An Astrophysics Professor meets the mysterious woman he had a haunting romantic encounter with 30 years later at a SETI Conference in Iceland, and discovers who they would have become in different timelines had they married each other. A story of parallel universes colliding.
Contact ( Jodie Foster ) X Inception
University of California - Santa Cruz, 70's
It’s the tail end of UCSC's Graduation Party. John Baudone, an Astrophysics graduate, seems lost while wandering the smoke-filled lounge. There are a few revelers still dancing, and others lying on couches. John watches Dr. Timothy Leary giving LSD drops to a group of people. He’s already had some, and feels quite trippy. He senses it's time to go, but has to wait for sunrise to catch his train.
A mysterious girl approaches John. She’s Ava. She asks him to light her cigarette, and after a few moments of conversation, they leave the party and walk out to the garden. They lay on the grass, both tripping, looking at the stars.
John describes the constellations. He points out the Pleiades, Syrius, Bellatrix, Betelgeuse. They talk about space and time between emotional kisses and hugs. They realize they are falling in love, even though it's supposed to be just a one night stand, as Ava is moving to London the following day.
They make trippy promises to each other. John tells Ava to remember him every time she looks at Syrius. Ava tells him that every time he looks at Bellatrix she'll be thinking of him. Day will dawn and they will go about their separate lives.
John and Ava are standing on the train platform, in silence, in a last embrace. John's train arrives first. He boards the train and watches Ava through the window while her train arrives. Ava gets onto her train, and the would-be lovers part in opposite directions.
Reykjavik, Iceland, 30 years later
Renowned astronomer Prof. John Baudone is in Iceland giving a lecture at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Conference . John enters the conference room where the famous neuroscientist Dr. Leibovitz is giving a lecture about her new book, mentioning extraterrestrial contacts through experiences revealed in hypnosis sessions with her patient Leo. She closes her lecture with a mindboggling concept:
"Everyone gets to crossroads in their lives. You can go one way or the other way . Every decision you take creates a new possibility of reality. But what happens with the decision you didn't take? What happens to the other possibility ? It also becomes a reality. And continues existing in another timeline. And another you is living that reality. It's constantly splitting out to different realities, probabilities and possibilities. There are thousands of you's living different simultaneous lives. "
John is very interested in Dr. Leibovitz's studies . He tries to catch her at the end of the lecture, but she is surrounded by too many people. John is called to the stage. It's time for his presentation. As soon as John begins his lecture , the lights go off in the auditorium - there's been a massive power failure in the city, caused by intense solar flares. After a few minutes, the power is restored, and he continues his lecture. He talks about electromagnetic fields, solar flares and possible signals from an advanced civilization originating from a red dwarf star, which he has been studying by telescope for over a year. He has been sending signals to the star as an experiment. Dr. Leibovitz is watching the conference from the back of the room, but John only notices her presence when her cell phone rings and she quickly leaves the auditorium.
It's night and Dr. Leibovitz is swimming in the Blue Lagoon. Vapors from the warm waters form a veil around her . Beautiful northern lights appear in the sky, illuminating the pond, expanding throughout Reykjavik. John is reading Dr.Leibovitz’s book in his hotel room, but when he notices the Aurora Borealis, he goes to the balcony to admire the lights. The solar flares cause another blackout. John continues to observe the Aurora from his balcony, as does Dr. Leibovitz, from the lagoon.
Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles – Dr. Leibovitz House
It's late at night. Dr. Leibovitz is standing by the front door talking to a very formal man. He tells her how much her husband, Ray Leibovitz, an icon in the architecture world, will be missed, and gives her his condolences. She reacts coldly, saying that her husband chose to die. She quickly dismisses the man, shuts the door, and walks to the huge windows, where she stands for some moments staring at the stars. She takes some of her husband’s belongings, books and papers, and burns them outside in a fire pit. The ashes float around her and dissolve over the city lights.
