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Aliens, Ghosts

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EXT. MOUNTAIN SCAPE - DAWN

Dawn. The sun is rising over the mountains. The camera slowly pans to the right; swings around. We see a city. It's not a large city; less than 50,000 people. There's a military installation on the outskirts of the city. We see several small alien spacecraft flying above the city. Not many and not moving very fast. One large ship is stationary over the city. The camera zooms into the city streets as we hear

MAX (V.O.)
Why did you even speak to me?

We see GIDEON, TOMAS, CAP and RICHIE, carrying guns, and followed by CLAUDINE, CODY, LUKE, RUSTY and CC as they jog through the streets, obviously keeping their eyes one of the small ships.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Your species has managed something that hasn't happened in the last one thousand years.

The spacecraft continues flying; the nine people continue following, meeting up with others as they do. We see them meet a large group of army soldiers and police officers. This gathering has clearly been planned.

MAX (V.O.)
And what would that be?

The ship begins to wobble erratically.

CLOSEUP of GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY, as they react to the erratic flight. Then, grimly determined, they begin to close in on it as the ship wobbles more and begins to head towards the ground. Just before it hits the ground -

ALIEN (V.O.)
You've made us...curious.

CUT TO

EXT. CITY STREET - DAY

Dusty, busy city street. Normal. Lots of cars and traffic, horns honking, people walking and talking. A normal bustling city. Flying overhead are more spacecraft, some moving quickly, some slowly, some stationary over certain buildings. Nobody on the street is paying any attention to the ships.

INT. POLICE STATION - DAY

In CAP'S office, CAP is sitting behind a cluttered desk. He's clearly exasperated with, while still fond of, the man slumped in a chair facing him. GIDEON's in his late-thirties; dark, scruffy, bearded, wearing jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket. He looks exhausted, angry and beaten down.

CAP
Jesus, Gideon. What the hell am I gonna do with you?

GIDEON shrugs.

CAP
(shakes head)
You're never gonna do it. Those fucking ships never touch the ground. Hell, the aliens have never even talked to us! And you - you keep trespassing on military land to do - what, exactly?

GIDEON
To watch.

CAP
To watch what?

GIDEON
(sits up, suddenly energized)
What do they want? Five years they've been here - and nothing.

CAP
(quietly)
They blew the space station out of the sky. They destroyed the Kennedy Space Centre. Houston is gone. Every plane we send up - military or civilian - gets swatted down like they're swatting flies. It hasn't been nothing, Gideon.

GIDEON
But they haven't conquered us. They haven't destroyed our communications, or our cities, or our land and water transportation. They haven't tried to exploit the land, rape our women - or our men - steal our water. They've simply parked those fucking spaceships and won't let us fly - and that's it? They travel God knows how far in order to...what? Sight-see?

CAP
Maybe that's exactly it. We're a tourist attraction.
(leans forward)
Enough is enough, Gideon. One more complaint and I'll have to suspend you. Our military can't do a fucking thing against the aliens, but they can still shoot your sorry ass down. And we need them to protect us against our human enemies.
(leans back)
You can go.

GIDEON stands and heads to the door.

CAP
Gideon!

GIDEON pauses and turns.

CAP
I'm not kidding. One more time and you may not live to be suspended. Got it?

GIDEON
Yes, sir.

CUT TO

INT. MAX's SCIENCE LAB - DAY

MAX and RUSTY are slouched in their chairs in front of a set of screens on the wall, along with computer monitors and keyboards on the desk. MAX is in his mid-to-late sixties, handsome and distinguished if a little disheveled, like any absent-minded professor. RUSTY is his son, early-thirties, dark hair, dark eyes, a bit scruffy.

The lab they're in is cluttered, filled with various electronic devices of all shapes and sizes, computers, books and papers. MAX and RUSTY are wearing headphones, concentrating on listening to the digital recording that's just finished playing.

RUSTY
(shaking his head)
I'm still not -

MAX presses replay.

GHOST (V.O.)
(garbled; almost indistinguishable)
Find C. Open the door.

MAX
I need your help to clean it up.

RUSTY
(mutters)
If there's actually anything there.

MAX
Son -

RUSTY
Sorry, Dad. Give me a minute; I'll see what I can do.

RUSTY types on the keyboard and adjusts the audio controls.

RUSTY
Okay, let's try this.

RUSTY hits play.

GHOST (V.O.)
(clearer but still extremely garbled)
Find C. Open the door.

MAX
(shakes head)
Still can't quite make it out.

RUSTY
Give me a few minutes, I may be able to get it cleaned up even more.

RUSTY once more types/adjusts the controls in front of him.

RUSTY
Okay.

GHOST (V.O.)
(distorted but more understandable)
Find C. Open the door.

MAX
My God.

RUSTY
What?

MAX
(typing on the keyboard in front of him)
You heard that, right? What it said?

RUSTY
Sure.

MAX
What did you hear?

RUSTY
It appeared to say something about a door. Not sure what a “fancy” would refer to, though.

MAX
Listen.

GHOST (V.O.)
(same voice, still distorted but clearer)
Find C. Open the door.

RUSTY
(pushes his chair back and starts to stand)
Well, if you already had it cleaned up -

MAX
It's not the same recording.

RUSTY shrugs but sits back down.

RUSTY
It's not the first time you've recorded the same voice giving you the same message at different times in an investigation.

MAX
Listen to this one.

GHOST (V.O.)
(distorted but understandable)
Find C. Open the door.

RUSTY
I don't -

MAX
They're from different places.

RUSTY
(beat)
What?

MAX
They're from different places. They're not all mine. And there's more of them.

RUSTY
More?

MAX
My colleagues and I have been talking about this for weeks now. No matter where we are, no matter when - it's always the same message.

RUSTY
Somebody's messing with you - maybe the aliens have finally deigned to acknowledge us - and they're playing a practical joke on you.

MAX
(scornfully)
Do you really think that first contact with the aliens would be through messing with a group of paranormal researchers in different places around the world? No, there's something else going on. The ghosts are trying to tell us something.

RUSTY stares at MAX, then hits replay.

GHOST (V.O.)
(distorted, but understandable)
Find C. Open the door.

INT. CC DIVINE'S SALON - DAY

CC's salon is exactly what one would imagine a medium's establishment that caters to the rich and famous to look like. There's a round table in the centre of the living room, a fireplace in the middle of the wall directly opposite the door. There's a stained glass window in the front door, crystals dangling from the ceiling, drapes framing the hallway entrance currently tied back but which block off the hallway when untied. The colours are warm and muted, comforting and welcoming. The room is lushly furnished but not cluttered; everything is extremely classy and screams good taste and big money.

CLAUDINE is bustling around the salon, setting the stage for the appointment that's scheduled shortly. CLAUDINE is a quietly pretty brunette, late-twenties/early-thirties. As she works, putting the tablecloth on the table, straightening it, setting out the props that CC uses for her readings, there are random glowing orbs that wink into existence, orbit around CLAUDINE at various speeds, then fade or wink out. Not many, but enough to be noticeable to the audience and there's at least one orb in sight at all times. No one other than CLAUDINE can actually see the orbs with the naked eye, although those who are more sensitive will sometimes catch something moving out of the corner of their eyes.

CLAUDINE doesn't react to the orbs as she moves to the mantle where she lights some incense and straightens some ornaments.

CLAUDINE then picks up a notebook and pen from the mantle and sits at the table. She opens the notebook and begins to read. While she's reading and occasionally marking the notebook, the glowing orbs continue to lazily dance around her and the ornaments behind her begin to wobble.

CLAUDINE
(muttering)
Mr. Harvey Fenwick. Fifty-eight when he died. An accountant - really. How exciting could his spirit possibly be?

The orbs suddenly become more energetic and plentiful, and the movement of the ornaments becomes more pronounced until

CLAUDINE
(matter-of-factly)
Stop it. I'm trying to concentrate.

The orbs wink out and the ornaments abruptly stop moving. CC breezes into the room as CLAUDINE finishes speaking. CC is in her late-thirties, an exotically, stunningly beautiful brunette with dark eyes and a sharp mind.

CC
Who are you talking to?

CLAUDINE
Oh! I thought I heard Cody sneaking up behind me.

CC
Cody's across town, remember? He won't be back until just before our next client is scheduled to arrive.

CLAUDINE
Oh. Yes. I thought maybe he got back early.

CC
(laughs)
Has Cody ever gotten back early? Your brother is very sweet, Claudine, but he's not always the brightest or the quickest.

CLAUDINE
(absently - she's heard it all before)
He means well. This guy was an accountant, CC -

CC
So, what? Accountants don't have souls? Or ghosts?

CLAUDINE
How flamboyant would the ghost of an accountant be? I'm not sure -

CC
An accountant may be the most flamboyant of all! After all, now he has the chance to let loose. Anyway, don't worry about it. Do the usual - keep it generic. Mrs. Fenwick will do the rest.
(cynically)
They always do. Relax. My clients always see what they expect to see.
(thoughtfully)
I have to say, though, you and Cody are the best special effects team I've ever seen. I wish I'd found you years ago - I'd be able to retire by now! I'm going to go get ready.

CC breezes out the door.

CLAUDINE
(sighing)
Great.
(looks up and around her)
You guys have come through for us so far. Keep it up and help us get this poor Harvey guy right, okay? There's nothing I can offer you in return - just...please?

CLAUDINE shakes her head and goes back to the notebook.

CUT TO:

INT. HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY ROOM CUBICLE - NIGHT

CC is sitting on the hospital bed, holding a bloody cloth to her forehead. CLAUDINE and CODY are anxiously hovering around her. CODY's in his late-twenties, with brown hair. He's boyish-looking, clean-cut, earnest and cute in an awkward way.

CLAUDINE
I'm so, so sorry, CC. I...I...I must have miscalculated the trajectory -

CC
(waves her off)
Okay, okay. You've apologized about a thousand times already. I know you wouldn't deliberately hit your boss in the head with a porcelain ornament.
(looks at the siblings thoughtfully)
That was pretty spectacular, though. You decided an accountant had hidden depths, did you?

CLAUDINE and CODY exchange guilty glances.

CODY
I - I thought, you know, why not?

CC gives CLAUDINE a speaking glance.

CC
(whispers to CLAUDINE)
Sweet, but not too bright.
(to CODY)
Okay, bad call. Next time, when in doubt, stick with the tried and true. No more spectacular stunts of objects flying around the room!

The curtains are abruptly pulled back as LUKE comes into the cubicle. LUKE's in his mid-thirties, tall, dark hair, brown eyes. He's clean-shaven, dressed in his doctor's white coat and looking very authoritative.

CC
(rolls her eyes)
Oh, great.

LUKE
(with an insincere grin)
Ah, the delectable CC Divine.

CLAUDINE and CODY exchange glances and watch the other two curiously.

CC
Luke.

LUKE
(reads the chart)
So, what happened? Did one of your marks finally figure out the scam and let you have it?

CC
I resent that. Just because you're not a believer -

LUKE
(laughs)
Have you forgotten who my father is?

LUKE puts the file down and properly looks at CC for the first time. He gently lowers her hand from her forehead.

LUKE
Let's take a look.

LUKE begins to examine the wound and then uses his little flashlight to check if her eyes are reacting to light properly. He then goes back to the wound and checks it more closely.

CODY
(hesitantly)
Who is he?

LUKE
Who's who?

CODY
Your father. Who is he?

LUKE
(to CC)
Not too bad, CC - you must have ducked. Or your mark has bad aim. You only need a couple of stitches and you'll be as good as new.
(to CODY)
My father is Dr. Charles Maxwell, an expert in -

LUKE and CLAUDINE
(together)
Paranormal phenomena.

LUKE
(begins prepping CC for her stitches)
Yeah. You've heard of him?

CLAUDINE
A little.

LUKE
(chuckles)
Of course - if you're here with CC and you didn't react when I mentioned the scam - you must work for her, right?

CLAUDINE and CODY nod.

LUKE
(shakes his head)
So, you must know my dad busted your dear boss' ass a few years ago. No paranormal phenomena at all at her seances. She was - and is - a simple con artist.

CC
Hey!

LUKE
It's true and you know it. You admitted as much once Dad confronted you.

CC
How he could make such a claim -

LUKE
(stitching the wound closed)
You thought that because you didn't think ghosts were real, that meant they weren't real. You also thought that because he liked you, my father wouldn't know you were pulling a scam. Or he wouldn't admit it.

CC
I give my clients what they want. I give some of them closure, I give others some peace. Can your father say the same?

LUKE
He gives people answers. He gives people the truth.
(finishes and stands back, surveys his work)
Can you say the same?

CC
Your father is as much a scam artist as we are. As if his little tests actually prove anything other than his own gullibility and those of his followers. The only difference between us is that he cloaks his scam in pseudo-science and the self-righteous assumption he's always right. His sons are exactly like him in that respect at least. How is Gideon, by the way?

LUKE
Doing better without you. I'll tell him you haven't changed a bit.

They glare at each other while CLAUDINE and CODY look on uncomfortably.

CC
You do that. Are you finished?

LUKE
You're good to go. The stitches will dissolve in a couple of days. There's no evidence of a concussion, so take a couple Tylenol and get some rest. If you feel dizzy or the headache doesn't ease, then come back and we'll take more x-rays. Otherwise, you have no need to return.

CC slides off the bed and grabs her stuff.

CC
Good to know.
(to CLAUDINE and CODY)
Let's go.

She sweeps out of the cubicle, her head held high. CLAUDINE and CODY follow her more slowly, looking cautiously back at LUKE.

INT. POLICE STATION - DAY

GIDEON sits at his desk, reading a report. It's not his first one. There's a stack of files on either side. With a sigh and a frown, he finishes the file, puts it on the stack to his right and picks another one off the pile on his left. RICHIE walks across the room intently reading a file. RICHIE's in his late-twenties with shaggy blonde hair; he looks like a stereotypical surfer boy although he's now living in a landlocked town. He looks up and pauses at GIDEON's desk.

RICHIE
(looking pointedly at the files)
Grounded?

GIDEON glares at him but says nothing.

RICHIE
Again, I mean.

GIDEON
Fuck off.

RICHIE
Oh, lovely. There's an answer for you. Come on, man - where's your brain? You've been a cop for how long? And you've never gotten higher than - what are you now?

GIDEON
You know damn well.

RICHIE
Okay, whatever.
(leans over the desk and lowers his voice)
You have to let this obsession with the aliens go. You're never gonna get to them, and you're never gonna get them to leave this planet.

GIDEON
Aren't you worried? Don't you want to...to fight them off?

RICHIE
Sure - if we had anything we could use. If we could get at them. Hell, if we knew what they looked like! For all we know, they're made out of solid rock. Stop pissing off the military - stop trying to attract the aliens' attention. Just...let it be.

GIDEON
So we should just sing old Beatles tunes and call it a day? I want to know what they want.

RICHIE
And you think your old man's obsessive. Be grateful they stopped at destroying our space and flight programs. Besides, even if they do decide to attack us again, we can't fight them off. There's nothing we can do.

GIDEON
That's a cheery and optimistic thought.

RICHIE
Better than raging against the machine. Listen, let's go out tonight. Find some willing women, get shit-faced and forget this job and those alien fuckers hanging over our heads. At least for the night.

GIDEON
Can't. I'm meeting my brothers tonight.

RICHIE
Your loss.
(straightens and gestures at the files)
What are you working on?

GIDEON
(shakes head)
Just going through files for the new missing persons cases that have come in during the last month.

RICHIE
Ah. Plugging information into the database, huh?

GIDEON
(grimaces)
Eventually. Cap didn't say I couldn't read the files before then, though.

RICHIE
Wow. We solved all those, huh?

GIDEON
Actually, no. They're all unsolved.

RICHIE
Shit. We're not very good, are we?

GIDEON
This month, anyway.

RICHIE
(whistles)
All of those in a month?

GIDEON
(frowns thoughtfully)
Yeah. I haven't checked last month's stats, but it seems...high.

RICHIE
Sure does. Or maybe Cap was just holding these in reserve because he knew he'd have to ground you again.

GIDEON
Get the hell away from me.

RICHIE laughs as he walks away.

GIDEON
And I'm not going to forget that comparison to my father!

CUT TO:

INT MAX's Science Lab

MAX is alone, watching video footage of his last investigation, making notes as he watches. The phone rings.

MAX
Hello.

ALIEN (V.O.)
(there's a pause before the words; almost like there's a time delay in hearing Max's voice and in the response being received)
Dr. Charles Maxwell?

MAX
Yes.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I've been looking forward to speaking to you.

MAX
Oh?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Yes. Your research...interests me. Greatly.

MAX
I'm flattered, Mr. - ?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have no name you can pronounce.

MAX abruptly sits up straighter.

MAX
What? Who is this?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I'm someone who wishes to speak to you, to learn from you. To learn about you.

MAX
(swallows then forces a slight laugh)
Oh, I know who this is - it's Al! Jesus, buddy, you had me going there for a minute. Listen, I want to talk to you about my latest findings, but I'm in the middle of reviewing the video from my investigation two nights ago. I'll call you back, okay? Thanks.

MAX hangs up the phone and stares at it like it's about to bite him. The phone rings again. MAX slowly and reluctantly picks it up.

MAX
(strained)
Listen, Al -

ALIEN (V.O.)
This isn't...Al. I'm no one you know.

MAX
So, who are you?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I'm a visitor to your home, and I have questions.

MAX slowly leans towards his equipment and sets his digital audio to record. He then puts the phone on speaker.

MAX
Are you implying that you're...one of the aliens?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I hadn't realized I was “implying” anything. I thought I had made my identity clear.

MAX
Not so much, no.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Yes, I'm one of the “aliens”, as you call us.

MAX
What do you want?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I want to learn about these things you call “ghosts”.

CUT TO:

INT GIDEON's apartment.

RUSTY and LUKE are sitting on the couch, munching on popcorn and watching a game on TV. The apartment is a typical bachelor apartment; dark tones and a bit messy but not excessively so. GIDEON is in the kitchen in the background, making supper.

GIDEON
Remind me how it's my turn to cook again? I was positive it was Rusty's turn.

RUSTY
I did it last time, remember?

