Primer (2004) Script

Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to read this... and you're going to listen, and you're going to stay on the line.

You're not going to interrupt. You're not going to speak for any reason.

Now, some of this you know. I'm going to start at the top of the page.

Meticulous, yes. Methodical. Educated.

They were these things.

Nothing extreme. Like anyone, they varied.

There were days of mistakes and laziness and infighting.

And there were days, good days, when by anyone's judgment... they would have to be considered clever.

No one would say that what they were doing was complicated.

It wouldn't even be considered new. Except maybe in the geological sense.

They took from their surroundings what was needed... and made of it something more.

We haven't even set up an appointment. What order date did you put on this?

The 28th. Why? I don't know... Yeah, I'm putting 28th.

Have you thought any more about what you want to put forward?

Not really. Because I was...

I mean I haven't changed my mind or anything.

Phillip and I were talking, and we think it could be good. It'd be fun.

Nobody's saying it wouldn't be fun.

The time for jacking around with Tesla coils and ball lightning in the garage is over.

Maybe you should try it on your own in your free time.

My free time? The free time after the 50 hours a week at work... or after the 30 hours of free time I already spend in that garage?

And it's not a Tesla coil.

I could save a few minutes a day by eating on the toilet.

How many patents do we have? In the last 14 months?

Did you sign the agreement? Nobody signed the agreement.

Doesn't matter, we're sticking to the agreement.

Name one thing out of that garage that's remotely profitable.

I don't see anybody quitting their jobs because of it. Are you?

Abe just means that right now the JTAG cards are it.

When you look at the addresses, we have a lot of apartments. A lot of residences.

But these are not the bulk orders to the OEMs or retail giants.

These are the quiet basement... Hackers.

Yeah, hacker wannabes testing their dads' old motherboards.

And I know that a lot of that is my fault, admittedly, you know.

With everything last year, and the doubletalk we were getting from Platts... and all the stuff we won't get into now... We should get into it.

I'm sorry. What?

Go ahead. Tell him.

We should get into it. I talked to my brother today.

He knows of two other cases like that at his firm.

Let Platts know that we're talking about it.

Look, forget Platts.

This has got to be about what has the best chance of going to market... and what is going to get us VC attention.

Look, I stuck by you guys when it was your turn.

And I wasn't 100% sure of what we were doing... or even if I didn't agree, maybe.

But if it's my turn... if we're still playing by the rules, then this is what I want to try.

Here, take it. They said it wouldn't hold a freeze.

Robert, please. It's not going to hold.

It's going to go bad in my car. It'll go bad here. Okay, thanks.

Good night, all. See you.

We just got done giving this huge speech... We gave the speech?

We just got done. It was five minutes ago.

I'm the one that forced the issue. They're onto us because I suck as the bad cop.

You should do it. You could fake it better. I don't know about that.

As long as we're going down this road where it's eighth grade physics... and happy fun time out in that garage, I think we could stand to try this.

Phillip and Robert are gung ho on theirs, and that's fine.

But you know I have no interest in that.

I know you have no interest, besides the fact... that Phillip and Robert don't even need us. They just want to use the equipment.

For what I want to do? We don't need them.

Not even Phillip, because it doesn't need software.

Is she asleep? No, and she needs a bath.

She'll wind up in the closet if I do it. That's fine.

You know, even if Robert's okay with it, and he won't be.

I don't understand what that thing will do. We'll let them go at it for two months.

They do theirs, we do ours. They said it'd take 14 hours.

Don't eat that. Seriously, it's bad.

We threw the first couple of batches out. The filter.

What about crushed?

These guys are funded.

These guys are... What? Liquid helium. These guys are funded.

That's what this is.

That's the whole difference. That's what the box is.

We don't have to play the game where we're going back and forth... coming up with innovative ways to make it colder and unusable in the process.

Aaron, I need the hexagonal set. This is unmarketable.

By coming at it from the back end, rather than changing... the surrounding temperature, we'll change the level it'll conduct... the transition temperature. And by bombarding these edges...

They're dropping the ceramic, the temperature lower and lower.

It makes the ceramic less resistant and knocks out the interior magnetic field.

What I'm saying is we drop the box down on it.

Focus our own magnetic field to negate, knock out with the inverse... what's going on inside the ceramic.

That should change the transition temperature to something we can work with.

What are we saying that is? Hopefully, near room temperature.

What is that about? The best mathematician is a lazy one?

What did you ask for? I asked. I need the hexagonal set.

What did you call it? Just come on.

Are these Type One? The superconductors?

Yeah, they're Type One.

Is that going to be a problem?

There's plenty lying around at work, but they're all bar coded.

If I have to, I'll buy the kits. What are you doing about the source?

What?

I can get them. You can... Are you sure?

I thought you didn't like this idea.

Buy them if you have to. Everything else we can take care of.

What about the source here?

You know that story about how NASA spent millions... developing this pen that writes in zero-G? Did you ever read that?

And how Russia solved the problem? Yeah, they used a pencil.

Right, a normal wooden pencil.

It just seems like Phillip takes the NASA route almost every time.

Palladium? You've got their diagram, what does it say?

They use a ratio of platinum and palladium.

That's not necessary with the changes I made.

They're just showing off. If you have it, use it.

I want to get a replacement router.

I'm putting down four ounces of palladium. Did Robert look at it?

I already got his. I can't fix it.

Okay. Where are you getting it? Wal-Mart. It's $50.

Okay. Can you get a receipt, please? Yeah.