Downtown Los Angeles - Dr.Leibovitz's Office
Leo, Dr.Leibovitz's patient, is in a state of hypnotic trance, revealing to Dr. Leibovitz the story of an advanced civilization on another planet which produces and manipulates energy with quartz crystals. He says that the "prismatic water" is found inside large quartz mines - a drop of this water can transform the molecules of dirty water back into its purest state. Leo explains how large crystals void electromagnetic charges , and its relation to water transmutation.
Dr. Leibovitz had at first diagnosed her patient as schizophrenic, but as she starts analyzing his narratives, she realizes the information he is sharing starts to get more and more complex, and the concepts actually make sense scientifically. Her skepticism as a scientist is defied as she starts believing that the hypnotic trance is altering her patient's perception - to a higher dimension of communication. Maybe he is really capable of perceiving this other reality on another planet, and she wants to prove that an alternate universe or new dimension in the brain can be accessed through electromagnetic pulses that alter brainwave frequencies.
Dr. Leibovitz has been trying hard to get her experiments with Leo taken seriously by the neuroscience community, but she is constantly challenged by the Chairman of Neuroscience at UCLA, who doesn’t accept her hypnotherapy technique using an TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) device as a valid field of study. Her thesis about multiple dimensions in the brain doesn't convince the Neuroscience Association board. She decides to test the TMS on herself to prove her theory.
Atacama Desert , Chile
John lives with his wife and daughter in a glass house in the middle of the Atacama Desert , where he has built an observatory close to the ALMA telescope array and the NASA base. John spends most of his time in the observatory, sometimes not returning home for days. Ava Baudone , his wife, is an overly mystic, depressed alcoholic. They have a daughter, Bellatrix, who is blind and sensitive to electromagnetic radiation - she can't be anywhere near wifi, cordless phones or devices transmitting certain frequencies. John has developed a "communicator" to reach her which uses lower frequencies that don't affect her or interfere with the radio telescopes.
John has been observing intermittent signals from a star for years, but can't get any confirmation from other telescopes. Tyrrel, a fellow student in astrophysics and ex-colleague at NASA , had developed a program with him to send signals to the Proxima Centauri star, 12 years ago, before boarding the International Space Station. Now Tyrrel runs the NASA base at the ALMA telescope array and keeps trying to convince John to give up on his obsession and stop sending signals to space, as it goes against the International Space Protocol and this may cause NASA to cut John’s grant. John feels discredited and alone on his quest, but still he knows the evidence is strong enough to keep pursuing the signals, which appear to be from a "Type II" civilization on the Kardashev scale (a hypothetical method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement). John tells Tyrrel he has something special to show him at the observatory. Tyrrel doesn't want to risk his high-profile job at NASA, and he tries not to get too involved in John's quixotic research.
Following the SETI Congress in Iceland, John becomes obsessed with the work of Dr. Leibovitz, as he begins to draw parallels between the patient Leo's hypnotherapy sessions as described
in her book and the discoveries he’s made about correlations between electromagnetic fields and crystals. Leo describes a civilization which would be "Type II ", harnessing energy from crystals and light and capable of supraliminal communication, like the civilization John presumes is generating the signals captured by his telescope.
John decides to send a letter to Dr.Leibovitz about the Crystal Cave, located very close to his observatory, where he believes there is a strange electromagnetic field . The "guardian" of the cave is the hermit/madman Metatron, who lives inside the cave, and claims to have extraterrestrial contacts - his stories present enormous coincidences with the ones told by Dr.Leibovitz's patient Leo.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Dr. Leibovitz arrives by train at San Pedro de Atacama station and heads to John's house, 20 miles into the desert. Dr. Leibovitz knocks on the door and John opens. Ava, his wife, is sitting at a table, playing tarot cards and chainsmoking.
Dr. Leibovitz approaches to greet Ava, and when they shake hands, she’s struck by their disturbing similarity. They look exactly the same, only different hair style, and Ava looks older and not as fit. Ava doesn't quite realize her obvious resemblance to Dr Leibovitz, because she is, as always, stoned. Dr. Leibovitz reveals that her first name is also Ava, a strange coincidence, as it is not a very common name. Ava Leibovitz meets Ava Baudone.
