December 19, 1997
Two elderly people consult a map beside
a dark road. Behind them, in the distance, a colorful twisting pillar
of light appears. The pair agree that, "It's probably Wayland", their
A bus pulls to a stop in Waring, South
Dakota. Adam MacArthur gets out of a truck and approaches the bus.
He watches, expectantly, as each passenger gets out. "Excuse me.
There's no one else?", he asks a young, pregnant woman who is last to step
off the bus. "No", she replies.
Another old man, Wayland opens his barn
door, "two of the greatest minds on the planet, and you can't manage to
arrive on time", he greets them in his crotchety manner. Their attention
turns to a massive, lighted structure inside the barn. "Oh my, you
did it", the woman exclaims. Wayland replies that he is very close,
but has not yet finished his work. "That's why you're here",
The three friends admire the machinery.
Wayland comments that the world gave him lemons and he made cognac.
While they survey schematics of the power grid, Wayland's invention issues
a series of pops accompanied by sparks. "Houston, we have a problem",
quips Wayland's gentleman friend.
MacArthur approaches the pregnant woman,
Laura, as she attempts to retrieve her backpack by the bus. He shows
her a picture of a man he was supposed to meet, asking if she had seen
him on the bus. Laura answers "No". She winces, apparently
in pain, and MacArthur directs her to a near-by bench. He urges her
to remain calm. The streets are empty. MacArthur, clearly agitated,
runs to a phone booth to call 9ll, but finds the receiver has been disconnected.
Adam MacArthur waits at Mercy Presbyterian
Hospital, while his new friend receives medical attention. He telephones
someone to inquire about why his contact, Randall Craig, was not on the
bus. He leaves a message along with his name, saying that it is very
important. The call was being traced by the NSA. Col. Vise
learns that Adam MacArthur placed a call to Randall Craig's apartment in
Waring, SD, Vise's home town.
MacArthur's phone calls are interrupted
by a nurse who announces, "Your wife is fine, the baby is fine, but you're
not a father yet." Adam tries to explain that he is not her husband.
When the nurse assumes him still to be the father, he relents and accepts
responsibility for the pregnant woman.
"I kinda told them you were my husband",
Laura admitted, after they'd wheeled her out to him. She asks MacArthur
for a ride. "OK, I guess I can make a little detour", he replies.
Adam and Laura arrive at a her grandfather's
farmhouse. No one is inside. She notes that there is no Christmas
tree and wanders through the rooms straightening things as she speaks.
She guesses that her grandfather is out in the barn and has lost track
of the time. She invites Adam to stay with them, but he declines.
Finally, Laura requests that Adam go out to the barn and say hello to her
grandfather before he leaves.
Opening the barn doors, Adam finds Wayland
and his two friends working with the machinery, trying to put a sort of
canister in place. "That doesn't fit that way", Adam announces.
"Who are you?" asks Wayland. "What are
you doing here?"
Adam replies that he is a friend of Laura's.
Then he continues, "You need to turn it over. Well, it's obvious,
it's a high energy particle accelerator. That's the containment chamber,
and you're trying to create anti-matter." The three friends continue
to listen to MacArthur and suggest that he could be a spy. "I'm not a spy",
he laughs. Adam is finally permitted to take the canister.
While he works he explains that the anti-matter would make a cheap, non-polluting
energy source if the world were ready for it.
Laura enters the barn and greets her grandfather,
Wayland. He immediately reacts to her pregnancy and asks if MacArthur
is the father. Laura is taken aback and claims he is not. Without
waiting for further explanation, Wayland becomes angry and impatient with
the situation, saying "I'm too busy. Tell him to leave, now!" And
turns his back on them.
Winifred, the older woman scientist, comments,
"You really know how to ring in the season, don't you Wayland." Laura
leaves the barn in tears with MacArthur following her. MacArthur
finds her sitting in the truck. He apologizes for the difficult situation,
suggesting that it was his own presence that caused Wayland's anger.
