1.4 – Delivery

IMMUNITIES EPISODE 1.4 – DELIVERY

SETTING – A highway overpass. Cars go by.

PROFESSOR WANDA HOLBROOK is a confident woman who uses caustic humor to deal with her considerable anxiety.

BREWSTER (in distance)

*whistles*

*whistles again*

HOLBROOK

(under her breath)

Finally.

*whistles*

BREWSTER (slightly closer)

*whistles*

HOLBROOK

*whistles*

BREWSTER (slightly closer)

Not many birds this time of year.

HOLBROOK

They all flew north to Antarctica.

BREWSTER

Professor Holbrook.

HOLBROOK

(nervous, but trying to play it off)

That’s me. You can’t know how much it pained me to say “North to Antarctica”.

BREWSTER

The idea is to make it counter-intuitive. But I believe the Major may also be having fun with you.

HOLBROOK

*chuckle*

Very likely. Well, wonderful to hear you, whoever you are. The way these things go I figured I might be sitting against this tree on my own all day, maybe have some sensory deprivation visions.

BREWSTER

May I take your bag?

HOLBROOK

Please. I keep having to feel around to make sure I still have it. Very kind of you.

BREWSTER

It’s no trouble. And it’s an honor to meet you, I’m Ens-

HOLBROOK

No names. Please. Since I can’t see you, and I don’t know you, there’s no point in giving me information that might be dangerous if I’m taken.

CRAIG

Optimistic as ever, I see.

HOLBROOK

Ha, don’t need my eyes to know that voice, Jefferson Craig. Come here, help me get up.

*straining noise*

SOUND: Craig helps Holbrook to her feet. She pats his shoulder.

HOLBROOK

Nice shoulders. You’re staying in shape.

CRAIG

Ha. If you could see, you’d know my belly isn’t so tight. They’ve got me behind a desk, Wanda. Organizing. Doing reports. Can you believe it?

HOLBROOK

You were always smarter than you let on.

CRAIG

Maybe yes, maybe no. Come on, let’s start moving. Put your hand on my elbow, yeah, there. Be careful, we’re headed into the woods, it’ll be a little uneven. Keep ahead of us, Thee.

BREWSTER

Yes sir.

SOUND: Brewster jogs off ahead. Holbrook and Craig walk slowly. The sound of cars recedes into the distance.

HOLBROOK

(more confidential now that Brewster is gone)

Well speaking of organizing, how are things here?

CRAIG

As good as we can expect, what with an alien invasion and all. Jordan Channing has been a marvel at getting the Lookers to say “Yes” to things. Maybe he can talk them into turning the internet back on and save us a lot of trips like this one.

HOLBROOK

Oh if only. But back to you.

CRAIG

Right. The only excitement lately has been some spooked citizens. There’s one you might want to talk to, if you have time.

HOLBROOK

Really, what about?

CRAIG

She’s claiming to have visions where one of her family is normal again. I remember you wanted people like that, to help you develop your questionnaire, to maybe find a you-know-what.

HOLBROOK

I love it when you take an interest in my little projects.

CRAIG

(sincere, expressing his anxieties & hopes for the first time in a while)

Oh, Wanda. Your little project is what keeps me going day to day. Things are bleak, no matter how quiet they are. We’re strangers in our homes, living on the charity of the new residents. You’ve got to finish your thing before they decide we’re not worth keeping.

HOLBROOK

Well it’s not just my thing. There are a million ways humanity can get out of this mess, and we’ve always found one before. The Lookers aren’t as monolithic as they let on. There are different strains of the Beta Wave, and the Lookers that the different strains produce are measurably different. Then sometimes the Waves re-combinate as the Lookers look at each other. Maybe one of those re-combinations will awaken their old selves, or just shut the whole thing down.

CRAIG

A virus that just kills itself doesn’t sound very Darwinian.

HOLBROOK

A fair number of viruses do, though. Luck is a fickle goddess but she is powerful. And it doesn’t have to be permanent, just last long enough to give us the initiative.