Dr. Leibovitz immediately realizes the shock of parallel realities: Ava Baudone and Dr. Leibovitz are the same person, in different timelines -- Ava is the woman who Dr. Leibovitz would have been if she had chosen to stay with John 30 years ago, instead of leaving for London -- Ava is her other self, the one who stayed. She looks at John and has flashes of that starry night 30 years ago at the graduation party in Santa Cruz.
John visibly notices the odd similarity between the two women and gets puzzled in silence. The whole atmosphere gets weirder when Bellatrix, John and Ava’s blind daughter, walks into the living room noisily, stumbling on Dr. Leibovitz’s suitcases. Dr. Leibovitz, appalled, makes an effort to engage in ordinary conversation, but it all comes out bizarre as everyone is disturbed, trying to act normal.
Dr . Leibovitz gets dizzy and feels sick – John takes her to the guest room to rest. There she finds a bookshelf full of picture frames and memorabilia of young Ava and John, and Bellatrix as a kid. She can't tell reality from hallucination. She goes to bed, closes her eyes and imagines herself surrounded by the Aurora Borealis, falling into deep sleep.
She has a dream /flashback to 30 years ago, when young Ava, just moved to London, discovers she was pregnant with John's baby on that trippy night in Santa Cruz, and decides to have an abortion.
Although Dr. Leibovitz is in the Atacama desert to research the crystals and Prismatic Water, she starts getting involved in trying to understand Ava, her other self, and her relationship to Bellatrix. Dr. Leibovitz develops a strong love for Bellatrix, as she could have been her daughter -
and she strangely blames herself for Bellatrix's blindness. Ava realizes that she and Dr. Leibovitz are the same person, but never mentions it. Dr. Leibovitz gets increasingly fascinated by Ava and feels a strange attraction towards her. She is struggling to understand and process this encounter. Ava promises to take Dr. Leibovitz to her “Secret Garden” , where she would understand everything.
John, Dr. Leibovitz and Bellatrix go to the Crystal Cave. Metatron, the guardian of the cave, tells the same story as Leo, Dr. Leibovitz's patient, about the use of crystals and properties of the water found in the cave. He collects water from a spring inside the cave and fills small bottles with handwritten numbered labels "Crystalina magic water".
The deeper they go in the cave, the better Bellatrix feels, as it's free from electromagnetic radiation. They reach to a gigantic pillar, where there is a water spring. There is where Metatron's "magic water" comes from. Despite her blindness, Bellatrix moves easier than anyone else inside the cave . Touching its walls, she finds inscriptions that lead to a second chamber, where they find an even larger crystal pillar with a clock-like mechanism of superposed crystal pieces encrusted with what looks like a lock. Dr Leibovitz finds this mechanism very similar to drawings Leo had made while in hypnotic trance.
Leo arrives in the Atacama Desert to help find the Prismatic Water. He meets Bellatrix and is fascinated by her. He notices the crystal pendant she wears around her neck and tells her all about the properties of that crystal shape. Bellatrix tells him it was a gift from her father - a quartz from the Crystal Cave.
John and Dr. Leibovitz take Leo to the Crystal Cave . Metatron is a bit reluctant to let them in.
Dr. Leibovitz notices at the entrance of the cave a pile of papers and pieces of crystals organized by shape and size - Metatron separates, classifies and makes drawings of what seems to be crystal shapes, thousands of them. They enter the Crystal Cave. Dr.Leibovitz and John realize both Metatron and Leo have the unconscious knowledge of how to manipulate those crystals to neutralize or magnify energy from electromagnetic fields. The deeper they go inside the cave, the weaker the electromagnetic field, and the closer they should be to the Prismatic Water. When they reach the second chamber, Metatron says it's the end of the cave, but Leo knows that it's just the beginning, and starts trying to find a different path. The passage to the womb of the cave is protected by a mechanism of superimposed crystals, and Metatron doesn't let Leo get any closer to it. He is there to protect the water. Metatron sends everyone away from "his" cave.