Wait, platinum or palladium is less resistant?

Abe? It's not a... Yeah, I don't care.

So resistance doesn't matter. I need an aye or a yes.

Did you jiggle the... The collet nut?

Robert did it. Well, yes. I guess.

Well, then, which is cheaper? You're not going to buy it, are you?

Well, unless you've got a few grams of palladium lying around.

Why would they put it in there if you didn't need it?

One catalytic converter. It's fine.

Remember to put it back. Your emission just went up 300%.

Is there enough in here? Yeah, should be.

If not, we'll pull the one out of my truck. Okay, copper tubing.

This will be out of commission, right? Without the tubing?

We can use the Freon, too. No, it's going to be room temperature.

I know, just in case.

No, wait. Stop. I'll just buy the tubing. This isn't saving us money.

Jay? Hey, man. How are you? Good.


Should we be wearing goggles?

Should we be wearing goggles? What?

Goggles. Should we be wearing goggles?

Wait. Phillip, you don't want to come out here.

Phillip, grab a mask, okay?


It is, though, right? It's not just me?

No, it's definitely smaller, but it just seems that way.

Take what they have.

Minus the coolant which we don't need.

The rest of it is the mercury bath... which you would know better than I do, but they're probably just showing off.

I mean, you have it, you got to use it, right?

What? Does it hurt? No, I didn't feel anything.

That sound is just weirding me out.

What does it feel like? I don't know.

I don't know if I'm making it up.

Here.

Next part. Let's do the next part. Yeah.

Isn't there some sort of glass or a transparent...

Anything we can use as a window? Pyrex?

Yeah, I'm in. Okay, drop it.

I don't know of anything that won't leave a gap in the field.

But we got to see what's going on in there.

How much did that cost? Yeah.

What? You want to put my camcorder... inside the box that's so dangerous we can't look into it.

If something happens, would you pay me back?

So we have a slightly negative pressure in the box.

So we're ready for the argon.

Which one is that? It's the blue one.

I weighed it at 77 grams.

I set the scale to decagrams, though.

I'm showing 7.7 decagrams.

Ready for...

0.05 liters of argon.

You ready? Just the plate first, right?

Right, first just the plate, and then we'll...

Let's just give it a second.

You want to do the box now? Yeah.

Let's go through the checklist. Aaron, hold on a second.

Let's make sure everything's set up right. Hold on, Aaron. Wait.

Just wait.

Okay.

Anything?

Is this normal? I don't know.

I'm turning it off. Wait! No.

Okay, I didn't do that. Did we blow something?

Yeah, we did. That's destroyed.

You want to check your camera? Yeah.

Let's get this. You ready?

One, two, three.

Hey. Tell me you're hungry. Kara's at her mom's and I'm starving.

Yeah, I'm hungry. What...

Abe, it's 7:00. Abe, it's 7:00 at night.

Okay, yeah, I have food... Okay.

Wait, are those kids there? Just a sec.

Yeah, they're here.

Okay, screw that, let's just go somewhere. I just pulled in, so come on down.

Come up first. I have some stuff I want to take back to the shop.

All right, but meet me at the door.

Okay, all right. Seriously, meet me at the door.

Okay. All right. See you.

What's up, Abe? Hey, Brad. How are you?

Good.

How long did he say he would be there? Not long.

If he's got problems, he's got to fix them. You're not his dad.

I know. I just thought it would be good to do something charitable.

It definitely is charity. At least you admit that.

You feel like a steak? To eat.

I don't want a steak. Let's just grab some tacos on the way to the shop.

I have some stuff I want to try out. Okay.

We can get some tacos on the way, or we can get a steak afterwards.

What are you talking about? I'm not paying for a steak.

It's stable?

Aaron, it's stable?

What did you do to this thing? What?

It looks like a dog digested it. Okay, that's the plate.

I rigged this into the box so I could control the feed.

I figured it's the easiest way... It's just controlling the box.

The plate stays the same. What you do is you gradually feed it.

Okay. You hear that? How it's...

See, I'm not touching it anymore. It's growing with its own momentum.

It's like a feedback loop, and it just regulates itself.

And what you do is when it gets there, you bring it back... and there you go, it coasts. It's stable. It stays like that.

So it works?

Yeah, it does. What is that, like 10%?

It knocks another couple of points by the time it reaches the peak.

You may want to come over here and take a look at this.

Okay, what am I looking at?

What are we pulling out of the batteries? Probably 24 volts.

I mean, no more than that, right? Okay.

So your meter's jacked up.

That's what I figured. So I tried three others.

I got the exact same thing.

I spent all last night... What was it?

I spent last night and a two-hour break just double-checking everything.

There's something wrong here. We're not pulling out more than we're putting in.

Slightly more. Well, yeah, whatever.

It's not like a volt and a half more than we're putting in.

It's probably the batteries.

They're cheap batteries, not regulated right.

That is weird, though.

You want to see something weirder?

Okay, let's go over this again. Two batteries, right? 24 volts?

What are we pulling out of this one? Just for fun.

Twelve volts.

How about this one? Should be 12 volts.

So, what the hell is this thing?

It doesn't stay like that.

No, it winds down in a few minutes. What does that?

I don't know. I'll tell them something. I'll tell them we're spraying for bugs.

It should just be a day or two, anyways.

Unless you want to bring them in. No, they have their work in there, too.

If Phillip finds out about that he's going to have to take it apart.

No. I'm just putting a little tweak on it. Yeah, I know. No, you're right.

