Copyright © 1986 by O. Sharp.
Inspired by the table of Geologic Time And Formations in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977, page 481.
FADE IN: EXTERIOR: DOWNTOWN CHICAGO - STATE STREET - 620 MILLION YEARS AGO Banners in store windows proclaim things like "Proterozoic Era Closeout - All Sales are Final" and "Kinney's Shoes are Joining the World in Announcing the New Cambrian Geologic Period". Festive mood. Camera pans around a corner, and looks down Van Buren Avenue. Two happy INVERTIBRATES are loading packages into a car. MALE INVERTIBRATE Well, Polly, looks like we're getting our shopping done. FEMALE INVERTIBRATE You bet, John! We're gonna be all stocked up on single-cell life forms. And just in time for the holidays, too. MALE INVERTIBRATE Boy, oh, boy! I'm looking forward to that party. You know, it seems like the Proterozoic era just started - and, here, it's already been 800 million years. FEMALE INVERTIBRATE (giving the Male Invertibrate a hug) Oh, John, don't get all sentimental. (playfully) After all, we've still got lots of evolving to do! MALE INVERTIBRATE ("gee-whiz" smile) Yeah, Polly, I guess you're right. (opening the door for her) You go ahead and head home. I just want to go in and see if Hillman's has any of those new marine algae in stock. FEMALE INVERTIBRATE Okay. See you back at the deep spot! Polly the Invertibrate starts the car and drives deeper underwater. John Invertibrate slithers up the street. EXT. DOWNTOWN CHICAGO - INTERSECTION OF VAN BUREN AND LASALLE John Invertibrate is waiting for the light to change. A couple of SPORES OF UNCERTAIN RELATIONSHIP go by. Suddenly three MULTICELLULAR VASCULAR ENTITIES step out of nowhere and grab the Invertibrate. FIRST MULTICELLULAR VASCULAR ENTITY All right, buddy, move it. In here. The Vascular Entities push the Male Invertibrate into an alley. EXT. IN THE ALLEY John Invertibrate is pushed up against a dumpster. FIRST VASCULAR ENTITY (nastily) Make yourself at home. MALE INVERTIBRATE What do you want? SECOND VASCULAR ENTITY We won't keep you long. THIRD VASCULAR ENTITY All we want is the secret. MALE INVERTIBRATE Wha - what secret? FIRST VASCULAR ENTITY Sex! MALE INVERTIBRATE (confused) What? FIRST VASCULAR ENTITY Sex! Your genetic key to multicellular specialization! How do you pass on the code? MALE INVERTIBRATE (defiantly) I'll never tell you! FIRST VASCULAR ENTITY Oh, you won't, eh? (shouting) You wouldn't want anything to happen to your pretty Polly Invertibrate, would you? MALE INVERTIBRATE (horrified) Polly? If you touch one pseudopod on her head - THIRD VASCULAR ENTITY Oh, Polly is perfectly safe - as long as you tell us what we want to know! Otherwise... MALE INVERTIBRATE All right, all right! I'll tell you! It has to do with recombinant DNA, and basic proteins are used as the basis for a genetic code which is held by carbon and nitrogen in a double-helix of cross-linked purine and pyrimidine bases! Successive recombinant forms are accepted or rejected by later generations of the structure through survival patterns created by the offspring of the original pairing of the parents' genetic matrices! SECOND VASCULAR ENTITY And the original DNA strand? MALE INVERTIBRATE It divides into two single-helix patterns, and both halves rebuild themselves through icosahedral patterns of enzyme bonding! The three Multicellular Vascular Entities release the Male Invertibrate. FIRST VASCULAR ENTITY All right, invertibrate. We'll let you go. But if you breathe one word of this to a higher form of life, or if you even think of leaving town... you'll be hearing from us! The three Vascular Entities leave. John Invertibrate slumps down behind the dumpster in terror. FADE OUT
FADE IN: EXTERIOR: NEW YORK CITY - SOUTH BROOKLYN (SHEEPSHEAD BAY) - PALEOZOIC ERA, DEVONIAN GEOLOGIC PERIOD - NOON Various AMPHIBIANS are in evidence, crawling up out of the sea and sightseeing on the Boardwalk. Camera focuses up on two CEPHALOPODS leaning against a railing. Long pause. One of them flips listlessly through a copy of the Racing Form. After a moment, the other Cephalopod taps the one on the shoulder and points a tentacle at a largish BIVALVE MOLLUSK dowm the walk. FIRST CEPHALOPOD That's him... let's go. The two Cephalopods follow the Bivalve Mollusk. MONTAGE - THE BOARDWALK, ORIENTAL AVENUE, SOUTH AMHEARST STREET The Bivalve Mollusk moves to a doorway on Amhearst Street, looks behind him, and enters. The two Cephalopods come up to the door a moment later, check the door, and quietly enter. INTERIOR: AN ABANDONED WAREHOUSE The two Cephalopods