Dr. Daniel P. Schreber (narration): First, there was darkness. Then came the Strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology, the ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability, Tuning.
But they were dying, their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world seeking a cure for their own mortality. Their endless journey brought them to a small blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy, our world. Here, they thought they had finally found what they had been searching for.
Dr. Daniel Schreber (narration): My name is Dr. Daniel Schreber. I am just a man. I help the Strangers conduct their experiments. I have betrayed my own kind.
Daniel looks at his pocket watch and looks around a city: a forties style setting, trolley cars, trains, old movie theaters, silver bullet diners, but vehicles from different eras. At midnight, all movement comes to a slow stop. All vehicles stop in their tracks, people collapse to the ground.
John Murdoch wakes in a hotel bathtub, suffering from what seems to be amnesia. He finds clothes that fit him and a postcard of Shell Beach, which gives him a vague flashback. John accidentally knocks over a goldfish bowl, shattering it. He picks up the goldfish and places it in the tub. As he stumbles into his hotel room, he receives a call from Dr. Daniel Schreber.
Daniel: You are confused, aren't you. Frightened. That's all right, I can help you.
John: Who is this?
Daniel: I am a doctor. Now you must listen to me. You have lost your memory. There was an experiment, something went wrong, your memory was erased. Do you undestand me?
John: No, I don't understand, what the hell is going on here?
Daniel: Just listen to me. There are people coming for you even as we speak. You must not let them find you. You must leave now. Hello, are you there?
Noticing something, John drops the telephone handset. He discovers the corpse of a brutalized, ritualistically murdered woman, along with a bloody knife. The woman has wounds that look like a bloody spiral circling inward.
Murdoch flees the scene, just as the Strangers arrive at the room including Mr. Wall, Mr. Quick, and Mr. Hand. John enters the lobby and sees people unconscious including the hotel manager. A bell chimes and the manager comes to.
Hotel Manager: Hey, Mr. Murdoch, the Automat called, said you left your wallet there. I suggest you retrieve it since you only paid for three weeks and they was up ten minutes ago.
John: I've been here for three weeks?
Hotel Manager: It's right there in black and white, Mr. Murdoch. Day and date. We make our books like we make our beds, all neat and tidy.
John: I'll take care of it when I get back.
Hotel Manager: See that you do. Only thing that makes you a guest in this joint, pal, is cash on the barrel head.
John exits the hotel which leads to a dock/boardway. He flings his suitcase into the water.
Back in the room, one of the Strangers picks up an ornate syringe. Just outside the room, the hotel manager approaches. He inserts a key into the door lock.
Hotel Manager: House rules, three weeks is three weeks. No days off for good behavior.
He enters the room and he is grabbed by the throat by Mr. Wall, and is shoved against the wall.
Mr. Hand: Mr. Murdoch, yes? Where is he?
Hotel Manager: He just left not five minutes ago.
A child Stranger now appears.
Mr. Hand: Sleep, now.
We cut to a nightclub, a band plays as the lounge singer Emma Murdoch, sings a sultry ballad. After her performance a co-worker approaches her.
Co-worker (showing her a business card): Hey sweetie, he said he's your husband's doctor. He wanted to speak with you.
Emma reads the card: Daniel P. Schreber, M.D. Psychiatrist.
Emma arrives at Dr. Daniel Screber's office.
Emma: Excuse me, Doctor . . . ?
Daniel: Schreber. Please, won't you come in. You must be Emma Murdoch. Thank you for coming to see me on such short notice.
Emma notices a table maze in the center of the room, with a lab rat inside.
Emma: What is this?
Daniel: A rather crude experiment designed to further my studies.
Emma: I don't understand, you say you are my husband's doctor, but he never mentioned you to me.
Daniel: The truth is, Mrs. Murdoch, John has been coming to see me for quite some time. He had been grappling with feelings of betrayal stemming from your marital difficulties.
Emma: John told you what happened?
Daniel: Yes. When was the last time that you saw him?
Emma: Three weeks ago. He packed a suitcase, he was very angry at me.
