The new, rewritten Planet of the Apes script
"PLANET OF THE APES"
Based on Novel
May 5, 1967
Revisions to the original script by Christopher T. Shields
1 EXT. DEEP SPACE
Stars glitter like diamonds on the black velvet backdrop of space.
A speck of light appears in the lower left corner of the screen.
No spaceship can be seen, but only a glowworm, a solitary spermatozoa
gliding through the womb of the universe. Over this we HEAR
the voice of an astronaut. He is concluding a report.
ASTRONAUT'S VOICE (o.s.)
“So ends my last report until we reach Alpha Centauri. We are now on automatic ... under full control of the flight computers. The navigation systems and ship’s instruments check for final and we are go for our long journey. You back there at Flight Control should continue to receive constant telemetry from us as our mission progresses. The medical telemetry alone from our suspended animation chambers should be interesting to say the least. I’m sure that Dr. Thomas has already started to pour over the data that’s been sent so far in regards to Stewart, Dodge and Landon.”
2 INT. CABIN OF SPACESHIP - ESTABLISHING SHOT - NIGHT
The cabin is neither cramped nor spacious, but about the size of the President's cabin in Air Force One. In the immediate f.g. is a console of dials and switches flanked by four chairs. Only one of the chairs is occupied. The astronaut's back is to CAMERA. There is a ladder amidships which leads to an escape hatch. The after part of the cabin is obscured in darkness. We hear the MUSIC of a Mozart sonata emanating from a phonograph of stereotape. The astronaut is speaking into a microphone.
ASTRONAUT “Within the hour we shall be passing out of the solar system, completing the sixth day of our flight out of Cape Kennedy. The sixth day by our time, that is ...”
He pauses, looking up at:
3 TWO DIGITAL CLOCKS - ON RIGHT CONSOLE PANEL
One clock is marked SHIP TIME. It is a standard digital readout in years, months, weeks, days hours, minutes, and seconds set to standard 24 hour military time in the display. The readout shows July 10, 1972.
The other clock is labeled EARTH TIME, and it is identical to the SHIP TIME chronometer in layout and format. Currently it is displaying November 15, 1972.
The EARTH TIME chronometer is showing that time is passing quicker for those on Earth than for those aboard the spacecraft. As we watch, the days increment by one to read November 16, 1972 with a solid state click. Over this we hear:
ASTRONAUT'S VOICE (o.s.) “But according to Dr. Hasslein’s theory of the passage of time in a vehicle traveling at nearly the speed of light, a couple of months have already passed on Earth since our departure - while we have barely finished our first week in space.”
4 CLOSE ON ASTRONAUT
This is TAYLOR. He wears simple dungarees (or Churchill suit) and
comfortable boots. He seems calm and pensive. Extracting the butt of
a cigar from the breast pocket of his dungarees, he lights it, then
TAYLOR “Our data so far seems to prove Hasslein’s theory. A decade in space doesn’t seem all that long when you spend most of that time in suspended animation …. or so they said. A grand lift off on the fourth of July, America puts the biggest, fastest firecracker ever built into the sky and then we take a long nap to the next bright star over. Perchance to dream out here among the heavens …”
He begins to roll up his left sleeve.
TAYLOR “Ten years for you will roll by for us in not much more than half a year of subjective time. Alas, we barely even knew the ‘70’s. An entire decade will pass for us in the span of six months. I wonder if history will look back favorably on the decade that we four have given up, that we willingly leave behind … and I wonder what we will read about this decade that we have lost when we finally get back home.”
He removes the cigar from his mouth, turns to look out through one of the portholes into the astral night.
TAYLOR “One final thought - nothing scientific, purely personal. Seen from up here, everything looks different ... Time bends and space is boundless. It squashes a man's ego. He begins to feel like no more than a mote in the eye of eternity. And he is nagged by a question: what if anything, will greet us on the end of man's first journey to a star? Are we to believe that throughout these thousands of galaxies, these millions of stars, only one, that speck of solar dust we call Earth, has been graced - or cursed - by human life? (pause) I have to doubt it. There has to be something else out there. Maybe we’ll find it.”
He pushes a few buttons on the console next to him. A small panel beside him whirs and slides open, exposing a hypodermic needle on a preformed soft baby blue foam bed. Condensation forms a small fog around the bed of foam that the syringe rests on, wisping around the compartment that holds it, suggesting that the medicine contained therein is required to be refrigerated. He extracts a hypodermic needle from the medical station of the console, swabs down the contact point with an alcohol wipe and injects it into the vein of his forearm. He winces slightly as the cold drug hits his system then continues speaking.
TAYLOR (sardonically) “I believe it was John Masefield who once said ‘All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.’ Well, we have a tall ship and we certainly have our star to steer by. (Taylor withdraws the hypodermic needle from his vein, places a piece of cotton and a strip of tape to prevent any bleeding and flexes his arm for pressure. He then uses his good arm to place the used syringe back on the bed of foam.) Let’s hope it’s a good voyage.”
He pushes a button and the cover slides shut again.
TAYLOR runs his hand slowly over the console in front of him. He stares at the tell-tales in the cabin in almost child-like wonder. His attention is drawn to a readout where data is cycling past, white letters and numbers on a green background. He flips a pair of switches and the screen goes dark. We get the impression that Taylor has simply turned a monitor off, not that he has ended any equipment from taking and sending data back to Earth.
TAYLOR “It is hard to believe that the next time I sit at this station almost five long years will have passed since I completed this report. Five long years with no voice out here in space save for the endless data stream from the flight computers and the background radio broadcasts from the stars. Oh, the computers and instruments will keep talking to you even while we’re deep in our long sleep. The machines will tell you all the information you could ever want to know about the status of the flight, they’ll tell you a story of a long voyage where man has never gone before, but they’ll do it in numbers, not words, not emotions. You’ll use other machines back home to crunch those numbers back into something that makes sense to you but what stares at you from the sheets of printed type will be cold, impersonal data and scientific statements. Shortly I will close my eyes and take a long nap, a five year long nap and when I open my eyes again, it will be 1977.”
He takes a long pull on the cigar, enjoying the aroma and the flavor, savoring it as he stars out into space. He exhales, looks at the cigar, seemingly judging the worth of extinguishing it or finishing it completely. He finally nods to himself at reaching a decision. He relaxes back in his seat, as much as he can, sighs, and continues.
TAYLOR “I still find it hard to believe that when next I wake that this star that we humans have called home for so very long will be nothing but a bright speck in the sky, that there will be a new set of stars to warm us and show us the way through the long night. I look forward to meeting our closest stellar neighbor. God knows it’s a going to be a long walk there and back. This is Colonel George Taylor, commander of the Prometheus mission, signing off.”
