Standard punches some buttons, and on the monitors, a kind of X-ray image in vivid colors appears, depicting Broussard's HEAD AND UPPER TORSO. The parasite is clearly visible on Broussard's face. In X-ray, the creature is a maze of complicated biology. But the shocking thing is that, in X-ray, we can see that Broussard's jaws are forced wide open, and THE PARASITE HAS EXTRUDED SOME KIND OF LONG TUBE, WHICH IS STUFFED INTO HIS MOUTH AND DOWN HIS THROAT, ending near his stomach.
ROBY: Look at that.
HUNTER: What is it -- I can't tell anything --
ROBY: It's some kind of organ -- it's inserted some kind of tube or something down his throat.
HUNTER (turning sick): Oh... God...
Hunter bends over and RETCHES.
ROBY: I think that's how it's getting oxygen to him.
HUNTER: It doesn't make any sense. It paralyzes him... puts him into a coma... then keeps him alive.
MELKONIS: We can't expect to understand a life form like this. We're out of our back yard. Things are different here.
HUNTER: Well, can't we kill it? I mean, we can't leave the damn thing on him.
MELKONIS: We don't know what might happen if we tried to kill it. At least right now it's keeping him alive.
HUNTER: How about cutting it off? We can't pull it loose, but we can cut off everything but the bottom layer, where it's stuck to his face.
STANDARD: You're right... we can't stand here and do nothing.
Standard picks up his dusty breathing mask and pulls it over his head. Then he pulls back on his bulky gloves. Finally, he presses a switch and Broussard slides back out of the booth.
STANDARD (CONT'D) (muffled in his mask): Somebody give me a scalpel.
Melkonis takes a glittering surgical blade from a slot in the wall, and carefully passes it to Standard. Clumsily because of the gloves, Standard manipulates the knife in his hand till he has a decent grip on it. Then he flicks a little button with his thumb. The scalpel begins to hum. Standard advances on the parasite. The others draw back nervously.
Roby reaches over and draws yet a longer blade from the rack, and holds it inconspicuously at his side. Standard bends over the parasite. Carefully, he touches the scalpel to the extreme end of one of the tentacles, where it curves toward the back of Broussard's head. Effortlessly, the electronic blade slides through the alien tissue. Immediately, a urine-like fluid begins to flow from the wound.
STANDARD (CONT'D) (muffled): I've made an incision... it's not reacting... but some kind of yellowish fluid is leaking out of the wound...
The noxious-looking liquid drips down onto the bedding next to Broussard's head. Instantly, it starts to hiss, and a thin stream of smoke curls up from the stain.
STANDARD (CONT'D) (muffled): Hold it, this stuff's smoking!
The others REACT nervously. By now, the yellow fluid has eaten a hole through the bunk bed and has dripped down onto the floor below. The metal floor begins to bubble and sizzle, and more smoke rises. The men start to COUGH.
MELKONIS: God, that smoke's poisonous!
HUNTER (pointing): It's eating a hole in the floor!
Abruptly, the men jostle their way out of the room and huddle in the corridor outside, coughing their lungs out. Standard, who is masked, remains. Frantically, he attempts to put a bandage on the wound, but the fluid instantly melts the bandage, and in the process, some of the stuff gets on Standard's gloves. They begin to smoke. Frantically Standard leaps back, pulling off the smouldering gloves. Then he runs out into the corridor and yanks off his mask.
CORRIDOR OUTSIDE INFIRMARY
STANDARD: That stuff's eating right through the metal! It's going to eat through the decks and right out through the hull!
By this time Standard has started to run for the stairs.
CORRIDORS IN SHIP: Followed by the others, Standard frantically clangs down the stairs to the level below.
STANDARD: There! Look!
A droplet of the fluid is sizzling on the ceiling. It oozes down and drips to the floor. It bubbles on the floor.
MELKONIS: Jesus, what can we put under it?
Standard and Hunter charge down the stairs to the level below.
LEVEL BELOW: Standard and Hunter move cautiously down the corridor, looking up at the ceiling.
STANDARD (pointing): There. Should be coming through about there.
HUNTER: Careful, don't get under it!
LEVEL ABOVE: Roby and Melkonis crouch by the spot on the floor where the acid sizzles.
MELKONIS: Christ, that stinks.
Roby fishes a pen out of his pocket and probes into the hole in the floor.
ROBY: Seems to have stopped penetrating.
Hunter comes charging up the steps.
HUNTER: What's happening up here?
ROBY: I think it's fizzled out.
Hunter approaches and looks. Roby straightens up, starts to put the pen back in his pocket, then changes his mind and stands holding it by the end.
MELKONIS: I never saw anything like that in my life... except molecular acid.
HUNTER: But this thing uses it for blood.
MELKONIS: Hell of a defense mechanism. You don't dare kill it.
Standard comes up the stairs.
STANDARD: It's stopped?
MELKONIS: Yes, thank heaven.
STANDARD: We're just plain lucky. That could have gone right through the hull -- taken weeks to patch it.
MELKONIS: Reminded me of when I was a kid and the roof leaked -- everybody running for the pots and pans.
ROBY: My God, what about Broussard?
They turn and run up the stairs.
INFIRMARY: They all come into the room (Roby carrying the partially melted pen). Broussard is still motionless on the bunk, with the thing on his face.
