other theory better.
NIGEL Try me.
OCEANOGRAPHER It’s called the theory of: Something kept it down there long enough to do this to it then brought it up here for disposal.
Nigel meets this with dubious countenance.
OCEANOGRAPHER I have an active imagination.
NIGEL Long as you keep it to yourself you should be okay.
DEEP SPACE With its five smaller companions leading the way, the monolithic slab RUMBLES PASS with the spiral nebula of Andromeda, large and awesome, in the background.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Andromeda Galaxy, 2,310,000 Light Years From Earth.
INT. COLLEGE LECTURE HALL – MORNING
Standing before a class of rapt coeds is PROFESSOR BOBBY McMILLIAN, an anachronistic individual whose unkempt beard calls to mind pot-smoking academicians of the sixties.
McMILLIAN People, you simply cannot refer to good and evil in regards to the serial killer, and yet that’s exactly what you do when you make appeals to his or her “conscience”. To them moral judgment does not apply. To them conscience is irrelevant because, children, they are simply without one.
KATHERINE (O.S.) (calling out) Then why have so many of them tried to hide their crimes? Surely, there’s conscience at work there.
All heads turn toward the hall’s entrance, Katherine, with a thick file in hand, makes her way to a vacant seat where she sits with an unabashed smile on her face.
McMILLIAN Mrs. Shaw, again you are late, and again you presume to undermine my established credentials.
One part of the student body finds humor in this exchange while others shift uneasily in their seats.
KATHERINE I’m sorry, Professor, it’ll never happen again. But what does the psychological profile (MORE) KATHERINE (CONT’D) of serial killers have to do with the origins of organism.
McMILLIAN That’s precisely why it’s important we show up on time, Mrs. Shaw. It saves valuable time by not having to cover terrain that has already been treaded. Now, if you have any more questions please save them until after the lecture, which should be –
McMillian consults his watch –
McMILLIAN Well - would you look at that. Class dismissed. And I would like to thank those of you who arrived on time, for being on time.
SNICKERS as some students move out leaving the main body lingering long enough to witness the inevitable confrontation between Katherine and McMillian who approach one another; smile affably , then hug like two friends who truly missed each other. The disappointment of students is not missed as they gather belongings and file from lecture hall cheated out of what should have been an altercation worthy of weeks of derisive gossip.
KATHERINE I thought you’d forgotten me.
McMILLIAN (barks merrily) You! Never! I may look senile but I’m still as sharp as cheese.
KATHERINE It’s good to see you’ve survived the Sixties.
MCMILLIAN Hell, that was the easy part. It was the damn Nineties (MORE) MCMILLIAN (CONT’D) that had me spooked. (reflecting) Man, what I wouldn’t give for some good smoke right about now.
KATHERINE I gave that up twenty years ago.
McMILLIAN (conspiratorially) The Man?
KATHERINE My man.
McMILLIAN Always the sensible one. As I recall that’s the reason we we went splitsville.
KATHERINE No. You went to Woodstock and I went to college.
McMILLIAN Ah, but I caught up.
McMILLIAN Touché, mon cherie.
KATHERINE I didn’t come here to offend you.
McMILLIAN Don’t let it bother you. When you’re right, your right. So, other than marring my ego, what else brings you to these parts.
She hands him the file. McMILLIAN What’s this?
KATHERINE Look for yourself.
McMILLIAN Should I be interested?
KATHERINE It was emailed to me during a total blackout.
McMillian fans through the pages stopping at intervals and looking up at Katherine with each glance.
McMILLIAN I hear they’re growing some good shit these days.
KATHERINE Stay focused, Bobby.
McMILLIAN I could say the same to you.
KATHERINE I know how it sounds, but I’m the sensible one, remember? I’ve check with a dozen people and each of them have assured me there is no way in hell you should be holding that because there was no power at the time it was sent.
McMILLIAN Well, if your not high, maybe you should be talking to Mulder and Scully.
KATHERINE Maybe you’re not taking me seriously.
McMILLIAN Would you?
KATHERINE I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you could help.
After studying her face -
McMILLIAN What did you have in mind?
EXT. UNITED STATES POLAR EXPEDITION CAMP – NIGHT
PRINTED ON SCREEN: United States Polar Exploration Station, McMurdo.
Through the Arctic’s raging Blizzard ANXIOUS SHOUTS are lost to the wind as barley discernable forms, snug within anoraks, struggle with a cumbersome load near the compound’s largest building. The door is thrown open, spilling light across snowy ground, the group with its load rush inside.
INT. ARTIC RESEARCH LAB
Doors BURST OPEN ahead of an agitated BIOLOGIST leading the way to the examining table as five figures in snow encrusted anoraks struggle with a large mass of white fur.
BIOLOGIST Easy, now…
The five figures: MANNY, RICHARD, SHARON, MAN 1 and MAN 2 heave the mass onto the table offering a view of a polar bear so malnourished it seems impossible its matted tangle of fur still finds purchase.
As the team remove face coverings the Biologist presses lightly on the bears torso checking several areas before moving to its glazed eyes.
MAN 1 Is it like the others?
BIOLOGIST This one’s been dead longer.
MAN 1 Why the hell aren’t they eating?
BIOLOGIST Do I need to open this one up, too?
MAN 2 I don’t see how we can avoid it.
BIOLOGIST How about I don’t, and we say I did.
MAN 2 How about you do, and we watch.
BIOLOGIST You know as well as I do this bear ate her own offspring, just like the others. I don’t need to see that again.
SHARON We can’t assume that.
BIOLOGIST The hell we can’t.
MANNY I’m siding with the doc on this one. Nine dead from obvious starvation, eight of which resorted to cannibalism. I’d say the chances of this one eating its cubs are just as good.
MAN 2 I’m not so sure cannibalism was an adverse reaction. At least not here.
SHARON You want to run that by me again?
MAN 2 Think about it a minute. If something goes wrong with the (MORE) MAN 2 (CONT’D) food chain and there’s just no getting around dying from starvation. What’d you do?... If I were an animal I’d probably consume one cub at a time. Maybe to muster the strength to hunt. maybe to ease the pain of the weakest. Instinctively I would do it because infanticide would be a natural reaction to whatever action is upsetting the balance.
The group contemplates.
SHARON Okay, it’s obvious how they’re dying. Now, what about the why?
BIOLOGIST Don’t you numbskulls ever pay attention? The why has already been pointed out.
MANNY Not to me.
MAN 1 I never claimed to be all that observant.
BIOLOGIST Look at it this way. What would happen to the rest of us if you both suddenly died from, say, heart attacks?
MAN1 At the same time?
BIOLOGIST (sarcastically) Sure. Why not?
MAN 1 Well, since the rest of you clowns wouldn’t know a pot (MORE) MAN 1 (CONT’D) of chum from a pot of stew, you’d starve to death in pretty short order, I’d say.
BIOLOGIST Which means we depend on you for our sustenance.
MANNY You could probably wing it until rations ran out. But if those generators go -
BIOLOGIST You, my friend, would be missed most of all.
MAN 2 Are you telling me whatever’s going on out there, it’s because something’s dead?
BIOLOGIST That’s one way of putting it.
RICHARD Bullshit. Those bears caught something and it’s your responsibility to find out what.
RICHARD Don’t tell me you really believe the Arctic’s ecosystem is falling apart.
BIOLOGIST Believe what you damn well please, but the problem’s not in this bear, it’s out there.
RICHARD What proof do we have? What proof do you have?
BIOLOGIST A MA from Stanford. Several degrees from Harvard. A PhD from Cornell, and enough grant money to keep me in Jack Daniels long after the next three Administrations have long gone.
SHARON Stay cool you two. Doc, where’s the best place to start?
BIOLOGIST The ocean, of course.
RICHARD I repeat, there’s nothing going on down there.
The doors BURST OPEN and a SIXTH MAN in snow covered parka rushes in cradling a seal in his arms. Like the bear, the seal, too, is nothing more than an emaciated carcass.
SIXTH MAN They’re all dying, man! All of them!
The group gathers around the Sixth Man who hands the limp seal over to Manny who in turn hands it right back.
SIXTH MAN Outpost two.
SHARON How many?
SIXTH MAN By now… Every last one of them.
The ADVANCING asteroids RESOUND across a field of gaseous space riddled with a sea of clustered stars. PRINTED ON SCREEN: Large Magellanic Cloud.
INT. HELICOPTER – AFTERNOON
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Off The Florida Coast.
Strapped in the passenger seat above the Atlantic, Nigel’s attention is on the ocean’s surface.
Across the surface a brownish-red stain stretching four square miles drifts unhindered as Coast Guard vessels keep a respectable distance.
PILOT That’s the biggest one I’ve seen yet.
NIGEL I see why they call it a red tide.
PILOT Yep, and she could very well be the cause of all the marine life washing up around here.
NIGEL ADAM Why is the Coast Guard keeping their distance.
PILOT For the time being there’s a hands off policy effect. They’re here only to observe.
NIGEL Except for the color, there’s much to observe.
PILOT Usually when plankton from Like this it’s more of a nuisance than anything else. Most of the time you get a (MORE) PILOT (CONT’D) lot of dead fish because the tide has a nasty habit of using up all the oxygen in the surrounding water. But when you have paralyzed fish washing up all over the place, the plankton is most likely Dinoflagellata. And this tide happens to be a very toxic form of it.
NIGEL What makes it populate like that?
PILOT Add that to your list of God’s-Little-Mysteries.
INT. UNITED STATES POLAR EXPLORATION CAMP (LAB)
Alone in the lab Richard is bent over a microscope. Wearily he looks away to rub vigorously at tired eyes before returning to the task at hand. Adjusting the scope’s magnification he grows increasingly alarmed. He adjusts the viewer one final time. Panic overtakes him -
RICHARD (shouting) We’ve got a problem!!!
The six asteroids THUNDER across space on a trajectory towards a group of planets with one blazing sun. This is the unmistakable image of our own solar system which still lies at a great distance.
PRINT ON SCREEN DIGITAL COUNTER: rapidly counting down what amounts to: Event Minus 0336 HRS 50 MINS 19 SECS 0120 Fractions…
CLOSE ON TELEVISION
- as ANCHORWOMAN with prominent graphics depicting sweltering temperatures reports -
ANCHORWOMAN … a year for record breaking temperatures. The National Weather Bureau has issued a Hazardous Health Advisory across the board. Those who live closest to ocean areas should ensure pets have plenty of fresh water due to extreme levels of humidity. Also, we are being advised to keep a close eye on our seniors and small children, especially when venturing outdoors.
INT. SHAWS’ LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
The room’s AIR CONDITIONER billows. Emerald, propped on sofa with dark crescents under each red, watery eye, pulls deeply from an asthmatic inhaler. Her sweaty brow and RASPS from LABORED BREATHING confirm the air quality is dangerously oppressive.
ON LIVING ROOM WINDOW / POTTED PLANT
What was once a deteriorating plant struggling for survival is now a flourishing bounty; lush and verdant, with leaves that obscure pot and overflow the sill.
INT. KATHERINE’S STUDY
Sweaty and frustrated Tony SLAMS an open palm on the side of a malfunctioning air conditioner; fidgets with the controls, then WHACKS it again.
TONY Piece of crap!
KATHERINE (O.S.) Keep that up it’ll never cooperate.
TONY Three hundred dollars, for what?!
And again, WHACK. This time the appliance gives up the ghost with a GRINDING of MOTOR followed by escaping plumes.
KATHERINE (O.S.) Satisfied?
Hastily, and bit irate, he snatches the plug from the outlet as the last wisps of smoke climb to the ceiling.
Tony joins Katherine and McMillian at a makeshift worktable designed to accommodate stacks of printouts and graphs. McMillian is scribbling on one of the printouts with Katherine looking on.
Finishing his notations McMillian lets the pen drop and stretches leisurely.
McMILLIAN It’s certainly repetitive.
KATHERINE With one exception.
Katherine aligns several pages of side by side.
KATHERINE What do you see?
McMILLIAN I see the exact same thing I’ve been seeing for the past four hours.
KATHERINE Look again, Bobby.
McMILLIAN It might help if I had a little something to jog the old imagination, if you know what I mean.
KATHERINE I’m sure I do. But for now I need you look again; except this time, filter out the lesser of the whole.
KATHERINE Trust me. McMillian trains his eyes on the aligned sheets and points to each element reciting its name -
McMILLIAN Let’s see. Here’s the ever- present Oxygen. And Xenon. Fluorine. Oxygen again. Carbon –
As with the original printouts the numerous elements and their corresponding atomic numbers are represented, except this time, the numbers and lettered symbols have been separated to form individual elements. McMillian’s finger traces through the list –
McMILLIAN (O.S.) Methane. Methylamine. Oxygen. And something Superman can relate to, Krypton. Here’s Carbon again and…
McMillian’s finger pauses, backs up, then quickly glides through the list stopping repeatedly at two symbols and their atomic numbers: C6 and 080.15.9994, with each pause bringing the elements into fuller relief.
BACK TO SCENE
McMILLIAN Oxygen. Carbon. Oxygen. Carbon. Carbon… Carbon…
McMillian Looks to Katherine.
McMILLIAN I’ll be damned.
KATHERINE They’re the only two represented more than the others. But Carbon is the only element represented by its number placement on the chart, but not by its atomic number.
McMILLIAN Smart girl.
TONY That’s why I married her.
McMILLIAN You married her because I was a fool.
TONY If I were a few years younger I’d say you’re still a fool.
KATHERINE Play nice, boys. (pondering) Why would Oxygen and Carbon be so prevalent? I mean, especially since Oxygen only makes up about twenty percent of our atmosphere and Carbon practically one hundred percent of everything else?
McMILLIAN If I were so inclined to play the Devil’s Advocate I would imagine; theoretically, the less of something you have, the easier it’d be to get rid of.
TONY Get rid of! What? Oxygen?
McMILLIAN I’m just an advocate, remember.
Both men turn to Katherine for support.
Katherine’s mouth parts in reply just as the PRINTER’S STACCATO TAPPING punctuates the silence. Three heads turn in time to see the monitor’s brightness flare as its viewing field rapidly fills with nonsensical data. Tony and and McMillian are rooted to their spots transfixed by the printer’s outpouring data. Katherine slips into her chair and attempts to interrupt the monitor’s rambling sequence with a series of key strokes; however, the more she types, the quicker the stream of data accelerates.
Abruptly the monitor goes blank –
- only to FLICKER back to life with one questioning word printed at its left margin: KATHERINE?
McMillian moves in closer.
McMILLIAN Last time I checked that was your name.
After a deep breath of resolution she repiles.
INSERT – MONITOR
[KATHERINE]: I don’t understand.
McMILLIAN (O.S.) Who else is with you?
[KATHERINE]: My husband and a friend. Who are you?
McMILLIAN (O.S.) Ask again.
[KATHERINE]: Who are you?
[COMPUTER]: Also a friend.
[KATHERINE]: What do you want? [COMPUTER]: Show you.