Taylor snuffs out the cigar butt and places it in the drawer beside the hypodermic. Then, flicking a switch to cut off the Mozart, he rises and looks up again at:
5 THE CLOCK MARKED EARTH TIME
SHOWING NOVEMBER 16,
1972. TAYLOR LOOKS AT
THE HOURS AND MINUTES DISPLAY OF THE EARTH TIME CLOCK AND WATCHES AS SEVERAL MINUTES PASS FOR EACH SECOND THAT PASSES FOR THE SHIP TIME CLOCK. HE WATCHES WITH PROFESSIONAL CURIOSITY THEN TURNS WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO DO. HE LEAVES HIS COMMAND CHAIR AND HIS CONSOLE WITH A GENERAL AIR OF SORROW, WITH A FEELING OF HIDDEN REGRET.
6 INT. CABIN - TRACKING WITH TAYLOR
Space scientists have presumably solved the problem of weightlessness, for Taylor walks the short distance from; the console to the after section without particular effort. CAMERA FOLLOWS him, and we can now see four glass capsules, or "caskets", in the rear of the cabin. Taylor looks down at them.
7- SEVERAL SHOTS - THE FOUR CASKETS - FROM TAYLOR'S P.O.V.
One of them is open. The other three are occupied by astronauts: DODGE, LANDON and STEWART. They, too, wear dungarees and boots. Dodge and Landon are thirty-ish, clean-shaven, virile - America's finest. Stewart is a beautiful young woman, with long blonde hair that is placed upon her head in a stylish bun. Their eyes are closed and they do not appear to be breathing - yet no undertaker could make them so alive. Taylor checks the diagnostic instruments on the other capsules, making sure that everything is functioning normally and he does this with a kind of methodical nature. He pauses at each capsule, first at Dodge where he shows professional curiosity for the man within then at Landon’s where there is veiled animosity in the way that he flips the diagnostic controls, almost as if he could turn off the power and support for the capsule itself. Nothing is said, but there is an underlying contempt that is conveyed from Taylor to Landon. Taylor crosses over to the other side of the ship and the last two remaining chambers. Taylor pauses at Stewart’s capsule, staring at her. She looks like Sleeping Beauty in her glass coffin. The scene is very fairy tale-like. An eternity passes in a few seconds but no words are said. He touches the glass, it must be cold because his hand leaves a ghost like outline. He withdraws his hand, staring at the condensation outline as it slowly wisps away. We feel, from his expression, that part of his life is also wisping away. Taylor shows no overt emotion but turns away once the diagnostics are complete. As soon as Taylor is out of the camera view. One of the green lights on Stewart’s diagnostic readout flashes yellow then turns red. It begins to blink red slowly, silently.
11 ANOTHER ANGLE - FAVORING TAYLOR
He grasps the handle of his own casket and slowly pulls himself into it. Continuing SILENCE.
CAMERA MOVES IN as Taylor pulls the glass lid shut and secures it. He adjusts two dials inside the capsule and lies back, buckling his safety belt.
CAMERA MOVES INTO A CLOSEUP of Taylor. His eyes are open. He seems serene, even enraptured. Behind him, the diagnostics complete and all lights flash green. He looks to another display, one that shows four rectangles, a master display of the whole crew area. All four are lit in pale green indicating perfect working order. The computers of the ship automatically detect that the final crew member is entering suspended animation and start to slowly dim the lights of the whole ship. The capsules are illuminated from within by pale blue lighting. The area of the command module with the four suspended animation chambers grows very dim, illuminated only by starlight entering the front view ports. All that is left is the pale blue illumination from the four capsules and even this is slowly cycled down into darkness. The sound of the ship is the only thing that can be heard, a dull humming and throbbing that permeates everything, like a mechanical heartbeat, the soul of the ship itself. Fade to black.
(NOTE: Credits will appear here over a series of
shots designed to convey a sense of loneliness,
of separation, and of the immense passage of time.)
12-16 A SERIES OF SHOTS - A RIM OF A BLUE GREEN PLANET (MINIATURE)
We see the bright rim of a blue green planet. Across this rim, a tiny white sliver appears, quickly becoming a burning comet which grows, and then becomes smaller as it enters the atmosphere and falls towards the surface of the planet. The camera rapidly falls in behind the comet and maintains a constant distance at the twelve o’clock high position, looking down on the top of the fiery object.
Rapidly fade from stars and darkness to stark gray to bright white clouds and blue sky. We continue to follow the comet through the upper atmosphere, riding high above in a five or six o’ clock camera position. Part of the comet falls away, continuing to burn, taking on its own trajectory, leaving a ghost white vapor contrail. The glow from the comet slowly turns from bright white to fiery cherry red, fading as the comet slows, its surface cooling in its passage through the upper atmosphere. Fade out to a blue sky with a contrail lancing through the upper edge, the tip of the contrail sparkles like sunlight is being reflected from something metallic. We hear a hypersonic boom, and the roar of something punching through the air at tremendous speeds. We zoom in and find that we are not following a comet, but rather a spaceship or command module on its last leg of a preprogrammed reentry. The arrow-head shaped command module is clearly evident now, its angular shape and sharp wing tips trailing thin wispish contrails as it serenely maneuvers nose first through the thickening atmosphere below it. The skin of the spacecraft is blackened where the air friction has caused super heating. There is the impression that even though the spacecraft has no visible engines that it is maneuvering on its own power, gliding on a cushion or a field effect.
In the FINAL SHOTS of this SEQUENCE we see increasing terrain features. Blue and green and tan blotches become bodies of water, coastlines, forests, and deserts. The spacecraft is plummeting from twenty thousand feet to one thousand feet in a very short time, gliding in. The ship barely manages to pull up over a large butte, glancing off the edge of the butte and ripping a gash in the lower part of the ship. Parts of equipment are seen falling from the sky, debris from the wound in the skin of the spacecraft. A trail of black smoke erupts from equipment damaged in the collision and begins to trace the spacecraft’s path on its way down. It appears that the ship will fall into a vast lake surrounded by soaring sandstone pinnacles. The water is blue-black, the pinnacles vermilion. (This is the Lake Powell location, at Lone Rock.)
17 INT. SPACESHIP - FULL SHOT - DAY
Four empty pilot seats are seen in foreground, the four glass hibernation chambers in background. We HEAR the RHYTHMIC BLEAT of a WARNING SIGNAL, a RUSH OF WIND as in a rapid descent, and the tell-tale signs of hardware irreparably failing. Then, a great CRASH as the craft hits water. The whole ship shudders on impact, the viewports are fully obscured. Loose equipment falls to the cabin floor and takes up new positions. CAMERA MOVES DOWN the cabin aisle as the ship begins to roll in the water and HOLDS on the four glass hibernation chambers. There are THREE LOUD METALLIC CLICKS as the glass domes of the hibernation chambers swing open automatically. There comes the sound of telemetry and other automated responses to the situation. The ship is preparing for its crew to awaken. Interior lights start to brighten, a few grow bright, fizzle and grow dim again. There comes the sound of a life support system and fresh air circulating can be heard, mostly coming from compressed, unseen tanks of breathing gas.
