"The Black Box"
October 24, 1997
Colonel Vise pressures a staff member,
Davis, to gather data from an orbiting satellite. He wants to know
when an incoming "unidentified object" (spacecraft) will reach Earth.
The estimate is somewhere between 24 and 36 hours.
Adam MacArthur walks into an electronics
store and turns on a computer that is on display there. He hooks
it up to a phone line. Adam manages to access similar information
from the satellite on his computer screen. He stares at the image,
his face intent and unsmiling.
Later, a rather unkempt man walks along
an inner-city street. Adam watches from a corner and using a picture
in his hand, identifies the man as Ben Proctor. Adam then follows
Ben down the street and into a bank. An argument between the teller,
bank officials and Ben Proctor develops when he tries to withdraw funds
from a VA check he had deposited the day before. The check has not
cleared and his request is refused.
As voices rise, Adam steps forward and says "Ben, let me help you."
Ben looks startled and pulls out a gun, yelling to everyone in the bank
to get down. He demands money from the teller at gun point.
Meanwhile, Adam refuses to get down on the floor with the others, saying,
"Ben, we are out of time. We need to go now."
Adams refuses to back down, even when Ben
holds the gun to his neck. Meanwhile, the sack containing the money
has exploded, scattering the bills and the police are on their way.
Ben and Adam leave the bank together after a lengthy confrontation with
the two men staring into each others eyes at close quarters.
At FBI headquarters, Agent McNally is showing agents Van Patten, Wilcox and
Larue the video of Adam MacArthur taken during the bank robbery.
They do not yet know Proctor's identity and McNally assures the other agents
that no one else has this information on Adam MacArthur.
At the NSA, where Col. Vise is receiving
a briefing on Capt. Benjamin Wright Proctor, a doctoral student of Chemistry
at UCLA in 1967, assisting in a project analyzing objects of unknown origins.
Proctor is said to have had a theory that the artifacts were "extra-terrestrial"
The attention of Vise and other staff members
is drawn to the screen indicating the approach of the incoming object in
space. One staff member, Davis, indicates that it isn't necessary
to "shoot first", but Vise seems unmoved by the comment and argues that
he is the one who will have to act to save people, "Even sorry-asses like
yours", he tells Davis.
At the same time, the NSA tactical team
has been dispatched to get Ben Proctor. The FBI has arrived ahead
of them, though, and surrounds the apartment building. Inside, Adam
and Ben argue. Adam says "I want those pieces", referring to some
things he believes Ben has. Adam also insists that they leave the
building because he knows that, for the authorities, "This is the first
place they'll look."
Ben recalls his work in the lab at UCLA,
his theory about the unidentified "pieces" that he thought were extra-terrestrial,
how the lab was destroyed apparently by a student protest group in which
his girlfriend, Elaine Barker, appeared. He knew, then, that he would
be blamed for the break-in because of his connection to Elaine. Soon
after the incident, he was shipped to Viet Nam. He did not see Elaine
again. But, "that was the night my life ended", was all Ben
Ben and Adam manage to escape the apartment
and elude the FBI closing in on the building. Adam tries without
success to get Ben to tell him where the "pieces", the unidentified objects,
are, and the two men part ways.
Vise and his men are in route to Los Angeles. In his black semi,
full of equipment, Col. Vise is supervising a test of a new weapon launched
with the last satellite. He is also receiving information about Elaine
Barker. Ironically, he discovers that, despite her apparent connection
to the destruction of the lab in 1967, she is now a violinist and shares
his taste for classical music.
Adam arrives on the scene of an outdoor
concert. He intercepts Elaine as the concert ends. Elaine is
blind. She becomes upset at the mention of Ben Proctor's name, saying
that he still blames her for the destruction of the laboratory, thirty
Adam asks her about the "pieces", emphasizing
that he has very little time. He grabs the back of Elaine's neck,
and enables her to temporarily see his face. In shock, she finally
admits that she has one of the pieces but doesn't know the location of
the other piece.
Adam explains that the objects are a simple
machine, a warning device that only works "when they get near." He
further explains that "they" are the ones who want to stop his mission
and take him back...
Vise continues to receive briefings as
his truck moves toward the city. He learns that Proctor is the only
one left of 8 researchers from that UCLA lab, the other 7 having died.
Col. Vise ponders that significance of the alien "pieces" and MacArthur's
interest in those objects and Ben Proctor. Col. Vise concludes that
MacArthur's "alien friends are on the way."
The NSA tactical team surrounds what is
supposed to be Elaine Barker's house. Col. Vise knocks on the door
and discovers that the FBI are occupying the house. They all leave
together, when a soldier announces the discovery of "a problem".
Monitoring the approach of the "alien craft",
Davis informs Vise that the craft has slowed its approach. They decide
to target an asteroid with the NSA weapon as a test. The asteroid
Ben Proctor enters the doorway of a pawnshop,
with police following close behind. He resists capture and is shot
in the arm. As the police take Proctor away, but leave behind a clear
crystalline mineral, glistening in the window of the pawnshop.
Col. Vise visits Ben Proctor in a military
stockade where he is being held ostensibly for attempted bank robbery.
Vise persuades Proctor to help him obtain the alien objects in return for
freedom from prison, dropping the charges, and arranging for a job.
Adam and Elaine arrived on foot at a violin
repair shop to get Elaine's concert violin. Adam is impatient but
takes the time to listen to Elaine. He learns that Elaine took one
rock out of lab just before the explosion which caused her to lose her
sight. Adam also learns that Ben had taken the remaining rock that
day. Finally, the violin is ready and Elaine shows Adam the mineral
embedded in the neck of the violin. Adam is persuaded to wait until
after Elaine's next concert, before having the rock removed from the violin.
Meanwhile, Vise has gone to the pawnshop
with Ben Proctor and gained possession of one "alien piece". Vise
detains Proctor further, demanding the second piece.
Davis informs Col. Vise that the alien craft is within lunar orbit.
The space weapon is aimed at the incoming craft and fired. The hit
does not appear to damage the craft. Instead, the weapon and the
satellite begin to vibrate and breaks into pieces. The alien craft
then continues its path toward earth. The meteor shower caused by
the destruction of the satellite is seen by people on Earth, including
Adam and the FBI agents, and Col. Vise.
Both Elaine and Ben Proctor are taken into
NSA custody in Vise's truck headquarters. While left alone,
Ben and Elaine became re-acquainted. Elain touched Ben and enabled
him to see what she saw that night, even though she didn't know how she
was able to. The pair reached an understanding about what really happened
in the lab, 30 years before.
Col. Vise obtains the final alien piece
by destroying Elaine's violin, ingoring her pleas to spare it. He
then allows the two detainees to leave. They are quickly picked up
by the FBI for further questioning, once they leave the NSA truck.
Meanwhile, Adam has been hiding on the
roof of the truck, waiting for his opportunity to get the objects he needs.
Col. Vise is told that the accident at the UCLA lab was actually the work
of the government, called Operation Patchwork, an attempt to cover up the
existence of alien artifacts. Vise still does not know the significance
of the objects.
Adam sneaks into the NSA truck via an air vent on the roof. He locates
the two rocks, but he is discovered by Col. Vise in the process.
With Vise firing a gun at a glass door that separates them, Adam changes
plans and places the two rocks together, which fuse and cause an explosion.
The two objects meld and transform into some sort of device which Adam
Adam manages to escape back through the
roof and away during the aftermath of the explosion, taking the device
with him. He is last seen hitching a ride north out of town.
Checking his new device, Adam notes that "they" are closer than he thought,
and that he hopes the device will help him find "them" before "they" find