[KATHERINE]: Show me what? [COMPUTER]: An error in judgment.
BACK TO SCENE
McMILLIAN A fanatic?
TONY I think you should disconnect.
KATHERINE Give me a sec.
McMILLIAN You can’t play around with this guy. He’s gotten past your security and that could mean he’s fixated on you.
KATHERINE All the more reason why I have to find out who it is.
TONY How can you always be so damn rational.
KATHERINE It’s a gift, babe. So, Please, trust me.
TONY What the hell.
INSERT – MONITOR
[COMPUTER]: An error in judgment.
[KATHERINE]: Whose error?
[KATHERINE]: Who are you?
TONY (O.S.) He’s not going to fall for that.
[KATHERINE]: How are you going to show me if I don’t know who, or what, I’m looking for?
[COMPUTER]: You will see.
BACK TO SCENE
- a BLAST of RESOUNDING WIND throws the room into complete turmoil as a WHIRLING VORTEX opens a FUNNELING aperture near the ceiling that stretches, melds, and twists the study and all of its contents beyond physical limitations, much like the surreal figures and landscapes of El Greco and Salvador Dali.
Katherine, Tony and McMillian are transformed into three caricatures trapped in the gyral eye of the VORTEX amid the room’s ESCALATING GALES and dissipating dimensional boundaries:
A SERIES OF SHOTS
a) Katherine’s stretched and twisted body, still seated in a now abstract chair, melts like wax over an open flame.
b) McMillian’s pain wretched face concaves and shrivels like rapidly dehydrating fruit.
c) Tony’s lower jaw stretches to the point of SNAPPING from the hinges of his mummified face.
d) McMillian’s wizened legs buckle as SWIRLING WHIRLWINDS scoop up his rag-dolled body.
e) Katherine’s dissolving body breaks into gobbets of flesh and snatched up by the MOUNTING FORCE of the VORTEX.
f) McMillian’s powdery remains scatter in clouds of dust that are sucked up by the funnels currents.
g) With partial face and shriveling body, Tony, in a last ditch effort makes a futile leap for the FUSING window.
h) Tony’s SPLINTERING FEMUR RIPS THROUGH the CLOTH of his trousers yielding a spray of blood in configurations of surrealistic bubbles that drift pell-mell on their on current.
BACK TO SCENE In an area that would appease Hell’s nefarious imagination, droplets of blood rebound from rubberized surfaces as the room’s SWIRLING contents are systematically SUCKED THROUGH the eye of the MAELSTROM.
Complete UPHEAVAL dominates until an EXPLOSION of LIQUID PITCH studded with beads of shimmering stars BACKFIRES from the churning eye of the vortex bathing this absurd landscape in the plenary silence and absolute darkness of all encompassing space.
What begins as free floating orbit suddenly erupts in SPEEDS that cover light years in fractions only to bring our unbridled journey to an abrupt stop at the threshold of the expanding universe.
Only in the peripheries can we make out the familiarity of inky, star encrusted space, while dead ahead, like an extraterrestrial projection, lies the galaxy of the two suns with its vibrant red planet PULSING and INFLATING until its VIOLENT and OVERWHELMING EXPLOSION fills the firmament with a WAVE of SEARING BRIGHTNESS –
- that rapidly recedes until all that remains is a spectacular aureole of stellar dust and debris embedded in a vast gaseous cloud. Complete calm returns only to be smashed by five mammoth rocks that CRASH THROUGH cloaks of gaseous dust, BARRELING overhead, and THUNDERING to either side, and moving on to allow silence to return to this region of space. Silence in all its totality until -
- from a dense section of the aureole a monolithic stone TEARS THROUGH, and like its predecessors, it too ROARS towards us; however, unlike its predecessors, its trajectory is truer. Mile by mile it swiftly covers the distance. Moving ever closer. And closer. And yet closer, filling vision with its pockmarked girth and ears with a SONIC BOOM as its IMPACT overtakes us.
INT. KATHERINE’S STUDY
The study and its contents SNAP BACK to normal relief.
Katherine’s materializing body drops from somewhere above to utterly SHATTER the display cabinet and its prized effects.
Laying curled on the floor amid remnants of cabinet and space commemorations she shivers uncontrollably with particles of crystallized ice clinging to every inch of her body…
EXT. SHAW HOUSE
Tony’s plunging body SLAMS into roof -
- rolls over the edge -
- and drops unconscious to the lawn, dusted in a veneer of glimmering frost…
INT. SHAW LIVING ROOM
McMillian is hurled from the ether into the television, its picture tube IMPLODES discharging ELECTRIC CURRENTS that course through his pinned body -
- on the sofa, Emerald SCREAMS.
EXT. ARCTIC REGION – DUSK
Mountains of THAWING BERGS CRUMBLE into the sea.
INSERT – MAGNIFIED WATER SAMPLE
The sample is teeming with common microorganism and bacteria.
INT. UNITED STATES POLAR EXPEDITION CAMP (LAB)
With Sharon and Manny breathing over his shoulder, the Biologist, his eye glued to microscope, MUTTERS incoherently as Richard, anxious and distraught, paces nearby. OUTSIDE, IN THE DISTANCE, the SOUNDS of COLLAPSING GLACIAL MOUNTAINS REVERBERATES like a waking beast causing the lab to TREMBLE with each AFTERSHOCK.
BIOLOGIST Whatever I’m suppose to be looking for, I don’t see it.
RICHARD I was so use to it being there I totally blanked it out. You can’t blame me for that.
MANNY Quit jabbering and tell us what we’re missing.
RICHARD It’s the plankton! Its gone! All of it!
BIOLOGIST I see nothing that suggests What you’re talking about?
RICHARD That sample and every sample I’ve tested in the past twenty four hours has yielded negative results for phytoplankton.
BIOLOGIST That can’t be.
RICHARD Look, you were the one who pointed out something might be wrong with the food chain, right? So I started at the base and figured I work my way up. And what do you think I found?... Nothing. That’s what. The damn base wasn’t there!
BIOLOGIST Then what am I seeing here?
RICHARD What you’re seeing is zooplankton. It’s the phytoplanktonic organisms that have disappeared. And in case any of you are interested, that means we’re gonna have a hell of a lot more to worry about than a couple of dead seals.
MANNY How worse?
RICHARD Let me explain a little known fact about Mother Earth the environmentalist never seem to get around to when lobbying for the preservation of our great forests. The facts being that all the forests in the world don’t equal a fraction of the oxygen output plankton produces. In reality, we could literally destroy every forest at our disposal and humanity would get along just fine. Of course, it’ll take some time, but I guarantee you our lungs will adapt.
SHARON You should try listening to yourself?
RICHARD Believe me, I know what it sounds like.
MANNY I don’t think you do.
RICHARD Listen to me, will you; our survival on this planet is dependant upon eco-balance, and at the moment, the freaking balance is shifting.
SHARON You’re dead serious, aren’t you?
RICHARD You’re damn right I am, and if we don’t get our heads around this - and I do mean pretty damn quick - something as simple as breathing is gonna become a much sought after commodity.
MANNY That’s a little extreme, even for you.
RICHARD Then how is it that after centuries of demolishing forests we’re still living lives to the fullest?... If we’re eradicating our Precious jungles at such an alarming rate, why aren’t we succumbing to asphyxiation?... Why do you suppose that is, Manny?
MANNY Look, I’m no scientist.
RICHARD (to Sharon) Care to try?
SHARON My knowledge of plankton stops at food.
RICHARD Because forests are nothing more than a backup system to our primary source of oxygen.
BIOLOGIST Plankton… I never thought –
RICHARD (interrupting) Then it’s time you did. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, but do we really need to hold class on the importance of photosynthesis.
MANNY How can you be so sure?
RICHARD We’ve heard the reports. (MORE) RICHARD (CONT’D) Temperatures are already rising. Until today I just blew it of as more fodder for the almanacs, but I have since come to realize we may be headed for some real trouble.
SHARON I pray like hell you’re wrong.
Biologist reaches for the phone; picks up receiver; and in afterthought, searches Richard’s face.
BIOLOGIST If I place this call you’ll have every ear in Washington listening. Are you ready for that?
SHARON I say, wait. Let’s give it day.
BIOLOGIST Convince me not to make this call.
SHARON Just one more day, Richard. I really don’t relish having my livelihood placed on the line.
RICHARD (to Manny) What’s your take.
MANNY It’s your call.
RICHARD (to Biologist) Start dialing.
EXT. HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ENTRANCE – NIGHT
DISCOMPOSED ACTIVITY is at full throttle. Hospital staff receive an influx of medical and civilian vehicles as relatives and friends with VOICES RAISED close to HYSTERIA, compete with the equally ELEVATED VOICES of attending PHYSICIANS and WAILING SIRENS.
Another SIREN SCREAMS to a WOBBLE. An ambulance SCREECHES to a dead stop.
Two paramedics bolt from the cab racing for the back doors. No sooner do they get the doors open that Katherine, sweaty and disheveled, leaps from the van. Together both paramedics grab hold of the occupied stretcher and lower it to the ground. With Katherine at their side the trio wound their way toward the emergency room doors.
Stopping short of the hospital’s congested entrance the paramedics confer with a harried DOCTOR.
With soft eyes turned on the stretcher’s unconscious body, Katherine’s tears pour freely.
With face obscured by oxygen mask and the rest the pallor of death, Emerald STRUGGLES FOR EVERY BREATH.
A tear tumbles to dock gently on the life sustaining mask.
DOCTOR (O.S.) Doctor Shaw?
BACK TO SCENE
The night’s sweltering temperature has Doctor dabbing at damp brow with an already saturated cloth.
DOCTOR I have to be honest with you. We’re running well beyond legal capacity, and all I can promise, is we’ll continue to monitor her condition as best we can. But because of her age she’ll be considered low (MORE) DOCTOR (CONT’D) priority. Small children and the elderly are at the top and everybody else will simply have to bear with us. I hope you can appreciate the position we’re in.
KATHERINE She’s asthmatic.
DOCTOR I understand that, but I also need you to understand there’s no one available that can be assigned to her personally.
KATHERINE Please don’t leave her like that.
DOCTOR If her condition worsens I assure you she’ll be given immediate attention. So don’t worry, she’s in very capable hands. I understand your husband’s in intensive care.
DOCTOR He’s not one of mine. Mind telling me what happened?
KATHERINE He fell off a roof.
DOCTOR I see. Sounds to me like maybe you should pay him a visit. I know it’s after hours, but I think I could manage to get you at least half an hour.
KATHERINE I’d appreciate that.
DOCTOR Then it’s agreed.
Doctor raises a hand catching the paramedics’ attention.
DOCTOR (to paramedics) Stay with the girl until I get back.
PARAMEDICS No problem, doc.
DOCTOR Doctor Shaw, if you’ll follow me.
INT. INTENSIVE CARE CORRIDOR
Katherine and Doctor circumnavigate RAUCOUS ACTIVITY centered on attending staff administering aid to stretchered patients in varied states of misery.
DOCTOR Here we are.
At the doors leading into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
KATHERINE Thank you.
DOCTOR No problem. Now, if you’ll please excuse me there’s a young lady downstairs in need of my attention.
Doctor hurries off. Katherine pushes through the IC doors –
- into a ward crammed with beds, cots, litters, and SUBDUED GROANS. She easily locates Tony’s bed with its overhead collection of ropes and pulleys supporting the cast on his elevated leg.
With earphones on Tony’s eyes are closed, his mouth moving silently in song. Katherine places a gentle hand on his shoulder. His eyes flutter open with a lassitude indicative of pharmaceutical relief. She removes his earphones.
KATHERINE Hi, there.
TONY You look like I feel.
KATHERINE Do you feel like hell?
TONY It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for all this damn heat.
Silence. Tony searches her face.
TONY Kathy, it’s after visiting hours.
KATHERINE I know.
TONY He didn’t make it, did he?
TONY I’m sorry. I know he meant a lot to you.
KATHERINE His family is flying him back to Michigan.
TONY What about the police?
KATHERINE Nobody’s blaming us for His accident.
Pause. Tony reaches for her hand.
TONY Why are you really here?
KATHERINE Emerald is…
What little equanimity she holds onto openly crumbles under the weight of anguish as she collapses in his arms.
KATHERINE Oh, God, Tony, we’re going to lose her!
TONY Is she here?
KATHERINE I think so. But it’s never been this bad.
TONY I have to see her.
KATHERINE Tony, you can’t.
TONY The hell I can’t.
KATHERINE You’ve been here a over a week. You don’t know how bad things have gotten.
TONY I don’t want to see things. I want to see my daughter.
Straightening up to look him square in the eyes, she leans in closer.
KATHERINE Nobody’s come right out and said it, but they’re letting people die.
TONY I wouldn’t be saying that too loud.
KATHERINE It’s the truth… Something’s wrong with the planet.
TONY Jeezus, Kath, tell me you’re not losing it.
KATHERINE I don’t know what happened to us, but I do know it was a message, and I want to know what it means. That’s why I have to go back.
TONY Back where?
KATHERINE Would you believe me if I told you, the edge of the universe?
KATHERINE I know how it sounds, but every part of me is telling me it’s true.
TONY I have one good leg. You may not want to pull it so hard.
KATHERINE This is me being serious.
TONY Okay, then what about that planet?
KATHERINE The one that exploded?
TONY That’d be the one.
KATHERINE I’ve been thinking the reason I didn’t recognize it is because it wasn’t a part of the universe yet.
KATHERINE This is going to sound crazier than anything I’ve already said, but I think it was part of a planetary system under construction.
TONY I swear I just heard you use planets and under construction in the same sentence.
KATHERINE What if that whole area was just sitting there waiting for our universe to sweep it up.
TONY And this is the part where you convince me aliens do exist.
KATHERINE If that’s what you want to call them.
TONY What’d you call ‘em?
KATHERINE I don’t. But I do know that theories based on creation and evolution will now have to reflect an added element.
TONY That aliens do exist and they’re alive and well building planets and crap?
KATHERINE Yes. And they’re not as evolved as we tend to think.
TONY I beg to differ.
KATHERINE I say it because we witnessed an accident. That’s what they’re trying to tell us.
TONY An error in judgment.
Pondering she frowns deeply.
TONY What is it?
KATHERINE Tony, why would it matter to us what takes place billions of trillions of light years away?
TONY It wouldn’t matter to me.
KATHERINE And why contact me? Why not NASA or Roscosmos for that matter.
TONY Could be you know a little something about evolution.
KATHERINE I know a lot about evolution but whatever’s beyond our universe is science fiction to me.
TONY What about the rocks?
KATHERINE Oh, my god… If we were facing outward that means they’re coming straight at us.
TONY You said billions of trillions of light years.
KATHERINE But I don’t know when it happened; or how fast they’re coming.
She plants a kiss on his lips.
KATHERINE I have to go, it’s really important.
TONY When are you coming back?
KATHERINE I just need to find out something.
TONY You didn’t answer my question.
KATHERINE Soon, I promise.
She picks up the headphones -
TONY I’ll hold you to that.