enter. The Bivalve Mollusk is seated behind a desk, awaiting them. BIVALVE MOLLUSK (quietly and in control) I have the money. I presume you have the information. One of the Cephalopods steps forward, gestures for the other to stand by the door. CEPHALOPOD Let's settle the money first. BIVALVE MOLLUSK We agreed on fifty thousand, correct? CEPHALOPOD Fifty thousand in cash. And up front, in case you've forgotten. BIVALVE MOLLUSK Don't worry, the cash is here. And I'll give it to you - as soon as you provide me with the information. CEPHALOPOD Cash first. I don't trust you members of the Lamellibranchia family. We have more tentacles than you, but you still think your gills make you better. BIVALVE MOLLUSK You Cephalopods will never understand, will you? (with a sigh) Very well. The money is here, in the top drawer. Now give me the information you brought me. The Bivalve Mollusk opens the top drawer of the desk; a large number of bills can be seen within. The Cephalopod looks for a moment, nods. CEPHALOPOD You're still using photosynthesis. BIVALVE MOLLUSK (annoyed) Of course we are. What else is there? CEPHALOPOD Over in the South Bronx, we're not using photosynthesis any more. A long pause. The Bivalve Mollusk stares at the Cephalopod. BIVALVE MOLLUSK (quietly suspending his disbelief) What are you using? CEPHALOPOD (with a slight smile) Digestion. Lycopodeums, equisetums, mosses... a variety of plant life. They make up a compound which can be eaten, dissolved internally, broken down into simpler chemical compounds! These latter compounds are consumed for energy on a cell-by- cell basis. BIVALVE MOLLUSK By "eaten", I presume you mean to ingest, chew, or swallow in turn. CEPHALOPOD That's right. BIVALVE MOLLUSK That's horrible. Barbaric. (suppressing nausea) Only someone from the Bronx could come up with it. CEPHALOPOD (grinning) We got it from Queens. (setting a vial on the counter) Here's the DNA template. We'll just take the money and wish you good luck. The Cephalopod reaches for the money, but the Bivalve Mollusk quietly closes the drawer. BIVALVE MOLLUSK (quietly) I'm sure your DNA is quite accurate. The only problem is that we've been in contact with Queens, too. (a pause; the Cephalopod's eyes widen) Oh, no, they didn't tell us about this. But they did tell me the part that you've been holding out on. CEPHALOPOD (quickly) Held back? I haven't held back nothun'. BIVALVE MOLLUSK Oh yes, you have. You didn't tell us about the newest defensive processes they've evolved. You weren't planning to, either - you were going to offer us this digestion, and allay our suspicions for awhile until you were ready to take over. (smiles thinly) But we did some evolving, too. CEPHALOPOD What do you mean? BIVALVE MOLLUSK I mean you're not going to move into our territory. Not while there's still survival of the fittest. The Bivalve Mollusk gestures, and four EXOSKELETONED ECHINODERMS step out from behind some crates and tear the Cephalopod to shreds. The other Cephalopod, standing by the door all this time, turns and flees. The Bivalve Mollusk stands and points. BIVALVE MOLLUSK Get him, you fools! If he reports back to his bosses, we'll have a gang war! Get him! The four Exoskeletoned Echinoderms run after the escaping Cephalopod. The Bivalve Mollusk runs to the door, looks out. After a moment, he moves nervously back to the desk, grasps the DNA vial. A LIMPET enters from the next room. LIMPET You're taking one hell of a chance, shellfish. We have no idea how many exoskeletons they've evolved on the North Side. If this "digestion" doesn't work, you may have just bought extinction for our entire species. BIVALVE MOLLUSK Don't worry. I tell you, this digestion is more important than you realize. LIMPET It had better be... The Bivalve Mollusk turns away, looks again at the vial... FADE OUT
FADE IN: MONTAGE: THE MESOZOIC ERA - VARIOUS EXTERIOR LOCATIONS Plants begin to flower for the first time in three billion years. One particularly beautiful TEASEL SHRUB grows up, begins to flower, and is devoured by a pack of MARSUPIALS. Montage continues with various PLANTS being attacked and eaten by a variety of MAMMALS, REPTILES, and BIRDS. Last shot is an OLIVE PLANT, which is violently uprooted and murdered by two SHREWS. DISSOLVE TO: EXTERIOR: SAN FRANCISCO - CONVENTION CENTER - NOON - MESOZOIC ERA, UPPER CRETACEOUS EPOCH Establishing shot. Thousands of PLANTS can be seen entering. INTERIOR: CONFERENCE CENTER - MAIN GALLERY Crowded with plants of all descriptions. A LILY is at the podium. LILY ...And as you all know, the mammals