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Existenz Movie Script

Writer(s) : David Cronenberg

Genres : Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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                                    EXISTENZ



                                   Written by

                                David Cronenberg



                                                        Fourth Draft
                                                     October 1, 1996
                         

                         

          INT. COUNTRY CHURCH - NIGHT

          The man facing us is bearded, sweating, intense,'joyous.
          Jacket and tie, jeans, fortyish. His name is Wittold Levi.
          eXistenZ.
          Levi turns to a chalkboard on a tripod and writes the word.

                         LEVI
          Written like this. One word.
          Small e. Capital X, capital Z.
          He turns back to face an as-yet-unseen audience.

                         LEVI
          eXistenZ. It's new, it's from
          Antenna Research, and it's here,
          right now.
          We now see Levi's audience, about seventy-five people, some
          standing, some sitting on plastic folding chairs. They are
          of very mixed age and type, but they all cheer and applaud
          enthusiastically.
          We are in the central playing area of a small, deconsecrated
          country church, and Levi performs on a broad, low, carpeted
          plywood dais. At the far end of the dais, a man and a woman
          - assistants to Levi - are carefully laying out about two
          dozen plastic modules that look somewhat like high-tech ski
          boots.

                         LEVI
          My name is Wittold Levi, my
          friends call me Witt - and I'm
          the project manager for eXistenZ.
          I recognize some familiar faces -
          that's all right, that's all
          right. We won't throw you out. We
          encourage consumer loyalty, and
          we want you to help us with our
          product testing. We're a team,
          Antenna and you.
          A delighted stir from the crowd.

                         LEVI
          Those of you who have come to our
          invited seminars before will know
          that I normally lead the group
          through our new games, but

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         LEVI (CONT'D)
          tonight, it won't be me. No, for
          the test launch of eXistenZ by
          Antenna, we have brought you a
          seminar leader who is rather
          special.
          An unbelieving, excited stir. Could it really be?

                         LEVI
          Yes, it is. The world's greatest
          game designer is here, in person,
          to lead you, the first test
          enclave, through her newest
          creation, eXistenZ by Antenna...
          The small crowd is now tremendously excited, wide-eyed,
          murmuring, one or two have actually gotten on their knees.

                         LEVI
          I give you, the Game-Pod Goddess
          herself - Allegra Geller!
          Levi moves to the edge of the crowd, works his way into it
          until he has reached a small, unobtrusive figure who up to
          now has hardly been noticed. She stands next to a security
          guard who is dressed in a suit and tie but carries an
          electronic wand of some sort. His name-tag identifies him as
          Ted Pikul (rhymes with "Michael", not with "pickle"), and we
          will see more of him later.
          As Levi takes her hand and gently leads her out of the
          crowd, her fans applaud softly, touch her hem. They part
          like water as she passes amongst them, clutching her own
          personal game-pod case with both hands. She mounts the dais
          like a blind person led by her seeing-eye dog.
          Allegra Geller, early thirties, conservatively dressed, is
          bright, acutely aware, but wary and controlled. When she
          speaks, she is deliciously, sexily shy, serious, melodic.

                         GELLER
          The world of games is in a kind
          of a trance. People are
          programmed to accept so little,
          but the possibilities are so
          great.

                         (PAUSE)
          You probably thought that
          tonight, we were going to test a
          new game that I designed.
          Excited murmurings from the crowd.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          But there is no new game to test,
          at least, not in the usual sense.
          Confused, slightly disappointed mutterings.

                         GELLER
          No, no, it's going to be much
          better than you expected, because
          eXistenZ is not just a game. It's
          an entirely new game system.
          Antenna Research and I developed
          it together - the eXistenZ System
          by Antenna - and it involves a
          whole lot of new toys, which you
          are going to be the first to try
          out.
          The crowd's spirit rises again. Levi steps forward, smiling,
          playing off the renewed energy.

                         LEVI
          MetaFlesh.
          Levi turns to the chalkboard and writes the word.

                         LEVI
          Written like this. One word.
          Capital M, capital F. MetaFlesh
          is what our new toys are made of
          - the MetaFlesh Game-Pod, only
          from Antenna Research. It
          connects with any industry
          standard bioport, which I know
          you all have or you wouldn't be
          here...
          (chuckles from the crowd)
          .using, however, a very non-
          standard connecting device which
          we call...
          Levi turns again to the chalkboard.

                         LEVI
          .we call an UmbyCord. Spelled
          like this.
          Levi writes the word out and then turns back to his by-now-
          salivating audience.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         LEVI
          I guess you can tell I started
          off as a schoolteacher.

                         4 (APPRECIATIVE CHUCKLES)
          But I never had anything quite so
          fun or so revolutionary to teach
          as what Allegra and I are going
          to teach you all tonight.
          With a theatrical flourish, Levi whirls around to face his
          two assistants, who have finished laying out their devices
          on the back table and are now standing crisply at attention
          at either end of it.

                         LEVI
          Are the MetaFlesh Game-Pods by
          Antenna Research ready?

                         ASSISTANTS

                         (TOGETHER)
          Yes, Mr; Levi.

                         LEVI
          And how many of these precious
          prototypes did we manage to bring
          with us?

                         FEMALE ASSISTANT
          Twenty-one, Mr. Levi.
          Levi's face clouds slightly. The audience does not hear the
          following exchange.

                         LEVI

                         (SOTTO VOCE)
          Twenty-one? I thought we had an
          even two dozen.

                         MALE ASSISTANT
          The first three we opened were...
          unhealthy.

                         LEVI
          Really? Any chance that some of
          the others...?

                         FEMALE ASSISTANT
          We think we're clean.

                         LEVI

                         J

                         (RESTRAINED FURY)
          God-damn better be.
          Levi turns back to his audience, radiant once more.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         LEVI
          We have twenty-one prototype
          MetaFlesh Game-Pods, and that
          means that for our first wave
          test enclave we need twenty-one
          volunteers who will port in these
          slave units with the Game-Pod
          Goddess herself...
          Levi doesn't need to finish his pitch. Every hand is waving
          in the air, and every pair of lips is saying, "Me, me, oh
          God, please, let it be me!"
          Geller can only stand by modestly and beam at the intensity
          of the small crowd's enthusiasm.

          INT. COUNTRY CHURCH. MINUTES LATER - NIGHT

          A SHORT MONTAGE as the twenty-one volunteers mount the dais
          and are fitted with their game gear:
          The assistants undo the heavy-duty snap locks and split open
          the ski-boot-like plastic modules on the back table. Inside,
          resting in a lining of dense foam, are what look almost like
          living kidneys: the MetaFlesh Game-Pods.
          Coiled in each boot toe is the Y-shaped, multi-player
          UmbyCord that comes with each pod, a split twelve-foot
          connector cord that resembles an umbilical cord, twisted,
          translucent, blue and red veiny vessels running just below
          the surface.
          The volunteers watch in hushed reverence, as though about to
          receive communion.
          The game-pods are gingerly lifted out of their cases.
          The UmbyCords are uncoiled and plugged into ports in the
          back of the game-pods.
          The shirts, blouses, and jackets of the volunteers are
          lifted at the back to reveal their owners' bioports, which
          are small, soft-plastic, flesh-coloured permanent spinal
          jacks positioned just above the belt line.
          Twenty-two folding chairs are placed in a circle on the
          dais. As each volunteer has his UmbyCord plugged into his
          bioport, he takes one of the seats and places his quivering,
          rippling game-pod, now connected directly to his nervous
          system, on his lap.

                         

                         

                         

                         
          The last chair is taken by Allegra Geller, who is fussed
          i over and settled by Levi as she unpacks her own master game-
          pod with exaggerated delicacy and is then ported in to the
          players on either side of her.
          We END the short MONTAGE with the security guard, Pikul,
          standing with arms folded near the church's side door,
          watching the proceedings with fascination.
          A loud knocking at the door forces Pikul to turn away from
          the action on the dais. He walks over to the door and opens
          it. A hyper, exasperated fan almost tumbles into the church.
          Pikul immediately raises his electronic wand and bars his
          way.

                         PIKUL
          Hold it. Not so fast.
          In response, the fan thrusts a card at him.
          Pikul takes the card, a complex invitation card which
          includes a holographic photo of the fan under which floats
          his name, Joel Dichter. Dichter anxiously looks past Pikul
          into the depths of the church, nervously adjusting the vinyl
          case slung over his shoulder.

                         DICHTER
          Oh, god. I hope I'm not too late.
          Did I miss the port-in?

                         PIKUL
          It's just the first wave. You can
          be part of the second wave.
          (rereads the invitation)
          OK, Joel Dichter. Put your arms
          up. I have to scan you. Metal and
          heavy synthetics can't come in.

                         DICHTER

                         (INCREDULOUS)
          A weapons check?

                         PIKUL
          More for recording devices. Lotta
          money invested in these games.
          Industrial espionage happens.
          What's in this case?

                         DICHTER
          I brought my game-pod. It's got
          original Marway tissue
          architecture. It's kind of
          obsolete but I was hoping,...

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         DICHTER (CONT'D)
          even though I couldn't afford the
          Antenna Fifteen upgrade, I
          figured out a method of virtual
          porting that I thought might...
          Pikul uses his wand to scan the vinyl case, then opens the
          zipper and feels around. In the case is a more solid,
          rubbery version of the new MetaFlesh pods.

                         PIKUL
          You won't need it tonight.
          Everything's provided for.
          Dichter suddenly spots Geller on the dais. He almost faints.

                         DICHTER
          Migod! Is that who I think it is?

          .PIKUL
          (with paternal pride)
          Yeah, that's her. She's
          something, isn't she?

                         DICHTER
          But why would a star like her
          come to a product seminar in a
          little one-horse town like this?

                         PIKUL
          This is where the real people
          live, Joel. Her real fans, like
          you.

                         DICHTER
          Yeah, well, you said it. Just
          like me.
          Dichter has scanned OK. Pikul waves him into the church to
          join the spectators who will form the second wave and re-
          locks the door.
          On the dais, in the center of the circle of linked game
          players, Levi nods at Geller.

                         LEVI
          Everything's in order. Are you
          ready, Allegra?

                         T

                         GELLER

                         (PUMPED)
          Sure. This is my favourite part.

                         

                         

                         

                         
          There is giddy laughter in the room. Geller looks at every
          player-in the circle as Levi steps down off the platform and
          retires to the far edge of the small, watching throng.

                         GELLER
          I'm ready to download eXistenZ by
          Antenna Research into you all
          now. I'm warning you, it's going
          to be a wild ride, but don't
          panic no matter what happens.
          I'll see you all back here in no
          time at all.
          Now the giddy laughter goes a touch nervous, uncertain, but
          it's too late. Geller depresses a nipple-like protuberance
          on the game-pod on her lap, and all the players close their
          eyes and go rigid, like members of a seance who have
          suddenly been contacted by the spirit world. The pods in
          their laps begin a rhythmic, peristaltic rippling.
          At the edge of the crowd, Pikul sidles up to Levi.

                         PIKUL

                         (TO LEVI)
          She seems to be very shy. It
          never occurred to me that a big
          star would be shy.

                         LEVI
          She spends most of her time alone
          in a room designing her games. I
          think she'd like it best if she
          never had to show them to
          anybody.

                         PIKUL
          Really? She doesn't enjoy all the
          adulation?

                         LEVI
          She hates having to port in with
          her fans. It's too intimate.

                         PIKUL
          Then why does she do it?

                         LEVI

                         (LAUGHS)
          We make her do it.

                         I D

                         PIKUL
          By "we" you mean, the game
          company, Antenna Research?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         A

                         LEVI '
          That's what I mean.

                         PIKUL
          Why?

                         I

                         LEVI

                         (SUDDENLY SUSPICIOUS)
          Are you with us or did an
          independent security company send
          you?

                         PIKUL
          Me? Oh, I'm with your own
          management training program.
          (shows him a card)
          I want to end up in marketing and
          public relations.
          (holds up security wand)
          The only thing I know about
          security is how to switch this
          thing on.

                         LEVI

                         (SATISFIED)
          Well, for example, we've spent a
          fortune developing eXistenZ, but
          we all know it's a risky project.
          She might have to make changes.
          It's the only way we can convince
          her that there might be a
          problem.

                         PIKUL

                         (PUZZLED)
          A problem with her new game?

                         LEVI
          eXistenZ is a lot more than a
          game.

                         PIKUL
          Yeah, right, it's a game system.
          I heard that.

                         LEVI
          And we're worried that it's too
          intellectual, too complex, too
          weird, too artsy. That argument ;
          never bothers her until she faces
          her fans. She hates to be
          rejected in the flesh, so we make
          her come out sometimes to take
          the heat.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL

                         (ADMIRINGLY)
          4 I've heard that she's very
          sensitive.
          A strange, choral humming begins to fill the church. Pikul
          and Levi turn their attention to the dais, where the fans
          rock and sway with the pulsing of the pods in their laps.

                         PIKUL
          What are they doing?

                         LEVI

                         (LAUGHS)
          It's the new Antenna Research
          theme song. We thought this would
          be a good way to launch it.
          Everybody who plays eXistenZ is
          going to be very familiar with
          that tune.
          Haltingly, but gamely, Pikul tries to hum along.

                         PIKUL
          Catchy.
          Levi helps him out, and soon the whole room is humming along
          happily, warmed by the Antenna Research corporate theme
          song.
          The whole room, that is, except for Joel Dichter, who, at
          the edge of the dais, is more concerned with fumbling around
          in the vinyl pod-case hanging from his shoulder.
          In the case, we watch as Dichter tears open his obsolete
          game-pod to reveal a bizarre weapon, a pistol made of bone
          and gristle, almost like the half-decayed body of a small
          mammal - whose snout is the barrel, whose rigid hind leg is
          the trigger.
          Dichter takes his weapon out of its case, shakes off a few
          gelatinous strips of game-pod flesh, and steps up onto the
          dais.
          Pikul is the first to notice this. He glances at Levi, who's
          still blissed out and humming, then launches himself
          awkwardly through the crowd.
          Now in the middle of the circle, Dichter makes his way
          towards the blissfully unsuspecting Geller, raising his
          weapon as he goes.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         DICHTER
          Death to eXistenZ! Death to
          Antenna Research! Death to the
          demoness Allegra Geller!

                         P

                         PIKUL

                         (TO DICHTER)
          No! Don't do it!
          Dichter turns to see Pikul stumbling through the small
          crowd, scrambling onto the dais. Distracted, Dichter
          hurriedly raises his weapon again and fires it at Geller.
          The first shot hits her in the shoulder and spins her off
          her chair, which collapses over her and takes the second
          bullet on its seat rim.
          The circle of players on the dais moans as one, swoons and
          jostles: they are all feeling the neural surge of Geller's
          traumatized nervous system. Peeking out from under her
          folding chair, Geller's eyes are wide with fear and
          confusion. She clutches her shoulder without being aware of
          it. Blood seeps in between her fingers
          Now Levi and his two assistants scramble onto the platform
          to get at Dichter, who fires wildly, hitting two of the
          players nearest Geller. The circle of players immediately
          goes spastic, screaming and twitching and dropping to the
          ground and writhing. Many of them are clutching their
          shoulders in the same spot as Geller, sympathy pain
          transmitting through their UmbyCords.
          Pikul manages to tackle Dichter, then starts whacking at him
          with the security wand. Dichter twists around and raises his
          weapon at Pikul, who immediately backs off in terror. But
          before Dichter can pull the trigger, the two assistants
          produce small, normal pistols from hidden holsters and empty
          their clips into the prostrate Dichter. Dichter manages to
          squeeze off one last shot at the approaching Jevi, hitting
          him squarely in the chest. Levi goes down and is lost
          amongst the jostling feet.
          The watching fans pile onto the dais and begin to help the
          players unplug from the game-pods which are obviously
          causing them distress. Three of the players attack the dying
          Dichter, dragging their game-pods after them, kicking at
          whatever part of him they can find in the confused mass of
          bodies.
          in the turmoil, Pikul is knocked to the ground. Amid the
          stamping, sliding feet, he finds himself lying across the
          stricken-Levi. Levi clutches Pikul desperately.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         LEVI
          Get her out of here! Save her!
          There might be more of them! Go
          on!