ROBY: Did it get on him?
Standard approaches and peers at Broussard's head.
STANDARD: No, thank God... just missed him.
MELKONIS: Is it still dripping?
STANDARD (examining it): It appears to have healed itself.
HUNTER: It makes me sick to see him like that.
MELKONIS: Isn't there some way we can get it off him?
STANDARD: I don't see how. But let's do what we can for him.
Standard presses a button, and Broussard slides back into the diagnostic coffin. He presses more buttons, and the displays light up again, showing different parts of Broussard's body.
STANDARD (CONT'D): I think we'd better get some intravenous feeding started. God knows what that thing is leaching out of him.
Standard operates some controls, and the machine begins to invade Broussard's body, sliding needles into him.
ROBY (studying the screens): Look there, what's that stain on his lungs?
The X-ray reveals a spreading dark blot in the vicinity of Broussard's chest. In the center, the stain is completely opaque.
MELKONIS: It appears to be a heavy fluid of some sort... it blocks the X-rays...
ROBY: That tube must be depositing it in him.
MELKONIS: Could be some kind of venom, or poison...
HUNTER: This is horrible.
ROBY: Hey! what about the film?
STANDARD: What film?
ROBY: Broussard had film in his datastick, didn't he? We can see what happened to him.
MULTI-PURPOSE ROOM: Again we are watching slides in the darkened room. This time Standard, Roby, Melkonis, and Hunter are watching the sequence of photographs taken automatically by Broussard's datastick as he probed the tomb. The camera reveals the "urns." The climax of the sequence of stills comes when THE CREATURE LEAPS OUT OF THE "URN" TOWARD THE CAMERA -- and after that the camera drops to a useless angle and proceeds to show a series of meaningless blurs. Then the reel ends.
HUNTER: That must have been when he got it.
ROBY: The same thing must've happened to the creatures on the other ship... except they took one of those jars on board, and opened it there.
MELKONIS: (clicks back through the slides to a picture of one of the "urns") At first I thought they were jars too, or artifacts anyway. But they're not. They're eggs, or spore casings. Let's go back to the heiroglyphics.
CLICKETYCLICKETYCLICK -- Melkonis accelerates through the slides in a blur, stopping at the one he wants -- which shows a strip of heiroglyphs on the wall of the tomb.
STANDARD: I personally can't make any sense out of it...
CLICK. CLICK. Melkonis is changing the slides as they talk, showing different angles on the glyphs.
MELKONIS: It's a crude symbolic language -- looks primitive.
HUNTER: You can't tell -- that kind of stuff could represent printed circuits...
STANDARD: That sounds a little fanciful...
MELKONIS: Primitive pictorial languages are based on common objects in the environment, and this can be used as a starting point for translation...
ROBY: What common objects?
HUNTER: Listen, hadn't somebody better check on Broussard?
STANDARD (rising): I'll do it. The rest of you continue.
HUNTER (rising): I'll come with you.
CORRIDOR OUTSIDE INFIRMARY: Standard and Hunter come down the passageway.
STANDARD: You know, it's fantastic -- the human race has gone this long without ever encountering another advanced life form, and now we run into a veritable zoo.
HUNTER: What do you mean?
STANDARD: Well, those things out there aren't the same, you know -- the spaceship and the pyramid. They're from different cultures and different races. That ship just landed here -- crashed like we did. The pyramid and the thing from it are indigenous.
HUNTER: How could anything be indigenous to this asteroid? It's dead.
STANDARD: Maybe it wasn't always dead.
They arrive at the infirmary.
INFIRMARY: The door slides open, and they step into the room. Hunter activates the bed, and it slides out of the wall. THERE IS A LONG, HORRIFIED PAUSE.
HUNTER: It's gone.
They rush to Broussard's prone form. THE PARASITE IS GONE FROM HIS FACE. Broussard is still unconscious, but he is breathing. HIS FACE IS COVERED WITH SUCKER MARKS.
HUNTER: Now we're in for it.
STANDARD: The door was closed. It must still be in here.
They immediately grow very tense. Hunter starts edging toward the door. Standard grabs his arm.
STANDARD (CONT'D): No, don't open the door. We don't want it escaping.
HUNTER (very nervous): Well, what the hell good can we do in here? We can't grab it -- it might jump on us --
STANDARD: Maybe we can catch it.
Standard picks up a stainless steel tray with a lid.
STANDARD (CONT'D): As long as we're careful not to damage it...
Tray in one hand, lid in the other, Standard begins moving slowly around the room. There are very few places to hide. He bends down and peers under the bunk. As he is down on his hands and knees, WE SEE ONE TENTACLE OF THE THING, VIBRATING ON A LEDGE JUST ABOVE STANDARD. He rises, and HIS SHOULDER BRUSHES THE TENTACLE. THE PARASITE DROPS TO THE FLOOR.
STANDARD (leaping back): Shit! But the thing is not moving.
It lies motionless on the floor, its tentacles curled up. Its color has faded to a dead-looking grey. Without taking his eyes off the thing, Standard reaches behind him and takes a long probe from the wall. He prods the thing; it does not respond.
STANDARD (CONT'D): I think it's dead.
With great care, he uses the probe to fish the motionless parasite into the tray. Then he quickly closes the lid.