are now working to develop live birth of their young. This increases the threat that the animals are providing us plants, and therefore we must take action! A CONIFER IN THE CROWD Action? What action? A NIGHTSHADE We've tried everything! LILY We can try more defensive mutations - spines, hard shells, acidic liquids- A CACTUS IN THE BACK Don't you think we've tried that? It's no good! Somebody just evolves a new way to eat us! LILY Then we'll just have to evolve new species. SOME WHEAT NEAR THE PODIUM We grasses and cereals are practically brand-new! We've only been around for - ha! hardly even five million years - and they're already driving us to extinction! A MOSS It's the mammals that are doing the worst of it! A LYCOPODEUM SPORE No! It's the reptiles! SHOUTS FROM THE FLOOR (ad-libbed) No! The mammals! The reptiles! The birds!... Loud shouts from all over the floor. The Lily tries vainly to regain order. LILY Quiet! Quiet! We'll never get anywhere unless we cooperate! Come to order! Come to order! A CONIFER What can we do? A LOUD AUTHORITATIVE VOICE FROM THE DOOR You can do more than you think. Everyone turns and gasps. In strides MR. POTATO HEAD, relative of the Nightshade genus and genetic mutant. MR. POTATO HEAD You have got a chance against these herbivores, but it won't be easy. He begins making his way to the podium through the amazed crowd... A SYCAMORE But how? MR. POTATO HEAD You're all talking about re- evolving yourselves... which is good, but it doesn't get to the heart of the problem. What you need to do is re-evolve the enemy. A murmur through the crowd. Mr. Potato Head reaches the podium. A SMALL SHAMROCK Re-evolve them? MR. POTATO HEAD Yes! AN EVERGREEN TREE But they depend on digestion now. They'll never go back to photosynthesis! MR. POTATO HEAD You're thinking along the wrong lines. It's true, you'll never get them to turn back to the Sun. But if you all cooperate with each other, you can get them to stop attacking you... and they'll think they're making progress as well! LILY (standing next to him on the podium) Progress? How can you convince them of that? MR. POTATO HEAD Let me explain it to you... Music wells up. Mr. Potato Head begins to outline his plan. Camera pulls slowly away from the podium... FADE OUT
FADE IN: EXTERIOR: SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - LINCOLN PARK - CENOZOIC ERA - TERTIARY PERIOD - MIOCENE EPOCH - 6:59 AM An ORANGE TREE stands in a field of wild RAMPION. A pair of FORAGING RABBITS hop in, begin to eat some of the Rampion. A MOUNTAIN LION and a GRIZZLY BEAR walk up to the Orange Tree. The Bear looks at the Tree's fruit. GRIZZLY BEAR Hm... still not ripe yet. Another couple of days. MOUNTAIN LION (falling back on their conversation of a moment earlier) ...So I said to him, "Ape," I said, "I don't give a damn if you have opposable thumbs or not. The key to getting along is gonna be claws." And you know what he says? He says, "You're wrong, Lion. It's all cranial capacity and dexterity. We're gonna be controlling the whole damn world, and you're going to be fighting extinction!" How do you like that? GRIZZLY BEAR Extinction? He really said that? MOUNTAIN LION He sure did! Damndest thing I'd ever heard. The Grizzly Bear and the Lion prepare to eat some of the Rampion covering the ground. ORANGE TREE Hey - hey, Bear! Lion! GRIZZLY BEAR Who's that? ORANGE TREE It's me. MOUNTAIN LION What do you want, tree? ORANGE TREE (quietly) You really gonna eat that rampion? GRIZZLY BEAR (with a shrug) Sure. Why not? ORANGE TREE See those two rabbits over there? GRIZZLY BEAR (glancing over his shoulder) Yeah... what about 'em? ORANGE TREE They're eating rampion, too. MOUNTAIN LION Sure. So? Rampion's good this time of year. ORANGE TREE Well, it's just that... GRIZZLY BEAR What? ORANGE TREE (feigning indifference) Oh, never mind. Forget it. MOUNTAIN LION What? ORANGE TREE You probably wouldn't care, anyway. LION AND BEAR TOGETHER Tell us! ORANGE TREE (whispered) Well, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but... You know what happens when you eat a rabbit? GRIZZLY BEAR (offended by the whole idea) Eat a- MOUNTAIN LION (quick glance at the rabbits) Ssssshhh! (whispered to the Tree) What? ORANGE TREE When you eat the rabbit, you get the same amount of nutrition as all the food the rabbit has eaten in its entire life - all the rampion, all the carrots, all the lettuce, all the rest of it! All at once! (a beat) That's what they say. The Grizzly Bear and the Mountain Lion are listening, fascinated in spite of themselves. MOUNTAIN LION Are - are