                         PIKUL
          Me? Me take her?

                         LEVI
          (urgent, pleading)
          We have enemies in our own house.
          Trust no one. Trust no one...
          The wide-eyed Pikul scrambles to his feet and promptly trips
          over the all-but-dead Dichter. He falls painfully to his
          knees, struggles up again, and finds the bizarre bone gun in
          his hand. Pikul stares at it, fascinated, horrified.
          He turns back to Levi, but Levi's eyes are rolling back as
          he loses consciousness. The two assistants are making their
          way towards them through the shoving, shuffling throng, guns
          cocked, faces set hard. Panicked, Pikul jams the bone gun
          into his suit pocket and jumps off the platform, wildly
          looking around for Geller.
          She and her chair have slipped off the dais in a heap only a
          few feet away, and she is in several kinds of agony. Pikul
          unports her, which immediately brings her some relief and a
          lot of clarity. Pikul wards off a couple of fans with one
          arm, screams at them.

                         PIKUL

                         (SCREAMS)
          She's coming with me! I'm
          responsible for her! She's
          supposed to come with me!
          To his surprise, Geller laughs a dazed, hearty laugh.

                         GELLER

                         (LAUGHS)
          Am I? With you?

                         PIKUL
          (quietly, firmly)
          Yeah, you're coming with me.
          Pikul pulls her to her feet, but she immediately dives back
          to the floor to find her game-pod and UmbyCord.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          (suddenly near hysteria)
          I can't lose this! I can't lose
          this!
          She finds the game-pod still under the folding chair, a bit
          flattened on one side but in one piece. She grabs the game-
          pod and its UmbyCord and stuffs them into her MetaFlesh pod
          case which has been knocked to the edge of the dais. As she
          clutches it to her, Pikul takes her hand and hauls her
          through the crowd, which is now spilling off the overcrowded
          dais and clutching at Geller fitfully, like Velcro. They
          head for the door, fighting everybody off as though they
          might be lethal.
          As they leave through the side door, Pikul sees five or six
          fans, shrieking like monkeys, still stomping and kicking the
          body of Dichter viciously, hysterically, while Levi's two
          assistants carry him to the safety of the church's apse.

          EXT. COUNTRY CHURCH - NIGHT

          Pikul and Geller spew out of the doorway and find themselves
          standing alone in the weedy parking lot of the church. The
          church itself stands isolated on a country road just outside
          a town which is not much more than two gas stations and a
          crossroad.
          Pikul and Geller look around wildly. The vehicles in the
          parking lot are country, pickup trucks, rusted vans, 4x4s.
          Across the road, aloof, maybe too high-class for the parking
          lot, sits a Land Rover Defender 110, the one with the roof
          cage and the seven seats and the winch hanging off the
          front. Geller gestures towards the Defender.

                         GELLER
          Let's take my limo.

                         PIKUL

                         (WILD)
          No, no!

                         GELLER
          Why no?

                         PIKUL
          I don't trust the driver!

                         GELLER
          You drive, idiot!

                         

                         

                         

                         
          They cross the road and jump in the Defender. Frances, the
          driver, sixtyish, a retired lady farmer who moonlights, is
          apprehensive.

                         FRANCES
          What's the commotion, Miss
          Geller? Say, are you all right?
          What's goin' on in there?

                         GELLER
          We need this vehicle, and we need
          it without you. But with the
          keys.

                         FRANCES
          I can't do that. I can't abandon
          my vehicle.
          Geller pulls the weird gun out of an astonished Pikul's
          pocket. She points it at Frances.

                         GELLER
          Get out, Frances. You can say you
          were hijacked.

                         FRANCES

                         (CHUCKLES)
          It'll take more than a dead
          squirrel to get me out of this
          seat.
          Geller fires two shots. One rips a hole in Frances's
          headrest.

                         FRANCES
          (getting out of her seat)
          You have to push the shift lever
          down to get it into reverse.

                         GELLER
          Thanks, Frances.
          They drive off down the country road, leaving Frances in the
          dust.

          INT. DEFENDER LIMO - NIGHT

          Pikul drives. He can see why the limo is an off-road
          vehicle: the road is terrible, dirt and gravel, stutter
          potholes and sharp ridges, the occasional fallen tree.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          (manic, scared)
          I normally like the countryside,
          don't you? Normally, the country
          is relaxing and calm.

                         GELLER
          Only if you don't really know
          what's going on.

                         PIKUL
          What do you mean?

                         GELLER
          There is great stress and anger
          and violence in the countryside.
          Thousands of life forms all
          screaming ME ME ME and trying to
          kill and dominate and devour the
          other life forms. It's terrifying
          and exhausting.

                         PIKUL

                         (LAMELY)
          Well, I like the countryside.

                         GELLER
          That's good, `cause you might end
          up spending a lot of time here.

                         PIKUL
          I might?

                         GELLER
          Sure. If you go back home to the
          city, they'll probably be waiting
          for you.

                         PIKUL
          They?

                         GELLER
          Yeah. My assassins. They'd want
          to have a little talk with you
          about where I am.

                         PIKUL
          I was hoping that was just one
          crazy guy.

                         GELLER
          Did you hear the way he screamed
          at me? He wasn't alone.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          Everybody likes a conspiracy.
          It's more satisfying than just
          one crazy guy doing one crazy
          thing.
          Geller goes silent.

                         PIKUL
          Well, what are we going to do out
          here? Do you know your way
          around? You know any country
          people?

                         GELLER
          Not country people. Games people.
          The countryside's full of games
          development people, project co-
          ordinators, little factories -
          you name it.

                         PIKUL
          That's weird. I never knew that.

                         GELLER
          The city's full of bad
          microwaves, bad thermals, bad
          electro-optics. You can't shield
          from it anymore. You can't get
          true readings. The whole industry
          moved out of the city years ago.

                         PIKUL
          So you know your way around. We
          can hide out.

                         GELLER
          Maybe. But it seems I have some
          enemies I didn't know I had.
          "Death to Allegra Geller." How'd
          you like to hear somebody with a
          gun screaming, "Death to Ted
          Pikul"?

                         PIKUL
          Wow.
          (reflective pause; then)
          Hey, how'd you know my name?

                         GELLER
          (indicating his name tag)
          You're labelled.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          Oh. Yeah.

                         (PAUSE)
          How did you know how to fire that,
          gun? I've never seen anything
          like it.

                         GELLER
          It has a trigger. I pulled it.

                         PIKUL
          Can I see it?

                         GELLER
          Later. I think I'm gonna use it
          in my next game. If there ever is
          a next game.
          Pikul glances at her. He hits a pothole and she bounces
          around in her seat, exposing her far shoulder to him. Her
          shirt is soaked with blood.

                         PIKUL
          Migod, you're bleeding. I forgot
          you got hit.
          There is an urgent buzzing from somewhere in Pikul's breast
          pocket.

                         GELLER
          What's that?

                         PIKUL
          It's my pink-fone. I'm not sure I
          should answer it.

                         GELLER
          Answer it.
          Pikul pulls the pink-fone - it's soft surgical plastic,
          palm-sized - out of his pocket. When he squeezes it open, a
          diffuse pink light swells up from deep inside it.

                         PIKUL

                         (INTO PHONE)
          Ted Pikul.

                         (PAUSE)
          What happened? Some fan went
          crazy and started shooting up the
          place. I don't know why. He was
          just nuts. Allegra Geller? She's
          with me. We're OK. Yeah. Yeah.

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL (CONT'D)

                         (PAUSE)
          You're kidding me. You're kidding
          me! God. 1 can't believe it. I
          can't do that. No, how can I do
          that? Well, I'm not really sure
          where we are because...
          Geller grabs the pink-tone from him. She fumbles around with
          it, trying to find the power button. She accidentally
          summons up a read-out, which she pauses to look at. What she
          sees makes her glance up at Pikul.

                         PIKUL
          What? Can I have my pink-tone
          back?
          Geller finds the power button and pushes it. The pink inner
          light flutters out. She unceremoniously throws the pink-tone
          out the window. It lands in a rain ditch full of frogs.

                         PIKUL

                         (IN SHOCK)
          What did you do that for? That
          was our lifeline to civilization.

                         GELLER
          That was a rangefinder. As long
          as you have that, they know where
          you are.

                         PIKUL
          They? You mean head office?

                         GELLER
          I mean anybody.

                         (PAUSE)
          I heard what Levi said to you. He
          said, "We have enemies in our own
          house." He said it as he was
          dying.

                         PIKUL

                         (FLUSTERED)
          I don't think he died. I mean, do
          you? I think he maybe fainted...
          Maybe he went unconscious...

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          That was Alex Kindred, head of
          publicity and marketing, at
          Antenna HQ...

                         (WISTFUL)
          .on that very expensive pink-
          fone you threw away.

                         (DEEP SIGH)
          He said that some bizarre
          fanatical group called the Anti-
          eXistenZialists has put a price
          of 5 million dollars on your
          head, payable to anybody who
          kills you. It's been released to
          all the media now. Everybody
          knows about it.

                         GELLER

                         (IN DISBELIEF)
          Anti-existentialists?

                         PIKUL
          No. Anti-eXistenZialists. Capital
          X, capital Z. They somehow found
          out about eXistenZ and they want
          to kill you for creating it. They
          say that the eXistenZ game system
          will "finally destroy reality",
          or something totally nuts like
          that.

                         GELLER

                         (STRANGELY SATISFIED)
          Yeah.

                         PIKUL
          It makes sense to you? You're not
          suprised?

                         GELLER
          I hear things. It's hard to
          surprise me.

                         (PAUSE)
          And what else?

                         PIKUL
          Kindred said that I'm your
          bodyguard and the company is
          holding me totally responsible
          for your safety.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER

                         (PAUSE)
          Pikul, why don't you have a gun
          with you?

                         PIKUL
          What?

                         GELLER
          You're not armed. They told me
          you were my security but you have
          no weaponry.

                         PIKUL
          Who told you that? I'm just a
          marketing trainee. My clinic
          master thought I'd learn
          something about marketing if I
          moonlighted as a security guard
          on one of your test previews.

                         GELLER
          Fuck. I'm marked for death and
          they send me on the road with a
          PR nerd.

                         PIKUL
          (realization setting in)
          Jesus! Marked for death!

                         GELLER
          Don't sweat it, Pikul. I'll
          handle it. We just have to
          disappear for a while. And right
          now, we have to stop.

                         PIKUL
          We do? Why?

                         GELLER

                         (DEADPAN)
          So we can have an intimate moment
          together.

          EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - NIGHT

          The intimate moment involves Pikul digging the bullet out of
          I Geller's shoulder with a Swiss Army knife while kneeling in
          front of the idling Defender's headlights. Pikul'is being
          squeamish and not getting the job done.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER

                         (IRRITATED)
          C'mon. If you're gonna do it, do
          it.

                         PIKUL

          OK, OK.
          He grits his teeth and digs in with a bit more gusto.
          Something yellow and white, like a kernel of corn, flips out
          of her wound and onto the road's shredding asphalt. Pikul
          feels around for it, finds it, holds it up to the light.

                         PIKUL
          I got it. Wow. Did somebody bite
          you?

                         GELLER
          What do you mean?

                         PIKUL
          What I just dug out of you. It's
          a tooth. A human tooth.
          Pikul holds the tooth out to her, but she just glances at
          it, then rummages around in her MetaFlesh game-pod bag.

                         GELLER
          Lemme see that weirdo pistol.
          Geller pulls the strange weapon out of the bag. After a
          moment of study, she expertly pops the magazine out of the
          grip. The gristly magazine is packed with teeth.

                         GELLER
          Yep. The bullets are human teeth.
          Look - this one's got a cavity.

                         PIKUL
          That thing was designed to get
          past any kind of metal or
          synthetics detector. It's all
          flesh and bone.

                         GELLER
          I suppose the smaller caliber
          pistols would have to fire baby
          teeth. The tooth fairy could go
          I into the arms business.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL

                         (INCREDULOUS)
          That guy really came there
          tonight just to kill you.

                         GELLER 4

                         (WITH IRONY)
          Amazing, isn't it?

          EXT. MOTEL - NIGHT

          We follow the Defender as it parks outside the Salmon Falls
          Motel. Pikul jumps out carrying two paper bags of Perky
           Pat's takeout. He knees the truck door shut and walks over
          to motel door 5.

          INT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

          Inside the very basic motel room, Pikul sits hypnotized,
          reverentially watching Geller as he obsessively packs the
          greasy remains of their Perky Pat burgers into the smallest
          possible paper bundle.
          Geller is sitting in the middle of her twin bed, her pod
          before her on a hotel towel which is draped over her lap,
          UmbyCord jacked into her bioport, a second towel slipping
          off her shoulders leaving her almost naked, her shoulder
          wound livid in the 25-watt light of the night table lamp.
          Her hands twitch delicately over the surface of the pod like
          insect antennae, so delicately that we are not sure that she
          is actually touching the pod. Her eyes are half-closed, and
          she is obviously in some kind of trance-like, ecstatic
          state.
          Finally, she comes out of it and unplugs her UmbyCord,
          discretely rearranging her towels in the process. She sighs
          and speaks, not exactly to Pikul.

                         GELLER
          The whole gamesworld is in a kind
          of trance.

                         PIKUL
          Yes. I remember you said that at
          the church.

                         J

                         GELLER
          People are prepared to accept so
          little. They're in a'cage formed
          out of their own limited

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER (CONT'D)
          expectations. They have no idea
          what amazing things could be
          theirs.

                         PIKUL
          Where were you just now? What
          were you doing?

                         GELLER
          (a worried frown)
          I was wandering through eXistenZ
          - the new system, I mean.
          (a shy, sexy smile)
          I like it in there. Of course,
          without another player you're
          only a tourist. It's frustrating.

                         PIKUL
          Why won't you let me contact
          Antenna? They've got to be going
          crazy, wondering what's happened
          to you. I mean, it's not like
          we've done something wrong. We
          just ran because we didn't know
          how many of them there were,
          right? I think we owe it to
          Antenna to let them know you're
          all right, to get them to send
          somebody to help you who knows
          what he's doing... And besides, I
          can't... I can't just keep doing
          this, whatever it is, you know,
          forever, not having any idea when
          it's going to be...
          Geller gets up and goes over to Pikul. She pulls up his
          shirt.

                         PIKUL
          Hey, what are you doing?

                         GELLER
          Where's your bioport? Don't tell
          me you were never fitted. I can't
          believe it.
          Pikul shrugs his shirt back down, starts tucking it in.

                         PIKUL
          No, I was never fitted with a
          bioport. What do you care?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          You're hoping to get into the biz
          and you've never played one of my
          games. You've never played any
          game. That means you have no idea

                         %
          what a genius I am.

                         PIKUL

                         (LAMELY)
          My clinic master told me I don't
          need to play a game to know how
          to sell it.

                         GELLER
          Bullshit. Posturing. You don't
          play my games, you don't work for
          Antenna Research, I'll make sure
          of that.

                         PIKUL
          Look, I've been dying to play
          your games. But I have this -
          phobia about having my body
          penetrated - surgically. You know
          what I mean.

                         GELLER
          I'm not so sure I do.

                         PIKUL
          Getting a bioport fitted... I
          dunno. I can't do it. It's too
          freaky. Makes my skin crawl.

                         GELLER
          God, c'mon. They just pop your
          spine with a little hydro-gun.
          Shoot the port-plug into it. They
          do it at malls, like getting your
          ears pierced.

                         PIKUL
          Yeah, sure. With only an
          infinitesimal chance of permanent
          spinal paralysis. I've read all
          about it.