KATHERINE That’s why I love you.
- and places them over his ears.
TONY Love you, too.
She heads for the door.
EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE – AFTERNOON
INT. OVAL OFFICE
Sharon, Richard and Biologist are seated before the President. The Presidential ADVISOR stands nearby.
PRESIDENT And you can prove this?
RICHARD Every word.
PRESIDENT The problem I’m having with this is based on your reason for why the planet is heating up. I’m sure you’ll afford me opportunity to seek a second opinion.
BIOLOGIST Fair enough. Sharon.
SHARON All tests were repeated extensively and returned the same yield each time. I’ll vouch for the validity all results.
PRESIDENT But this business of plankton depletion –
RICHARD (interjecting) Phytoplankton.
PRESIDENT Phytoplankton –
RICHARD And it’s not depleting it’s depleted as in missing as in gone. Hell, overthrown for all we know, the point being: it’s not there. PHONE RINGS. President snatches up receiver and listens followed by –
PRESIDENT Send him in.
SHARON Mr. President, I know –
President holds up a silencing hand as Nigel ENTERS.
PRESIDENT Good to see you, boy.
Nigel acknowledges the Advisor before sitting.
PRESIDENT This is Special Agent Nigel. He heads our Department of Sensitive Intelligence.
BIOLOGIST Never heard of it.
PRESIDENT Outside of this room, you never will.
SHARON Why is he here?
PRESIDENT Because his opinion is the only one I value at times like these. Now, would you please indulge us and (MORE) PRESIDENT (CONT’D) explain, once again, what it is you think you’ve discovered.
RICHARD (exasperated) I don’t know what Sensitive Intelligence has to do with the planet’s biosphere, but the more time I waste repeating myself to every suit that walks through the door, the shorter our window of opportunity becomes. Provided we still have an opportunity. Now, what the hell are we going to do about it?
NIGEL Does this have anything to do with plankton?
Sharon, Richard and Biologist are stunned.
RICHARD How do you know?
Nigel ignores this and turns attention to the President.
NIGEL Off the coast of Florida is something they’re calling a red tide. Dino-something-or-a-
NIGEL A form of phytoplankton.
PRESIDENT (pause) I see…
NIGEL I believe you should give serious consideration to everything they’re telling you. Something is going on, and whatever it is, its going on at the bottom of the Pacific.
PRESIDENT That’s an issue you and I will discuss at a later time, Agent Nigel. (to scientists) How much time do you need to gather your data?
RICHARD A few hours.
PRESIDENT Good. Before I even think about bringing this before the Joint Chiefs I’ll need collaborating evidence, and I do mean hard evidence.
BIOLOGIST What about addressing the Nation?
PRESIDENT One step at a time.
RICHARD We can’t afford to wait much longer.
PRESIDENT We’ll have you back here in two days. That’ll give us plenty of time to determine the severity –
RICHARD With all due respect could you knock off the political crap and look outside your damn window! People are (MORE) RICHARD (CONT’D) dying right now. All the evidence you need is here in this very room and I’ll even volunteer my own head if that’s what it’ll take to get you moving on this thing.
PRESIDENT Do you know what you’re asking me to do? You’re asking me to do something that will undoubtedly draw the attention of Home Land Security and I refuse to put myself in that kind of predicament because you say I should. Now bring me some solid evidence and I’ll gladly put myself in any kind of predicament you deem necessary. You following what I’m saying?
Richard sits back in resignation.
BIOLOGIST So, that’s it?
PRESIDENT There’s not much more we can do at this point. I’ll see you here in two days.
Nigel and the scientists head for the door.
PRESIDENT One moment, Nigel.
PRESIDENT What do you make of them?
NIGEL They believe what they’re saying.
PRESIDENT And I tend to agree. But what I really want to know is, can we count on them to keep quiet about it.
NIGEL Why should they?
PRESIDENT At least until we figure out a way to deal with the subsequent outcome.
NIGEL If what they’re saying is true, no matter how long you delay, it’s one of those things we’re just not prepared to handle.
PRESIDENT I’m banking on them being wrong.
NIGEL Then you’re banking at the wrong branch.
Silence. Nigel EXITS. The President turns to his Advisor.
EXT. PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY – NIGHT
A lone car SPEEDS by.
Her brow and hair damp by moisture, Katherine, with determined eyes locked on the road reaches for the air conditioner and CRANKS UP THE POWER.
INSERT – KATHERINE’S COMPUTER MONITOR [COMPUTER]: Welcome back, Katherine.
[KATHERINE]: Will you answer one question?
[COMPUTER]: Of course.
[KATHERINE]: How bad is it going to get?
[COMPUTER]: The beginning.
[KATHERINE]: The beginning?
[KATHERINE]: The beginning of what?
[KATHERINE]: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
[COMPUTER]: We erred.
[KATHERINE]: THEN HELP US.
[COMPUTER]: We are.
[COMPUTER]: Come. Let us show you.
EXT. BEACH COVE – NIGHT
With full moon high above the horizon nestled in a clear, shimmery sky, POWERFUL WAVES hammer the seascapes’ jutting rocks as Katherine’s car pulls up close to the deserted beach. Cutting the engine she exits the car and heads straight for the POUNDING SURF.
Standing close to the lapping waterline her eyes scan the ocean’s vast surface in expectation of the unknown. ON WATERLINE
Where ocean melds with beach a sinuous sheet of black shadow slips from below the surface.
BACK TO SCENE
With eyes searching turbulent waters Katherine is unaware of the deep shadow spreading across the sand like a predatory stingray stirring sandy sediment.
- as it slithers across sand reaching for her feet.
Startled she looks down.
With her legs held fast in its grip the shade slips easily above her knees.
BACK TO SCENE
As the stealth intruder slinks higher she attempts to scream; but in the flash of an instant, her entire body is encapsulated in a veiny membrane as the apparition instantly adheres to every inch of her like a sheath of airtight Saran Wrap.
With Katherine rooted and completely immobile the membrane’s METAMORPHOSIS is rapid: clouding with cataractic fluid that conceals her within a PULSING embryonic cocoon.
The cocoon TOPPLES. Rolls toward the LAPPING SURF and rides the current for some distance before sinking below the surface.
FADE TO BLACK
A THUD, HEAVY and MOIST.
A BURST of SPOTLIGHT and like an enormous maggot caught in its circular beam, the SQUELCHY cocoon WRITHES in a puddle of water on a gun-metallic floor.
The gelatinous shell UNDULATES intermittently until finally SPLITTING allowing Katherine’s HUNGRY LUNGS to GULP for air as hysterical hands bat away the adipose cleaving to face and hair. ASIAN MALE(O.S.) You’re going to hurt yourself.
Her panic escalates. With sheer determination she fights with her all until freeing herself from the lifeless fascia.
AFRICAN FEMALE (O.S.) Lights, please.
At the sound of this second voice Katherine’s struggle lessens. Her eyes try to pierce the darkness beyond the spotlight’s circumference.
The spotlight is abruptly extinguished -
ON BLACK SCREEN
A DISTANT HUM. A POWERFUL SURGE from MASSIVE GENERATORS –
- and the receiving chamber is fully illuminated. A dark gray chamber with no distinctive characteristics. A perfectly symmetrical octagon illuminated by exaggerated lighting.
Four human beings look upon Katherine’s entangled body. All doctors: NADEL (African female), TAKAHASHI (Asian male), LUNDQVIST (Swedish female), and ABENDROTH (German male).
Abendroth and Nadel help Katherine to her feet. Takahashi offers a towel.
TAKAHASHI I’ll never get use to that.
His smile is broad as Katherine accepts the towel and wipes at the cohering goo.
KATHERINE (to Takahashi) I know you.
TAKAHASHI I know you, too, Doctor Shaw. First name Katherine. Recognized as thee leading authority on Anthropology. Published Your first article In American Scientific (MORE) TAKAHASHI (CONT’D) Journal as a freshman. A well respected humanitarian, and an all around champion of Mother Earth. Now, you try.
KATHERINE Doctor Kimoto Takahashi, PhD. Tenured at Harvard- Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics. Leading figure in Astrodynamics; but considered by most to be some sort of Celestial Clown. Does that about cover it?
TAKAHASHI Jealousy. Pure and simple.
KATHERINE (to Lundqvist) Doctor Lundqvist?
LUNDQVIST Doctor Shaw.
KATHERINE Doctor Nadel.
NADEL Welcome, Doctor Shaw.
KATHERINE (to Abendroth) I have no ideal who you are.
NADEL Neither did we.
ABENDROTH Abendroth’s the name.
NADEL A psychiatrist.
KATHERINE I thought I was beginning (MORE) KATHERINE (CONT’D) to understand why we’re here.
LUNDQVIST She was thinking each of Us exemplifies a branch of true science.
TAKAHASHI So, what’s wrong with this picture, huh?
KATHERINE I didn’t mean to offend anyone.
ABENDROTH You’re referring to me, and I assure you, Doctor Shaw, none was taken.
KATHERINE Then why are you here?
ABENDROTH I was invited. Same as you.
TAKAHASHI They invited him to keep tabs on us. It turns out we all have two things in common.
KATHERINE What things?
TAKAHASHI Thing number one: We have all surpassed expectations in our chosen fields. And thing number two: which by the way, I personally believe to be the most important of the two, each one of us is capable of exacting enormous influence.
KATHERINE On whom?
TAKAHASHI TAKAHASHI Our respective governments, of course.
LUNDQVIST Collectively we represent the four corners of the globe.
Katherine’s eyes shift to each staid face.
KATHERINE What the hell is going on?
ABENDROTH Perhaps we should start with the reason for your being here, Doctor Shaw.
KATHERINE Suddenly I’m not so sure I want to be here.
TAKAHASHI Awe, come on. It’ll be a gas.
Again her eyes scrutinize their earnest faces.
KATHERINE Okay… Lead the way.
INT. ALIEN SPACECRAFT (TUNNEL)
Like the receiving chamber, the tunnel is gunmetal with small halogen lights spaced evenly down its extraordinary length of odd and foreboding dimensions. The group dwarfed by its measurements traverse in silence.
Approaching an illuminated keypad with esoteric chirography the rest of the group continues on as Katherine stops; studies it, then extends an inquisitive finger.
ON KATHERINE’S HAND
NADEL (O.S.) Doctor, Shaw! BACK TO SCENE
NADEL That’s not a very good ideal.
KATHERINE What’s behind there?
Nadel looks to Abendroth who weighs his decision.
ABENDROTH I trust her sensibilities.
Reluctantly Nadel steps back, and in a not so comedic gesture, the rest of the group follow suit.
Katherine presses her palm firmly against the keypad. A FAINT MECHANICAL WHIRL follows as a seamless stretch of wall, directly in front of her, starts to lower.
A WHISTLING BREEZE flutters her hair. Her hands fly to her mouth and nose warding off the breeze’s repugnant stench as the wall easily withdraws into a slit in the flooring.
Her eyes streaming with tears as COUGHING SPASMS overtake her. Blindly backing away from the opening she is steadied by Lundqvist who is shielding her own face with a free hand.
Abendroth offers her a handkerchief.
ABENDROTH I should have warned you about the methane.
KATHERINE (quivering) My god! What is that!?
ABENDROTH See for yourself.
LUNDQVIST It’s okay. Nothing in there can hurt you.
ABENDROTH But brace yourself just the same.
After wiping at damp eyes purpose guides her back to the opening where WIND echoing through a vast canyon becomes increasingly clearer.
Beyond the opening is a shadowed canyon of incomprehensible enormity. A massive chamber with flooring that drops for hundreds of feet. At the threshold of this indistinct chamber Katherine’s approach halts but her eyes continue searching the darkness until they veer down… and down… and down until touching upon a cesspool of putrefying fish and flesh immersed in a sebaceous residuum of jellyfish, sea snails and urchins:
A SERIES OF SHOTS
a) The rotting bulk of a blue whale entangled in the putrid tentacles of a giant squid
b) The decomposing remnants of a great white stewing in an oily soup of flounder, grouper, salmon and walrus
c) Rancid eel
d) Fetid marlin and catfish
BACK TO SCENE
Katherine’s eyes roll back exposing their whites as her knees buckle.
ABENDROTH Catch her!
Abendroth and Takahshi grab hold of her collapsing body a split second before it plummets over the edge.
Lundqvist SLAMS a palm against the keypad ACTIVATING the hidden wall to conceal the abominable refuse. Propelling Katherine against the opposite wall, Abendroth quickly cracks open an ammonia ampoule and passes it under her nose. Katherine instantly snaps awake startled and unsure of her surroundings.
ABENDROTH How do you feel?
KATHERINE (shaking off the fog) Please tell me I’m dreaming.
TAKAHASHI Okie-dokie, your dreaming.
ABENDROTH Please, Doctor Takahashi. (to Katherine) I’m afraid you are not dreaming, Doctor Shaw.
Katherine attempts to stand but stumbles into Nadel’s steadying arms.
Her eyes fall on the concealed doorway. She takes a step towards it, catches herself, and stops.
KATHERINE It’s a garbage disposal, isn’t it?
ABENDROTH Actually, it is a silo.
She looks him square in the eyes.
TAKAHASHI (beaming) Sea food!
KATHERINE For who… For what?
LUNDQVIST The future.
ABENDROTH If we could continue, I’m sure all of Doctor Shaw’s questions will be laid to rest. Doctor Lundqvist, if you wouldn’t mind. LUNDQVIST Not at all.
With Lundqvist leading, the scientists continue through the tunnel.
EXT. UNITED STATES POLAR EXPLORATION CAMP – NIGHT
A steady snow fall tattoos the landscape as a military helicopter waits near the Research Lab with ROTOR BLADES slicing the chilled air.
Excited activity as Manny, Richard, Biologist and Sharon race through the lab packing everything transportable.
MANNY I would like to be airborne before the next millennium, people.
At the door the Advisor sticks his head in.
ADVISOR Wind’s picking up. How much longer?
BIOLOGIST Give us ten minutes.
ADVISOR Make it five.
EXT. RESEARCH LAB
The Advisor pulls the hood of his parka over his head and works his way through snow flurries to a stack of snow covered oil drums with the words: PETROLEUM, HIGHLY FLAMMABLE stenciled on each one.
Removing a small black box from the inside of his parka and magnetically attaching it to one of the barrels, Advisor throws a toggle switch activating the box’s red warning beacon.
INT. POLAR EXPLORATION CAMP (KITCHEN)
Nigel looks on amused as Man 1 and Man 2 stuff one item after the next in a single duffle bag already crammed with the unnecessary. Man 2, who sports an assortment of culinary utensils strapped to his back, continues scanning the kitchen in search of forgotten gems.
EXT. POLAR EXPLORATION CAMP (KITCHEN)
Through the window Man 1 and Man 2 bustle about inside. Under the window the Advisor affixes a second box and flips its toggle switch. As he walks away another red beacon winks in the surrounding darkness very close to a group of propane tanks.
INT. POLAR EXPLORATION CAMP (KITCHEN)
The Advisor ENTERS.