you serious? ORANGE TREE Sure I'm serious! Really! (with a conspiratorial look) ...Give it a try. The Mountain Lion and Grizzly Bear give the Orange Tree a look, step away a few paces. GRIZZLY BEAR D'you suppose it's true? MOUNTAIN LION I don't know. It makes sense, though... I'd never really thought about it that way before... The Mountain Lion is eyeing the two Rabbits. GRIZZLY BEAR (noticing the Lion's glance) Look, are you sure you wanna do this? MOUNTAIN LION (taking a deep breath) I don't know... but... damn it, if he's right...! A long pause. Suddenly the Mountain Lion leaps up, pounces with fully-extended claws straight towards one of the Rabbits. MOUNTAIN LION Rrrrrrrraaoooooowwwwwwwrrrrrrr! RABBIT VICTIM Oh, my God! The Lion brings down one of the Rabbits. The other Rabbit goes bounding away. MOUNTAIN LION (his mouth full) Mmmmm... say, this is fantastic! You've gotta try this! GRIZZLY BEAR Really? Lemme have a bite. MOUNTAIN LION (pulling the dead rabbit closer to him) No way. This is mine. You've gotta go get your own. The Grizzly Bear snorts, chases the remaining Rabbit offscreen. SURVIVING RABBIT (heard offscreen) Hellp! Helllllllllp! Hellp... Long pause. The Mountain Lion finishes off the rabbit, walks away. The Rampion turns to the Orange Tree. RAMPION (a hushed whisper) Did you see that? It worked! ORANGE TREE That's incredible. That's simply incredible. DISSOLVE TO: MONTAGE - THE MIOCENE EPOCH Other ANIMALS can be seen foraging among the PLANTS. In each shot a PLANT whispers something to one of the ANIMALS, the Animal regards the other Animals suspiciously, and then attacks. A group of HAWKS can be seen descending on some SHREWS. An AMPHIBIAN begins swallowing some benevolent INSECTS. A POLAR BEAR begins grabbing some SALMON out of a river. Some PRIMATES can be seen attacking some OTHER PRIMATES. The montage continues for some time. Exciting Jimmy Page guitar solo played under it all. DISSOLVE TO: EXTERIOR: THE PEAK OF MOUNT EVEREST - FIRST DAY OF THE PLIOCENE EPOCH Mr. Potato Head has been climbing for hours. Finally he reaches the summit. He moves to the peak and sits down next to his guide and mentor, the OLD SPORE. They sit in silence for a moment in the Sunlight. MR. POTATO HEAD Hello, old friend. THE OLD SPORE Ah... Mr. Potato Head. How has your task been going? MR. POTATO HEAD It's been going perfectly. The animal forms of life are in complete chaos. Thousands of species have become carnivores - thousands more are going to be omnivores. In time they'll destroy each other, and all the plants will be safe. The Old Spore shakes its head sadly. THE OLD SPORE I'm afraid you haven't yet completed your task, my young pupil. You see only a part of the picture. In - oh, no more than fifty million years - the omnivores will have all but taken over. MR. POTATO HEAD Then the plants aren't safe yet. THE OLD SPORE Not at all. Not at all, my lad. MR. POTATO HEAD What can I do? The Old Spore looks up at the life-giving Sun. A photosynthetic ripple goes through him, gives him new strength. THE OLD SPORE It will take time... You must go out, go forth and create a new form of life. Something big enough, strong enough to destroy all the others. And this new breed must be something inocuous, something they'd never suspect until it was too late. MR. POTATO HEAD But how will I do that? THE OLD SPORE Do not worry, my disciple. The omnivores are all fools - they are notoriously short-sighted. Just let it evolve like any other species. (with a mischevious chuckle) They'll never even suspect the danger, so wrapped up are they with their own trivial concerns. MR. POTATO HEAD But should it be real small, like a bacterium, or- THE OLD SPORE No, no! Make it as big as you like. I assure you, they won't even notice. They'll scratch their heads in puzzlement, give up, and then be devoured before they even realize what happened. (a beat) Now go, my young student - go and save your fellow plants. MR. POTATO HEAD As you wish, my old friend. Mr. Potato Head turns, starts down the mountain. The Old Spore smiles. FADE OUT
FADE IN: EXTERIOR: THE COASTS OF OREGON - CENOZOIC ERA - QUARTERNARY PERIOD - HOLOCENE EPOCH - A CLIFF OVERLOOKING THE COAST - EARLY MORNING A group of WHALES can be seen on the shore. Standing on the cliffs are a group of AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, looking down at the coast with binoculars. A MARINE BIOLOGIST The whales are swimming onto the land again. ANOTHER SCIENTIST Now why in the world do they keep doing that? Camera holds on the scene for a long moment. FADE OUT.