Unnatural Selection, by Mark Gatiss
A BBV Productions Video, released Oct 1996
(A young woman is asleep or unconscious in bed, with scratches on her
forehead. She had been chased by something and fallen to the ground.)
GILCHRIST: Doctor Shaw?
GILCHRIST: Gilchrist. I've been expecting you.
LIZ: I'm sorry I'm late.
GILCHRIST: It's quite all right. This way, if you please. She's stable.
LIZ: Still critical?
GILCHRIST: No. Her heart was fibrillating wildly when they brought her in, but she's settled down now.
LIZ: Any evidence of tissue damage?
GILCHRIST: Can't really say yet. She's covered in bruises from the attack.
LIZ: Well, they're adamant she's got something to do with it.
GILCHRIST: That's because of this. Your men found it on the moor.
(Liz goes to the window and holds the clear plastic vial up against the light.)
LIZ: Same as the others.
GILCHRIST: I'm having her x-rayed just in case there's anything we've missed. She's lucky to be alive.
CUMMINGS: Well, the first victim was found in the early hours of July the eighth, and bizarre is certainly the word.
LIZ: In what way?
CUMMINGS: Well, his liver, kidneys and spleen were all missing. And with the second victim it was the lungs and bladder.
LIZ: Torn out or surgically removed?
CUMMINGS: Neither, Doctor Shaw. They were just missing.
LIZ: And the deposit? The stuff they found around the bodies?
CUMMINGS: Well, to coin a phrase. I've never seen anything quite like it before. It's full of nutrients and proteins.
LIZ: Some kind of residue, perhaps?
(A yellow ball is hit through a hoop.)
QUILTER: It was your first assignment.
LANCASTER: I know. I was very proud to have been a part of BEAGLE. I said so at the time, didn't I? I just need your assurance that this current unpleasantness has nothing to do with what happened back then. The last thing I need is for all of that to come out now.
QUILTER: The government's sorting it out. You've nothing to worry about. Your reputation will remain intact.
LANCASTER: I heard about the people on the moor.
QUILTER: Who's to say. Could be a copy-cat.
LANCASTER: Julius, it is all over, isn't it? You did get rid of it?
QUILTER: Of course I did! Frankly, Dennis, I'm more than a little surprised at your doubting me. I had enough of that back then. All that newspaper talk of our running free love communes up on the moor.
LANCASTER: Yes, I remember.
QUILTER: Nobody understood us then. It was our specific brief to investigate and to project the next stage of evolution. Nobody would understand us now. BEAGLE was way ahead of its time. Now look at the mess we've got ourselves into
QUILTER: The world's suffocating. Too many people. Mostly old buggers like me.
(He hits his croquet ball again then doubles over in pain. A younger man watches from a window as Lancaster helps him to a bench. Mr Gatiss.)
LANCASTER: What is it?
QUILTER: As I said, too many geriatrics. My medicine, in the drawing room cabinet. Green bottle.
(Lancaster picks up a bottle from a shelf.)
EMERSON: Green bottle.
LANCASTER: Right. Green bottle, yes.
(Liz knocks, Alfred Emerson answers it.)
EMERSON: Doctor Shaw.
LIZ: Hello again.
EMERSON: We've been expecting you.
(Emerson shows her in then leaves. A man is sitting in an estate car outside.)
QUILTER: As you can see, I'm not quite so full of beans as I used to be. I thought I made it clear to the Minister I could only act in an advisory capacity. Any idea of field work
LIZ: No, no, no, Professor. You misunderstand me. All I want from you is information about this thing.
LIZ: This creature you experimented on. The one you thought you'd destroyed.
QUILTER: But I did destroy it, Doctor Shaw. I did. Over twenty years ago. We were forcing the evolution of the species. Three human subjects were cultivated.
LIZ: Alfred, Russell, Wallace?
QUILTER: After the evolutionist. He beat Darwin, did you know that? Came up with the whole idea of the survival of the fittest in a dream. History has forgotten him, of course. It's often the way.
LIZ: And what happened to them, these human creations?
QUILTER: The Russell and Wallace creatures died. We had used drugs to accelerate their genetic structure, push them forward as it were. They had better brain power. They were more agile, more intelligent, but they were unstable from conception.
LIZ: And the other one, the Alfred creature.
QUILTER: Ah well, he was different. He benefited from our past mistakes. Then one day, his heart began to fail. It seemed such a trivial thing. I couldn't accept it. I tried so hard, so hard to save him. It was useless. I watched him fade away before my eyes.
LIZ: That was when it killed one of your team?