18 CLOSE ON TAYLOR-
He now has a full beard and his hair is below his shoulders in length, resulting in a very wild look. His eyes come open slowly, close for a few seconds, and then open again this time with a purpose. Instantly alert, he rises to a sitting position, finds that he is still suffering from some muscle atrophy as well as the residual effects of such a (unknown to him) long stay in suspended animation, and slowly collapses back into a more comfortable position resting within his suspended animation chamber. TAYLOR grunts and grips the edge of his berth, steadying himself. He breathes heavily and slowly turns his head until he is gazing sideways across at:
19 DODGE- AND LANDON- - FROM TAYLOR’S P.O.V.
They, too, awaken and sit up, starring at TAYLOR. They, too, are bearded and their hair has grown wildly, becoming very unkempt. LANDON seems to move with a purpose and jumps down from his hibernation chamber. Even though the ship is pointing at a 45 degree angle and wallowing in the water, the artificial gravity is still in effect to the point that LANDON falls flatly on both feet. Disorientation, the same as that suffered by TAYLOR, instantly affects LANDON who goes weak in the knees, and falls back heavily into DODGE’s open hibernation chamber, landing on DODGE’s legs. This causes some amount of discomfort to DODGE who, rising up to force LANDON off of his legs, soundlessly conveys such with his facial expression directed to LANDON. LANDON and DODGE share a mutual glance at each other, appraising the other’s appearance, mute understanding passing between them at what they see. The two turn almost simultaneously to TAYLOR. Their stares are full of incredulity.
TAYLOR’S VOICE (offscreen) “You all right?”
They nod almost in unison, unaware that the other is nodding agreement as well. LANDON understands slowly, looks over at DODGE and realizes that TAYLOR’s comment was meant for DODGE and DODGE alone. LANDON looks away from TAYLOR, staring at the interior of the ship, noticing the items that have come loose from their mounts. He appears to be confused and angry at the same time.
20 BACK TO TAYLOR- - CLOSE SHOT
TAYLOR notices for the first time LANDON and DODGE’s beards and hair. He reaches up, startled, and runs his hand through his own beard and hair in silent disbelief, musing on the situation as conveyed through his facial expression. Deciding to investigate the mystery at a later time, he realizes that there is still one member of the crew unaccounted for. He glances at the hibernation chamber above his own.
TAYLOR- “Stewart?” (noticeably struggling now to his feet)
TAYLOR- “Stewart!?” (said with far more purpose this time)
21 CLOSE-SHOT -THE FOURTH HIBERNATION CHAMBER
Its dome remains unopened but a large crack is evident spider-webbing along the surface of the dome in very fine lines. The readouts on the occupant are all silently flashing red and yellow. None of them are green. The young woman is a mummified corpse in a Churchill suit, her still golden hair, now much longer than in the original establishing shot, a stark contrast to her sunken orbs, her drawn in facial features and her leathery looking taut skin.
22 REACTION SHOT - THE THREE ASTRONAUTS
DODGE and LANDON have quickly joined TAYLOR and-stare at the grinning mummified facial features of their long dead comrade. While DODGE looks concerned, the two who are obviously the most concerned are TAYLOR and LANDON, but apparently their expressions convey that they are concerned for far different reasons. A low, descending HUM of equipment is heard. The lights flicker noticeably and the ship rocks somewhat, causing the astronauts to reach out to steady themselves. There is a loud explosion, muffled, somewhere under the floor of the capsule. Simultaneously the lights begin to FADE and the astronauts are thrown wildly about the interior as the artificial gravity fails. Each scrambles to secure themselves as the ship bobs back and forth. A moment later the lights brighten, but not as much as before.
DODGE- “We’ve lost our primary power!”
TAYLOR- “And the artificial gravity generator! We're on full auxiliary!”
LANDON stares at the two in an uncomprehending manner.
A slight CRACKING sound is heard. TAYLOR turns quickly away and offscreen:
23 REVERSE ANGLE - THE FORWARD CABIN
A trickle of water has begun to seep through a ruptured seam in the cabin. TAYLOR climbs to the forward viewport and peers cut.
24 LONG SHOT - WHAT TAYLOR- SEES:
Water. The viewport is no more than six inches above the line. In the distance we discern a shoreline of tan and yellow desert.
TAYLOR’S VOICE (offscreen) “The hull frame has stress fractured! We're in the drink and she’s sinking fast!”
25 INT. CABIN - FULL SHOT
The leak in the seam becomes a growing spray of water. TAYLOR turns away from the porthole, calling:
TAYLOR- “We’ve got to abandon ship before she fills up! DODGE! Prep the escape hatch!”
DODGE thinks about the command for a few seconds as if unsure of his skills or capabilities, nods silently, and then with a sense of purpose, he moves instantly to the escape hatch, unlocks it, and begins to shimmy up a ladder inside a long narrow tunnel beyond, ascending towards the nose of the spacecraft. TAYLOR stumbles down the aisle of the rolling ship toward the main command console and addresses LANDON, who is still staring at Stewart's corpse.
TAYLOR- “LANDON! Send out a distress signal.”
LANDON-(dazed)- “Distress signal?”
TAYLOR- “You heard me! Send a distress signal to Mission Control! Explain that we've made an unprogrammed reentry and have splashed down! Tell them that we’re abandoning ship and will move to a recovery zone for later pick up.”
TAYLOR’S command sinks in slowly to LANDON who nods and begins to move toward the communications panel using several foot and hand holds. He moves with a lethargy that is unnatural to watch.
LANDON- (obviously confused)- “Splashed down… but we’re not supposed to … reentry? Where are …?”
TAYLOR- (barking) “Just do it, LANDON! Do it now!”
As LANDON lurches toward the communications equipment in foreground
26 EXT. STRANGE PLANET - LONG PANORAMIC SHOT - LATE AFTERNOON (LONE
ROCK, LAKE POWELL)
We are looking at a lifeless desert of sandstone buttes and pinnacles. There is no sign of vegetation anywhere. CAMERA PANS DOWN to a body of water that could be the bay of an inland sea. The deep blue of the sea contrasts sharply to the red sands of the shoreline. CAMERA HOLDS on the stricken spaceship, wallowing in its death throes a hundred yards offshore. The main viewports of the craft are high above the water, and only its roof and nose cone assembly are visible. The still hot skin of the ship is boiling the water around it.