GIDEON
Obviously, no.

RUSTY
You're a good guy, Gideon.

GIDEON
It's your turn. You need to start taking your turn.

LUKE
You do remember Rusty's cooking, right?

RUSTY
(to LUKE)
Thanks.

LUKE
Anytime.

GIDEON
You make a compelling argument, Luke. Fine. Come and get it, you damn freeloaders.

LUKE and RUSTY get up and head to the kitchen where they fill up their plates and then all three head back to the living room to watch the game while they eat.

LUKE
How's Dad?

RUSTY
(shrugs)
The same.

LUKE
Seen him lately?

RUSTY
A couple of days ago. He was having trouble getting one of his voice recordings cleaned up. He asked me for help.

LUKE
Anything interesting?

GIDEON
Oh, God.

LUKE
Hey! Just because you're skeptical doesn't mean I'm not interested. Anything interesting, Rusty?

RUSTY
Not by itself, no. But if what he said is true -

LUKE
Dad's sometimes not the best father, but he's never lied to us.

GIDEON
That we know of.

LUKE
Give the guy a break, Gideon.

RUSTY
Well, the recording was pretty garbled and hard to hear- assuming, of course, there's actually anything there other than ambient noise. However, he played another recording for me, and that one was much clearer, although still very difficult to understand - like all of those recordings. It sounded like... “fancy” and “the door”. At least, that's all I could make out.

GIDEON
Sounds pretty par for the course. A bunch of noise that may be - but most likely isn't - the voice of a ghost.

RUSTY
This from a guy who used to date a medium?

GIDEON
She was a small.

RUSTY
Oh, ha, ha.

LUKE
(speaking at the same time as RUSTY)
Hey, I saw her today.

GIDEON
(around a mouthful of food)
CC?

LUKE
Yeah. She came in with a couple of...well, I suppose they're not “kids” although they seemed very young. Probably about thirty or so, actually, now that I think about it. Anyway, she had a minor cut to her forehead; needed a couple stitches. I told her I'd tell you she hadn't changed at all.

GIDEON
(shakes head)
Such a waste. Still running the same old scam?

LUKE
(shrugs)
I assume so. She didn't deny it, anyway.
(turns back to RUSTY)
Sorry. Anyway, your story doesn't sound too interesting yet.

RUSTY
That's what I thought. Like Gideon, I assumed it was more of the same ol', same ol'. Except...

GIDEON
...Except?

RUSTY
Dad said the recordings were from different locations. That his colleagues all over the world have been getting the same message. He said the ghosts are trying to tell us something.

GIDEON and LUKE stare at RUSTY. In spite of their skepticism, they're obviously intrigued in spite of themselves.

GIDEON
(shrugs and shakes his head)
Or maybe it's just proof that there are no “ghost voices” since the recordings are all the same.

RUSTY
I've helped him clean up a lot of his digital files, and I'll tell you right now, no two recordings are ever exactly the same, not even in the same location. I know you're almost rabidly skeptical about Dad's work, Gideon, but every now and then, you know, he really finds something that can't be explained. Dad says the message is “Find C. Open the door.” His colleagues agree; in fact, it was Al in Great Britain who had the clearest recording and discovered the message.

GIDEON
(scoffs)
Just people hearing what they expect to hear.

RUSTY
(shakes head)
There's this really nifty technology, Gideon, let's you see sound waves on screen? There's something there. And I think Al's right about what the voice is saying.

GIDEON
Oh, God. Don't tell me he's got you convinced?

RUSTY
I'm just giving him the benefit of the doubt. And I've helped him with his work; gone on investigations with him; been his soundman on occasion. I know Luke worked for him during high school. Did you ever work for him, Gideon?

GIDEON
Never.

LUKE
Why not?

GIDEON
Because I didn't want to.
(beat)
And he never asked.

RUSTY
He doesn't fake those recordings, Gideon, or the videos or anything else. He's not running a scam, like CC; he's actually doing research. Most of the time, he comes up empty; but every now and then -
(shakes head)
I think this is one of those times.
(beat)
Besides, he's Dad. And I trust him.

GIDEON
(sighs heavily)
Yeah. I trust him, too.

The phone rings.

GIDEON
(answers phone)
Yeah?

MAX (V.O.)
Gideon? I need you.

CUT TO:

INT MAX's SCIENCE LAB

MAX has just finished playing the recording he'd made of the phone call for his three sons. They all look shell-shocked.

GIDEON
(shakes head)
I don't believe it.

RUSTY
There's no proof that this...this voice is really an alien! It's like the recordings. Somebody's messing with you.

LUKE
Yeah. I mean, come on! The first real contact with the aliens - other than being thoroughly trounced by them - and they're calling a paranormal researcher? To ask about ghosts? It's insane!

RUSTY
I'll bet it's Bruce. He's been out to discredit you for years! I say we find him and beat the shit out of him until he tells us the truth!

GIDEON
Hey! I am a cop, you know.

RUSTY
Oh, like that matters! He's trying to make a fool out of our dad!

MAX
Yes, and your dad is sitting right here, and he's not quite the idiot you seem to think he is.
(glares at them all until they subside)
Of course I'm not taking this at face value. That's why I called you, Gideon. You heard the recording. This...alien...or whoever it is, is going to call back. I can record the conversation - that's not a problem. What I need help with, though, is to trace the call. If it's Bruce - or somebody else - then they're calling from here. On Earth, I mean. Find a location, and we'll find the jokester behind this.

GIDEON
I'll talk to Cap, see what we can do. Can I get a copy of that recording?

MAX
I'm not sure I want it spread around that I'm getting crank calls from aliens.

RUSTY
You already get crank calls from ghosts - at least we know the aliens are real.

MAX
(glares but is also amused as he types on the computer)
I have a reputation to uphold, you know. And I've never gotten a crank call from a ghost - more's the pity.
(to GIDEON)
I've e-mailed you a copy of the file.

GIDEON
Thanks. Cap won't believe me without it.

LUKE
Oh, oh. Have you been trespassing again?

GIDEON
I was taking a stroll.

RUSTY
On military property.

GIDEON
It's the safest place for a stroll. This is a dangerous town, you know. The cops are useless.

MAX
(amused)
And you think I'm obsessed. This makes what? The fifth time?

GIDEON
Fourth. They'll just shoot me next time, or so Cap says.

LUKE
Yeah, well, don't tempt them. I don't want to have to patch you up some night.

GIDEON
There won't be a next time. I think I'm going about this all wrong. I was concentrating on the big ship, hovering over the army base. Maybe...

MAX
(sharply)
Maybe?

GIDEON
Maybe I need to concentrate on the smaller ships. See if I can figure out a way to knock one of them out of the sky.

RUSTY
If the combined military might of the entire Earth couldn't make a dent in the damn things, you're not going to get far.

GIDEON
(sighs)
Maybe not, but I have to try.

MAX
Why are you so obsessed with them, son?

GIDEON
(glares, defensive)
Why are you so obsessed with ghosts, Dad? Like Rusty said, at least we know aliens really exist.

MAX
(flinches)
I have my reasons.

GIDEON
And I have mine.
(stands)
I'll talk to Cap in the morning, see about getting that trace put on your phone. I'm going home.

GIDEON storms out, leaving MAX, LUKE and RUSTY staring after him.

RUSTY
Why is he like that?

MAX
(sighs)
Leave it be, Rusty.

RUSTY
It makes no sense. His reaction to your life's work -

MAX
It wasn't always my life's work.
(very firmly; no argument allowed)
And I told you to leave it be.

Nobody argues with MAX when he uses that tone. RUSTY lets the conversation go.

TRANSITION TO:

INT GIDEON's APARTMENT - NIGHT

RICHIE and GIDEON are slouched on the couch, watching TV and drinking beer.

RICHIE
So, why are you still looking over those files from Missing Persons? You haven't been able to get them all entered into the database yet?

GIDEON
Oh, they're entered.

RICHIE looks at him, curious.

RICHIE
You're not still grounded, are you? I heard you pulled a case over in Vice. Or is Cap trying to get rid of you?

GIDEON
(chuckles)
Wouldn't surprise me. Nah - they think there may be a serial killer working their beat. Seems this one pimp's girls are disappearing. But only his. So, they're not sure if there's a serial killer, or if it's a revenge thing, or if the girls are all just making a break for it.

RICHIE
The last seems unlikely.

GIDEON
(nods)
Yeah.

They drink their beer in silence for a moment, GIDEON scowling at the TV but not really seeing it. RICHIE is watching him out of the corner of his eye.

RICHIE
So...

GIDEON
What?

RICHIE
What's the scoop with the files? Missing Persons?

GIDEON
(beat)
There're too many of them.

RICHIE
Huh?

GIDEON
I went and talked to Marian. The number of people reported missing doubled last month.

RICHIE
Doubled? In a town this size?

GIDEON
And that's just our precinct. I talked to Nick, Jen and Dale, too. Same thing.

RICHIE
Every precinct - doubled?

GIDEON
Jen's tripled.

RICHIE
What the hell?

GIDEON
In a town this size before the aliens arrived, we'd have - oh, maybe ten reports across all four precincts. Usually runaway kids, most of whom came home soon after or who at least showed up at relatives, or a shelter or someplace. I could count on one hand the number of missing persons we couldn't find. Eventually. One way or another.

GIDEON cont'd
After the aliens arrived and blew our defenses out of existence, well...things got...bad.

RICHIE
(quietly)
I know. L.A. - man, I was there when it went up in flames. I didn't think anybody was going to get out of there alive.
(chuckles bitterly)
And it wasn't even the aliens.

GIDEON
(nods)
We weren't as violent, although we certainly had our moments. Especially after that fucking thing parked itself on top of us like a spider guarding its web. Especially after that...we lost some good people, you know?

RICHIE
Yeah, I know.

They sit in somber silence for a moment, remembering the dark days after the aliens had conquered the planet, remembering their fallen colleagues, friends and family.

RICHIE
Almost lost you, too, I heard.

GIDEON
(shrugs)
Yeah. I zigged when I should have zagged. But it's why my family was here before it got really bad in L.A.; sitting by my bedside with Luke and my Dad giving the doctors holy hell.
(chuckles)
By the time they knew I was going to make it, the major cities were in flames. As you know all too well.

GIDEON cont'd
Anyway, after the aliens arrived, after our defeat, and after the riots, the number of missing people rose. Naturally. A lot of people simply couldn't...cope, you know? They...wandered off, never to be found again. Some just went crazy; ended up on the streets. Half the time, nobody bothered to even report them missing. As time went by, though, and the aliens just...sat there, people began to revert back to normal, you know? We could travel freely, even though we couldn't fly. Our communications still worked. We still needed to eat, to work - it all went back to normal so...quickly. Like nothing ever happened...

RICHIE
Who'd you lose?

GIDEON
(chuckles)
Oh, like a cliched hero in a movie, huh? I didn't lose anybody. Not the way you're thinking, anyway. I lost my planet. I lost my home. It doesn't matter that we can speak to the other side of the world, it's only because they allow it. They control our skies and our satellites and our cities and us. Even if they never do anything else but sit and watch - they control us. Human nature does not take kindly to being occupied. There will always be resistance. And that's where I'm coming from.

There's a long pause.

RICHIE
Pretty noble, dude.

GIDEON
(snorts)
It isn't anything, “dude”. I haven't been able to do a goddamn thing. And now Cap says I'll likely be shot on sight if I go on military land again.

RICHIE
Probably.

GIDEON
You're a great help.

RICHIE
You've never asked for my help.

GIDEON absorbs this in silence for a moment.

GIDEON
Well, I'm asking for it now. There's gotta be a reason why the missing persons reports have increased so dramatically. I'm gonna talk to Cap tomorrow, ask to be lent to Marian for a little while. See if I can help put a dent in that pile. Do you want to help?

RICHIE
Love to. I'm covering off on the general crimes squad this week, but that's usually pretty quiet. Gimme some files, and I'll see what I can do.

INT CAP's Office

GIDEON has just finished making his request and CAP is watching him thoughtfully.

CAP
About time you got around to it.

GIDEON
Huh?

CAP
Missing Persons have been on the rise for the last six months. Not as dramatically as the recent increase, but enough to be noticeable.

GIDEON
Why didn't you just reassign me?

CAP
Leave you without a partner? With your tendency to trespass at every opportunity? I know you've been caught, but you don't get caught all the time, do you? I want you to turn your obsessive tendencies to something you can actually do something about. If these - or some of these - turn out to be homicides, then they're gonna need you anyway.

GIDEON rises to leave.

CAP
Hey - has that crank caller ever called your father back?

GIDEON
The one claiming to be an alien?
(at CAP's look)
My dad gets a lot of crank calls. He hunts ghosts for a living, remember?

CAP
(drily sarcastic)
Yeah. The one claiming to be an alien.

GIDEON
No, not yet. If I hadn't heard the recording, I would have thought Dad was yanking my chain.

CAP
Would he do that to you?

GIDEON
Not for long, anyway.

INT MAX's Science Lab. Day.

MAX is once again reviewing video footage of an investigation. He frowns as he pauses the footage, then listens again to the audio recording that was made at this moment in the footage.

GHOST (V.O.)
(distorted but more distinct than previously)
Find C. Open the door.

MAX glances over his shoulder as RUSTY opens the door and comes into the lab, carrying a large drink in a paper cup.

RUSTY
Any luck, Dad?

MAX
(nods)
Same message.

RUSTY
You're shittin' me.

MAX shakes his head as he hits play.

GHOST (V.O.)
(same recording as before)
Find C. Open the door.

RUSTY
Find C?

MAX
Yes.

RUSTY
Any ideas as to who or what “C” is? Is it a place, a person, a thing?

MAX
Your guess is as good as mine. We need more information than what the ghosts are giving us.

RUSTY
Okay. This is where we really need Gideon, you know? He's the detective.

MAX
I don't want him involved in this any more than he needs to be.

RUSTY
Why?

MAX
You know how he feels about my work; about ghost hunting at the best of times. He thinks I'm a crackpot.

RUSTY
You are a crackpot, Dad. You just happen to not be wrong all the time, that's all.

MAX
Thanks for your vote of confidence, son.

RUSTY
Everybody thought people who believed in aliens were crackpots, too. Look how right they turned out to be.

MAX
Don't remind me.

RUSTY
Have you ever heard back from your crank caller?

MAX
(sighs)
No. Obviously, he was just a crank. In a way it's too bad.

RUSTY
In a way? It's a crushing disappointment! An opportunity to actually talk to one of the aliens. To try to discover who they are, how they think, what they look like, why they're here!

MAX
How we get them to leave?

RUSTY
Yeah. But first we need to learn how to protect ourselves from them. They casually took us over; it would be nice to make it a little harder for them, you know?

MAX
They've left us alone for the last five years.

RUSTY
As far as we can tell.

MAX
Oh, now you're starting to sound like Gideon.

RUSTY
He's also a crackpot who isn't wrong all the time.

MAX
You know, I should have spanked you as a child.

RUSTY
Mom would have sent you to personally meet those ghosts you chase so much.

MAX;
(smiles fondly)
Yes, she would have.

They watch the footage in silence for a moment.

MAX
(softly)
She was a good woman, your mother.

RUSTY
I know.

MAX
I know I didn't always...she was never second choice to me, you know. She was never a...a...substitute for Estelle.

RUSTY
(pauses)
She knew that.

MAX
Did she?

RUSTY
Yes.
(pauses)
Is that why you hunt ghosts, Dad? Because you're trying to make contact with Estelle and Mom?

MAX
(shakes head)
No. It would be a wonderful side benefit, if it happened. But no. That's not why I hunt ghosts.

RUSTY
Then why?

MAX
Why are you asking me this after all these years?

RUSTY
Because I'm trying to understand why Gideon is the way he is about it. I'm trying to understand you a bit more. You're my father; I've worked beside you on occasion, and I've only just realized, I've never once asked you why. I just - I guess I just want to know who you are. Why you do what you do.

MAX
This isn't like you. Gideon and Luke, yeah - the nature of their work means they need to look for causes and effects, for reasons. You're a sound mixer, an audio engineer, and a damn good one, but you've never really wondered about motives and reasons.

RUSTY
I just...I guess I just feel like time's running out. I don't know; maybe it's because I'm turning thirty-five.

MAX
(fondly)
So old...

RUSTY
Anyway. I was curious. That's all.

MAX
(smiles then becomes very serious)
Someday, I'll tell you all about it. You, and Luke. And Gideon. All of us together. Really, it's a story for all of you.

RUSTY
So they don't really know either?

MAX
Your mother didn't even know.
(nods at the screen)
Now, let's get back to this and figure out what door they could be talking about.

INT MAX'S SCIENCE LAB - NIGHT

MAX is alone. RUSTY has left and MAX is now sitting at his desk, writing notes in a notebook.

MAX
(mutters)
Find C...Places, people, things...well. You have to start somewhere. Places. There's Sebring...because maybe they don't know how to spell.
(shakes head)
Colombia; Christchurch, Canada...

The phone rings. MAX absently puts the phone on speaker with his free hand as he keeps scribbling notes.

MAX
This is Max.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Dr. Maxwell.

MAX freezes, then slowly lifts his head to stare at the speaker phone. Then he carefully reaches over to click on the phone tracing equipment although he's not sure if it will work.

MAX
Yes.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Do you know who this is?

MAX
Yes. The alien with no name I can pronounce.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I'm pleased you remember me.

MAX
I'm not likely to forget you.
(pauses. Then, when the ALIEN doesn't immediately continue)
I'm impressed with your command of my language.

ALIEN (V.O.)
We have sophisticated translation devices. While I have learned your language to a certain extent, it is physically impossible for me to speak it. It is the translator that should impress you.

MAX
Ah.

MAX quickly scribbles some notes about the information the ALIEN has just provided him.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have questions for you.

MAX
So you said. About ghosts.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Yes.

MAX
I have some questions, as well. Will you answer them?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I will answer what I can.

MAX
What do you wish to know?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Everything. What are they, these...ghosts?

MAX
Depends on who you ask.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am asking you.

MAX
The most common theory is that ghosts are the souls of humans who have died but who have not, for one reason or another, moved to the next plane of existence.