QUILTER: The boy who took over the watch for me. The Alfred creature was dying. It didn't have long. And then some time later, some one had, Dennis Lancaster, I think it was, woke me up. He was in a hell of a state. We came into the room and found the poor chap dead. There didn't seem to be any signs of violence, just this slime all over him. And then over the next few days the Alfred creature started to recover. We did some tests. His heart was functioning perfectly.
LIZ: As though he'd had a transplant.
QUILTER: But it had, in a way. You see, the creature had developed this ability to absorb the dead man's organ. It was a side-effect of our research we hadn't quite bargained for.
LIZ: So they closed the project down, ordered the creature to be destroyed. Except, now it's come back.
QUILTER: That's quite impossible. No, that's impossible. I saw it with my own eyes. I was the one, the one who
QUILTER: Well, as I say, the er, the deaths of these people are certainly similar to the modus operandi of the BEAGLE creature, but that's all.
(Liz drives away, the man in the estate car starts his engine.)
(Newspaper headline - Bizarre death of Hampstead man. Lancaster shivers as he reads it.
Hospital corridor - the guard outside the girl's door is dozing, then he wakes to see a gun with something cylindrical pointing at him. A brief struggle, then we see an arm pull back the girl's sheet and caress her face. The being covers her.)
(At home, Liz re-reads her notes then makes a phone call. She has to leave a message on an answering machine.)
LIZ: Hello. This is Doctor Elizabeth Shaw leaving a message for Dennis Lancaster. Maybe you didn't receive my last two messages, but please, would you contact me as soon as possible on 01372 559910. It's to do with the BEAGLE programme.
(Lancaster is there, but doesn't pick up.)
(Meanwhile, the being is finished and the girl's monitor has flat-lined. The security guard wakes up and discovers the girl. He goes to the internal phone.)
GUARD: Page Doctor Gilchrist. It's urgent.
PATRICIA: Everything is under control. The woman's death is unfortunate, but at least we kept it out of the papers this time.
RUTHERFORD: I appreciate that, but I do need
PATRICIA: Need a result. Well then, you'd better give PROBE proper access to Quilter. He's our major link with the original project.
RUTHERFORD: He's a very sick man, Patricia. I can't risk
PATRICIA: If we're going to catch this creature, Minister, I think certain risks are justified, don't you?
(Back at the hospital, Dr Gilchrist is looking at x-rays when Liz and Colonel Ackroyd enter. She opens one of the girl's eyelids and custard oozes out.)
ACKROYD: I just wish they'd give me more men. We'd seal off the entire area, get a proper manhunt under way.
LIZ: I know, I know. Rutherford expects results, but it's almost as if he's afraid to make the big decision.
(They get to their car.)
ACKROYD: All right, let's back-pedal a bit. The creature attacked that woman again.
LIZ: Completed its attack.
ACKROYD: What do you mean?
LIZ: Whatever it's up to has been pre-planned. The creature had to make sure that Angela didn't survive, otherwise she could have identified it, surely? So it went back and finished her off. Now it has her eyes to add to the stuff it's already accrued.
ACKROYD: Hang on a minute. We don't actually know it's accrued anything.
LIZ: It must be the creature from the BEAGLE programme. Everything in the records
ACKROYD: You don't think Quilter destroyed the creature.
LIZ: The MO from these attacks is identical.
(They get in the car and drive off.)
ACKROYD [OC]: Okay, let's accept that Quilter didn't kill the creature. His compassion made him let it go.
LIZ [OC]: Yes?
ACKROYD [OC]: Still leaves us with a big question, doesn't it.
LIZ [OC]: Hmm?
ACKROYD [OC]: If this creature they created is still around, where's it been hiding for twenty years?
PATRICIA: But there is a connection.
QUILTER: I can't say for certain. I don't. (sighs) A similarity, certainly.
PATRICIA: Two attacks? And now this young woman.
QUILTER: If you'd give me time to examine them.
RUTHERFORD: But you admit it's very like what happened before, Julius.
PATRICIA: Professor Quilter, as far as you're concerned, this creature was destroyed twenty years ago.
QUILTER: Yes, it had to be. Orders from upstairs. It was out of control. The Jacoby building was closed. The whole project had to be closed. A kind of scorched earth policy, they called it. All those years of work. We er, we did.
RUTHERFORD: We must be sure, Julius.
(Quilter makes ow noises and doubles over. Emerson goes to his side.)
EMERSON: Minister, I
RUTHERFORD: Of course, Mister er
RUTHERFORD: There'll be a car waiting.
(Emerson helps Quilter stand.)
QUILTER: All that work.
RUTHERFORD: Any help you can give us, Julius.