Daniel: I understand how difficult this must be for you, but for John's sake, I would like you to think of me as your friend now. It appears that John has suffered a psychotic break, complete memory loss.
Emma: You can't be serious.
Daniel: Oh, but I am. He may be dilusional, even violent. If he were to contact you, you must call me immediately. Wherever your husband is, he is searching . . . for himself.
John wanders through the city and comes to a store window, talking to himself, struggling with what his real name is
John (to himself): Good evening, Mr. Murdoch. It is Mr. Murdoch, isn't it? Mr. J. something Murdoch? J. Murdoch. What's your name? Justin? Jerry? No. My name's Jason Murdoch. John Murdoch. Jake Murdoch, how's it goin'? Hi, I'm Jack Murdoch.
He laughs over the possibilities when he notices a janitor staring at him.
John turns and leaves, mumbling to himself.
We cut to the home of Inspector Frank Bumstead. He's playing an accordian along to some music when the phone rings. It concerns the brutally murdered woman.
Frank arrives at the hotel and approaches a police officer at the front desk. However, the hotel manger is mysteriously now a different person.
Hotel Manager: I told the guy, cash on the barrel head. I said listen, three weeks is three weeks.
Frank: Who's the lucky winner?
Officer: Upstairs, sir, Room 614, another call-girl.
Frank (looking at hotel ledger): J. Murdoch.
Frank notices Officer Husselbeck leaving a room.
Frank: Evening, Husselbeck.
Husselbeck: Inspector Bumstead.
Frank: Your lace is untied.
Husselbeck (ties his shoe): Yes, sir.
Frank heads upstairs to the room with the murdered woman. Husselbeck quickly catches up.
Husselbeck: Am I glad you're here, sir. They say Detective Walenski has got the heebie-jeebies.
Frank: Just take what they give me, Husselbeck.
Frank studies the dead woman in the room as police take photographs.
John arrives at the Automat, near the entrance is a young beautiful call-girl known as May, giving him the eye and a smile. John enters and approaches the wall of serving panels.
Vendor: Oh, it's you. You left your wallet here, buddy.
John: When did I do that?
Vendor: When you was last here.
John: When was that?
Vendor: When you left your wallet. Don't you remember?
The vendor places John's wallet in a serving panel. However he can't get it to open. Two cops enter, sit at a booth, and take notice of John. John concentrates and a field of energy emits from him, causing the panel to open. John retrieves it and turns to leave, but the officer stops him with his club.
Officer: Where you headed, chief?
At that moment, May enters the Automat, coming to John's rescue.
Officer: And where's home?
May: Don't you mugs got anything better to do?
Officer: Well, I'm just trying to do my job, May.
May: Well, there's a killer out there in case you haven't noticed. Maybe you should be out looking for him instead of cooling your heels, hmm?
Officer (laughs): Ahh, go on, get out of here.
May takes John to her apartment. He hesistates to enter, having a flashback of the murdered woman
May: Come on.
But actually it's a cut to Frank investigating the murdered woman.
Frank: Just how many so far, Husselbeck, six hookers in all?
Husselbeck: I believe so, sir.
Frank: Give the man an A for effort.
Frank and Husselbeck enter the bathroom and notice the goldfish swimming in the bathtub.
Frank: So Husselbeck, what kind of killer you think stops to save a dying fish?
Husselbeck: You got me, sir.
Chief Inspector Stromboli arrives.
Stromboli: Bumstead, what took you? This killer's been running circles around us, thanks to Walenski.
Frank: With all due respect, Chief Inspector, I've known Eddie a long time. He's a good cop.
Stromboli: Whatever kind of cop Walenski once was, he let drift a long time ago.
Suddenly Walenski bursts into the room with two cops tackling him to restrain him.
Eddie: Let me talk to Bumstead! There's now way out! Can't you see! Let me go! I'm not going to hurt you.
The cops haul him off.
Husselbeck: Who was that?
Husselbeck has retrieved the goldfish and placed in a glass of water.