There's a long pause.

MAX cont'd
Hello? Are you there?

ALIEN (V.O.)
There was very little in what you have said which is translatable into my language.

MAX
Where did I lose you?

ALIEN (V.O.)
“Souls”?

MAX
Yes. You must have a similar concept.

ALIEN (V.O.)
We have nothing equivalent in our languages. “Soul” is untranslatable.

MAX
Well, what do you believe about the sanctity of sentient life?

ALIEN (V.O.)
That is a nonsensical question.

MAX
(impatiently)
What do you believe about religion? A higher being or beings? What do you believe about life after death?

ALIEN (V.O.)
None of those concepts are translatable. There is no being higher than the Queen.

MAX
(sighs in frustration)
I'm not sure we can come to a common understanding.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Perhaps not. But I wish to try.

MAX ponders this in silence for a moment.

MAX
Why?

ALIEN (V.O.)
It will inform my research.

MAX
Ah. You're a scientist.

ALIEN (V.O.)
In a manner of speaking.

MAX
Oh? If you're not a scientist, then what are you?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am someone with a job to do. Just like you. What is a “soul”?

MAX
(muttering to himself)
This isn't going to be easy.

INT Day. CC DIVINE's Salon.

CC
Okay - no spectacular stunts this time, right?

CODY and CLAUDINE nod meekly.

CC
No flying ornaments. The rest of the stuff is great, but I don't want to have to go back to the ER, if it's all the same to you.

CODY
No ER. Got it.
(mutters to CLAUDINE)
Got it?

CLAUDINE shrugs helplessly. CC meanwhile is checking herself in the mirror. She's stunningly beautiful, exotic, and everything a respected and expensive medium to the rich and famous should look like. The bell rings on the door. CLAUDINE hastens to open it. MRS. FENWICK and RICHIE enter the room. The orbs that that float around her suddenly get brighter and more agitated, and CLAUDINE looks with dismay at RICHIE. MRS. FENWICK looks grim while also smugly pleased. CC looks from RICHIE to MRS. FENWICK and sighs.

CC
Ah, hell.

INT Squad Room. Day.

CC, CODY and CLAUDINE are in the squad room at different desks. They're all being booked for fraud. CLAUDINE is being booked by RICHIE, while CODY is being booked by COP 1 and CC is being booked by COP 2. CC looks annoyed but not nervous. CODY and CLAUDINE are obviously nervous. CLAUDINE looks terrified but also worried about her brother, turning to glance at him as often as she can. The orbs that are usually lazily swooping around CLAUDINE are agitated. GIDEON comes in, frowning fiercely. He comes to a halt when he sees CC. CC's and Cody's backs are to him while CLAUDINE is in profile to him as she looks anxiously at CODY. The three cops see him immediately. GIDEON's gaze goes from CC to CODY to CLAUDINE. He meets CLAUDINE's eyes and his gaze lingers for a moment before he turns his attention back to CC.

GIDEON
(to CC, who's facing away from him)
Do I even want to know?

CODY is startled and turns to look at him. CC tenses then arrogantly turns her head to look at him over her shoulder. She's sublimely confident in her beauty.

CC
Gideon.

GIDEON
CC. Same ol', same ol'?

CC
(shrugs)
If you mean the same ol', same ol' entrapment, then yes.

GIDEON
Because you weren't defrauding anybody?

CC
Not a soul.

GIDEON
No pun intended.

CLAUDINE snorts a little laugh, and GIDEON glances at her again, his frown deepening but turning a little puzzled, before turning back to CC who's looking at him with a look of bored contempt.

CC
Are you just here to gloat?

GIDEON
I'm here to go to work.

CC
(rolls her eyes)
Oh. Of course. “Work”. Still trying to figure out how to blow the aliens out of the sky?

GIDEON
Somebody has to.

GIDEON walks fully into the squad room and heads towards his desk, which is still piled high with files.

CC
I wondered whose desk that was. Never would have expected it to be yours, since I know how much you love doing paperwork.

GIDEON
Necessary paperwork, in this case.

He glances over at RICHIE.

GIDEON
(to RICHIE)
When you're done with that, I need to speak with you.

RICHIE nods and keeps working on CLAUDINE's paperwork. CLAUDINE's rather avidly watching the interplay between CC and GIDEON, although she's obviously most fascinated by GIDEON. An especially large orb lazily floats diagonally across her, and GIDEON blinks in surprise, like he's seen something but he isn't sure what. She stares at him, startled, then quickly returns her attention to RICHIE. The pen holder on RICHIE's desk that was vibrating slightly rocks a bit more noticeably but stops abruptly when GIDEON looks more intently at CLAUDINE and the desk where she's sitting. GIDEON shakes his head; he obviously needs more sleep because he's starting to see things. He turns his attention back to CC.

GIDEON
I keep hoping you'll see the light.

CC
In my business, that has a whole other meaning.

GIDEON rolls his eyes and walks to his desk.

GIDEON
You shouldn't be taking advantage of people in pain.

CC
Still noble, I see. And still naïve. Do you want to know the number one question people ask their dear, departed loved ones?

GIDEON
Not particularly.

CC
“Where'd you hide the money.”

Everyone looks at her, startled. She smiles around the room; she and CLAUDINE are the only women there, and CC knows she has the men enthralled in spite of themselves.

CC
(nods)
Oh, yes. My clients aren't wondering if their loved ones are safe or happy; or even if there's truly a heaven. They want to make sure they don't suffer in the here and now. Do you want to know what the second most popular question is?

The other COPs nod.

CC
“How could you sleep with him/her.” Greed. Jealousy. Those are the two main reasons my clients come to me to make contact with their dead loved ones.

GIDEON
Except you don't make contact. You never have. You investigate your clients and then you give them the answers you think they want to hear.

CC
I never know where the money is, and sometimes the reasons for cheating are painfully obvious. It's a living, Gideon. And more honourable than some.

GIDEON
I almost believe you, CC. If I hadn't known you before my father exposed you for the fake that you are, I'd actually believe your story. But you forget that I was there; I was there for so many of your readings where the person sitting at your table didn't ask about money or betrayal. When they cried beside you, wanting to be reassured that their loved ones were safe, beyond harm, happy - and missing them, too.

CC
It was never just your father who busted me, was it? It was always you.

GIDEON
My father busted you first. I didn't want to believe him. But while he has his faults, he would never lie to me.

CC
(rising to be escorted to have her mug shots taken)
Everybody lies, Gideon. Even your father. Even you.

GIDEON
Of course I lie, CC. It's part of my job.

CC
Mine too.

CC leaves the room, leaving GIDEON frowning even more angrily than before. CODY and CLAUDINE are watching him curiously; and he frowns as he notices their interest.

GIDEON
And who the hell are you two?

CODY
CC's assistants.

GIDEON
(snorts)
Fellow fraudsters, you mean.

CLAUDINE
Are we really?

GIDEON
You're lying to people; pretending to be something you're not; taking money for the lies you tell. What do you think?

CLAUDINE
I think you're very bitter about CC. Maybe you should consider forgiving and forgetting.

GIDEON
(glares)
It's none of your damn business.

CLAUDINE
You shouldn't be so angry all the time.
(rises to follow RICHIE to get her mug shot taken)
If you still love her, then you should figure out a way to forgive her.

GIDEON gapes after her, torn between shock and anger. He looks around to see CODY looking at him with wide eyes.

GIDEON
Are you going to add your two cents worth?

CODY
No, sir.

GIDEON
Maybe you're not as dumb as you look.

CODY
Hey!

GIDEON
Or as dumb as your choice of profession.

CODY
(shrugs as he gets up to follow COP 2 to get his mug shot taken)
We all have to eat.

GIDEON just shakes his head as CODY goes through the doors to the back of the building. It was an odd encounter. The pen holder on RICHIE's desk trembles again.

INT COP STATION - CAP'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON

CAP, GIDEON, MAX, LUKE, RUSTY and RICHIE are sitting in CAP's office. They've just finished listening to the conversation between MAX and the ALIEN. CAP shuts off the machine, and the men sit in silence for long moments.

CAP
This...is...

GIDEON
Insane.

The men nod. There are expressions of stunned disbelief on their faces and a general air of shock in their postures.

CAP shakes himself from his stupor.

CAP
Well, Dr. Maxwell, the trace worked. And it didn't work.

MAX
Did the call come from Earth?

CAP
No. But we have no idea where it did come from.

RUSTY
Well, if not Earth, then -

CAP
This...alien could be calling from one of the ships over our town; he could be calling from the far side of the moon for all we know. All we know for sure is that it didn't come from someplace on the face of the Earth.

MAX
So do you truly believe this is an alien? Asking about souls and ghosts?

CAP
(shrugs helplessly)
Until we have proof to the contrary, what else can we believe?

LUKE
What now?

CAP
(looks at GIDEON)
Now we go to the military and the government. We finally have contact. Maybe we can use this to find out what the hell they want with us.

MAX
We have to take the chance.

CAP
I don't think we want this getting out to the public.

GIDEON
God, no! We don't want a repeat of the riots after the aliens arrived. Telling the public that the aliens have finally opened communications and they're asking about ghosts...
(shakes head)
I'm not sure how everyone would react.

MAX
(flatly)
They wouldn't believe it. Hell, I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't talked to the...creature myself. And there's a part of me that still doesn't believe it. It's far more likely that somebody's playing an elaborate joke on me, and my work.

GIDEON
If that's the case, we'll find the guy and I will personally show him what happens to people who mess with my father.

LUKE
I'll help.

RUSTY
Me, too.

MAX
Thanks, boys, but hopefully that won't be necessary.

CAP
(amused)
I'd hate to have to arrest you three for assault.
(sobers)
We have no choice but to assume this is legitimate. The ships are hanging over our heads all over the world. They constantly fly over us. The fact that one of them has contacted you to basically ask you to tell him ghost stories around a campfire - well, it's crazy, but no crazier than the fact that they came, they conquered, and then they just sat here. We'll put it into the hands of the military and government. There's nothing else we can do.

MAX
(sighs)
I suppose not.

They all get up and CAP walks them out of his office and into the squad room.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. SQUAD ROOM - DAY

They enter the squad room, where CC, CLAUDINE and CODY are finishing making bail and getting their personal effects.

CC
(freezes at the sight of the four MAXWELLs)
Oh, for - this just isn't my bloody month, is it?

MAX
CC?
(delightedly)
CC! My God! It's wonderful to see you!

He walks up to her and gives her a hug, which obviously startles her. Then he stands back, his hands on her shoulders as he beams at her.

CC
Max.

MAX
You look stunning! If anything, more beautiful than ever. How have you been?

CC
Getting by.

MAX
We need to have coffee or lunch or something. I've missed our talks, you know. Beautiful and intelligent is a killer combination.
(notices CODY and CLAUDINE and nods to them)
Hello.

CODY/CLAUDINE
(mumbles)
Hi. Hello.

CC
Dr. Charles Maxwell, these are my assistants. Cody and Claudine Barringsford.

MAX
(shakes their hands)
Pleasure to meet you.
(turns back to CC)
I would love to come by in the next few days, CC. Get caught up.

CC
(suspiciously)
I'm still at the same place, Max. Why don't you give me a call.

MAX
I'll do that.
(glances at his sons who are obviously shocked then turns back to the other three.)
I have to go. Do you three need a ride anywhere?

CC
(looks defiantly at LUKE and GIDEON)
Actually, yes.
(glares at RICHIE)
I don't have my car since we had to leave so abruptly, so I'd dearly appreciate a ride home.

CODY and CLAUDINE glance at each other. MAX looks at them with a big grin. When he does, the orbs that are always floating around CLAUDINE suddenly flare brighter and become more agitated and more numerous, and the pencil holder on the desk beside her shakes hard enough to rattle the contents. MAX blinks at her, his smile fading.

CODY quickly makes a bit of a show of bumping into the desk and rattling everything on it.

CLAUDINE
(mutters through her teeth without moving her lips, speaking to the orbs)
Stop it.

The orbs flare then wink out. MAX stares intently but not unkindly at CLAUDINE, his smile gone now. CLAUDINE stares back, trying to hide her discomfort. CODY steps in front of her.

CODY
You know, actually, we have errands to run, CC. We'll meet you back at your place.

MAX
(to CLAUDINE)
What's your name again?

GIDEON is scowling at CLAUDINE; MAX is fascinated; LUKE and RUSTY are watching with curiosity; RICHIE and CAP are a little amused but mostly puzzled.

CLAUDINE
(clears throat, but she speaks calmly enough)
Claudine. Claudine Barringsford.

CODY
(protectively)
And I'm her brother, Cody.

MAX gives them both a long, thoughtful stare. Another orb lazily floats diagonally across CLAUDINE as the pencil holder rattles once, quietly, and MAX's eyes light up.

MAX
Well, Cody, I think we can help you and Claudine run your errands. It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of talking with two such beautiful young women; I'd hate to miss out on this opportunity.
(without looking at his sons)
Gideon.

GIDEON
Huh? What? Yes, Dad?

CLAUDINE and CODY are startled; looking from one man to the other.

MAX
You're off duty now aren't you?

GIDEON
Uh...

MAX
Good. You can help them run their errands and then bring them to CC's place when they're done.

All three look disconcerted and CC looks appalled. LUKE and RUSTY try not to laugh.

MAX
Luke, why don't you and Rusty come with me and CC to her place. We can all get reacquainted. It's been far too long since we saw each other.

Now it's LUKE and RUSTY's turn to look disconcerted. CC, if anything, looks even more appalled.

CC
Max -

MAX
Oh, come now, CC. You can't still be angry over my assessment of your abilities, can you? I told the truth. I never judged you or cast aspersions on you.

As CC tries to think of something to say to this, MAX begins to usher her out of the room with LUKE and RUSTY trailing behind.

MAX
(speaking over his shoulder)
Don't take too long, Gideon. You never know who may be calling me tonight.

GIDEON gets the message.

GIDEON
(growls)
Where do you two need to go?

CODY looks at CLAUDINE and sighs.

CODY
Just to CC's place.

GIDEON
What about your errands?

CLAUDINE
We were just trying to get out of talking to your father.

GIDEON
Why? He's a pretty harmless guy.
(pauses, considering)
Most of the time.

CLAUDINE
You'll find out soon enough.

CODY
(to CLAUDINE)
We may as well get it over with.

CLAUDINE
(nods)
Yeah. We may as well go straight to CC's and face the music.

CODY nods and they head out the door, followed by a puzzled and scowling GIDEON.

TRANSITION TO:

INT CC DIVINE's SALON - AFTERNOON.

MAX, GIDEON, CLAUDINE, CODY, CC, LUKE and RUSTY are sitting around the table in CC's salon. They all have cups of coffee in front of them. CLAUDINE is looking extremely uncomfortable, almost guilty. CODY is watching her worriedly, while at the same time keeping an eye on the MAXWELLs and obviously holding himself ready to throw himself in front of CLAUDINE to protect her if necessary.

There's tension in the room although only CLAUDINE and CODY seem to know why there's tension in the room. There are more orbs than normal floating rapidly around and across CLAUDINE, and the ornaments on the fireplace mantle occasionally tremble.

MAX has obviously just finished making small talk and he's watching CLAUDINE with a pleased smile on his face.

CC
(breaking the silence)
Well, this has been...special, Max, but why are you really here?

MAX
(turns his attention to CC and smiles)
You always were very bright.
(leans forward)
As you know, I have a network of paranormal researchers around the world. For the last few months, many of us have been recording the same message during our investigations.

CC
That you're insane?

MAX
(laughs)
Well, considering your profession, that's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. No. The message we've consistently received is “Find C. Open the door.”

CC
What does that have to do with me?

MAX
Possibly nothing. In fact, you never even crossed my mind until I saw you at the police station. Rusty had asked if the C stood for a person, place or thing. I had started listing places when - when I was interrupted. Then I saw you...and I thought perhaps the message referred to you.

CC
I don't -

MAX
Now I'm not so sure.
(looks at CLAUDINE)
Perhaps the ghosts were trying to tell me about you.

CLAUDINE
Why wouldn't they just say my name?

MAX
Is Claudine Barringsford your real name?

CODY
What are you implying?

MAX
Nothing. But it would be one reason why the ghosts only gave me an initial. That you had changed your name.

CLAUDINE
They still could have told you the name I was using.

GIDEON
So it's not your real name?

CLAUDINE
Of course it's my real name! But if the ghosts were referring to me, why wouldn't they just tell you the whole name? They know -

Everyone except CODY frowns at her; wondering why she stopped speaking so suddenly.

MAX
(gently)
They know?

CLAUDINE
(slowly, unwillingly)
They know me.

MAX
Are you saying you're a medium?

CLAUDINE
(laughs)
No. There's nothing psychic about it. At least...it doesn't feel that way. I just - they've always spoken to me. They're just...there.

GIDEON
(angry, disbelieving)
Are you telling us you see dead people?

CLAUDINE
Not...not exactly.

GIDEON
Well, what do you mean? Exactly?

MAX
(warningly)
Gideon -

CLAUDINE
I hear...voices, only I can't make out the words. It's like listening to people talking through clouds of cotton. You know it's speech, but you can't understand it. There are...things - energies - entities - call them what you will - around me most of the time. Objects move without me touching them, sometimes violently, sometimes gently. These voices may be the souls of the dead, but they've never told me that. When I ask, they won't answer that particular question.

GIDEON opens his mouth to speak but MAX waves him to silence.

CLAUDINE cont'd
(more to herself than to her listeners)
Sometimes I think they're another life form. Another species that's attached to us, or that follow us around with us wherever we go - our own version of the remora. Other times, I think they're distinctly human; they argue, they're petty, they throw tantrums. Either way, they seem alive to me - conscious, self-aware entities.

CLAUDINE cont'd
I'm sorry, Max. The kind of ghosts you're looking for may exist, but I don't know if they're the same ghosts I know.

MAX looks devastated and suddenly very old and tired.

During CLAUDINE's speech, the ornaments on the mantle are gently vibrating and their movement is becoming more noticeable as the conversation continues. The orbs are floating around her more rapidly.

MAX
Do you think you're the C they're referring to?