[Note- I have removed the part of the script / story dealing with the atmosphere probe as it made little sense to me. The ship is filling up with water rapidly so the astronauts have two choices; blow the hatch or drown. It really doesn’t matter if the air is breathable on the other side or not, unless of course they are going to make a choice between asphyxiating in an alien atmosphere or drowning in an alien lake, which isn’t much of a choice. I thought more action could be emphasized with this part removed from the script. –Shields]
27INT. CABIN - CLOSE ON CLOSED ESCAPE HATCH
DODGE, wedged at an awkward position halfway up the ladder, begins to pull emergency tabs on several panels along the tunnel. These panels fall away, clattering noisily back down the tunnel. Inside the panels we see are storage areas for emergency survival gear. Down the end of the tunnel, an astronaut, we assume to be Taylor, is grabbing the panels and throwing them recklessly to the back of the spacecraft, out of the immediate way of the busy astronauts. Dodge quickly reads the instructions on the emergency escape hatch, removes another smaller panel and discards it as well then announces:
DODGE-: “Ready, skipper!”
TAYLOR’S VOICE (offscreen) “Okay! Blow the hatch before we lose auxiliary power.”
DODGE reaches for a control mechanism near the escape hatch, flips an obvious safety cover panel exposing a large yellow and black button. He presses the button and a warning klaxon blares twice, echoing down the long escape tunnel. The klaxon is recognizable as the kind of warning one would hear at a rock quarry where explosives are regularly set off. DODGE puts his hands over his ears, letting go of his position quickly, falling down the escape tunnel back to where TAYLOR- and LANDON- are. The klaxon sounds again.
DODGE- “Fire in the hole!”
The three astronauts raise their hands to their ears and hold their mouths open to reduce the effect of concussion blast in a confined interior. DODGE- turns away from the tunnel, hunches over and tenses up. LANDON- merely stares back at STEWART’S remains, standing there like a tall reed in the wind. TAYLOR- stares at the opening of the escape tunnel, then out the forward viewport as he struggles to stay standing amid the tossing of the ship.
Fade to exterior shot. There is a hollow thud and a smoking three foot thick plug ejects from the front top nose of the stricken spacecraft, cartwheeling and trailing smoke through the air to splash down twenty or more feet from the spacecraft. It immediately rights itself in the water as bright neon green colored dye starts to emit from the wallowing plug, a standard practice to make the crash site more visible from the air and for search units that might follow. Bright neon green ink murks up the water rapidly as we hear a whirring noise and two long whip-like antennas rise from the plug. A red light starts blinking on the side of the plug, next to a decal showing some kind of information or emergency procedure, this is a transmitter sending out the location of the downed spacecraft to make it easier to find and its apparently all part of an automated process that was begun when the emergency hatch was activated. Where the plug used to be is now exposed a dark escape hole in the very frame of the spacecraft. As the smoke from the explosive charges clears, we see some furtive movement inside the dark hatch.
28 CLOSE ON TAYLOR- AND LANDON-
The spray of water coming through the ruptured seam is increasing. The LIGHTS DIM again and the SOUND of the warning signal FADES. While LANDON goes back to fiddling with the radio controls, apparently to no avail, TAYLOR looks at LANDON disgustedly, knowing that the man is failing in even a simple task presented to him, and tries to get the flight recorder rolling, but all we hear are scrambled and unintelligible noises.
LANDON- (whining, frustrated) “It's no use ... there’s not enough power left to get a beam out. Nothing is working!”
TAYLOR- (disgusted both at Landon and his own attempt to use their failing equipment)- “Forget it! Abandon ship!”
Landon looks up from his console to stare aft again at Stewart’s corpse. He wipes his face and we don’t know if it is tears or water from the spray that he is wiping away. Taylor notices, pauses disgustedly, starts to say something then shrugs and starts his own procedures, abandoning Landon to his own devices and his own fate.
29 WIDER ANGLE - THE CABIN
The escape hatch is now open. TAYLOR darts over to the ladder, reaches to a panel inside the escape hatch, twists two almost concealed latches, one at top right, the other at bottom left. There is a click and he hurriedly pops the panel off. Disgusted at his situation, he throws the panel back past him, back into the rapidly filling interior of the ship where the panel splashes and sinks. Inside the access panel is an emergency life raft, neatly secured with warning labels and safety tape. Taylor breaks the seals and quickly passes the folded life raft up to DODGE. TAYLOR then reaches up inside the tunnel, quickly removes two fasteners on another panel showing EMERGENCY RESCUE decals, pulls the panel cover off, and nonchalantly throws the panel cover behind him again. The panel cover clangs against the rear bulkhead and also splashes in the water that is already filling the aft portion of the cabin. Inside the exposed niche in the tunnel is a silver survival hard pack. Taylor looks back into the interior of the spacecraft. Landon is holding onto one of the seats, staring at the rising water, and at Stewart’s failed hibernation chamber.
TAYLOR—(disgusted): “Landon! Damn you! Come on, man!”
LANDON looks up from his somber contemplation, stares around him at the water splashing down on him from ruptured seals, and seems to gain some sense of sanity back about him. A look of concern crosses his face as he turns and rapidly sloshes through the water, working hard to climb up past the control sections and head for the escape hatch. Taylor nods more to himself than to LANDON, but at least he recognizes that LANDON is once again aware of their dire situation.
When LANDON reaches the ladder, TAYLOR points to the unopened panels which hold the rest of the survival supplies.
TAYLOR- “Start passing the gear up. We don’t have long!”
LANDON climbs through the escape hatch. TAYLOR is about to follow but a look of concern crosses his face, like he suddenly realizes something that he hasoverlooked, something critical but obvious. He slowly turns and crosses the cabin, sloshing through the almost waist deep water for a last look at:
30 THE TWO CLOCKS - FROM TAYLOR’S P.O.V.
Both clocks have stopped: SHIP TIME is showing December 13, 1974; pan down to EARTH TIME which shows November 25, 3978. TAYLOR stares in obvious disbelief, uses his whole hand to wipe the water from his hair, beard, and face, and then throws his hand across the water pooling on the clocks in order to sweep away any chance that the readout is an illusion. It is not, the readings on the clocks are very clear. Taylor stares incredulously at the readouts.
TAYLOR- (softly to himself) “3978 A.D.? Oh my God! That … that can’t be right…”
Moving quickly, he pushes a set of three switches in the overhead console rack. The clocks pass their diagnostic test confirming their readings. Taylor suddenly comes to a realization, pounds his fists against an access panel and is rewarded with it opening to reveal a tiny magnetic disk. A green light turns to red as he slips the flight recorder into a pocket on his flightsuit. He thinks about closing the cover back, raises his hand, then drops it. What possible use could there be in the current set of circumstances?
