LIFEBOAT: The passageway connects into the rear of the lifeboat. It is an extremely simple, stripped-down vehicle; even the metal struts and beams-are exposed. A single hypersleep freezer takes up a fair amount of floor space. It is an escape-craft, nothing more.
STANDARD (pointing): Along the base of the walls there.
They begin to stack the red broomsticks against the base of the walls on both sides of the lifeboat, and to wire them into position tightly.
HUNTER: This should do it.
ROBY: I should hope so! And we'd better make sure it's pretty far from the ship when we blow it.
STANDARD: It will be.
HUNTER (surveys the craft uneasily): What we really need is some red meat in here for bait.
ROBY: Well, if we had some, I'd eat it. I'm starting to get hungry.
By this time, they are exiting.
NOSE OF SHIP
STANDARD: Well... now we have to herd that thing up here.
HUNTER (nervously): Whoever's doing the herding is gonna have their hands pretty full. I think somebody should stay by the lifeboat to slam the door on the thing once it's inside, and to serve as... as... (searches for a word)
ROBY: Isn't "bait" the word you used?
HUNTER: Hey look, somebody has to have his hands free to lock the creature in the lifeboat!
STANDARD: Yes, and maybe launch the boat and blow it too... if the others are injured.
ROBY: Who gets the privilege?
INSERT: THREE CRUMPLED PIECES OF PAPER. Three hands pick them up. ANGLE ON ROBY. He unfolds his paper, turns it so the others can see it. It has a big X on it. ANOTHER ANGLE - SHORTLY LATER. Hunter is showing Roby a small device like a transistor radio.
HUNTER: Just keep your finger off the button till she's way away from the ship, that's all.
ROBY: Is it armed?
HUNTER: If you press the button right now, it will blow the whole nose of the ship off.
ROBY: Thanks for the thought. (puts detonator in his breast pocket)
STANDARD: All right, Martin, we'll be in touch with you on the communicator.
ROBY: And you'll let me know when you've got it coming this way...
STANDARD: And you stand aside while we drive it in, then shut the hatch, launch the boat, and --
Hunter's face twitches nervously at this.
STANDARD: Come on; we haven't much time, air is a factor.
They leave the nose of the ship, Standard carrying the flamethrower, Hunter the tracker. Roby settles himself at the controls, runs through them briefly to familiarize himself. Using a switch, he opens and closes the lifeboat door a couple of times. It slams open and shut quite rapidly. He presses a few buttons and sets the launch button to "READY." Then STANDARD'S VOICE comes from the communicator:
STANDARD (over, filtered): We've got something on the tracker... got to be it, it's too big for the cat.
This is a VERY SPOOKY SCENE, ROBY ALONE BY THE LIFEBOAT, LISTENING TO THE VOICES ON THE COMMUNICATOR.
HUNTER (over, filtered): It's coming from down there.
Roby hears various tinny sound effects, rustlings, clunkings, breathing, etc.
CORRIDOR IN SHIP: Standard has the flamethrower at the ready, and Hunter is staring at the tracker.
HUNTER: It must have stopped moving. I'm not getting anything.
STANDARD: Let me go first; you stay behind me.
Carefully, Standard advances down the corridor. Then THE CREATURE POPS OUT OF HIDING BEHIND HUNTER, AND PICKS HIM UP. HUNTER SCREAMS. Standard whirls around, sees the thing clutching Hunter. It holds him off to one side, as though to keep Standard from getting at him. Standard doesn't know what to do.
HUNTER: The flamethrower!
STANDARD: I can't, the acid will pour out!
At that moment the creature TAKES A BITE OUT OF HUNTER, WHO SCREAMS IN MORTAL AGONY. Standard can take it no longer; he raises the flamethrower and fires -- BUT THE CREATURE SWINGS HUNTER AROUND AS A SHIELD AND HUNTER CATCHES THE FULL BLAST OF THE FLAME. Standard instantly stops firing, but now Hunter is a kicking ball of flame, held out at arm's length by the monster.
NOSE OF SHIP: Roby is listening to all this on the communicator. He can hear the shrieks and crashing noises. Then the communicator goes dead, and all he hears is a rush of static.