ADVISOR How’s it –
He’s cut short by the sight of Man 2 with his culinary armor and arm load of pans and skillets.
ADVISOR Is all that necessary?
MAN 2 I can’t leave my babies behind, man. They don’t make this kind of crap anymore.
ADVISOR I See. Let me give you a hand then.
Advisor plucks a frying skillet from Man 2’s laded arms.
ADVISOR Turn around. Let’s see if we have some room back there.
MAN 2 Thanks a lot, pal.
Furtively slipping one of the black boxes from a pocket the Advisor attaches it firmly to the skillet’s frying surface; flips the toggle, then wedges the skillet firmly into the stockpile of utensils strapped to the man’s back.
ADVISOR How’s that?
MAN 2 Great. Thanks.
ADVISOR No problem at all. (to Nigel) May I have a word with you?
NIGEL Go Ahead.
ADVISOR Alone, please.
Shrugging, Nigel EXITS the kitchen with the Advisor close on his heels. MAN 1 We’ll be right out.
ADVISOR Take all the time you need.
EXT. POLAR EXPLORATION CAMP
Exiting the building Advisor takes hold of Nigel’s arm and quickly guides him to the waiting helicopter.
ADVISOR Get in.
ADAM What about-
ADVISOR (interjecting menacingly) I said, get in.
Nigel weighs the circumstances then ducks under the rotors.
ADAM You’re the boss.
Both men climb aboard with the Advisor instructing the pilot to lift off. Manny, Richard, Sharon and Biologist rush from the Research Lab just in time to see the helicopter take off.
RICHARD What the hell are you doing!?
ADVISOR (shouting over the wind) Please accept my apologies for your unfortunate accident!
BIOLOGIST What accident!?
Advisor brandishes detonator, flips one of three toggles that illuminates one of three green lights.
The MASSIVE EXPLOSION that erupts brightens the dusky fabric of the Artic with SUCCESSIVE FIREBALLS that claw at the sky, climbing and spreading until fully DISINTEGRATING the Research lab with its four unsuspecting environmentalist.
Through a hail of snow and debris, Man 1 and Man 2 charge from the kitchen CLANGING with culinary chattel.
The helicopter SWERVES overhead. Both pairs of eyes follow its passage –
- Man 2 EXPLODES fractions before propane tanks MUSHROOM in CONSECUTIVE COMBUSTIONS that effectively eliminate all remains of the United States Polar Exploration Camp…
- as Nigel looks on the Advisor’s unperturbed visage.
High above the ship’s flooring on a narrow stretch of catwalk that emphasizes the vessel’s tremendous dimensions, Katherine and the scientists walk with FOOTSTEPS BOUNDING and REBOUNDING from unseen surfaces; while far below, shafts of amber light pierce the stubborn darkness. Lights that hint of a prodigious pile of discarded wreckage and equipment: ships, planes, twisted superstructures, jumbles of components and wires, valves, gears, pipes, and cable – all heaped in a graveyard of metallic carnage.
Looming face of an adolescent life form. With iridescent skin stretched taunt over human shaped head and the black vacant eyes of a great white. This hybrid is curiously more akin to mankind than marine life in spite of the slit gills of a stingray working effortlessly on both sides of its neck.
Katherine and the Scientists look upon the encased hybrid who in turn looks upon them.
Finally tiring of their blatant scrutiny the hybrid casually swims off in its mammoth environment of Caribbean clear water. As it maneuvers through the tank it becomes increasingly clear this mysterious creature was conceived, in part, by following the blueprint of a human female.
Watching it slip through water is much like watching the easy grace of a trained porpoise. There is absolutely nothing menacing about this hairless organism. Even its oversized black eyes evoke a certain sadness.
Displaying a sinuous somersault the hybrid is propelled high toward the tank surface where a little more than a dozen translucent spheres, approximately thirty-six inches in diameter, ride the eddies. Each sphere is an egg. Un-hatched yet PULSING with life. All except one looking very much like huge walnut covered in patches of mangy hair. This one draws our hybrid’s attention, and much like a nurturing mother, she delicately pries loose a chunk of the woody casing to display the smooth, translucent egg inside.
In utter fascination the scientist watch as the hybrid’s delicate handling frees the egg completely.
BACK TO SCENE
- to reveal thousands of identical tanks in which a Hybrid swims among a cluster of eggs. In this colossal nursery, bathed eerily by blue waters, the nursery’s serenity is so complete that minute SOUNDS of WATER LAPPING is all that’s heard…
INT. OVAL OFFICE – LATE AFTERNOON
Looking out the window with hands clasped behind his back the President is unfazed as Nigel BURSTS through the doors with an overly apologetic SECRETARY on his heels.
SECRETARY I’m sorry, Mister President, but he insisted.
PRESIDENT It’s quite alright, Melissa.
PRESIDENT Really, no harm done.
Easing the door shut She EXITS. The President, indifferent to Nigel’s presence, remains focused on the outside world.
NIGEL Those people trusted you.
PRESIDENT But we couldn’t trust them, now could we?
NIGEL You had a responsibility to hear them out.
The President turns on him.
PRESIDENT Responsibility my ass. My only responsibility is to see to it this damn country remains a tremendous force; and if you or anybody else thinks differently, the lot of you can go to hell.
NIGEL Don’t you want to know what the hell’s going on out there?
PRESIDENT I already know. In fact, I knew three days before they (MORE) PRESIDENT (CONT’D) contacted this office. You seem to forget who I am.
NIGEL I know who you are.
PRESIDENT Then why don’t you humor me, and tell me who am I.
NIGEL The President.
PRESIDENT Of what?
NIGEL The United States.
PRESIDENT So, in theory, that makes me the most powerful man in the world. Would you agree?
NIGEL In theory.
PRESIDENT But in practice, I must work to keep that illusion alive. And it’s every red-blooded American’s patriotic duty to assist me in maintaining this deception. Anything short of that is treason.
NIGEL So, I was sent to the Artic on a pretense.
PRESIDENT I sent you there because you’re thorough. You have a good eye for detail, and judging by the way you barged in here, I’d say (MORE) PRESIDENT (CONT’D) things went according to plan.
The President makes his way to the wet bar.
ADAM No. But I would like to know what they told you.
NIGEL La Jolla.
PRESIDENT Thorough and perceptive.
NIGEL I know people in power don’t deliberately destroy an advantage; and you doing so tells me you already had most of the answers. And the only place you can get those kind of answers from is La Jolla.
The President pours a drink. Downs it. Pours another.
PRESIDENT This business about disappearing plankton isn’t altogether true.
NIGEL Then what’s going on out there?
PRESIDENT I said, not altogether true. It is disappearing.
Downs second drink.
PRESIDENT Right into the Marianna Trench.
NIGEL Do they know why?
PRESIDENT Not one freaking clue.
NIGEL Does it have anything to do with my case?
PRESIDENT I don’t know.
NIGEL Just what the hell do you know?
After pouring a third drink the President makes his way back to the window.
PRESIDENT (solemnly) I know everything I do from this moment on will be backed by our entire armed forces.
NIGEL Are we in contact with other nations?
President sips leisurely.
NIGEL China?... Russia?...
PRESIDENT What about them?
NIGEL Have they been apprised of our current status?
PRESIDENT No. And they won’t be.
NIGEL Why the hell not?
PRESIDENT War, Agent Nigel.
PRESIDENT Until I’m absolutely positive this isn’t some form of aggression, I will not divulge anything that could, or would, compromise the American way of life. It’s my obligation, and I do take all obligations quite seriously.
NIGEL You’ve been spouting that patriotic bullshit so long the red on your neck is starting to show.
With unhurried grace the President turns to Nigel and delivers a stinging SLAP to the Agent’s face.
PRESIDENT You insufferable little bastard. Ungrateful and pretentious just like your mother.
NIGEL You didn’t think so thirty years ago.
PRESIDENT Don’t you dare talk to me like that!
NIGEL Maybe I should talk to the First Lady, instead. You think she’d get a kick out of the real story about the good old days on the campaign trail? The President steps closer, menacingly.
PRESIDENT You threatening me, boy?
PRESIDENT Don’t make me ask you again.
The President’s hand raises to strike. Stops. Thinks. Then LAUGHS good naturedly.
PRESIDENT Stubborn, too. Just like your old man. What do you say we have us a drink?
NIGEL You drink. I have a job to do.
The President heads for the wet bar as Nigel heads for the door.
PRESIDENT Those things I said about Your mother. You know I didn’t mean anything by them, don’t you?
NIGEL (ponders) I use to be proud of you.
Nigel EXITS leaving the President tending his drink.
ON WHITE SCREEN
A MOUNTING RUMBLE. The SPLITTING, TEARING, RIPPING of FABRIC. The screen SHREDS into tatters of confetti as our five asteroids push through revealing - OUTER SPACE
PRINTED ON SCREEN: The Kniper Belt. EVENT MINUS 0215 HRS: 0057 MINS: 0036 SECS: 0019 FRACTIONS and rapidly counting down –
- as our rogue asteroids PLOW THROUGH a collection of icy bodies to enter our solar system with Earth and Sun prominent in the distance. Following close behind, the cumbersome monolith THUNDERS BY.
EXT. FUNERAL HOME – EARLY MORNING
The front door opens. An elderly funeral director, dressed in the resplendent fashion of his trade, steps from the building wiping a handkerchief across his tired face. Stopping long enough to daintily fold the cloth, his hands cease their work as his eyes lock on something at his feet.
FUNERAL DIRECTOR’S POV
The wizened corpse of a woman with withered arms locked in rigor around the bundle of desiccated child is curled inches from his elegant shoes. Scorched roses lay beside the woman’s mummified head; a folded scrap of paper, pinned to the child’s clean shirt.
BACK TO SCENE
Carefully placing the handkerchief in breast pocket he stoops to retrieve the note.
INSERT – NOTE
Shaky lettering on stained page reads: Please do what you can. I have nowhere else to take them. God bless you.
BACK TO SCENE
With note clutched in hand he surveys his property to finally reveal the dead. A great many bodies decked out in their best, and not so best, laid out in various stages of rigor and decay. The DISTANT WAILING of COUNTLESS SIRENS throughout the city finally reach us.
INT. ALIEN SPACECRAFT (BIRTHING CHAMBER)
Katherine’s anger is trained on Lundqvist with the other scientists on edge.
KATHERINE Answer me!
LUNDQVIST We’re not going to survive the impact, plan and simple. Oh, some of us will manage to hang on by sheer luck, but will definitely succumb to atmospheric poisoning in the long run.
NADEL We’re already experiencing the first stage of oxygen depletion, and you see what that’s doing.
TAKAHASHI It’s gotten worse.
NADEL A lot worse.
KATHERINE What are they doing to us?
TAKAHASHI It’s not intentional. It’s a catch-22.
KATHERINE What do you mean?
NADEL What happened in space was an accident.
KATHERINE I figured that much out. What I haven’t figured out is why are they here?
KATHERINE (disbelievingly) How the hell do you redeem (MORE) KATHERINE (CONT’D) yourself for annihilating life on an entire planet?
TAKAHASHI We’re not talking total extinction. What you see here is mankind intended to exist in primal seas long enough to evolve again.
KATHERINE I don’t believe this… I can’t believe this.
LUNDQVIST Doctor Shaw, Earth is going to regress by some three hundred and sixty million years, and you not believing won’t keep it from happening.
KATHERINE That’s more than a regression. It’ll send us right back to the heart of the Paleozoic era.
ABENDROTH The Carboniferous period to be exact.
KATHERINE (to self; in revelation) Carbon…
TAKAHASHI See what I mean about catch-22.
KATHERINE Would somebody please just tell me what the hell’s going on!
NADEL We are on a spaceship and it needs fuel. TAKAHASHI A lot of fuel.
NADEL And the only resource we have in abundance that can get it back to the stars thrives in our oceans.
KATHERINE (guardedly) Fish?…
Katherine contemplates, weighing the implications, then –
KATHERINE Oh, my dear god… (pause) They’re suffocating us.
LUNDQVIST It’s not intentional. You really need to keep that in mind.
ABENDROTH An unfortunate necessity.
KATHERINE (indicating tanks) And them?
ABENDROTH Our descendants.
TAKAHASHI Histochemistry at its finest.
Nadel turns to one of the birthing tanks reverently.
NADEL Say hello to the future of mankind. Can you imagine never catching a cold? Never having to (MORE) NADEL (CONT’D) worry about dying or disease… I know I shouldn’t be saying this, but I kind of envy them.
KATHERINE Are you saying they’ll live forever?
NADEL I’m saying the only thing they can catch is old age.
TAKAHASHI Thanks in part to the roach genome. Which, by the way, was my idea.
KATHERINE Is that why you’re here? Are you helping them customize these things?
TAKAHASHI I’m here because I care. As a scientist I understand we’re no more than blights on this planet. Only because I understand we just don’t respect it like God’s more sensible creatures.
LUNDQVIST It was never written in stone we’d reign forever. At least this way we’re being given a chance to try again. And just maybe, hopefully, by then, we will have gotten our acts together.
KATHERINE But they’re the ones who are killing us. You can’t be that blind!
ABENDROTH As a scientist whose life has been dedicated to understanding the pre- Adamic history of man, I would think you could appreciate what is trying to be accomplished here.
KATHERINE Well, you’re wrong. What I appreciate knowing is that with all of our faults we still had choices. (to Takahashi) And I do understand that most of those choices have caused a great deal of suffering. But I also know this planet and its people. We’re resilient. We have been overcoming our own stupidities since our first coherent grunt. And now, what all of you are so callously trying to avoid is the fact that we no longer have a choice.
LUNDQVIST Not avoiding. Accepting. And so should you.
KATHERINE I can not accept my husband and child dying because some interstellar yahoos fucked up!
ABENDROTH You are losing control, Doctor Shaw.
KATHERINE That’s because I’m the only one here with enough sense to do so.
NADEL That is unfair. KATHERINE So is getting fried by an errant meteor or suffocating from unnecessary asphyxia.
ABENDROTH Nevertheless, it is a reality you are going to have to convey to the people of the United States.
KATHERINE And just how do I convey To people they’re about to Die in the biggest holocaust since the disappearance of the dinosaur?
ABENDROTH You’re not making this easy.
KATHERINE You think it’s going to be easy getting people to accept this?
TAKAHASHI Give or take thirty minutes those asteroids will start popping up on satellites all around the world. I’m betting somebody will believe you.
KATHERINE I have a better ideal. Let the guilty bear the responsibility.
ABENDROTH I’m afraid that could make matters worse.
KATHERINE (acerbically) Matters couldn’t be any worse.
NADEL It takes three of them to run this ship. should something happen to just one of them they’ll be marooned.
KATHERINE So, where’s the problem?
NADEL They’re no good to us if they’re stranded.
Pause… KATHERINE I want to see them.
ABENDROTH I wouldn’t advi-
KATHERINE Now, If you wouldn’t mind.
ABENDROTH If you are certain.