He stares at the clocks again yet the dates are the same as before. TAYLOR blinks away the spray of water that is hitting him, looks back once at the abandoned suspended animation chambers and the rapidly rising water, then quickly pushes his self off from the console and heads for the escape hatch. He is just one move ahead of the approaching water in the cabin which threatens to suck him back into the interior of the ship and drown him.
As TAYLOR is scrambling up the tunnel, we pan back to Stewart’s suspended animation chamber, POV is now looking through the glass dome towards Taylor as he escapes up the tunnel. The glass finally shatters under the pressure and weight of the water and her hibernation chamber rapidly fills, her hair gently floats in the water as her body moves in the currents against the straps which still hold her remains in place. The ship lurches again, and the camera moves forward, past the water as it floods over Stewart’s final resting place, and we zoom in on the clocks in the forward console. Water starts to lap up over the readouts. The clocks flicker, short once, run random numbers and then go completely dark. The water covers them completely, and still it continues to rise. A piece of loose equipment floats through the currents in the ship, bangs against one of the panels with a hollow thud, and carries on its way underwater. We pan around to the entrance to the escape tunnel. There is obvious movement within the tunnel as TAYLOR scrambles up it with the last of the survival packs. We see that the name on the pack reads “STEWART.” We get the sense that perhaps this was the pack that Stewart would have carried out of the ship, if she had survived and that Taylor is taking her share of the supplies with the others since she will no longer need them. Pan past the open access panels, the missing rescue equipment, and finally up the long tunnel at Taylor’s wet, scrambling form. The sides of the tunnel have been gutted of all usable equipment, only dark empty niches now show where once important items were stored, with instruction and emergency warnings staring back from the back walls of the empty slots and spaces.
Water drips from Taylor’s soaked flight suit back down past the camera. Taylor pauses, starts to look back but stops himself and continues scrambling up the ladder. Water rises past the camera, and for a few seconds, we are at the POV of the last thing a drowning man might see if he were trapped within the spacecraft, staring up the tunnel. Taylor’s movements at the top of the tunnel are exaggerated, lost in the distortion as the water fills past the camera and up the escape tunnel. We see him leave the tunnel just as the water flows over the camera. Sounds of the spacecraft settling, its frame groaning, and other unidentified ambient sounds of being underwater.
31 EXT. TOP OF SPACECRAFT - MED. SHOT
DODGE inflates the raft with a cartridge of compressed air and tosses it into the water. He and LANDON jump into the water and climb onto the raft as TAYLOR emerges from the blackened, smoking hatch, TAYLOR slips into the water and climbs onto the raft.
Dodge turns and lies on his back in the raft, catching his breath and staring upwards. His expression goes from stoic to bewilderment as he points skyward with a single commanding finger.
DODGE- “Look! Up there!”
Taylor and Landon follow the direction of his command and stare up towards the sky. We pan out from the raft until we can see the entire panorama beyond. The sky high above is full of smoke and debris raining down. Some are bright comets, others are large smoldering pieces of debris that cartwheel through the sky. The effect is very much like a meteor shower during the day. Some of the debris reaches the lake far away in the distance and splashes down with a mighty effect however most of the debris is falling way behind the lake, not having the velocity to reach the lake and smashing into the land beyond. We get the impression that the command module made it the furthest, and what is left of the rest of the ship is making reentry now in a narrow debris corridor behind the splash down point. A few lighter pieces are arcing by overhead, leaving bright trails and contrails, burning up at the end of their trajectory. Beyond the lake and to their rear are several columns of black smoke, the impact craters of larger pieces of the ship as it broke up.
Taylor and Landon are silent as they watch the aerial display. We hear muted thunder but it is artificial, the result of the debris. TAYLOR looks at the aerial display for a few more seconds, with the implied sense that he is stunned by what he sees. After a few more seconds, the sky is clear save for the slowly dissipating contrails and the smoke paths.
They are all startled out of their fascination by a deep groan from the command module and an increase in the turbulence in the water around the ship. We get the impression that events are rapidly changing for the worse and that the astronauts realize this. Taylor grabs his paddle and shoves it into the water violently, rowing for all he is worth. Landon is only a second or so behind but he follows Taylor’s lead soundlessly.
TAYLOR- “Paddle hard! She may try to take us down with her if we don’t put some distance between us!
DODGE immediately opens another kit and takes a sample of the water.
Taylor and Landon each begin to paddle like possessed men. Dodge is busy steadying himself with taking a sample of the water around them. He has to work hard to overcome the disturbances that the two astronauts behind him are creating with their mad rowing.
32 CLOSE ON THE MEN IN THE RAFT
DODGE-(half to himself)- “Briny...twenty-five percent salinity. Near the saturation point. Like the Dead Sea.”
Taylor and Landon stop rowing, breathing hard. Taylor looks at the distance between the raft and the spacecraft, judges it to be safe and puts his paddle away. Taylor looks on as Dodge is lost in his experiment, Landon starts to look back towards the stricken spacecraft.
LANDON-(looking back behind them)- “She's sinking...”
This reference is not only to the ship, but we also feel it is intended to convey that Stewart and the ship are vanishing forever.
33 THE SPACESHIP - FROM THEIR P.O.V.
Only the nose cone and front viewports remain visible above the churning water.
LANDON’S VOICE (emotional, offscreen)- “She’s going ... going...”
The sleek yet battered craft majestically slips beneath the waves, causing
a great amount of turbulence in its passing.
34 CLOSE ON THE MEN IN THE RAFT
DODGE is still busy with his kit. LANDON is still looking back, but TAYLOR doesn't bother to turn his head. The area of the lake where the spacecraft splashed down is once more calm. The spacecraft has finally vanished from sight, leaving no trace on the surface. LANDON looks on for a few seconds more, longing deep inside in a way that is easily conveyed through his demeanor and facial expression.
LANDON- (almost sorrowfully) “She’s gone.”
TAYLOR- (flatly, not even bothering to turn and look behind)- “Well, that pretty much settles it, then. We're here to stay for a while.”
Show raft and astronauts fading into the distance, pan in on close-up shot of the escape hatch plug, still bobbing in a sea of bright neon green marking dye, the red light on the side of the plug is flashing and we hear the sound of an automated signal being sent out into infinity. The water laps loudly at the sides of the plug. We see past the plug but the astronauts have faded into the distance, out of sight. We get the feeling that the plug and emergency transmitter will continue its duty for a long time to come but that there is no one who will answer the call.
35 ANOTHER ANGLE - MOVING WITH THE RAFT
Pan away to show the astronauts in their raft floating away. Fade into a different time of day, the light is dimmer and we get the feeling that it is afternoon. They gaze at the forbidding sandstone battlements as they near the shore.