                         GELLER
          It's your chosen profession,
          geek.
          She pauses, then moves very close to him. She breathes her
          words slowly, intimately, into his ear.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER

                         (HOTLY)
          There's an intimacy involved in
          playing eXistenZ that is beyond
          description. It has to be
          experienced. And frankly, the
          two-player version is the most
          exquisitely intense. Wouldn't you
          like to play with me?

                         PIKUL
          (his resolve is crumbling)
          Well, yeah, of course, but... Let
          me, uh, let me call Antenna...

                         GELLER
          (a gentle threat)
          They wouldn't want to talk to you
          if they knew you had never had a
          bioport installed. It's company
          policy, you know. They want you
          to be passionate about your work.

                         (VERY SEDUCTIVE)
          Besides, once you're ported,
          there's no end to the games you
          can play.

                         PIKUL

                         (HE'S SWEATING)
          You can't seriously want to play
          games now. Not here. Not while
          we're being hunted down by crazy
          people. _
          Geller sighs, then switches into her explaining-the-facts-
          of-life-to-a-child mode.

                         GELLER
          (cradling her pod)
          My baby here took a huge hit in
          the church, Pikul. You see how
          she's quivering?
          Pikul takes a look. The pod is, in fact, quivering like a
          terrified hamster.

                         PIKUL
          It... she, yes, she's quivering.

                         R

                         GELLER

                         (EMOTIONAL)
          When those UmbyCords got ripped
          out of her in the church, ripped

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

          GELLER (CONT' D)
          out just as the game architecture
          was being downloaded from her to
          all those slave pods... that's a
          very vulnerable time for her. She
          could be crying out for help
          right here, right now.

                         (CHOKING UP)
          The only way I can tell if
          everything's OK - the game's not
          been contaminated, the pod, my
          baby, is not about to be crippled
          for life because of my negligence
          - the only way is to play
          eXistenZ with somebody friendly.
          Are you friendly, or are you not?

                         PIKUL

                         (PAUSE)
          Sure, all right.
          (he might have found a way

                         OUT)
          Let's do it... let's do it now.
          Let me see.
          (checks his watch)
          To get an illegal, unregistered
          bioport installed at about
          midnight - we just drive up to
          your local country gas station,
          right?

          EXT. COUNTRY GAS STATION - NIGHT

          The Defender is parked by the pumps. A gangly pump attendant
          - his name, embroidered on his overalls, seems to be Gas -
          fills the truck as Pikul and Geller hover nervously.

                         GAS
          Anything else I can do for you?

                         GELLER
          Well, Gas, you could check your
          bioport-plugs.

                         GAS
          The what? The sparkplugs?

                         GELLER
          You heard me. My friend here has
          a bioport problem.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GAS

                         (COOL)
          A bioport, now, that's a sort of
          a hole in your spine, isn't it?
          Lotta assholes `round here, but
          that's generally it. I don't know
          why you'd be talking to me about
          that, lady.
          Geller smiles a knowing smile.

                         GELLER
          Sure you do.
          Gas looks at her closely for the first time. His eyes widen
          in disbelief. He pulls a greasy wallet out of his overalls
          and flips out the card holders. Amongst various family
          photos, hot rod photos, fishing photos, is a photo of
          Allegra Geller clipped from a glossy magazine. Under the
          photo is the legend "Genius In A Game-Pod".
          Gas takes her hand in his and kisses it.

                         GAS
          Allegra Geller. You changed my
          life.

          INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE - NIGHT

          Pikul sits on a mouldy, greasy, plump, wingback chair in the
          corner of the gas-station garage, watching Gas balance
          shakily on one leg as he puts on a fresh set of overalls.

                         PIKUL
          What was your life like before?

                         GAS
          Before?

                         PIKUL
          Before it was changed by Allegra
          Geller.

                         GAS
          I operated a gas station.

                         PIKUL
          But you still operate a gas
          station, don't you?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GAS
          Only on the most pathetic level
          of reality. Geller's work
          liberated me.

                         PIKUL
          Liberated?

                         GAS
          Did you ever play her game
          ArtGod? One word, capital A,
          capital G?

                         PIKUL
          I don't have a bioport, remember?

                         GAS
          "Thou, the player of the game,
          art God." Very spiritual. Funny,
          too. God, the artist. The
          mechanic.
          (chuckles to himself)
          Funny.
          Gas zips up his fresh overalls.

                         PIKUL

                         (UNEASY)
          Those are sterile, are they?

                         GAS
          Not to worry. They way they set
          things up, you could fire in a
          bioport in a slaughterhouse and
          not generate an infection.

                         PIKUL
          Then why the clean overalls?

                         GAS
          It's a mental thing. Helps me
          focus. The one thing you don't
          want to do is miss with the stud-
          finder.

                         PIKUL
          Oh, God.

                         GAS

                         (BIG SMILE)
          God, the mechanic.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         Z'R
          Gas slides open a drawer of his red metal mechanic's rolling
          toolbox and pulls out a greasy device that looks like a
          carbon-fibre voltage meter.

                         GAS
          We call this thing a stud-finder.'
          It locates the spot on your spine
          where the x intersects with the
          y. We don't want to be even a
          micron out of whack. That's when
          you get troubles. It's a little
          radar/sonar/laser thingee. Marks
          you with a special range-finding
          dye.

                         PIKUL
          Never say dye.

                         GAS
          Lift up your shirt and turn
          around.

          EXT. GAS STATION - NIGHT

          In the heat of the summer night, game-pod case still slung
          over her shoulder, Geller wanders around the periphery of
          the gas station, touching things - trees, the ground, grass
          - at random, her expression suggesting that everything she
          sees is amazing and delightful and slightly disturbing, like
          someone who has wandered into a sculpture garden where
          everything is perfect in every detail except that everything
          is made out of bronze.

          INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE - NIGHT

          Gas pulls the trigger on the stud-finder, then removes it
          from Pikul's back. We see a small purple flower-mark, like
          the kind that marks sides of beef, on the skin over Pikul's
          spine just above the belt line. Pikul stands up from his
          kneeling position on the wingback chair. He stretches,
          twists. Everything seems to be all right.

                         GAS
          See, that didn't hurt, did it?

                         PIKUL
          I didn't expect that to hurt. I
          expect the next part to hurt.
          Gas pulls the bioport insertion gun out of another drawer,
          this time a locked wooden one bolted under his metal-topped
          work bench. It is a scary thing, like a hydraulic jack
          designed by Giger, only smaller.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          Yeah, that's what I expect will
          hurt.

                         GAS
          I've never crippled anyone yet.

                         PIKUL
          How many have you done?

                         GAS
          Three. Well, you'll be the third.

          EXT. GAS STATION - NIGHT

          We are close on a bizarre insect which sits unsteadily on
          the chrome of a gas pump handle. Geller's hand comes into
          frame and gently eases the creature into its palm. Geller
          floats her hand closer to her face and studies the creature
          with an expression of rapture on her face.
          The insect is large, praying mantis-sized, and it has two
          heads, neither of which seems to know how to deal with the
          other one. Each time it attempts to move, it falls over in
          an awkward heap because its legs are all different sizes and
          shapes. It beats its large, papery wings wildly in order to
          pull itself upright and then begins the whole clumsy process
          all over again. Eventually, its wing action lifts it off
          Geller's hand - more by accident than will, it seems - and
          the creature disappears in the darkness surrounding the gas
          pumps.

          INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE - NIGHT

          Geller enters the garage and sees Pikul with his back to the
          wall of the service bay and a large wrench in his hand,
          poised and threatening. Gas stands twenty feet away, his
          insertion gun at the ready. A Mexican standoff.

                         GELLER
          What's going on, Gas?

                         GAS
          Hell, he's acting like I'm
          attackin' him. People usually pay
          me.to do this, you know.

                         11

                         PIKUL
          Yeah. All two of them.
          As you can see, I've decided not
          to have a bioport installed.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         31
          Geller walks over to Pikul and puts her face quite close to
          his. He watches her lips move from the corner of his eye.
          They. are full and moist and convincing.

                         GELLER
          This is it, you see. This is the
          cage I was talking about, the
          cage of your own making which
          keeps you trapped and pacing
          about in the smallest possible
          space forever. Break out of your
          cage, Pikul. Break out now.

          INT. GAS-STATION GARAGE. MOMENTS LATER - NIGHT

          Wearing mechanic's work gloves, Gas fires in the bioport
          plug. Its impact knocks the breath out of Pikul, like being
          kicked in the spine; he can't even scream. When Gas pulls
          the insertion device away from Pikul's back, we see the
          glossy plastic head of the bioport plug. It's surrounded by
          a small, angry-looking volcano of rashy, irritated flesh.

                         GELLER
          That swelling doesn't last for
          long. Tomorrow, you won't even
          notice it.

                         PIKUL
          I love it. Great.
          Pikul tries to get up from the wingback chair and promptly
          collapses into the arms of Geller and Gas.

                         PIKUL

                         (PANIC-STRICKEN)
          What's going on? I can't walk!

                         GAS
          The procedure comes with its own
          epidural, just like when you have
          a baby. Kinda like instant
          paralysis from the waist down?
          That's why it didn't hurt you.
          It'll wear off in about twenty
          minutes.
          As they ease Pikul into a sitting position in the chair, Gas
          almost drops the insertion gun which he has been holding in
          one hand. He leans it against the wingback chair, and Pikul
          notices blood and flecks of skin on Gas's work gloves.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          You're looking more like a
          butcher than a mechanic.

                         GAS
          Things do get kinda confused
          these days, don't they? I'm gonna
          go wash up. You two make
          yourselves at home.
          Gas strides off towards the washroom with an air of great
          satisfaction. Geller eases her game-pod out of its case and
          starts to attach its two-player, Y-shaped UmbyCord to it.

                         PIKUL
          What are you doing?

                         GELLER
          We don't have to wait for the
          swelling to go down.

                         PIKUL
          You're going to port into me?
          While I'm paralysed?

                         GELLER
          You wanted to play my game,
          didn't you?

                         PIKUL
          Yeah, I did, and I do, but...
          Here? Now?

                         GELLER
          It's an instant-on world, isn't
          it?
          She lifts up his shirt to reveal the new bioport. It already
          looks a bit less angry than it did before. Geller caresses
          it, prods it, plays with it. Then she takes out a little
          bottle of WD-40 and sprays it around and into the port.

                         PIKUL
          What's that for? It feels cold.

                         GELLER
          New ports are sometimes a bit
          tight. Wouldn't want to hurt you.

                         PIKUL
          How come bioports don't get
          infected? I mean, they open right
          into your body...

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          Listen to what you're saying,
          Pikul. Don't be ludicrous.

                         PIKUL

                         (VERY NERVOUS)
          Don't you think you could call me
          Ted?

                         GELLER
          Maybe afterwards.
          Geller gently works her UmbyJack into Pikul's bioport. She
          locks her eyes onto his, then squeezes her game-pod's ON
          teat. Instantly, her pod convulses and begins to flash and
          spark and crackle. White electronic smoke seeps from its
          crevices and a kind of bioelectronic fat sputters from its
          pores.
          Geller leaps up from the arm of the chair and rips her
          UmbyJack out of Pikul's spine. He can't feel it, but the
          furious force of her move twists him in his chair.

                         GELLER

                         (FURIOUS)
          Shit, Pikul! I can't believe
          this! I trusted you and you blew
          my pod! You must have neural-
          surged!

                         PIKUL
          What do you mean?

                         GELLER

                         (IN DESPAIR)
          I jacked you into my pod and you
          obviously panicked. Now it's
          totally fucked! This is a
          disaster!

                         PIKUL
          I.. I was nervous, but I didn't
          panic.

                         GELLER

                         (FIGHTING HYSTERIA)
          I was forced to trust you and you
          panicked and you neural-surged,
          and you blew my pod.

                         PIKUL
          You can get a new pod...

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          (her heart is breaking)
          Pikul, in this pod is the only,
          the original version of eXistenZ,
          an entire game system that cost
          thirty-eight million to develop,
          not including pre-release
          marketing costs. And I'm locked
          outside of my own game! I can't
          get it out, or me in!

                         PIKUL
          Are you serious? This is the only
          version that exists?

                         GELLER
          Security is everything these
          days. It's the only one and its
          stuck inside and it's your fault.
          Geller uses her sleeve to clean the drool off the pod with
          tragic gentleness, as though it were an injured child.

                         GELLER
          (fighting back tears)
          I've devoted my five most
          passionate years to this strange
          little creature. And I've never
          regretted it, Pikul, because I
          knew that it was the only thing
          that could give my life any
          meaning...

                         PIKUL
          But why is it my fault? I'm
          telling you, I didn't, I did not
          neural-surge. I didn't. I didn't
          feel any surging.
          Gas strolls into the garage, still wearing his work gloves,
          which now hold an agricultural-looking shotgun. It is
          levelled at Geller.

                         GAS
          It isn't your fault. It's my
          fault.
          Pikul looks at Gas in disbelief. His feet begin to writhe in
          circles, but he still can't get out of the chair; Geller
          backs away from Gas, clutching her pod protectively.

                         GELLER

                         (QUIETLY)
          Oh, no, Gas, not you.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         3=

                         GAS
          I wouldn't try to use that
          bioport again, `cept maybe for a
          toaster or something.

                         GELLER
          What's going on?

                         GAS
          You're worth a lot of money. If
          you're dead.

                         PIKUL
          What are you talking about?

                         GAS
          You know what I'm talking about.
          It's all over the countryside.
          Five million for her dead body.
          No questions asked.

                         PIKUL
          But, but... she changed your
          life.

                         GAS
          Yup. And now I'm gonna change
          hers.

                         PIKUL

                         (STALLING)
          But wait... Why did you install a
          bad port into me?

                         GAS
          Seems there's a big bonus for
          killing Allegra Geller's latest
          game, or whatever it is. I think
          I just did that, didn't I?
          Geller decides to try another tack. She stops backing away
          and begins to slowly approach Gas.

                         GELLER
          But can you kill a person? Can
          you do that, Gas? Can you kill
          me? Hide my body. Contact the
          crazies. Trust them to pay up.
          Hand over my now-decaying,
          fucking grotesque corpse. Really
          expect them to hand over 5 mil
          cash? Don't you ever go to the
          fuckin' movies?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GAS
          I like your script. I want to be
          in it.
          Gas cocks his shotgun. He's really going to do it. Except
          that Pikul shoots him right in the mastoid bone, just behind
          the ear, with the bioport insertion gun. The back of Gas's
          skull shatters and he goes down hard. Pikul drops the gun
          and launches himself out of his chair. He falls to his knees
          beside Gas's body.

                         PIKUL
          Oh, God, I think he's dead. I
          thought I could just distract
          him.

                         GELLER
          You did distract him.
          (to Gas's body)
          Plug your toaster into that hole,
          corpse!

          INT. DEFENDER - NIGHT

          Geller drives. Pikul hangs on in the passenger seat.

                         PIKUL
          He wanted to kill you.

                         GELLER
          Yep.

                         PIKUL
          That's two people in one day who
          wanted to actually kill you.

                         GELLER
          I've never been more popular.

                         PIKUL
          Allegra, we need help.

                         GELLER
          You're right. I've got to get
          this pod fixed.

          EXT. MOUNTAIN ROAD - DAY

          The Defender winds its way up a heavily wooded mountain
          road.

                         

                         

                         

                         

          EXT. CALEDON SKI CLUB - DAY

          The Defender turns off a dirt road and rumbles through an
          open gate. The stone gateposts bear a coy rustic sign which
          reads, CALEDON SKI CLUB - PRIVATE ROAD.

          INT. DEFENDER - DAY


                         PIKUL
          We're going skiing?

                         GELLER
          Nothing in the countryside is
          what it seems. It's all
          appearance versus reality, and
          the reality here is something
          unique.