KATHERINE Oh, I’m certain.
Abendroth starts to undergo a physical transmutation that distorts body and face into a gangly creature. Something with tubular legs, cowled head, and a knobby body prickly with antennae. Completely transformed it seems to shiver before her with a face that glistens with thick fluids dripping from improbable openings.
In sheer defiance to the creature standing before her, Katherine delivers a STINGING SLAP to the Alien’s face before collapsing to her knees in great anguish.
KATHERINE YOU’RE KILLING MY FAMILY!
ON RADAR SCREEN
ALERTING BEEPS as sweeping dial highlights five mobile images with each passing.
MALE 1 (O.S.) Cheyenne’s reporting the same.
MALE 2 (O.S.) How long before we get a fix on trajectory?
MALE 1 (O.S.) Approximately twenty-two minutes.
Complete PANDEMONIUM as hospital staff scurry among clusters of occupied stretches. Katherine, Takahashi, and Nadel hurry down a corridor packed with the dead and dying; working their way to a bank of elevators where Katherine calls for the next car.
With persistence and purpose, Katherine hurries to the ward’s only empty bed leaving Takahashi and Nadel posted at the entrance.
Approaching the bare mattress her steps slow as a large blood stain covering most of it grows increasingly clearer.
BACK TO SCENE
- as she plows through Takahashi and Nadel hurrying from the ward.
INT. ICU NURSES’ STATION
A frazzled CANDY STRIPER juggles a phone conversation and stacks of medical charts as the three scientists quickly approach.
KATHERINE Where is she?
CANDY STRIPER (into phone) Could you hold, please.
KATHERINE Where have they taken her?
CANDY STRIPER Who?
KATHERINE My daughter. Emerald Shaw.
CANDY STRIPER (into phone) I’m sorry, but could you please call back.
Hanging up abruptly the girl is immediately sympathetic.
CANDY STRIPER Your daughter was removed from the ward earlier this morning.
KATHERINE Removed!?… Why?
CANDY STRIPER Sh–she passed away at six- fifteen this morning.
Katherine’s knees buckle. Takahashi and Nadel rush to steady her.
TAKAHASHI (to Candy Stripper) Where would they take her?
CANDY STRIPER To the morgue. It’s in the basement.
TAKAHASHI (to Katherine) Can you make it?
Katherine can only nod.
HOSPITAL BASEMENT (CORRIDOR)
Entering the corridor Katherine, Takahashi and Nadel the only beings alive, are momentarily staggered by the profusion of shrouded gurneys. Spurred on by an overpowering sense of urgency the three begin a systematic search of covered bodies; yanking sheets back, exposing faces locked in grisly death.
NADEL Here’s one!
Katherine bravely joins Nadel and immediately shakes her as tears swell.
The face of a dead girl is distended, diseased and speckled with ruptured blisters.
KATHERINE (O.S.) It’s not her.
BACK TO SCENE
NADEL How can you be sure?
KATHERINE It’s not her.
The search continues with Katherine uncovering more of the dead before snatching back a sheet that causes her to freeze in mid motion. Takahashi takes notice.
TAKAHASHI You found her.
Although the lineaments are obscured by leaking pustules and swollen tissue the silver necklace with Emerald pendant around her neck is proof positive.
BACK TO SCENE
Katherine abruptly turns her back, gripped by warring anguish.
TAKAHASHI We should be going. Takahashi covers the girl’s face then scoops up the limp body.
TAKAHASHI Please, Doctor Shaw.
With a measure of self-control Katherine follows as the two doctors lead the way.
INSERT – MEDICAL CHART
A rubber stamp HITS home imprinting the word: DECEASED in center of page. At the top of the chart the name, Anthony Shaw, looms prominent.
The ward is stiflingly crammed yet silent. All are dead. Including Tony Shaw whose leg remains in traction. TRANQUIL MUSIC emits from the earphones on his head. Music that’s been a comforting companion through death. Music that has left a smile touching the corners of his cracked, distended lips.
EXT. SIDE STREET – LATE EVENING
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Downtown Los Angeles
HAZMAT teams work efficiently within a cordoned area of skid row. Dressed in Level 4 bio-containment suits the sedate team seal body after body of the homeless into the anonymity of red body bags.
ON SUPINE REFRIGERATOR BOX
A BIO-MEMBER directs his helmet light into the box.
Helmet light illuminates the remains of one of the homeless. Male or female is interchangeable due to rancid flesh and tattered clothing on which a surfeit of maggots feast among legions of SWARMING FLIES.
BIO-MEMBER (O.S.) (calling out) Got another one!
BACK TO SCENE
Another member of the decontamination team approaches. With two cylinders strapped to back and nozzle in hand he DISCHARGES a powdery stream into the box until it billows with plumes of obstinate fog.
EXT. CALIFORNIA COASTLINE – DUSK
The ocean WAVES protest below a full moon punctuating the darkening sky. Takahashi, with Emerald’s shrouded body in arms, Katherine, and Nadel rendezvous with Abendroth at the water’s edge.
KATHERINE Be good to her.
Abendroth accepts the girl’s body with ease.
ABENDROTH I give you our word.
Abendroth kneels laying the body on the sand.
Instantly his body begins a SUPERIMPOSING transference that alters between human and alien, converging and diverging with smooth transitions that find him LIQUEFYED and POOLING on the sand like blackened gel that extends LASHING, fleshy ropes -
- that cling to the girl’s body; pulling it towards itself to cover it completely in an airtight sheath that osmotically EXPELS the shroud through its membranous covering.
Mournfully Katherine watches as her daughter’s encased body rolls out to sea where it’s swallowed up by the depths…
EXT. CITY DUMP - MORNING
Mirroring gruesome images of mass extermination, Hazmat crews stand by as BULLDOZERS shove massive piles of human remains in a tremendous communal grave already replete with the dead; and with the AFFLICTED BABBLE of an ENTIRE CITY permeating the DISTANCE, no time else is the state of hopelessness more evident than at this very moment.
INT. WHITE HOUSE (OVAL OFFICE)
At his desk the President nervously fires up a cigarette as the SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (SOD) briefs him.
SOD You could pick five random spots and be about as precise as anyone else at this point.
PRESIDENT Five of them.
SOD Actually, Sir, there are six.
COUGHING spastically the President literally demolishes the cigarette in the ashtray.
PRESIDENT Since you’ve left this little surprise for last, I suppose what you’re about to tell me next isn’t going to make my freakin’ day any better, now, is it?
SOD It’s considerably larger than the others.
The President ponders.
PRESIDENT Well, If we can deal with five, we sure as hell can deal with one more.
SOD We’ll, Sir, we’re not sure we can. There’s a strong probability the larger one will come down somewhere in the South Pacific.
PRESIDENT For a minute there I thought you were about to tell me it was going to land right here in goddamn Washington.
SOD You’d think an ocean strike would be to our advantage, but it won’t be. There’s already word spreading that this could be what some are calling an annihilative event.
PRESIDENT You got to be kidding me!
SOD I wish I were.
SOD goes to the door and opens it.
SOD Would you please come in.
Damp, tired and bit dingy Katherine ENTERS.
SOD Mister President. Doctor Shaw.
PRESIDENT Doctor Shaw.
SOD An Anthropologist. She contacted the Secretary of State who in turn contacted the Department of Defense. We believe You should listen to what she has to say.
PRESIDENT By all means. Wearily Katherine drops in a vacant chair.
KATHERINE I have it on good authority that in less than seven days the human race will be wiped from the planet.
PRESIDENT I beg your pardon.
The President’s scowl is aimed at the SOD.
SOD She’s been checked out.
PRESIDENT Okay. I’m listening.
KATHERINE How much do you know about what’s going on out there?
PRESIDENT Reports seem to suggest there may, or may not, be something wrong with the oceans.
KATHERINE (sharply) The oceans are fine. You and I both know that. Pardon me when I say I was under the impression you were an intelligent man.
PRESIDENT Who the hell do you -
KATHERINE - Did you not hear me? I said, in less than seven days that pompous horse your riding on is going to be eradicated. So stop jerking me around and at the very least pretend to hear me out and I won’t insult you by pretending I foresee a happy ending because there isn’t one.
PRESIDENT Then why are you here. KATHERINE Because I don’t seem to have a choice.
SOD That’s not altogether true, Sir.
KATHERINE Then, if you’ll both excuse me.
Katherine stands and makes her move for the door but her path is effectively barred by the SOD.
KATHERINE What the hell do you call that?
SOD Please, Doctor Shaw, the asteroids.
KATHERINE Then I’m free to go?
SOD I give you my word.
After a bit of scrutiny she returns to her seat.
KATHERINE Mister President, are you familiar with what happened In Siberia in 1908?
PRESIDENT There was some kind of explosion in the Tunguska region.
KATHERINE An explosion released the energy of thirty million tons on TNT. Not only was the shockwave felt twenty six miles from impact, the heat literally destroyed everything in a fifteen hundred mile radius. PRESIDENT Your telling me this was caused by a meteor?
KATHERINE Measuring ninety-eight feet in diameter, traveling at hypersonic speed.
PRESIDENT And we can expect the same kind of devastation?
KATHERINE I’m not finished.
PRESIDENT Forgive me.
KATHERINE There’s a hole in the ground one hundred and fifty miles in diameter by half a mile deep in Wilkes Land, Antarctica. A crater that size was made by a meteorite weighing fourteen point thirty-three billon tons, traveling at forty-four thousand miles per hour.
KATHERINE Hardly. Four thousand and fifty feet in diameter by five hundred and seventy five feet deep is impressive. It’s the exact measurements of a crater in Winslow, Arizona. You may find these stats impressive, Mister President, but I find them frightening because the one that left the Arizona hole was two point two million tons of nickel-iron.
PRESIDENT I’m a patient man, Doctor Shaw, but I need you to get to the point. What the hell is really going on?
KATHERINE When that meteor hits the Pacific our atmosphere is going to be converted into superheated steam. Now, I don’t know about you, but boiling to death kind of has me edge.
Pause. The President picks up the phone.
PRESIDENT (into phone) This is the President of the United States, in approximately one hour I’ll be addressing the Nation regarding our mutual concerns. Initiate the Emergency Broadcast System and standby for further instructions from this office. (listens) No, there are no immediate plans for evacuation at this time.
Presses a phone button.
PRESIDENT This is the President of the United States. All military personnel are hereby ordered to active duty. Any no shows within the next hour will be considered AWOL and treated as such.
PRESIDENT Defcon Two has been activate. Escort the First Lady to the helipad and and standby for liftoff.
PRESIDENT (into phone) Would you please join us.
The President hangs up and rounds the desk.
PRESIDENT Congratulations, Doctor Shaw, I believe you.
KATHERINE So, I’m free to go?
PRESIDENT Not exactly.
KATHERINE (indicates SOD) He said I could.
PRESIDENT Point taken, but this is my office and I can’t have you running around convincing anyone else.
KATHERINE Why not!?
PRESIDENT You are familiar with letting sleeping dogs lie?
KATHERINE You sorry sonofabitch.
PRESIDENT Amongst other things. But believe me, it’s for the best.
Still barring her way the SOD is suddenly overtaken by a flurry of preservation that pivots Katherine’s entire body to deliver a well placed kick that doubles him over right into her rising knee -
- his head SNAPS back with such momentum the back of it CRACKS against the door.
As the SOD drops to the floor Katherine throws open the door in a bid for freedom only to run smack into Nigel’s restraining arms.
a) INSERT – TELEVISION SCREEN
Speaking in JAPANESE before hordes of reporters, Doctor Takahashi illustrates his point by referring to an animated graphic chart displaying six meteors aimed at Earth.
b) INSERT – DIFFERENT TELEVISION SCREEN
- depicting Takahashi and reporters before throngs of ogling Japanese watching through department store windows with all TVs tuned to the Asian press release. c) INSERT – ANOTHER TELEVISION SCREEN
- delineating Doctor Nadel speaking AFRICAN DIALECT to her own Nation with same meteor-Earth visual dominating the background.
d) INSERT – DIFFERENT TELEVISION SCREEN
- with meteor-Earth graphic on display Doctor Lundqvist SPEAKS to the NORDIC Nation about the imminent danger.
e) INSERT – FINAL TELEVISION SCREEN
- of the American Emergency Broadcast Symbol (EBS) and its PIERCING SIGNAL.
MAN (O.S.) Somebody call the damn cable company!
f) INT. LIVING ROOM
- disheveled man in ratty recliner trains remote on TV flipping through channel after channel of the EBS and its ALERT SIGNAL. g) INT. CONVALESCENT HOME
The ailing and wheelchair bound stare blankly at mounted Television broadcasting its own EBS logo and SCREECHING SIGNAL.
EXT. PARK – NOON
A SERIES OF SHOTS
- with the EBS’s SHRILL SIGNAL pouring from every available radio.
a) A transistor radio.
b) Walkman earphones as a teen snatches them from his head.
c) A Boom box.
d) EXT. BUSY FREEWAY – SAME
EBS SIGNALS DRONING from every vehicle on the road.
e) High above an American metropolis HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of EBS SIGNALS SCREAM uninterrupted…
END SERIES OF SHOTS
INT. WHITE HOUSE PRESS ROOM
The Presidential seal hangs mute behind a vacant podium as restless reporters wait anxiously for the President’s arrival.
EXT. WHITE HOUSE (HELIPAD) – LATE AFTERNOON
Katherine in defiant tow is pulled along by the President and Nigel who quickly approach one of two military helicopters awaiting takeoff. The President’s Advisor and a flustered FIRST LADY, clutching a Japanese spitz close to her bosom, wait under the SPINNING BLADES of the second copter.
PRESIDENT (to Nigel) I’ll join you in a minute.
Nigel helps Katherine into the first copter as the Present heads for his wife and Advisor.
FIRST LADY What’s going on, Steven? Are we at war?
PRESIDENT I’ll explain later. Just go with John for now and don’t you worry none.
Kissing his wife goodbye the President and Advisor help the First Lady into the helicopter.
Stepping back the President waves to his wife as her transport takes off.
ADAM (shouting) Sir!
The President finds Nigel pointing towards the White House where a group of reporters are racing toward them.
Quickly hopping into the last helicopter the President signals for take off.
EXT. MILITARY HANGAR – NIGHT
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Fort Benning, Georgia. A full dressed battalion of over three hundred infantrymen and woman arranged in perfect rows of platoons and squads stand at full attention as a stern LIEUTENANT GENERAL (LG) makes his way down the center of the hangar to an awaiting dais.
At the podium the LG salutes and receives a unified salute by the entire battalion.
LG At ease.
Battalion snaps to parade rest.
LG People, Defcon Two is no longer an obscurity. It-is-a-fact.
MILD MURMURS fill the hangar. ANONYMOUS (O.S.) (shouts) When the hell’d that happen!?
LG (unfazed) At approximately fourteen hundred hours the President of the United States ordered the dispatch of military troops throughout the United States for the soul purpose of enforcing Marshal Law. Squads will cover specific areas of the Industrial Midwest, South Atlantic, Mid Atlantic, And New England. Any questions?