LANDON- “Well? Where are we? Have any notion, skipper?”
We are left with no doubt that the term ‘skipper’ is being used sarcastically by LANDON.
TAYLOR- (confidently but sarcastically, not even bothering to look at LANDON, but smiling nonetheless) “We're some three hundred and twenty light years from Earth. On an unnamed planet in orbit around a star in the constellation of Orion. Is that close enough for you, Tiger?”
LANDON- (picking up on the obvious sarcasm) “Orion? (forced laughter) Orion wasn’t in our flight plan! It’s not even in our flight vector or fuel range!”
.TAYLOR ignores him.
LANDON- (softly, almost to himself) – “You didn't have time to check the tapes, so you don't really know, do you? You don’t know what went wrong?” (sardonically)
TAYLOR continues to ignore him, lost in his own thoughts. Dodge seems to be lost in pensive thought as well.
LANDON- (softly, almost to himself) – “We weren't programmed to make reentry at Alpha Centauri... A flyby, map the area, and then a long nap home… Ten months there, four months looking around, ten months back. Four months subjective time. A decade of objective time, most of that in hibernation. We weren’t supposed to land at Alpha Centauri …”
TAYLOR finally has enough of Landon’s mumbling, sighs and turns to face him.
TAYLOR- LANDON, “We didn’t land, we crashed! We were programmed to land in the Pacific Ocean upon return, splashdown off the coast of California. Naval spacecraft recovery teams would then retrieve us. You do remember the flight plan, don’t you Landon? This doesn’t look like the Pacific Ocean, now does it? The Pacific Ocean … hell, California is a couple of hundred light years away from here.”
LANDON shakes his head and looks around slowly, we pan across shorelines in the distance and desolation seen from his point of view. In his POV, we also see DODGE and TAYLOR continuing with their assigned tasks.
LANDON- (softly mumbling) “Maybe over the horizon…”
LANDON stops rowing, TAYLOR does the same. The tension is high between these two astronauts. Taylor seems to have a firm grasp on their situation while Landon does not, cannot accept what is happening to them. LANDON looks around again, maybe almost expectantly that he will see what he did not see a second before. LANDON reaches forward to an automated transponder attached in the material of the raft itself. An indicator light shows that the transponder is working, sending out some type of information. LANDON touches the small whip-like antenna and straightens it, holds it toward the horizon, then shifts it in a new direction as if he can will the unit to talk to the rescue teams he envisions.
LANDON- (more sure of his thinking now) “They’ll pick up the transponder signal. They’ll find us. This is getting out, loud and clear.”
TAYLOR- (nodding) “Did you get the recovery signal out?”
LANDON lets go of the transponder antenna and looks at TAYLOR
LANDON- “No. No… There wasn’t enough power… Not in the auxiliary system. The communications system was already down and didn’t respond. I couldn’t bring it back online before the backup battery power failed as well. The water … shorted…. “
Landon lapses into an uncomfortable silence that shrouds the three astronauts.
LANDON- “Still, they would have tracked us on reentry! Mission Control knows we made reentry and splashed down! I’m sure they’re on their way right now…”
TAYLOR- (smiling and starting to paddle again) “Keep thinking those happy thoughts, LANDON. You’ll survive this little adventure yet…”
Dodge looks up at Taylor, silent questions not being asked. Disgusted, LANDON stops searching the horizon and goes back to rowing. After a few strokes, he continues to row, but starts to look around again, searching the horizon, and the sky for any sign of recovery.
DODGE- (grinning, musing, and reaching up to touch his own full beard) “The question, LANDON, is not so much where we are as when we are.”
TAYLOR- (smiling at DODGE and nodding to LANDON)- “Ah! Very astute! DODGE is beginning to understand. Why can’t you, Landon?”
LANDON- “Understand what… Understand this?!” (LANDON touches his beard and long unkempt hair).
TAYLOR- (nodding) We've had a nice snooze. A real Rip Van Winkle doozy. Let's start earning all our back pay.
LANDON- (looks off at the "sun") “If we’re in Orion, they can’t recover us… If we’re in Orion, then that should be … uh, Bellatrix.
TAYLOR rolls his eyes, shaking his head in stark disbelief as LANDON nods to himself, and mouths the word “Orion” again silently, and stares at the water lapping at the sides of the raft. TAYLOR continues to row.
36 THE SUN - FROM THEIR P.O.V.
Low on the horizon, seen through a dense envelope of dust particles.
DODGE’S VOICE (offscreen) “Too red for Bellatrix.”
37 BACK TO ASTRONAUTS IN RAFT
LANDON glances skeptically at TAYLOR.
38 WIDER ANGLE - THE BEACH
As the three astronauts step out into shallow water and pull the raft ashore.
TAYLOR- Take your soil test, DODGE. I'll check Stewart’s equipment.
DODGE moves inland about ten yards, removes a small hand drill from his belt, extends the rod of the drill three feet and begins to take some subsoil samplings. TAYLOR begins to examine the contents of the three rucksacks. LANDON sits down on the beach., hands around his knees, gazing moodily at the sunken spaceship. During this and succeeding scenes we sense that DODGE's obsession with scientific inquiry leaves him immune to fear: LANDON is possibly more courageous and certainly more "human," for he has many fears to control: while TAYLOR - detached, cool and misanthropic - is something of an enigma.
TAYLOR- (calls DODGE) Got your sensors set up?
TAYLOR- Geiger counter online?
DODGE- Yes! We’re okay. The needle’s well within the green.
TAYLOR- (nodding casually at Dodge’s comment before taking inventory) “We’ve each got a pistol ... three magazines with fifteen rounds of ammo in each one, two medical kits… one still picture camera... four rolls of film. One movie camera, two spools for it. (loudly to the others) We've enough food and water for ten days.
DODGE- But how long is a day?
TAYLOR- Good question. (turning) LANDON - check the communications kit.
39 ANOTHER ANGLE - FAVORING LANDON-
He seems not to have heard.
TAYLOR- (sharply and sarcastically) LANDON!
Landon looks up, startled out of his own deep thoughts.
TAYLOR- (waiving his hand in mock invitation)- Join the expedition.
LANDON- (rising) Sorry... (crossing to his kit) I was thinking of Stewart. What d'you suppose happened?
TAYLOR- (flatly) Faulty breathing and preserving mixture. Her chamber malfunctioned. She died in her sleep having cold, sweet dreams.
LANDON- You don't seem very cut up about it.
TAYLOR- It's a little late for a wake, now isn’t it, Tiger? Stewart’s been dead nearly a year. Our time that is.
LANDON- (accusing and angry) You were supposed to check the chambers before you turned in… run the diagnostics!
TAYLOR- I did. All the diagnostics were green, every single one. I ran the test three times before I climbed in for my nap.