          EXT. CALEDON SKI CLUBHOUSE - DAY

          The Defender pulls up beside the chalet-style ski clubhouse.
          As they get out of the truck, the same bizarre insect that
          Geller was playing with the night before lands on the
          truck's side mirror, narrowly missing Pikul as it flops
          around in the air.

                         PIKUL
          Look at that huge bug. It's got
          two heads.

                         GELLER '
          They breed them here. They're not
          supposed to get away.
          They get out and walk towards the clubhouse.

                         PIKUL
          What if somebody comes up here
          and really wants to ski?

                         GELLER
          Nobody actually physically skis
          any more, Pikul. You know that.

                         PIKUL
          I've watched some ski shows.
          Downhill racing, Austrian Alps.

                         GELLER

                         (CONTEMPTUOUSLY)
          Yeah, right.

                         

                         

                         

                         

          INT. CALEDON SKI CLUBHOUSE - DAY

          Pikul and Geller enter the clubhouse. There is nobody
          around. It looks like a real ski clubhouse, complete with
          racks of ski pants and ski boots. But when Pikul examines
          the goods, he can see that they're old and cracked and
          falling apart. They've been there for years. `
          A man comes out of a back room, early sixties, authoritarian
          air, eastern-European. He is Kiri Vinokur, and he lights up
          when he sees Geller.

                         VINOKUR
          My darling Allegra. I am so
          pleased to see you here.
          They embrace.

                         GELLER
          Kiri Vinokur, this is my
          bodyguard, Ted Pikul.

                         VINOKUR
          Hello, yes, I heard the
          ridiculous story about this fatwa
          against you. The company is
          desperately trying to find you.
          Is it really serious? Are you in
          danger?

                         PIKUL
          If I'm her bodyguard, then she's
          in grave danger.

                         GELLER
          There have been a couple of
          attempts on my life already.

                         VINOKUR

                         (SHOCKED)
          No! That's unbearable. The
          company must stop this. They owe
          you every kind of protection.

                         GELLER
          I don't know if they can do
          anything about it. It seems to be
          open season on me.

          VINOKUR ,
          Well, you will be safe here, I
          can assure you of that. I will
          contact Antenna right away and
          have them send some people to
          come and collect you.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          Kiri, no, don't. You mustn't let
          anybody know we're here unless
          you have to. I can't be sure that
          Antenna is completely safe for
          me.

                         VINOKUR
          I understand. Yes. The company
          draws many eccentric people into
          its fold. You can hide in one of
          the guest chalets. As long as you
          like. I will make sure you get
          fresh towels...
          Geller pats her game-pod case.

                         GELLER
          .and make sure I don't lose
          everything I have in here.

          INT. WORKSHOP CHALET - DAY

          In the strange atmosphere of the workshop chalet, Vinokur is
          taking Geller's pod apart. It is more like surgery on an
          alien life form than computer electronics. The room feels
          like a weird combination of a hi-tech operating room and a
          woodworking class.
          A cherubic middle-aged man - Landry - who looks more like a
          farmhand than an electronics technician, assists Vinokur as
          he works.

                         VINOKUR
          What did you port into?

                         GELLER
          Pikul's bioport.

                         VINOKUR
          Really? That's what did all the
          damage?

                         PIKUL
          It was a flawed installation - my
          first. It... it neural-surged.
          Allegra says you can fix it.

                         VINOKUR
          It fried some very expensive
          nerve boards. See? Here. These
          are kaput. It's a complex thing.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          Nerve boards?

                         VINOKUR
          We use the nervous systems of
          specially-bred insects to create
          the electronic circuits on our
          motherboards.

                         (SMILES)
          Only Antenna Research has it.

                         PIKUL
          Wow. And where do the batteries
          go?

                         VINOKUR
          Very funny.

                         GELLER
          He's not kidding. He's a total PR
          nerd.

                         (TO PIKUL)
          It ports into you, and you are
          the power source. Your body, your
          nervous system. Your energy. When
          you get tired, run down, it won't
          run properly.

                         VINOKUR
          Landry here will finish up the
          pod-work. Meanwhile...

                         (TO PIKUL)
          Let's get that nasty bioport out
          of you and get a nice, fresh one
          in there. We have guest chalets
          out back. You're both welcome to
          stay. Now where did I put my
          bioport-plug puller..? Here it
          is.
          Vinokur hauls out a device that looks like a pair of spring-
          loaded fire tongs.

                         VINOKUR

                         (TO PIKUL)
          Lie down on that couch and pull
          up your shirt.

          INT. GUEST CHALET - NIGHT

          In their chalet, a cozy and inn-like'space, Pikul and Geller
          examine his new bioport while sitting on one of the chalet's
          twin beds. The region around the port looks swollen, bruised
          and tender.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          It hurts. I think it's infected.

                         GELLER
          It's not infected. It's just
          excited. It wants action.
          She attempts to jack her pod into his port using the Y-
          shaped UmbyCord, but he twists away from her.

                         PIKUL
          But I really don't think that I
          want action. Me, I mean. The
          bearer of the excited bioport.
          What I want is... not now. Not
          here. I feel too... too exposed.
          Geller sighs, then switches into her explaining-the-facts-
          of-life-to-a-child mode. They are both aware that they are
          replaying an earlier moment.

                         GELLER
          (cradling her pod)
          My baby here has now taken three
          major hits, one in the church,
          one in the gas station, and one
          on the operating table. The only
          way I can tell if everything's OK
          - the game's not been
          contaminated, the pod's not
          fucked - is to play eXistenZ with
          somebody friendly. Are you
          friendly, or are you not?
          Pikul swallows nervously, then turns his back to Geller so
          that she can port in.

                         PIKUL
          You're telling me this thing will
          run off my body's energy?

                         GELLER

                         (PORTING IN)
          That's how they work. See? You're
          hummin' along already.
          Sure enough, he is. Geller deftly twists the second jack
          into her own bioport and takes a deep breath.

                         GELLER
          All right. eXistenZ. Only from
          Antenna. Here we go.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL

                         (APPREHENSIVE)
          You've got a bit of an unfair
          advantage, don't you? How can I
          possibly compete with the
          designer of the system?

                         GELLER
          You could beat the guy who
          invented poker, couldn't you?
          Geller flicks the game-pod nipple, and the chalet begins to
          melt away around them.

          INT. GAME STORE - NIGHT

          The chalet melts away and is replaced by a scruffy game
          store. A lot of kids and strange adults mill around amongst
          the dusty racks and pinball machines, examining packages of
          weird games and game devices, muttering secretively to each
          other, and it is amongst these dull rows of shelves that
          Pikul and Geller find themselves standing.
          A cashier works away behind an old-fashioned cash register
          that sits on a tall counter. The cashier, a gangly, sallow
          young man, glances at Pikul and Geller suspiciously from
          time to time.
          Pikul feels himself', his clothes, moves his arms, his
          tongue. He feels around behind him but there is no game-pod
          or UmbyCord in sight.

                         PIKUL
          That was beautiful. I feel...
          just like me. Is that kind of
          transition normal, a kind of
          smooth dissolve from place to
          place?

                         GELLER
          Depends on the style of the game.
          You can get jagged, brutal cuts,
          slow fades, shimmering little
          morphs...

                         PIKUL
          This is amazing. I had no idea.
          We... we're still ourselves, but
          we're in the game. Where are we?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          It's basically a game store I
          used to hang out in as a kid.

                         PIKUL

                         4

                         (ENCHANTED)
          Are you serious?

                         GELLER
          We're ported into a game-pod
          together, remember? eXistenZ has
          complete access to both our
          central nervous systems. Its game
          architecture will be based on our
          memories, our anxieties, our
          preoccupations...

                         PIKUL

                         (DISENCHANTED)
          Are you serious?

                         GELLER
          You keep saying that.
          (examines a game-pak)
          Look at this. Games I've never
          heard of. Biological Father. Hit
          By A Car. Viral Ecstasy. Chinese
          Restaurant.
          (reads pak back)
          In Viral Ecstasy, you are a
          virus invading a specific human
          body. You create ingenious viral
          strategies to cope with the
          efforts of the body's immune
          system to destroy you..."

                         PIKUL
          Wait a minute. That reminds me.
          What precisely is the goal of the
          game we're playing now? I mean,
          the rules, the objective...
          Nobody's ever really said
          anything about what you have to
          do in eXistenZ.

                         GELLER
          The beauty of eXistenZ is that it
          changes every time you play it.
          It adapts to the individuals who
          are actually playing it. The
          result is that you have to play
          the game to find out why you're
          playing the game.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          But that's kind of cheating,
          isn't it? Not to say confusing.

                         GELLER
          Not at all. It's a much more
          organic approach to gaming than
          classic, arbitrary, rule-
          dominated games. It's the future,
          Pikul. You'll see how natural it
          feels.

                         PIKUL

                         (DISTRACTED)
          Look at this. Could this be the
          future too?
          (picks up a game-pod)
          Ever see anything like this
          before?
          They are looking at a game-pod in a gel-pak that is even
          weirder than a tissue-pod. It has a logo and a name -

          CORTICAL SYSTEMATICS.
          Suddenly, a hand reaches into the frame and takes the pak
          away, puts it neatly back on the rack.
          Pikul and Geller look up at a man in his early fifties,
          graying, thinning hair, beefy, generally harried and
          pugnacious air. The man is Dorsey Nader.

                         NADER
          These are delicate. You have to
          be careful.

                         PIKUL
          Yes. I can imagine.

                         NADER
          Cortical Systematics is the
          latest and the hottest. Not just
          a new game, but a new system.

                         GELLER
          Will it work with an industry
          standard bioport?

                         NADER
          (ignores her question)
          I haven't seen you two before,
          have I? This is my place.
          Haimische, isn't it? Funky?

                         

                         

                         

                         

          PIKUI,
          We're new in town.

                         NADER
          Welcome to Dorsey Nader's Game
          Emporium. I'm Dorsey Nader. Is
          there anything I can help you
          with?

                         GELLER
          We're just looking.

                         NADER

                         (FURTIVELY)
          I have what you're looking for.

                         PIKUL
          You do?

                         NADER
          Follow me.
          Nader turns his back on them and walks to the back of the
          store. He stops at a warped and dirty door, turns, beckons
          to them urgently, trying not to be noticed by the
          preoccupied patrons.
          As Pikul and Geller follow Nader through the door, they do
          not escape the notice of the sour-faced young cashier, who
          writes something down hurriedly on a pad with an air of
          vengeful self-importance.

          INT. STOCKROOM. GAME STORE - NIGHT

          Pikul and Geller find themselves in a stockroom jammed to
          overflowing with packaged and naked game-related
          merchandise. They are alone with Nader, and they are all
          sitting on wooden crates.
          Nader rummages on the shelves behind him for a moment, then
          turns back to them with a gel-pak in his hands. He studies
          them for a moment, hefting the gel-pak in his hand.

                         NADER

                         (PAUSE)
          Who sent you?

                         PIKUL

                         (INSTANT RESPONSE)
          It's none of your businesz who
          sent us. We're here, and that's
          all that matters.

                         

                         

                         

                         
          Pikul is shocked at his own response. He turns to Geller in
          horror, worried that he's blown the game already.

                         PIKUL
          Oh God, what happened? I didn't
          mean to say that!

                         GELLER

                         (GIGGLING)
          It's your character who said it.
          It's a kind of schizophrenic
          feeling, isn't it? But you'll get
          used to it. There are things that
          have to be said to advance the
          plot and establish the
          characters, and those things get
          said whether you want to say them
          or not. Don't fight it. Just go
          with it.

                         PIKUL
          But should you be saying that in
          front of him? Nader?

                         GELLER
          Look at him.
          Pikul does. Nader doesn't seem to have heard him. In fact,
          he doesn't respond at all other than to hum the Antenna
          Research corporate-song and tap his fingers repetitively,
          caught in a small behavioural loop. Geller chuckles at
          Pikul's confusion.

                         PIKUL

                         (RE NADER)
          What's he doing?

                         GELLER
          He's gone into a game loop, he's
          locked up, and he won't come out
          of it until you give him a proper
          game line of dialogue.

                         PIKUL
          This is tricky.

                         GELLER
          Start by repeating your last
          line. Include his name so he
          knows you're talking.to him.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         4-

                         PIKUL
          We're here, Dorsey Nader, and
          that's all that matters.
          Nader immediately comes out of his loop. He chuckles.

                         NADER
          You're right. That is all tha 
          matters.
          Pikul smiles, delighted. Now he takes a deep breath, closes
          his eyes, relaxes. The line comes.

                         PIKUL
          Well, Nader, you said you had
          what we want. We're waiting.

                         NADER
          You're going to need these micro-
          pods to download your new
          identities. I assume that you
          both have had those industry
          standard bioports you mentioned
          installed.

                         GELLER
          Yes, of course, that's right. We
          both have bioports.
          Here she pauses, looks at Pikul.

                         GELLER
          We do, don't we?

                         PIKUL
          I assumed we did. I mean, here.
          In the game. Of course, we might
          not.

                         GELLER
          We'd better check.
          While Nader goes into game lock-up, Geller lifts up her
          shirt. Pikul takes a look. Her bioport is there, although
          slightly rougher, puckered, more organic than in non-game
          life.

                         PIKUL
          Yeah, it's there. Looks a little
          different, but it's there.
          Geller grabs Pikul's shirt and lifts it. His is there too.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          I see what you mean.

                         (TO NADER)
          Yes, we both have bioports.

                         NADER

                         (UNLOCKING)
          Good. Port in and this'll tell
          you all you need to know for now.
          Pikul and Geller examine the pak, which bears the Cortical
          Systematics name and logo. It seems to be a miniature
          version of their real-life game-pod.

                         NADER
          I'm going to leave while you
          finish up here. It wouldn't be
          good for us all to be seen
          together.
          Nader gets up to leave, pauses at the door.

                         NADER
          Don't do anything I wouldn't do.
          Nader chuckles a very theatrical chuckle, then leaves.

                         PIKUL
          I assume that Nader is our entry
          point into the game.

                         GELLER
          Yeah. Kinda disappointing.

                         PIKUL
          Nader?

                         GELLER
          Yeah. Not a very well-drawn
          character. And his dialogue was
          just so-so.

                         PIKUL
          Yeah.

                         (PAUSE)
          Do we blame ourselves for that?
          The bad dialogue? Or would it be
          bad no matter who was ported in?

                         GELLER
          The game engine is just getting
          used to us. It'll get more daring
          once it warms up.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         49
          Geller fumbles the micro-pod out of its vacuum-pak shell.
          She reads the instructions on the back.

                         GELLER
          OK. The pods are so small they
          plug directly into the bioport.
          Geller delicately twists the end of the micro-pod into
          Pikul's bioport. The micro-pod changes colour, pulses,
          ripples, and then slowly flows and wriggles its way into
          Pikul's bioport until it has completely disappeared.

                         GELLER
          God!

                         PIKUL
          What happened?

                         GELLER
          The whole pod just disappeared
          into your back.

                         PIKUL

                         (PANICKY)
          It disappeared into my back?!
          It... it's in my spine? It's
          winding its way around my spinal
          cord?

                         GELLER
          Don't panic, it's just a game. Do
          you feel anything yet?

                         PIKUL
          (controlling his fear)
          No, I don't. Not a thing. I don't
          feel a thing. Uh, do you want me
          to do you?
          They change positions. Pikul ports in the micro-pod and it
          duly crawls its way into Geller's bioport. Tenderly, as
          though kissing a cut to make it better, Pikul kisses her
          back, low near her bioport. Geller whirls around with sudden
          anger.

                         GELLER
          What the hell was that?

                         PIKUL

                         (CONFUSED)
          That wasn't me. That was my game
          character. I wouldn't have done
          that. Not here, anyway.
          She pauses, then kisses him on the mouth, hard.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          You're right. Our characters are
          obviously supposed to jump on
          each other. Probably to create
          emotional tension when danger
          happens. No use fighting it.

                         PIKUL

                         (FIGHTING IT)
          What about our new identities? Do
          you feel yours yet?