QUILTER: For old times' sake, eh?
(Emerson and Quilter leave.)
PATRICIA: Well, Liz?
LIZ: It can't be a coincidence, can it.
(Soldiers are hacking at the shrubs.)
SOLDIER: Sir, we have found more of that slime.
ACKROYD: It's got to be out there somewhere.
QUILTER: This is madness.
EMERSON: Courage, mon ami.
QUILTER: It won't work. I'm not sure any more.
EMERSON: Physician, heal thyself.
QUILTER: Don't get clever with me!
(The door bell rings.)
LANCASTER: Doctor Shaw? My name's Dennis Lancaster. I believe you've been trying to find me.
(Soldiers are surrounding a building.)
ACKROYD [OC]: From zero zero. Contact in barn. Use extreme caution. Out.
(A soldier enters, then screams.)
LANCASTER: I suspected it was all happening again after the people on the moors were attacked, so close to the old Jacoby building.
LIZ: And these pills?
LANCASTER: They're to prevent tissue rejection, Doctor Shaw.
LIZ: Tissue rejection?
LANCASTER: Quilter's up to something.
LIZ: How do I know you're not?
LANCASTER: I have a certain reputation, Doctor Shaw. I can't allow
LIZ: The past to trip you up, yes?
LANCASTER: We were supposed to predict how we might evolve, what the human race might become somewhere further down the line. Hence BEAGLE, after Darwin's ship. Well, it worked. Quilter succeeded in growing new creatures from cultures. There was a lot of gossip at the time that we were running some kind of Nazi stud farm.
LIZ: Were you?
LANCASTER: Don't be ridiculous.
LIZ: The whole experiment strikes me as obscene.
LANCASTER: Well, we were young.
LIZ: That's not an answer.
LANCASTER: I don't think any of us could see where Quilter was taking the research. Just get me an answer to a question, he'd always say. It didn't matter what methods we used. And that thing, I didn't
LIZ: Go on.
LANCASTER: You can't understand what it was like. It would have been like a murder.
LIZ: You were supposed to destroy the creature.
LANCASTER: It had killed one of the team. It took things from him. I'd never seen Quilter so fired up. He made us all swear to keep the death secret, and we did. For a couple of months, it was just the most tremendous time. I was too excited, too ambitious, to question the work.
LIZ: How did Quilter take the shut-down?
LANCASTER: We were all in a state of shock. It was only later that I realised just what we'd been colluding in. But Quilter acquiesced, gave in. So I thought. He swore he'd killed it, Doctor Shaw. He swore to me.
PATRICIA: More haste less speed, Colonel.
PATRICIA: I asked for results but I didn't expect you to lose men by charging round the moor like this.
ACKROYD: With respect, if we'd been properly briefed in this matter
PATRICIA: With respect, Colonel, you have to appreciate the need for secrecy. One woman is dead, now one of your troops. That is four victims, and you are still no nearer to catching this creature.
LIZ: Okay, Patsy. If you want results, let me bring you up to date. The Colonel and myself are pretty much convinced that Quilter significantly changed the direction of the BEAGLE programme from its original intentions, and that this creature is still alive.
PATRICIA: So what do you recommend?
LIZ: I need to get him away from that house. I want him brought in for questioning.
RUTHERFORD: It can't be done. I've already granted you far more access than I should.
LIZ: I am convinced that Quilter is protecting the creature. Remember, we only have his word that this thing was destroyed back in '75.
RUTHERFORD: No, no. Quilter's a sick old man. He's dying. It just doesn't add up.
LIZ: Forgive me, Minister, but I think it does.
PATRICIA: You know the score, Liz. We need something a little bit more concrete.
(Lancaster enters Quilter's house surreptitiously, and is attacked by a naked person, who rips open his shirt and scratches his chest to stick his fingers inside. Lancaster screams as custard oozes and his still-beating heart is removed.
Lancaster's body is found wrapped in black plastic by a river. Quilter is taken away by the police.)
QUILTER: I should think your behaviour qualifies as harassment by now, Doctor Shaw.
LIZ: Well, I'm prepared to do anything it takes to get a result, Professor. A method with which I gather you're rather familiar. You're simply helping me with my enquiries.
QUILTER: Enquiries about what?
LIZ: Dennis Lancaster. We were wondering why his car is parked outside your house.
QUILTER: Does the Minister know I'm here?
LIZ: Please, do take a seat. We've just found Doctor Lancaster. His body was dumped in the river, close by the moor. Why don't you save us all a lot of trouble and tell me which of the late Doctor's major organs will be missing when we cut him open? Your car was spotted speeding away from where his body was found.