CRAIG

But that can work both ways, can’t it? One of those recombinations might outflank our immunity. Change the signal enough that we Primaries can pick it up. Then all of a sudden the rug gets snatched out from under everything we’ve built, and we’re back in the scary times again. Assuming there’s anyone left to get scared.

HOLBROOK

There would still be the blind, I suppose. All on their own in the dark.

CRAIG

Ugh. I can always count on you to make my scariest nightmare just a little bit scarier.

HOLBROOK

(fondly)

I know!

(back to science)

There are scary possibilities, yes, and that’s why we’ve got to get in there, into the Looker system, to see their data and manipulate the patterns. Now of course, that’s step thousand and one of our plan, and I’m still working on step one. But I think we’ll beat the other side to the breakthrough. There’s a lot of them, but they have perfect faith in their little virus. To them, the idea of tampering with the Look is blasphemy. We don’t know what other planets they took over before this one, and I don’t think they do either. But whatever they ran into in the past didn’t prepare them for human genetic diversity. They’ve built an imposing castle on a very shaky foundation.

CRAIG

Yeah, I look those things in their self-satisfied cow eyes sometimes and think: “No way they’ll ever beat us.” But it’s one thing to believe we won’t lose. It’s another to see a road to actually winning, and you’re the first one to show me a road I could have faith in.

HOLBROOK

Faith, huh? Not very scientific.

CRAIG

I guess I need my unscientific faith in order to keep following your scientific plan.

HOLBROOK

Jefferson…I take it there aren’t a lot of people you can talk to this way.

CRAIG

Is it that obvious? Yeah there’s no one, really. Gotta keep the troops’ spirits up, and if I talked this way to Jordan he’d start worrying about me. Maybe even force me to take time off.

HOLBROOK

You’ve got to trust people more, Jefferson. I know you’re good at giving out jobs but you have to give out the worries too, or you’ll crack. I bet Channing would be more understanding than you think. Hell, he’s probably looking for someone to dump on too.

CRAIG

The wisdom of the blind…folded. Well, we’re coming up on him so I guess I’ll let him speak for himself.

HOLBROOK

He’s here?! In the middle of a smuggling operation?

CRAIG

He likes to keep his hand in. And he almost never gets to greet a VIP who’s still human.

*pause*

Good evening, Jordan. Nice night for a stroll.

JORDAN

A very nice night, Jeff. Professor Holbrook, I’m glad to have the opportunity to meet you. Here’s my hand.

HOLBROOK

Ah, you must be Jordan Channing. An honor. Or maybe you’re a decoy. You sound pretty spritely for someone responsible for a whole state.

JORDAN

The lines on my face would tell a different story, if you could see them. Is the blindfold still necessary Jeff, now that we’ve got her?

CRAIG

Well, seeing as how the Guides saw fit to put it on her I think we should keep it until we’ve verified that there’s no pursuit.

HOLBROOK

I went most of the way without it, actually; wore dark glasses and kept my eyes on the ground. It was your caution sign that made the guides think they’d better give me the full rag. And I see you’re still in no big hurry to take it off me. Maybe you just like to see me like this.

JORDAN

Ummm…caution sign?

CRAIG

That’s my doing. I…well I wanted them extra-alert, so they’d abort or evade if they thought things were dicey at all.

JORDAN

On what basis? You didn’t mention anything to me.

CRAIG

I had a citizen step forward with some pretty unbelievable intelligence. Normal times I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but with this happening I figured I should double-check everything. And it all checked out fine, way too fine to pull the plug and turn the Professor around.

HOLBROOK

Oh Jesus, pull the plug? Take that whole trip in reverse with nothing accomplished? Truck to truck to cellar to hike? I might have killed myself.

CRAIG

Yeah. And everyone said it was vital to get you to the Overlook for the meeting, so I rolled the dice. But I’m not above loading them a little.

JORDAN

Well, I would have appreciated being informed.

CRAIG

Jordan, if it had been a closer question I would have gladly dumped it in your lap, trust me. And be honest, would you have done anything different?

JORDAN

I don’t know. Did your citizen sound credible?

CRAIG

As credible as can be for someone who said she talked to her Looker sister in a dream.