CLAUDINE
I...I don't know. I can't see why I would be. I also don't know anything about any doors -

CLAUDINE's attention is suddenly caught by the moving ornaments on the mantle.

CLAUDINE cont'd
(urgently)
Don't -

Two of the ornaments suddenly fly off the mantle and smash against the opposite wall. Everyone is scrambling out of their seats with exclamations of shock, fear and confusion. While they're also on their feet, CLAUDINE and CODY are startled but not shocked; they mostly look embarrassed and annoyed. Several other ornaments are still shaking violently.

CLAUDINE
(firmly)
That's enough! You could have found another way to tell me you have a message for Max. Now stop throwing things around!

The orbs wink out and the ornaments abruptly stop moving and everyone is frozen in place, waiting for whatever happens next. MAX stares at CLAUDINE. GIDEON is staring from the shattered fragments of the ornament to CLAUDINE and back again. He's visibly shaken. CC is equally shocked. In spite of her profession, she's never believed in the ghosts she claimed to contact. This evidence of the supernatural knocks her off-balance. LUKE and RUSTY are gaping at CLAUDINE. While not nearly as skeptical as GIDEON, they were still unsure if their father was actually chasing something that existed.

MAX
(slowly and carefully)
They...listen to you?

CLAUDINE
Sometimes. Most of the time, they do whatever they want, whenever they want.

MAX
But...they...listen to you? Sometimes?

CLAUDINE
Yes. Sometimes. It seems to depend on how pissed off I get with them.

MAX
(reverently)
My God. I need to get you to my lab -

CLAUDINE
(shaking her head, palms out)
Oh, no - not again!

MAX
(sharply)
Again?

CLAUDINE
Well, not you personally, of course. I think I would have remembered you.

MAX
But you were studied by paranormal researchers before? People know about you?

CLAUDINE
I don't know who they all were. I was in and out of psych wards and doctors' offices all through my childhood and into my early teens. I was medicated, poked, probed, made to discuss why I hated my mother. There may have been a paranormal researcher in there somewhere. I do seem to recall trying to guess which cards were being held by some guy in a room...but I was very young at the time.

MAX
My God.

CLAUDINE
It was hell.

MAX
I'm sorry about that. And I'm glad it wasn't me. I've interviewed perhaps half a dozen children during my career, and tested none of them. I would have definitely remembered you if I had interviewed you.

Everyone stands silent for a moment.

GIDEON
So, where does all of this leave us?

RUSTY
(snorts)
As far as I can tell, no further ahead than before. I mean, Claudine here obviously has some, uh, paranormal connections, but we still have no idea whether she's the “C” the ghosts are talking about.

MAX
We could always ask them.

Everyone turns to stare at MAX.

MAX
(after glancing around and seeing their expressions)
Oh, come on! CC, you run seances all the time. Have you ever tried it with Claudine?

CLAUDINE
(shaking head)
Oh, no. No. No, no, no, no, no!

CUT TO:

INT. CC DIVINE'S SALON - NIGHT

There's now a larger round table in the salon, and MAX, CC, CODY, CLAUDINE, GIDEON, LUKE, and RUSTY are sitting around it as CC tries to get everyone to begin the séance. GIDEON is obviously not happy with this turn of events and is glowering at everyone at the table, especially his father and CC.

CC regally nods at everyone and reaches out on either side of her to clasp MAX's and CODY's hands. CODY then takes CLAUDINE's hand. She turns and looks at GIDEON, who glares at her before MAX's stern expression makes him give in and take her hand. He watches her out of the corner of his eye as he holds his other hand out for LUKE. LUKE is next to RUSTY, and RUSTY is beside MAX.

CC nods with satisfaction when everyone is finally holding hands.

CC
All right. Now. I need everyone to concentrate.

CLAUDINE
(shakes head)
I don't think this is going to work, you know.

CC
They seem to come out all the other times you've been here doing a séance.

CLAUDINE
Yeah, to throw things around, not to talk! Seriously, I really don't think this is going to work.

CC
Just try.

CLAUDINE and CODY share a glance, then with a sigh, they shake their heads and focus on what CC is doing.

CC
Now, we all need to concentrate -

LUKE
(to CC)
Will this be the first time you'll be talking to real ghosts?

CC
(releases MAX and CODY's hands, slaps the table and points an accusing finger at LUKE)
That's it! You! Stop riding my ass!

MAX
Children, children, please. Leave the petty squabbles for when we're not entertaining guests.

GIDEON
Guests?

MAX nods towards the corner behind CLAUDINE, where in the dim lighting of the salon, they can clearly see ectoplasm/orbs coalescing before their eyes. MAX is watching the manifestation with undisguised excitement, wonder, curiosity and joy; GIDEON with shock; LUKE and RUSTY with surprise and curiosity; CC with quite a bit of fear. CLAUDINE and CODY are looking apprehensive.

CODY
Oh...this can't be good.

CLAUDINE
No...

CODY
In fact...

CLAUDINE
This is very, very -

CODY/CLAUDINE
DUCK!

CODY and CLAUDINE dive under the table, pulling the people closest to them down to the floor with them. In Claudine's case, this is GIDEON who is none-too-pleased by this turn of events even as the manifestation appears to explode. The air turns icy cold, and all objects that weren't nailed down in the corner where the manifestation occurred are thrown violently around the room, smashing into walls and at the table where everyone is hiding. GIDEON instinctively protects CLAUDINE while they all wait for the chaos to subside. CODY and MAX are covering CC, while RUSTY and LUKE are protecting MAX and each other.

The violence ends abruptly, with any objects still in the air falling to the floor or the table with clangs or thuds.

No one moves until the temperature returns to normal. They slowly crawl out from under the table and look around at the destruction.

GIDEON
(to CLAUDINE)
You couldn't have warned us?

CLAUDINE
This level of - of intensity has never happened before...

CODY
Of course, we've also never deliberately tried to call them before, either.

CLAUDINE
Good point.

LUKE
I don't think we should try calling them again.

MAX
At least not tonight.

RUSTY
Which means we're really no further ahead than we were before.

MAX
I wouldn't say that! We know they definitely want to get our attention, and Claudine is apparently the key to the message - whatever that message may be. We'll need to try and contact them again because while we can't force them to tell us anything, they may tell Claudine something on their own accord.

They all turn to CLAUDINE who looks uncomfortable and worried.

INT. MAX'S LAB - NIGHT

MAX is alone, working on the computer. The phone rings. MAX, as is his habit, puts the phone on speaker without even looking at it as he continues working.

MAX
Hello.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Dr. Maxwell.

MAX freezes, then hurriedly starts the digital recording. He hesitates for another moment before he speaks.

MAX
I wasn't expecting you to call again.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I found our last conversation...unsatisfying.

MAX
Oh?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I find I have more questions than answers.

MAX
And what are those questions?

ALIEN (V.O.)
You talk of souls and this...god - we have no equivalent concepts.

MAX
Have you come up with a translation?

ALIEN (V.O.)
No. The terms are untranslatable.

MAX
Ah. Then you're obviously not a theologian.

ALIEN (V.O.)
That term is not translatable.

MAX
(chuckles as he makes a note on a pad of paper)
Never mind. Tell me, Unpronounceable, will you answer my questions as well?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have already said I would answer what I can.

MAX
Are you a - a - an entity of your word?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I do not lie.

MAX
(slowly grins)
But you do not always tell the entire truth. Is that it?

There's a small pause as the ALIEN hesitates.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Yes.

MAX
What do you want to know?

INT. MAX'S SCIENCE LAB - AFTERNOON

MAX is reviewing a video recording of a very young girl in a lab setting, being tested for psychic abilities. It's YOUNG CLAUDINE. He's listening to the audio with his headphones but he's not making notes; he's simply observing and his face clearly shows his empathy for the child's confusion and distress, even though the activities are innocuous and as non-threatening as possible. While she's listening to the researcher, she's also reacting to something behind and to either side of her, something that's unnerving her.

There's a knock on the door and MAX pauses the video. He blanks the screen before he goes to answer the door. He opens it to reveal CAP, GIDEON and TOMAS.

TOMAS is an attractive black man in his mid-to-late thirties, dressed impeccably in a crisp army uniform. He's a man comfortable in his authority, and takes it and its corresponding responsibilities seriously. He has a remoteness in his manner and coldly controlled anger in his eyes that isn't necessarily directed at anyone in particular, but more at the world in which he now lives.

MAX
Ah. Our military visitor.

The three men enter the room, with TOMAS taking an undisguised, skeptical look around the room. His contempt is clear even before he opens his mouth, although he's polite enough.

TOMAS
(shaking hands with MAX)
Dr. Maxwell, I'm Lieutenant-Colonel Tomas Arroya. After his discussions with the Captain, General Ingram has ordered me to assess the evidence you've compiled and determine whether your caller is truly an alien or if this is some elaborate prank.

MAX
Being played on me, I hope is your implication.

TOMAS
I'm sure you and your...work are targets of many crank calls.

MAX
Surprisingly enough, not as many as you'd expect. Why don't you have a seat, and I'll cue up the latest conversation, which I don't believe you've heard yet.

TOMAS
Why wasn't this recording sent immediately to General Ingram?

CAP
Because he didn't sound like he believed us, and he sounded like he was deferring this to somebody else. Which would be you. Obviously.

TOMAS flicks a cold glance at CAP who simply stares back with a lifted eyebrow. He turns his attention back to MAX.

TOMAS
Well, let's hear what your caller has to say.

LATER

TOMAS, GIDEON, CAP and MAX are sitting around MAX's work table and have just finished listening to the recording. There's a moment of silence once the recording finishes, then TOMAS shakes himself out of his reverie.

TOMAS
Well, Dr. Maxwell, I'll take this recording, and if you know what's good for you, you'll destroy any copies you may have made.

MAX raises an eyebrow but remains unconcerned.

GIDEON
Wait just a -

TOMAS
This is now a matter of national security.

CAP
(slightly sarcastic)
Not planetary?

TOMAS
These days, national is planetary.

GIDEON
So, you believe him now? You think this caller really is an alien?

TOMAS
I didn't say that.

GIDEON
Well, if you don't believe it, then this can't be a case of national - I'm sorry, planetary - importance. Don't bullshit us, Colonel.

TOMAS
I can't say anymore. The recordings, Dr. Maxwell, if you please.

MAX
(pops a DVD out of the computer)
I thought you'd want this. Here. And it's the only copy I have.

TOMAS takes the DVD and stands.

TOMAS
Well, in spite of your questionable profession, your patriotism is intact.

MAX walks TOMAS to the door and ensures he's gone before going back to CAP and GIDEON.

MAX
Well, I'm assuming that's that.

GIDEON
Until the next phone call.

MAX
True.

CAP
Too bad you gave him your only copy.

MAX
Yes. Too bad.
(pause)
Of course, I still have the original.

CAP and GIDEON stare blankly at MAX for a moment before his words sink in. They slowly start to grin then laugh. MAX laughs with them.

MAX
We'll see what my alien friend has to say next time. If there is a next time. He sounded very much like he was no longer interested in hearing about ghosts and our beliefs. Which is rather a pity. I think we could have learned a great deal from this alien.

GIDEON
(to himself more than to the other men in the room)
I know. This might have been our best and only chance to learn something useful.

INT. CC'S SALON - EVENING

CLAUDINE is lying on the couch reading a book when the doorbell rings. She answers it to find GIDEON on the other side. She's obviously startled to see him but steps back and lets him in.

GIDEON
Is CC in?

CLAUDINE
No. She's meeting with a potential client.

GIDEON
Some things never change.

CLAUDINE
It's a living. I'll tell her you were here, looking for her.

GIDEON
To tell the truth - I'm not actually here to talk to her. I'm here to talk to you.

CLAUDINE
Me?

GIDEON
Yes.

CLAUDINE
Ah.

She leads him to the livingroom where he sits in an armchair while she settles herself back on the couch.

CLAUDINE
You have questions. You don't believe my story.

GIDEON
I have questions, yes. I do believe your story, though. What happened here a few days ago would be pretty hard to fake, especially when none of you were expecting us to descend on you or force a séance on you.

CLAUDINE
Wow. That's...a surprisingly open-minded conclusion.

GIDEON
(smiles slightly)
I'm not sure I like what you're implying about me.

CLAUDINE
I'm not implying anything at all; I'm simply stating what I see as the facts.

They sit in somewhat awkward silence for a moment.

GIDEON
These...ghosts. Have you always -

CLAUDINE
Heard them? Yes. From as far back as I can remember. Most doctors thought I was schizophrenic and medicated me for most of my childhood. At my parents' insistence.

GIDEON
Did the medications help?

CLAUDINE
(shrugs)
It dulled the noise; then again, it dulled everything. But it didn't stop the ghosts from changing the temperature, or causing the TV to switch channels without anybody using the remote control, or causing objects to fly through the air.

GIDEON
How did your parents and the doctors explain those away?

CLAUDINE
The furnace and air conditioner were acting up. The TV obviously had a short. And either Cody or I were rigging it so it only appeared objects were flying through the air on their own accord. There's always a rational explanation, isn't there, Officer Maxwell?

GIDEON
I think under the circumstances, you can call me Gideon.

CLAUDINE
What circumstances?

GIDEON
When you've been huddled under a table with a person while things are being thrown at you with lethal intent, I think you can be on a first name basis.

CLAUDINE
(chuckles reluctantly)
There wasn't any lethal intent. Not that time, anyway.

GIDEON
That time?

CLAUDINE
These ghosts are as varied as people, you know. There are some very good ghosts; kind, even loving. And then there are others. Others who...

CLAUDINE trails off, looking worried.

GIDEON
Who aren't as kind or good?

CLAUDINE
Exactly. There are reasons why I try to avoid calling them, or attracting their attention towards me and mine. You never know who's going to answer the call.

GIDEON digests this in silence for a few moments. CLAUDINE shakes herself out of her mood and watches GIDEON with growing amusement.

CLAUDINE
You're having a really hard time with this, aren't you?

GIDEON
(sighs)
My father started ghost-hunting when my mother died. I don't remember exactly why he began ghost-hunting - I was very young. But I do remember he was obsessed with it - so much so, he left me more and more with my grandparents while he was out, chasing all those nameless things that go bump in the night.

CLAUDINE
It must have been very difficult for you and your brothers.

GIDEON
I'd hoped it would get a little better when Dad remarried...except he married his research assistant, and then they were both out hunting ghosts.

CLAUDINE
Remarried? Then Luke and Rusty -

GIDEON
Are my brothers from Dad's second wife. Anyway, maybe because I could vaguely remember a different way, I've always hated Dad's work. Unlike Luke and Rusty I never once helped Dad in his investigations, never supported him, never really believed him. Truth be told, I'm often embarrassed by him and his "profession". To find out he was right - at least to the extent that there really is something out there that we can't see or touch or measure...

GIDEON ruefully shakes his head, while CLAUDINE's amusement grows during his little speech.

CLAUDINE
Galling, is it?

GIDEON
You have no idea.

CLAUDINE laughs.

INT. MAX'S SCIENCE LAB - DAY

MAX is sitting at his desk, typing up a report from his latest investigation, frowning as he does so. There's a knock on the door.

MAX
(without looking away from his screen and still frowning)
It's open!

The door opens and TOMAS comes in.

TOMAS
Dr. Maxwell.

MAX
(glances at him then turns his attention back to the computer)
Ah. Colonel.

Silence reigns for a moment, the clicking of the keys the only sound, then TOMAS grits his teeth and positions himself firmly in front of MAX's desk.

TOMAS
I've conferred with Washington. We believe the calls are genuine. I'm here to coordinate moving you to a safer location where the calls can be monitored by a team of intelligence officers.

MAX listens expressionlessly to TOMAS' orders.

MAX
Why?

TOMAS
To ensure we get the information as soon as it arrives. We can then also -

MAX
No - why do I have to move to a safer location? The aliens have never stepped foot on this planet - as far as I'm aware. Who, or what, are you trying to protect me from? Or is this your oh-so-polite way of telling me I'm under arrest for no reason?

TOMAS
Quite honestly, Dr. Maxwell, we don't know what the hell the aliens are doing or have done. We don't know if this contact will be limited to phone calls - or if you'll be the first human to meet with one of the aliens face-to-face.

MAX thoughtfully considers TOMAS.

MAX
That thought galls you, doesn't it? Tell me, is it because you don't believe in ghosts or because I'm the one who was contacted and not a military or government man such as yourself?

TOMAS
I'm not just a military man, Dr. Maxwell. I'm a scientist as well - a true scientist. A physicist, to be exact.

MAX
Ah. And you don't believe that what I do is a science?

TOMAS
(contemptuously)
Chasing things that don't exist and acting as if what you do is an actual science. And you're the one the aliens decide to contact? Please.

MAX
(chuckles slightly)
You and my son Gideon should get along just fine. Tell me, Colonel, what area of physics is your specialty?

TOMAS
String theory.

MAX
Ah, yes, I don't understand the field, of course, but I believe there's a school of thought in string theory about multiple dimensions, accessible through these hypothetical objects, called "strings", which are coiled in upon themselves?

TOMAS
Simplistic drivel and not nearly as accurate as it could be.

MAX
Tell me, Colonel, what proof do you have that these strings exist? Yes, yes, I understand the equations support their existence. But how do you measure them? Touch or taste them? See them? Interact with them?

TOMAS
(angrily; he knows what MAX is getting at)
You're chasing down tales that are used to frighten children.

MAX
Simplistic drivel and not nearly as accurate as it could be. If you personally don't believe in the existence of ghosts, that's your prerogative, and I certainly won't waste my time trying to convine you otherwise. To demean my professionalism, however, is something else entirely.

MAX cont'd
You call me Dr. Maxwell - I'm assuming that means you've accessed my background information. You must therefore know I have a PhD in Chemistry and Biology, as well as several unfinished degrees in both sociology and anthropolgy. You may disagree that the subject I'm researching is worthy of the time and effort to do so, but you cannot impugn my credentials and my scientific objectivity. Like you, I am a true scientist.

TOMAS has the grace to look slightly abashed at MAX's scolding and hard stare.