Tyrrel makes a surprise visit to John in the observatory to find out more about the signals. They end up taking some LSD for old time's sake. John starts to trip and ends up telling Tyrrel about the excursion into the Crystal Cave, the Prismatic Water theory, and Leo and Metatron's extraterrestrial experiences. Tyrrel finds the whole story absurd, they are tripping after all, but still wonders if the "magic water" has been tested at all.
Leo is suffering from terrible headaches, caused by continuous use of the TMS device. Still, he wants Dr Leibovitz to guide him through another TMS hypnosis session, as he needs to find out how to open the passage to the womb of the cave, where he suspects he'll find the Prismatic Water. Dr. Leibovitz knows that TMS is not good for Leo's mental health, but does it one more time. Leo , in trance, starts to say random numbers. Dr Leibovitz takes notes, assuming they might be codes to open the mechanism.
Later Dr Leibovitz and John find out that those numbers are, in fact, coordinates, revealing a network of 7 caves around the planet - all of them with crystal formations and potentially Prismatic Water and, to their surprise, Leo also gave sky coordinates, corresponding to Proxima Centauri - the star emitting the signals received by John, which they believe could be the matrix of the Prismatic Water.
Metatron shows up at the observatory in the middle of the night to warn John that there are strange men visiting the cave after "his" water. And that they would come after John too, to steal his telescope data. John thinks Metatron might be delusional, but he might as well hide the telescope laser head and the hard disks, just in case.
Meanwhile, Metatron's "magic water" is being tested in a laboratory, taken secretly by Tyrrel, and it is already revealing intriguing properties.
It's a hot night, and Leo finds Bellatrix sitting by herself on the deck - he needs to get to the cave desperately. Bellatrix tells him there is no transportation to get to the cave at night - Leo steals Ava's bicycle, and takes Bellatrix with him. It is the first time Bellatrix rides a bicycle, feeling the wind on her face - a beautiful scene by the moonlight in the desert landscape.
Metatron is outside the cave and doesn't see Leo and Bellatrix sneaking in. Leo believes that Bellatrix's sensibility for electromagnetic radiation will help him find the Prismatic Water. They get to the second chamber, and Leo tries to open the passage to the main chamber by rearranging the crystals in the mechanism, according to his own drawings . He uses Bellatrix's crystal pendant as the last missing piece - the mechanism unlocks - the enormous crystal pillar moves and a new passage opens to a tunnel. The pillar suddenly closes behind them, and they get trapped in the tunnel, in total darkness. Leo doesn't care about the darkness, he just wants to find the water - he puts Bellatrix in front of him to guide him. Bellatrix starts getting scared by Leo, who's become aggressive - she wants to go back but he won't let her. He needs her to find the Prismatic Water. And he says no one is allowed to see the water, but him.
Ava can't find Bellatrix at home and calls John, he doesn't know either - He has the intuition that Leo has taken her to the cave. John leaves the observatory to try to find Bellatrix and when he gets to the cave, he sees military jeeps, and service men bring out gallons of water and large crystal pieces. Two men bring outside a body bag - John approaches to see the dead body is Metatron's.
John tries to get into the cave but the servicemen won't let him. He misleads them and heads to the second chamber, where he finds Bellatrix's crystal pendant by the lock mechanism. He calls Bellatrix and she responds from the other side of the pillar. Leo threatens John, if he comes in, he'll hurt Bellatrix. Leo's psychopathic nature is blooming in full crisis. The service men find John and take him out of the cave.
John waits until it's dark to go back to the cave, together with Dr. Leibovitz. They foil the servicemen and head to the hidden second chamber, and get to the pillar. They are trying to input the code from Leo's drawings with no success, as there's a piece missing. Dr. Leibovitz reaches to the piles of papers written by Metatron. She finds a drawing which may be complimentary to Leo's drawing - the missing piece. John can't call Bella otherwise the servicemen will find him, or Leo might hurt her, but he turns his communicator on - he knows that if Bella is inside the cave, she will sense he is there.