Abe, it's my garage, okay? It's not like they're paying rent.

There was value in the thing. Clearly. Of that they were certain of.

But what is the application? In a matter of hours... they had pinned it to everything from mass transit to satellite launching.

Imagining devices the size of jumbo jets.

Everything would be cheaper. It was practical and they knew it.

But above all that, beyond the positives... they knew that the easiest way to be exploited... is to sell something they did not yet understand.

So they kept quiet. The parties would continue.

Any birthday, anniversary, holiday... maybe some obscure project launch. It didn't matter. Any reason would do.

What was important is that Thomas Granger, their last best hope of funding, show up.

If he left a little earlier than they would've liked, he couldn't be blamed.

He was only there to please his daughter Rachel.

And she was only there to please Abe.

What did you say to Mr. Granger a while ago?

Did you flip my burger? You can't call him Mr. Granger.

You have to call him, like, Thomas or something.

Go ahead. No, because he won't take you seriously.

He thinks we're kids. If you call him Mr. Granger... he looks at you like you're a 6-year-old kid.

He does it with me. It won't work anymore.

Abe had taken on the task of quantifying and explaining the device.

But as weeks became months... their enthusiasm became a slow realization that they were out of their depth.


There he is. I've been calling you all morning.

Where'd you call? Your work and your cell.

I'm not there.

Really?

March Madness? It's Carolina and Michigan.

Who's up? I don't even know what.

Do you have anything important at work today?

I hope you're not implying that any day is unimportant at Cortex Semi.

I was going to come give you this big speech about how we've been... friends for a long time and built up trust, that whole thing.

But how about this instead?

If you ditch work this afternoon and promise to do the few small things I ask you...

I will in return show you the most important thing... that any living organism has ever witnessed.

Well, it looks like mustard to me.

I know, but it's a film. It's a protein... secreted by a fungus called Aspergillus Ticor.

He told you that?

No, he knew it was a protein but didn't know where it came from.

All he really did was just take some pictures with their equipment.

Guess where we're going.

Do you know where Will is? No, why?

The Ariel meeting is pushed back till Wednesday.

I thought he was waiting around for it. Where are you going?

What do they do with engineers when they turn 40?

What, Bradshaw? Exactly. You know what?

I do know where Will is. I'll let him know on my way out.

Okay. Thanks. Can you meet me out front?

You got to drive. Okay, here. Take my keys.

Okay, if you can, just pretend that this is the first time I came in.

And if you would just tell him exactly what you told me...

Okay, so what is it? Protein buildup.

Okay, can you just tell him? Protein buildup.

But what kind? Some fungus.

Some fungus. Where did it come from?

I don't know. You were to take it to the lab.

Yeah, that's next.

You were in design, weren't you? Yeah.

How did you get over here?

Do you know what they do with engineers when they turn 40?

They take them out and shoot them.

What the hell, Abe? You could have just shown me the pictures.

I want you to believe it. Believe what, the protein?

I believe you. Okay, look... this guy already thinks it's a joke, so he may be a little defensive.

Really? Why would he think that?

Please.

Aspergillus Ticor.

This is a fungus that's everywhere.

It's in our bed, our skin, sometimes even our GI tract. Everywhere.

It's basically the reason you don't leave things in dark, damp, closed-off places.

Thank you. Do you have that sample I brought?

There it is. Terger. T-E-R-G-E-R.

Okay, when I showed you this, tell him what you thought.

You thought it was a joke, right? It is a joke.

Right, but how did you know?

Will you show him? Please?

This is how I get protein A out of Aspergillus Ticor. We sweeten it.

We agitate it. We spin it around. We sweeten some more.

Takes about a month. To get the same amount I brought in.

To get the same amount I brought in.

So if it's an incubator for fungus, is that valuable?

That's not what it is. Then what is it?

There's another way to secrete that much protein. Do it naturally.

But that takes a lot longer.

If it has a little moisture and it's left alone, it'll start secreting and it'll build up... and build up, but it takes a long time. How long?

A long time. More than a few days? Then how long?

To get the same amount of protein that we have... the amount that I was wiping off every five days... and five days later it would accumulate... he says it would take about five to six years.

I don't want to belittle this guy.

So, I said screw it and I put my watch in there.

And? I want you to do it.

Where is it? The box? I took it back to the shop.

Wait, digital or old mechanical? Exactly. I did both.

And what? I want you to do it.

We thought that we were degrading gravity, right?

That we were blocking that information.

I think we're doing more than that. I think we're blocking more than that.

When you were controlling the feed, did you notice it was parabolic?

It's important. Parabolas are important. Here, look at this.

I don't know, Abe.

I'm going to start it up and let it run for 60 seconds... with nothing in it. It's empty this time.

That's 22...

In all the equations that describe motion and heat and entropy.

In all Feynman diagrams what's the one variable that you can turn negative... and still get rational answers for? It's not mass.

Twenty-two hours, 27 minutes in the box.

It's odd, it's an odd number. That's 1,347 minutes.

1,347, man, you got that fast. How did you know it's odd?

Because this is it. This is what's going on. There's an "A" end and a "B" end.

Let's say the A end is 12:00, and the B end is 12:01.

All right? We start the machine with the Weeble at the A end.

It travels forward... You got to write this down.

There's nothing to write down. I'll write it down.

It travels forward normally towards the B end.

When it gets there, the feed runs down parabolically... until it should stop, but it curves back around towards the A end.

When it gets back to the A end... Curve that around. The Weeble... has experienced a total of two minutes, and again it curves...