(Soldiers are searching, guns ready.)
SOLDIER: Zero Zero, dining room. Come now.
LIZ: You could never let BEAGLE go, could you, Professor? It was your greatest triumph, your proudest achievement, yet people only remembered it as some squalid little genetics experiment that went rather badly wrong. In fact, wasn't it that that got you excited? The whole project went down an unexpected path. Everyone else thought you had created a monster, but not you, Professor. Oh no, not you.
(The soldiers have found a bloody body on a camp bed, but it reaches out and grabs a soldier's arm. The squad empty their rifles into him.)
(Emerson is waiting outside, eating an apple.)
RUTHERFORD: I gave explicit instructions.
PATRICIA: Minister, how much more evidence do you need? Lancaster's car was still outside Quilter's house. Quilter's car was seen leaving the place where the body was dumped. And now Ackroyd's men have found that BEAGLE creature inside the bloody house. I call that pretty conclusive.
RUTHERFORD: Doctor Shaw had no right
PATRICIA: We had every right!
RUTHERFORD: All right, Patricia. All right.
(Liz is prodding at an organ.)
LIZ: Hard to believe this used to belong to somebody else.
PATRICIA: I don't know how we're expected to make any progress in this case.
RUTHERFORD: Sorry if I over-reacted, but you have to understand. Julius Quilter was an old friend. It's difficult for me to accept that he might be, that he is responsible for these atrocities.
LIZ: Good morning, Professor. How are you feeling today?
QUILTER: You can't keep me here indefinitely. I do have rights.
LIZ: The police have concluded their search of your house. They've come up with something rather interesting. Some kind of creature.
QUILTER: Very well. They've earned it.
LIZ: Don't you think it's time you stopped playing these games, Professor? I know what you've been doing. Storing up these pieces of tissue so you could continue your great experiment. You thought you could take a little bit here, a little bit there, and nobody'd be any the wiser.
QUILTER: We have to find a way, Doctor Shaw. Surely you must see that. A way to survive, a way to propagate. A new way.
LIZ: So that's why your creature killed those people, took things from them? You needed to prove it to yourself, didn't you? Show those people you weren't just some fanatic, right? Just say the words, Quilter. There's nowhere left for you to go. The two men on the moor, the young woman, the soldier, and now Doctor Lancaster. Why did you need them? Your creature needed renewing, replenishing, is that it?
QUILTER: You think I am savage? No room. No room for us all. And no room for sentiment. We're designed to be selfish. Must survive.
LIZ: Survival of the fittest? We know you're behind it. Why don't you just tell us. Professor? Professor Quilter?
(But he is silent as the grave.)
(The closed coffin is at Quilter's house, awaiting its final journey.)
EMERSON [OC]: Yes?
RUTHERFORD [OC]: Mister Emerson? I've come to pay my respects.
RUTHERFORD: The funeral's on Tuesday, then?
EMERSON: Tuesday, yes. Nothing elaborate. Didn't like fuss.
LIZ: How's it going?
CUMMINGS: Just a mo.
(Liz is on her mobile phone.)
LIZ: Oh, Colonel? Liz Shaw. Rutherford sent Quilter's body back to that secretary of his. Yes, I know. Don't let him out of your sight. What? Then find him, and get back to me as soon as you do. (ends call and sighs) Mister Cummings?
CUMMINGS: Now, I can't be absolutely sure, but I think the heart found inside that creature isn't the one that was taken from Doctor Lancaster.
LIZ: So this might not be the creature?
CUMMINGS: It's a real hotch-potch. A kind of patchwork job. Bit like a fairground mermaid.
LIZ: Designed to fool the gullible.
EMERSON: It's all over, then. BEAGLE. I suppose you must have known the Professor quite well.
RUTHERFORD: He didn't tell you? Look, I did as much as I could for Quilter.
LIZ: It took heart, liver, kidneys
LIZ: Spleen, lungs, eyes. Almost total renewal. We've been acting under the assumption we were looking for some kind of monster.
CUMMINGS: Well, I'd call it a monster, Doctor Shaw, the things it's done.
LIZ: But remember, all the victims were human. The Alfred Quilter created was intended to be the next stage in our evolution. Perfectly ordinary, healthy-looking. Quilter would never have been content to leave it at that. He'd have, he'd have educated it, nurtured it.
CUMMINGS: Is it possible?
LIZ: It has to be. Yes, it has to be.
(Her mobile phone rings.)
LIZ: Hello, Liz Sh. Colonel. Rutherford's gone where? Yes, I'm going in. No, no, no, no. I'll be all right. I'll see you later.