ROBY: Hello? Standard? Hunter?
He waits quite a while for a response, but we can see from his expression that he expects none. He drops his face into his hands. When he lifts his head again, he has managed to summon a certain amount of resolve.
CORRIDORS IN SHIP: Roby walks along watching the tracker, carrying a pistol in the other hand. He comes across Standard's flamethrower, lying on the floor. He picks it up, substituting it for the pistol. Then he continues to follow the tracker; it takes him down the steps into the maintenance level.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL: Roby follows the device for a short distance until it indicates that the source of the signal is directly under his feet. Looking down, he sees that he is standing on a square metal plate. Getting down on his hands and knees, he removes the heavy plate, revealing a black opening with a ladder going down. Substituting the tracker for a flashlight, but still carrying the flamethrower, Roby starts down the ladder.
DARK STORAGE ROOM: Shining the light around into the darkness, Roby descends the metal ladder to the floor. THE PLACE IS A HORRIBLE LAIR, FULL OF BONES, HAIR, SHREDS OF FLESH, PIECES OF CLOTHING, AND SHOES. Something moves in the darkness -- Roby turns his light on it. HANGING FROM THE CEILING IS A HUGE COCOON.
It appears to be woven from some fine, white, silk-like material, and it is slowly undulating. Flamethrower ready, Roby approaches the cocoon. As he gets close enough, he sees that the cocoon is semi-transparent and THE BODY OF STANDARD IS INSIDE IT. Unexpectedly, Standard's eyes open, and focus on Roby -- who jumps violently.
STANDARD (a feeble whisper): Kill me...
ROBY (sickened): What did it do to you?
STANDARD (moves his head slightly): Look...
Roby turns his light where Standard indicates. Another cocoon dangles from the ceiling, but this one looks a little different. It is smaller and darker, with a harder shell. In fact, it looks almost EXACTLY LIKE THE SPORES IN THE TOMB.
STANDARD (CONT'D) (whispering): That was Melkonis... it ate Hunter...
ROBY (looking around for a tool): I'll get you out of there.
STANDARD: No... don't...
ROBY: But I can save you -- get you to the Autodoc!
STANDARD: No good... it's eaten too much of me...
ROBY (in horror): What can I do?
STANDARD: Kill me...
Roby stares at him in horror, then bends down and takes a closer look at him. REACTING, he straightens back up, raises the flamethrower, and sprays a molten blast. When the entire room is in flames, he turns and scrambles back up the ladder.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL: Roby drops to his knees and gasps for breath, trying not to throw up. At length, he regains control of himself.
OUTER SPACE - AT LIGHT SPEED: The SNARK appears to hang motionless, with planets and star clusters rolling past in the infinite distance.
BRIDGE: Roby is putting the cat into a metal, vacuum-sealed catbox, with a little oxygen tank on it.
ROBY: Kitty go bye-bye.
He seals the catbox, then turns on the oxygen. There is a faint hiss of pressurized air. Wild-eyed, the cat peers out of a little window in front. It YOWLS. He picks up the pressurized catbox and leaves the bridge.
MINING & CARGO BAY: Carrying the catbox and a shoulder bag (and of course the flamethrower), Roby goes quickly to the nearest rank of metal cannisters.
ROBY (reading from labels): What'll it be, Kitty? Here -- how about some Tacitum-35, ten kilos of it. This'll buy us an island on some nice planet.
Putting the invaluable cannister into the shoulder bag, he hurries back up the steps.
ENGINE ROOM: Catbox in one hand, flamethrower in the other, Roby enters the engine room, containing the massive stardrive engines. He puts down his parcels and approaches the main control board for the engines. Studying the instructions, he begins to close switches, one by one. A SIREN BEGINS TO HONK THROUGHOUT THE SHIP.
COMPUTER: Attention! The cooling units for the stardrive engines are not functioning! Engines will overload in 4 minutes, 50 seconds! Attention!
Finally Roby closes the last switch. Shaking with nervousness, he hurriedly picks up catbox, bag and flamethrower and hurries out of the engine room.
CORRIDORS IN SHIP: Roby hurries on, listening to the siren.