                         GELLER

                         (CARESSING)
          They'll take care of themselves.

                         PIKUL

                         (PAUSE)
          I'm very worried about my body.
          Geller stops, sits up.

                         GELLER
          Your what?

                         PIKUL
          I mean, where are our real
          bodies? Are they all right? Are
          they hungry? What if there's
          danger?

                         GELLER
          (kissing and caressing

                         AGAIN)
          They're just where we left them,
          sitting quietly, eyes closed.
          Just like meditating.

                         PIKUL
          (reluctantly kissing and

                         CARESSING BACK)
          I don't know. I feel really
          vulnerable. Disembodied.

                         GELLER
          Don't sweat it. All your senses
          are still operating. You'll pop
          right out of the game if there's
          a problem.
          They begin to make seriously hot love amrngst the game paks
          and cartons of replacement UmbyCords. And then the game
          store melts away around them.

                         

                         

                         

                         

          INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY LINE - DAY

          Pikul finds himself sitting at an immensely long bench in
          the process of assembling insect motherboards along with
          many other workers. Pikul can still feel the warmth of
          Geller's body, but she's nowhere to be seen. A gritty,
          narrow conveyor belt runs down the middle of the bench, upon
          which floats an endless stream of motherboard parts which
          the workers pick off as they need them. The belt begins and
          ends in the anonymous smoky innards of the building.
          The place, a high-ceilinged pre-fab, long and narrow with
          hundreds of blanked-out windows, houses a game-pod assembly
          line. Pikul looks down to find himself wearing a photo-ID
          card clipped to his shirt pocket that tells him he is
          somebody named LARRY ASHEN. He has to twist the card around
          because, of course, from his vantage point it is upside
          down.

                         NOURISH
          Tryin' to remember who you are?
          Pikul snaps his head up to see a long-haired, morose-looking
          worker sitting next to him, snickering. Mocking Pikul, he
          twists his own card around, comically bunching up his work
          shirt so he can read his own name, which is YEVGENY NOURISH.

                         NOURISH
          Hey, it works! I must be Yevgeny
          Nourish!
          Nourish leans over to squint at Pikul's name tag.

                         NOURISH
          And you... you are new to the
          Trout Farm.

                         PIKUL
          Yes. I... I'm... very new. Did
          you say trout farm?

                         NOURISH
          You know - raise baby trout from
          eggs and then stock the rivers
          with them.

                         (BROAD GESTURE)
          Entire place used to be a trout
          farm. Seems like most everything
          used to be something else,
          doesn't it?

                         

                         

                         

                         
          Pikul looks around him. The place is humming, but Geller is
          still nowhere in sight. The workers are small-town locals o_°
          a wide range of ages.
          Pikul looks down at his own hands, which seem to,know what
          to do: place glue on the boards, glue them down to a resin
          frame using a template, insert needle-like electrodes into
          the bodies of certain epoxied insects. The insect boards,
          Pikul notes, are actually whole insects coated in epoxy and
          frozen together like a sick collage. At least, here in the
          game they are.
          Pikul is now automatically doing flashy moves with the odd
          materials in front of him with great dexterity. Nourish
          takes note of this.

                         NOURISH
          I (with admiration)
          You might be new but you seem to
          know what you're doing.

                         PIKUL

                         (GENUINELY PERPLEXED)
          It surprises me more than it
          surprises you.
          Nourish moves back to the insect motherboard that he has
          been working on, then leans over again exactly as he did the
          first time. It has the effect of an instant replay, but not
          in slow-motion.

                         NOURISH

                         (WITH ADMIRATION)
          You might be new but you seem to
          know what you're doing.
          Pikul realizes he hasn't given the right answer. He now just
          lets it come without thinking.

                         PIKUL
          I, ah... I've been trained by the
          very best.
          Nourish unlocks and looks around with a delicate
          furtiveness.

                         NOURISH

                         (FURTIVE)
          So have I. Where do you plan to
          have lunch?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          I'm new here. I have no plans for
          lunch.

                         NOURISH 11
          I suggest the Chinese restaurant
          in the forest. Everybody knows
          where it is. Just ask.

                         PIKUL
          Won't you be going there too?

                         NOURISH
          I have other plans for lunch. But
          I do suggest that you order the
          special. And don't take no for an
          answer.

                         PIKUL
          All right, I'll do that.
          Nourish turns back to his task and begins to work away as
          though Pikul didn't exist.
          Pikul takes this cue to go back to his own board and is soon
          preoccupied with testing the board's circuits by porting it
          into a test UmbyCord that uncoils from the center of the
          bench. His strange reverie, watching himself work on auto-
          pilot at this bizarre task, is soon interrupted by a worker
          pushing a canvas and metal cart with bicycle wheels. The
          worker parks the cart behind Pikul and taps him on the
          shoulder.

                         WORKER
          Larry?

                         PIKUL

                         (STARTLED)
          Yes?

                         WORKER
          They need this in the back room.
          They asked for you.
          The worker shuffles off, leaving the cart behind him. Pikul
          turns to Nourish.

                         PIKUL
          What's that mean?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         NOURISH

                         (GESTURES)
          It means that they want you in
          the back room. They need more
          insect boards for the pod
          assembly bays.

                         PIKUL
          Should I just get up and go
          there?

                         NOURISH
          Yeah. I'll take care of your
          incoming boards.
          Pikul gets up to go. Nourish grabs him by the arm and
          whispers intensely.

                         NOURISH
          Remember. The Chinese restaurant
          for lunch.

                         PIKUL
          I order the special.

          INT. TROUT FARM. POD ASSEMBLY BAYS - DAY

          Pikul enters the huge back wing of the Trout Farm and walks
          along a rampway, pushing his cart past the pod assembly-bay
          area. There, pods very much like the one he and Geller are
          ported into back home are being assembled - motherboards
          inserted, internal ports connected, fleshy housings like the
          corpses of small amphibians sewn up - by small teams of
          workers.
          The bays themselves are old horse stalls with straw still
          covering the dirt floors. But because the pods are primarily
          organic, the teams are more like groups of masked surgical
          workers in a series of impossibly small and filthy operating
          rooms than, let's say, auto-assembly teams in a progressive
          Saab plant.
          As Pikul wheels his cart past each stall, he digs into the
          cart's canvas bag and delivers insect boards wrapped in
          brown wax paper to the eagerly awaiting pod teams.
          In the last bay, one of the masked surgeons grabs him by the
          hand instead of taking the proferred motherboard pnd leads
          himm to an isolated corner. Her ID card says she is BARB
          BRECKEN, and her photo says she is Geller.

                         

                         

                         

                         

          GELLER,
          (slipping off her mask)
          I saw you make contact, Larry
          Ashen. What did the guy on the .l
          assembly line say to you?
          Pikul's expression shows that there is a return game line
          welling up in his mouth, tickling his tongue, perhaps.
          Perversely, he fights it, but it comes out anyway.

                         PIKUL
          He told me where to have lunch.

          EXT. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WOODS - DAY

          A ragged stream of pod-assembly workers trickles along a
          densely wooded gravel path towards a very un-Chinese
          Victorian red-brick farmhouse. A small river flows not more
          than fifty feet from the restaurant, mimicking the movement
          of the line of workers.
          The workers all file past a sign on the lawn in front of the
          building which reads, MONA ZHANG'S BEIJING CUISINE.

          INT. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WOODS - DAY

          Pikul and Geller are seated at a round Formica-covered table
          with a lazy Susan serving wheel in the centre of it, all
          very Mandarin in style. Other workers sit sullenly at their
          table, wordless, suspicious.
          A restaurant dog, a mongrel with a lot a heavy, collie-like
          fur, lies basking in a pane of sunlight. in a corner.
          The waiter, a young, athletic Chinese man, comes over
          bringing rice and tea.

                         WAITER
          We have nice sea bass today.
          Shall I bring it for everyone?
          Pikul and Geller exchange a look. Pikul shrugs OK.

                         PIKUL
          We want the special.
          The waiter looks stunned. The others at their table look
          distressed. The waiter seems to lock up, almost freeze-
          framed.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          Did you hear me, Chinese waiter?

                         (SLOWLY)
          We want the special.
          The waiter unfreezes, smiles grimly.

                         WAITER
          The special is for special
          occasions. I cannot give you the
          special.

                         PIKUL
          But this is a special occasion.
          It's...
          Pikul pauses, waiting for the proper game line to
          materialize in his mouth. Finally, it does. He gestures
          towards Geller.

                         PIKUL
          It's her birthday.
          The waiter locks up for a moment, then unfreezes.

                         WAITER
          A birthday is a special occasion.
          I will therefore bring the
          special for everybody.
          The waiter walks away. The others at the table get up and
          move away, drift over to other tables with occasional
          furtive backward glances at Pikul and Geller.

                         PIKUL
          I guess the special isn't very
          popular.

                         GELLER
          I guess.

                         PIKUL
          But you know, really, don't you?
          You don't have to guess. I mean,
          it's your game, your little
          universe.

                         GELLER
          I don't know. You have to
          understand that, to understand
          what we've really created with
          eXistenZ.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          You're telling me, for example,
          that you don't know what the
          special is?

                         GELLER
          Correct. I don't.

                         PIKUL
          Or why we ordered it.

                         GELLER
          We ordered it because another
          game character told you to.
          That's a clue we can't ignore.
          But that's just basic games
          playing.

                         PIKUL
          I want to put the game on pause.
          Geller just looks at him, puzzled. Pikul panics.

                         PIKUL

                         (PANICKING)
          The game can be paused, can't it?
          I mean, all games can be paused,
          right?

                         GELLER
          Sure, yeah, but why? What's
          wrong? Aren't you dying to see
          what's special about the special?

                         PIKUL
          I'm feeling a little disconnected
          from my real life. I'm kind of
          losing touch with the texture of
          it, you know what I mean? I mean,
          I actually think there's an
          element of psychosis involved
          here. I mean, I don't know where
          my body really is, or where
          reality is, what I've actually
          done, or not done.

                         GELLER
          That's a great sign. It means
          your nervous system is fully
          engaging with the game
          architecture. The game is a lot
          more fun when it starts to feel
          realer than real.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL

                         (PAUSE)
          Yeah.
          Pikul stands up and screams at the top of his lungs.

                         PIKUL

                         (SCREAMS)
          eXistenZ is paused!
          The Chinese restaurant melts away.

          INT. GUEST CHALET - DAY

          The guest chalet melts back up around them. Pikul looks
          around. They are still sitting on the bed, ported into
          Geller's pod together.

                         PIKUL
          Did I do that? I guess I did.

                         GELLER
          So how does it feel?

                         PIKUL
          What?

                         GELLER
          Your real life. The one you came
          back for.

                         PIKUL
          Just sitting here, it feels
          completely unreal. I'm sure you
          knew that would happen.

                         GELLER
          You're stuck now, aren't you? You
          want to go back to the Chinese
          restaurant because there's
          nothing happening here. We're
          safe. It's boring.

                         PIKUL
          Worse than that. I'm not sure
          here, where we are, is real at
          all. This feels like the game.
          And you... you're beginning to
          t1 feel a bit like a game character
           to me.

                          (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL (CONT'D)

                         (PAUSE)
          Did we really make love to each
          other?

                         4

                         GELLER

                         (SHARP)
          Definitely not.

                         PIKUL
          It feels like we did.

                         GELLER
          Our characters did. I'm sure it
          would be very different if we
          did.

                         PIKUL
          I... I'm actually just like that
          in real life. You got the real
          Ted Pikul there, in the stockroom
          of the game store.

                         GELLER
          Well, you didn't get the real
          Allegra Geller, I can tell you
          that. no

                         PIKUL
          I didn't?
          She kisses him gently.

                         GELLER
          No. In real life I tend to lose
          control. It can get messy.

                         (PAUSE)
          Let's go back.
          Pikul looks down at the pod. He flicks the PLAY nipple. The
          room melts down around them and is replaced by the Chinese
          restaurant.

          INT. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WOODS - DAY

          Pikul and Geller are back at their table in the Chinese
          restaurant. The waiter is approaching their table. He
          proudly sets down a series of dishes on the lazy Susan.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         6C

                         WAITER
          Special order for the birthday
          girl. Hope you enjoy it very
          much.
          In the dishes are a variety of cooked reptiles, amphibians,
          fish and birds, all weirdly mutated and presented in a
          bizarrely beautiful fashion.

                         PIKUL
          I think I've lost my appetite.

                         WAITER
          A shame. Mutant creatures provide
          new and previously unimagined
          taste sensations.

                         (SIGNIFICANTLY)
          Shall I clear all this away?
          Geller sees that this is a crucial game moment.

                         GELLER
          No, it looks terrific. Thank you.
          We're happy.
          The waiter nods.

                         WAITER
          Very good. Enjoy.
          The waiter leaves. Geller watches him go, suspicious. When
          she turns back to Pikul, she is shocked to see that he has
          served out most of the creatures to himself and is avidly
          stripping the meat off their bones.

                         GELLER
          Pikul, what are you doing?

                         PIKUL
          I don't know. I find this
          disgusting but I can't help
          myself.

                         GELLER
          Oh, good!
          Pikul looks up from his big bowl, which is rapidly filling
          with creature parts. His fingers are'slimy and sticky, but
          he doesn't stop, his fingers working expertly on their own.

                         PIKUL
          Good? You think this is good?

                         ( AM-

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         O:

                         GELLER
          Yeah. It's a genuine game urge.
          It's something that your game
          character was born to do. Don't
          fight it.

                         PIKUL
          I am fighting it, but it isn't
          doing me any good.
          Pikul is now snapping together bits and pieces of bone,
          gristle and flesh, a grotesque Lego set. When he's finished,
          he's made a gun very much like the one that was used in the
          attempted assassination in the church.

                         PIKUL
          Omigod, this looks awfully
          familiar. You sure this is OK?

                         GELLER

                         (NOT SURE)
          It should be OK.
          Now Pikul reaches into his mouth, pulls out a bridge of
          three teeth - one of them gold-filled - and loads them into
          the gristly magazine.

                         GELLER
          Do you have that bridge in real
          life?

                         PIKUL
          Absolutely not. My teeth are
          perfect. Don't ask me how I knew
          this thing was in my mouth.

                         GELLER
          It probably wasn't until you
          ordered the special.
          He slaps the magazine into the handle, then pulls the slide
          back and releases it so that there is now a toothy round in
          the chamber.
          Then with a smile, Pikul points the weapon at Geller.

                         PIKUL

                         (CASUALLY)
          Death to the demoness Allegra
          Geller.

                         GELLER
          (suddenly very uncertain)
          That's not funny!

                         

                         

                         

                         
          Pikul looks at Geller and sees that there is genuine terror
          in her eyes.

                         PIKUL
          Sorry, I couldn't resist. But you
          know... I do feel the urge to
          kill someone here.
          Geller grips the edge of her bowl of hot-and-sour soup - the
          handiest weapon she has.

                         GELLER

                         (TENSING)
          Who?

                         PIKUL
          I need to kill our waiter.

                         GELLER

                         (RELIEVED)
          Oh, well, that makes sense.

                         (CALLS OUT)
          Waiter! Waiter!

                         (TO PIKUL)
          When he comes over, do it. Don't
          hesitate.

                         PIKUL
          But everything in this game is so
          realistic. I don't think I really
          could...

                         GELLER
          You won't be able to stop. You
          might as well enjoy it.

                         PIKUL
          "Free will" is obviously not a
          big factor in this little world
          of ours.

                         GELLER
          It's like real life - there's
          just enough to make it
          interesting.
          - Pikul spots the waiter making his way across the room
          towards them, a big smile on his face.

                         PIKUL
          He's too nice. I won't do it.
          The waiter arrives at their table.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         53

                         WAITER
          What can I do to make your lunch
          more pleasant?
          Pikul lifts the gun and points it at the waiter.