JORDAN

Oh, I see your point. Objection withdrawn.

HOLBROOK

Oh, so this is the same spooked citizen you mentioned earlier? You’re right, I would like to meet heraaagh!

SOUND: Holbrook’s foot catches on a twig and she almost falls. Jordan and Craig catch her.

JORDAN

Whoah there!

CRAIG

I’ve got you.

HOLBROOK

Maybe it is time to take this thing off. We’ll move faster and you won’t have to worry about me screaming every time I kick a root.

JORDAN

She’s got a point, Jeff.

CRAIG

Yeah, makes sense. Stand still for just a sec. Here you go.

HOLBROOK

(relieved)

Oooohhhhhh. That’s better. Nice to see you.

CRAIG

And you.

HOLBROOK

And now I take a quick look around: beautiful scenery, and then on with the glasses and staring downwards at anything trying to trip me.

SOUND: Footsteps speed up.

HOLBROOK

You must admit, this is a brisker pace.

CRAIG

Wouldn’t argue with you.

HOLBROOK

Like hell.

CRAIG & JORDAN

*chuckle*

HOLBROOK

Speaking of arguing…how long do you have me here?

CRAIG

Just overnight, alas. The second set of Guides should be on their way already. They’re due at our HQ late tonight, then you leave with them tomorrow, as soon after nightfall as we can manage.

HOLBROOK
If I did want to talk to your citizen, would you be able to get a hold of her tonight?

CRAIG

Should. She’s arranged to be available, although she won’t know why.

HOLBROOK

That’s good. Fresher responses that way.

JORDAN

I’m sorry, but, is that really a good idea? She’ll know that Professor Holbrook isn’t from around here, and she might put together that we’re smuggling her through. And she sounds unstable. Professor, maybe you can give us a list of questions to ask her after you’re gone.

HOLBROOK

Everything you say is correct, Mr. Channing, but this project is the whole point of smuggling me. And yes, you guys could interview her for me but that’s how I’m getting 90% of my data. I want my own eyes and ears on this one if at all possible. I want to see what effect the questions have on the subjects, effects that won’t show up in a transcript. This questionnaire is going to go out far and wide. The more road-testing I can put it through the better.

JORDAN

I can certainly relate to wanting to get close to what you’re working on. Maybe too well. After all, here I am in the middle of an operation I’ve delegated to Jeff. But, courting unnecessary danger…

CRAIG

Jordan, the danger is to us, not to her. And we’re not the payload, she is.

JORDAN

Ahh. I follow your reasoning. All right, I withdraw my objections, as long as you think it’s worth the risk, Jeff.

CRAIG

Wanda’s plan is worth any risk.

HOLBROOK

Well, aren’t you a sweetheart.

CRAIG

Don’t make me sorry I’m taking your side.

HOLBROOK

You’ll find, Mr. Channing, that nothing discomfits Jefferson as much as praise.

JORDAN

Oh, I found that out long ago.

CRAIG

And nothing draws Jordan into a plan as fast as pointing out that it’s dangerous and inconvenient for him personally.

JORDAN & HOLBROOK

*chuckle*

CRAIG

Well now that that’s settled, maybe I should jog ahead and see how Thee is doing. Like as not she’ll know the Scholl girl’s schedule off the top of her-

SOUND: Something being hit against a tree, three times.

CRAIG

That’s Thee’s signal. Someone’s coming up the path.

HOLBROOK

Oh God.

CRAIG

Don’t panic, could be anything. Everyone just find your own tree to get behind. And when you get there, Wanda, keep your eyes closed.

SOUND: Rustling undergrowth. Then, running footsteps.

NICOLE

(a little out of breath)

Hello? Umm…shit…”It’s a sad way to run a railroad!”

SOUND: Similar rustling.

CRAIG

Nikki, you scared us.

NICOLE

Sir. I just barely got through. There are Lookers up ahead, lots of them, and they’re spreading out like they mean business.

CRAIG

Christ. Okay everyone, backtrack.

NICOLE

No!

CRAIG

Excuse me?