Bellatrix feels his father is there because of the communicator. She calls out to him. Leo repeats that if John comes in, he will hurt Bellatrix. Dr. Leibovitz tries to convince Leo, while she attempts to open the lock. She tells Leo that they have light. They have large torches to see the lagoon. She asks him to help open the passage so that she can help him see the Prismatic Water . She uses all emotional arguments to convince him , telling him that now, finally , everyone will believe him, that he was not crazy, that the E.T. communication was real all the way and his case could be proved - the Prismatic Water is real , and he needs to see it. She has the light he needs. Leo feels deeply touched and emotional, crying like a baby - Bellatrix manages to release herself and shouts to them to use her crystal pendant to open the lock. Dr. Leibovitz manages to crack the “mechanism” with Bellatrix’s pendant - The passage opens and they enter the tunnel. Bellatrix walks quickly towards them. They light the tunnel and see the portal. Leo is standing on the edge of a crystal cliff. They can’t reach him. They finally cross the portal, illuminating the womb of the cave.
They are all in awe with the magnificence of the cave. They stay admiring the wonderful crystal formations, and John points to the water source, a prystine crystaline blue water lagoon.
Dr. Leibovitz’s experiment with Leo is finally proved.
Bellatrix feels a lot of electromagnetic radiation, the service men entered the cave with radios and cellphones. John knows the service men can't see the lagoon, the Prismatic Water has to be protected. They call Leo, but he doesn't want to come out.
Leo throws himself in the water and is immediately consumed - he becomes one with it.
Dr. Leibovitz wants to help him, but she can't reach the lagoon. In seconds, there is no trace of Leo, he merges into what seems to be an intelligent liquid light - as if the Prismatic Water was alive and provided with consciousness. John and Dr. Leibovitz realize that the extraterrestrial intelligence lives in the Prismatic Water - or - IS the Prismatic Water.
They are running out of oxygen, they cross the tunnel back to the pillar and move the mechanism to close off the entrance. The Prismatic Water chamber is safe. Service men find the group and force them out. They pretend they were lost.
They all leave the cave, with John and Dr. Leibovitz carrying Bellatrix who feels very weak. Dr. Leibovitz and Bellatrix hug fiercely, in an intense emotional moment - Bellatrix cries and Dr. Leibovitz calms her down like her own child. John watches the scene with tears in his eyes.
Dr. Leibovitz enters the guest house and is surprised by Ava waiting for her, sitting on the armchair , in the dark. Ava explains what a special gift Bellatrix is in her life - and that as miserable her own life seems to be, she will never regret having had Bellatrix. Bellatrix is the light that guides her. Ava thanks Dr. Leibovitz for saving her daughter's life. Ava steps out of the dark to reveal she has cut her hair short like Dr.Leibovitz's, and is wearing her clothes. Dr Leibovitz gets extremely disturbed - she's facing her other self. Ava asks Dr Leibovitz to experiment the TMS device on her. She wants to go deep inside her mind. Dr Leibovitz refuses, to what Ava responds : "Are you afraid of me - or afraid of yourself?". Dr.Leibovitz feels scared: "Who are you ??" Ava says: " I am the decision you didn't take"
It’s night. John arrives at his observatory and it's a mess - someone has been there, the place was searched, there are damaged monitors and computers. John finds the laser head and the data safe in its hiding place. John is trying to put his telescope to work again, and doesn't notice when Dr Leibovitz enters the observatory. She finds a card on the floor. It's Tyrrel's NASA badge.
She asks him if the strong electromagnetic charge of the Aurora Borealis they witnessed together in Iceland could have changed their frequencies and timelines for a parallel reality.
John is not paying much attention. He manages to put the lens back on his telescope , but it doesn't work properly. It starts receiving the signals again, but his system, as he already knows, is too weak to decode them. He feels defeated and ready to finally give up.
Dr. Leibovitz doesn't let him give up. She reminds him of the importance of his quest. She gives him Tyrrel's NASA card.