MAX cont'd
As for being moved to a “more secure location”, the answer is no. The alien - if he truly is an alien - may not phone again. You heard that last call; he reacted much like you did. And, really - is there anyplace on earth that would be safe if the aliens decided to come and get me?

TOMAS
We should at least make the attempt.

MAX
(shakes head)
Futile as it may be.

MAX observes TOMAS for a moment in silence.

MAX cont'd
I'll make you a bargain, Colonel. We continue as we are. Whether you value it or not, I have work to do and I won't neglect it. You can set up all the recording equipment you want in case he calls back. If he does, I'll continue to talk to him; tell him what he wants to know and ask questions of my own. That's what you're really after, isn't it? Getting as much information about the aliens as possible? If it seems like there's imminent danger, then - and only then - will I move to a more secure location. Along with whoever else I say.

TOMAS
You are in no position to bargain.

MAX
No? What do you think would happen if I refused to speak to this alien again?

TOMAS glares at MAX.

TOMAS
It's an empty threat. You want to know - just like we do.

MAX
Perhaps. But you can keep me and mine under surveillance just as easily here and in my home as you can somewhere else. Who knows? You might actually learn something.

TOMAS snorts derisively, but MAX has obviously won. For now.

INT. CC DIVINE'S SALON - EVENING

CLAUDINE, CODY, CC, MAX, GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY are sitting around CC's table, cups of coffee in front of them.

MAX
(to CC, CODY and CLAUDINE)
I know Gideon's going to make a sarcastic comment, but I'm sure you know we're here because of Claudine, and the messages from the ghosts.

All eyes turn to GIDEON, who winces but stays silent, to the obvious surprise of everyone at the table.

GIDEON
What? I can keep my mouth shut when necessary.

Both LUKE and RUSTY snort in disbelief.

CC
(mutters)
Couldn't prove it by me.

MAX chuckles and returns his focus to CLAUDINE.

MAX
Claudine, I found the person who tested you as a child.

CLAUDINE
Just one?

MAX
The only one with tapes.

CLAUDINE looks warily at him.

MAX
(gently)
Do you know what you were called in the literature?

CLAUDINE shakes her head.

MAX
Little Girl C.

CODY
(explosively)
No. No! The ghosts can't be talking about her!

MAX
I think they are.

RUSTY
Has the message changed?

CC
What message?

RUSTY
From the ghosts. If Claudine is the C they mean, then wouldn't the message change?

MAX
That makes sense. As far as I know, the message hasn't changed. Then again, we may have found C, but we still have to figure out what door they want us to open.

GIDEON
We need to decide whether we should even open whatever door they're talking about. You told me yourself, Claudine - you don't know the kind of ghosts you're going to get when you call for them. If we “open the door” for them, what's going to come through?

MAX is watching CLAUDINE closely.

MAX
They listen to you, don't they?

CLAUDINE
Well - I wouldn't say -

MAX
Before the séance, you made them stop rattling the ornaments.

CLAUDINE
I...I asked them to stop rattling the ornaments.

MAX
And they did.

CLAUDINE
Obedience isn't guaranteed.

CC
Did you try to stop the...the...entity who attacked us?

CLAUDINE
(frowns)
No-o-o-o - but that type of energy build-up usually doesn't comply when I ask. The more ghosts there are, the less likely they are to listen to me.

LUKE
Power in numbers?

CLAUDINE
I - I'd never thought of it that way before, but...yes, I suppose.

MAX and RUSTY look at each other thoughtfully.

MAX
I would like us to do some experiments, Claudine.
(raises his hand as CC starts to protest)
Preferably not here - some controlled experiments in controlled settings.

CLAUDINE sighs in resignation. She's been the subject of experiments before.

MAX cont'd
Tell me, do the ghosts tell you anything? Do they speak to you?

CLAUDINE
(angrily, tears of frustration in her eyes)
All the damn time. Why do you think I spent time in a psych ward?

MAX
Will they answer questions? Specific questions?

CLAUDINE
Well, I've never had long, intimate conversations with them, if that's what you mean. We've never shared our hopes and dreams and that kind of thing.

MAX
Have you ever asked them questions? About who they are, what they want?

CLAUDINE
No.

MAX
Why not?

CLAUDINE
Because I'm afraid to know the answers.

Everyone is silent for a moment.

MAX
Will you at least let me conduct some experiments with you?

CLAUDINE
Why is it so important to you?

MAX
Because they've been sending everyone the same message. “Find C. Open the door.” That's never happened before. Our ghosts have suddenly started playing by different rules, and we need to find out why and what they want us to do. Now that we've found “C” - you, Claudine - we need to figure out what door needs to be opened. Or are you simply the door to the other side?

CODY
(abruptly)
I don't think she's C.

LUKE
Why not?

CODY
Because why be coy? If they meant Claudine and only Claudine, why wouldn't they just tell you her name? Why this wild goose chase? And why have the same message all over the world? It's not like they don't know where she is.

RUSTY
What are you suggesting?

CODY
Either “C” stands for someone or something other than Claudine, or...

MAX
Or?

CODY
Or there are more people like Claudine and you're meant to find as many of them as you can.

INT. CC DIVINE'S SALON - NIGHT

GIDEON, CC, CLAUDINE, MAX are at a small round table, a Ouija board between them. RUSTY is poised between MAX and GIDEON with a pen and a pad of paper. CODY and LUKE are sitting at the larger round table, watching everything intently.

CC gestures to the other three to put their fingers on the planchette, then lightly rests her fingers on top of it.

CLAUDINE
(as she hesitently places her fingertips on the planchette)
I don't like this.

MAX
We've removed almost everything that isn't nailed down. Everything left is too heavy to move.

GIDEON
(muttering)
At least for us.

MAX
(ignoring GIDEON)
And they tend to listen to you.

CLAUDINE
Not always.

MAX
Sometimes - and that's more than anybody else can say.
(he pats her hand)
It'll be all right, Claudine.

GIDEON
Why do I have to participate in this farce?

CC
Oh for God's sake - you can't still be skeptical that ghosts exist?

GIDEON
I know something exists - but whether it's ghosts as we've always defined them, or something else is the question. Look, why not let Rusty do this - he's the least skeptical of your sons and he's worked with you before.

RUSTY
Yeah, Dad, I'll do it if Gideon's too scared.

LUKE and CODY snicker.

GIDEON
Hey!

RUSTY
I call 'em like I see 'em, buddy.

MAX
Boys -

GIDEON and RUSTY subside as GIDEON and MAX also place their fingertips on the planchette.

CC
Relax. Let down your barriers. Let the spirits feel your presence, let them come to you.

GIDEON is rolling his eyes but his attention is suddenly caught by the misty cloud forming behind CLAUDINE.

CC
Is there someone here? If you're here, please move the pointer to “yes”.

As CC speaks, the misty cloud gets bigger and more opaque. The planchette slowly trembles then begins to move, first in jerky motions then more smoothly, under their fingers to the word “yes.”

CC
Excellent. Max?

MAX
Is Claudine the person we're looking for?

The planchette moves to the word “no”, pauses then moves to the word “yes”. Everyone frowns.

MAX
Is she the one who can lead us to the door?

The planchette moves back to “no”.

MAX
Then who can?

The planchette doesn't move.

CC
Are you still there?

The planchette moves to “yes”. The mist behind CLAUDINE is even thicker now.

MAX
Do you know who will lead us to the door?

The planchette moves to “no”.

GIDEON
What do you know?

The planchette begins to move. RUSTY quickly writes down the letters. Once the planchette stops moving, he puzzles over the letters then reads out the response.

RUSTY
No humans, no ghosts. Can't enter, no death.

There's silence as the group ponders this, frowning. The mist behind CLAUDINE is getting thicker.

CC
Can't enter where?

The planchette moves, RUSTY scribbles.

RUSTY
Ships.

CODY
The alien ships?

GIDEON
(as the planchette moves to “yes”)
What other ships are there, genius?

CLAUDINE
Cool it.

GIDEON
(grudgingly)
Sorry.

CLAUDINE
Don't apologize to me, Gideon.

CODY
I'm cool.

CC
(sighs)
Can we focus, please?

LUKE
Okay. No humans, no ghosts? Can't enter, no death? Do you...the ghost I mean...do you mean nobody - no humans - have been on the ships?

The planchette moves to the centre of the board and stops.

CLAUDINE
Do you mean no live human has been on the ships?

The planchette moves to “yes”.

GIDEON
But there have been dead ones?

The planchette moves back slightly then points to “yes” again.

MAX
Ghosts can't get on the ships?

The planchette moves to “no”.

CODY
So...in order for ghosts to get on the ships, we need to get a live human on board?

The planchette bounces at “yes” then moves to “no”.

GIDEON
Yes and no?
(realization dawns)
A human has to die there.

The planchette moves to “yes”.

CODY
Who?

The planchette carefully scratches across the ouija board and RUSTY scribbles the message down.

RUSTY
(frowns, alarmed)
Anyone. Gideon. Son.

MAX abruptly takes his fingers away from the planchette.

MAX
(angrily)
No. You're not Estelle and you're still not getting him!

GIDEON, RUSTY, LUKE
What!?

MAX
We're done here.

MAX pushes himself away from the table just as the mist behind CLAUDINE explodes. It has the effect of a strong wind inside the room, and it sweeps everything on the tables into the air. Everyone scrambles for cover and they huddle under the large table as the strong wind whirls around them, knocking the chairs over. The temperature plunges until everyone can see their breath, and everything that can be thrown is tossed around the room until CLAUDINE can't take any more.

CLAUDINE
(yelling)
Stop it! Stop it right now! Or we'll let you die with us!

There's an abrupt end to the noise and movement. As the silence continues they cautiously peek their heads out from under the table to see that the objects in the room are trembling in the air, as if several entities are struggling over them and pulling them in opposite directions. As the group watches, the objects abruptly drop to the floor or clatter on the table top. The temperature begins to warm as the group moves out from under the table, set chairs upright and shakily sit down again.

CC
(to CLAUDINE)
And you say they don't listen to you?

CLAUDINE gives her a shaky smile.

GIDEON
(to CLAUDINE)
What did you mean? When you told...it - them - that you'd let them die with us?

CLAUDINE
(sighs)
I mean - the first message. If there are no humans, then there are no ghosts. If we die, they die.

RUSTY
Aren't they already dead?

CLAUDINE
I don't think they're the spirits of the dead. I think they...feed off of us. Or they need us in order to feed.

CC
Feed off of us? You mean, feed off our...our souls?

CLAUDINE
In a manner of speaking. They go where we go, drifting just on the edges of our periphery vision. Perhaps when we die, we end up following them. I don't know if they need our energy or our souls or...or whatever it is - but they need something from us. The fact that they need a human to die on board an alien ship in order to get access to it -

LUKE
Means they can't go where they want at will. They need humans to lead the way.

RUSTY
By dying?

MAX
A release of energy. Maybe.

CLAUDINE
(shrugging helplessly)
I don't know. Maybe. Probably. Yes, I guess. But it also means they can't feed off the aliens.

MAX
Or it means no aliens have died in the five years they've been here.

GIDEON
So how does it help us? Opening the door, I mean? So what if they can get on an alien ship?

CLAUDINE
I don't know.

MAX
Maybe they can disrupt the electronics, cause it to malfunction, bring it down.

CODY
Maybe haunt the aliens.

RUSTY
Yeah, scare the bejesus out of them.

LUKE
If they can be scared.

CC
At least make their time here very uncomfortable. Unpleasant enough to make them leave.

GIDEON
Somebody has to die - and for what?

CLAUDINE
We're dying anyway.

There's a moment of silence as they digest the truth of that statement.

CODY
(thoughtfully)
How many ships are there around the planet?

GIDEON
Several thousand. Why?

CODY
Does somebody need to die on all the ships?

INT. MAX'S SCIENCE LAB - AFTERNOON

MAX is sitting at his desk. He's on the speaker phone again with the ALIEN. He has a notebook in front of him and a pen in hand, and there are notes scribbled on the page in front of him. The current conversation has obviously been going on for a while already.

MAX
Most humans believe that higher intelligence is, for lack of a better term, sacred. That because we have higher intelligence, it means there is something extra to us; some indefinable, unmeasurable element that contains our very essence; something that separates us from the animals and makes us - human.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Intelligence is biological and chemical. The concept of higher intelligence is relative. Your species has a lower intelligence than my own; does that mean this..."soul" you speak of no longer exists?

MAX
The soul exists whether your species has higher relative intelligence or not. Perhaps a better word is sentience, or even self-awareness. When I speak of "higher intelligence," I mean the ability to understand and place oneself within the contexts of time, place, and species. Based on this criteria, from our perspective, you yourself, and the others of your species, would also have a soul.

ALIEN (V.O.)
There is no soul. Organisms are defined by their biology and chemistry, not by something that cannot be measured, seen or touched, and cannot be proven to exist.

MAX
Your argument certainly has its supporters in humanity as well, but the vast majority believe in the existence of something that is other than biological, chemical or even material.
(pauses)
Are you a biologist? Or perhaps a chemist?

ALIEN (V.O.)
In a manner of speaking. Tell me, Dr. Maxwell, if people believe these “souls” exist and ghosts are those “souls” that linger after death, why are your people so afraid of ghosts?

MAX
(sighs and leans back in his chair)
The reasons are as varied as humanity itself. Each person has their own reasons for being afraid of ghosts. For some, it's because they represent the unknown, something that can't be explained through scientific measurements or explanations. For others, it's because they represent proof of existence beyond the physical plane - that there may, perhaps, truly be life after death, but which will remain forever unknown to those who are living. For still others, it raises the question of whether there really is a god, however that god may be defined. For most, though, it's simply because ghosts are...well...scary.

ALIEN (V.O.)
How can they be scary if humans know they're simply souls?

MAX
Because ghosts can manifest when you least expect it, and that's not only startling, it's frightening. Strong ghosts can move objects, cause extreme temperature fluctuations and malfunctions in electronic devices; touch you when you're alone in a room. Ghosts, for whatever reason, appear most often at night, in the dark, and naturally, unexpected and unseen things in the dark are even more frightening.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Humans are afraid of the dark?

MAX ponders this statement for a moment.

MAX
(slowly)
Yes. Isn't your species afraid of the things that go bump in the night?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Everything that - as you put it - goes bump in the night is explainable. There is nothing that is frightening in the dark.

MAX
Are you a nocturnal species?

ALIEN (V.O.)
No.

MAX
(makes a note)
Well...what about the stories you tell your children?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have no children.

MAX
(makes another note)
I meant as a species.

ALIEN (V.O.)
As a species?

For the first time, the ALIEN sounds confused.

MAX
Yes. Your - your folk tales? The stories parents read to their children at night, before they go to sleep?

ALIEN (V.O.)
(still confused)
The term "folk tales" is untranslatable.

MAX
Legends? Myths? Stories designed to reinforce societal norms, moral codes and cultural beliefs? Stories about witches and what happens to disobedient children? Stories about monsters?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Many of those terms are untranslatable.

MAX
(disbelieving)
Do you mean to tell me you have no fairy tales? No legends? No monsters? No concept of the supernatural or paranormal? No religion? No concept of a higher power? No gods?

ALIEN (V.O.)
There are only predators. And prey. There is nothing else.

CUT TO:

INT. COP STATION - CAP'S OFFICE - MORNING

GIDEON, MAX and CAP are listening to the recording of the latest conversation.

ALIEN (V.O.)
(from the computer)
...there is nothing else.

CAP puts the playback on pause and looks at MAX, shaking his head.

CAP
I'm not even sure there are words.

MAX
Nothing comes to mind.

GIDEON
Oh, I don't know. “I told you so” springs to my mind. I knew those fuckers weren't just hanging around for the scenery.

MAX
Son...

GIDEON
I know, I know. But it ties in to the work I've been doing in Missing Persons. I've been talking to some of my contacts in other jurisdictions, and I posted to a message board yesterday, asking about the rate of missing persons in other jurisdictions, including internationally.

GIDEON cont'd
Everyone who has a space ship hovering over their heads has seen a recent spike in missing persons reports. In some cases, as much as 300%. Those are in the largest cities, of course. And the information is still flooding in.

GIDEON cont'd
If this...this alien is saying there are only predators and prey - well, I think we can guess who's who in this particular scenario.

CAP
That doesn't take a genius to figure out.

GIDEON
Thanks.

MAX
Regardless, what do we do about it?

CAP
I'll get this to Colonel Arroya as soon as I can, along with our theories about our missing persons problem. But honestly, what the hell can we do about it? We have no air capabilities anymore and those fuckers never land. They could be machines for all we know.

GIDEON
If they were machines, why would they hunt us?

MAX
Entertainment.

GIDEON
How entertaining can we be? It's like shooting fish in a barrel!

MAX
We don't know what they're doing to the people they're taking. They could be letting them loose in some remote location and then hunting them down. For the fun.

GIDEON
For the fun.

MAX
We have humans who do the same damn thing.

GIDEON
I know. God knows, I know! I guess I just hoped that if you were advanced enough to travel through space, you'd be advanced enough not to kill other sentient life forms.

MAX
But if you believe there's nothing special about being sentient, that there's nothing about it that demands respect and protection, and you also believe there are only predators and prey in the universe - then which one would you rather be? It's a...a...cultural mind set.

GIDEON
Which makes it all better.

MAX
We really need to talk about this tendency towards sarcasm, son.

GIDEON looks slightly abashed.

GIDEON
(mutters)
Sorry, Dad. It wasn't aimed at you...exactly.

MAX pats him on the shoulder even as he shakes his head in exasperated affection before turning his attention back to CAP.

CAP
I expect we'll hear sooner rather than later from Washington, and Max - you should be available at a moment's notice to answer questions.

MAX
So...you're telling me not to leave town?

CAP
(with a smile)
I would say that staying put would definitely be in your best interests. And keep answering the phone. Who knows what else this alien might unwittingly reveal during his conversations with you.

MAX
(thoughtfully)
I'm not sure it's unwittingly. I think he simply doesn't care what we might discover about him and his species. Like you said, Cap - there's nothing we can do about it. So long as they're up there and we're down here, they're untouchable.

The three men sit in somber silence; the truth of this statement is undeniable.