LANDON- Then what happened? Why did her chamber … fail?
TAYLOR- Faulty mixture switch. Short circuit in the control wiring. The hand of God. Who knows?
DODGE- (staring off in the direction of the sunken spacecraft) Another mystery she took to the bottom with her.
LANDON- Then we've been away from Earth for twelve months.
TAYLOR- Longer. More like eighteen months. Eighteen months subjective time (smiling at LANDON) Our time. You've turned gray.
LANDON involuntarily touches the gray hair of his temple, realization evident on his face at this forgotten aspect of his new situation as TAYLOR adds lightly:
TAYLOR- Apart from that, you look pretty chipper for a man who's two thousand and thirty one years old.
DODGE stops his experiment, what he is doing and looks at TAYLOR at that statement. LANDON just stares at TAYLOR as if the sudden truth was hitting him for the first time. The astonishment is real and naked, but Dodge keeps his coolly professional while Landon wrestles again mightily with his mental frame of references to come to grip with this realization.
TAYLOR- (casually) I read the clocks before we abandoned ship. They bear out Hasslein's hypothesis. We've been away from Earth for over two thousand years, give or take a decade. All objective time. Subjectively, we left the Cape eighteen months ago. (pause) Something happened to us on our way to Alpha Centauri. What it was, I don’t know but I’m sure it’s on the flight recorder. We’ve become lost in space and time. We know when we are, we just don’t know where we are.
Landon mulls over what Taylor has said, trying to come to grips with it and failing.
TAYLOR- Still can't accept it, huh?
LANDON- (long pause) We were supposed to be back in eighteen months… Eighteen months our time!
TAYLOR- Eighteen months OUR time, LANDON. 18 months subjective time, ten years objective Earth time. Gone a decade… a short trip, they said.
TAYLOR (pans his hands out at the world in general, being melodramatic)- Look at the glorious heroes now. God bless America.
LANDON and DODGE stare at TAYLOR, unsure of their own feelings, and coming to grips with the situation in their own way.
LANDON- There isn’t going to be any recovery, is there?
TAYLOR- Like I said, they stopped looking for us a long, long time ago.
LANDON- (accusing)- If you knew … If you knew all of this then why did you order me to send the recovery signal?!
TAYLOR- (flatly) I didn’t know. The tapes were offline, so was the flight recorder. I pulled the flight recorder before she went down. Maybe we can find a way to read the data on the flight recorder. If we can, then we might be able to get some real answers… maybe.
LANDON- But you ordered me to send a distress signal! What good could that have possibly done in our situation?
TAYLOR- I told you to send the distress signal because at the time I thought we had crashed at Alpha Centauri, Landon! I didn’t think to read the clocks until right before we abandoned ship. It was a whim, a hunch, I went back into the ship to check the clocks. What I saw … what I saw on the clocks changed everything.
All three astronauts mull this last bit over. Taylor leans forward for emphasis and chooses his words carefully.
TAYLOR- I know what I saw…
LANDON- You didn’t know… You still don’t know… You don’t even know that this is Orion!
TAYLOR (turning to face LANDON and getting very serious)- You’re right, Landon. I don’t know where we are.
LANDON leans forward, eager at what he perceives to be a victory for him but Taylor quickly crushes that idea with his next statement.
TAYLOR- Where we are is not important. When we are is what matters and I do know when we are. I read the clocks before we abandoned ship. Subjective ship time indicated December 13, 1974 which is several months over what it should have read for our wake up date. The objective earth clock should have read June 13, 1977 … but it didn’t…
DODGE looks up at that last statement.
DODGE- What did the clock read, skipper?
LANDON looks on too, expecting an answer he knows he won’t get, preparing himself for the answer he knows is coming. TAYLOR reaches down and with a finger, draws out the numbers “11,” a dash, “25,” another dash, and “3978.” He underlines it in the sand and leans back as the others stare at his notation.
TAYLOR- November 25, 3978. A.D. (he says, putting particular emphasis on the last two letters).
DODGE whistles softly, more a sigh than a whistle, sits down on his knees, folds his arms akimbo, and stares at the instruments before him, then turns and stares at the horizon and the sky, almost willing himself back up to the stars and back where they have come from. He then goes back to his tests that he is conducting, losing himself in his endeavors.
LANDON (stares at TAYLOR unbelievingly)- That can’t be… Two thousand and six years in eighteen months… The c-minus velocity doesn’t reconcile. The clocks don’t match up and they have to! Hasslein’s work is sound from that point of view, the experiments have proven it! The clocks are wrong! They have to be… They must have been damaged before you looked at them, damaged in the crash…
TAYLOR- Face it, Landon. We’re lost in space and we’re lost in time. We’re at the far end of one of Hasslein’s majestic curves and only God knows where.
DODGE- But we do know when we are!
TAYLOR- Yes. We do know when we are.
LANDON- A Hasslein Curve? You mean we came through some sort of bend in time?! A defect in space created by the intense gravitational fluxes of multiple stars acting on one small area? I don’t believe it. That was just a theory of Hasslein’s … he never proved it.
TAYLOR- More than a theory, Landon. It’s now a proven a fact, proven by you, me, and Dodge over there and our lovely lieutenant Stewart laying out there on the bottom of that lake . We’ve all just made history. Too bad no one is still around to congratulate us. I’m sure that they quit looking for us a long, long time ago…. We were the great failure and we slept right through it.
LANDON is about to say something, probably something harsh, but thinks to himself, and pauses longer than is comfortable. When it appears that he is fumbling mentally to grasp concepts and put them together.
LANDON- Two thousand and six years… There has to be a way back…
TAYLOR- A way back to what, LANDON? Home? It doesn’t exist! The United States? It’s a paragraph in a history book, if they still have books. The simple march of time has wiped out everyone and everything you cared for – it’s all dust.
LANDON- Prove it. If we can't get back, it's still just a theory of yours.
TAYLOR- Get back in what? The only ship we brought with us is history! It’s resting on the bottom of a lake back there. I’m just an astronaut and an explorer, Landon, not an engineer. I can build you a raft but don’t ask me to build you a starship.
Landon mumbles something to himself.
TAYLOR- It's a fact, LANDON. Buy it. You'll sleep better.
TAYLOR opens up one of the medical kits, removes a field dressing and starts to tear it into strips. Landon looks on curiously. TAYLOR fashions a crude bandanna to keep his hair out of his face, tying it around his head. He tosses the scraps to LANDON who nods and quickly begins to construct a bandanna of his own.
DODGE enters scene. A handful of reddish sand dribbles through his fingers.
DODGE- Nothing will grow here .... there's just a trace of hydrocarbons, and most of the nitrogen is locked into nitrates.