John knows how to crack the NASA base system - he's helped build it - He manages to enter the system scanning Tyrrel's barcode , and using the same stupid password Tyrrel's has used since college. John unlocks the NASA telescope array's system. He configures the dishes - All 45 ALMA telescopes turn to Proxima Centauri. Epic scene. The monitors at the NASA base show the dishes are receiving the signals from Proxima Centauri. Doug , John's "spy" at ALMA, calls him confirming 5 telescopes around the world have confirmed the signals.
John opens the observatory roof and goes up the stairs, screaming with happiness. He calls Dr. Leibovitz to join him at the roof - She asks him to call her Ava. They hug, and finally they kiss . John says : I love you Ava. They lie on the observatory roof, watching the stars . She says she always thought of him when looking at Syrius. He says every time he looked at Bellatrix he thought of her. His daughter was named after that starry night they spent together - so their promises were kept. He asks her not to leave him again. They make love and fall asleep under the starry sky.
Ava, like a ghost, quietly approaches and whispers in Dr. Leibovitz's ear : "Are you ready for my secret garden?"
The Secret Garden
Ava walks hand in hand with Dr Leibovitz, from darkness to light, in a gorgeous dream-like garden. They face each other as if looking in the mirror, recognizing themselves as the same person. Ava touches Dr. Leibovitz's face, Dr. Leibovitz passes her fingers over Ava’s wrinkles, so different from her, and they look into each other's eyes . Ava embraces Dr. Leibovitz and as they get closer and closer, enveloped in an atmosphere of love and wholeness, Ava says to Dr.Leibovitz - "You know who you are". Dr Leibovitz surrenders to pure love, they’re very close to kissing when -- Ava stabs Dr. Leibovitz with a knife in her lower back. CUT to black.
Reykjavic, Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Black Sky. The Aurora Borealis surges, spreading its filmy green veils. TILT DOWN to reveal Dr. Leibovitz inside the Blue Lagoon, her back to us - the same scene as the beginning. Dr. Leibovitz submerges into the lagoon and doesn’t return.
Atacama Desert - Guest House
Dr.Leibovitz wakes up scared. She says: "I am Ava. The one who leaves." She can’t handle all the confusion after getting intimately involved with John and Ava, her other self. She packs her things. She is going home. She leaves before sunrise.
BEGIN (V.O) VOICE of Dr. Leibovitz's lecture at the SETI Congress OVER the following scenes :
. John is in bed with Ava, he can't sleep.
(V.O) : "Everyone gets to crossroads in their lives..."
. Dr.Leibovitz is at the train station. She walks the platform by herself and enters the train. The scene is reminiscent of the train station scene 30 years ago, but this time she's by herself.
(V.O) : "... You can go one way or the other way . Every decision you take creates a new possibility of reality …"
. John passes by the guest house, but Dr. Leibovitz is gone.
(V.O) "... But what happens with the decision you didn't take? ..."
. John rushes to the station, but when he arrives, her train has left.
(V.O) "... It also becomes a reality, and continues existing in another timeline...”
. John stands alone at the platform for a couple minutes. He feels so sad and such a coward.
He leaves the station and gets into his car back to the desert.
(V.O) “… It's constantly splitting out to different realities ...."
. Dr. Leibovitz looking through the train window, leaving the desert behind.
(V.O) "... probabilities and possibilities ..."
. John, looking outside his car window , devastated, driving into the desert to his observatory.
(V.O) “…And another you is living that reality..."
. Dr Leibovitz looking outside the train window. She has a very serene look. TILT DOWN to her hand. Her hand touches someone else’s hand, sitting next to her. OPEN to reveal John.
(V.O) There are thousands of you's living different simultaneous lives"
He smiles at her, she smiles back. TILT DOWN to their holding hands, then through the train window, to the fields.
(V.O) "What if you come across another you? "
We see the train disappearing into the distance.
- THE END -
Writers Guild of America , West REGISTERED - WGAW # 174962