                         4

                         PIKUL
          I found this in my soup and I'm
          very upset.
          Pikul fires. The tooth-bullet hits the waiter in the
          cheekbone. A chunk of the waiter's cheekbone comes off and
          his head jerks back like a fighter taking a stiff jab.
          The waiter's sweet face instantly transforms into a hideous,
          angry, snarling mask of hatred. He pulls a meat cleaver out
          of his jacket.
          Geller immediately throws her bowl of hot-and-sour soup into
          the waiter's face. The waiter screams, then wildly wipes the
          noodles and goop out of his eyes. He raises the cleaver over
          his head.
          The waiter swings and lunges across the table, managing only
          to hack the tip of the gun off. Pikul is shocked to see the
          gun begin to bleed. The waiter, sprawling across the table,
          screams as he tries to reach Geller with his cleaver. Pikul

          44.
          fires into the waiter's shrieking, open mouth - a tooth-
          bullet into teeth.
          A piece of the waiter's skull comes off like a piece of
          coconut, the gold-filled tooth now flattened and embedded in
          it. The gun is bleeding all over Pikul's hand now. He drops
          it in disgust.
          The restaurant dog comes out of nowhere, picks the gun up,
          and runs off with it under a table, where he crouches down
          and starts to gnaw on it, growling.
          Pikul stands up shakily, begins to become aware of the
          strange, tense stillness of the other patrons in the
          restaurant.

                         PIKUL
          (loudly, to room)
          St's all right, just a little
          misunderstanding over the check.
          Pay no attention and enjoy your
          meal.
          To his surprise, the patrons actually turn back to their
          meals, albeit with a certain sinister reluctance.
          Pikul looks around wildly.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          I feel a serious game urge to get
          out of here!
          Through the porthole in one of the pair of metal-clad
          kitchen doors, Geller spots someone wearing a che'f's hat,
          someone who is wildly beckoning to them.

                         GELLER
          Through the kitchen! That way!

          INT. KITCHEN. CHINESE RESTAURANT - DAY

          Geller and Pikul enter the kitchen and take a look around.
          There are mutant amphibians and reptiles hung up everywhere,
          in bowls and on chopping blocks. The kitchen workers have
          all turned to look at the intruders.
          Suddenly, a cook steps forward from around the door. We can
          now see that it is Nourish in a chef's outfit.

                         NOURISH
          Did you like the meal I prepared
          for you?

                         PIKUL
          Yes. It was very... revealing.

                         NOURISH
          It certainly was for me. You both
          passed our little test with
          flying colours.

                         GELLER
          Why did the Chinese waiter have
          to die?

                         NOURISH
          A waiter hears many things spoken
          when people are relaxed and
          eating. A waiter has many
          opportunities for betrayal.

                         PIKUL
          He betrayed you?

                         NOURISH
          He betrayed us. Out this way,
          quickly!

                         

                         

                         

                         
          They go out a side door, and find themselves walking along
          the river that links the Chinese restaurant and the Trout
          Farm.

          EXT. THE RIVER - DAY

          The trio walk along the bank of the river that feeds the
          Trout Farm. Nourish points out a connected series of rock-
          lined, internally-lighted pools, some stagnant, like ponds,
          and some clear, with river water running through them.

                         NOURISH
          See there, the breeding pools.
          The pools are all alive with strange creatures, mutated
          fish, amphibians, and, along the small, muddy terraces that
          border the pools, reptiles. Like the dysfunctional insect at
          the gas station, these creatures do not work very well. They
          float and swim belly up, lie on their sides at the bottom of
          their pools, flop and flounder around, and in general,
          ostentatiously fail to function.

                         PIKUL
          Is that where you caught today's
          special?

                         NOURISH

                         (LAUGHS)
          The restaurant is controlled by
          us. We raise these mutant
          creatures as food and that is our
          cover, but of course, we are also
          raising them as components for
          undetectable and hypoallergenic
          weapons. Right under the noses of
          our enemies. And speaking of our
          enemies, it's important that you
          go back to work at Cortical
          Systematics. We need to maintain
          as many agents there as we can.
          I'll take care of the mess at the
          restaurant.

                         GELLER
          The Trout Farm is owned by
          Cortical Systematics?

                         NOURISH
          Yes.

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         OC

                         NOURISH (CONT'D)

                         (BITTERLY)
          Their corporate slogan should be,
          "Enemies of Reality".
          A glazed look comes over Pikul. He begins to speak like a
          robotic orator.

                         PIKUL

                         (ROBOT-LIKE)
          Reality is a fragile thing. Most
          people think that reality must of
          course be the most solid thing,
          but it isn't. Reality is
          threatened now more than ever. It
          is being eroded and it is
          washing away in the deforming
          storm of non-reality, which
          masquerades as reality, and
          eventually replaces it. Deformed
          and crippled and limping and
          hideous, threatening to engulf us
          all.
          Geller looks at Pikul in admiring disbelief.

                         GELLER

                         (SOTTO VOCE)
          Where did that come from?

                         PIKUL
          The game made me do it.

                         GELLER
          I'm impressed.
          Nourish is also impressed. He smiles broadly, then takes
          Pikul in his arms and hugs him, then Geller.

                         NOURISH

                         (PASSIONATE)
          We love you two now, now that you
          have proven to be true and
          trustworthy Realists. We'll be in
          touch.
          Nourish turns around and walks back-towards the restaurant.

                         PIKUL
          "Enemies of Reality"? Or does it
          really mean, enemies of eXistenZ?
          Are the Realists the game-life
          version of the Anti-
          eXistenZialists, desperately
          want to kill you?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         S'

                         GELLER
          I wouldn't take it too seriously.

                         PIKUL 1
          Of course you wouldn't. But maybe
          you should.

                         (PAUSE)
          But why is the name Cortical
          Systematics familiar?

                         GELLER
          We saw it everywhere in Dorsey
          Nader's game store, remember?

                         PIKUL
          Yes. So that makes it the game-
          life version of our own company.
          Cortical Systematics is
          equivalent to Antenna Research in
          the real world.

                         GELLER
          That's probably fair to say.

                         PIKUL
          So, then, do we meekly go back to
          work and say nothing? It sounds
          as though Nourish and his
          Realists are preparing to
          sabotage the Trout Farm. Before
          you know it, they'll be planning
          to assassinate game designers.

                         GELLER
          We're just characters in here.
          Don't mix your real-life
          loyalties into it or you'll lose
          for sure.

                         PIKUL
          Then what do we do next?

          INT. GAME STORE - NIGHT

          We are close on a Cortical Systematics logo on a game-pak.
          As Pikul and Geller pretend to examine the merchandise, they
          scan the game store for Nader. The store is quite crowded -
          same style of customers, maybe even some of the same faces,
          different clothes. They don't see Nader.
          Geller goes up to the cashier, the same gangly, sallow,
          bespectacled young man who was there the first time.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         O;

                         GELLER
          I'm looking for Dorsey Nader. Is
          he here?

                         CASHIER
          Say that again?

                         GELLER
          Is Dorsey Nader here?
          The cashier glances around the store, then locks the
          register.

                         CASHIER
          Come with me. He's in the back.
          The cashier leads them through the store towards the
          stockroom door. As they move amongst the customers, both
          Pikul and Geller feel that they are being scutinized
          carefully by shoppers who turn their eyes away from them at
          the last moment, so that they can't be absolutely certain.
          And as for us - have we glimpsed some characters from the
          game that we have already seen? Possibly even Wittold Levi
          from the first scene in the church, and Frances the limo
          driver, and Gas? We aren't positive.

          INT. STOCKROOM. GAME STORE - NIGHT

          The cashier closes the door behind them, then gestures
          towards the back of the stockroom.

                         CASHIER
          You want him, there he is.
          Nader lies dead, the unnatural purple of his face eerily
          matched by the veiny purple streaks in the UmbyCord around
          his neck.

                         PIKUL
          Migod!

                         GELLER
          What happened?
          In response, the cashier starts rummaging around on one of
          the shelves. He soon finds what he was looking for, and
          turns around to face them. In his hand is a grotesque,
          slightly chewed gristle gun - the one Pikul assembled in the
          Chinese restaurant - in his hand.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         CASHIER
          You shouldn't have killed the
          Chinese waiter.

                         PIKUL
          Why not?

                         CASHIER
          He was your contact at the Trout
          Farm. A damn good man.
          (pause; he waggles the gun)
          His dog brought me this.
          The cashier toys with the gun's claw-like hammer.

                         PIKUL
          But we were contacted there by
          Yevgeny Nourish. He seemed to
          know exactly who we were.

                         CASHIER
          That's because Nader tipped him
          off that you were coming. Nader
          was a mole for Cortical
          Systematics.

                         GELLER
          You're with the Realist
          underground.

                         CASHIER
          Yes. I was placed here to keep an
          eye on Nader.
          The cashier puts the gun back on the shelf.

                         PIKUL
          If Nourish isn't our real
          contact, who is he?

                         CASHIER
          Nourish is a double agent for
          Cortical Systematics. He was
          working with Nader to subvert the
          Realist cause, and doing it
          rather well.

                         (SNORTS CONTEMPTUOUSLY)
          After all, he got you to
          assassinate your own contact. But
          now you're going to put a stop to
          him.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          We are?

                         CASHIER
          I assume that you both have had
          spinal port inserts, bioports,
          installed.

                         PIKUL
          We do.

                         CASHIER

                         (PASSIONATE)
          Do you both realize that neither
          of you can be buried on hallowed
          ground because of these... these
          mutilations? Does your bioport
          manual tell you that?

                         GELLER
          Are you trying to talk us into
          having them removed?

                         CASHIER
          No, no. In fact, you would be
          useless to us without them. We
          Realists are forbidden to have
          them, and so we have to use
          people like you on occasion.

                         GELLER
          I don't understand. Are you
          wanting us to jack a game into
          our bioports?

                         CASHIER
          Game? No. Not a game. A weapon.
          (a creepy smile)
          You go back to the Trout Farm,
          and in a familiar place, you find
          a mouldy old wicker basket with a
          thread-bare canvas cover.

                         PIKUL
          How will we know what to do?

                         CASHIER
          (an even creepier' smile)
          Even a child would know what to
          do.
          Someone begins to knock loudly on a door very near by. The
          cashier is oblivious, but'both Pikul and Geller hear it. The
          stockroom begins to morph away as its objects are replaced
          one at a time by chalet objects.

                         

                         

                         

                         

          INT. GUEST CHALET - NIGHT

          Someone is knocking at the chalet door.

          VINOKUR (0. S. )
          Sorry to interrupt you kids, but
          I thought you'd better have
          something to eat. We knocked on
          your door a few times to invite
          you to dinner...
          Pikul and Geller sit on the bed, game-pod between them,
          UmbyCord joining them to each other and to the pod. They
          look at each other. Pikul shrugs.

                         GELLER
          Come on in.
          The door opens slowly to reveal Vinokur, who stands there
          uncertainly, holding a large tray.

                         VINOKUR
          ..and when we got no answer, I
          figured you were playing eXistenZ
          to try out your new pod, and your
          new bioport. Everything's all
          right, I take it?
          An awkward moment, as though Vinokur has caught the pair
          having illicit sex. Vinokur moves into the room towards the
          table.

                         VINOKUR
          Can I leave this here for you?
          Don't bother unporting. I just
          had to be sure our star designer
          was in a good place and that
          she'd recovered her multi-
          million-dollar game system from
          her defective pod.
          Vinokur puts down the tray, which holds several plates
          covered by smaller, inverted plates to keep the food warm.

                         GELLER
          Thanks so much, Kiri. This is
          very sweet of you.

                         VINOKUR

                         I

                         (AWKWARD PAUSE)
          So I take it she has.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          Has what?

                         VINOXUR
          Recovered. eXistenZ.

                         GELLER
          Oh, yes, sure. That's why we're
          so spaced out.

                         (TO PIKUL)
          We were right into it, weren't
          we?

                         PIKUL
          Yeah, we were. And it's amazing.

                         VINOKUR
          Well, that's a relief. I'll leave
          you two alone. You can leave the
          tray outside your door when
          you're finished.

                         PIKUL
          What is that you've brought?

                         VINOKUR
          Believe it or not, it's Chinese
          food. There's a great Chinese
          restaurant on the other side of
          the escarpment road.
          Vinokur turns to go.

                         GELLER
          Kiri?

                         VINOKUR
          Yes?

                         GELLER
          Have you heard anything yet? I
          mean, about the eXistenZ test
          seminar and the shooting?

                         VINOKUR
          Oh, yes. It's come over all the
          media now. You've never been more
          famous. Your face is everywhere,
          which of course just.makes it
          worse. I...
          (a disturbed pause)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          What? Tell me.

                         VINOKUR
          They've announced the possibility
          that Antenna will delay the
          release of your new system
          indefinitely, until they can
          determine how widespread support
          for this fanatical group really
          is. I don't approve, myself. I
          don't think we should bend one
          degree to extremists.

                         GELLER
          Support for the fanatics? What
          does that mean?

                         VINOKUR
          Well, you know. They're all
          coming out of the woodwork now.

                         GELLER
          Who is?

                         VINOKUR
          (heavy, defeated sigh)
          A lot of people are taking the
          opportunity to jump on the anti-
          game bandwagon. They've now heard
          rumours about what the eXistenZ
          system is, and they say we've
          gone too far psychologically,
          medically, socially, you name it.
          And I'm afraid I wouldn't put it
          past our competitors to be
          involved in this, to try to whip
          up public opinion and kill our
          new system before it gets born.

                         (PAUSE)
          You're sure you don't want me to
          contact Antenna, even just to see
          what they have to say?

                         GELLER

                         (SHAKEN)
          Not yet, Kiri. Thanks.
          Vinokur smiles gently and leaves.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          (gesturing towards the

                         DOOR)
          Your friend Vinokur is getting
          shaky. I think he's going to turn,
          you in to Antenna.

                         GELLER
          Sounds like you might approve of
          that.

                         PIKUL
          It might be the safest thing. Are
          you hungry?

                         GELLER
          Are you kidding?

                         PIKUL
          Me neither. I'm terrified to look
          under the plates.

                         (PAUSE)
          This "support for the fanatics"
          thing doesn't sound too good.
          Maybe we should stop...

                         GELLER
          We can't stop. I've been noticing
          some new... glitches. I'm not
          sure what they mean. I'm not sure
          the game is OK.

                         PIKUL

                         (GENTLY)
          Listen, to be honest, I find your
          game very confusing. I'm not sure
          I want to go back in there,
          because I'm not convinced I'm
          going to keep coming out. Do you
          really like that feeling?

                         GELLER

                         (WITH PASSION)
          Yeah, I love it.

                         (DELICIOUSLY MUSING)
          When eXistenZ is released, it's
          gonna wipe the competition off
          the face of the earth.

                         PIKUL
          Will it?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          It really will do that, yes.

                         (HEAVY PAUSE)
          Don't hurt me, Pikul. Don't make
          me go back in alone. Play with
          me.

                         PIKUL
          Allegra, I'm worried that your
          game will wipe me off the face of
          the earth. I'm thinking I was
          right never to have a bioport
          installed.

                         GELLER
          (sly, quick smile)
          But you have one now. And you're
          ported in.
          She mischievously flicks the pod nipple, and the chalet
          melts away around them.

          INT. TROUT FARM SECURITY - DAY

          Trout-farm workers shuffle along a murky pre-fab corridor
          towards a smoke-enshrouded security checkpoint. A puffy-
          faced woman with a clipboard is walking down the lineup
          checking faces and ID cards. With her we discover Pikul and
          Geller, once again wearing their ID cards which identify
          them as LARRY ASHEN and BARB BRECKEN.

                         PIKUL
          That was cruel. I don't want to
          be here.

                         GELLER
          It wasn't cruel, it was
          desperate. C'mon, Pikul. You've
          just got a bad case of first-time
          user anxiety.

