October 10, 1997
Adam enters a dimly lit room, containing electronic equipment, a desk, and refrigerator.
He is looking for something. He wipes his sweaty brow. He finally
finds something of interest, sits down and fiddles with it.
Meanwhile, a Dr. Alex Burton, at NASA,
meets with a congressman, who tells him that he needs to understand Dr.
Burton's project, so he can endorse further funding. So, he takes
the congressman over, to listen to something. He tells him that he
is about to hear a message from space...
The message comes, and Adam hears it, too.
He falls to the ground, covering his ears, and writhes in pain. He
screams, along with the sounds he hears.
The congressman asks what the message means.
Dr. Burton admits that they aren't sure. But, he goes on to explain
that they could tell from the Doppler effect: the fact that the signal
has been coming more often all the time, and the pitch was increasing,
as well, that the source was coming nearer to Earth.
Dr. Burton further explains that the rocket
they will be launching the next day will enable them to hear the signal
more clearly, and hopefully figure it all out. Just then, Dr. Burton's
friend and college, Spencer comes in with a large wrapped gift. Dr.
Burton tells them that it's his son's birthday. "I won't be long",
he assures them. As he leaves, he asks Spencer what's in the box.
Spencer tells him it's a really nice telescope.
Adam recovers somewhat from mental stress caused by the incoming message.
He gets up and opens the fridge to cool himself off. On the fridge
door is a poster which reads, "This Independence Day: Earth Invades Mars!"
Then, Adam sees a newspaper clipping about Dr. Burton, and reads his name
out loud. Adam exits the building, and looks over, shading his eyes,
to see the rocket, preparing for launch.
There is a boisterous birthday party going
on at the Burton house, when the doorbell rings. Mrs. Burton answers
the door. She opens it to see Adam standing there. "You're
late", she tells him, as she ushers him in. Adam says he is looking
for Alex Burton, but Mrs. Burton, and their son, Steven, think that he
is the magician, hired for the party.
Adam decides to go along with it. Adam isn't feeling well, but he does
a card trick for the kids, by having Steven give each child a playing card.
He turns his back, and tells them to not let him see what it is.
He instructs them to concentrate on what their card is. Then he goes
around the table, holding each child's head, and telling him or her the
card they have!
Dr. Burton finally arrives at home, gift
in hand. He tells his wife that Spencer hired the magician.
She tells him to thank Spencer, since the magician saved the party.
Then Dr. Burton calls to his son, who runs up to him, excitedly.
Steven opens the gift, but his face falls. He says sadly, "thanks,
dad. It's just like the one you got me last year."
But then, Spencer bursts in in full clown
regalia, acting goofy. Steven looks up and smiles. Spencer
explains to Dr. Burton that he couldn't get a magician on such short notice.
Dr. Burton goes over to Adam and asks, "who hired you?"
Adam answers, "noone. I'm hear because of the sounds I hear in my
head." Adam doesn't look too good.
Dr. Burton leads him into his office, saying,
"step in here, I'll call you a doctor." Adam says, "No! Dr.
Burton, I know that that you're receiving signals from deep space, 'cause
I'm hearing them, too. Sounds. I can't decipher the message.
I need your help." Burton thinks it's a joke. But, then Adam
continues with, "I know you're lauching an atmospheric radio telescope
satellite, so that you can hear them better." Burton says, "that's
classified." Burton becomes wary, and asks, "what is it, you think,
I am supposed to be hearing?" Adam replies, "twenty seconds of musical
tones, coming every 3-4 hours. It's all distorted... Like a
car radio turned up too loud." Adam sinks into the desk chair.
Dr. Burton offers to get Adam a glass of water. He goes to the kitchen, but
calls NASA instead. He tells them he thinks there's been a breach in security.
Mrs. Burton comes in and he whispers to her, "whoever he says he is, he's not." She
tells him, "your magician's disappeared." Burton rushes back to the lab.
Adam finds his way to the beach. He is wandering aimlessly. His
mind is about gone, from the stress. He starts hallucinating.
He falls and screams and writhes again, as the next message comes.
This one puts him in a coma.
On his way to the NASA lab, Burton calls on his cell phone, about the
possible security breach. He failed to keep an eye on the road, and
swerved in front of an oncoming semi. He swerved out of the way again,
but into a tree. Now, both Adam and Dr. Burton are unconscious. And both
are taken to the same hospital.
Mrs. Burton comes, to be with her husband. They put Adam into the MRI.
Afterwards, Adam is wheeled into Dr. Burton's room, and the curtain
is drawn. Adam's two doctors have him reported to missing persons,
and discuss his case. They are puzzled, because his tox-screen is
clear. They decide to test him again. As they look at his MRI
results, they see a mass in his brain. They discuss what it might
be, but none of the theories make sense.
Vise comes into Dr. Burton's room, and
talks with Mrs. Burton. He shows her a picture and asks her, "does
your husband know this man." She looks, and says:
"His name is Adam. He's a magician." Vise replies, "you've
got that right. Mrs. Burton, Adam MacArthur is a very dangerous man.