GIDEON
(muttering)
There has to be something we can do...

INT. GIDEON'S APARTMENT - LIVINGROOM - NIGHT

GIDEON, MAX, RUSTY, LUKE, CLAUDINE, CODY, RICHIE, CC and CAP are sitting in the livingroom. MAX has been telling them about the latest phone call from the ALIEN, and the fascinating information he's gleaned from the ALIEN about the alien's culture and beliefs.

GIDEON
So, what are you saying?

MAX
I'm saying the aliens have no religion because they have no ghosts. More than that - they have nothing they can't explain, nothing they can't measure, nothing they can't kill. They have nothing that goes bump in the night and therefore they have no reverence. There's no fear of the unknown when everything is or can be known.

RUSTY
So, what does that have to do with us? Humans, I mean.

MAX
We're still afraid of the dark. Because we have something to fear. According to my alien friend, no other races that are roughly equivalent to us in development believe in the supernatural or the paranormal.

CAP
What? None of them?

LUKE
I find that hard to believe.

MAX
(leans forward, his face lit with excitement)
Look - everyone who scoffs at my research says everything that is considered supernatural or paranormal has a logical and worldly explanation. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they're right. But we always have that one case out of a hundred that can't be explained away. One case out of a hundred that has no rational explanation no matter how hard you try. There's always that Claudine that simply can't be explained away.

MAX (cont'd)
These aliens can explain everything. They can explain the anomalies a hundred times out of a hundred. They've never had objects move on their own; voices from nowhere; cold spots; electronic interference; orbs of light; manifestations. They've never even had visions of the dead! Not now, not even in their ancient legends. Not a single ghost story - ever.

CC
Not even in their very primitive times?

MAX
Never. Even more - they have no monsters. They have no vampires or werewolves or zombies. No vengeful spirits, no demons - no angels. They have no monsters; they have no miracles. There is only the physical, and there is no soul.

CLAUDINE
So what do you think it means?

MAX
I think it means we have something we can use against them.

GIDEON
You mean you think we should lure them to a haunted house?

MAX
No. I think we should lure our ghosts into their ships. I think we have to open the door.

INT. MAX'S SCIENCE LAB - DAY

MAX is at his desk, pen in hand and paper with typed print in front of him. He's busily writing a personal note on the paper. There's a stack of sealed envelopes on one side of him and empty envelopes on the other side of him. CLAUDINE is sitting at the desk with the computers and audio equipment with RUSTY. They're wearing headphones as they watch footage and listen to digital recordings of an investigation recently completed by one of MAX's colleagues from overseas.

There's a knock on the door.

MAX
(without looking up)
It's open!

TOMAS comes into the room and glances around. He looks somewhat contemptuously at RUSTY and CLAUDINE, who have turned to look at him. They both nod then turn back to their task. TOMAS walks to the desk and stands in front of it.

TOMAS
You asked to see me.

MAX
Yes. I need a favour.

TOMAS
A favour? I'm not in the business of granting favours, Dr. Maxwell.

MAX
Colonel Arroya, I could have kept those phone calls a secret you know.

TOMAS
(hesitates, then grudgingly)
What do you need?

MAX
I need these letters to be delivered - by hand - to the recipients.

TOMAS
The U.S. military isn't a goddamn courier service!

MAX
The U.S. military barely exists! Along with all the other militaries in the world. Our friends out there in those big, shiny, impenetrable space ships took care of that, didn't they?

RUSTY turns without taking off his headphones and gives his father a warning look.

RUSTY
Dad -

MAX
(sighs)
You're right.

CLAUDINE also turns around, taking her headphones off as she watches TOMAS and MAX.

MAX takes a deep breath and consciously makes the effort to keep his voice calm.

MAX cont'd
Colonel Arroya, I apologize. Believe me, I'm making this request for a reason. These letters must get to my colleagues, and I don't dare send them by electronic means, even though I have no idea if the aliens even care enough to tap into the wires. I'm reduced to the old-fashioned but relatively confidential way of pen and paper. But these messages are simply too important to trust to the mail service or even a courier service. An added complication is that these people are located all over the world. And then I thought of you.

TOMAS
What can possibly be so important? And why can't you trust these messages to electronic means?

MAX
It may be a way to infiltrate the alien ships, and I don't want the aliens to get any advance warning.

RUSTY
Although they probably wouldn't believe it even if they did read it.

MAX
True. I'm not sure I believe it.

CLAUDINE
And Gideon is practically foaming at the mouth about it.

RUSTY
(to CLAUDINE, chuckling)
Yeah, it's kind of fun to watch, isn't it?

CLAUDINE
(gleefully)
Yeah!

MAX
Children...

MAX sternly points back to the screens and RUSTY and CLAUDINE sheepishly put their headphones back on and return to watching and listening to the investigation footage.

TOMAS
A way to infiltrate the ships? How? And why wouldn't you have come to me with this immediately! Dr. Maxwell -

MAX
You're not going to believe it either.

TOMAS
Oh, my God. This has something to do with those non-existent ghosts you chase, doesn't it?

MAX
Yes. And I don't particularly care whether you like what I do or agree with it. These letters must get to my colleagues.

TOMAS
Well, those letters will have to get to them without my help. It's ridiculous. I'm not going to authorize wasting precious resources on something like this! It's ridiculous!

MAX
You've already said that.

TOMAS
And I'll say it again!

MAX
Can you really afford to ignore any idea, no matter how ridiculous? What's the worst that can happen? It fails? How successful have your efforts been?

TOMAS is clearly furious but he also knows MAX is right. He controls himself with a visible effort.

TOMAS
All right - what's the idea? To infiltrate the ships, I mean?

MAX silently hands the paper he'd just finished writing on to TOMAS. TOMAS reads it quickly, and his face shows his growing disbelief as he reads. He looks at MAX

TOMAS
Are you fucking kidding me?

MAX
No.

TOMAS
And what, exactly, would this gain us? Sending people to die? For no purpose?

MAX
I think there is a purpose. I think our ghosts can disrupt their electronics - but they can't go where humans have never been, and they can't stay where humans have never died. I think the ghosts can disrupt their electronics enough to crash their ships. Bring them down to the ground where we can breach them.

TOMAS
Only one problem. Ghosts. Don't. Exist!

MAX
(shakes his head with amusement)
I wouldn't be surprised if you and Gideon were separated at birth, Colonel. I don't expect you to believe me. You don't even have to support me except by ensuring these letters get delivered. Besides, it may not go any farther than the letters. After all, no live humans have ever gone on board. And obviously no humans have died there, either.

TOMAS
How can you possibly know that?

MAX
Because the ghosts need us to open the door.

TOMAS
How the - no. No. I don't even want to bother with the question.

RUSTY (off screen)
Dad.

MAX
We're having another session with the ouija board tonight at CC Divine's Salon. I think you should attend.

RUSTY (off screen)
Dad...

CLAUDINE (off screen)
Max...

TOMAS
What the hell for?

MAX
To experience it for yourself.

RUSTY (off screen)
Dad!

MAX and TOMAS look over at RUSTY and CLAUDINE.

MAX
What is it, Rusty?

RUSTY
The message has changed.

MAX stands and walks to the computer bank. TOMAS, frowning, follows, curious in spite of himself.

MAX
We were expecting that. We found C, after all.

RUSTY
Listen.

RUSTY hits the mouse button.

GHOST (V.O.)
(distorted but understandable)
No humans, no ghosts.

MAX
Is that the only instance?

RUSTY shakes his head and brings up an Internet message board where there are many, many posts with the info about the new message. MAX looks thoughtful; TOMAS looks disgusted.

CLAUDINE
(to TOMAS)
You think we're faking this, don't you?

TOMAS
I think you're all deluded, and this is simply mass hysteria at its best. You hear what you expect to hear.

RUSTY
And what did you hear, Colonel?

TOMAS
Static, that might on a bad day be mistaken for a voice and words.

RUSTY
You and Gideon must be blood brothers.

TOMAS makes a disgusted sound and speaks over his shoulder as he strides to the door.

TOMAS
I have no more time to waste on this useless shit.

MAX
Colonel!

TOMAS pauses in spite of himself. MAX is used to being obeyed.

MAX
I would like you to come to CC Divine's Salon this evening. Around 6:00. Make up your mind after that.

TOMAS
And why would I bother to do that?

MAX
You owe me.

TOMAS
You did nothing but answer the goddamn phone!

MAX
And tell you about it.

CLAUDINE
It's okay, Max. You can't really blame him if he's too afraid to use a ouija board.

TOMAS
(to CLAUDINE)
Nice try, but it won't work.

He turns his attention back to MAX.

TOMAS cont'd
Fine. Fine! I'll be there. But only because you did record the calls and give them to us. Even though this is a waste of time, I'll be - where, again?

MAX
CC Divine's Salon. It's on Willingdale.

TOMAS
I'll find it. Good God - with a name like that, I hope it's a respectable place.

TOMAS yanks open the door and storms out.

RUSTY
(to CLAUDINE)
What do you think the ghosts will do with two Gideons in the room?

CLAUDINE
(thoughtfully)
You know, I'm a little scared to find out...

TRANSITION TO:

INT. CC DIVINE'S SALON - EVENING

MAX, CLAUDINE, TOMAS and CC are using the ouija board on the small table. RUSTY is beside them with a pen and paper. They've already begun using the board. GIDEON, LUKE, RICHIE and CODY are sitting at the larger round table, watching them.

CC
(as the planchette moves to “yes”)
Well, they're apparently here.

MAX
Who must open the door?

RUSTY once again scribbles the letters down and reads the resulting message.

RUSTY
Anyone.

MAX visibly relaxes as the planchette continues to scratch across the board. RUSTY quickly continues to record the message being spelled out.

RUSTY
Need direction, need leader.

Everyone looks at each for a silent moment, not sure what to make of that particular message.

GIDEON
What can you do on the ship?

The planchette trembles but doesn't move.

CLAUDINE
Do you know what you can do on the ship?

The planchette moves to “no”.

GIDEON
You expect someone to die - for nothing?

RUSTY
(to TOMAS as the planchette moves)
Told you you were blood brothers.

TOMAS rolls his eyes. The planchette moves quickly across the board as everyone waits for it to stop and for RUSTY to tell them the message.

RUSTY
No humans, no ghosts. No ghosts, no humans.

CC
We're tied together?

The planchette moves to “yes”.

GIDEON
That still doesn't tell us what killing a human being on board a ship does for us!

The planchette moves.

RUSTY
Opens the door.

GIDEON
That's nuts! What? We're like vampires? If you don't invite us in, we can't cross the threshold? And if we don't cross, you don't cross?

The planchette moves.

RUSTY
Can't go without humans. Open the door.

GIDEON
What do you get out of it?

RUSTY
Salvation.

MAX
What do we get out of it?

RUSTY
Salvation.

CLAUDINE
Can you kill the aliens?

The planchette moves to “no”.

MAX
Ghosts can't kill us, why would we expect them to be able to kill aliens?

CLAUDINE
It was worth a thought.

GIDEON
Can you bring the ships to the ground?

The planchette moves.

RUSTY
Don't know, want to try.

TOMAS
(removes his fingers from the planchette with a look of disgust)
Well, this has been a colossal waste of time. I hope you know we've been talking to ourselves.

TOMAS stands and walks to the door.

TOMAS (cont'd)
I don't think I owe you anything more, Dr. Maxwell. Good luck with your delusions, and delivering your useless letters.

TOMAS tries to the open the door; it won't open.

TOMAS cont'd
(impatiently)
Could you come and unlock the door, Ms Divine?

CC
I...didn't...lock the door...

Everyone except TOMAS begins looking around the room.

MAX
Claudine?

CLAUDINE
Yeah, they're getting pissed - and energized.

GIDEON
We did lock up anything they could throw this time?

CC
And moved everything out of the building. I'm tired of my shit getting broken.

GIDEON
Claudine? How much time do you think we have?

TOMAS
What the hell are you talking -

The ouija board goes flying and chairs are yanked out from under some of the people and thrown across the room. Everyone scrambles for cover.

MAX
(to TOMAS)
Get under the table!

TOMAS dives for the table just as a chair flies through the glass on CC's door.

CC
Shit! I loved that door!

MAX
I'll replace it!

CC
Maybe it should be little miss ghost magnet over there!

CC glares over at CLAUDINE who's huddling against GIDEON under the table.

CLAUDINE
I'm sorry! It's not like I have any real control over them!

MAX
I think you have more control than you know. Make them stop!

TOMAS
What the hell is going on!

MAX
(winces as another chair crashes into the wall)
The ghosts are just trying to get your attention.
(to CLAUDINE)
Tell them to stop.

CLAUDINE
Okay, okay, okay.

CLAUDINE pokes her head out from under the table.

CLAUDINE
THAT'S ENOUGH! We're trying to help you and I'm getting goddamn sick and tired of being attacked every time we try to talk to you! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

Everything stops in mid-air. TOMAS, who had also poked his head out, is gaping at the sight of three chairs hovering in the air and then crashing to the ground.

CLAUDINE
Thank you. Now, enough of these temper tantrums. You're making me wonder why we should help you at all.

As everyone comes out from under the table, they become aware of a scraping sound; the sound of the planchette moving across the ouija board. They look around, trying to figure out where the noise is coming from.

CODY
Look!

They all look at him, then where he's pointing. The ouija board is pressed up against the wall and the planchette is moving frantically.

CODY
I'll get the pen and paper...if I can find them...

CODY scrabbles for the pen and paper and rapidly writes the letters the planchette is pointing out.

CODY cont'd
Direction.

Everyone pauses then turns to CLAUDINE who stares nervously back. MAX turns his attention to TOMAS as the planchette continues to scratch across the ouija board.

MAX
(to TOMAS)
Do you believe us now?

TOMAS
(obviously shaken)
There has to be a trick.

MAX
(to CLAUDINE)
Could you ask them to do something?
(to TOMAS)
What would you need to see in order to be convinced?

TOMAS
Lift me in the air.

CLAUDINE
You may not want them to touch you.

TOMAS
It's a fucking trick - I knew it. I'd checked you out, Ms CC Divine. You and your assistants are con artists - bilking believers out of their money and taking advantage of their desperation.
(to MAX)
You exposed her yourself!

CC
Oh, for God's sake. I've done nothing illegal!

GIDEON
Barely.

CC
You can shut the hell up.

LUKE
She told you.

GIDEON/CC
Shut up!

RUSTY
It's okay, Luke. I'm on your side.

MAX
If the children have stopped playing?

Everyone settles down.

CLAUDINE
I...don't know if they'll do as I ask. But I'll try.

CLAUDINE closes her eyes and concentrates. The orbs that are always floating around her begin to glow more brightly, speeding up or slowing down, and more gather around her. Then, the orbs coalesce together, and head towards TOMAS. As they spread around him, he jumps, looking around him; he can feel the orbs but he can't see them. Then he begins to rise off the ground.

GIDEON
Ho-ly shit!

RUSTY, LUKE, RICHIE and CC watch with jaws dropped. CODY and MAX are watching with a mixture of wonder and worry.

TOMAS
All right - all right! Put me down!

CLAUDINE
Put him down - gently!

TOMAS lowers to the ground.

CLAUDINE
Thank you.

There's silence as everyone stares at each other and CLAUDINE.

MAX
(to TOMAS)
So. Will you deliver the letters now?

INT. MAX'S STUDY - DAY

TOMAS and MAX are sitting at MAX's desk. The stack of letters is in front of TOMAS.

TOMAS
You have no idea if this will work.

MAX
No.

TOMAS
Hell - you have no idea how to even get on the ships, let alone how to get a human to die on one.

MAX
You're right.

TOMAS
So, what's the plan?

MAX
To get the information out there by pen and paper and word of mouth, and to take advantage of any opportunity.

TOMAS
What opportunity?

MAX
They're kidnapping people, you know.

TOMAS
Yes.

MAX
Where are they being killed?

TOMAS
We don't know if they're being killed at all.

MAX
Not on board a ship anyway, otherwise, the ghosts wouldn't need to talk to us.

TOMAS
True.

MAX
All we can do is spread the word and act on any opportunity that might appear.

TOMAS
We have no idea, though, what the results will be, do we?

MAX
No.

TOMAS
For all we know, it's simply a chance for the ghosts to attach themselves to the aliens. A way for them to survive even if we die.

MAX
Possibly.

TOMAS
So even if someone - a human - dies on the ship, there's no guarantee that will help us at all.

MAX
No guarantee at all.

TOMAS
Then what's the fucking point?

MAX
Hope.

TOMAS stares expressionlessly at him.

MAX cont'd
We watched them destroy our space program and swat us out of the sky like we were annoying little flies. They're squatted above us like...like spiders, waiting for their prey to die. We've watched the militaries of the world try - and fail - every time. We need something to hold onto. Will this work? No idea. But nothing else has worked either, so how different is it, really?

TOMAS sits and stares into space for a long moment.

TOMAS
I'll have the letters delivered.

MAX
Thank you.

INT. MAX'S LAB - NIGHT

MAX is speaking to the ALIEN, a page or two of notes already written and another page begun. There's a file, about an inch thick, on the desk, filled with notes from all the conversations he's had with the ALIEN. The digital recorder is working quietly as MAX speaks.

MAX
Were you part of the original invading force five years ago?

ALIEN (V.O.)
This ship is my home. I have known no other.

MAX
You've never lived on the surface of a planet?

ALIEN (V.O.)
No.

MAX
Have you ever stepped foot on the surface of a planet?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Of course.

MAX
You must have some form of artificial gravity, then.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Of course.

MAX
Have you been on the surface of this planet?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have not yet been off this ship since we've been in orbit around this planet.

MAX
Have you ever seen a human in the flesh?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have seen the flesh of many humans.

MAX is visibly shocked by this comment. He takes a moment to recover, but he's obviously shaken and nauseated. He swallows hard and forces himself to continue.

MAX
But you've never seen a live human? Face-to-face, I mean.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Not yet.

MAX
Not yet?

ALIEN (V.O.)
We are many, Dr. Maxwell. Our ships are few. Our roles are well-defined. I have made a request to join a ship on a mission, but it may take years before I am allowed to do so.