RUTHERFORD: Here. He asked that it be buried with him. If I were you, I'd burn it. (The BEAGLE file.) BEAGLE's dead
RUTHERFORD: May I have a moment?
EMERSON: Oh, of course. Excuse me.
(Emerson leaves with the file. He sees Ackroyd arrive.)
EMERSON: You're right, Mister Rutherford. BEAGLE is dead.
RUTHERFORD: What's up?
EMERSON: Do you think I was at all surprised by your lack of faith?
RUTHERFORD: In the Professor's work?
EMERSON: You deliberately won't face the facts.
RUTHERFORD: I gave him a poisoned chalice, ordered him to sort out BEAGLE. It was essential to me
EMERSON: No. All this time you regarded Quilter as a charlatan, and your solution was to bring in that rather sweet little private army of yours, to avoid your name being dragged into things.
(Emerson points a gun at Rutherford.)
EMERSON: I helped Quilter because he always helped me. Right from the start, right from the go.
RUTHERFORD: You're the creature Quilter created.
EMERSON: In the flesh.
(Rutherford makes a dash for the door. Emerson catches him and knocks him out. While Liz knocks at the front door, Emerson ties Rutherford to a wooden chair. Liz goes inside. Emerson contemplates his next move in the lab off the dining room.)
(Liz reads the BEAGLE file which was left on Quilter's coffin, then she carefully removes the flowers and opens the lid. The coffin is empty.)
(Quilter's body is wrapped in plastic. Rutherford wakes to see Emerson unwrap the face which glistens with goo.)
RUTHERFORD: Is he? Quilter, is he still alive?
EMERSON: In a sense, waiting to be resurrected. I've replaced all of his major organs. All he needs is a little chivvying and, well, he'll not only feel like a new man, he'll be a new man.
(Electricity crackles. The lights in the drawing room go out. Emerson injects Quilter, and after a few moments he breathes and his eyelids flicker then open. Then Quilter sits up.
[Outside Emerson's lab]
EMERSON [OC]: You see, Julius? It was all worth it in the end.
EMERSON: The future, Mister Rutherford. We are the future. Perfect, perpetually renewable beings. We need never die. We can go on and on forever.
(Quilter spits out congealed custard. Emerson wipes it away.)
LIZ: Like this, Emerson? Come on, it's hardly science. More like cannibalism.
EMERSON: Doctor Shaw, how lovely.
(He picks up his gun.)
LIZ: You've really been very clever. Creating a decoy creature, killing people here and there, taking their organs.
EMERSON: Well, Quilter was too weak to do it by himself. I had to do it, piecemeal. This is how it must be, Doctor Shaw, if we're to survive. You don't realise what inherently selfish creatures we are.
LIZ: This is your future?
EMERSON: Yes. Why not? No more rules, no ridiculous ethics.
LIZ: But you saved Quilter, tried to extend his lifespan artificially. Why bother? His time's up.
EMERSON: Quilter's different.
LIZ: Is he? Oh, is that compassion I'm seeing, Mister Emerson? Or should I say, Alfred. You are the result of the BEAGLE programme, aren't you? Quilter did it. He succeeded. He grew you from cultures. But you're not like us. You're the only one of your kind.
(Quilter slides gently to the floor.)
LIZ: Look, he's dying. It doesn't matter how much medication you give him, he's human.
(Emerson puts the gun down and kneels over Quilter.)
EMERSON: Julius, we have to go now. It's time. It's time.
(Quilter strokes Emerson's face, then dies.)
(Emerson weeps, then absorbs Quilter completely into himself. He stands up looking very alien. Ackroyd enters and starts shooting. Liz grabs Emerson's gun and joins in. The creature finally falls. A gas rises, then the creature. It staggers to the hospital bed and finally dies there.)
(Over Rutherford packing his briefcase and taking one last look around before leaving.)
PATRICIA [OC]: You had to sort it out.
RUTHERFORD [OC]: And I thought I had. Don't you understand? If my connection to BEAGLE came out, they'd crucify me.
PATRICIA [OC]: They're going to crucify you.
PATRICIA: What the hell did you think you were doing?
LIZ: My job!
PATRICIA: Emerson might have killed you. Both of you.
LIZ: There wasn't time to tell you.
ACKROYD: We had to save Rutherford.
LIZ: Anyway, what's happened to him?
PATRICIA: He's gone.
ACKROYD: For good?
PATRICIA: Mmm hmm.
(Ackroyd and Liz chink wine glasses.)
LIZ: Count your blessings.
(And put their glasses down by a Penguin copy of the Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin.)
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