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will overheat and main core will melt in 4 minutes, 30 seconds!
NOSE OF SHIP: Roby comes hustling up to where the lifeboat is berthed. Hands full, he starts to enter the connecting passageway.
CONNECTING PASSAGEWAY: THE CREATURE IS WAITING AT THE OTHER END OF THE PASSAGEWAY, INSIDE THE LIFEBOAT. It HISSES and starts toward him.
NOSE OF SHIP: Roby leaps out of the passageway, bounds to the controls, and throws the switch. The hatch door SLAMS SHUT, locking the thing in the lifeboat.
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will overload in 4 minutes!
Indecisive, Roby stares at the lifeboat "LAUNCH" button. The thing can be heard fumbling around in the passageway. Finally, he turns and bolts back toward the engine room.
CORRIDORS IN SHIP: Like a maniac, Roby runs through the ship, level after level, pounding down stairwells, his footsteps clanging metallically throughout the ship as he sprints for the engine room.
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will overload in 3 minutes, 30 seconds!
ENGINE ROOM: The door crashes open and Roby comes running in. The room is full of smoke and the engines are whining dangerously. It is extremely hot in the room; Roby instantly breaks out in sweat. He runs to controls and begins throwing back on the cooling unit switches. Still THE SIREN CONTINUES.
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will overload in 3 minutes!
Roby pushes a button and speaks into it.
ROBY: Computer! I've turned all the cooling units back on! What's wrong?
COMPUTER: The reaction has proceeded too far. The core has begun to melt. Engines will overload in 2 minutes, 35 seconds.
A look of terror comes onto Roby's face. He turns and runs from the engine room.
CORRIDORS IN SHIP: Again, Roby must run through all the levels of the ship, this time up the stairs, exhausted, stumbling, while the computer counts down:
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will overload in 2 minutes!
NOSE OF SHIP: Reeling, gasping for breath, Roby staggers into the vestibule where the lifeboat is berthed. He grabs the flamethrower and turns it toward the passageway. It is then he realizes that THE LIFEBOAT DOOR IS OPEN AGAIN. Quickly, he glances around to see if the creature might be behind him. Then he advances on the passageway.
PASSAGEWAY: Dripping with sweat, his face a mask of fear, Roby enters the passageway, flamethrower gripped tightly in his hands. He is goaded on by the siren and the computer:
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will explode in 90 seconds!
He makes it all the way to the end of the passageway, then sticks his head into the lifeboat.
LIFEBOAT HIS POINT-OF-VIEW: as he quickly scans the lifeboat, reveals that it is EMPTY.
PASSAGEWAY: Immediately, he turns and dashes back to the head of the passageway. There he grabs the catbox and bag, then runs back into the lifeboat.
COMPUTER: Attention! Engines will explode in 60 seconds!
LIFEBOAT: He comes in on the run, hurls the catbox and bag toward the front, and does a dive over the back of the control chair. He is no sooner in the seat than he hits the "LAUNCH" button.
NOSE OF SHIP - OUTER SPACE: The retainer clips drop away, and with a blast of ramjets, THE LIFEBOAT IS LAUNCHED AWAY FROM THE "SNARK."
LIFEBOAT: Roby is frantically strapping himself in, as the lifeboat accelerates away from the mother ship.
SPACE: The tiny pod of the lifeboat accelerates away from the larger bulk of the SNARK. The scene is strangely serene for such deadly circumstances.
LIFEBOAT: Roby finishes strapping himself in, then he reaches and grabs the catbox. The cat is YOWLING. Roby hugs the box to his chest and hunches his head down over it.
SPACE: The SNARK drifts ever farther away as the lifeboat leaves it behind, until it is barely a point of light. THEN IT BLOWS UP. AN EXPANDING ORANGE FIREBALL WITH PIECES OF METAL FLYING IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
LIFEBOAT: The shockwave hits the escape craft, jolting it and rattling everything inside. Then all is quiet. Roby unhooks himself from his straps, rises, and goes to the back of the lifeboat. He stares out through the porthole. His face is bathed in orange light.