Back around. It curves parabolically. Right.

It comes back around and it does this about 1,300 times.

When it finally exits on the B end... it's traveled an odd number of forward and backward trips.

What is so special about 1,300? Why is it about 1,300? Why isn't it exact?

This is not empirical. Here, give me that.

I don't know why it's not exact. There's some sort of probability there.

Every time it hits the B end there's a chance... a small chance it won't curve back around towards the A end.

And for some reason, it takes about 1,300 trips before it finally does.

It does have to exit, or else we wouldn't be able to see it afterwards.

Okay, let's take a look at this.

Twenty-two hours, 14 minutes.

1,334 minutes. Even.

Enter at the B end.

Exit at the B end.

I just want you to see it the way I saw it. I am trying, okay?

Everything we're putting in that box comes ungrounded.

And I don't mean grounded to the earth, I mean not tethered.

We're blocking whatever keeps it moving forward, so they flip-flop.

Inside the box, it's like a street, and both ends are cul-de-sacs.

This isn't frame dragging or wormhole matching. It's basic mechanics and heat.

This is not mechanics and heat.

We can publish. Yeah, we can publish.

No, I mean we can really publish.

Aaron, the Weeble's stupid. It can't move.

Even if we were to put the Weeble in at point B... it's still going to bounce back and forth until it's kicked out at the B end.

But if it were smart... it could enter at the B end and exit at the A end before it flips back.

You're talking about making a bigger one.

I didn't say anything. You're the one talking about it.

So, you believe me?

No, I don't.

Come on. Let's go get a drink or something.

We're going to have to move it. We will.

We need a box big enough for a person to fit into. As far as turning it on...

I was testing the box. It turns out over half the rings are redundant.

The inner ring is strong enough on its own, so it makes the plate smaller.

A lot more is unnecessary. What we can do... is take a lot of these small plates and surround a container with a web of them.

How small?

It should be accumulative so a lot of mini-fields equal one big one, right?

Yeah, sum of series, that makes sense.

What I was going to say is we need to find a place where we can put it... and turn it on and it won't be disturbed.

We could just lock it in a closet.

Someplace where someone's not going to go poking around and messing with it.

And climate-controlled.

Yeah, so whatever, we'll find some place.

So, if we go your route with what? A bunch of mini-fields?

That's a lot of work. We'd have to... I mean, how many days is that?

Abe, you know what we could use?

I know we've seen a lot of crazy things lately, okay?

I know you're still trying to put it all together in a way that makes sense.

Look, I just want you to understand that what's next is not a prank, okay?

I wouldn't do that to you and I'm not doing that to you.

So when you see this, you can't yell or make any noise or run anywhere, ok?

I know you probably feel like you're being tricked or made fun of. But you're not, ok?

I promise you, you're not. Okay?


Who was that, Abe?


Let's just wait. Six minutes.


Look, you sure you're okay to drive?

What did you do all day? The first time through?

I spent the day in a hotel room in Russellfield.

I'll just meet you back at the shop. I wonder what I did.

I guess I went back to work. Yeah, probably.

Probably just worked, I guess.

Yeah, probably so.

Look, now that I know about this, Abe... don't do this again, okay? Not where it affects me.

Go ahead.

Hey, Rachel.


Why not the lottery?

We can if you want, but it's not until Saturday.

And even if we win the full $10 million, that's only $200,000 for the next 30 years.

And that's just one good trade. A couple days like this.

I was just running a test. In and out. I want to do what you did.

Exactly what you did.

The first thing I did is call in sick. Okay, I did that.

Then I drove to the storage facility. But I need to drop Lauren at school first.

Then meet me there. We're going to need both cars.

We need to park yours down the road, out of sight of the facility.

Why are we doing that? Because we need a ride home.

What is that... It'll make sense.

Okay, I'll be patient.

When I got to the storage room, I flooded the box with argon... and I had to tighten it up to secure the leaks.

There's leaks? There's always leaks.

At 8:30 a.m., I set the timer for 15 minutes...

I jumped in the car, and drove to Russellfield.

Okay, I lost it.

What? Why the timer?

Because the moment we start those machines is the moment we'll end up... getting out of them, and- Right. Got it. Sorry.

I don't want to be standing around when they do.

While I was on the road at 8:45, the machine kicked on by itself... and by 8:49, it was completely warmed up.

In Russellfield, I got a hotel room and tried to isolate myself.

Wait, what do you mean "isolate"?

I closed the windows, I unplugged everything in the room... the telephone, TV, clock, radio, everything.

I didn't want to take the chance of running into someone I knew... or seeing something on the news that might...

If we're dealing with causality, and I don't even know for sure.

I just... What?

Took myself out of the equation. Err on the side of caution.

Yes.

Then what did you do all day?

I just sat there. I had some books, but... What? Were you nervous?

Yeah. It's mind-numbing, all the second-guessing.

"Evacipate."

At 3:30 p.m., I stopped by Williams Medical Supply.

Picked up a Class E oxygen tank and mask.

I called my mutual fund company and asked which stock in their mid-cap fund... had the greatest percentage gain that day.

The idea was just to get enough information for one good trade.

Can we just download chart data and trade on each movement?

But if we do that, I want to use the library in Russellfield, use their computers.

So, I got to the storage room at about 3:15 and cut off the power to the box.

It cycled down to a tolerable level at about 3:19.

The trick is to get in after it reaches a comfortable level... but before it shuts off completely. There's a window there.