ANONYMOUS (O.S.) (shouts) Yeah, When the hell’d that happen!?
LG In the event of civil unrest you will provide supplemental support to local law enforcement. That is our only objective. Do I make myself clear?
ENTIRE BATTALION Yes, Sir!!!
LG Departure is at oh-one- hundred hours, and we will be on time, people. Dis-missed!
Close behind its five companions the megalith RUMBLES past with PRINTED DIGITAL COUNTER continuing its rapid countdown: EVENT MINUS 0168 Hrs: 0010 MINS: 0002 SECS: 0011 Fractions, 0010, 0009, 0008…
INT. PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER Across from Nigel and Katherine the President calmly absorbs her smoldering glare.
KATHERINE I voted for you.
PRESIDENT You have no idea the position you’ve put me in.
KATHERINE (long pause) You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?
Nigel brandishes his revolver; trains it on Katherine’s head, and COCKS the hammer.
KATHERINE No matter how far you think you can go, it still won’t be far enough.
PRESIDENT That’s a chance I’m willing to take.
The President nods consent and the revolver DISCHARGES. Katherine SCREAMS…
EXT. CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN – EARLY EVENING
PRINT ON SCREEN: North American Air Defense
INT. SPACE COMMAND
PRINT ON SCREEN: Space Command – 1,750 ft. Beneath Colorado.
Hooded consoles spread dapple pools of light where Air Force men and women monitor individual screens.
Dominating an entire wall is the Big Board, a HD display screen, fifteen feet wide and eight feet tall, on which an azimuthal equidistant projection concentrated on Earth from space is overlaid by an additional eight by six foot window projecting a live feed transmission of six blinking triangles in the vicinity of Uranus, heading toward Earth.
Standing several feet away CHEYENNE CDR and his MAJOR hold counsel with eyes riveted on projection.
MAJOR …four miles across, ninety feet in diameter, and we’re in its way. (solemnly) We can’t handle that kind of collision.
CHEYENNE CDR How the hell did they get so close?
MAJOR Basically, if you can see something approaching at ninety-two percent light speed, it’s no longer where you see it when you saw it. In our case, by the time we saw they were headed this way - they were already here.
CHEYENNE CDR What a fuckin’ mess.
MAJOR You open to suggestions?
CHEYENNE CDR Suggestions. Innuendoes. Hell, I’ll even settle for random speculations. What’d you got?
MAJOR Off the record?
CHEYENNE CDR Completely.
MAJOR Since there’s no way of stopping them we should consider knocking them off course.
CHEYENNE CDR That’s one hell of an imagination.
MAJOR I know it’s a wild hair, but we owe it to ourselves to at least consider the option.
CHEYENNE CDR Not knowing what happens after deflection is the problem. MAJOR The problem is, they’re not going away.
CHEYENNE CDR Agreed. But we’re dealing with the speed of sound here.
MAJOR Multiplied by forty. That’s what the larger one will be coming in at, and that’s what’s worrying me. Even if we could safely divert it, by the time we get it in our crosshairs the damn thing’ll be here.
CHEYENNE CDR Then we meet it head on.
MAJOR With what? There isn’t a land based missile capable of reaching space in the time we need it to.
CHEYENNE CDR Who said anything about missiles?
Major locks cognitive eyes with CDR.
MAJOR I was under the impression (MORE) MAJOR (CONT’D) all projects of that nature were dissolved.
CHEYENNE CDR Who said they weren’t?
MAJOR Should I be hearing this?
CHEYENNE CDR Off the record. Will it work?
MAJOR Their paths’ need to stabilize before we can be certain we won’t miss. That’s a marginal window of roughly four minutes from impact.
CHEYENNE CDR There is an alternative.
MAJOR What’s that?
CHEYENNE CDR We do nothing at all.
INT. PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER
- as Nigel’s revolver FIRES. Katherine SCREAMS. The bullet SLAMS into the President’s forehead.
Whipping around to find Nigel’s gun inches from his nose.
Nigel Keep flying.
EXT. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY – NIGHT
INT. DATA CENTER
PRINT ON SCREEN: FEMA. In this sterile room of mainframes and supercomputers, the Data Center’s careworn personnel work feverishly compiling and correlating reels and pages of data. GRIFF, head of the operation, flips through pages of printout as an anxious COMP-TECH delivers update.
COMP-TECH …half the speed of light plus three hundred and six million miles leaves us six days ‘til impact.
GRIFF Why hasn’t the President called? (shouting) Anybody hear from the President?
NIGEL (O.S.) Forget it.
Nigel and Katherine ENTER.
INT. FEMA CONFERENCE ROOM
Seated at the conference table Katherine sips tiredly from a coffee mug as Nigel stands at the window with back to room. Griff, at the other side of the room stands slack-jawed with eyes darting from one to the other.
NIGEL Would you stop repeating yourself.
GRIFF Sorry, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around little green men causing you to kill the fucking President.
KATHERINE I’m sorry.
GRIFF So seys the accomplice.
NIGEL It couldn’t be helped.
GRIFF I hope you’re right.
Five meteors RESONANT cutting a swath for the sixth, it’s pockmarked girth large and ominous. PRINTED ON SCREEN: EVENT MINUS 0166 HRS: 0012 MINS: 0048 SECS: 0001 Fractions, 0000, 9999, 9998, 9997…
MONTAGE – MILITARY DISPATCH
a) Confused town folk look on from sidewalks as a platoon of National Guardsmen march down center main.
b) TIME SQUARE
Military troops amidst civilians patrol the parameters of Rockefeller Center.
c) New York subway entrance as infantrymen stretch lengths of chain across it’s opening prohibiting entrance to a protesting crowd of rush hour commuters.
d) HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD
Military troop standby as LAPD herd groups of runaways, loiters, and the generally downtrodden into the back of paddy wagons.
e) WASHINGTON D.C.
Military personnel patrol deserted streets around Pennsylvania Avenue.
f) DOWNTOWN PHILADELPHIA
With an ever vigilant William Penn prominent atop City Hall the military guard nothing but empty streets.
g) RODEO DRIVE
In front of every storefront an infantry solider stands posted as the jaded rich continue with ‘business as usual’.
Military forces patrol the grounds.
INT. FEMA CONFERENCE ROOM Katherine, freshly scrubbed and wearing an odd sort of civilian and military clothing dries her hair vigorously with a damp towel while holding Nigel’s rapt attention.
NIGEL Doctor Shaw –
KATHERINE Katherine; and again, thank you.
NIGEL I did it because he was a traitor.
KATHERINE Whatever the motive, I do thank you.
NIGEL No need to. But I’m still confused on one point.
KATHEINE Which is.
NIGEL A species that’s advanced enough to create planetary systems to their liking; and manipulate DNA, can’t destroy, or at the very least, push a meteor off course?
KATHERINE Not can’t - Won’t.
NIGEL That only adds to my confusion. KATHERINE It’s called faith.
KATHERINE As humans we think of God in selfish terms like something we alone own or possess. But it turns out that God has left His mark on every intelligent being in existence.
NIGEL Are you telling me they’re religious?
KATHERINE I’m telling you they believe – as we do – when God sees fit to do something, that something is usually for a pretty good reason.
NIGEL But this goes beyond –
KATHERINE (cutting him off) Even if that something is death of a child.
NIGEL …Pretty ironic we’ve been killing ourselves for centuries over religious beliefs, never knowing the mother of all beliefs has been waiting in the wings.
KATHERINE They’re Beings just like us.
NIGEL Not an Atheist in the bunch?
KATHERINE Not a one.
EXT. COMPTON CALIFORNIA – AFTERNOON
PRINTED ON SCREEN: South Central Los Angeles.
A brigade of armed troops march up rutted streets as families of unfazed African Americans and Hispanics look on from windows, doorways, and lawns.
EXT. MOUNTAINOUS PASS - SAME
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Montana.
A SERGEANT and his troops face off with MILITIA LEADER backed by armed men and women in the sweltering heat. Behind them wild foliage obscures rising mountains as two 4X4s block the road’s access.
SERGEANT (exasperated) We’re not looking for weapons.
MILITIA LEADER You still ain’t steppin’ foot on my property.
SERGEANT Look, pal –
MILITIA LEADER I ain’t none of your pal, neither.
SERGEANT (snapping) Fine! You’re not my pal, I’m not yours. But I still have orders to protect your sorry ass and that’s what I’m going to do!
Militia Leader scratches his head then surveys the surroundings.
MILITIA LEADER From what?
It becomes ever clearer the Sergeant is stumped.
SERGEANT (with regained authority) It’s a matter of National Security, so how about just stepping the fuc-
A hand falls on the Sergeant’s shoulder.
A CORPORAL beckons him to one side.
CORPORAL Don’t you find it just a little crazy we’re intruding on these people without knowing why?
SERGEANT Our orders are to hold this position and were going to follow those orders to the letter. Do you have a problem with that?
CORPORAL The Nazis followed a few orders to the letter and look what it got them.
SERGEANT (offended) You want to repeat that?
CORPORAL All I’m saying is, something’s not right about this entire operation. I’ve been in constant contact with every unit across the state and I’m telling you nothing is making sense. It’s like we’re chasing smoke.
SERGEANT Are you telling me somebody’s playing games with the god- damn military?
CORPORAL Then why are we here?
After some thought Sergeant storms off heading for military jeep and snatches up the radio’s mic.
SERGEANT (into mic) Sergeant Montgomery to Delta Five. We are relinquishing hold on Montana position. Do you copy?
SERGEANT I repeat. Montana position deemed non-threatening. Copy?
Sergeant drops the mic and heads straight for the Militia Leader who unsure of the situation JACKS A ROUND into the chamber of his shotgun causing all weapons to snap at the ready.
MILITIA LEADER I’ve had just about all the talk I’m gonna take from you, boy.
SERGEANT We’re moving out.
MILITIA LEADER …Just like that?
SERGEANT Turns out somebody got their wires crossed. Sorry about the misunderstanding.
MILITIA LEADER That’s about the smartest thing you’ve said all day.
Sergeant offers his hand. Militia Leader eyes it before accepting.
MILITIA LEADER If you boys need some honest work, y’all come on back and see me.
SERGEANT Will do. (shouting to troops) Head out!
MUSIC: PLAY ON – Beginning strains of Soundgarden’s “BLACK HOLE SUN”.
ON BLISTERING SUN
It’s molten circumference shimmers with liquid heat as its glaring center persuades the eye to turn away…
EXT. HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ENTRANCE – MORNING
- minus the chaotic tempo of days past. Its collective aggregate of vehicles and stretchers, even it brick structure, have all succumbed to clusters of adhering vegetation that has bullied its way through dirt, pitch and cement.
The WHIRLING BLADES of a HELICOPTER WASH OVER the MUSIC drowning it out completely. MUSIC: PLAY OFF.
Helicopter sleds touch down on the shriveled husk of a human CRUSHING most of it into a powdery ash that takes flight on gales of wind.
At the helicopter’s fuselage, physically ragged and mentally wasted, Nigel and Katherine assess the lush jungle before he leads her through overgrown brush to the emergency room’s hanging doors where they stop to allow the eye a moment to adjust to the hospital’s decrepit interior.
NIGEL You won’t reconsider? KATHERINE What’s to consider? Everything I am is in there and I really can’t think of anyplace else I’d rather be. I hope you can understand that?
NIGEL No… Not really.
KATHERINE No… I guess you wouldn’t.
NIGEL There’s a lot of death in there.
KATHERINE Death I can handle. It’s being alive that’s starting to scare me.
A TREMENDOUS THUNDERCLAP RATTLES the hospital’s foundation causing Nigel and Katherine to look to the sky –
- in time to witness the arrival of the first meteor with its bright fan- shaped coma larger and more magnificent than Haley’s rather disappointing apparition. With its newborn cloak of BURNING GAS hiding its solid center the clouds below it race toward the horizon with unnatural speed fleeing the meteor’s SUPERSONIC passage.
Katherine and Nigel track the passing comet.
KATHERINE It’s really going to happen.
NIGEL I have to go.
She surprises him with a hug and gentle squeeze.
KATHERINE Thanks for everything.
Climbing into the copter’s pilot seat Nigel offers a departing wave as the machine takes to the sky.
SKY – LATE AFTERNOON
A sleek jet bearing the Presidential Seal heads west. PRINTED ON SCREEN: Air Force Two.
INT. AIR FORCE TWO
In the jet’s lavish cabin the Vice President’s (VP) PERSONAL SECRETARY (PS) reads from a laptop perched on her lap.
PS …and pilot were both found… (eyes shift to VP) … shot. VP (O.S.) (female voice) Do we know who’s responsible?
PS No, ma’am.
ON VICE PRESIDENT
An immaculate black woman of forty-eight years of age with a refined disposition reflecting not one of great power, but one who could weld it nevertheless.
VP I will be the first to admit, life behind the scenes was becoming quite comfortable.
PS (with comforting smile) You’ll do just fine, Madam Vice President.
A SONIC BOOM fills the sky locking the jet in streams of TURBULENCE as cabin and exterior are washed in an amber glow that soon fades.
VP (frazzled) My, God, what was that!
The first meteor to enter Earth’s atmosphere smolders and IGNITES into a MASSIVE BALL OF FLAMES -
- but its movement through space is merely a close call that skirts the planet and propels its cooling surface towards Venus.
INT. SPACE COMMAND
All personnel have apprehensive eyes trained on the Big Board’s multi- screen projections of the first meteor’s entrance. As its passage through the upper atmosphere is displayed as a near hit COLLECTIVE SIGHS fill the room.
A TECHIE approaches with some urgency.
MAJOR Let’s hear it.
TECHIE It wasn’t a comet, sir.
CHEYENNE CDR (perplexed) Wasn’t a… Just what the hell were you watching, son?
TECHIE An asteroid, sir.
CHEYENNE CDR (riled) For the love of God, what the hell’s the difference. It missed, didn’t it?
MAJOR The difference is how much burn off we can expect before impact. If it had been a comet we’d be talking ice that would burn off substantially upon entry.
TECHIE We’ve determined nickel-iron as the main composition.
The Major turns portentous eyes to the Big Board and its multiple screens projecting various positions of space with our moon prominent in most.
CHEYENNE CDR (to Techie) Allowing for reduced mass, what kind of damage are we talking?
TECHIE Any prediction worth its weight in accuracy isn’t as simple as Hollywood makes it out to be. There are just too many variables.
CHEYENNE CDR Variables aside.
TECHIE It’s the variables that make Earth the last place I want to be when it gets here.
EXT. DULLES AIRPORT – LATE AFTERNOON
Air Force Two TOUCHES DOWN and taxis toward an open hangar where a military helicopter is poised for takeoff.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Amid the casino’s BOISTEROUS CHATTER, LAUGHTER, BELLS and SLOT MACHINE PAYOFFS armed military soldiers patrol the crowds.
