Authors: Chris Carter
The X Files
Fight the Future
Screenplay by Chris Carter
Adapted by Elizabeth Hand
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NORTH TEXAS 35000 B.C.
The desolated landscape stretches from hori-zon to horizon, all snow and ice and vast gray sky. In the distance two tiny figures appear, running desperately. They are manlike, with matted hair and coarse features, their bodies hidden beneath rough garments made of leather. They run across the white waste-land, bodies bent as if they are scanning the ground underfoot for prints. The trail they seem to follow leads to a crevice, a triangular fissure between slabs of ice and collapsed stone. At the mouth of the cave the prints dis-appear. One of the primitive men stoops to peer inside. They enter the cave.
Inside, the cave walls spiral; they are ribbed with ice that glistens faintly. The first primi-tive lights his torch. As he holds it up, his companion grabs his arm and points to where the cave twists a few yards ahead of them. There a soft patch of virgin snow bears the imprint of what they have been following. The torch sputters, and as though in reply a distinct scrabbling echoes back to them from the dark-ness ahead. The two primitives move quickly now. Ahead the cave splits into two tunnels. Wordlessly, they each choose a different fork.
The first primitive moves quietly through the tunnel. At the far end he finds an opening barely wide enough for a man to squeeze through. He thrusts his torch into the opening, twisting it back and forth. He propels himself through the hole and drops into the next chamber.
It takes a moment to catch his breath. When he does, he raises the torch and peers around. He is in a roughly circular cavern per-haps thirty feet across, its walls shimmering ice nicked here and there by rocky outcroppings. One of these is larger than the rest. Gazing at it, the primitive frowns, then steps toward it.
Inches away from the outcropping he halts and reaches to touch what he sees—the body of another man, clad in furs and leather, a skin of ice encasing him from head to foot. Before he can reach it something powerful strikes him from behind.
With a cry the primitive falls, the torch hurling from him to drop sputtering to the floor. He curls into a ball, one hand clenched against his chest with the knife pointing out-ward; but something is already there, claws tearing at his clothes, shredding the thick pro-tective layers of fur and stiff leather as though they were dry grass. The primitive cries out again. He rolls to one side, shoving his elbow into the creature's face, and strikes blindly and desperately with his knife. It shrieks; he feels something warm and viscous spurt onto his hand. With a groan the primitive pulls away, staggering to the wall. He hears it thrashing in the darkness at his feet.
The primitive roars and strikes at it again, feels his knife shear through its skin. But there is no reassuring bite of bone and muscle beneath his hand; it is as though his knife is mired in the body. With a grunt the primitive yanks his knife back.
Too fast. The next instant he loses his bal-ance and falls, and the thing is on him, its claws tearing at his thighs. His knife skids across the floor. Before he can reach for it a shadow fills the chamber.
The cave seems to spin as light radiates everywhere, finally coalescing into the torch held high by the second primitive who has just appeared in the chamber. The creature looks up. The second primitive raises a knife and with a cry drives it into the creature.
A deafening shriek as the thing sprawls backward. A moment and the primitive is upon it, driving the knife into it again and again as it tries to escape. With shocking strength and speed the creature throws the primitive to the cave floor.
Dazed, the primitive comes to his feet poised to attack, but the creature has vanished. He pauses, gasping for breath, and gazes down at his fallen companion. Blood soaks his gar-ments, and his eyes are already clouded. He is dead. The primitive turns away, searching for his enemy. His eyes dart as he moves through the cave. In a nearby chamber he comes upon the fallen body of his enemy. Warily he approaches waving the torch at the creature's head. Slowly its eyes open. For a brief moment the gaze of the hunter and the hunted meet.
The primitive raises his knife to strike the final blow. Before his arm drops the creature swiftly attacks.
In one motion the primitive drops the torch and with his other hand brings his knife forward, so that it slides through the creature's upper body. He withdraws it and stabs again, harder this time, while the crea-ture writhes and the cavern resounds with its cries; he strikes it until it lies motionless upon the floor.
The primitive draws back, breathing hard, and leans upon his weapon. In front of him his prey lies dead. Something black oozes from the creature's wounds. In the torchlight it seems to thicken and pool.
As he stares at it, the primi-tive frowns.
There is a tiny fissure in the cavern floor.
The black, oily substance moves toward it. Not naturally like water seeking its level, but like something alive. He watches, mesmerized, as the oil fills the crevice almost to overflowing, then disappears down the crack. It is several moments before he notices something else.
Across his chest are dark blots where the creature's blood has spattered him. The primi-tive's gaze is drawn to a single oily drop. He stares at it, brows furrowing. His expression changes, from annoyance to curiosity to hor-ror. There are drops of black ooze everywhere upon him, crawling up his torso, along his arms, across the tops of his thighs, and over his chest. He grunts and begins brushing at them, but they will not move. He opens his mouth to scream but no sound comes out.
BLACKWOOD, TEXAS PRESENT DAY
Without warning a boy plunged through the roof of the cave.