MAX
(curiously)
Are you a younger member of your species?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am what you would call middle-aged.

MAX
What is your social status? Are you a powerful figure in your culture?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am neuter.

MAX blinks and frowns.

MAX
Neuter?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am neither male nor female. I can become either, depending on the environment, but it is rare for a neuter to become female as it is the one sex born to our species.

ALIEN cont'd (V.O.)
My social status is to serve the alphas and the Queen. I shall do so until and unless I am lucky enough to become an alpha myself, or I become female and therefore consort to an alpha. Every neuter strives to become male.

MAX
Why? Aren't you ruled by a Queen? I assumed that meant a female.

ALIEN (V.O.)
The Queen is a widowed female and is the most powerful being in our culture. But a male has a right to a family, and the right to take his place among other alpha males, an equal among equals. Each family must have an alpha but there is only one Queen. New alphas are rare, however, as we are many, and long-lived and the Queen does not create a new family lightly or easily.

MAX
Create?

ALIEN (V.O.)
To create a new family, the Queen will place several neuters from different families alone together. Within a week, there will be a male, created through competition. Only the strongest, the fastest, the smartest, can be alpha. If left alone long enough with the alpha, the remaining neuters will become female and the alpha's consorts, and thus a new family is created.

MAX
(reverently)
Fascinating...

ALIEN (V.O.)
It is as normal to me as your species is to you.

MAX
Yes, yes - but it's still fascinating. Are you not fascinated by the different cultures you've found through your interplanetary - perhaps intergalactic - travels?

ALIEN (V.O.)
No.

MAX is taken aback by the abrupt answer.

MAX
If you're not fascinated by different cultures, why did you even speak to me?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Your species has managed something that hasn't happened in the last one thousand years.

MAX
And what would that be?

ALIEN (V.O.)
You've made us...curious.

MAX makes a note in his notebook.

MAX
What would convince the Queen to create a new family?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Exceptional bravery in battle, although battles have become more and more rare as we've established our dominance over all other species. In recent years, the Queen has created new families as a reward for unique or impressive discoveries.

MAX
Ah. At last I understand the true reason you contacted me. You're hoping our ghosts will impress the Queen.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Partially. But it is only one avenue of exploration for me.

MAX
Oh?

ALIEN (V.O.)
The Queen requires more than - as you call them - folk tales to impress her. No, my conversations with you about your ghosts are to satisfy my own curiosity. It is not with ghosts that I hope to impress the Queen.

MAX
I see...

ALIEN (V.O.)
I somehow doubt you do, Dr. Maxwell.

INT. MAX'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY are sitting on the couches. They each have a beer and they're watching MAX wander restlessly around the room. MAX is unusually restless, not quite able to meet his sons' eyes, and at an obvious loss for words. Finally he pauses with his back to his sons, and he gathers his resolve.

MAX
(turns to face his sons)
I'm sure you're wondering why I asked you all to come over tonight.

LUKE
(drily)
Now that you mention it...

GIDEON and RUSTY nod in agreement.

RUSTY
(teasing)
You missed seeing us together so much you just couldn't wait for our usual supper night, could you?

MAX
No. I couldn't.

The three brothers become very alert at MAX's super serious tone. They glance uneasily at each other then turn their attention to their father.

GIDEON
What's going on, Dad?

MAX
I think I know a way to get taken on board a ship.

GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY stare wordlessly at their father for a moment, then they leap to their feet and erupt into angry protests, questions and arguments, shouting over each other. MAX is making calming motions with his hands, trying to calm his sons down enough so they're at least no longer yelling over each other.

LUKE
Dad! There has to be another way!

MAX
The only way for the ghosts to gain access is to get on one of the ships alive.

RUSTY
And die there - don't leave that part out! Dad -

MAX's serene exterior cracks a little at his sons' anguish.

MAX
I can't ask anyone else to do something I wouldn't do myself. And I'm the only one with even the slightest chance of getting on board alive. He - it - trusts me.

GIDEON
(explosively)
Trusts you? He's playing with you!

MAX turns to GIDEON.

MAX
Yes. I know. He's arrogant. He believes he's untouchable - and so he is, so long as he's hidden away in whatever ship he's on. It's why he's so willing to answer my questions - assuming he's answering them truthfully, of course. He knows we have no way of using the information against him. Or so he believes.

GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY all deflate. They look at their father with their hearts in their eyes.

LUKE
Dad, you don't have to do this.

MAX turns to LUKE and now he looks old and sad.

MAX
You're assuming I actually have a choice. I don't know exactly what role he plays in his culture, but he seems be involved somehow with the - the harvesting activities that are underway. I have no doubt that once his curiosity is fully satisfied, I'll disappear.

GIDEON
Then we'll do what Colonel Arroya suggested - we'll hide you somewhere - an underground bunker, a cave in the mountains - we'll find something! Let that alien fucker go nuts searching for you!

MAX
Do you really think he wouldn't find me?

MAX walks over to GIDEON and rather hesitantly puts his hands on GIDEON's shoulders and gives him a little shake.

MAX
Son. I know this...hurts you.
(looks at the others)
All of you. I know you want to keep me safe, keep me here, with you. And...that means the world to me. I loved your mothers, and I love all of you.
(gently shakes GIDEON again)
All of you. But hiding in a hole in the ground is only a temporary solution at best. And this may be our only chance to open the door for the ghosts. How can I turn my back on that? Even if nothing comes of it, it's a chance.

GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY blink back tears, their faces drawn and grim as they realize the truth of his words.

MAX
I am willing to go into hiding for the immediate future, however. We need to make plans in the event I'm successful in convincing him to meet me face-to-face. I don't want to be where he thinks I should be if he suddenly decides he's learned all he can from me, or that he's told me too much. I also need time to plant the seeds that meeting me in person would be beneficial for him. And hope that, when he takes the bait, he'll take me to one of the ship and he won't come to me.

RUSTY
What about Claudine?

GIDEON whips around to face him.

GIDEON
What about Claudine?

RUSTY
The ghosts said they need direction and a leader. Does that mean Claudine has to be taken with you?

He stares at the other three.

RUSTY cont'd
Hey - don't look at me like that! I'm hoping the answer is no, too! But the question has to be asked.

MAX
Let's talk about that after we're in a relatively safe place. Out of sight of the aliens, anyway, if there is such a thing. I've already thought of a series of experiments to conduct with Claudine to assess her control over the ghosts and to find an easier way to communicate with them. Another reason why it's time to go somewhere that at least feels safer.
(turns to GIDEON)
It's time to talk to Colonel Arroya.

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - DAY

MAX, GIDEON, LUKE, RUSTY, CC, CLAUDINE, and CODY follow TOMAS into the large, institutional-looking common room. There are three couches and three armchairs arranged in a loose circle, with half-empty bookcases along one wall. The room is painted a serviceable slate gray, and the floor is bare gray tile. It's cold and unwelcoming.

Everyone except TOMAS is carrying suitcases in their hands and bags over their shoulders. TOMAS stands aside and watches as the others slowly put their burdens down and look around them. The MAXWELLS are expressionless as they observe the spartan room. CODY and CLAUDINE move a little closer together and look simultaneously dismayed and resigned.

CC drops her bags, puts her hands on her hips and stares around the room, her eyes narrowed dangerously.

CC
Not exactly welcoming, is it, Colonel?

TOMAS
It wasn't built to be a social centre, Ms Divine.

LUKE
Come on, CC! Think of it as practice for jail.

CC glares daggers at LUKE.

CLAUDINE
I sincerely hope not.

LUKE
(chagrined)
Sorry, Claudine. I'm pretty sure you'd get off.

CLAUDINE laughs slightly at him.

CLAUDINE
Thanks for your vote of confidence, Luke.

LUKE
Anytime.

MAX
(long suffering sigh)
I'm having second thoughts of having all of us go into hiding here.

TOMAS
I don't blame you.

MAX looks at TOMAS in surprise; TOMAS had almost sounded like he was making a joke.

GIDEON
(indicates LUKE)
Well, we're only going to be here at night, and those days when we're off duty.

MAX
As long as you're here for the experiments, boys.

GIDEON groans and shakes his head.

GIDEON
I'll be here, Dad.

GIDEON picks his suitcases back up.

GIDEON cont'd
(to TOMAS)
Where are the bedrooms?

TOMAS
(points to the far side of the room)
Through that door and down the hall. This bunker was built to hold over five hundred people; you'll have plenty of room.

GIDEON heads to the door, followed by his father and brothers.

GIDEON
(mutters as he passes CC)
It still might not be enough.

CC rolls her eyes and huffs as she picks up her bags. She looks at CLAUDINE and CODY.

CC
I'm really starting to be sorry I ever hired you two.

CODY
Starting?

CC
Don't push it.

CLAUDINE and CODY glance at each other in amusement then follow CC out the door.

TRANSITION TO

MONTAGE - BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - DAY

MAX (V.O.)
I'm not sure how much more I can tell you. There are things you simply must experience first-hand to truly understand.

As MAX speaks, we see CLAUDINE and MAX performing experiments, testing the limits of CLAUDINE's influence over the ghosts. The orbs that are always around her are more plentiful, brighter, larger and moving faster and faster as we see the experiments get more difficult and complex. There are moments when CLAUDINE directs ghosts to move objects, and turn equipment and lights on and off. Each new experiment gives the growing impression that CLAUDINE is controlling more and more ghosts at one time.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - MAX'S LAB - DAY

ALIEN (V.O.)
I find that difficult to believe. Many things can be understood without experiencing them first hand.

RUSTY and CODY are sitting at the computer banks. CODY is watching the video and listening to the audio while RUSTY is working on a small rectangular speaker. We then see CLAUDINE and MAX, along with RUSTY and CODY, performing an experiment, listening to the speaker and shaking their heads. They're trying to find a more efficient way of communicating with the ghosts, something similar to a two-way radio that the ghosts can manipulate and speak through. We see them try several times, and each time they fail.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - DINING ROOM - NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
Perhaps. But you and your species has no comparable experiences. You have no frame of reference with which to truly understand the ghostly phenomenon. Descriptions are just not as effective. Or impressive. Or convincing.

We see GIDEON, LUKE, RUSTY, MAX, CLAUDINE, CODY and CC around the dining room table, eating and talking.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - NIGHT

We see everyone in the common room, CLAUDINE telling GIDEON about the latest experiments, LUKE and CODY working on the speaker, CC and RUSTY chatting animatedly with MAX. These scenes repeat, with the make-up of the groups changing, and occasionally with TOMAS, CAP and RICHIE added to the mix. There are scenes with TOMAS, CAP and GIDEON poring over maps and arguing furiously as they plan different scenarios and target different alien ships.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - NIGHT

ALIEN (V.O.)
We are doing well enough, Dr. Maxwell. I believe I understand the experience to the necessary extent.

We see the group in a continuum of relaxed moments. The common room evolves over time, with colourful blankets tossed on the couches, books on the tables, small rugs on the floor. We see LUKE and CC sniping at each other, and evolving gradually towards reluctant smiles and a lessening of the tension. We see GIDEON and CLAUDINE stretched out on opposite couches, reading books and occasionally chatting with each other evolving into sharing a couch, heads on opposite ends, to sitting side-by-side, sharing something one had found with the other. MAX is working at his computer bank, sometimes with RUSTY, sometimes with CODY, sometimes with both of them, and they continue working on the radio.

MAX occasionally stops and watches the others with a fond, albeit melancholy smile before he returns his attention to his work and the letters from his international colleagues.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - KITCHEN - DAY

MAX (V.O.)
(sighs)
If you say so.

We see CLAUDINE and GIDEON making lunch, working side by side, talking to and smiling at each other. They're very comfortable together.

CUT TO:

INT. BUNKER - DINING ROOM - DAY

LUKE and CC are setting the table, still obviously sniping at each other, but with smiles and laughs.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - DINING ROOM - DAY

The entire group is at the table, including CAP, TOMAS and RICHIE. They're laughing and talking as they pass the food around the table. They've grown comfortable with their living conditions and each other.

MAX sits at the head of the table and watches them all, a part of the group and yet, separate. His smile is even more melancholy than before.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - MAX'S DESK

MAX is sitting at his desk, a frown on his face as he leans forward, intently focused on the speaker phone.

MAX cont'd
I still think you would find the experience educational.

ALIEN (V.O.)
You seem unusually anxious to personally show me these ghosts of yours, Dr. Maxwell. Be careful. I may become suspicious.

MAX
(laughs)
I have no interest in personally showing you anything. I would recommend some of our most haunted locations for you, but that's as far as I'm willing to go.

ALIEN (V.O.)
You expect me to believe you have no curiosity about my appearance? You are a biologist.

MAX
I am intensely curious. I'm also intensely afraid. No, no. I'll let those who are stronger and braver than I deal with you and your kind.

MAX smoothly changes the subject.

MAX cont'd
Now, please tell me more about your children and family structures.

CUT TO:

EXT. MILITARY YARD - DAY

TOMAS, GIDEON and CLAUDINE are standing in the military yard, staring up at the huge ship hanging motionless above them.

GIDEON
If the aliens won't take one of us to them, maybe we can bring them to us. Perhaps it's time for Plan B.

TOMAS
Plan B? Look at that fucking ship! I feel like an idiot.

CLAUDINE
I feel like a sitting duck!

GIDEON
The aliens won't do anything - well, unless you can get the ghosts to actually cause something to happen, I guess.

CLAUDINE
Oh, that's comforting!

GIDEON
Well, we don't need to be outside, anyway - do we? There has to be an observation bunker, right, Colonel?

TOMAS
Come with me.

They walk towards a building a few yards away.

CONTINUOUS

INT. OBSERVATION BUNKER - DAY

TOMAS, GIDEON and CLAUDINE enter the bunker and head towards a wall of monitors, that taken together show the ship in its entirety. There are a half-dozen people sitting at individual consoles, constantly observing, recording and analyzing what little data they can gather from the alien ship above them, and the other aliens ships around the world.

GIDEON
Impressive.

TOMAS
And you wondered how we always caught you.

GIDEON
You didn't always catch me.

TOMAS
Somedays it just wasn't worth the energy to run you off.

CLAUDINE laughs then quickly sobers when both men shoot her dirty looks.

TOMAS
(to the people sitting at the consoles)
Give me the room.

The six people look startled but follow orders. TOMAS, GIDEON and CLAUDINE wait until they have the room to themselves before speaking again.

GIDEON
Okay, Claudine, let's see if you can get them to investigate the exterior of that ship. See if there's something they can manipulate.

As GIDEON'S speaking the orbs are dancing more frenetically around CLAUDINE and the pictures on the monitors begin to flicker.

GIDEON cont'd
(noticing the monitors)
Shit! Not our stuff!

CLAUDINE
I think they're just messing with you.

GIDEON
Wonderful.

As CLAUDINE laughs, on the monitors we can see the orbs floating curiously around the spaceship.

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - NIGHT

MAX, GIDEON, CC and CLAUDINE are sitting around a small, round table, the ouija board between them. Nobody is touching the planchette. RUSTY is sitting at the table, pen and paper at hand. LUKE, TOMAS, CODY, CAP and RICHIE are at the second round table, observing the session.

GIDEON
Was there anything on the outside of the ship you could affect?

The pointer moves to “yes”.

GIDEON
Yes! Do you have any idea what would happen if you affected it?

The pointer moves to “no”.

MAX
Hmmmm - we'll have to be very careful with any experiments. We don't want to inadvertently fire their weapons.

CC
Or get them so nervous they open fire on us themselves.

RUSTY
There's nobody close to the ship - you'd think they'd suspect a malfunction.

LUKE
Those ships are built to cross space. I suspect malfunctions are rare.

CODY
(thoughtfully)
Maybe we just need to choose our timing carefully.

CC
What do you mean?

CODY
What if we only tested it during a storm, for example. A lightning storm.

Everyone ponders this.

RICHIE
Has there ever been a lightning strike on that ship during a storm?

TOMAS
Not to my knowledge, but I can check the data.

MAX
That's a very good idea, Cody. With any luck, the aliens would consider anything happening to be an effect of the storm.

RICHIE
We can only hope.

GIDEON
We have to do something!

RICHIE
Hey, man - I've been coming here for our weekly beer night for months, even though this crowd seriously cramps our style.

Everyone gives him an annoyed stare.

RICHIE cont'd
No offense. Love all you guys. The point is, I obviously agree with you! I'm just saying we need to be extra careful.

CLAUDINE
(to the ouija board)
Can you keep up with a ship when it's flying?

The planchette moves to the centre of the board and shivers.

CLAUDINE
You don't know?

The pointer moves to “no”.

LUKE
What are you thinking?

CLAUDINE
That we definitely choose our times carefully, like Cody said, but also our target. I've seen those smaller ships flying during storms, and I think we should send the ghosts to check out those smaller ships. If they can somehow attach themselves to a moving ship, and if there's something they can affect on those smaller ships, and if the ship goes into an unpopulated area, that's when they experiment. See what happens when they do whatever it is they do.

Everyone ponders this in silence for a moment.

RICHIE
That's a lot of ifs.

GIDEON glares at him.

RICHIE
Hey, man - I'm just sayin'.

GIDEON
Yeah, yeah.

CODY
And we don't need to wait until there's a storm here. If we - or your contacts, Max - can ever find the others like Claudine, we could be running this experiment all over the world.

MAX
I'll write the letters tonight and get them in the courier tomorrow.

MAX glances at TOMAS, who nods at him.

GIDEON
So, we have a plan? If the ghosts will cooperate?

The planchette moves.

RUSTY
If we can.

CLAUDINE
(to the ouija board)
I'm not sure if we've ever actually said it, but thank you for helping us.

The pointer moves.

RUSTY
No humans, no ghosts.

The little group looks at each in somber silence.

MAX sighs.

RUSTY
Dad? You okay?

MAX
I've been doing this research for almost my entire life - and until I met you, Claudine, I never even suspected there were people like you out there. With this level of...of communication with the ghosts, with this level of influence over them.

The planchette moves on the board.

RUSTY
New. Unique. Second.
(looks at CLAUDINE with a frown)
Claudine was the second?

The pointer moves to “yes”.

CLAUDINE
Then who was first?