NICOLE

Sorry sir, but the reason I was sent was because our sentry spotted Lookers snooping around the rendezvous point you just left. He got a message to me and then I just happened to run into the ones ahead along my way.

JORDAN

Surrounded.

CRAIG

Not yet. Jordan, you cross through the brush to the left, make for the main visitor trail. If they find you there you can say you were just hiking or taking a shortcut.

JORDAN

They won’t believe that.

CRAIG

It’ll smell, sure, but they won’t have any proof. And you’re unarmed and clean. We need to take off the opposite way, right now. You might draw their attention, and we all know you can take a sweating from them without buckling. Just go. We’re relying on you.

JORDAN

Okay, Jeff. Good luck.

SOUND: Jordan jogs into the brush. Craig, Nicole and Holbrook walk through the opposite brush.

HOLBROOK

You were right about the kinds of plans he likes.

CRAIG

Yeah, the worse for him the better he likes it. And that leaves us. Nikki, you go up parallel with the trail and find Thee, then you two come after us. With your young legs you should be able to overtake us and scout ahead.

NICOLE

Yes sir!

SOUND: Nicole runs through the brush.

CRAIG

And that leaves us darlin’. Let’s see how far ahead of the young’uns we can get.

HOLBROOK

Right behind you.

SOUND: Craig and Holbrook jog into the brush. Very close sounds ongoing. Craig and Holbrook’s breath becomes more labored as they go.

HOLBROOK

Guess things were going too smoothly, huh? Part of me wants to curl up, hide, and put that blindfold back on.

CRAIG
Might even work, if you held still and took your bathroom breaks in place. But there’s nothing more thorough than a Looker. If they’re out in numbers my money’s on running.

HOLBROOK

Where are we even running to?

CRAIG

We’ll hit a trail up ahead that splits into three diverging ones. The bad guys are playing catch-up, or they’d have gotten us at the rendezvous. So that means they didn’t know ahead of time where to center their search, and it’ll be hard for them to cover all the trails unless there’s an army of them. And even if the trails are a no-go, there’s a drainage viaduct we can crawl through.

HOLBROOK

Lovely. You always take me to the nicest pla-

SOUND: Pre-squawk of a public address system.

MAN 1 (P.A.)

Individuals in the forest!

CRAIG

Oh no.

MAN 1 (P.A.)

This is the State Police. We have deputies all around you. We believe that you have an Overlook resident with you who is travelling without proper documents. The only way that individual will be able to maintain Overlook status is by surrendering herself to us immediately.

HOLBROOK

(terrified)

Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.

CRAIG

Okay, Wanda, I’ve got to ask: Are you still sure you want to run? If you put on the blindfold they just might respect your status.

HOLBROOK

I can’t do that. They might not turn me, but they’ll definitely keep me and pump me for information, and I haven’t been through that like you all have. No one knows if I can take it. And if we guess wrong and they do turn me, I’d give up everything in a heartbeat. With a smile. With a stupid cow smile. Everything we’re pinning our hopes on. No. I run or I die.

SOUND: Craig and Holbrook pick up the pace.

CARRIE (P.A.)

Wanda Holbrook, this is Carrie Kray.

CRAIG

Jesus. The big guns.

HOLBROOK

That just means they’re afraid of us. Keep running.

CARRIE (P.A.)

I know you know my voice. You know who I am, and you know what I am. I think you also know that the people I’m with don’t lie. But in addition, I will personally assure you that if you surrender peacefully you will remain unaltered for as long as you wish.

HOLBROOK

(under her breath)

Tell that to the people who went to your treatment centers.

CARRIE (P.A.)

Just close your eyes, put up your hands, and tell us where you are.

HOLBROOK

Fat chance.

CRAIG

Let’s turn away from the sound. Look out for that rise there.

HOLBROOK

Got it. I see…Jeff, are those your people up ahead?

CRAIG

No, the girls haven’t caught up yet for some- Oh crap. Wanda!

SOUND: The running stops.

HOLBROOK

(dreamy)

Oh my. He was so far away. And there were so many trees, I didn’t think it could happen so fast.