                         PIKUL
          I don't like it here. I don't
          know what's going on. We're
          blundering around together in
          this unformed world, whose rules
          and objectives are largely
          unknown, seemingly
          indecipherable, or even Possibly
          non-existent, always on the verge
          of being killed by forces we
          don't understand.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          That sounds like my game, all
          right.
          They are now close enough to the security cubicle'at the end
          of the corridor to see the workers ahead of them being
          frisked by hand, then scanned by a wand similar to the one
          that Pikul used at the church.

                         PIKUL
          That sounds like a game that's
          not going to be easy to market.

                         GELLER

                         (LAUGHS)
          But it's a game that everybody's
          already playing! Existence, it's
          wonderful!

          INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY LINE - DAY

          Pikul and Geller have passed through security and now enter
          the assembly-line arena. They see Nourish at his accustomed
          place on the line, hunched over a pile of insect
          motherboards and now seeming, somehow, menacing, predatory
          in profile. The pair skirt the assembly-line area, carefully
          scanning as they go, but there is no wicker basket to be
          seen.

          INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY BAYS - DAY

          Pikul and Geller walk down the aisle connecting the assembly
          bays. Other workers drift casually in and out, preparing for
          their day in a desultory fashion.

                         PIKUL
          The cashier said it would be in a
          familiar place. Is there such a
          thing here?

                         GELLER
          My assembly bay.
          They make their way to the last assembly bay and slip inside
          it. There is, for the moment, nobody else there, but several
          pods have been left on the work tables half-assembled.
          Pikul spots it first, in the far corner: a large, mouldy
          wicker basket in the opposite corner. Something lumpy in it
          is covered by a thread-bare canvas sheet.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PIKUL
          Is that it over there?
          They stroll over to the basket. Geller kneels down and
          carefully begins to unwrap it while Pikul stands guard.

                         GELLER
          I'd say it's exactly as
          advertised.
          The final wrap comes off. In the basket is a necrotic,
          purpled, very diseased-looking pod.

                         PIKUL
          God, it's ugly. Even for a game-
          pod.

                         GELLER

                         (PAUSE)
          I have a terrible urge to port
          into it. What about you?

                         PIKUL
          (he thinks she's joking)
          Oh, sure. Yes. Desperate to port
          into it.
          Geller steps over to a bunch of UmbyCords draped over a peg
          and strips one off. She sits down on a rotting wooden
          folding chair next to the death-pod's basket and ports in
          one end of the UmbyCord.

                         GELLER
          Here we go. Wanna give me a hand?

                         PIKUL

                         (HORRIFIED)
          You're not serious! I mean,
          that's a diseased pod! Once you
          port into that, you become,
          you... you...

                         GELLER
          (a quick smile)
          Exactly. Help me.
          Pikul kneels beside her as she pulls up her shirt to reveal
          her bioport. Geller hands him the free end of the UmbyCord
          and he ports it into her.

                         PIKUL
          How long does it take for the
          infection to take hold?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          No time at all.

                         PIKUL
          And then you quietly port into
          all the other pods and spread the
          infection to them...

                         GELLER
          (pale, shaky)
          Oh, God!

                         PIKUL
          What's happening?

                         GELLER

                         F (SWOONING)
          Something's wrong!

                         PIKUL

                         (SUPPORTING HER)
          I'm gonna unport you now.
          Pikul tries to unport Geller, but her bioport has swollen
          and seized the jack. He gives the UmbyCord a tug.

                         GELLER
          (in sudden pain)
          0, God, don't! That really hurts!
          Pikul lets go. The death-pod, triggered off by Pikul's
          attempt to disconnect Geller, now begins to convulse in
          peristaltic waves in its wicker basket. Pikul looks around
          desperately and spots a clutch of tools hanging from nails
          on the wall.

                         PIKUL

                         (RISING)
          I'm going to cut you free!

                         GELLER
          No, don't, I'm afraid!
          But Pikul seizes a crude linoleum knife used for trimming
          oversized motherboards and, with three erratic slashes at
          the quivering UmbyCord, hacks her loose. Blood immediately
          pours out of both ends of the severed cord.

                         GELLER C
          (wide-eyed, quietly)
          Pikul. I'm bleeding to death.

                         

                         

                         

                         

          .9
          Panic-stricken, Pikul steps on Geller's end of the cord to
          stop the bleeding. It seems to work, but Geller moans
          horribly.

                         PIKUL

                         (TERRIFIED)
          I'm sorry! I don't know what else
          to do!

                         NOURISH
          I know what to do.
          Pikul twists awkwardly around to see Yevgeny Nourish
          standing just behind him. He is in the process of slipping a
          large propane torch off its wall hook.

                         NOURISH
          I know exactly what to do.
          Nourish unscrews the gas valve and ignites the torch.

                         NOURISH
          Death to Realism!
          Nourish turns the blazing torch on the pod in the basket.
          Where the cone of flame hits the pod, it begins to shrivel,
          crackle, sputter fat. The pod itself tries to ripple away
          from the searing flame as though it were alive. Nourish
          laughs and begins to play the cone over the entire surface
          of the pod.
          Geller sinks to the ground in exhaustion, holds on to
          Pikul's leg.
          The death-pod now swells and bubbles under the torch's
          flame, then explodes with a dull whump.

          INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY LINE - DAY

          A huge cloud, speckled black and gray, billows upwards and
          floats out over the intersecting walls of the stalls and
          into the main area of the Trout Farm's assembly line, where
          it begins to settle like granular. ash on the startled
          workers.

          INT. TROUT FARM. ASSEMBLY BAYS - NIGHT

          i Horrified, Nourish watches the thick cloud of infectious
          spores floating out of his reach.

                         NOURISH

                         (HORRIFIED)
          No, no!

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         S:
          Gathering up her last shreds of energy, Geller suddenly
          shoves a startled Pikul off her cord and picks up the
          linoleum knife from where Pikul dropped it.
          Trailing her bloody cord, she lunges at Nourishi driving the
          rusty, curved blade into his back with great force. Nourish
          turns to Geller, the torch circling towards her, wavering.
          He tries to touch her with the flame, staggers.

                         NOURISH

                         (DYING)
          Death... death to the demoness
          Barb Brecken... to the...

                         PIKUL
          Death to who?
          (he fingers his ID card)
          Oh, yeah... Barb...
          Nourish drops the torch, falls to the ground and snaps into
          the foetal position. A wall of flame roars up around him,
          fueled by the straw, wood, canvas, pod-oils. Pikul jumps
          over to Geller and picks up the trailing cord, twists it in
          his hands until it stops bleeding.
          All four walls of the assembly bay are on fire now. The
          doorway is a flapping sheet of flame. Mixing with the
          swelling rush of the flame are the sounds of the entire
          plant going on alert: yells, screams, sirens, running feet,
          doors being slammed open and closed.
          Pikul holds Geller tightly. She is limp, weak, drained in
          his arms.

                         PIKUL
          I think we just lost the game.
          But now, strange, anomalous objects begin to appear out a
          nowhere in the flames - a chair, a tv set, a bath tub, a
          table, objects emerging into the game from the quest chalet.
          After a moment's confusion, Pikul smiles.

                         PIKUL
          Or maybe not.
          And sure enough, the Trout Farm and its flames and its black
          cloud melt away.

                         R

                         IT

                         

                         

                         

                         

          INT. GUEST CHALET - NIGHT

          As the guest chalet melts up around them, Pikul finds
          himself back on the bed, as he expected; but he is still
          embracing the swooning Geller, which he had not expected.

                         PIKUL
          Allegra, we're back home. What's
          the matter, what's wrong?
          As Geller swims back up into full consciousness, she begins
          to talk, mumbling at first, then with terrible clarity.

                         GELLER

                         (BARELY COHERENT)
          Pikul. It's here, it's happened.
          It's come back here with us. We
          brought it back with us from
          eXistenZ.

                         PIKUL
          Brought what back? I can't
          understand what you're saying.

                         GELLER

                         (WITH CLARITY)
          We brought the disease back with
          us. My pod is diseased.
          As though realizing the implications of what she's saying
          for the first time, Geller twists away from Pikul and begins
          to fumble with her UmbyJack.

                         GELLER
          Oh God, I'm really going to lose
          it, I'm going to lose my game!
          Unport me! C'mon, unport me!
          Pikul unports her, then begins to tug at his own jack. When
          he takes a close look at the pod, he can see that it looks -
          unhealthy.
          Geller jumps off the bed and yanks open her bag on the
          table. She pulls out a tiny hypodermic syringe, unwraps it,
          flicks the bubbles out of it, falls to her knees beside the
          bed.

                         GELLER

                         (TO POD)
          I'm coming, I'm coming!
          Geller jabs the pod with the needle. As sne pushes in the
          plunger, she starts to massage it with her free hand, rub
          it, prod it. She's so close to it we think she might give it
          mouth-to-mouth.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         82

                         PIKUL
          But this can't be possible. How
          can a game event emerge into real
          life?

                         GELLER

                         (PANICKING)
          There's a very weird reality-
          bleed-through effect happening
          here. I'm not sure I get it.
          Pikul finally gets his UmbyCord unplugged.

                         PIKUL
          What's in that needle?

                         GELLER
          It's an anti-viral serum. It
          sometimes works if you get it in
          time.
          Unconsciously, Pikul scratches at his bioport. Geller fixes
          on him with strange intensity.

                         GELLER
          Lemme see your bioport.

                         PIKUL
          What?

                         GELLER
          Lemme see it!
          Pikul turns and shows it to her. She begins to examine it
          with microscopic, clinical attention.

                         GELLER
          I know what happened. It's
          Vinokur, that bastard.

                         PIKUL
          Vinokur?

                         GELLER
          He gave you a new bioport, didn't
          he?

                         PIKUL
          Oh, no.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER
          He gave you an infected bioport
          so that my pod would die and so
          would my game-system.

                         PIKUL
          I'm infected? Wait a minute!

                         GELLER

                         (IN TEARS)
          The poor thing was trying to tell
          us that it was sick by
          introducing the theme of disease
          into our game.

                         PIKUL
          The theme of disease? I'm fucking
          reall infected! Is it going to
          crawl up my spine and rot my
          brain?

                         GELLER
          (suddenly all business)
          All right, don't panic. I've got
          something that will help you.
          Brusquely wiping away her tears, Geller goes over to her bag
          and takes out a cork-shaped plastic capsule. She snaps open
          the capsule to reveal a knurled, plug-like electronic
          device.

                         GELLER
          I'm going to seal up your bioport
          with this anti-viral resonator.
          Geller bends over Pikul and works the device into his
          bioport until it's flush with his skin.

                         GELLER
          (inserting the device)
          It uses the Umby pick-ups for
          power. Should cleanse all your
          porting channels of infection in
          a few hours. It'11 give you a
          little skin buzz when it's done.
          Of course, we can't play until
          then.

                         PIKUL
          (controlling his panic)
          Yeah, great. Now, listen. This
          could be critical. Were you
          really saying that Vinokur is an

                         (MORE)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         9:

                         PIKUL (CONT'D)
          agent of the Anti-
          eXistenZialists? Because if he
          is, if he's with them, then we
          are really...

                         GELLER

                         (WAILING)
          Oh, God! Pikul, my pod's dying.
          Sure enough, the thing is quivering, rippling, convulsing,
          turning purple.

                         GELLER

                         (WAILING)
          I can't help it! I can't do
          anything for it!
          Geller falls to her knees beside the pod.
          As though triggered by this action, an explosion in the
          nearest chalet blows the windows and the door out of the
          guest chalet. Pikul and Geller are knocked to the floor by
          the impact of the blast.
          Waves of heat and debris billow into the room.
          A moment of eery silence, and then Pikul and Geller peek
          wide-eyed over the-edge of the bed. Flames now engulf the
          nearby chalet, all too clearly visible throught the
          shattered window frames.
          Sounds of pandemonium begin to well up from the hills below,
          and then a figure steps boldly in through the doorway. When
          the flamelight flickers over his face, Pikul and Geller are
          stunned to see that it is the cashier, and he is cradling a
          real-life submachine gun in his arms.
          The cashier screams at the bewildered and terrified pair.

                         CASHIER

                         (SCREAMS)
          The uprising has begun! The whole
          place is on fire! Let's go!
          You've got to get out of here.
          They'll be looking for you.

                         PIKUL

                         (TO GELLER)
          The cashier? He's a game
          character! How can he be here?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         AS

                         GELLER
          I don't know! I don't know!
          The cashier strides into the room and pulls her to her feet.
          She tries to pick up her pod, but the cashier tugs her away
          from it.

                         CASHIER
          Leave that rotting piece of meat
          here. It's done its job. Let it
          die.

                         GELLER
          But my game! My game's inside it.
          I don't want my game to die.
          The cashier unslings his submachine gun, cocks it, and blows
          the pod into streaks of slime, flesh, and slivers of insect-
          board. Geller is in shock. Pikul turns her to face him,
          speaks' forcefully right into her face, shuts everything else
          out.

                         PIKUL
          Allegra, listen to me. I think
          we're still inside the game. I
          think your real pod's out there
          somewhere, somewhere safe. I
          think it's OK to let go of this
          one, this pod. It's not the real
          one.
          A Molotov cocktail comes sailing into the room and shatters
          against the bed. The bed ignites with an explosive whump.

                         CASHIER
          Everybody out! now!
          The three of them scramble out into the fiery night.

          EXT. CALEDON SKI-CLUB COMPOUND - NIGHT

          The cashier leads Pikul and Geller out of the guest chalet
          and down the mountain path. The chalet next to theirs begins
          to implode as they scurry by it.
          As they flee, they realize that all the chalets are on fire.
          There are people trying to fight the fires, running
          r frantically everywhere with hand-held extinguishers. There
          is also scattered gunfire, but who's firing on whom is
          impossible to tell.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         86

          EXT. HILLTOP - NIGHT

          The cashier now leads them up to the top of a hill.

                         CASHIER
          Up here. We can see everything
          from here.

                         PIKUL
          What is it that we're seeing?

                         CASHIER

                         (GLEEFUL)
          The victory of Realism. And you
          were part of it.

                         GELLER

                         (DESOLATE)
          The death of eXistenZ. And we
          were part of it.
          The cashier turns on her with his gun. He snaps out his old
          clip and slams home a new one. He cocks the gun.

                         CASHIER
          There's just one more thing.

                         PIKUL

                         (HORRIFIED)
          What are you doing? We're on your
          side.

                         CASHIER

                         (FIERCE)
          How could you be? How could
          Allegra Geller, the world's
          premiere game designer, be on our
          side?
          (off their bewildered

                         LOOKS)
          Oh, Y93.' We know who you are. You
          can't hide inside a game forever.

                         PIKUL
          Something's slipped over the
          edge, here, Allegra. Something's
          all wrong.

                         CASHIER

                         (SMILES)
          There. You see what I mean. You
          see the problem.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         9'
          The cashier raises his gun to fire at Geller, but before he
          can pull the trigger, he jolts backwards and falls twitching
          to the ground.
          From the shadows of the trees, backlit by the fiery
          landscape below, steps Kiri Vinokur. In his hand he holds
          the gristle gun which Pikul assembled in the Chinese
          restaurant.

                         VINOKUR
          I tried to find you. Thank God I
          got here in time.
          (pause; waggles the gun)
          My dog brought me this.

                         GELLER

                         (BACKING AWAY)
          You didn't get here in time. My
          game is dead.

                         (FOCUSSING)
          You murdered my game.

                         VINOKUR

                         (LAUGHS)
          No, just your pod. I replicated
          the entire contents of your pod
          when I fixed your nerve boards.
          They're in safe-keeping. They're
          all in one piece.

                         GELLER
          You copied eXistenZ?

                         VINOKUR
          (soft, pleading)
          Allegra, come over to Cortical
          Systematics. Yes, yes, Cortical
          Systematics. I'm defecting and so
          are all the Antenna Research top
          brass, Pellatt, Melzack, Sherrin,
          everybody good.