"Stevie? Hey, Stevie—you okay?" a voice called from the opening above him. Three other boys stood there, peering nervously through the hole. For the last few days they'd been building a fort there, digging and hammering at the ground. Behind them, sun glared off the hard-baked earth. Miles to the east, the glittering contours of the Dallas skyline reared against the horizon. In the near-distance stretched a housing develop-ment, identical buildings scattered across a dun-colored landscape.
On the floor of the cave, Stevie lay winded. "I got—I got—I got the wind knocked out of me," he gasped at last.
Relieved laughter. Jason's face appeared alongside Jeremy's. "Looks like you were right, Stevie," he called down. "Looks like a cave or something."
Jeremy jostled the other boys, trying to get a better view. "What's down there, Stevie? Anything?"
Slowly Stevie got to his feet. He took a few unsteady steps. In the darkness something glis-tened, something round and smooth and roughly the size of a soccer ball. He picked it up and tilted it very carefully, so that the light struck it and it seemed to glow in his hands.
"Stevie?" Jeremy called again. "C'mon, what'd you find?"
"Human skull," breathed Stevie. "It's a human
Jason whooped. "Toss it up here, dude!"
Stevie shook his head. "No
I found it. It's mine." He stood, looking around in amazement. "Holy cow. Anyways, there's bones all over the place down here."
He took a few steps back toward the pool of sunlight. He looked down, and saw that he was standing in some kind of oil slick. When he tried pulling his foot up, the ground sucked at the sole of his sneaker.
"Shit," he murmured, clutching the skull to him. "What the—"
And then he saw that the oil was every-where, not just beneath his feet, but seeping up from cracks in the rock. And it was moving. Moving toward
. Black oil oozed up beneath his foot and wriggled down and into his sneaker. The skull fell from his hands and bounced across the stony floor as he tugged at his shorts and stared at the exposed skin of his leg.
Beneath the flesh something moved; a writhing thing as long as his finger. Only now there was more than one, there were dozens of them, all burrowing under his skin and moving upward. And there was something else, some-thing just as frightening: where the black oil passed, his limbs were left feeling numb and frozen. Paralyzed.
"Stevie?" Jeremy stared down into the darkness. "Hey, Stevie?"
Stevie grunted but did not look up at him. Jeremy watched, unsure whether this was some kind of joke. "Stevie, you better not—"
"Stevie?" the other boys chimed in. "You okay?"
Stevie was definitely not okay. As they stared, Stevie's head fell backward so that he seemed to stare straight up at them, and in the glaring desert light they could see his eyes first filling with darkness and then turning com-pletely, unnaturally black.
"Hey, man," whispered Jason. "Let's get outta here."
"Wait," said Jeremy. "We should help him—"
Jason and the other boy pulled him away. Jeremy went with them reluctantly, his foot-steps echoing loudly against the dusty ground.
Sirens wailed counterpoint to the rush of wind over the plain. In the housing development doors slammed as people began to file onto their front steps a few at a time. At the end of one driveway, a spare figure in jeans and dark T-shirt hugged her arms as she scanned the horizon, then began to walk down the street out of the development.
The fire engines were already there. Two men in full rescue mode jumped from the hook-and-ladder vehicle, disengaged a ladder, and hurried toward the hole left by the boys. Several other men followed them as the cap-tain pulled up in his car and hopped out, radio in hand.
"This is Captain Miles Cooles," he recited. "We've got a rescue situation in progress."
He stepped toward the hole. The three lead firemen had already slung the ladder down there, and one of them quickly stepped down it. His helmet gleamed in the sunlight, then winked from view as he reached the bottom and stepped away from the ladder.
"What you got down there, J.C.?" Cooles yelled after him. There was no response, and a moment later the second and third men fol-lowed the first into the darkness.
Outside, the sun beat mercilessly upon the growing circle of parents and children that had gathered.
Captain Cooles stood silently, his weathered face taut with concern as he stared at the sinkhole. After a moment he sent two more men down.
Cooles glanced up sharply. A low ominous
echoed through the torrid air, as a helicopter mysteriously materialized from the glowing sunset. Around him more and more peo-ple were slowly appearing, parents and children all staring at the western horizon. Faster than seemed possible the helicopter approached the huddled group, banked sharply, and then hovered above them. People clapped their palms over their ears and shaded their eyes as clouds of dust rose and the unmarked copter landed gently on the parched earth.
What the hell
? thought Cooles. The heli-copter's side door flew open, and five figures jumped out.
Swathed in white Hazardous Materials suits, their faces hidden behind heavy masks, they carried a gleaming metal lit-ter capped by a translucent plastic bubble, like an immense beetle carapace. They headed immediately for the hole. Cooles nodded and started after them, but before he had gone two paces another man debarked from the heli-copter, a tall gaunt figure in white oxford-cloth shirt, his tie flapping in the propellers' back-wash.
"Get those people back!" the man yelled, pointing to where the crowd was drifting curi-ously after the paramedics. A plastic tag round his neck identified him as Dr. Ben Bronschweig. "Get them out of here!"