CRAIG

Wanda, we have to keep moving.

HOLBROOK

It’s too late. I can’t run. I can barely… *yawn* …keep my eyes open.

CRAIG

No!

HOLBROOK

(dreamy)

Just leave me here Jefferson. Maybe once I explain everything, we can put this whole thing behind us and everyone can just live together and let each other just…be. It’ll all be a lot clearer. No more need to run. I’m…

*yawn*

…sorry, Jeff. I know how much a successful operation means to you.

CRAIG

Don’t worry about it, Wanda. Here, lean forward, rest your eyes.

SOUND: Craig pulls a pistol out of his shoulder holster. Brewster and Nicole run in and skid to a halt.

BREWSTER

Sir, they are nearing the trailhead. We have to make for the viaduct. There is very little time.

HOLBROOK

Ah, you’re here. And I never knew your name. Maybe we’ll get to know each other better, after…

SOUND: Craig chambers a bullet in the pistol.

BREWSTER

Sir, what are you doing?

CRAIG

They got her, Thee. And I can’t leave her here.

NICOLE

What? Wait, we can carry her. She might be a Beta or-

SOUND: Gunshot, followed by Holbrook’s body collapsing against a tree.

CRAIG

Let’s go.

NICOLE

(sobbing)

Oh my. God.

CRAIG

Thee, take Nikki’s hand. Let’s GO.

SOUND: Craig runs through the brush.

BREWSTER

Here, come with me Nicole.

SOUND: Brewster starts to run too, while Nicole drags a little behind.

NICOLE

How could he do that? Without giving her the tests?

BREWSTER

The odds…against any random human…being a Beta…are more than six thousand to one. And there was no time, they’re almost here.

NICOLE

Where’d he even go? Did he leave us?

BREWSTER

He’s won’t be waiting on us. He’ll be eager to get back to HQ and make someone pay for this.

NICOLE

Who?

BREWSTER

That will be up to him. Here’s the edge of the viaduct. Duck your head in.

NICOLE

(in pain)

Ahhh!

SOUND: Nicole’s yell transitions into AM radio squawk.

SETTING: Craig’s office. Craig is typing on his keyboard.

WOMAN 1 (on radio)

State police have found the dead body of Wanda Holbrook, a resident of an out-of-state Overlook. Professor Holbrook was killed by a gunshot from a person or persons unknown. Authorities are now investigating both the homicide and the chain of events that led Professor Holbrook to have traveled so far from her assigned area. Community organizer Jordan Channing, who was found near the scene, is being held as a potential witness. Any individuals with knowledge of the homicide or of Ms. Holbrook’s presence in this state are strongly encouraged to come forward.

SOUND: Knock on the door. Craig turns off the radio.

CRAIG

Come in, Thee.

BREWSTER

Sir.

CRAIG

Did everyone make it out all right?

BREWSTER
All of our sentries and watchers got away completely clean. It’ll be some time before we hear about Professor Holbrook’s Guides. It seems like they should have been clear long before the raid began, but that depends on the nature and source of the information the Lookers were acting on.

CRAIG
Yes it does. How is that cut on Nikki’s head?

BREWSTER
We have cleaned it up, it does not look infected, and she says her tetanus shot is current. I sent her to the house of a medic a few minutes from here to rest and be properly examined.

CRAIG

(manically bitter)

When did she get the shot? Was it one of our doctors or one of theirs?

BREWSTER

I did not think to ask.

CRAIG

(depressively bitter)

No you didn’t, because it doesn’t matter. Some germ sitting on a jagged bit of metal in a drain pipe is the common enemy of humanity, Lookers AND Immune.

BREWSTER

(trying to manage him)

Yes, sir. Speaking of that pipe, perhaps you should change your clothes?

CRAIG

*mirthless chuckle*

Stinking up the place pretty bad, aren’t I?

BREWSTER

I’ve smelled worse. I was thinking more that you might get a rash.

CRAIG

I’ll take care of all that once I’ve set things in motion. Any word on Jordan?

BREWSTER

Mr. Channing is still being detained, but our liaison was told he would be released in the morning.