                         GELLER
          You're a spy for Cortical
          Systematics.

                         PIKUL

                         (CONFUSED)
          Wait a minute. Cortical
          Systematics is just the qame
          version, it's only...

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         I 9

                         VINOKUR

                         TIGNORING PIKUL)
          Not a spy, exactly. I think of
          myself as a personnel exchange
          engineer. If you want to be
          reunited with your creation,
          you'll come over to us. eXistenZ,
          by Allegra Geller. Only from
          Cortical Systematics.

                         GELLER

                         (DEFIANT)
          Only from Antenna Research.

                         VINOKUR
          But why stay with them? Look at
          that mess down there. How could
          you trust Antenna again, when
          they've endangered you like this?
          Geller seems to have lost the thread. She wanders over to
          the cashier's body and disentangles his submachine gun from
          him.

                         GELLER
          (referring to cashier)
          You know, this guy was actually
          going to kill me.
          Vinokur looks to Pikul for support.

                         VINOKUR

                         (TO PIKUL)
          Can you talk to her? I mean, we
          can take you with us too.
          But before Pikul can respond, Geller, now sitting next to
          the cashier's body on the grass, opens fire at Vinokur with
          the submachine gun. Vinokur falls with a startled expression
          on his face.
          Pikul, absolutely horrified, runs at Geller and kicks the
          weapon out of her hand, picks it up himself.

                         PIKUL
          What the fuck are you doing?!
          You've killed him! Are you gonna
          kill me next?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         A-

                         GELLER

                         (LAUGHS GIDDILY)
          C'mon, Pikul. He's only a game
          character. And I didn't like the
          way he was messing with my mind.

                         PIKUL

                         (SUDDENLY CALM)
          Didn't you? You didn't like that
          and so you killed him?

                         GELLER
          He was only a game character.

                         PIKUL

                         (QUIETLY)
          But Allegra. What if we're not in
          the game anymore?

                         GELLER
          (confused, childlike)
          Huh? If... if we... we're not?

                         PIKUL

                         (STRANGELY HARD)
          If we're not, then you just
          killed someone real. A real
          person.

                         (PAUSE)
          You see what can happen. It's
          important for me that you see
          that.

                         GELLER
          Why?

                         PIKUL
          (standing over her)
          It wasn't an accident that you
          and I ended up on the run
          together.

                         GELLER
          Not an accident?
          Pikul hefts the submachine gun in his hands.

                         PIKUL
          No.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         GELLER

                         (COLD)
          That's why you never had a
          bioport. You were one of them.

                         PIKUL
          I still am one of them.

                         GELLER
          But you have a bioport now.

                         (IRONIC)
          I thought that was forbidden to
          Anti-eXistenZialists.

                         PIKUL
          I made the bioport sacrifice to
          get close to you, to make love to
          my enemy.

                         GELLER
          Why would you do that?

                         PIKUL
          To understand what I have to
          kill.

          7.

                         GELLER

                         (QUIETLY)
          Then. understand this.
          Geller produces a tiny electronic remote controller from the
          pocket of her shirt.

                         GELLER
          Understand that I suspected who
          you were from the moment you made
          that fake phone call to yourself
          in the limo. Understand that I
          knew you were my real assassin
          when you pointed the gun at me in
          the Chinese restaurant.
          She flicks up a safety cover on the remote's tip, revealing
          a toggle switch. Pikul's hands tense around the submachine
          gun.

                         GELLER
          And understand that you're dead.
          Geller flips the toggle switch. The base of Pikul's spine
          blows out, his shirt billowing with blood as his bioport
          explodes.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         9:
          A delighted Geller dances to her feet as Pikul staggers
          backwards.

                         GELLER

                         (GLEEFUL)
          Death to the demon Ted Pikul!
          His eyes frozen in a death stare, Pikul falls, rolls down
          the hill into the underbrush. Smoke creeping up from the
          fires below curls over him like a blanket.
          Arms raised in the air, Geller dances around on the top of
          the hill, looking down on the flames and the chaos.

                         GELLER
          (confident, laughing)
          Have I won the game? Have I won?
          Have I won?
          The hill, the trees, the flames melt down around her.

          INT. COUNTRY CHURCH - NIGHT

          We melt back up into the church, which we last saw in the
          first scene. But there are many differences between then and
          now,
          Geller is sitting in her chair on the dais as before, her
          eyes just beginning to flutter open. But Pikul is sitting
          next to her, also playing the game. And next to him is
          Nourish, whom we are even more surprised to see in this
          context.
          Aad in fact, the players who are sitting in the circle of
          chairs on the dais are all characters who have been in the
          movie up to this point: Nader, the cashier, Dichter, Gas,
          Vinkokur, even Frances, the limo driver.
          The players are all emerging from a game that has just ended
          - the movie we have been watching - and they begin to stir
          in their game gear, which is nothing like the organic pod-
          technology we have just seen.
          On the contrary, the garners are wearing head-gear with
          electrodes, more like normal clunky Virtual-Reality
          equipment, and are linked by mundane wires. In their laps
          they hold, not game-pods, but sleek plastic game modules,
          each about the size of a walkman, with holes into Which
          I their left thumbs are inserted - a simpler and cruder
          version of the bioports we have become used to.

                         

                         

                         

                         
          Watching the proceedings from down on the church floor are
          two security guards, neither of whom is Pikul, of course. On
          a leash, one of the security guards holds the dog that, in
          the game, picked up the gristle gun in the Chinese
          restaurant.
          Also monitoring the action are a woman, Merle, who is the
          game's actual project manager - the real-life version of the
          game-character Levi - and her two assistants.
          There is a collective sigh as the game finally releases the
          players, and now they are free to remove their thumbs from
          the game modules and slide their head-gear off.
          The two assistants - the real-life ones are both matronly
          women - begin to help everyone unplug, neatly gathering up
          the equipment in padded bags as they go.
          A broadly smiling Merle mounts the dais and stands in the
          centre of the ring of players.

                         MERLE
          Are you all back?
          The man whom we knew in the game as Yevgeny Nourish
          immediately stands and takes charge. But it is a different
          Nourish, exuberant, sensitive and artistic.

                         NOURISH
          We're back, Merle. Although I
          have a feeling some of our crew
          might not realize it yet.
          Shaky laughter from some of the players.
          Throughout the following round of comments from the garners,
          whom we now realize have been, up to now, playing characters
          in a game, we hear nothing from Pikul and Geller. These two,
          who sit next to each other and are now holding hands, remain
          enigmatically silent.

                         WAITER
          Wow. Anybody here want a bowl of
          hot and sour soup?

                         (LAUGHTER)

                         VINOKUR
          I will, if you make sure there

                         R
          are some insect boards in the

                         F(
          rice.

                         (LAUGHTER)

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         FEMALE ASSISTANT
          How long were we gone?

                         MERLE
          About twenty minutes.

                         T

                         DICHTER
          It seemed like days. That's
          fantastic.

                         FEMALE ASSISTANT
          Yeah. If you stayed in the
          gameworld for most of your life,
          you could live to be five hundred
          years old!

                         (LAUGHTER)

                         CASHIER
          The twists and turns at the end
          made my head spin. Maybe there
          were too many, to fast to absorb.
          (to Pikul and Geller)
          Hey, but you two were fantastic.
          You guys are game divas! I think
          you both deserved to win.
          There is general agreement amongst the garners about this
          compliment to Pikul and Geller. The pair just smile sweetly
          and bob their heads modestly at the smattering of applause.

                         GAS
          (a little jealous)
          Well me, I was really bummed out
          at first. I got knocked out of
          the game so soon. It was fun to
          watch the rest, though. I liked
          that part where the ones who got
          knocked out of the game early got
          to be spooky customers in the
          game store.

                         LEVI
          But you were so wonderfully bad.
          So scary and crazy. I had a lot
          to do in that first scene in the
          church but I thought my character
          was kind of boring.

                         GAS
          Well, you know, I'm a gas-jockey
          in real life, so I was kind of
          disappointed that I was basically
          the same thing in the game. A
          little more fantasy, there,
          fellers.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         Y{

                         MERLE

                         (NODDING SAGELY)
          Interesting. Interesting. Hold
          that thought for the focus group.

                         FRANCES
          (indicating game module)
          Can I keep this? I've never felt
          anything like it! And I love this
          little thumb-hole. It's
          fantastic!
          (appreciative laughs and

                         APPLAUSE)

                         NOURISH

                         (LAUGHS)
          Nice try, but you're going to
          have to turn them in because
          they're beta versions, pre-
          production hand-made specials,
          and we need to study them after
          use for wear and tear and other
          things. But you'll get a
          certificate for helping us out
          here - I'm right about that,
          aren't I, Merle?

                         MERLE

                         (NODDING ENTHUSIASTICALLY)
          And that will entitle you to
          reserve one of the first batch of
          the TranscendenZ by PilgrImage
          game modules to hit the market,
          and at a seriously discounted
          price. You're gonna love it.
          Amidst applause and general excitement, Merle turns to the
          tripod-mounted chalkboard standing, as in the first scene,
          at the back of the dais. There we see the words that she has
          already written: TranscendenZ by PilgrImage.

                         MERLE
          Remember - it's written like
          this. Capital T, capital Z.
          TranscendenZ. It's new, it's from
          Pilgrimage - capital P. capital
          I, and it's coming soon.

                         0
          Allegra Geller now stands up, walks over to Nourish and
          gently takes his hand. He turns to see who's got him, then
          smiles broadly.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         95

                         GELLER

                         (SHYLY)
          I'd just like to say thank you to
          Mr. Nourish for giving me the
          chance to play the role of a star
          designer. I guess the game picked
          up on my ambitions to be like
          you.

                         NOURISH
          well, let me first say that I'm
          kinda glad I lost this game. I
          don't usually play such nasty
          characters.

                         (LAUGHTER)
          And, Allegra, you were so good in
          that role that I suspect it won't
          be long before PilgrImage is
          after you to sign a designing
          contract.
          (applause and laughter)
          And maybe you should take your
          friend Ted, here, Mr. Pikul, with
          you. He's obviously good in a
          crisis, and when you design
          games, there are plenty of them.
          Amid the renewed good-natured laughter, Geller blushes. She
          reaches out for Pikul's hand.

                         GELLER
          I guess you all could tell that
          Ted and I had a relationship
          prior to our coming here. We
          really do like to play together.

                         PIKUL
          (shy but determined)
          We do, but I'd like to assure
          everybody here that Allegra
          wouldn't really jump into bed
          with a security guard unless he
          was me.
          (laughs from the security

                         GUARDS)
          Merle holds out her hand in a gesture of appreciation
          towards Nourish.

                         MERLE
          Well, what do we say to our
          brilliant, award-winning game
          designer, Yevgeny Nourish? Does
          he have another winner on his
          hands or not?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         PC
          Wild applause from all garners, including Geller and Pikul.

                         MERLE
          All right, now, I have to ask you
          some questions, before the game
          half-life wears off. First, let
          me thank you for taking part in
          this test seminar. PilgrImage
          wants to deliver nothing but the
          finest to the game enthusiast,
          and you have all been a proud
          part of that process tonight.
          When we've collected all the
          head-sets and game modules, we'll
          be handing out a questionnaire to
          each of you, and I'd like your
          answers to the questions to be as
          honest, as brutal, as clear as
          you can make them. Don't hold
          back. After that, we're going to
          form a focus group where we'll
          discuss details of each of your
          experiences playing TranscendenZ.
          You've all had different but
          interlocking lives in the game,
          and I think you'll be amazed when
          you hear each other's stories.

          INT. COUNTRY CHURCH. MOMENTS LATER - NIGHT

          While the questionnaires are being handed out by the
          assistants, Nourish confers with Merle in a corner.

                         NOURISH

                         (INTENSE)
          Merle, I was very disturbed by
          the game we just played.

                         MERLE
          What do you mean?

                         NOURISH
          It had a very strong, very real
          anti-game theme. I mean, it began
          with the assassination of a game
          designer.

                         MERLE
          or Really? But that's very creative.

                         (PAUSE)
          But on second thought, I see what
          you mean. It makes me nervous.
          You think it must have come from
          one of our game players?

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         NOURISH
          It sure didn't come from me. The
          tone of it in the game was very,
          very passionate, fanatical. And
          the atmosphere of paranoia and
          betrayal was overwhelming. The
          whole thing felt unstable,
          dangerous, volatile. But worse
          than that, there was a kind of
          industrial espionage subplot.
          Stealing game-systems, jumping
          ship from one game company to
          another. That kind of thing.
          They both reflexively begin to scan the gaming group, who
          are all innocently dealing with their question cards.

                         MERLE
          So which one of them did these
          elements come from?

                         NOURISH
          Let's probe it when we do the
          focus group. I think we might
          have been infiltrated here, and
          if we have, we've got a big
          security problem.
          Pikul and'Geller, questionnaires in hand, wander over to the
          wary Nourish and Merle. Pikul is now leading the dog that
          the security guard was holding for him earlier on, the model
          for the game dog in the Chinese restaurant.

                         PIKUL
          Hi. We were just wondering if we
          could ask Mr. Nourish a question,
          away from all the others.

                         NOURISH
          Sure. Shoot.

                         (CHUCKLES)
          Long as you don't ask me to fill
          in your questionnaire.

                         PIKUL

                         (NO CHUCKLES)
          We've played your game now, and
          so we can finally agree with the
          others that you are the world's
          greatest game artist.

                         (OMINOUSLY)
          We weren't sure before.

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         [email protected]

                         NOURISH

                         (PROFESSIONALLY MODEST

                         SMILE)
          Well, thank you so much.

                         I

                         GELLER

                         (NO SMILE)
          Yevgeny, don't you think you
          should suffer for all the harm
          you've done, and intend to do, to
          the human race?

                         NOURISH

                         (STUNNED)
          What?

                         PIKUL
          Yes. Don't you think the world's
          greatest game artist ought to be
          punished for the most effective
          deforming of reality?

                         MERLE

                         (NERVOUSLY)
          I don't think this is very...
          (looks towards security

                         GUARDS)
          Boys? Could you come over here -
          right now!
          But it's too late. Geller reaches down and pulls a flap of
          false fur and skin away from the dog to reveal two semi-
          automatic pistols strapped to the dog's flank. Pikul and
          Geller grab the guns, pull back the slides, and cooly
          execute Merle and Nourish, who bump grotesquely together as
          they slump to the ground.
          In the stunned silence that follows, only the clatter of the
          last few shells bouncing around on the hardwood floor can be
          heard. Pikul and Geller glance at each other,. pumped, then
          fill the silence.

                         GELLER

                         (SCREAMS)
          Death to the demon Yevgeny
          Nourish!

                         PIKUL =

                         (SCREAMS)
          Death to PilgrImage! Death to
          TranscendenZ!

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         33
          Now a hesitant shuffling of feet causes Pikul and Geller to
          whirl and catch the security guards coming at them with
          their pathetic scanning wands. The guards stop in their
          tracks, raise their hands, and start to back away as the
          place suddenly explodes in screams and pandemonium.
          As Pikul and Geller in their turn back towards the front
          exit, they glide past the young Chinese man who was the
          waiter in the game. The waiter stands flattened out in fear
          against a pillar with his questionnaire and his pencil in
          his hand.
          They ignore the waiter, but stop to wait for Pikul's dog to
          trot calmly past them, heading for the door.
          Now Pikul and Geller are just about to turn and follow the
          dog when the waiter unfreezes and takes a step away from the
          pillar towards them. They immediately swing their pistols
          over towards him. The waiter stops and raises his hands.

                         WAITER
          No, wait, you don't have to shoot
          me. I just wanted to ask you a
          question. _

                         GELLER

                         (WARY)
          What?

                         WAITER

                         (INNOCENT)
          Hey, tell me the truth. Are we
          still in the game?
          Pikul and Geller look at each other, then into the camera.
          The church melts down around them into blackness.