REVERBERATIONS build to DEEP RUMBLES as patterns of LIGHTENING streak through ROILING gray clouds. The second meteor sounds its arrival with THUNDERCLAPS of collapsing air.
EXT. ATLANTIC CITY BOARDWALK
Over the horizon the sky CRACKLES with LIGHTENING and RUMBLES like a locomotive attracting pedestrian eyes as the FLAMING meteor EXPLODES through cloud covering – - SLAMMING into the Boardwalk obliterating everything under the weight of an ATOMIC EXPLOSION.
INT. MILITARY HELICOPTER
In flight, the VP, her PS and the SOD listen intently as a MARINE STAFF OFFICER (MSO)wearing insulated headphones and mobile data command center (MODAC) in hand relays incoming information –
MSO There was concern a warhead was launched but there’s no evidence to substantiate that, ma’am.
SOD (solemnly) My god, she was right.
VP Who was right?
SOD Katherine Shaw.
VP The geneticist?
VP What did she say?
SOD grows noticeably uneasy.
VP What did she say, Steven?
SOD …Nothing good.
The MODAC BEEPS. MSO raises an anticipative finger.
MSO (pause for info) It’s Moscow. After a deep cleansing breath VP reaches for the MODAC.
EXT. CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN – NIGHT
Major and Cheyenne Cdr standby as the VP’s helicopter touches down.
Tall and confident the VP approaches the two men.
VP (in greeting) Major. General.
MAJOR Madam Vice President.
CHEYENNE CDR Welcome aboard, ma’am.
VP Can either of you explain how things got so out of hand?
CHEYENNE CDR It’s a bit complicated.
VP I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t.
CHEYENNE CDR For the time being I think it’s best if no one else knew you were here. At least, not until we’ve figured out what we’re going to do about our little problem.
VP Then we better get started.
EXT. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY – NIGHT
The buildings and parking structure are by now completely deserted and overrun by tropical vegetation and creeping vines. Griff, puffing absently on the end of a short cigarette, stands in silhouette by the building’s only burning light.
Flicking the finished butt he turns to enter the building when suddenly he’s buffeted by the winds of a DESCENDING HELICOPTER that lands smoothly near by.
Cutting the engine Nigel jumps from the cockpit and joins his friend in silhouette.
GRIFF I thought you were headed for Cheyenne.
NIGEL Something about a mandatory death sentence wasn’t sitting too well with me.
GRIFF Killing a president would have dreadful consequences I would imagine.
NIGEL I was thinking, if you didn’t have anything better to do, there’s a lady sitting in a hospital that could use a little company.
Griff completes a slow, steady survey of the area before –
GRIFF Nope… Can’t say there’s anything else I could be doing.
NIGEL You want to take her up?
GRIFF Not this trip. I believe I’ll just sit back and enjoy what sights we have left, my friend.
Both head for the copter.
GRIFF (continuing) There’s just so much more of it to see of late. INT. SPACE COMMAND
- as STEEL DOORS, being the only access point, SLIDES OPEN admitting the VP, her PS, SOD, Cheyenne Cdr and Major.
Cheyenne Cdr leads the group straight for the Big Board where multiple screens show maps of different portions of the Northern Hemisphere, with a centralized screen exhibiting a Mercator projection with scattered red lights marking troubled spots that include everything along the East Coast lying between Halifax and Savannah, and as far West as Pittsburgh.
MAJOR Photos are about four minutes behind real time. We should be receiving –
The Big Board FLICKERS erasing all screens.
MAJOR (continuing) Right on schedule.
ON BIG BOARD
- as thick white iridescent lines trimmed in red and splintering branches of blue-green hair lines snake across its screen. Immediately the lines are overlaid by a 3D grid with numeral labels lending optical sense to what is obviously a mountain range.
MAJOR (O.S.) This configuration is of the bottom of the North Atlantic. Bluish-green lines are stable trenches and midocean ridges. Fault lines are in red; and whites are heat residue from recent thermonuclear explosions along the ocean floor.
Again the Big Board FLICKERS instantly replacing current image with a high altitude, true image map of Central Pacific waters churning violently around the Hawaiian Islands.
BACK TO SCENE
MAJOR Approximately two hours ago tsunamis began an all out assault on the Hawaiian islands due to numerous fault line ruptures.
Big Board FLICKERS transmitting a diagram of Alaska down through California with overlaying grid lines that converge from the Pacific and fanning up and down the coast line.
MAJOR There’s a lot of energy being released by undersea explosions which means weather patterns around Alaska and California are about to change for the worse. And we’re not the only ones feeling the effects. Seismic stations all over the world are reporting heavy anomalistic fault behavior.
Big Board FLICKERS displaying Europe, Asia and Northern Africa with several grid lines blinking insistently.
CHEYENNE CDR These are the areas we’re concerned about.
VP How is it that something striking one side of the planet causes havoc on the other?
CHEYENNE CDR The collision triggered a ripple effect. Another hit like the one in New Jersey could… Well, it could…
VP Gentlemen, anything you need to tell me should be told quickly. Wouldn’t you agree?
MAJOR Madam Vice President, those incoming meteors have the potential to set off the Earth’s core.
The PS stiffens noticeably.
VP I don’t think I want to know what you mean by, ‘set off’ Major, but if it’s what I think it is, your telling me we are currently occupying the third bomb from the sun.
CHEYENNE CDR Affirmative.
EXT. ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY – MORNING
Pillars of smoke rise throughout the partially submerged city resting beneath the TURBULENT Atlantic ocean. Remnants of tourist trappings and endless square miles of paper currency ride the foaming crests.
EXT. SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES – LATE MORNING
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Little Rock, Arkansas.
A FULL FLEDGE RIOT is underway between Guardsman and police against an indignant civilian mob. Fire hoses are turned FULL BLAST as lawmen brave the furious wrath while dodging a menagerie of construction ware and consumer products.
A helmeted patrol officer wielding a night stick on a felled civilian is shocked to find his protective helmet suddenly snatched from his head -
- whipping around and prepared for battle the patrol officer encounters a rather tough looking thug displaying a crooked little smile and offering him the return of his headgear -
- furious the patrol officer snatches the helmet only to find himself felled by a bottle SMASHED across his head by the sudden appearance of a distinguished business woman carrying a briefcase as if heading home from the office - - with the patrol officer laid out at their feet the thug and woman bump fifts.
Through the mob’s DISSONANT REVOLT a SERIES OF GROUND JARRING PERCUSSIONS RESONATE. Unanimously the melee desists.
The crowd searches the sky as the THUNDEROUS ECHOES RECEDE.
Without warning sudden gusts of VIOLENT WINDS HURDLE through the streets striking with such force it sends people, vehicles, light posts, and mailboxes somersaulting helter-skelter into each other; store fronts and solid walls until the WINDS die leaving behind destruction and overwhelming confusion.
Clearing muddled heads survivors look after the dead and dying when all too soon LOW RUMBLES BUILD forcing all to suspend aid and cast anxious eyes to the sky –
- as the third meteor enters the atmosphere with a SPEED so great its BLAZING perimeter passes overhead in seconds.
The survivors CONVERSE animatedly in collective gestures of relief and puzzlement.
The GROUND TREMBLES –
VIBRATIONS ESCALATE by degrees. All heads turn to the skies in time to see the fourth meteor PLOW through clouds all AFLAME and HISSING PROFOUNDLY with a VELOCITY that inclusively wipes Little Rock, Arkansas from the face of the Earth…
INSERT – BIG BOARD (SPACE COMMAND)
Its map of North America is riddled with red distress signals throughout Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Midland, Odessa, El Paso, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Yuma, Arizona.
Abruptly large groups of red distress signals blink relentlessly centered on Little Rock and scattered along the Eastern coast line.
INT. SPACE COMMAND
At communications console Cheyenne Cdr slams phone receiver in cradle and hurriedly approaches VP, her PS, SOD, and Major.
CHEYENNE CDR Madam Vice President, maybe we sho-
VP The time for secrets is over, general. Please get on with it.
Clearing his throat Cheyenne Cdr addresses the entire room.
CHEYENNE CDR Okay everybody, listen up. As you can see from the Big Board Arkansas is in pretty bad shape. There’s even word it may not exist anymore.
A few MURMMERS.
A smoldering, cavernous indentation in the ground expanding the dimensions of an entire city.
CHEYENNE CDR (V.O.) (continuing) There’s more. The meteor we hoped would lose momentum didn’t -
b) EXT. GRANGE - NIGHT
Firefighters battle FLAMING PYRES of main house and outbuildings as ranch hands struggle with STAMPEDING HERDS; all the while, the GROUND stirs with an onslaught of MINOR TREMORS.
CHEYENNE CDR (V.O.) (continuing) It skipped across Texas through New Mexico -
c) EXT. HOUSTON SHIP CANAL – NIGHT
- as QUAKES send the Jesse H. Jones Memorial Bridge CRUMBLING. CHEYENNE CDR (V.O.) (continuing) - and right into Arizona devastating each of those areas… The way things stand now, there isn’t anything we can do for them.
A PHONE BUZZER alerts them to an incoming call. A subordinate approaches and hands him a receiver.
CHEYENNE CDR (into receiver) Go ahead.
Listens. SNAPS FINGERS to get the room’s attention, then points firmly at the Big Board.
CHEYENNE CDR We’re ready on our end.
The Big Board ripples with FREQUENCY STATIC just before projecting a picture of magnificent clarity of outer space just outside Earth’s atmosphere.
CHEYENNE CDR We’re good.
Hanging up, Cheyenne Cdr joins VP and her group which has now swelled to include a few of the mountain’s personnel at the Big Board.
CHEYENNE CDR (respectfully blunt) Madam Vice President, what you’re about to see is as classified as it gets.
VP How classified?
CHEYENNE CDR I’ll deny it ever happened.
VP General, get us out of this and I’ll deny it. CHEYENNE CDR (appreciative smile) Thank you, ma’am. But that won’t be necessary.
The Big Board’s picture rotates thirty degrees bringing into proximity an impressive cylindrical apparatus of gleaming steel with no discernible markings. But it becomes evident this is some form of advanced weaponry as the war machine’s massive barrel swings into view.
SOD (alarmed) Is that what I think it is?
CHEYENNE CDR Depends on what you think it is. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m needed somewhere else. Major.
Cheyenne Cdr and Major head for the steel doors.
INT. THE PIT (CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN)
PRINTED ON SCREEN: 1,850 ft. Beneath Colorado.
STEEL DOORS SLIDE OPEN admitting Cheyenne Cdr and Major into this shadowy nook of viewing monitors covering most of an entire wall. On raised consoles THREE MILITARY-TECHS man three identical control panels with eyes trained on monitors displaying the gleaming war machine from many angles.
They are met by a COMM-TECH whose salute is met in kind.
COMM-TECH Verification from Arkansas prove the meteors are typical mesosiderites; part rock, part metal with traces of pyroxene and plagioclase as well as olivine crystals. That much was expected but we didn’t expect the cores to be eighty four percent nickel. But we have a bigger problem.
CHEYENNE CDR Let’s hear it?
COMM-TECH It’s coming in faster than we expected.
CHEYENNE CDR Speed?
COMM-TECH Eleven point two miles a second.
CHEYENNE CDR How soon before it breaches established perimeters?
COMM-TECH Less than four minutes.
CHEYENNE CDR (urgently to entire pit) Listen up people, this is it! The chance of blowing that thing apart is remote, not to mention, stupid and dangerous. For those of you who were considering something along the lines of any number of science fiction plots, forget about it – it will not work. We only want to nudge the Sonofabitch and send it spinning somewhere other than here. We get one shot, and one shot only.
MILITARY-TECH 1 Sir, it’s been determined a second shot may be needed.
CHEYENNE CDR Son, everything you know about Hiroshima gets that times a million. There will be no second chances.
A delay as slower calculators sum up mental tallies before the three Military-Techs lock sights on monitors with hands positioned over controls awaiting their next orders.
CHEYENNE CDR Okay, bring those views around, maximum magnification, and let’s get a good look at what we’re up against.
INT. SPACE COMMAND
Eyes are glued to the Big Board as its picture shifts as relay satellites rotate away from gleaming war machine.
ON BIG BOARD
The threat of approaching meteor is a mere speck compared to the mammoth crescent of the moon easing into view.
INT. THE PIT
CHEYENNE CDR Position and set.
EXT. SPACE (ABOVE EARTH’S UPPER ATMOSPHERE)
Three identical war machines of gleaming steel maneuver into triangular formation; a gauntlet, through which the great meteor must pass.
ON CRESCENT MOON AND METEOR
The meteor’s ROARING assault through space is clarion as it barely scrapes pass the moon with ASTOUNDING SPEED –
INT. THE PIT
All monitors relay the meteor’s approach. Personnel are poised as the monolith enters firing perimeters.
CHEYENNE CDR Stinger One, track… SPACE
- as one of the three gleaming war machines track the breaching rock with barrel glowing, readying for discharge.
INT. THE PIT
CHEYENNE CDR Lock…
Readouts on each monitor confirm acquired target –
CHEYENNE CDR On my mark…
The magnificent swell of the moon slips from view as an ELECTRICAL HUM BUILDS to GYRO FREQUENCIES within the steel unit. Components POWER UP and PULSATE causing it’s barrel to heat like iron exposed to flames -
- a series of TOGGLED CLICKS and near deafening REVERBERATIONS are immediately annihilated by the fifth meteor’s abrupt arrival –
- SMASHING into the steel war machine DEMOLISHING it utterly in a FANTASTIC EXPLOSION of RENDING STEEL and SHORT CIRCUITING components -
INT. THE PIT
CHEYENNE CDR (seconds to late) FIR –
All monitors are reduced to signals of interference filling the Pit with WHITE NOISE. Cheyenne Cdr’s jaw hangs on its hinges.
The second steel unit releases a SEARING BEAM that manages to PULVERIZE the back end of the THUNDERING MONOLITH BLASTING it into chunks and pebbles that disperse harmlessly into the vacuum of space –
- as the main body plows on.
In the quietude of space a stationed communications satellite orbits peacefully –
- until the fifth meteor BULLDOZES through the satellite’s path DETONATING it in its wake.
The sixth monolith TUMBLES toward Earth: bypassing remains of the communications satellite, now a buoyant, meaningless tangle of wires, chips, twisted metal and circuit boards.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0001 MINS: 0046 SECS: 0003 FRACTIONS, 0002, 0001, 0000…
INT. THE PIT
All monitors are dead. All eyes locked on silent screens.
MAJOR We’re blind!
CHEYENNE CDR Fire anyway.
MAJOR At what? CHEYENNE CDR Forget rationality, man, just do it!
MAJOR …Stinger Two and Three, recalibrate.
CHEYENNE CDR Fire at your discretion.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0003 SECS: 9210 FRACTIONS and counting as Stinger Two PIVOTS into position.
Through the first war machines displaced debris Stinger Two FIRES a SEARING BEAM in the general direction of the retreating meteor –
- as an errant steel plate drifts in the line of fire deflecting the BEAM; sending it back to its source, where it heats up the second war machine’s outer shell in mere seconds.