CRAIG

God damn. Those things are truthful to a fault, aren’t they? That’s the problem with a telepathic society, your spokesman can’t even say: “I don’t know.”

BREWSTER

Yes, sir.

CRAIG
They had to find someone who was more like us, a kind of person they didn’t even know existed, just to facilitate their invasion. Or they’d have been sunk.

BREWSTER

*frustrated sigh*

Sir?

CRAIG

It’s a simple fact. Without the traitor they’d have been sunk.

BREWSTER

Respectfully, sir, I’m not sure “sunk” is the word. Things were going very fast even before Carrie Kray made her first broadcast. And even then a lot of people did not believe her.

CRAIG

But just think of it Thee, what even a small change in those first days could have done. Just slow down the tidal wave a little and people could have been prepared. Let’s grant, that maybe only from three percent to…let’s say five percent would have been overlooked. That’s three to five times as many real human beings walking the Earth, working the problems, doing research. Keeping us company. Three to five times as many chances to roll back this thing.

BREWSTER

Sir, I’ve never known you to waste time on useless speculation.

CRAIG

But I’m starting now, eh? Okay, you win. I can’t think about the damage that’s already been done, I have to think of future damage. And that’s what I need to talk to you about before I can think about washing off this scum.

SOUND: Laser printer prints a page.

CRAIG

When is your next rendezvous window with Roxanne Scholl?

BREWSTER

We are in one now.

CRAIG
Now? At this time of night?

BREWSTER

She says she has a pattern of sneaking out to meet her boyfriend. She has never been knowingly caught at it, but even odds the Lookers know about it, and she thinks it makes for a good pretext in any case.

CRAIG

You sound like you admire her.

BREWSTER

I respect her discretion. She seems like she has the makings of someone useful, with a little work. As you say, we can not afford to waste anyone.

CRAIG

I’m sure I said something like that. But that doesn’t make everyone equally valuable. Some people should be priorities.

BREWSTER

(really not knowing where this is going)

Of course, sir.

CRAIG

Thee. Go meet with Scholl, and bring her here. Put her in room D. Round up two of our people to take with you…no, make it three, there might be the boyfriend to deal with. But keep them out of sight unless you need them, so you don’t spook her unnecessarily.

BREWSTER

Yes…sir. But, why even bring them at all? She has been very willing to come forward thus far.

CRAIG
Be prepared, Thee.

BREWSTER

And what is my authority for detaining a citizen, if it comes to that?

CRAIG

It’s right there on the printer. Pick it up.

SOUND: Brewster picks the page off the printer.

BREWSTER

(reading)

Suspicion of Alpha Immunity?

CRAIG

As Operations Coordinator for this district I have the responsibility to immediately detain any such person I find before they can go back to their masters.

BREWSTER

(objecting)

Sir!

CRAIG

Go, Ensign Brewster. Get on your way before she does exactly that. That is a direct order.

BREWSTER

I will, sir. But I think you may be jumping to conclusions.

CRAIG

We’ll find out. But in the meantime I’m taking no chances. Do your job.

BREWSTER

Yes, sir. Of course.

SOUND: Brewster crosses the room and opens the door.

CRAIG

And Brewster?

BREWSTER

Yes, sir?

CRAIG

Were you thinking of taking Nikki?

BREWSTER

I was, sir. If she’s feeling up to it.

CRAIG

Well, don’t.

BREWSTER
She might be useful, sir. Scholl might respond well to a familiar face.

CRAIG

Quite possibly. But Nikki’s not ready do that kind of thing knowingly, or for the emotional fallout of doing it unknowingly. Know your tools, and don’t break them.

BREWSTER

Yes sir. I’ll leave immediately, and report back when we have her.

SOUND: Craig goes back to typing.

BREWSTER

But sir, please have a shower and change while I am gone.

CRAIG

Will do, Three. Just need to lay out everything nice and neat for Jordan to read when he gets out. How we failed, where the weak link was, and how we’re setting it right again.

BREWSTER

And making someone pay?

CRAIG

That’s not the top priority, Brewster. That’s just the cherry on top.

SILENCE

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