TAYLOR- Any sign of dangerous ionization?
TAYLOR- (rising) Okay. If there's no life here, we've got just fourteen days to find it. That's when the groceries run out.
He picks up one of the rucksacks and puts it on. He pauses. The rucksack marked STEWART lays uncomfortably unclaimed in the pile of the remaining three rucksacks. The three astronauts stare at the pack for a time. Taylor breaks the somber mood by taking charge, grabbing up STEWART’s pack and shouldering it before heading off in a direction with a firm march to his step. The others follow suit.
DODGE- (shouldering his own rucksack and catching up) Which direction, Skipper?
TAYLOR- (decisively, pointing west without breaking stride) That way.
DODGE- (finally adjusting his own rucksack to fit) Any particular reason?
TAYLOR- None at all.
He moves out. DODGE follows. CAMERA PANS with them. They have gone several paces when TAYLOR looks back over his shoulder and halts. DODGE halts as well, turning to see what TAYLOR sees.
40 REVERSE ANGLE - FEATURING LANDON-
LANDON is squatting in the sand, sticking something into the soil. It is a small American flag, the size of a handkerchief. He is very dedicated in his duty.
41REVERSE ANGLE - FEATURING TAYLOR- AND DODGE-
Mirth bubbles up uncontrollably in TAYLOR's throat. He explodes with wild laughter. He is still laughing as they move out.
41-A DUSK SHOT (GUNSIGHTLOC #43)
42 THE ASTRONAUTS' TREK
They descend from the plateau (Ochre Dunes)
43 ASTRONAUTS CONTINUE MARCH,
Across the top of the hills a pale green moon rises. (Black Dunes).
44 THEY MOVE ACROSS THE TERRAIN
Jagged bolts of lightning flash across the sky, but bring no rain, and thunder claps sound like heavy artillery. (Gray Area)
58 QUICK DISSOLVE TO:
59 ANOTHER PART OF THE CANYON (OCHRE DUNES AREA) - GROUP
SHOT - NIGHT
Several huge boulders are dislodged, and the three astronauts run wildly to escape the falling rocks. When the avalanche ends, they sprawl on the lifeless sands, breathing heavily and drenched with sweat, surrounded by enormous boulders. TAYLOR looks about him.
TAYLOR- Everybody all right?
Murmurs of assent from DODGE and LANDON. TAYLOR rummages through a rucksack, comes up with some food cartons, rummages again. He remembers something, reaches up to his suit pocket, unzips it and comes up with a cigar butt. He checks his digital chronometer.
TAYLOR- We’ve got another four hours of night by our last check. We need to find a place to make camp. It gets hot on this planet real quick.
DODGE takes a plastic canteen from another rucksack and inspects it.
DODGE- Six days water left. Same for our food.
DODGE lies back and looks up at the sky.
DODGE- It doesn't add up. There's a mantle of dust around this planet and yet it's as humid as a jungle. Thunder and lightning and yet no rain. Cloud cover every night and that strange luminosity.
LANDON also looks up at the sky.
LANDON- Some kind of radiation in the upper atmosphere. If we passed through that, it would have played hell with our navionics.
TAYLOR- I was thinking the same thing. It looks like the aurora borealis, only it’s everywhere you look up there. What’s your take on it, Dodge? Is it dangerous?
DODGE (shaking his head)- No. I’ve checked the instruments and we’re not in any danger. What particles are falling on us are nothing more than the background radiation we were used to back home. Up there may be a different story though…
Dodge stares up at the fluctuating night sky.
LANDON- If only we could get a fix, if only we could see some stars or constellations. Then we could be sure.
TAYLOR- (needling him) What would you learn? I've told you when you are.
DODGE- (gently) TAYLOR - quit riding him, skipper. He’s got his load to bear.
TAYLOR- (ignoring Dodge, harshly, to LANDON) If we sailed past Centauri and kept going, then we're still a long way from home. Even if you were just next door, your loved ones have been dead and forgotten for twenty centuries. Even if you could get back, they'd think you were something that fell out of a tree. It is not important where we are, LANDON, so much as it is important when we are. Can you understand that? Everything we left behind is gone. Everyone is gone. No one is coming to look for us. They quit looking a long, long time ago.
LANDON- (wearily) All right -
TAYLOR- There's only one reality left. We're here and here is now. You get a hold of that and hang on tight, Tiger, or you might as well be dead.
LANDON- (quietly) I'm prepared to die.
TAYLOR turns to DODGE, throws up his hands. Dodge shakes his head, not understanding Landon either.
TAYLOR- He's prepared to die! Doesn't that make you misty? Chalk up another victory for the human spirit!
DODGE rises and moves off, offscreen, either embarrassed by this colloquy or unwilling to hear it again. TAYLOR, cigar clamped between his teeth, spins toward LANDON.
TAYLOR- Straighten me out on something. Why did you come along at all? You volunteered. Why? (a beat; no answer) I'll tell you. They nominated you for the Big One and you couldn't turn it down. Not without losing your All-American standing
LANDON- (hard) Climb off me, will you!
TAYLOR- And the glory, don't forget that. There's a life-sized bronze statue of you somewhere. It's probably turned green by now, and nobody can read the name plate. But never let it be said we forget our astronaut heroes.
LANDON- TAYLOR.I'm telling you -
TAYLOR- Oh, and one last item. Immortality. You wanted to go on forever. The papers, the history books. (pause) Well, you damn near made it. Except for DODGE and me, you've lived longer than anybody. And with Stewart dead, it looks like you're the last of the line. You got everything you wanted, kid. You got the girl, the mission, and the ship. How does it taste?
LANDON- bites his tongue but says nothing.
TAYLOR- Ah. Phyrus would be proud of you..
Silence.TAYLOR lies down, spent of his venom, pillowing his head on a rucksack.
LANDON- (softly) Okay. You read me well enough. Why can't I read you?
TAYLOR- Don't bother.
LANDON- (looking off) DODGE ... he's not like me at all. But he makes sense. He’d walk naked into a live volcano if he thought he could learn something no other man knew. I understand why he's here. But you...You're no seeker. You're negative.
TAYLOR- But I'm not prepared to die.
LANDON- (heatedly) I'd like to know why not. Two years ago, you thought life on Earth was meaningless. You despised people. So what did you do? You ran away. You didn’t take this mission to make the world a better place, you took this mission to escape the human race.
TAYLOR's eyes are closed. He is silent for a moment. When he speaks, his tone is soft, reflective.
TAYLOR- No, not quite, LANDON. I'm a bit of a seeker myself. But my dreams are a lot emptier than yours. (pause) I can't get rid of the idea that somewhere in the Universe there must be a creature superior to man.
(more to come)
Questions or comments? Email ANSANAUT