Laura is not to be comforted. She
insists that they leave in the truck. Adam, appearing increasingly
frustrated, agrees to drive. He takes her to a near-by motel, where
he tries, unsuccessfully, to use the telephone in the room.
When MacArthur announces he'll have to
go try the phone in the motel office, Laura suggests that he leave her
altogether. She adds, "Go with my blessing." She begins a recital
of all the people in her life who have left her before. The discussion
turns to her grandfather whom she describes as "Dr. Wayland Scott, physicist,
engineer, eminent emotional black hole". She adds that "If a bomb
were to go off in that barn, the world would be a lot less smart", including
Wayland's two friends, Doctors Quick and Wilde, in her assessment.
Listening to Laura, Adam MacArthur appears
to reach a decision. He re-evaluates his priorities and releases
his frustration with all the obstacles to contacting Randall Craig.
Adam shares his insight, "did you ever get the feeling that a detour wasn't
really a detour, that life was taking you where you were supposed to be?
You can either fight it or tune in to the big picture, if you're lucky."
He tells Laura that he can help her grandfather.
Adam stands next to a lunch counter, trying
to reach Mr. Craig by public telephone. He looks up and recognizes
a man in the room. He calls out, "Randall?" The man runs out
the door, gets in his car and drives off, leaving MacArthur calling after
him in the parking lot. The commotion attracts the attention of a
police officer who then wants to question MacArthur.
The FBI agents, Wilcox, LaRue and Van Patten
react to the news that Adam MacArthur has been identified in Waring, South
Dakota. They seem less than pleased to leave on assignment at holiday
time. Col. Vise explains to a lieutenant under his command
that he has a soft spot for "this time of year." referring to Christmas.
He has arrived at Snelling Air Force Base on his way into Waring, after
MacArthur's phone call had been traced there, in Vise's home town.
In the morning, Adam meets Laura at her
motel room. She seems pleased to see him and suggests they get something
to eat. Adam explains that he wants to help Laura and her grandfather
get back together before he has to leave. Laura is skeptical,
but Adam says, "I've seen a few miracles in my time."
They sit down to eat and Doctors Quick
and Wilde happen to be seated next to them at the counter. They voice
their willingness to cooperate in approaching Wayland Scott. MacArthur
decides to help Wayland with the project in his barn, as well.
Col. Vise has arrived in town and gazes
at a manger scene on the street. He then gets into a vehicle and heads
for Mercy Presbyterian Hospital to follow up on the last lead on Adam MacArthur.
A nurse at the hospital recognizes the Colonel. She provides him
with Laura Scott's file.
Vise learns from his headquarters that
Laura's grandfather used to work for the Air Force at Mission Flats, associated
with Area 51. He becomes agitated, hypothesizing that the Silent
Runner has joined forces with Dr. Scott and Randall Craig. "Not in
my backyard", he mutters as he prepares to leave for Dr. Scott's last known
Adam, Laura and Winifred Wilde are arriving
at the barn. Winifred tells Adam how Wayland has spent 20 years of
his life on the project since leaving the Air Force "in a cloud".
"He thinks he's lost his good name. This is it. It's all he has to
show for his life", she adds. Adam insists that Wayland has something
They go to the barn, but Adam tells Laura
to remain outside. MacArthur begins to activate the machinery over
the objections of Doctors Quick and Wilde. "Do you believe in Miracles,
Wayland?" Adam asks him as he enters the barn. MacArthur touches
the canister and activates it. "You have no
idea what this is capable of, Wayland",
Holding Wayland's hand to the canister,
Adam shows him how it was used to power the spacecraft he used to reach
Earth. Then MacArthur tells Wayland that the project will fail, because
the canister is merely a "suitcase" that transports the anti-matter rather
than creating it.
"Who are you?" Wayland asks. Adam
replies that he is Wayland's "detour", the answer to his prayers.