I believe he is here to destroy your husband's life's work." She
says, "I think you'd better leave." Vise asks, "Please call me, if
he wakes." "When he wakes up", Mrs. Burton corrects him.
After Vise leaves, Mrs. Burton gets up out of her chair. She looks
beyond the curtain, to see Adam lying there. She goes over to him,
and says, "well Adam, if you're such a great magician, make all of this
Adam and Burton are sitting in Burton's convertable. The sounds they have
been hearing from space are playing on the radio. Burton yells at
Adam, "get out of my car!" Adam replies, "I can't. We're stuck
in here, together." "Where are we?" Burton asks. "In our dreams"
"We're both receiving the same message."
Adam tells Burton. "Do you know what it means?" Burton asks.
Adam says, "no. It's too distorted, and I need your help to decipher
it." Just then, VIse comes along side of their car, in a humvee.
"Keep it on the road, Dr. Burton", he admonishes. Adam asks Burton,
"is Vise involved in your project, Alex? What else is on that rocket?"
Vise fires a grenade launcher at the convertable. It explodes on
the hood, in front of them. "You can't trust Vise!" Adam tells
"You know what the message is?" Adam
looks at him. "You know!" He realizes. "Why should I
trust you and not Vise?" Burton wonders. "'Cause, if I'm lying,
this is only a dream", Adam answers. "O.K.: 'Your time is up.'"
Burton reveals. "What else is riding on that rocket, Alex?"
Adam demands. "Loaded dice. And they roll in thirteen hours",
Burton informs him. The digital countdown clock on the dashboard
Agents Wilcox, LaRue and Van Patten arrive
at the hospital. They confirm that Adam is there, in the ICU.
Wilcox orders LaRue to seal the building, and Van Patten to get a helicopter
there, so they can take MacArthur back to Washington.
Since Adam's intercranial pressure is deemed too high, for him to have any
hope of a normal recovery, Adam is prepped for surgery.
Vise returns to NASA, and insists that
they close all outside internet links. They do, but there is a hard
line to Dr. Burton's house, that cannot be closed from there.
Mrs. Burton brings their son Steven to
see his father. He says, "Dad? It's me, Steven." He looks
at his unresponsive father. Then he cries out, "he's never coming
home, again!" And runs out. His mother runs after him.
Burton sees them running away from him,
in his dream. He reaches out, and calls to them, "Steven! Ruth!
Stop! Wait!" But, he can't leave the car. He is helpless.
They keep running away. The clock says 1:59:59. The space message
starts playing on the radio, again. "Turn the damn thing off!"
Alex says irritably. He does. "All my life, I've been
trying to communicate with the universe. They irony is, I can't even
talk to my own family." "You've lost some time, not the race", Adam
tells him. Alex admitted, "I always blamed it on time. Never
enough time." Just then, Steven rides up along side the car on his
bicycle. He is working hard to keep up with the car. Breathlessly,
he calls, "dad!" Alex looks over and reaches out. He says,
"But, that isn't the problem." "It's work that lets us be good providers.
It's work that takes us away from those we love", Adam points out.
"You read my mind", Alex says. "Just my own",
Adam looks over, and on his side of the car, is his son Jason, as a child, standing
next to his bike. "Daddy, daddy" Jason says, and smiles.
The car passes him by.
Mr. Burton and Steven return home.
It is dark. Mrs. Burton goes to the fridge, to get some orange juice.
When she closes the fridgerator door, she sees a soldier with a gun on
her. She screams and drops the jug of juice. Vice comes, and
says to her, "Mrs. Burton, I'm sorry. But, I had to ensure your house
was clear. There could have been hostages. This is for your
own good, believe me." The soldier brings Steven in. He runs
to his mother. Mrs. Burton hugs him. "I want you our
of my house", she says. "My men will remove your husbands computer,
and we'll be on our way", Vise answers.
The clock says 1:27:36. Adam asks,
"Tell me what the message says, Alex. Let me translate, I know the
language." "How?" Alex queries. "'Cause I've been there
with them", Adam reveals. "I was abducted. I came back because
choices are being made, by us, that will be catastrophic for our planet...
I can't stop the clock, but T minus zero doesn't have to happen the way
you think, now tell me please, Alex", Adam pleads.
Alex turns the sound up on the radio. It's too loud, and Adam grimaces
in pain. Alex turns it down to a reasonable volume, and Adam listens.
He understands the message. A wind and a blue light enter the scene
from behind. Adam and Alex turn to look. It leaves again.
Alex asks, "what was that?" "You had it half right", Adam tells
Alex, "you had the addressee wrong. The message is for me."
Wilcox tries to take custody of the comatose
Adam but the nurse refuses him. Adam is in surgery. They begin
the operation. The doctor cuts his forehead with a scapel.
Alex tells Adam that the satellite is a
beacon. "A welcome mat out in the sky!" Alex exclaims, "then we translate
the message. I get a call from the NSA, and Colonel James Vise becomes
my favorite uncle." "What did Vise put on that rocket, Alex?"