So, does it hurt?

Yeah, it does a little.

It's not bad if you wait for the right time. It's like a small static shock.

Once you're in, you're fine, though. What?

I know you've done it, and I can only assume that you don't have... cancer or male impotence.

But what is your opinion on how safe this thing is?

I can imagine no way in which this thing would be... considered anywhere remotely close to safe.

All I know is I spent six hours in there and I'm still alive.

You still want to do it?

I set the alarm on my stopwatch for six hours.

I regulated the O2 tank, took some Dramamine, and tried to sleep.

Did you?

What? Did you sleep?

Not at first. I've never considered myself claustrophobic... but I started sweating and I couldn't find the right flow rate on the tank... and I was breathing differently than I was when I was testing it on the outside.

Eventually, I settled down, and...

I don't know, maybe it was the Dramamine kicking in, but I remember this moment... in the dark with the reverberation of the machine.

It was maybe the most content I've ever been.

I woke up on my own without the alarm... and waited for the machine to cool down. Cool down from my perspective.

It got to a point where it sounded safe to get out... but the stopwatch still showed a couple minutes... so I trusted the math and waited.


That's not a static shock, Abe. Okay, please stop it.

You got out too soon.

You have to wait for the stopwatch so that you know the gain is low enough.

So, we're back here?

Yeah, we're here. It's 8:50, Tuesday morning.

All right. Give me a few minutes.

From there it was easy. The bulk of the work was done.

I just left everything the way I found it. I left the machine alone... and didn't turn it off, and just cleared out of there.

So your double would find everything the same later that day and get in the box?

Right, but also, I or my double or someone was in the box coming backwards.

So who knows what that would've done if I'd turned the machine off.

Definitely. So, they're one-time use only.

So then, at that moment, since my double was on the way to the hotel in my car...

I had to take a taxi home. But when we go, we'll be able to use your truck.


You have a margin account, right? Yeah. I do now. What are we buying?

Good. Today, before 12:30, we'll buy as many shares as we can of RGWU.

They'll say their earnings that quarter are three and a half times consensus... and the stock will nearly double in afternoon trading.

What do they do? What do you mean?

What does this company do? Do they make things or...

I don't know. All that matters is the price goes up.

The volume is so high that the number of shares we trade won't affect the price.

You really don't know what they do?

That's why you spoke about a mid-cap fund, so volume is high enough to hide us.

Do you think it's too cautious? I don't know.

I know there's a lot of other stocks out there... that do a lot more than double, but this is my first day.


My God. She's not going to answer.

I know, Abe. That's the question.

I know, so what's the answer? You've got the $400 billion... you've gone the charity route, you have this perfect 100-room mansion... with matching his and her yachts and helicopter pads.

Basically, you have absolute impunity to do whatever you want... nobody can touch you.

You're back from a two-year... Above the law.

Absolutely, well above. You're fresh back from this two-year world-galloping vacation.

How do you fill your day? What do you do?

Abe, I know that's the question, but it's not a real question, so why does it matter?

So what's the answer?

Babe, he knows that's the question, okay? He's asking you the question.

What do you mean? What would I do with my life or what would I do tomorrow?

My God, either.

I'd have to do something constructive. I'd have to do something that would help... something that would make me feel good. I know. That's fantastic. Good.

My wife. So good. So pure. You are pure. Shut up. Why did you ask, then?

This is what I would do: I would wake up tomorrow morning... and I'd go over to Gabriel Capital Inc... and I would tell Joseph Platts' receptionist that I'm there to see him... and when he comes out...

I would ram my fist through the flat of his nose.

Just one good punch, one good pow.

That's amazing. It's about time. That is so great.

Where did this come from? You're always defending the guy.

It's unnatural. I'd only do it if I knew that... no one would find out or get hurt.

Like, I wish that there was a way that I could do it... and then I go back and tell myself not to.

Because I just want to know what it feels like. That's all, really.

I'm so proud.

Finally, my husband, the hero.

We can't do that. I know.

Did you call pest control?

Babe, they're birds. You don't want a bunch of dead baby birds up there, do you?

They don't sound like birds. She thinks there are rats in the attic.

But the idea had been spoken... and the words wouldn't go back after they had been uttered aloud.

So you are understanding this, right?

You don't have to sell me on not doing this, okay?

I don't think I told you... Even if you do stop yourself... your double, from hitting Platts, why would he, your double, get in the box?

And with no need for it, no possible real-world application... no advantage at all to be gained from it, the idea stayed.

How would you do it? I wouldn't.

Just for fun. I still wouldn't.

But what if there was a way to... Look, Abe, look.

I'm not going to pretend like I know anything about paradoxes... or what follows them, and honestly, I really don't believe in that crap.

Kill your mom before you were born, whatever. It has to work itself out somehow.

I don't know. This is what I know for sure.

The worst thing in the world is to know that the moment you are experiencing... has already been defined, that this is the second... or third time through, or whatever. And do you ever feel like...

I don't know, maybe things aren't right, like maybe your life is in disarray... or just not what you would like and you start to wonder what caused this.

People are always blaming their parents... as if, if their mom had breastfed them, their lives would be different.

Bunch of whiners.

Yeah, they are. But what if it wasn't something you wonder about?

What if you knew this is not the way things are supposed to be?

I'm not like that. I'm not into the whole "destiny, there's-only-one-right-way" thing.

I'm not, either. But what's worse?

Thinking you're being paranoid or knowing you should be?

You don't have to look at me like that. I'm okay.

