Художественная литература

Sergei Khramtsov. About Travellers and Wondering (screenplay)

Screenplay inspired by a short story by brothers Strugatsky conceived by Sergei Khramtsov (begemot@earthlink.net), copyright NYC NY USA 2000 Origin: A&B Strugatsky "O stranstvuyushih i puteshestvuyushih"
FADE IN: NIGHT STAR STADDED SKY TURNS INTO AQUATIC DARKNESS PULSATING WITH SOUND FROM TIME TO TIME BEING PENETRATED BY LIGHT SOUNDS OF UNDERWATER RADAR EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY ECU on the eye of SEPTOPOD, a squid-amoebae like aquatic organism, ECU on the eyes of a man, IVAN, wearing underwater diving-hydraulic suit, PULL OUT: we see IVAN, a semiotic biologist, hiding beside underwater weeds bushes. IVAN VO Septopods are very sensitive animals, may be disturbed away by the lightest sound, any abrupt movement, and then they would leave and come back only at night. And at night its better not to disturb them. An eel stirs out from under IVAN's feet, other fishes swim by, tubby cat fish observing dully with his bulging eyes follows, crowd of silver fishes sparkle by. Finally a SEPTOPOD appears slowly from the weeds on the right. His semi-closed eye shakes and opens wider. IVAN slowly rises marking ionic gun, presses the trigger and quickly dives up toward the surface. The water around fills with acid colors of SEPTOPOD protective masking substance. IVAN appears on the surface of the lake and starts swimming towards the land. EXT. MEADOW NEAR THE LAKE. DAY Hot summer day, clear shining skies, clouds are towering from behind the woods. IVAN is walking towards the tent on a meadow. Near the tent is his daughter MASHA, slim longlegged teenager wearing blue swimming suit, talks gesturing about something to a short, stocky and a very stringy man, GORBOVSKY, wearing only a head band and wild-colored swimming trunks. GORBOVSKY notices IVAN, turns and smiles, waves his hand. MASHA (turns to IVAN, jolly) Here he is! IVAN comes up to the tent, drops down his equipment and suit. GORBOVSKY smiling observes him. MASHA How many did you mark today? IVAN Just one. I got cramps. MASHA (helping IVAN to take off aquastat) Wow! (to GORBOVSKY) Yesterday he marked two, a day before four. If it would go on like that we better move to the next lake. (she picks up a towel and starts rubbing IVAN). You look like a frozen duck. This is Leo Gorbovsky, he is an astro-archeologist. Leo, and this is my dad - IVAN. GORBOVSKY (nods, to IVAN) Cold, eh? And we hear are having a great time, sun, grass... MASHA (rubbing IVAN with a towel) He'll warm up in a sec. He is jolly usually, just got too cold... GORBOVSKY We started to worry about you here. Even, wanted to dive after you. You, though, cannot imagine a man like me, who never dived on a job. (confidingly) Tomorrow I depart. Don't even know when I'd get to lie on a grass by the lake next time, just like that... And have an opportunity to dive with an aquastat... IVAN (offers) Go ahead. GORBOVSKY (touches an aquastat) Definitely... He turns and lies on his back, observing IVAN with his slightly sad and confiding eyes. A blue dragonfly hangs over in the air a top of a grass. GORBOVSKY (tenderly) Dragonfly... tiny dragonfly.., blue.., lake dragonfly... Beautiful.., just sits and waits who to devour. (he tries to touch the dragonfly, but it stirs and flies away). How complicated it is, my friends. You know, its absolutely perfect, gracious, enjoying its life totally! Eats a fly, procreates, and its almost a time to die. Simple, gracious, rational. It has no soul torments, no self-consciousness, no reasonable doubts of being, meaning of life questions... MASHA A machine, boring cyber machine GORBOVSKY(agreeing) Boring indeed... But imagine now a poisonously yellow-green dragonfly with red stripes, with a 20 feet wing-spread and black slimy jaws... Imagined? I used to run away from such, and notice, I had a scorcher gun... And know you ask, what do they have in common these two cybers? IVAN The green one is obviously from the different planet, isn't it? GORBOVSKY Obviously. IVAN From Pandora? GORBOVSKY Right, from Pandora... IVAN So, what do they have in common? MASHA Yeah, what? IVAN Well, it's obvious. They have the same level of information processing cycle. Reactive output on the primal instinct level. GORBOVSKY (sighs) Words. Don't be mad at me but it's just words. It doesn't help me a bit. I have to seek signs of an intelligent life in the Universe (Universal Mind). And what is intellect? And I am being told about levels of information processing. Of course, I know that I and a dragonfly are on a different levels from each other, but only intuitively. Tell me, for instance, I have found a termite colony - is it a sign of an intelligent life or is it not? On Mars and in Orion constellation they have discovered buildings without any doors or windows - is this a sign? What shall I look for? Ruins? Wall paintings? A rusty nail? A screw-nut? How shall I know what kind of signs do they leave. What if the sole purpose of their existence is to destroy an atmosphere everywhere they go; or to build a planetary circles; or to hybridized, to clone life? Or to create life? And what if this dragonfly is indeed a bio-ciber machine which was designed to self-replicate since a very long time ago? And I am not talking about them who design signs and posses the intellect themselves. One may pass by twenty times turning up his nose at a sleazy monster grunting inside a puddle. But this monster is observing you and contemplates: "Interesting. It's definitely a new kind of species. We shall come back here with an expedition and catch at least one specimen..." GORBOVSKY covers his eyes with a palm and starts whistling a tune, others pause observe him silently. GORBOVSKY As for an intelligent life in the universe, it indeed does exist. Now I know for sure it does. But it's not as we think it is. It's not what we expect. And we are looking in a wrong place, or, not in a right way. Or just, don't know what is it we are looking for... IVAN It's kinda vague explanation... GORBOVSKY (cut him short) Take, for example, A Voice Of The Void. Have you heard about it? Probably not. A half century ago it was in the news. Not anymore. Because, you see, there was no further development, and since there was no development may be there isn't any Voice. You know, these accurate scientists... MASHA (quietly) And what is it, this Voice Of The Void? GORBOVSKY There is an interesting effect in some parts of the universe. When you are taking a certain direction traveling through outer space and turn on an auto-search on your ship communication computer, sooner or later it tunes on to a strange transmission. You can hear a voice, calm and indifferent, repeating the same phrase in a fish language over and over, for many years constant, the same. I've heard it, many others did too, but not many talk about it. It's not a pleasurable memory. Imagine yourself being very far from Earth, in empty tranquil space, no radio interference, nothing, just some slight rustle on communicator. And suddenly - this Voice. And you are alone on the deck, everyone else is asleep, silence, scary - and this voice. It's not pleasurable, trust me. There are recordings of this Voice. Many have tried to decode it and are still trying, but I believe it makes no sense... There are other mysteries too... (pauses) You have to understand it, it's not easy. We don't even know what to expect. We may meet with them any moment face to face. And you know, they may be on a much higher level then us. Totally different from us, plus much higher than us. People argue about contacts and conflicts, about all kind of reasonable perception of humanism and goodness. But I am not afraid of that. I am afraid of the unheard annihilation of humanity, of a gigantic psychological shock. You see, we are so proud. We've created such a beautiful world, we know so much, we travel in outer space, discover the vast universe, study, research - but what? May be for them the Universe is home sweet home. For millions of years they live in this Universe, like we live on Earth, and just look at us and wonder - where did they come from? GORBOVSKY suddenly gets up and listens. Thunder strike comes from a far. MASHA (quietly) It's thunder. (looks up in the sky) Thunder... Storm is coming... GORBOVSKY (studying the sky) No, it's not a thunder. (sits down again). Sky ship. There, see? He points at a shiny spot in the sky which quickly disappears. Thundering sound comes again. GORBOVSKY (vaguely) Now, sit here and wait... (looks smiling at IVAN, pauses) And what do you do Ivan? IVAN Well, I'm a biologist. I study septopods, dual-gilled type of amphibian cephalopod mollusk previously unknown to us. They have a specific characteristics: like three rows of suckers on their tentacles, total lack of celom, unusually strong venous hearts, developed to the maximum central nervous system and some other less important differences. They were discovered recently for the first time, when some specimens appeared near the eastern and south-eastern shores of Asia. A year later they appeared in the deltas of great rivers like Mekong, Huanhe and Amur and also in lakes far from the ocean shores like this one. Which is very strange since cephalopod specimens avoid even arctic waters with a small concentration of salt, and they almost never come out on a land. But the fact remains: septopods feel great even in the fresh waters and even come out on the land. They get into boats and onto bridges, and, recently, two specimens were found in the woods a few miles from here... While IVAN talks MASHA gets up and goes to the tent. She comes back with a small stereo, turns it on and starts tuning. GORBOVSKY (attentively) And these two, in the woods, were alive? IVAN No, they were found dead. Here there are a lot of wild boars, so they were trampled down. But 30 miles from water where they were first discovered they were still alive! Their insides were filled with lake weeds thus providing them with the required supply of water. But they definitely were moving down south, off the lakes, inside the land. I also have to mention that all of the found specimens were males. Probably, females and babies cannot exist in the fresh waters and come out on a land. It's all rather interesting. Since usually sea creatures change their lifestyle so abruptly only during the mating period. Then instinct makes them move to the most unaccustomed places. But in the case of septopods it's definitely not procreation that makes them move. It's definitely some other instinct, maybe even more ancient and powerful. The most important for us now is to track their migration path. Thus here I am at this lake spending 10 hours underwater everyday. Today I marked one. If I'll be lucky, may be I'll mark a couple more by the evening. However at night they become incredibly active and catch anything which comes near. There were even a few attacks on humans registered. But only at night. MASHA turns up the volume on the stereo and