Adam asks. "Thermonuclear pumped argon lasers. It could vaporize
anything within a half an earth orbit", Alex admits. Adam is not
pleased. "We have to stop the launch!" Alex laughs at this
"You're dreaming! Vise graduated top of his class in the 'shoot-first-ask-questions-later-school'.
He believes it's a threat. The first communication with other beings,
and it takes the form of a death ray."
Adam tells him, "if they use that weapon, they'll start a war. I can't
stop that rocket without you." At this, Alex removes his wedding
band, and hands it to Adam. He explains, "here, look inside, there's
an inscription." It says "forever". Alex continues, "It's my
password. You'll need it to destroy the rocket, First you've
got to get in my house, get into my computer. One minute after launch,
you can send a destruct signal." Adam hands him his ring back.
"There's not much time", Alex asks, "you think you could explain all this
to Steven and Ruth? Let them know how much I love them." "You
have to do that, yourself, Alex." Alex replies, "I can't." "Why not?"
Adam wonders. "My destiny is to die in this car", Alex tells him, "your
destiny is to stop that rocket." Adam shakes his head, and says,
"not if it means sacrificing your life." "We don't have a choice!"
Alex insists. "When that rocket launches, I'll be dead... See?"
Ahead of them, they see a semi coming straight at the car. Alex concentrates
on driving straight for it. Adam finds himself standing outside the
car. As Dr. Burton drives off, Adam calls out after him, "Doctor!
"Doctor, Doctor! Wait!" Says one
doctor to the other, in the operating room. They look at the monitor,
showing a cross-section of his brain. "Look, it's shrinking.
What's happening?" The doctor asks. Adam begins to wake up. "Impossible!"
Insists the other doctor. Adam speaks, "I can't give up, that easily."
The nurse comes up to the FBI boys, and
says dryly, "Oh, happy day. Your boy is back in ICU." They
jump up, and rush to his room. They pull the curtain back, to find
an empty bed. Wilcox starts barking orders. "This is no way
to run a hospital." he insists.
Mrs. Burton opens her front door, she says
"you really are a magician", as Adam comes in. "Dad?" Steven
calls. Adam looks up at him, standing at the top of the stairs, and
tells him, "no, it's me, Adam. Your dad asked me to do something
for him. I need his computer." "You're a little late for that",
Mrs. Burton interjects. "I've got a computer", Steven says, trying
to help. His mother tells him to wait, then explains to Adam, that
her husband is in a coma. "But, he gave me his password", Adam, "it's
'forever.' It's written inside both your wedding rings." This
convinces Mrs. Burton, and she tells Steven to get his computer.
He runs to get it, and sets it up on his father's desk. Adam logs in.
"Now what?" Mrs. Burton asks. "I'll try to abort the launch",
says Adam. "I'll call the hospital", she says, and leaves the room.
"Why do you need a computer? Can't you just use magic?" Steven asks.
"Magic isn't real, Stevie. It's just what we call something we don't
understand", Adam tells him.
"I don't understand why my dad had to get
hurt", Steven tells him. "'Cause it was an accident", Adam explained.
He told Steven that sometimes things just happen, and we don't get a choice
in the matter. Steven tells him, "I want a choice. I want my
dad back." Adam comforts him.
Adam thinks about his own son. He hears Jason call, "daddy, daddy!"
He turns to see him, and says, "Jason, my boy!" "Please don't leave
me!" Jason pleads. Adam shrugs sadly, and tells him, "I don't
have a choice." "Of course you do. You *always* do",
Jason insists. Dr. Burton's "no choice" echos in his head.
Adam logs out and tells Steven to get his mother, they have to return to
the hospital. "Mom!" Steve yells, as he runs to get her.
"T minus one minute and counting.
All on board systems nominal. We are 'go' to proceed with launch",
Vise hears over the speakers. Adam, Ruth and Steven arrive
at Alex's bedside. Adam looks at him, and enters the dreamscape,
again. Alex asks him if he stopped the rocket. "No", Adam answered,
"I made a choice. Your wife and your son need you." "I've lost them",
Alex tells him. "No you haven't, there's still time, a lifetime",
Adam says. "You're kidding yourself... What's that?" Alex asks
as he nods toward the oncoming semi. A grinning Vise is driving.
The semi looms larger, as Dr. Burton closes his eyes, and takes his hands
off the wheel. He puts his hands in the air, in surrender.
Adam grabs the wheel and turns it. The car veers out of the semi's
way. When Alex opens his eyes again, he finds his wife and son sitting
in the passenger seat. They smile at each other.
"Ten, nine, eight..." Alex hears. He looks down at the countdown
clock. His face falls, as he realizes there is nothing he can do,
now. The countdown reaches zero, the rocket launches.
Vise gets a high off it. He says to himself, "I beat him."
Dr. Burton wakes, to find his family waiting
beside him. He looks up and whispers to Adam, "what about the rocket?
The war?" Adam tells him, "I'll find another way... There's always
another way. He looks back to his family, and they are happy he is
Adam stands outside, and watches the rocket
get ever farther away. Once it reaches the proper orbit, the satellite
is released and positioned. The message sending spaceship passes
Saturn, as it continues it's journey to earth.