From RED HOT to WHITE HEAT the unit DETONATES –
ON STINGER THREE
Its LASER BLASTS the fifth meteor into a thousand fragments seconds before the TUMBLING monolith SLAMS into it making its own EXPLOSION a mere spark against the rock’s monstrous girth.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0046 SECS: 8620 FRACTIONS, 8619, 8618, 8617…
INT. SPACE COMMAND
Standing before the Big Board’s dark screen the VP lowers her head in silent prayer. All around her are looks of sadness, uncertainty and even a few of embarrassment, before all present follow her in prayer.
INT. HOSPITAL INTENSIVE CARE (TONY’S WARD)
Nigel and Griff stand easily at the large window with hands clasps behind backs looking out on a verdant jungle teeming with strange and immense vegetation that hasn’t existed for three million years. Just outside the window, tangled in dense greenery, the Presidential helicopter hangs suspended like a gigantic insect trapped in a Silurian flytrap.
Katherine, tucked into bed weeps as she cradles Tony’s head. Her lips move lyrically to the MUSIC seeping from the headphones on her head.
EXT. TAKAHASHI’S APARTMENT (JAPAN)
Lounging on the balcony of his high-rise, partly obscured by the brush of lush potted plants, Doctor Takahashi sips from the straw of a very tall and fancy drink as his apathetic eyes read from the pages of a latest bestseller.
INT. NADEL’S LIVING ROOM (AFRICA)
Doctor Nadel is embraced in a slow dance with her own husband, moving easily in his arms to the STRAINS of VIOLINS.
INT. LUNDQVIST’S HOME (STOCKHOLM)
At the stove, Doctor Lundqvist in satin robe stirs a sauce pan with one hand while sipping champagne with the other.
DINING ROOM Although set for one, the table is replete with a bouquet of roses, burning candles, and a chilled bottle of champagne.
Lundqvist ENTERS with steaming serving dish, sets it on the table, and takes her seat in front of the lone plate. Bowing her head she WHISPERS GRACE while letting her own tears flow free.
INT. ALIEN SPACECRAFT (CONTROL ROOM)
This vast and circular room of drab ambiance is occupied by three creatures identical to Abendroth’s changeling. Seated back-to-back in arabesque chairs, gangly fingers work three separate control panels with HYDRAULIC DRONES PERMEATING from deep within the ship’s belly.
With ENGINES WHIRLING and METALLIC CLANKING of ENORMOUS GEARS CATCHING the control room’s miles of encircling wall LOWERS on what is essentially the largest aquarium ever designed filled with the clearest of blue waters and teeming with a thriving world of human/fish hybrid.
At EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0002 SECS: 0085 FRACTIONS the megalith ENTERS Earth atmosphere instantly IGNITING with ROARING FLAMES… 0084, 0083, 0082…
EXT. HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – DAY
With PRINTED COUNTDOWN at: EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0001 SECS: 0073 FRACTIONS the sky over the Sunset Strip shimmers between Tyrian purple and infusing grays as THUNDERING RUMBLES ADVANCE –
EXT. SEATTLE WASHINGTON
- 0001 SECS: 0050 FRACTIONS purple and grays roil across the sky like a brewing storm.
The populace gape awestruck at the sky as clouds over the Space Needle ripple with lightning followed by RESOUNDING THUNDER.
EXT. CATTLE RANCH
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Montana, EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0000 SECS: 0038 FRACTIONS –
- as HERDS of cattle and horse STAMPEDE aimlessly, frightened by the sky’s vacillating colors and CONVERGING RESONANCE.
EXT. APPLE ORCHARD
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Utah, EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0000 SECS: 0026 FRACTIONS –
- RUMBLING INTENSIFIES shaking loose scores of apples from their branches -
EXT. LAS VEGAS
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Nevada, EVENT MINUS 0000 HRS: 0000 MINS: 0000 SECS: 0019 FRACTIONS –
- and still the RUMBLING ESCALATES forcing crowds of gamblers from casinos to mingle with gawking military personnel… :0007, 0006…
INT. THE PIT
The entire mountain QUAKES –
CHEYENNE CDR (stating fact) We missed…
EXT. CALIFORNIA COASTLINE
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Long Beach, California… 0003, 0002, 0001, 0000, and the meteor’s arrival is like a BARRELING FREIGHT –
- for miles the sky darkens with ROILING CLOUDS filled with streaks of twisting light that Rupture into MASSIVE ELECTRICAL DISCHARGES.
Anxious clouds catch blue and burnt yellow PULSES and relay them like countless transformers, capacitors and voltage drops as if carrying STACCATO messages laced with CRACKLING PUNCTUATIONS.
PRINTED ON SCREEN: Long Beach, California… 0003, 0002, 0001, 0000, and the meteor’s arrival is like a BARRELING FREIGHT. The sky RIPPLES with heat LIGHTENING and GREAT ivory FLASHES as the meteor TEARS THROUGH a mass of AGGRAVATED clouds, an INFERNO that turns darkened sky to eerie twilight -
- heading for the Pacific’s TURBULENT WATERS. A mammoth stone that casts a mile long shadow on the ground below; it’s bulk a massive CONFLAGRATION wrapped in smoke dripping SPARKLETS of iridescent motes.
It curves downward to meet the ocean’s surface head-on. Cool water engulfs it. Flames are extinguished; and the sea is transformed into a CHURNING mint-green froth HISSING with twisted pillars of vapor that reach toward the angry sky.
BENEATH PACIFIC OCEAN
- as the BOILING meteor SLAMS into the ocean floor -
- FISSURES RIP and MOLTEN LAVA and curtains of hot vapor are released.
BELOW EARTH’S CRUST
PRINTED ON SCREEN: The San Andreas Fault Line –
- as tiers of TECTONIC PLATES SHIFT and SNAP.
EXT. SURFACE OF PACIFIC OCEAN
From beneath the water comes the SOUND of TREMENDOUS BUBBLING like the heating contents of some grand cauldron. The BUBBLING STEADILY AMPLIFIES until quite aggressively great plumes of ash, smoke, and magma PUNCH through the surface in deadly columns.
EXT. DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
The streets are filled with the stunned as accumulating smoke fight the sun’s rays painting the landscape in shades of shadow and gray. On the horizon, columns of black smoke rise to meet soot filled clouds punctuated by rippling lines of sporadic lightening.
One homeless man drops to his knees and offers up prayer as others around him panic, and some others run; but most are rooted in place, listening earnestly to the APPROACHING SEISMOGRAPHIC MOVEMENTS of Earth -
- until SHIFTING TECTONIC PLATES cause the ground to SWELL like a ROLLING TIDE toppling buildings, people and vehicles causing all to disappear under PUFFS of RUBBLE.
INT. SPACE COMMAND (The Pit)
With DISTANT AFTERSHOCKS and VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS supplying the soundtrack, a snowy broadcast is all the Big Board displays.
PS (to VP) You should know there are a lot of us who believe this country would have been in good hands with you at the helm. (fighting tears) I for one admirer you greatly.
Personal Secretary offers a discomfited salute as tears flood her eyes.
Smiling affectionately the VP beckons PS into her comforting arms.
The Pit QUAKES in earnest causing restrained panic as overhead lights FLICKER shortly before the Big Board EXPLODES -
- leaving behind total darkness and the mountain’s MANY CREAKS, SNAPS and finally a CRUMBLING of TONS of COLLAPSING EARTH that abruptly extinguish the life of Space Command’s valiant inhabitants.
A SERIES OF SHOTS
MUSIC: PLAY ON – “GRAVITY” by A Perfect Circle
a) The crown of the Empire State Building CRUMBLES as a forty foot wall of RAGING WATER bears down on fleeing New Yorkers -
b) The Eiffel Tower SCREECHES painfully as its mass of steel topples CRUSHING all at its base –
c) Egyptian pyramids SINK into SIFTING SANDS –
d) Kitchen of an English castle TREMBLES as uniformed cooks and liveried servants cower under large wooden tables.
e) Letter by letter the Hollywood sign SUCCUMBS –
f) Actors, camera crew, and stage hands promptly abandon their shoot as the sound stage around them is SHAKEN TO PIECES –
g) The Ross ice shelf surrenders in its entirety, setting loose a COLOSSAL WAVE of displaced water –
h) HURRICANE WINDS ravage a stretch of Florida’s palm treed streets –
i) POUNDING WAVES toss and SHATTER docked vessels -
j) On the open sea WINDS and MOUNTAINOUS WAVES batter a limping ocean liner as passengers jump braving RESTLESS CURRENTS –
k) Beneath the streets of Bangkok SEISMIC WAVES ROLL TOPPLING buildings that CRUSH throngs of citizens –
l) In the African wilds STAMPEDES of wildlife bolt blindly as brush and trees go up in FLAMES –
m) The Taj Mahal CRUMBLES –
n) China’s Great Wall relinquishes chunks of mortar as the GROUND TREMBLES –
o) No longer a symbol of invincibility the White House dome CAVES IN –
p) PRINTED ON SCREEN: Oki Archipelago / Sea of Japan
- as a RAGING STORM decimates small islands -
q) A FAULT LINE CRACKS seething with lava –
r) A HUGE SWELL of RUSHING WATER advances like ROLLING THUNDER -
s) The Library of Congress DISINTEGRATES –
t) A shopping mall is swallowed building by building as the GROUND LIQUEFIES under the assault of RATTLING TREMORS –
BACK TO SCENE
Patches of ceiling and rich wood paneling SPLITTER WITH LOUD REPORTS –
SPARKS SCUDDING from a TOPPLING power line –
Live wires land in a recreational lake ELECTROCUTING snared swimmers –
A billboard CREAKS and SPLINTERS giving up its perch atop a FRAGMENTING office complex –
Philadelphia’s City Hall where William Penn’s statue SEPARATES at the knees and CRASHES through the dome on its way to the ground –
An assemblage of tourists at a Grecian ruin are CRUSHED by KEELING Corinthian pillars –
An ERUPTING VOLCANO releases a pyroclastic cloud that BARRELS toward us until its ROILING cumulonimbus engulfs us utterly –
MUSIC: PLAY OFF
FADE TO BLACK
EXT. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
MUSIC: PLAY ON: “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran
PRINTED ON SCREEN: On The Seventh Day…
Over the ROAR of TWIN WATERFALLS the air itself GRUMBLES with complaints. Looking down from atop Yosemite Falls, valleys and canyons lie under newly formed lakes with treetops barely breaking surface. In the far distance, beyond the mountains and spaced at irregular intervals, pillars of thick, achromatic smoke climb from the horizon to blanket the sky with gray epitaphs of Earth’s cruel devastation.
A lone swallow FLUTTERS into view; hovers, then soars off.
EXT. METROPOLITAN AREA
Under sooty skies masses of decomposed human and animal remains lay crushed and mangled. Throughout this graveyard of demolished, battered and drenched superstructures and vehicles, hundreds of rats foray through the dense debris.
A clump of weeds RUSTLE. Pushing through a tangle of blight ridden foliage; past nests of CHITTERING rats, right up to a SWARMING COLONY of argentine ants picking clean the putrescent remains of a human torso.
So complete is the world’s landscape of desolation that even coast lines have lost their familiarity –
- from smoke filled skies the complete destruction of the United States is evident -
- the Ruination of Moscow, total –
- the Death of China, complete –
- the eradication of Europe, absolute…
BACK TO SCENE
BOTTOM OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN
A group of thermonuclear vents SPEWING their heated poison abruptly stops. All is still…
…The floor RUMBLES –
- sand SIFTS –
The WHINE of MASSIVE TURBINES are heard just before the sea floor SWELLS with the rise of the alien spacecraft from beneath the sediment.
EXT. SURFACE OF PACIFIC OCEAN
Above the ocean’s steamy surface the smoldering sky CRACKLES with tendrils of ELECTRIC CHARGES. Halogen lights illuminate the depths as the spacecraft rises, spreading its incandescence for miles.
The spacecraft approaches the surface and the ocean’s radiance intensifies beneath its adhering steam.
The spacecraft breaks surface and hovers some feet above it while water POURS, DRIPS, and TRICKLES from its oblique circumference.
MUSIC: PLAY OFF
The alien craft looms as a GREAT BUBBLING amasses. A vast GURGLING of PERCOLATION of escaping gases BILLOWING toward the surface until the first, then another, and yet others – a multitude of others – BREAK SURFACE, large and translucent, rising inches into the air only to settle back down on the surface while still others BURSTS from the depths.
With marine condensation caressing their ovoidal surfaces their numbers continue to rise filling the ocean with the ovum of our successors; for each ‘bubble’ contains the fetal organism of a human/fish hybrid feebly struggling to free itself from its gelatinous capsule.
Their numbers continue to well forth taking their places to bob on the surface when in the DISTANCE, the unmistakable CRY of a NEWBORN rings out…
Miles from shore the demolished skeletal remains of a dead, smoldering city is the backdrop for two Alien Travelers standing over a beached egg that has recently hatched new life.
Inside the egg’s ruptured shell it lies WAILING as helpless as a human newborn with tears coursing from unblinking eyes; shark eyes too large for its humanoid head, but will serve their purpose in the deep. Coated in the viscous placenta of afterbirth and its argentite skin glistening with tiny scales, raw gills lining the sides of its neck flutter as the child/fish struggles for every breath. With the exception of these attributes and the extreme digits webbed for aqua propulsion not much else separates it from the human race.
BACK TO SCENE
The two Travelers gracefully step aside as the child, now free of the remnants of its gelatinous incubator, WHIMPERS sadly as it crawls instinctively towards the steamy ocean on uncertain limbs.
At the shoreline where ocean meets beach, a female, the same species as the infant but having the full maturity of adulthood, walks with great poise from beneath the surf and makes her way to the frightened child.
Lifting the frightened child tenderly and holding it close to her full bosom the nestled child/fish is calmed.
MUSIC: PLAY ON – “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran
The woman/fish looks to the Travelers and seems to stretch her lips into a tight grateful smile; and for the first time since her appearance, hanging around her gilled neck, we finally notice the silver necklace with an Emerald pendant attached.
With child/fish held in the safety of her arms she turns toward the ocean taking determined steps that carrying them both back home…
ON ALIEN SPACECRAFT
- as the ENGINE’S GYRATING WHINE ESCALATES the ship glides forward just before BLASTING skyward where it vanishes into the dreary cloud covering of the unknown…
MUSIC: PLAY OFF
MUSIC: PLAY ON – “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden
With the Sun’s blazing circumference hanging in the background like the great eye of RA, the spacecraft PLOWS through the aura of Earth’s dull covering.
HURTLING past us at LIGHT SPEEDS it leaves behind what was once a resplendent jewel in the eye of heaven, a scorched and primitive blight thoroughly blanketed by the ashen gases of volcanic eruptions.
The Sun slips behind Earth casting a diamond-rind of solar photosphere around its diameter; it is here, we have reached the dawning of an uncertain era…
BEGIN END CREDITS