No, I just assumed that you would. I trust her.

I know that when I decided to tell you... Decided to tell?

I knew that you are married and that there's no secrets.

Anything I tell you, she'll know.

It's not a matter of trust. I know.

It's just how much better will it be if in a few days...

I surprise her and we all just fly to Costa Rica or somewhere for a month?

We'll let her understand it gradually. Maybe do some real estate shopping...

For now, you can tell her you had a good day in the market.

You don't understand. No.

You don't understand the questions that come with that.

But we'll explain it to her, and we'll take some time... to figure out what's next... which, I think, should be building a bigger box, like the size of a room... where more than one person could fit in.

Safe or not, the thing feels like a coffin the way it is.

By the way, this is our guy.

What's the volume? Five-and-a-half.

What's the return? Holy...

No, I can't beat that. But mainly, I guess I was just talking about Robert and Phillip.

I don't want to tell them.

I know they have a lot invested in the group...

I don't want to tell them.

If you need me to take the guilt on this one, fine, okay?

I accept it gladly. It's mine.

At the end of this week, they can have whatever they want.

I'll turn over patent rights on everything from the last two years.

They can have the equipment, the garage, the house.

They can have my truck if that makes you feel better.

But I am not telling them a thing about this. We're not.

God, everything is so different in there.

You can feel how cut off you are.

It's this entirely separate world and you encompass most of it.

And the sound. Isn't the sound different on the inside?

It's like it's singing. I guess you can't hear it on the outside...

I had this dream in there. About what?

I was on or near the ocean, and I just kept hearing the surf.

It was so uneventful.

At night. And the tide kept coming in and out.

Come here for a second, man. What's on your hand?

Are you bleeding? That is blood.

Turn around. You see it?

Where is it coming from? It's your notebook.

It's you. My gosh, it's on your ear. What is this?

Your ear's bleeding. Man. Give me that. I got it.

Is that normal? This isn't normal. For the machine?

For people. You think it's the machine? I got it.

Great. I can actually get some work done today.

Hi, guys, what's going on?

I always seem to get a lot more done when I'm not locked out.

He says they had to spray again.

But he can't tell us about it in advance. Is Hero even here?

You never see anything around here but those geckos.

I know. I think it's for the geckos.

What? Why?

Hey, man, thanks for the present. How is that working out for you?

You know what? You guys, both of you, you make fun, but there is a difference.

Wait. What did you call him?

What? When you walked in? What did you say?

He didn't tell you about it? No.

All right. Rachel's ex-boyfriend walks into my birthday party with a shotgun.

What? Swear to God.

I've already gotten that speech from Kara.

Filby! You'll get it. You have a wife and kid.

It's funny how you two are the only people that have a problem with it.

Everybody else thinks I did a good thing. You didn't.

You can't risk your life and especially the welfare of Kara and Lauren... for someone like Rachel.

She practically begs for this to happen to her.

I figured at least you'd understand.

Understand what? You've never been like this.

That's what I mean. You see how different things are now.

Different? How are things different?

You see it, okay? I know you do.

Look, that was the night... you had told me everything about the machine.

Everything you showed me was so fresh in my head and when I saw this guy...

I'm looking at him. I wasn't going to let him do that.

I wasn't going to let him scare people like that.

I know it was stupid, okay?

But I mean, this whole idea, this whole thing that we're doing.

It just took some getting used to for me. I wasn't completely acclimated to it.

If it was just you, you had to worry about, I'd still think you're stupid.

But you have a family now, and God, especially now... anything like this would be crazy.

I know, okay. I know you know that, but you've got to...

I know, okay? Filby!

You little sack of... Even if you see him, don't tell me.

It's not my fault if I don't know, and I just hope the thing runs away.

Then what are we doing out here?

She worries about the cat. So you look for the cat. It's what you do.

I don't know. What do you mean?

It's embarrassing that the storage room guy sees us come in together... but he never sees us leave.

Yeah, but what do you think the receptionist thinks... about two guys that come and get a room for six hours every day?

Did you unplug this?

You brought your cell phone?

Can I check the caller ID?

Yeah, we're not back.

Yeah, but you can't take it back with you, okay?

This is Aaron. Hey, babe.

I'm not there. I had to come downtown and hold some of these guys' hands.

Tell me.

That sounds good.

No, I've got to eat with these offsite fags.

Save mine, though. I'll have it later.

Okay. Yeah, 6:00.


What? What?

We're supposed to win this by two, they just turned over with 12 on the clock.

We have to foul. No.

What? No, we foul here, they miss the first free throw... and they come back with the three. Three points.

That's right.

Man, are you hungry? I haven't eaten since later this afternoon.

What's up, you guys?

You have got to be kidding. I'm sorry. I forgot it was in my pocket.

It's Kara? Yeah.

How do cell phones work?

If there's two duplicate phones and I call the same number... do they both ring at the same time, or is there...

That's not how they work. It's a radio signal.

No, it's a network.

It checks each area and when it finds the phone, it stops ringing.

It rings the first one.

This one is ringing. Right.

So the one your double has in Russellfield can't be.

Right. I think we broke symmetry.

Are you sure that's how cell phones work? No.

You feel all right?

I feel fine. Do you? Yeah.


Is Kara asleep? Did I wake you up?

Yeah. No, not me, it felt more like a nap.

I think my body's getting used to these 36-hour days. What's going on?

We can do this, but we have to do it now.

Do you have his home address? Why now?

