INT. ORMONDE HOTEL LOUNGE -- NIGHT
Doris, George and Joy meet Gunter as he ENTERS.
I am sorry... I did not find her.
But look what I did find.
He sits down, hands Joy the manual. She and the others sit with him, look at it in confusion.
“Erickson Paralepsis Services Harvesting Routines Manual”?
It is very technical. A lot of instructions for their van drivers: no smoking around the equipment, no liquids, no ferrous materials, no all kinds of things. But look at these pages here.
“Sweep protocols.” “Storage strategies for large sweeps.” “Decanting residuals.”
Gunter points to the diagram which shows a ghostly, human-like shape being decanted from the portable pentagram, the “holding pattern”, into a larger pentagram, a big one set into the floor somewhere.
This is what I saw in the van: a small one. It pulled me to it. If it had pulled much more strongly, I would have had to go right into it. This must be a larger one, into which what the small one catches is decanted.
(a look at George)
“Residuals.” That is us.
Human souls. We are a residue, to these people. Like coffee grounds in the bottom of the pot. They collect us together, apparently in large numbers. See, there are references here to sweeps of four, five hundred residuals.
But whatever do they do it for?
We have to find out.
George sits down slowly beside Gunter, looking at the manual: then up at the others.
You know, this could be the answer to an old question.
What do you mean?
Some years back, every now and then, some of the dead started to go missing. One day they’d be where they’d been for decades: then, suddenly, they’d vanish.
But you told me that sometimes people would just go on, to wherever.
But such a release usually has to do with the dead one solving an old trouble, ending a pain: they tell their friends before they go. These disappearances, though -- no one knew why they happened. The people were just gone.
Joy takes the manual, looks at it. Most of her attention at the moment is on the Erickson logo.
And this started when?
Maybe ten years ago.
I think that’s when Erickson started his company. I’ve got to ask Harry...
I don’t even know if Harry is talking to me any more.
Joy hands him back the manual.
I told him. About here.
And he did not take it well.
(head in hands)
No. Oh, what am I going to do!
But that’s later. Right now I’m going to go there.
Wherever those vans go. I’m going to wait for the next one that comes along, and follow it.
Joy, surely that’s unwise. Wherever these vans are based, they’re not going to let you just walk in there.
George, where’s Sarah?
He looks at her, upset.
I bet you anything that one of those vans took her. We have to find out where they go!
Gunter has been riffling through the book, increasingly troubled. Now he looks up with the expression of a man doing something new for the first time.
I will go with you.
I’ll go change into something more comfortable.
Look, play it safe. Don’t let anybody go out till we get back.
He and Doris look at each other, nod. As Gunter EXITS, Joy pats Doris’s hand, then smiles understandingly at George as she FOLLOWS Gunter.
INT. ORMONDE HOTEL -- JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT
Joy THUMPS DOWN THE STAIRS in black jeans, black T-shirt, dark leather jacket.
Leave the key, leave the key...
Gunter waits for her by the door. Doris stands behind the desk, anxious. Joy GIVES HER the room key, gives her a hurried thumbs-up, makes for the door.
Joy, dear, what should I tell your husband if he asks about you?
(grim but humorous)
Tell him I went to get a prescription filled.
She and Gunter EXIT.
EXT. ORMONDE HOTEL -- NIGHT
They go down the street toward where Gunter saw the van turn earlier.
Which way was the van you saw going?
The opposite from mine. They may be working up and down the side streets.
Come on --
EXT. LONDON STREETS, NIGHT -- MONTAGE OF SHOTS
Joy and Gunter on various dark streets, searching. BOBBIES WALKING the beat or IN CARS PASS THEM once or twice. Joy and Gunter nervously try to look normal, but beyond a couple of suspicious glances, they’re left alone.
For a long time there’s no sight of a van, and the two of them become increasingly weary and dispirited. But just when they’ve nearly given up, an Erickson van PASSES them from behind. Not far behind comes a CAB. Gunter WATCHES the the van as it turns out of the street, ahead of them: Joy SPRINTS for the cab, HAILS it. It STOPS: they hurl themselves in.
(through the passenger-side window as she gets in)
Follow that van! The little white one, yeah...
The cab zooms away.
EXT. LONDON STREETS / INT. CAB, NIGHT -- MONTAGE OF SHOTS
They follow the van -- and follow it, and follow it. It drives for a long time, and the meter runs up, and up.
Do you have this much money?
She starts going through her pockets. Gunter watches, amused.
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE ERICKSON COMPUTERS -- NIGHT
The large shiny building we earlier saw from the inside. Down the road is a small bus terminus, where buses sit waiting for their runs to begin. Little SHOPS -- coffee shop, newsagent, curry house -- are nearby.
The pursued van PASSES this terminus, comes to the Erickson building. OPENED by a guard, a gate GOES UP and the van goes down a DRIVEWAY and STOPS at a big ROLL-DOWN GARAGE DOOR. The driver LEANS OUT, swipes an ID card through a READER by the door. It OPENS: he drives into a parking-unloading facility underneath the building as the door CLOSES.
The cab PULLS OVER half a block away and lets out its passengers. Joy pays the cabbie, comes away counting her change ruefully.
Not much of that left. How are we going to get back?
My mother used to say, “We will burn that bridge when we come to it.” What will you do now?
I’m coming with you.
Schatz’, you cannot just walk in there. I can. You must wait.
He looks around, spots the coffee shop.
Over there. Sit, have a cup of coffee. I will not be long.
Gunter reaches out to touch Joy’s cheek affectionately -- then stops himself.
Don’t. Just -- be careful.
Gunter nods, then heads toward the Erickson building.
Outside it he slows down to examine the building. The front door is centrally placed. Access to the small round passenger-drop area in front of it is by a little road branching from the driveway by which the van entered the underground parking area, on the right side as Gunter faces the building. A wall joins the front of the building on the right side and curves behind it.
Security cameras are here and there, but none seem to be covering the wall. Gunter makes for the wall and PASSES THROUGH IT; then THROUGH THE SKIN OF THE BUILDING.
Joy watches Gunter go, then HEADS FOR the coffee shop.
(to be continued…)