The planchette moves.

RUSTY
Gideon.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - NIGHT

The MAXWELL BROTHERS are sitting on one of the couches. The others are in the background, watching curiously, but not wanting to call attention to themselves. GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY are shocked and confused and a little afraid as they watch their father pace slowly around the room, looking anywhere but at his sons.

MAX
What do you remember, Gideon? Immediately after your mother died, I mean.

GIDEON
I...remember her lack more than I can actually remember her. I remember...the way she felt, the way I felt when I was with her, and the way it felt after she was gone - you know what I mean?

MAX
(smiles and nods, tears in his eyes)
I know exactly what you mean.

There's silence for a moment as the two men are lost in their memories. Finally, MAX sighs.

MAX
Do you remember anything specific about the months immediately after Estelle died?

GIDEON thinks about it then shakes his head, puzzled.

GIDEON
Just our sadness and her absence.

MAX nods, silent once more. His sons patiently wait for him to continue.

MAX
Almost immediately after your mother died, the ghosts came.
(stares hard at GIDEON)
They came to you.

GIDEON
Ghosts.

MAX slowly sits on the couch immediately opposite his sons. For the first time, MAX truly shows his age.

MAX
Every night, you'd wake screaming from nightmares. Perfectly understandable. You'd just lost your mother, and you were so young. Except there were things I couldn't quite explain away. When you had a nightmare, the temperature in your bedroom would plunge so low, we could see our breaths. Ornaments and toys never seemed to stay in the same place, even when we were both out of the room. There seemed to be voices whispering in the background when you were alone in your bedroom.

MAX cont'd
And then you started telling me about the see-through lady who told you she wanted to take you away with her.

GIDEON, LUKE and RUSTY are staring, their eyes getting bigger and bigger at each word.

MAX cont'd
You stopped eating, you couldn't sleep - and you were beginning to see the woman during the day, too, and she was becoming more and more insistent that you were to go with her. Even then...

MAX cont'd
I'm a scientist, Gideon. I believe in what can be seen and measured and tested. I took you to psychologists and medical doctors, made changes to our diets and lifestyles to help you cope with our loss, put us in counselling, alone and together. I talked about Estelle, I stopped talking about Estelle. I replaced the furnace, inspected the duct work, installed a security system and locked all the doors when we were gone, including the ones to our bedrooms. I replaced the thermostat, switched your bedroom and then one night, I let you sleep with me.

MAX pauses, staring off into space, remembering. The other three men watch him, rapt.

MAX cont'd
It wasn't the first time I'd brought you into my bedroom, of course. Your room was so cold, and you seemed to sleep better when you were with me. I was advised that if I kept letting you sleep with me, you would never learn to sleep on your own, and I was probably doing you more harm than good. But you hadn't slept through the night in days, so I decided to ignore that advice and bring you in with me. I hoped you'd finally be able to sleep.

MAX cont'd
That night, the see-through woman came to both of us. And she spoke.

GIDEON
You mean...actually spoke to us?

MAX
Yes. She said she wanted you to go with her. She called you her son.

GIDEON's jaw drops.

MAX
She looked like Estelle. She even sounded like her. But she was not your mother, Gideon.

GIDEON
How could you be so sure?

MAX
(shook his head)
She didn't...there was no love, and dead or alive, Estelle passionately and deeply loved us both. That ghost-woman simply didn't feel right.

MAX cont'd
After that, things began to happen much more rapidly and intensely. The ghost-woman began to appear at all hours of the day and night; objects began to move while we were in the room; everything electrical began to malfunction. There were unexplained noises, and the voices were louder and more distinct - and we weren't the only two who experienced these things. Everything was centred on you. And the woman kept asking you to go with her.

MAX cont'd
Things had begun to turn violent, with objects being thrown at me when there was no one there to throw them, before I finally accepted the unacceptable and admitted there was something truly paranormal happening in our house, centred around my four-year-old son. I moved us out, which gave us some momentary respite, then turned to the local university and a variety of churches. I'd moved on to fortune tellers and psychics before I finally found Dr. Willis, the first truly professional paranormal investigator I'd ever met.

MAX cont'd
He came to our house with his assistant and helped us, although none of us could ever determine just how. After what the ghosts told us today, I suspect you're the one who actually saved us. I think you told the ghosts to go away and never come back, and they...had to obey you.

MAX cont'd
We may have clashed over the years, but I was always secretly pleased with your obstinate skepticism. I never wanted you near my work, Gideon, because I was always afraid the ghost-woman would come back and try to claim you if I ever gave her a clear path to you. While I studied the paranormal because I was truly fascinated by it - once the fear subsided - the real reason I was so...obsessed was always because I was desperate to find a way to protect you.

MAX cont'd
(to LUKE and RUSTY)
I was worried about you two as well, which is why I never let either of you go out on any investigations with your mother and I until you were adults. I was terrified the ghost might find you, too.

MAX cont'd
(to GIDEON)
When that ouija board named you; called you son - no. No. I've loved and lost two women in my life, Gideon. I will not risk losing my son - any of my sons - to ghosts - or aliens. Not then, and not now. Especially not after I've spent my life searching for ways to protect them from all the things that go bump in the night.

GIDEON
Why didn't you ever tell me this earlier? Tell us earlier.

MAX
Would you have believed me?

GIDEON
...No.

MAX
No. I had no idea you were actually able to control the ghosts.

GIDEON
You and me both.

RUSTY
Do you think you could do it now?

GIDEON slowly shakes his head.

GIDEON
I can't hear or sense them. I'm not aware of them. Whatever it was I did when I was four, it seems to be permanent.

Everyone in the room sit somberly, digesting MAX's story, the atmosphere is heavy and rather sad.

CODY
(to CLAUDINE)
So...all you ever had to do was tell them to go away and stay away.

CLAUDINE
Who knew?

Everyone turns and blinks at them in disbelief, then MAX begins to laugh, and everyone joins in.

INT. BUNKER - COMMON ROOM - NIGHT

LUKE, CC, RUSTY and CODY are sitting at one table, playing cards. CLAUDINE is reading a book on the couch. The card game is raucous and cuthroat with casual insults and a lot of laughter.

GIDEON walks in. The others greet him loudly and he glances around with a slight smile.

GIDEON
Dad in his room?

LUKE
Haven't seen him, but I've only been home for an hour or so.

He's watching CC shuffle and deal the cards.

LUKE cont'd
(to CC)
I still think you're dealing off the bottom of the deck.

CC
If I was that good, I wouldn't need to run seances for a living.

GIDEON shakes his head, and walks across the room towards the bedrooms.

GIDEON
(over his shoulder)
Just give her all your money, Luke. It's less painful that way.

CC flashes him a wicked smile.

CC
You should know.

CLAUDINE frowns a little and hurriedly returns her attention to the book in her hand as GIDEON glances at her on his way past. After a moment, he returns with a frown on his face.

GIDEON
He's not here.

Everyone stops and turns to stare at him.

RUSTY
What do you mean, he's not here?

GIDEON
I mean he's not in his room, he's not back there, and he's not in here. I mean, he's not here.

CODY
He's not in the bathroom?

GIDEON answers him with a look.

CODY cont'd
O-kay.

LUKE
He has to be here somewhere. He hasn't run any night investigations for the last few weeks and as far as I know, he's been back long before now every night.

Everyone gets to their feet.

CC
We'll go room by room. He's probably holed up in one of the spare bedrooms, far away from this madding crowd, and just lost track of the time.

We follow the group as they leave the common room and split up into pairs, each pair going down a different corridor, opening each door, looking in the room and moving on to the next.

They reconvene in the common room and now they look scared and worried.

GIDEON pulls out his phone as he barks orders.

GIDEON
Luke, try Dad's cell phone. Rusty, check our rooms more carefully, see if Dad left a message in one of them. CC, call Richie and tell him to get here as soon as he can.

CC
What are you -?

GIDEON
(turns away)
Colonel Arroya? I'm looking for my father.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. ALIEN SHIP - HOLDING CELL - DAY

MAX is unconscious on the floor. The camera slowly circles him as he gradually regains consciousness. He opens his eyes, frowning as he tries to remember where he is and how he got there.

He can't.

He carefully sits up, wincing, and looks around the room. The room is featureless, with smooth, metallic, muted-gray walls and no obvious doors or windows.

He rubs his head then struggles stiffly to his feet.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am glad to see you on your feet, Dr. Maxwell.

MAX jumps at the sound of the ALIEN's voice and he turns, searching for the source of the voice. There is no way to tell where the voice is coming from.

ALIEN cont'd (V.O.)
You seemed anxious to meet me, face-to-face. This, I am afraid, is as close as we will get.

MAX
(still disoriented)
Where am I?

ALIEN (V.O.)
You are on my ship.

MAX tries to control his reaction to this news. He's elated and afraid and saddened by this news.

MAX
This is not quite how I envisioned it.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Are you disappointed?

MAX
I'm...not sure what I feel, to be honest.

ALIEN (V.O.)
This is what you wanted.

MAX
Yes. But you seemed rather set against it. What changed your mind?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Time runs short. While I think you may still have things to tell me, it is time to bring this relationship to an end.

MAX swallows convulsively.

MAX
I...see.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I somehow doubt you do.

MAX
You're playing with your food. That's what this is, isn't it? A predator teasing its prey?

ALIEN (V.O.)
We find it enhances the flavour.

MAX gulps.

MAX
Enhances the flavour?

ALIEN (V.O.)
You and your species are something of a delicacy, Dr. Maxwell. There are nuances of taste we have never experienced before. The Queen is very pleased.

MAX rubs his temples, trying to make sense of what the ALIEN is telling him.

MAX
So where, exactly, do you fit in with all this? The Queen is pleased, you say. Pleased enough to create a new family, perhaps?

ALIEN (V.O.)
The Queen is hosting a competition. The winner will become an alpha and head of a new family. I am participating in that competition. And you, Dr. Maxwell, will be my winning entry.

MAX
I...I don't understand. Do you want me to summon ghosts for you? They don't perform on command, as I'm sure I've explained.

ALIEN (V.O,)
No, Dr. Maxwell. You don't have to do anything at all.

MAX swallows hard, staring sightlessly at nothing. He gives himself a shake, and begins to slowly pace the featureless room, inspecting it. He frowns.

MAX
Where am I?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have already told you. You are on my ship.

MAX
I don't know which one that is.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Does it matter?

MAX
No. I suppose not.

He continues slowly pacing the room.

MAX cont'd
Tell me, do you often bring humans to your ships?

ALIEN (V.O.)
We often bring humans to our ships.

MAX
Alive?

ALIEN (V.O.)
No. Humans are processed on the planet surface.

MAX
Why?

ALIEN (V.O.)
We are a well-travelled species, Dr. Maxwell. We have learned from our past mistakes. We must guard against alien diseases and we must therefore be careful when bringing native species aboard. It is more efficient to use robots and decontaminate our prey on the surface once they are already dead.

MAX
Why am I here, then?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have a theory, and you will be proof of that theory.

MAX
Theory? What theory?

ALIEN (V.O.)
All in good time, Dr. Maxwell.

MAX continues slowly pacing his cell.

MAX
Who are you?

ALIEN (V.O.)
You know who I am.

MAX
Perhaps a better question is what are you. You've never admitted your occupation. Are you a sociologist? Anthropologist? Xenobiologist? No, you already said you weren't a biologist or a chemist. A physicist? Perhaps a medical doctor, psychologist or historian?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Why do you wish to know?

MAX
Curiosity. Something humans have in abundance. I ask because I simply want to know.

There is a pause before the ALIEN responds.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am a chef.

MAX
I'm sorry?

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am a chef.

MAX takes a moment to process this statement.

MAX
A chef.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I am the best chef in the fleet. And I intend to prove it to the Queen at the competition.

MAX
The - the competition is a - a - a cooking contest?

MAX begins to laugh. His laughter intensifies, and he doubles over, tears springing to his eyes as he howls, slapping his knees. Finally his laughter subsides and he straightens, wiping his eyes.

MAX
A chef. My God. I'm going to die in order to become nothing more than a glorified midnight snack! And such a valuable prize given for something so trivial!

ALIEN (V.O.)
You will become an extremely valuable midnight snack. And whether you consider it trivial or not, your fate remains the same.

MAX
Perhaps.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I have carefully cared for you, Dr. Maxwell. I have managed and monitored your level of anxiety over a long period of time to ensure an optimum mix of hormones and chemicals in your bloodstream. I have, in effect, marinated your flesh in a heady mixture of flavours and seasonings. This last conversation will raise the chemicals in your blood to new heights, for a short period of time, to add new and subtle nuances to the taste.

ALIEN cont'd (V.O.)
When the decontamination chamber has finished its work, I will process you immediately to maintain the freshness of the blood chemistry. If my theory is correct, that the flavour is even more intense if captured at the height of the prey's emotions, then we can make humans an even more valuable commodity. With experimentation, who knows what we may discover in terms of, as you call it, "midnight snacks".

ALIEN cont'd (V.O.)
I will win, Dr. Maxwell. I will become an alpha, with consorts and children of my own. Perhaps one of my consorts or daughters will become Queen one day.

MAX listens with a half-smile.

MAX
You have ambition. That's a very human trait, as well. We have much in common, your species and mine. We both love our luxuries, and will do many things, ridiculous things, and destroy all in our path to control or experience those luxuries. And we are both apex predators.

ALIEN (V.O.)
You are prey. If you are confused, I invite you to look around you.

MAX
I know exactly where I am. That's something else we have in common, your species and mine. Arrogance. Over-confidence.

ALIEN (V.O.)
It is simple truth. We are predators. You are prey. And it will soon be time, Dr. Maxwell, to begin preparing my dish for the Queen. Perhaps you will return as one of these "ghosts" you believe in so fervently.

MAX smiles slowly.

MAX
Perhaps. Perhaps I'll visit my sons and my friends in order to say good-bye. Perhaps I'll also come to visit you.

ALIEN (V.O.)
Ridiculous. As interesting as our conversations were, Dr. Maxwell, ghosts simply do not exist.

MAX
We'll see.

There's silence.

MAX cont'd
How will you kill me?

ALIEN (V.O.)
Instantly.

MAX
That's not really all that comforting.

ALIEN (V.O.)
I do not want to comfort you.

MAX
Of course. I'd forgotten.

There's a pause before MAX continues.

MAX cont'd
You know, you feed on us and call us prey, but we, too, are used to being an apex predator. We are adaptable and manipulative, and we have carelessly destroyed species without even noticing. We are ingenious, curious, and we won't give up. Not everyone. Instead, we tend to adapt to our environment and then change it to meet our needs. You may someday find you have chosen the wrong species to be an exotic delicacy on your menu.

ALIEN (V.O.)
You speak nonsense - and it is time.

MAX disappears as the screen fills with intense white light.

CUT TO:

EXT. CITY STREETS - DAWN

In a repeat of the opening scene, we see GIDEON, CC, TOMAS, LUKE, RUSTY, CODY, CLAUDINE, CAP and RICHIE, along with their troops and fellow cops, following the smaller ship as it wobbles while flying to the outskirts of the city. It plows into the ground, and comes to rest, half-buried in the ground.

As they watch, their attention is caught by another small ship as it begins to wobble dangerously in its flight, before it, too, plows into the ground outside the city.

We cut to CLAUDINE, who's struggling to guide and command the ghosts.

As a third ship begins to veer off course, the large ship begins to slowly rise into the atmosphere, gathering speed, until it's out of sight.

TOMAS sends troops to each fallen ship, and continues to do so, until the last of the small ships is on the ground.

There is almost stunned disbelief once the humans realize there are no more alien ships in their immediate location.

CLAUDINE slowly sags down onto the ground in relief and exhaution.

CC sits back and stares at CLAUDINE in both disbelief and awed respect.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. GIDEON'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

GIDEON, LUKE, RUSTY, CLAUDINE, CODY, CC, CAP, RICHIE and TOMAS are in the living room. There are a lot of empty beer bottles scattered around as they've all had a lot to drink, even though no one is truly drunk.

They're relieved and celebrating, but they're also very somber. MAX is gone.

As GIDEON hands out another round of beer, an uneasy silence falls.

CODY
It seems so...easy.

TOMAS
Too easy.

CAP
You thought so, too?

TOMAS
I can't believe they'd simply leave.

As one, everyone looks at CLAUDINE.

CUT TO:

INT. GIDEON'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

CLAUDINE, CC, GIDEON and LUKE are at a small table, the ouija board between them. RUSTY is beside them with pen and paper.

CLAUDINE
Have the aliens left the Earth?

The planchette moves.

RUSTY
Just here.

CLAUDINE
They're still in orbit?

The planchette moves to yes.

Everyone shows their disappointment.

CLAUDINE
Can you destroy their ships?

RUSTY
More effort. Harder.

TOMAS
They're going to come back.

The planchette moves to yes.

They stare somberly at each other as terror slowly begins to creep in. What would the aliens do when they returned to the city?

TRANSITION TO:

INT. ALIEN SHIP - CORRIDOR - DAY

There are a large number of ALIENS skittering down the corridor in both directions. They are insectoids, bipedal, wearing clothes, they have two arms, two legs, large multi-faceted eyes, and a long proboscis, that retracts and extends.

The camera pans around as the aliens scuttle down the corridor, intent on their business. The camera swoops past each one until it finally homes in on one alien, moving with a vaguely puzzled air. It's the ALIEN, and as it moves down the corridor, it keeps looking sharply around, as if seeing something out of the corner of its eye.

MAX (V.O.)
You did what I needed you to do.

The ALIEN pauses, tilting its head, listening intently with a puzzled air. It can hear MAX as a voice on the edge of its hearing. The ALIEN continues down the corridor, then opens a door and hastily enters the room.

TRANSITION TO:

INT. ALIEN SHIP - KITCHEN - DAY

The ALIEN walks to the stove, where he's preparing a dish.

MAX cont'd (V.O.)
You opened the door.

The ALIEN shakes its head, like it's trying to shake something off.

MAX cont'd (V.O.)
Predators and prey. I wonder which one you'll turn out to be.

The ALIEN looks around, scratches its ear then continues cooking.

FADE TO BLACK