We were planning on taking a trip tomorrow, right? Just like today?

Yeah, for stocks.

Okay, well, half an hour ago I was asleep. This car alarm woke me up.

These kids were down skating by, hitting cars on the block.

So we go right now, do our business at Platts', get back in the box... and come back before those kids set off those alarms.

All we really have to do is stand there in plain sight. That should scare them off.

That way my double sleeps through the night... they don't have this conversation, and they get in the box tomorrow as usual.

They'll be changed. But... Yeah, but at least they'll get in the box.

Wait, how do we go back that far if the machines haven't been running?

Have they been running? Yeah.

I started going by at 5:00, and turning them on, 5:00 p.m.

I got tired of the whole unanswerable question...

Are we doing this as an experiment or are we doing this for me?

A little of both. 5:00.

If we get this done by 3:00, that's 10 hours in the box.

I've got the O2 tanks in the car.

Is that... Is that Rachel's car?

No, that's not Rachel's, that's her dad's. They have the same kind.

Did you see that?

That's Mr. Granger. That's Thomas. He's sitting in that car.

What?

I swear that was him. What the hell is he doing... sitting outside my house at 2:00 in the morning?

I don't believe this. What, is he following us?

What are you doing? Let's just see what he wants.

No, let's just get out of my neighborhood first. Come on.

Did you see him today? No.

I did. I saw him this afternoon... around 6:00.

Are you sure you didn't see him when we drove past?

No, what?

I'm positive this afternoon he was clean-shaven. I know he was.

He was ready to go to some function with his wife.

He looks like he's got a two or three-day growth now.

Are you sure? No, I'm not sure, but I think so.

Rachel. This is Abe. Did I wake you up?

Can I get your dad's number from you real quick?

Yeah. Okay, go ahead.

Yeah, thanks. What's he doing?

He's just sitting there.

He got out for a second and I thought he was coming over... and then he got back in the car. I think he's drunk.

Hi, sorry to call so late.

May I speak to Thomas Granger, please?

Yeah, this is James Miller from Putney and Myers.

Hi, Mr. Granger?

Thomas Granger?

What are you doing here? Come here!

What happened?

I'm okay. I slipped.

I want to know what box he used. You built one for you, right? Just one.

Yeah. How many do you think I made?

These are set right. I turned them on at 5:00.

He could have used one and gone back to 5:00.

He could be in one of them right now.

I say we shut them off and see if he's in there.

Were you planning on talking to him?

Just tell me if you were. I'm not going to be mad.

No, I promise you. You know I wouldn't.

Are you sure you wouldn't?

You're the one he can't get near without passing out.

There is no way I would tell anyone about this. No way.

Can you think of any reason you might? No.

Sometimes we do things but don't know how we got to that point.

No, I can't. Can't what?

I can't think of any reason why I would.

Well, I can't either.

What if it was an emergency?

So you'd do it if it was an emergency? No, I don't know. What, so you might then?

I don't know. What kind of emergency?

The permutations were endless.

They tried again going to the source... but even while keeping him separated from Abe by two rooms...

Ask him his name.

...Granger's condition could only be described as vegetative.

What did he say?

From this they deduced that the problem was recursive... but beyond that, found themselves admitting, against their own nature... and once again, that the answer was unknowable.

What do you think he changed? Not much.

We didn't have any contact with him in the 3 hours he could've done anything.

I know he changed this. I know we weren't having this conversation the first time... so you don't know what we lost.

It really could not have been much.

It doesn't matter how much. It just matters that it's changed.

I know what you're saying.

The question should have been... what to do with the comatose man in the guest bedroom.

But in Abe's mind he was already compiling the list.

Two mg of oral triazolam... every seven hours induces a safe sleep state and a minimal metabolic rate.

At this continued state of rest... the human body breathes 0.3 liters of oxygen a minute... or roughly 2,000 liters in four days.

A Class E oxygen tank holds 625 liters.

To maintain hydration... the body cycles through a minimum of two-and-a-half liters of water per day.

Any food would be a luxury... but the small tank of medical grade nitrous oxide... would be needed on the other side.

Past the room that contained their machines and up two levels... he made his way to another room... where he had stored what I will refer to from here on as the Failsafe Machine.


There he is. I've been calling you all morning.

Really?

Your cell and work.

I'm not there.

Really?

I don't even know what.

I'm just tired.

I hope you're not implying that any day is unimportant at Cortex Semi.

I was going to come give you this big speech about how we've been... friends for a long time and built up trust, that whole thing.

But how about this instead?

If you ditch work this afternoon and promise to do the few small things I ask you...

I will in return show you the most important thing... that any living organism has ever witnessed.

At this point there would have been some discussion.

Abe would, of course, want to know how.

Aaron would have to explain all about the storage manifest... and how it showed two rooms under the name Abram Terger.

Then Abe would need to know how.

Aaron would explain that when he went up there... and found the Failsafe running... he knew exactly what it was.

But Abe would ask how.

And then the bit about the modular design of the coffins... and how it meant he could fold one up and take it back inside another.

They are not one-time use only.

They are recyclable, Aaron would say.

How, Abe would ask.

And Aaron would describe how simple things become... when you know precisely what someone will have for breakfast... even in a world of tamper-proof lids.


How?

And that's where I would have entered the story.

Or exited, depending on your reference.

Because when Aaron came back the second time, it wasn't so easy.

He wasn't expecting me to put up a fight.

And by that time, he was too exhausted to take me.

But for reasons that are only evident to me now...