thoroughly enjoys the tunes. IVAN Please, lower it down. GORBOVSKY (after MASHA turns the volume down) So, thus you are marking them. Amazing. How? IVAN With an ultrasound generators marker. (he takes out a magazine with ampoules-generators and shows it). Here. The generator is inside the bullet like this; it can be traced on a distance of 100- 300 miles and 20-30 miles underwater. GORBOVSKY pick up the bullet and studies it. His face turns sadly aged. GORBOVSKY (mumbling) Witty..., witty and simple. GORBOVSKY studies the ampoule-bullet for a bit more, then accurately puts it down on the grass before IVAN and gets up. He moves slowly and lazily, goes toward the pile of his clothing, picks up the pants to put them on but stands still. IVAN observes him with some worrying interest. MASHA is holding a marker gun to show it to GORBOVSKY and is also silently observing him. Her face takes on his expression, corners of her lips slide down. Suddenly GORBOVSKY speaks up with some irony. GORBOVSKY Amazing, really. Such a clear analogy. For centuries they were living deep down, and now arouse and came into the alien and hostile to them world... And what is it that moves them? Dark ancient instinct, you say? Or may be it is a mode of information processing arisen up to the level of unstoppable curiosity? Isn't better for him to sit down low in the salt waters, but no, something moves him to the shores, in to the lands... (he stirs and starts to put on his trousers). Really, Ivan, think about it, these are not just simple cephalopods, are they? IVAN (agreeing) Somewhat right, not just a simple. GORBOVSKY pays no attention to IVAN, turns and stares at the stereo. IVAN and MASHA also puzzled turn to the stereo which starts to transmute some powerful and unpleasant sounds like an interrupted radio broadcast. MASHA puts down the marker gun and picks up the stereo. MASHA (perplexed) Hmm, six in eighths thousand wavelength. Is it some service station? GORBOVSKY (eyes closed, listens attentively to the signals) No this is not a service station. It's me. IVAN What?! GORBOVSKY Yes, it's me. MASHA (totally perplexed) But www-why? GORBOVSKY (laughs dryly) Really, why? I would really love to know why myself. Yes why three pilots and their spaceship came back from the flight EN 101 - EN 7789, and became transmitters of the radiowaves with a longitude six in eight thousand? He continues to dress up silently. MASHA and IVAN are silent as well. GORBOVSKY (continues) We were studied by doctors, by physicists, scientists of all sorts. All came to the unanimous conclusion - it's impossible. You know, you'd died laughing if you'd have seen their faces. But for us it wasn't so funny. One of us took a sabbatical and left for Pandora, saying that he prefers to transmute far from Earth, another one changed his career and went to work at the underwater substation. Only I hang around and transmute, constantly expecting something. Expect with fear. I am afraid but I expect. Do you understand me? IVAN I'm not sure. I don't know. (looks at MASHA) GORBOVSKY You're right. (he picks up the stereo and puts it up to his ear) And nobody knows. It goes on almost for a month now, non stop, not weakening... Waui-iuya, waui-iuya... And "Tariel's", my ship, it's transmitting power at lower and lower wavelengths. It also interferes with the transmission of some station on Venus. They keep sending angry inquiries. Tomorrow I shall take my ship somewhere far from this Galaxy. Well, time to go. Good by and good luck to you. By Masha, don't think about it to hard (don't break your leg on it), it's not an easy puzzle. GORBOVSKY raises his open palm up, nods and starts to walk away. He stops by the tent and turns around. GORBOVSKY You know... Be a bit delicate with these septopods. Just you know, you mark one, and he gets only troubles later. He leaves. IVAN lies down for a while observing MASHA who impressed by GORBOVSKY still looks in the direction he went. IVAN And I don't care about his idea that the source of universal mind may be much higher than us. Let it be. The higher they than us the less chance we have to be on their way. It's like plankton which is not afraid of the net with big holes. As for the pride, humiliation, shock... Probably we will overcome it. I'll definitely live. As for us discovering the universe for ourselves populated since a long time ago, so what? It wasn't populated by us. And they, they are just a part of (mother) a universal nature which we have to discover. Even if they are hundred times higher than us. For us they are aliens, however if I would have been marked... IVAN looks up at his watch, gets up, checks his equipment and starts getting ready to go. IVAN Help me to put on the aquastat. MASHA gets up from the stereo which still transmutes signals and starts helping him to put on an equipment. They go together towards the lake and enter the water. IVAN turns on his underwater locator which starts transmuting sounds of marked septopods. MASHA But really, there is a big difference between a spaceship and a pile of wet water-weeds in the stomach. IVAN You should go back. I wouldn't worry too much if I were you or even Gorbovsky. It's not so serious, like all of his astro-archeology, signs of ideas, carriers of universal intellect, psychological shock. There will be no shock. Most likely we wouldn't even notice each other. It's hardly likely that we would interest them at all. IVAN dives. STAR-FILLED NIGH SKY. FADE OUT. END

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