SPACE What he sees is the boiling fireball, now fading and fizzling away into nothingness, and a couple of pieces of debris floating past.
LIFEBOAT: Roby's expression is mournful as he watches the final obliteration of his ship and friends. BEHIND HIM, THE CREATURE EMERGES FROM SOME HIDING PLACE -- IT HAS BEEN INSIDE THE LIFEBOAT ALL ALONG. The cat SCREECHES. Roby whirls, and finds himself facing the thing across the length of the boat. It squats, then pulls out its trophy -- a man's arm. It begins to eat the arm, watching Roby.
His first thought is for the flamethrower -- unfortunately, it lies on the floor right next to the monster. Next he glances around for any place to hide. His eye falls on a tiny locker containing a space suit, with the door standing open. He begins to edge toward the locker. The creature rises. He freezes. It throws down the arm. With that, Roby dives for the open locker door, hurls himself inside, and slams the door shut.
SPACESUIT LOCKER: There is a clear glass panel in the door, and the thing puts its face right up to the glass, peering in at Roby. The locker is so small that Roby's face is only inches away from the creature's. The sight is disgusting. It turns its head, looking at him in curiosity. Then the MOANING OF THE CAT distracts it.
LIFEBOAT: The creature waddles over to where the pressurized catbox sits. It bends down and peers inside. The CAT YOWLS LOUDER. It picks up the catbox in its tentacles.
SPACESUIT LOCKER: Trying to distract the monster away from the cat, Roby TAPS ON THE GLASS. But the monster reacts so fast that its face is instantly back at the glass, startling the hell out of Roby. Getting no more interference from him, the thing returns to the catbox. Roby looks around. He spies the spacesuit. Quickly, he begins to pull it on.
LIFEBOAT: The creature picks the catbox up in its tentacles and shakes it to see if there is anything inside. The cat MOANS.
SPACESUIT LOCKER: Roby is halfway into the pressure suit.
LIFEBOAT: The creature throws the catbox down. It clangs, and bounces. The thing picks it up again and hammers it against the wall. Then it jams it into a crevice in the wall. With one tentacle, it begins to pound the sealed catbox into the crevice. The cat has gone beyond hysterics.
SPACESUIT LOCKER: Roby pulls on the helmet, latches it into place, then turns on the oxygen. With a hiss, the suit fills itself. In a rack on the wall is a long metal rod with a blunt rubber tip. Roby peels the rubber off, revealing a sharp steel point. Again he raps on the glass.
LIFEBOAT: The creature turns. It faces the locker, peers at him.
ROBY: Try a little of this, you fucking bastard.
HE KICKS THE DOOR OPEN.
LIFEBOAT: The creature rises, but just in time to catch THE STEEL SHAFT RIGHT THROUGH ITS MIDRIFF. IT MAKES A HORRIBLE NOISE AND CLUTCHES AT THE SPUR. The yellow acid begins to flow from the wound. Before the acid can touch the floor, Roby reaches back and pulls a switch -- BLOWING THE REAR HATCH.
In a poof, the tiny atmosphere in the lifeboat is sucked out into space -- and the bleeding creature along with it. Roby grabs a steel strut to keep from being sucked out, but as the creature passes him IT WRAPS THE END OF A TENTACLE AROUND HIS ANKLE.
LIFEBOAT - OUTER SPACE: Roby is now hanging halfway out of the lifeboat, with the thing clinging to his leg. He kicks at it with his free foot, but it won't let go.
LIFEBOAT Looking for any salvation, Roby grabs the hatch control lever and yanks it. The hatch slams shut, closing Roby safely inside but TRAPPING THE END OF THE CREATURE'S TENTACLE IN THE DOORJAMB. It instantly releases Roby, who staggers back.
LIFEBOAT - OUTER SPACE: The creature is now outside the lifeboat, in the vacuum, squirming, the tip of its tentacle caught in the closed hatch.
LIFEBOAT Where the tentacle is caught in the hatch, it is wounded, and is starting to foam with acid, eating away at the metal. Roby stumbles forward to the controls and pushes a lever labeled: "RAM JETS"
LIFEBOAT - OUTER SPACE: The jet exhausts are located at the rear of the craft, right where the creature is wriggling. THE ENGINES BELCH FLAME FOR A FEW SECONDS, THEN SHUT OFF. INCINERATED, THE CREATURE TUMBLES SLOWLY AWAY INTO SPACE.