I understood that he simply wanted it more.

That he just had more invested. So I left.

He had already performed the task, as I had intended to... of recording the conversations of the day just in case.

Through that earpiece he had a three-second lead on the world.

Aaron, you need some sleep. Some real sleep.

I can't. I've got a schedule.

He had but to speak aloud the words that came into his head... and those around him would fall in line.


This is Track 3.

Abe is bringing my car around and I am on my way to the court.

I'll see Will there.

I'll invite him to the party and make sure he's bringing Rachel's boyfriend.

Will.

You pretentious prick.

What the hell is that? Is that your cell phone?

No, it's a radio, man. You look like Secret Service.

You look like Secret Service. Ariel meeting is moved to Wednesday.

What? What the hell am I hanging around here for?

Yeah, I know. Sorry.

Nice shot, Aaron.

Brick. That is ugly, Aaron.

We could have used that last week against TI.

At least you've got your golf game. I see you've been practicing.

You come out here with your $3 tie and think you can play whiteball.

What are you doing tonight?

I was supposed to be in Raleigh. Thanks to you I missed my flight.

You know Robert? Yeah.

He's got a birthday tonight. Why don't you come out?

I'm just going to hang out with my cousin. Bring him. Rachel will be there.

Big reunion. Exactly.

I don't think I'm doing this.

Why not?

Because I can think of a million different ways that this can happen... and nobody comes anywhere near getting hurt.

I can call her and see if she wants to do something else... or better yet, not even talk to her about the party.

That's good for tonight. What about tomorrow? And every other day?

I'll take care of tomorrow, tomorrow. You'll watch her always.

This guy is crazy enough to walk into a room of people waving a shotgun.

What do you think he'll do if he ever finds her alone?

This way, we know exactly what happens. We have complete control over it.

At the end of the night, this guy is arrested and goes to jail.

That's the way it goes. Your words, not mine.

Now come on, it has to be you.

She said she was there because you told her you would be there.

Don't tell me I came back and did this for nothing.

He doesn't fire?

No. He didn't fire. He never fires?

Not even when you rushed him? No. He didn't.

He didn't the time I was, when I rushed him.

And from what Robert tells you, he didn't do it tonight.

He doesn't have the nerve. We know everything.

Okay? We're prescient.

We can still be careful.

Maybe we can get to the gun without him knowing.

We definitely can.

He leaves it in the truck before he goes in. We don't even need to... but if it makes you feel better... What's wrong with our hands?

What do you mean?

Why can't we write like normal people?

I don't know. I can see the letters.

I know what they should look like.

I just can't get my hand to make them easily.

Try comparing it to your left hand. Mine looks the same.

Guess what today is.

No, no. It's your friend Robert's birthday.

He says he likes records, so I got him The Best of Bread.

No, real records, like vinyl.

I can tell you with certainty what I did that night when it was my turn.

But I think it would do little good, because what the world remembers... the actuality, the last revision is what counts, apparently.

So how many times did it take Aaron... as he cycled through the same conversations... lip-synching trivia over and over?

How many times would it take before he got it right?

Three? Four?

Twenty?

I've decided to believe that only one more would have done it.

I can almost sleep at night if there is only one more.

Slowly and methodically, he reverse-engineered a perfect moment.

He took from his surroundings what was needed... and made of it something more.

And once the details had been successfully navigated... there would be nothing left to do but wait for the conflict.

Maybe the obligatory last-minute moral debate... until the noise of the room escalates into panic... and background screams as the gunman walks in.

And eventually he must have got it perfect and it must have been beautiful... with all the praise and adoration he had coming.

He had probably saved lives, after all.

Who knows what would have happened if he hadn't been there?

I know that things are bad, okay?

I know that you don't agree with what I've done.

I know that you're upset.

And to be honest, I'm not too happy with you, either, right now.

But you know that this is going to pass. Let's just go.

Let's go somewhere where we don't speak the language.

Aaron, we don't have the money back here... and we'd have to steal our own passports.

Money? We'll make money.

They have sports betting in Vegas. March Madness.

We'll make enough in one night to finance a thousand vacations.

Passports. You know they're not using theirs, anyways.

Now, come on. I'm thinking Star City.

Check out the cosmonaut training grounds.

I'm staying here.

Why?

They'll be building their own boxes in another day.

And yours already knows what they've built.

You're not going to be able to watch them forever.

The box Abe is building won't work.

He's got it wired wrong.

And if they fix that...

I'll start actually taking pieces out of it. It's just a gimmick.

It doesn't work anymore.

Your double will say they have to move on to something else.

And mine will agree. They're friends.

You're staying? Why?

Why? Let's see, why would Abe stay?

What possible reason could there be to be here?

I guess that it just won't go back far enough, will it?

Tell you what, why don't you take Kara and Lauren and put them in the box... and then you and Aaron can each keep a set and you can stop feeding off it.

Don't come back. You can each keep a set and a hemisphere.

There hasn't been a reason to show you what I'm capable of... but I'm telling this you now. Go out there.

Do whatever the hell you want. There's no way in the world I can stop you.

But don't come back here... and don't come near them.

Any of them.

Now I have repaid any debt I may have owed you.

You know all that I know.

My voice is the only proof that you will have of the truth of any of this.

I might have written a letter with my signature... but my handwriting is not what it used to be.

Maybe you've had the presence of mind to record this.

That's your prerogative.

You will not be contacted by me again.

Good morning.

Every half-meter.

Everywhere.

And if you look, you will not find me.