MacArthur pours seed into a container and exposes them to the energy from
the "suitcase". Wayland is not impressed, wondering if
this is some kind of joke. "It's not a joke. You want a legacy,
Wayland? Feed the world. What better legacy could you leave
"Mr. MacArthur", Wayland answers bitterly,
"I don't believe in miracles. Not in world that takes away your children
and spends billions to build arms."
Adam realizes that he will have to demonstrate
what can be done with the seeds and steps outside to scatter them in the
snowy pasture. Then the sheriff arrives holding a rifle. He has a
warrant for Adam
MacArthur's arrest. He tells Wayland
that Adam is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI.
Adam is confined to a jail cell in town.
Meanwhile, the three FBI agents are arriving in Waring. Just in time,
Laura arrives at the cell with the keys. She releases MacArthur and
the two of them leave through a back door and drive off in her truck.
The sheriff and the FBI enter the jail by the front door and discover the
empty cell. Belatedly, the sheriff realizes that Laura has tricked
Laura drives Adam out of town, intent on
helping him escape and planning to return to Houston, herself. MacArthur
realizes, while talking with her, that with the FBI involved, the NSA and
Col. Vise will soon follow. He becomes concerned for Dr. Scott's
safety and decides to return to the farm.
Col. Vise is already on the scene, inspecting
the machinery in the barn and trying to gain more information about MacArthur
from Wayland Scott. Unsatisfied with Dr. Scott's answers, Vise gives the
order to clear the barn and destroys everything inside. The NSA people
depart in their vehicles.
Laura and Adam return in the truck to find
Wayland and his two friends standing outside. Wayland is grieving
the loss of his project and blames Laura for bringing MacArthur and the
trouble that came with him. "Maybe you have a miracle for this, too, huh?"
he asks Adam.
Adam replies that nothing in the work can
replace personal losses. Dr. Scott is devastated by the loss of a
project that took twenty years to accomplish. He walks away leaving
Laura who is once again on the verge of tears, empathizing for her grandfather's
Laura begins to pack for the trip back
to Houston. Adam enters her room and tries to convince her to stay.
He is interrupted by the acute onset of Laura's labor pains. Winifred
arrives at the door and warns MacArthur of "company". He observes
Wilcox, LaRue and Van Patten outside in the yard.
The FBI agents knock at the door.
After some moments of indecision, Wayland answers the door, while MacArthur,
Quick and Wilde assist with the birth. Wilcox begins questioning
Dr. Scott about Adam MacArthur. They all hear Laura's screams, upstairs,
and Dr. Scott explains that his granddaughter is about to have a child.
The FBI agents remain downstairs, with guns drawn.
Laura gives birth to a baby boy.
She loses consciousness shortly after the birth and requires Adam's intervention.
He is in the process of reviving her when the FBI agents enter the room
and witness his actions.
Exhausted after successfully restoring
Laura's breathing, Adam surrenders to the FBI agents. Dr. Scott,
pulling a rifle out of the closet, is suddenly prepared to defend Adam.
MacArthur dissuades him however, and asks that Wayland follow him outside
with the others. "This ain't no field trip", chides Agent LaRue,
as they leave.
In the snow covered pasture, they
see mature corn plants growing in the area where MacArthur had scattered
the treated seeds. As he is being led away, MacArthur tells
Wayland, "Your legacy is upstairs", referring to the baby.
While agents unlock their car, MacArthur
places his foot against the "canister" which is lying on the ground outside
the barn. It appears to activate, and a glow crawls up MacArthur's
leg, and engulfs him. MacArthur states, "there are no detours", and
disappears, leaving only the handcuffs behind.
Wayland Scott tells the astonished FBI
agents, "Miracles happen."
Col. Vise had been playing Santa Claus
for the children at the hospital. He is informed about MacArthur's whereabouts,
but his pursuit is delayed by a Christmas parade. Vise arrives at
the Scott farm still dressed in a Santa suit. He has missed Adam
Adam MacArthur is on the doorstep of Randall
Craig's house. Randall promises to tell MacArthur what he knows about
Jason, Adam's son. Randall apologizes for avoiding MacArthur and
invites him in to celebrate Christmas with his family.