LIFEBOAT: Roby hurries to the rear hatch and looks out after the thing.
OUTER SPACE: The burned mass of the monster drifts slowly away into space, a writhing, smoking, foaming mass. As it tumbles into the distance, pieces drop off it -- it bloats -- then bursts, soggily, sending a spray of particles off in all directions. The last we see of it is a few smouldering rags, dwindling into infinity.
LIFEBOAT - LATER: The boat is re-pressurized and Roby is seated in the control chair. He seems calm and composed, almost cheerful. The cat purrs in his lap.
ROBY (dictating): ... So it looks like I'll make it back to the Colonies on schedule after all. I should be to the frontier in another 250 years or so, and then with a little luck the network will pick me up. I'm not as rich as I was a couple days ago -- but I'm not exactly broke either. Incidentally, I did manage to salvage one souvenir out of this whole mess.
He reaches down into the carrying bag he brought on board, and pulls out the ALIEN SKULL.
ROBY (CONT'D): Poor Yorick here should go at least partway toward proving I'm not a crank. I wish it was him we'd met in the first place -- things might have turned out different.
He puts the skull down on a shelf and locks a glass lid over it.
ROBY (CONT'D): This is Martin Roby, executive officer, last survivor of the commercial vessel SNARK, signing off. Come on, cat, let's go to sleep.
Roby leans forward and switches off the recorder. Then he rises and, carrying the cat, walks to the hypersleep freezer, which stands open. He climbs in and stretches out on his back, holding the cat against his chest. With one hand, he presses a switch, and THE LID CLOSES OVER HIM. CLOSE-UP OF THE ALIEN SKULL, watching sentinel over the slumbering Roby like some dead, melancholy pixie.
OUTER SPACE: The lifeboat -- SNARK 2 -- sails away toward its rendezvous with Irth, 250 years from now. As SNARK 2 drifts past camera, we suddenly see that A SPORE POD IS ADHERED TO THE UNDERBELLY OF THE CRAFT.
ROLL END TITLES & MUSIC.
En route back to Earth from a far part of the galaxy, the crew of the starship SNARK intercepts a transmission in an alien language, originating from a nearby storm-shrouded planet. Mankind has waited centuries to contact another form of intelligent life in the universe -- they decide to land and investigate. Their search takes them to a wrecked alien spacecraft whose doors gape open -- it is dead and abandoned. Inside they find, among other strange things, the skeleton of one of the unearthly space travellers.
Certain clues in the wrecked ship lead them across the hostile surface of the planet to a primitive stone pyramid, the only remnant of a vanished civilization. Beneath this pyramid they find an ancient tomb full of fantastic artifacts. Lying dormant in the tomb are centuries- old spores, which are triggered into life by the men's presence. A parasite emerges and fastens itself to one of the men's faces -- and cannot be removed.
An examination by the ship's medical computer reveals that the creature has inserted a tube down his throat, which is depositing something inside him. Then it is discovered that the parasite's blood is a horribly corrosive acid which eats through metal -- they dare not kill it on the ship. Ultimately it is dislodged from its victim and ejected from the ship, and they blast off from the Hell-planet.
However, before they can seal themselves into suspended animation for the long voyage home, a horrible little monster emerges from the victim's body -- it has been growing in him, deposited there by the parasite... and now it is loose on the ship. A series of ghastly adventures follow.
They trap it in an air shaft and a man has to crawl down the shaft with a flamethrower -- it tears a man's head off and runs away with his body -- a man is crushed in the air lock door and the ship loses most of its air in a terrific windstorm -- another man is burned to death and then eaten by the creature -- and another is woven into a cocoon as part of the alien's bizarre life cycle.
Finally there is only one man left alive, alone on the ship with the creature, and only six hours till his air runs out; which leads to a climax of horrifying, explosive jeopardy, the outcome of which determines who will reach Earth alive -- man or alien.